Home Animals What’s the Difference Between an American Bulldog vs Pitbull?

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The American Bulldog and Pit Bull are often confused as being the same breed due to their similar physical appearance and equal classification as working dogs in the Molosser family. However, a trained eye can easily distinguish that these two breeds are actually very different.

Since Pit Bulls have been falsely given a bad reputation for ferocity and violence through widespread public ignorance, American Bulldog owners can be extremely offended when their prized pooch is mistaken for a Pit Bull.

In addition, some housing districts have enforced a strict rule against enabling residents to own a Pit Bull on their premises and made it difficult for American Bulldog owners to prove their furry friend is not part of the restricted breed. Therefore, read on to learn the important characteristics that clearly divide the American Bulldog vs. Pit Bull breeds.

How Are They Different?

American Staffordshire Terrier & American Pit Bull Terrier - both pitbulls.

American Pit Bull Terrier & Staffordshire Terrier- both Pitbulls.

First of all, the name “Pit Bull” is actually used in reference to three separate breeds of dogs, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier. Developed by crossbreeding various Terrier breeds, Pit Bulls were created as strong, agile, and tenacious workers to help farmers manage their cattle.

In contrast, the American Bulldog is a descendent of the Mastiff and cousin to the Bullmastiff, instead of being an offshoot from the Terrier clan. These bulldogs can be classified as being Bully, Standard, or Hybrid types, depending on their size. American Bulldogs were first bred for bull baiting, hunting, cattle management, and homestead protection throughout early American history.

Pit Bulls can be distinguished for their block-shaped heads that form a rounded tip towards the muzzle and unique pointed ears. Most Pit Bull breeds possess a significantly longer snout than skull at a ratio of 40:60. However, the opposite is true for the contrasting American Bulldog, who has a distinctly shorter tapered snout at a ratio of up to 80:20 for skull to snout.

American Bulldogs can be identified by their box-shaped wide and short snout outfitted on a well-muscled rounded head. Due to its Mastiff lineage, American Bulldogs also carry the signature facial wrinkles around their doggy foreheads and mouths. When the skin of the face is pulled tight without a wrinkle in sight, you can rest assured that you are looking at a Pit Bull.

In general, the American Bulldog is usually considerably larger and bulkier than Pit Bulls. Due to their Terrier blood, Pit Bulls normally weigh from 40 to 60 pounds and only stand about 18 to 22 inches off the ground at the shoulder. While American Bulldogs may weigh a minimum of 60 pounds, the breed has the capability of becoming massive and exceeding 125 pounds. The standard height for American Bulldogs at the withers of the shoulder blades falls between 24 inches and 27 inches. Despite the fact that Pit Bulls have a muscular frame, they are not as heavy as the extremely muscular American Bulldog with its broad chest and head.

Temperament

American bulldog

American bulldog

Apart from the skin deep visual differences between the two breeds, there are other equally important differences that are less obvious. Without a single drop of Terrier blood in their bodies, American Bulldogs are known for having a stable temperament and a more laidback attitude and even-temper.

Since Pit Bulls are genetically linked to the “small dog” tendencies of the Terrier group, they naturally are more hyperactive and require a great deal of exercise to keep the energy from turning into frustration and/or aggression. Despite the bad rap for Pit Bulls, both breeds can be reliable, loyal, and gentle companions when properly raised from a young pup age.

What’s the Difference Between an American Bulldog vs Pitbull

16 COMMENTS

  1. First off pitbulls are not that dangerous in fact I have 2 and both are males. Both are represented in my neighborhood as guard dogs because of burglars and etc. But when friends and family come near our dogs they are friendly and one is playful because of his age. If you see a stray pitbull and you want to keep it then you need to be careful because it depends on how its past owner treated it. You see pitbulls fight for themselves for a reason and that is why people hate the breed. But my fight for pitbulls is not one but many.

    • To give it credit, the article didnt say pitbulls are dangerous; it only said that people think they are.
      Like you, I’m a pitbull owner also, and my dog is well behaved, extremely friendly and gentle.

      The article was quite accurate in it’s mention of pitbulls having “small dog” tendencies, (I’ve never heard it put that way before), and as a result, needing lots of exercise, etc. They are not low-maintanace dogs! But with the right owner, they can be amazing good dogs, as mine is, and yours probably are.

