American Pit Bull Terrier

American Bulldog vs Pitbull (Extensive Comparison)

This is the ultimate comparison guide between the American Bulldog vs Pit Bull. It’s easy to confuse an American Bulldog for an American Pit Bull Terrier. While both share some similarities, there are also significant differences between the two.

Get ready to learn everything about the American Bulldog and Pit Bull, including a full side-by-side comparison of their main differences, characteristics such as personality, history, size, strength, and more.

This article will also compare their:

  • Temperament
  • Health Problems
  • Intelligence
  • Cost
  • Coat Color
  • Training
  • Exercise
  • Grooming Needs
  • And More

Let’s jump in.

Is An American Bulldog A Pit Bull?

No, the American Bulldog is not a Pit Bull. They may seem like the same, but they’re actually quite different. While both breeds descend from the Old English Bulldog, the American Pit Bull Terrier is a cross of the Bulldog with the Terrier.

They crossed these two breeds to create a more muscular and agile dog that could perform better in bull-baiting and ratting. The Pit Bull is recognized as part of the Terrier family while the American Bulldog is part of the Molosser dog family. These dogs have a lot in common and differ in various ways you will see next.

Note: The term “Pit Bull” is sometimes loosely used for American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and any dog that slightly resembles these breeds. In this article, when you hear the term “Pit Bull,” we are talking specifically about the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT). And when we use the word “Bulldog,” we refer specifically to the American Bulldog (AB).

White dog american bulldog on a background of autumn park

The American bulldog is a part of the country’s history and is used as a cultural icon for the United States.

History And Origin

One way to tell the differences between a Pit Bull and Bulldog is by looking at its history and origins. The American Bulldog (AB) can trace its roots to the English Bulldog. Working-class immigrants brought their old English Bulldogs to the United States in the 1800s to help with many tasks, including farm guardian, herding dogs, hunting, and working dogs.

This breed’s original purpose was personal and property protection and to be a useful tool for the small farmers and ranchers in handling (catching) large animals such as cattle and hogs. By the end of World War II, the breed was almost extinct with a short life expectancy. Still, some dedicated breeders, particularly in the southern states, decided to keep the breed alive as family companion dogs rather than farm dogs.

The breed was not called a bulldog because of a certain look, but because they were part of the English sport known as bull baiting, which involved tethering a bull to a stake in the ground and encouraging dogs to try to bite the bull’s nose. According to the United Kennel Club, the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) was created by crossbreeding Old English Bulldogs and terriers to produce a dog that combined the strength of the bulldog with the gameness and agility of the terrier.

The Pit Bull Terrier also gained its popularity on the British Isles for the sport of bull-baiting. Once bull-baiting was outlawed, the APBT was used for dogfighting and ratting, the latter, a betting sport where people bet to see who’s Pit Bull could kill the most rats in the least amount of time.

Immigrants brought these bull-and-terrier crosses to the United States. As these cruel sports became less popular, the APBT talents did not go unnoticed. Pit Bull Terriers became farm dogs and family companions. The “Pit” in Pit Bull comes from ratting as the rats were placed into a pit so that they could not escape.

Similarities:

  • Both used in bull-baiting in England.
  • Both used as farm dogs.
  • Both have English origins.

Differences:

  • The Pit Bull Terrier is a mixture of two breeds (bulldogs and terriers).
  • The Pit Bull Terrier was specifically bred for ratting and dogfighting as these sports required more agility and speed on the part of the dog.
  • The AKC does not recognize the Pit Bull while the American Bulldog is recognized.

What does an American Bulldog look like vs the American Pit Bull Terrier?

The simplest way to tell apart between an American Bulldog and a Pit Bull is by contrasting their appearances. The biggest difference between the American Bully and the APBT is what they look like. In general, the American Pit Bull Terrier is a medium-sized, solidly built, short-coated dog with smooth well-defined musculature and an athletic-looking body.

Males can grow between 18 to 21 inches tall at the shoulder and 35 to 60 pounds. Females can be 17 to 20 inches tall and 30 to 50 pounds. In contrast, the American Bulldog is much larger. Males can grow between 22 to 25 inches and weigh 75 to 100 pounds. Females usually stand at 20-23 inches and weigh between 60-80 pounds.

American Bulldogs have facial wrinkles and sometimes an underbite, a wider chest, and less-defined muscles than an American Pit Bull Terrier. At first glance, it is easy to see why the American Bulldog might be mistaken for a Pit Bull. Still, you can easily recognize an American Bulldog for their trademark “bully” face and demeanor.

