PitBull vs American Bulldog: An Experienced Vet’s Comparison

Are you considering a Pitbull or an American Bulldog as your next furry family member? Both of these powerhouses of the canine world have some similarities and differences. Before making a decision, it’s important to do your research! So get ready to dig in and explore how these two breeds stack up against one another—it’s time for American Bulldogs vs PitBulls!

This blog post aims to provide an in-depth comparison between the two types of dogs, based on insights from my years of experience as a vet. I’ll talk about each breed’s temperament, intelligence levels, activity needs, and more so that you can make sure you pick the pup that is perfect for your lifestyle.

American Bulldogs and Pitbulls both come from the Old English Bulldog. Bullies are bigger and bulkier than Pitbulls which are medium size dogs. Pitbulls are agile, fast athletes, while bullies are sturdier powerhouses. There are many similarities in these breeds but also some key differences

As an experienced veterinarian who owns a rescued Bully Dog, I can give you the inside scoop on both the American Bulldog and the Pitbull.

Are American Bulldogs And Pitbulls The Same?

Are American Bulldogs and Pitbulls the same breed? The answer is a resounding no! Although these two breeds have a common ancestor in the Olde English Bulldog, they are distinct breeds with significant differences.

These include physical features, health concerns, and even behavior profiles. However, what many people don’t know is that when we refer to “Pitbulls”, we can mean more than one breed—including American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and American Pitbull Terriers—all of which fall under the Bully Breeds umbrella.

For this article though, when we refer to a “Pitbull” we will specifically be referring to an American Pitbull Terrier.

American Bulldogs Vs Pitbulls – Kennel Club Recognition?

American Bulldogs are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the United Kennel Club, and the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC).

American Pitbull Terriers on the other hand are not recognized by the AKC. They are recognized by the United Kennel Club, the American Dog Breeders Association, and the ABKC.

American Bulldogs And Pitbulls Breed History

When the English immigrants moved to America, they took their dog breeds along with them. The Olde English Bulldog was one of these breeds. It was larger than the modern English Bulldog and was popular for herding cattle.

olde english bulldog

How Were American Bulldogs Bred?

American Bulldogs were developed by mating Olde English Bulldogs with other taller mastiffs. The aim was to retain the essential bulldog features and temperament while producing a bigger dog. They were used as utility farm dogs, and their jobs included:

  • cattle herding
  • guarding the farm
  • hunting stray herd animals
  • hunting and killing feral pigs

To complete these tasks, they needed to be powerful, confident dogs. Over time the function of the breed has changed to largely being a companion and pet. In some areas, the American Bulldog is still used on farms.

American Bulldogs have also been bred into four different sizes and types. Some have lost their functionality and have less endurance than their ancestors.  

You can check out my full guide on American Bulldogs here

How Were American Pitbulls Bred?

Pitbull Terriers were developed by breeding Olde English Bulldogs to various terriers in England. The breeders wanted to produce an agile, fast, powerful dog.

They were used mostly for bull and bear baiting and dog fighting in England – bloodsports that were thankfully outlawed. The British settlers brought these Pitbull Terriers with them to America, although they had the uncomfortably long moniker of “bull and terriers.”

Pitbull terriers were once used for important tasks, including herding cattle, ratting, and guarding the homestead. However, Pitbulls were commonly used for dog fighting when they arrived in America. As a result of this cruel sport, Pitbulls developed a bad reputation that still lingers today. But it is important to note that Pitbulls were actually bred to be friendly and sociable with people – they could not have performed those initial farm duties otherwise!

Early in the 20th century, the United Kennel Club began calling them American Pitbull Terriers.  

Today American Pitbull Terriers perform a variety of functions:

  • pets and companions
  • police and border patrol dogs
  • narcotics and explosive device detection scent dogs
  • therapy dogs
  • ·athletic sports dogs competing in events such as weight pulling, dog agility, flyball, and others
  • they are popular with criminals for intimidation and guarding illegal contraband

Sadly, Pitbulls continue to be used in illegal dog fighting. Authorities and welfare organizations are constantly hunting dog fighting rings. The dogs that are most commonly fought are Pitbull Terriers.

As a result of illegal dog fighting, breeding extremely aggressive Pitbulls has become desirable with criminals. These irresponsibly bred Pitbulls end up in mainstream society and cause the breed to have a bad reputation.

Despite poor breeding practices and dog-fighting experiences, many of these exploited dogs can be rehabilitated if they are rescued.

You can check out the many types of pit bulls in this article

American Bulldog Vs. Pitbull: Difference

American Bulldogs are classed as Mastiffs, while Pitbulls are classed as Terriers.