    • Any dog can be dangerous if it is brought up incorrectly. And even the most massive dog can be a big baby that wouldn’t hurt a fly if brought up correctly (or incorrectly if you ask me, that’s boring) The people fearing pitbulls thing is just because Americans are retarded, hick farmers who live and breathe the news shoved deep, down into their throats.

      Anyway, I like pitbulls. Absolutely nothing wrong with them. People are the problem.

  2. Your comments are contradictory. At first you implicate all Americans as being fools for believing that pit bulls are more aggressive vicious dogs. However you later say that both breeds can be reliable loyal enjoyable companions IF bred properlu from a young age. 

    But that is the point. Most if not all other dog breeds do not need to be bred any certain way to be nice friendly dogs when they’re older. Also it has been documented numerous times that many pit bulls who are raised to be very passive laid back animals their entire lives from birth often still turn out to be mean viscous animals and have turned on their owners without any provocation. 

    There have been many pit bull attack cases where the pitbull has always been raised nicely since birth and never had a single violent outburst ever. But inevitably the true colors of that animal come out and it attacks somebody or some other animal, often times without provocation. The same statement can be said for just about every bred out there, but pitbulls by far have way more cases than any other breed.

    The fact is that most dogs raised in a typical loving home environment turn out to be just fine. And most dogs raised in an aggressive violent home will likely end up being violent animals. But there are many breeds that will still end up being somewhat passive and laid back even when raised to be violent but most pitbull will eventually have at least one very violent moment no matter how they are raised. They have been bred to fight for hundreds of years and that instinct is ingrained into their brains.

    • You didn’t carefully read the article. It said that pitbulls needs lots of EXERCISE to keep the energy from turning into frustration or aggression. A lack of violence in the home is not enough.

  3. Just me, but it seems owners or pro breed enthusiasts often underestimate what their animal is capable of ? This type of dog is just as capable of utilizing it’s athleticism aggressively. My neighbor has what he thinks is an American bulldog, but fully grown, it’s at the larger size of a pit bull and the runt size of the American bulldog. There is more of a longer snout than the 80/20 the American bulldog is written up to have. So maybe this guy was sold a mix of sorts ? At taller height and heavier weight, his isn’t the stockiest of bulldog either. Anyway, being the new neighbor, the dog is aggressive and protective, but kept on a short leash. I really avoid the animal when they walk it. But they do walk it to my yard for it’s daily poops and don’t pick up after the animal. Hopefully they walk it elsewhere ?

    • It sounds to me like you should have a chat with this neighbor. Letting another dog poop in your yard isn’t cool.

  4. You are not helping by ignoring the obvious. Everyone, including the dogs themselves, would be helped by acknowledging the obvious. The Pit Bull is an extremely dangerous breed. All dogs, big or small, are capable of making mistakes in their interpretation of stimuli. When pit bulls make this error it is often catastrophic for whatever is in their way. Facts are facts, taking it personal will not improve the problem.

  5. ‘Since Pit Bulls have been falsely given a bad reputation for ferocity and violence through widespread public ignorance,’ you say. The fact is that they are the most dangerous dog breed. Just look at the death stats. You can’t argue otherwise. They are way ahead of their nearest ‘rival’.

    • I certainly can’t argue with facts. But, you have to contextualize the facts. Are people more likely to use these dogs as protection? What types of households are most likely to raise a Pitbull? Is everyone fit to own a Pitbull? Golden Retrievers are becoming increasingly violent due to less than legit breeding practices. Should we ban this type of dog in the US or dig a little deeper beyond base statistics?

    • There are no official statistics kept in the United States in regard to which dog-caused deaths were caused by which breeds. Even the CDC doesn’t have such statistics, and there is no reliable source from which to obtain them. In 2013 the American Veterinary Association did a study of 9 years of dog-caused deaths and found that the breed could only be verified in 14% of the cases, and that in those cases 20 different breeds were represented.
      It is known, statistcally speaking, that humans are far far more likely to be killed by other humans.

      • Are you serious? “humans are far far more likely to be killed by other humans”. That’s like saying : “we know that lions are stronger than pit bulls”. It has nothing to do with the point being brought up. I could say “It is known, statistically speaking, that it rains more in Mississippi than it does in Arizona.” It would mean just as much.

    • There are no official statistics kept in the United States on which dog breeds were involved in which number of deaths. Even the CDC has no such statistics, and there is no reliable place from which to obtain them. (There are questionable unreliable websites, yes)

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