While both have a built strong, sturdy, and muscular appearance, the American Bulldog has distinctive prominent cheek muscles and a broader chest than the APBT. The American Bulldog has several distinctive features, including a large and wide head, a broad muzzle, prominent cheek muscles, a large and wide nose, and powerful jaws. However, the Pit Bull has a leaner body, more defined muscles, and a broader skull than the American Bulldog.

Bulldog vs Pit Bull: Temperament

American Bulldogs and Pit Bulls have very similar temperaments and personalities. The temperament of the American Bulldog resembles that of an English bulldog. They are a gentle and affectionate dog that gets along well with children and can be regarded as a large lapdog. They can prove to be friendly dogs and very family-oriented, especially if they are trained at a young age.

American Bulldogs are brave and strong – strong-willed – they do well with owners who are not afraid to establish them as strong pack leaders. They usually are alert and have strong protective instincts and can act reserved towards strangers. American Bulldogs are loyal. They have an innate prey drive that must be monitored when around unknown, smaller animals such as cats and dogs.

So how does the temperament of a Pit Bull compare to the Bulldog’s? According to Pamela Reid, Ph.D., vice president of the ASPCA’s Animal Behavior Center in New York, generally, pit bulls aren’t aggressive with people but are “less tolerant” of other dogs than many other breeds. Despite the negative stereotypes and misconceptions associated with this breed, temperament studies on dogs show that pitties ran high among the most affectionate, tolerant, and least aggressive dogs.

In research conducted by the American Temperament Test Society, pit bulls passed at a rating of 86.4%, higher than popular breeds such as golden retrievers, corgis, and beagles. The American Bulldog came in above with an 86.9% passing score. It’s fair to say these dogs may look tough, but they are only aggressive about snuggling. In general, the American Pit Bull Terrier is noted for its playful temperament and friendly nature.

They are tenacious dogs that need early socialization and handling. American Pit Bull Terriers are just as devoted and loyal to people as American Bulldogs, but pit bulls are somewhat more entertaining and happy dogs out there. They are excellent family dogs with proper training. However, it’s also important to highlight that in the hands of irresponsible owners, who encourage aggression for fighting and protection, both breeds can become very violent.

Similarities:

  • High Prey drive
  • They are both tenacious dogs
  • They make great family dogs with proper training
  • They are both loyal dogs
  • Great temperament dogs

Differences:

  • Pitties can be more aggressive toward other animals due to their fighting lineage than American Bulldogs
  • American Bulldogs might be a little easier to socialize
  • Pit Bulls have higher energy levels and vivacity than Bulldogs

Bulldog vs Pit Bull: Health Problems

Health issues that American Bulldogs and American Pit Bull Terriers share:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Demodectic mange
  • Thyroid defects

Health issues specific to American Bulldogs (according to PetMD):

  • Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (a nervous system disorder with swelling and changes in retina cells)
  • Kidney issues
  • Cherry eye
  • Bone Cancer
  • Also, due to their facial wrinkles, American Bulldogs may be prone to skin problems from a combination of chafing, heat, and moisture. You can use a Squishface Wrinkle Paste to clean and protect your dog’s wrinkles, tear stains, and tail pockets.

Health Issues specific to American Pit Bull Terriers:

  • Heart disease (i.e., valve malformations and irregularities in heart rhythm)
  • Diabetes
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Cataracts 
  • Sensitive to allergies
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Kneecap dislocation

Just like other breeds, the American Bulldog and the Pit Bull have the potential to develop genetic health problems.

Bulldog vs Pit Bull: Intelligence

The American Pit Bull Terrier Intelligence Index (ABI) has an average to above-average intelligence. According to the Stanley Coren Intelligence Test, dog breeds in the pit bull category, namely the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier, have average to above-average intelligence. This means that dogs can understand a new command with 15 to 25 repetitions and obey a known command (on the first attempt) 70% of the time.

Similarly, American Bulldogs are extremely intelligent dogs. This high intelligence combines with a strong working drive means that American Bulldogs are very trainable dogs. While there are no official records of intelligence tests for American Bulldogs, it’s safe to say that both dogs are equally intelligent. These dogs were bred for jobs (i.e., herding livestock) that require decision-making, intelligence, and concentration. That’s something the average dog is not built for.

Bulldog vs Pit Bull: Cost

Prices can vary! But here is what you can expect to pay for a Bulldog puppy or Pit Bull puppy. On average, American Bulldogs cost from $1,700 and upwards to $8,000 or even more for an American Bulldog, a superior pedigree. The average price for all American Bulldogs sold is $800.

