10 Dogs That Look Like Pitbulls (But Aren’t)

Dog American Pit Bull Terrier, portrait on nature

Pitbulls are attractive to look at, with square faces, perky ears, and a signature smile. However, these characteristics are not unique to Pitbulls because there are many breeds that share the same physical features, such as their strong jaws, muscular bodies, and much more.

It is important to know that Pitbulls really are not a breed at all because they are not recognized as an official pedigree with the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the United Kennel Club.

Many dogs that are referred to as Pitbulls are actually kind of mutts with lineages that can include a wide variety of other breeds. Here is a list of some dog breeds that can definitely be confused for Pitbulls.

Pitbull Overview

Attribute Pit Bull
Definition Broad term for various breeds.
Recognition Not specific to major kennel clubs.
Size Can vary, medium to large.
Origin Broad (covers several breeds).
Purpose Historically for dog fighting.

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1. American Pit Bull Terrier

American Pit Bull Terriers often have a very recognizable appearance thanks to their triangular eyes and tapered heads.

American Bull Terrier

Photo: Wikipedia


Attribute American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT)
Definition Specific breed.
Recognition Recognized by UKC & ADBA.
Size Medium, 30-60 lbs (typical range).
Origin U.S., derived from earlier UK breeds.
Purpose Historically for dog fighting.


They are a little smaller than real Pitbulls and they don’t usually have the same level of muscle definition. However, they are quite similar to Pitbulls when it comes to mannerisms and level of activity.

These dogs need plenty of exercise to thrive, so they can be a little demanding. They can get into trouble if they can’t expend their energy or if they are left alone for too long. 

This pittie is not recommended for new dog owners, but they can be great companions once they are properly trained.

One thing you will need to keep an eye on is their territorial nature. This breed is an excellent choice if you are looking for a dog to keep your property safe, but don’t be too surprised if the dog starts chasing around small animals scurrying across your land.

The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is actually recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA), but not the American Kennel Club (AKC).

It is an intelligent, medium-sized, short-haired dog, with a solid build. The early ancestors of this type of dog actually came from the British Isles.

2. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

When it comes to appearance, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (or American Staffordshire Terrier) is the dog breed that most closely resembles a Pitbull.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Photo: Dog Breeds List


Attribute Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Definition Specific breed.
Recognition Recognized by AKC & UK Kennel Club.
Size Medium, 24-37 lbs (adult male avg.)
Origin England, 19th century.
Purpose Originally for bull-baiting.


They are the most common dog to be mistaken for a Pitbull because they have a similar body and head shape, as well as a large neck. Depending on their activity levels, they may also develop impressive muscle definition in their legs and body. 

Also known as Amstaffs, they are quite active animals, with a springy running style that makes them attractive pets. Despite their fearsome appearance, these are actually quite a calm breed of dogs.

They generally have playful attitudes and low aggression levels. When they meet strangers, they usually respond well rather than aggressively.

They enjoy affection and stay loyal to their owners throughout their lives. These dogs are also known for their intelligence and fearlessness. They can be trained quite effectively but they may have moments of boldness that can cause some concern.

At a height of 16 inches, Staffordshire Bull Terriers do not stand particularly tall. But, they are heavy, solid, muscular terriers.

Sometimes affectionately known as “Staffies”, the head is short and broad, with pronounced cheek muscles, and their tight-fitting coat comes in several colors.

Many of these dogs are stocky, but they are also sweet, family-friendly dogs that are suitable to have around small children. They are loyal companions, but they still retain an old fighting instinct so it is vital that puppies be socialized with other dogs to learn good behavior.

3. Boxer

Boxers can often be mistaken for Pitbulls because of their general shape, color, and other physical characteristics.

Boxer in grass

Photo: Wikipedia


Attribute Boxer
Definition Specific breed.
Recognition Recognized by AKC, UKC, and other major kennel clubs.
Size Medium to large, 50-70 lbs (typical range for adults).
Origin Germany, late 19th to early 20th century.
Purpose Historically for hunting, holding prey, and later guarding & companionship.


They also have a square face and they are often a light brown color like many Pitbulls. However, Boxers are usually much larger than Pitbulls and they tend to have a more compact snout. 

Much like Pitbulls, Boxers are high-energy dogs that need daily exercise. To ensure that they remain placid, they also need plenty of training. These dogs are quite intelligent.

They can easily understand the concepts of behavioral training and they will usually listen to your commands. When it comes to loyalty, these dogs easily bond with every member of the family, especially the young children.

They are also quick to show affection to family friends and guests.

Related article: Best Dog Foods for Boxers

4. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiffs are a highly intelligent but familiar type of dog with a long and illustrious history.

Bullmastiff on dirt

Photo: Doggie Designer


Attribute Bullmastiff
Definition Specific breed.
Recognition Recognized by AKC, UKC, and other major kennel clubs.
Size Large, 100-130 lbs (typical range for adults).
Origin England, late 19th century.
Purpose Historically for guarding against poachers.


They have traditionally been bred as guard dogs, so they are perfect for that role. They are very protective and loyal to their owners but they do require some strict training to get them where you’d like them to be.

They are a bit stubborn and it is important to establish a strict behavioral routine to keep them under control.

While they may have similar facial features to a Pitbull, you really can’t mistake the sheer size of the Bullmastiff. They are very large dogs that often suffer from health problems and are known for being quite messy animals.

Bullmastiffs have a shorter lifespan than most other dogs. The younger puppies are rambunctious and playful but they settle down a lot as they get older.

5. American Bulldog

At first glance, it’s easy to mistake an American Bulldog for a Pitbull.

American Bulldog in grass

Photo: Pet Place


Attribute American Bulldog
Definition Specific breed.
Recognition Recognized by UKC and other clubs, but not by AKC.
Size Large, 60-130 lbs (typical range for adults).
Origin United States, with roots from the Old English Bulldog.
Purpose Historically for farm work, guarding, and hunting.


They have that same muscular body, broad head, and intimidating jaw, as well as other similar physical characteristics. However, the American Bulldog is significantly larger than the Pitbull and they tend to have much more prominent muscle development. 

Also known as the Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog, this is a breed of bulldog from the United States, and it is predominantly used as a guard dog.

It is a very powerful, muscular breed with a big head and a muzzle that is shorter than the typical length for this species.

These dogs, like most others, require a lot of exercise to stay healthy and full of vitality. They perform quite well as working dogs and love to spend time herding and also playing with humans and other dogs alike.

However, they are not quite as boisterous as many types of Pitbull breeds. They are surprisingly friendly with people despite their intimidating appearance.

As a result, it isn’t a great idea to rely on the American Bulldog or the English Bulldog to guard your home. They are more likely to make friends than they are to attack.

These animals are great for virtually any type of home environment as long as they can expend all of the energy they have on a regular basis.

Related article: American Bulldog vs Pitbull (Extensive Comparison)

6. Dogo Argentino

This strong, muscular dog was bred in the 1920’s for the purposes of big-game hunting from breeds like the Cordoba Fighting Dog and the Great Dane.

3 Dogo Argentinos in grass

Photo: YouTube


Attribute Dogo Argentino
Definition Specific breed.
Recognition Recognized by AKC, UKC, and other major kennel clubs.
Size Large, 80-100 lbs (typical range for adults).
Origin Argentina, mid-20th century.
Purpose Originally bred for hunting big game, also used for guarding and companionship.


This is why the Dogo Argentino is a very brave and strong fighting dog. Dogo Argentino might look like a Pitbull in terms of having a firm posture and well-built muscles.

The Dogo Argentino is also an effective guard dog, so you can expect to encounter some aggression if you come across a Dogo Argentino in the wild.

These dogs are also commonly mistaken for a Pitbull because of their physical characteristics. They have short wide snouts, noticeably muscular jaws, and fit bodies.

This breed is much larger than a Pitbull and generally calmer since it has its roots in the 19th century!

Dogo Argentinos do best with dedicated owners who take the time to exercise them. As excellent guard dogs and watchdogs, they will keep you and your family safe and protected at all times.

Most dogs of this breed might not do well with another animal in the house. They do not really have a pack mentality unless it’s with human family members.

This may change if the dog is brought up with another animal in their early puppy years, but even then it can be difficult.

7. Presa Canario

The Presa Canario can also make an ideal guard dog or watchdog.

Presa Canario in grass

Photo: Wikipedia


Attribute Presa Canario
Definition Specific breed.
Recognition Recognized by UKC and other clubs, but not by AKC.
Size Large, 80-110 lbs (typical range for adults).
Origin Canary Islands, Spain.
Purpose Historically for guarding and herding livestock.


They are not good types of dogs for novice owners because they require some intense training. These dogs can become very aggressive and there is no better dog to keep strangers off of your property.

These dogs have a very striking resemblance to Pitbulls. They have similar facial structures and bodies. Even the colors are the same. 

However, the Presa Canario is larger. They can weigh over 100 pounds. They need to be able to run and play to maintain their muscular figures throughout their lives.

Their massive size makes them a good working dog as well. With the proper training, these dogs are great with families. They can be relatively passive around people that they trust. It is only when a stranger approaches that they can sometimes get a little bit riled up.

8. Cane Corso

“Cane” comes from the Italian word for “dog” while “Corso” comes from “Cohors,” which means “protector.”