American Pit Bull Terriers are slightly more expensive, with an average price of $1,100. But prices for American Pit Bull Terriers fluctuate between $3,700 to $10,000. If you’re interested in adopting bully breeds or mastiffs, APBT or American Bulldogs may be available for adoption at your local shelter.

Bulldog vs Pit Bull: Coat Color

According to the American Kennel Club breed standard, American Bulldogs come in several colors. The standard for the color of the American Bulldog is white with brindle patches, red, tan, brown, or black, but there are quite a few more color variations (non-standard colors) such as white and black, white and brindle, white and brown, and white and tan. American Pit Bull Terrier, on the other hand, comes in a variety of shades, ranging from a creamy blonde to an almost reddish hue with a short coat.

Bulldog vs Pit Bull: Training

Early socialization and puppy training classes are suggested for both of these breeds, which are the best dogs. Both the American Bulldog and Pit Bull are intelligent but stubborn. They like to please and are agreeable. However,  training can be difficult for someone who is not a pack leader. You will need to be a natural leader, consistent and kind during training to be able to channel these dog’s energy and to establish and retain proper boundaries.

The United Kennel Club says that because some “APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog.” Without structured activity, like regular training and play to exercise, American Bulldogs and American Pit Bull Terriers quickly become bored, which can lead to destructive behaviors.

Beautiful American Pit Bull Terrier dog running on the field

Most adolescent and adult Pit Bulls LOVE to run!

Bulldog vs Pit Bull: Exercise

So, how much exercise does an American Bulldog need compared to the American Pit Bull Terrier? The American Bulldog is one of the most energetic and athletic of all Molossers. This breed should have between 45 minutes to an hour of vigorous physical activity every day.

American Bulldogs can perform a range of activities from jogs, hikes, tug-a-war games, to training exercises. However, be mindful as this breed is prone to develop bone and joint damage. Aim for non-impact exercises to decrease these health risks.

American Bulldogs have very high exercise requirements. An under-exercised American Bulldog may lead to a variety of behavior problems related to pent-up energy such as destructiveness, excessive barking, hyperactivity, over excitability, nervousness, and aggression.

Pit bulls are just as energetic as the American Bulldog and should get a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous exercise per day. Developing both dog’s athletic abilities will help them stay fit and happy. You can use a toy like Chuckit Sport Launcher to give them a fun workout and for a mentally stimulating exercise try Nina Ottosson Dog Smart Puzzle.

Both breeds, however, have powerful bites that can destroy a toy in seconds. We recommend getting tough toys specially made for heavy chewers like Pit Bulls and American Bulldogs. They are designed not to break and provide the most optimal stimulating experience.

Bulldog vs Pit Bull: Grooming Needs

Luckily, grooming your American Bulldog or Pit Bull Terrier is fairly easy! They have short hair and are seasonal shedder.  To groom either breed, try to brush their coat at least once a week with a soft to medium bristle brush to help distribute their natural oils, remove loose hair and debris.

Occasionally, when they become dirty, bathing with a shampoo made for dogs will help them stay clean and shiny. Trim their hair every few weeks and their ears should be cleaned once a month as needed, especially in Pit Bull Terriers since they have perky ears that are susceptible to infection. 

Bulldog vs Pit Bull FAQ

1. Is the American Bulldog better than a Pit Bull?

If you are considering an American Bulldog or Pit Bull Terrier, both are amazing pets for you if you are looking for a great family dog. They are as loyal as fun. The only difference might be that one is larger and requires a bit more food. Both breeds have high energy, love to play, are friendly, easy to train, and great around kids and large families. They are protective and make for good house dogs.

2. Are American Bulldogs or Pit Bulls Good Guard Dogs?

While they are physically intimidating, powerful, and very protective of their owners, they are usually much too friendly to be excellent guard dogs.

3. Do American Bulldogs Shed Less Than Pit Bulls?

American bullies are considered moderate shedders. They tend to shed more when the seasons change; they “drop their coat” from one season to another. Pit Bulls also shed year-round, and they tend to shed the most during late winter, going into spring, and late fall going into winter.

The Final Thought: American Bulldog vs Pit Bull Terrier

The American Bulldog and the Pit Bull Terrier are both great dog choices and we saw why. They are both sociable and love nothing more than to please their masters. The main difference between the American Bulldog vs the American Pit Bull Terrier is that the latter is slightly smaller in size but more athletic and energetic.

The American Bulldog is a little bit more chill in temperament but equally fun! Both these breeds are a fantastic family addition. You are guaranteed to come home with a dog that everybody loves and adores!

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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.