Photo: The Spruce Pets


Attribute Cane Corso
Definition Specific breed.
Recognition Recognized by AKC, UKC, and other major kennel clubs.
Size Large, 90-120 lbs (typical range for adults).
Origin Italy, with ancient roots going back to Roman times.
Purpose Historically for guarding, hunting, and warfare. Now, also companionship.


Cane Corsos were bred to keep their owners safe. These dogs have a very unfortunate reputation because of the common misconception that they’re fighting dogs.

While some unscrupulous owners have undoubtedly done that in the past, they’re not known for any unbridled aggression. They’re relatively reserved and even-tempered. 

This large Italian dog breed is a popular guard dog. It is also known as an Italian Mastiff and it is well muscled.

The large head is the most notable feature. The muzzle is probably what makes people confuse it for a Pitbull, but apart from that, this strong dog is much taller and has more mastiff features.

These dogs can be trained quite easily and they can be used as working dogs to keep livestock safe as they are herding. They have wide faces like Pitbulls, but they tend to weigh much more overall.

They can reach well over 70 pounds, so they are best suited for households with experienced owners.

9. Ambullneo Mastiff

Ambulleneo Mastiffs were bred to become effective guard dogs.

Ambullneo Mastiffs staring at each other

Photo: YouTube


Attribute Ambullneo Mastiff
Definition Specific breed.
Recognition Not recognized by major kennel clubs like AKC or UKC, but recognized by smaller organizations.
Size Large, often over 100 lbs (typical range for adults).
Origin United States, developed in the late 20th century.
Purpose Bred primarily for guarding and protection.


The breeding process involved three types of Italian Mastiffs and three types of Bulldogs. The final outcome was this unique animal that has become known for an explosive but protective temperament.

These dogs attach quickly to their owners and they are very sensitive to human emotions, so they need owners that can provide firm training without being overly harsh. 

While they may look similar to Pitbulls, they are much bigger. Large males can weigh up to 150 pounds when they are fully formed. They are very muscular and they can indeed be excellent guard dogs.

When training this dog, make sure to keep your own family members safe until training is completed. If they are treated well, these dogs thrive in family settings and they offer great companionship. 

10: Bull Terriers

Bull Terriers are robust, agile, and powerful dogs. The breed’s hallmark is a long head that looks like an egg.

Bull Terrier in a field

Photo: Pet on Bed


Attribute Bull Terrier
Definition Specific breed.
Recognition Recognized by AKC, UKC, and other major kennel clubs.
Size Medium, 45-80 lbs (typical range for adults, including both standard and miniature varieties).
Origin England, 19th century.
Purpose Originally for dog fighting, ratting, and companionship.


They have erect, pointed ears, and small, triangular eyes. Their coats can usually come in two types: white, or any other color like brown or black, either solid or with white markings.

Bull Terriers enjoy lots of early socialization with other dogs as well as with people. It is necessary to give them firm but loving discipline, lots of outdoor exercise, and lots of quality time with humans.

If these requirements are met, there might be no more loyal, lovable, and entertaining companion. This is the ultimate “personality dog” and you can find all kinds of accessories for these pets on Amazon.

Purebred Pitbulls 

If you are not very familiar with these types of animals, Pitbulls can conjure up thoughts of aggressive dogs. In some cases, these types of dogs can face discrimination that is not always warranted.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of dogs around the world that are unfairly discriminated against because they have muscular bodies and a block-like head.

Because there is no actual Pitbull breed that is recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), even professional veterinarians and shelters can sometimes find it hard to distinguish pitbulls from other family pets. Pitbulls are often maligned because they are thought to be unnecessarily aggressive.

If you have ever owned one of these dogs or had one in your neighborhood, you might have seen some kind of discrimination against them.

In many towns and cities, these misunderstood dogs can sometimes be outright banned under the terms of breed-specific legislation, and some dog owners might even be required to give their pets up to animal shelters.

This is a controversial issue that is not always applied fairly, and some types of dogs definitely get singled out as troublemakers more than others.

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is a blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain dog breeds to try and reduce the number of dog attacks on humans and small animals.

In some areas, regulated breeds also include lots of other dogs like American Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers or any other mixture of these breeds.

Pitbulls have often been banned from many housing complexes and sometimes entire cities because of their perceived levels of aggression.

As with any dog, we believe that the temperament and attitude of a Pitbull is a direct result of their surroundings and the amount of care they receive. They can be fiercely loyal to their owners and enjoy having a cuddle just like any other family dog.

Unfortunately, they can all too easily be taken away from their owners simply because they have some defining characteristics that some uninformed people might fear.

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Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.