Pitbull Vs. American Bulldog: Size And Weight

American Bulldogs are large dogs, reflecting their mastiff heritage. They were bred to be an impressive size for their work around the farm.  

  • Males measure 22 to 25 inches at the wither, weighing 75 to 100 pounds.
  • Female Bullies are smaller at 20 to 23 inches and weigh 60 to 80 pounds.

American Pitbull Terriers are medium size dogs, as most terriers that influenced their breeding are medium size.

  • Male Pitbulls measure 18 to 21 inches at the wither, and their weight is 35 to 60 pounds.
  • Females are slightly smaller at 17 to 20 inches and weigh 30 to 50 pounds.

There is a fair amount of variation in American Pitbull size, with some lines being bigger than the average.

American Bulldog Vs. Pitbull: Coat And Color

 American Bulldog colors acknowledged by the AKC are white and tan, red, black, brown, or brindle.

They sometimes come in other colors, and breeding unusual colors, such as Merle Bullies, has become fashionable. The kennel clubs do not recognize most of these other colors.

Pitbulls may be seen with various color coats. Red-nose Pitbulls have a red coat, a red nose, and red nails and were originally developed in Ireland. Other colors include black, white, brindle, pied, tan, and brown. These dogs generally have black noses.

Both American Bulldogs and Pitbulls have short coats. The Bulldogs have soft or stiff coats, and the Pitbulls have glossy coats.

American Bulldog Vs. Pitbull: Build

The American Bulldog has a larger head than a Pitbull, but the English Bulldog influence can be seen in the head shape of both breeds.

American Bulldogs are taller and have bulkier, less defined muscles with broad, deep chests. The overall impression is of a sturdy, powerful dog.

Pitbulls are sleek with well-defined muscles. Their body conformation is well-proportioned, giving the impression of extreme athleticism.

American Bulldog Vs. Pitbull: Face And Appearance

American bulldogs have large heads and facial wrinkles. They commonly have a moderate underbite and bulky cheek muscles, giving them a jowly appearance.

Pitbulls have a broad, blocky face that is free of wrinkles. Their nostrils are wide and open, and the teeth have a scissor bite.

Temperament Of American Bulldogs And Pitbulls

Both American Bulldogs and Pitbulls are friendly and social dogs that crave the companionship of their family. They want to be involved in family activities and are known for being tolerant with children.

American Bulldogs can be more reserved with strangers and wait to take their cue from their owners. Young Bullies must be socialized to prevent them from becoming over-protective and unhappy with all strangers.

Pitbulls are usually friendly with everyone and welcome strangers into the home. They are intelligent dogs, quick to detect a threat to the family. Their friendly demeanor soon changes to a raging protective guardian that most people do not want to tackle.

Bullies are more tolerant of other dogs and household pets, especially if they have been well-socialized from young. Pitbulls have a heritage of being bred to fight. They tend to be more intolerant of other dogs and pets.

Pitbulls can be socialized, but the owner always needs to be aware of potential fights which can make for an uncomfortable lifestyle.    

Lifespan Of American Bulldogs And Pitbulls

American Bulldogs live 10 to 12 years, and Pitbulls live 12 to 14 years. Dogs need appropriate nutrition and good veterinary care to maximize their lifespan.

Health Problems Of American Bulldogs And Pitbulls

American Bulldogs are prone to a number of health problems:

  1. Hip and elbow dysplasia
  2. Brachycephalic respiratory problems. These are fewer in American Bulldogs than in English Bulldogs, but this can still be problematic.
  3. Hypothyroidism
  4. Skin fold dermatitis
  5. Demodectic mange
  6. Cataracts
  7. Entropion and ectropion
  8. Cherry eye
  9. Early onset arthritis.
  10. Heart disorders
  11. Allergies
  12. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries
  13. Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis – a neurological disorder affecting the retina

Pitbulls have some health disorders that plague the breed:

  1. Hip and elbow dysplasia
  2. Congenital heart defects such as aortic stenosis
  3. Hypothyroidism
  4. Cataracts
  5. Allergies
  6. Degenerative myelopathy
  7. Patella luxation (a loose kneecap that dislocates)

Buying a puppy from a reputable breeder that health tests their breeding dogs is the safest way of ensuring you get a healthy American Bully or Pitbull. Genetic testing and radiographs can help identify conditions in dogs that make them unsuitable for breeding.

The general public can change breeding practices by insisting on only purchasing puppies that have been health tested. It requires potential owners to educate themselves so that they know what health tests should be done.  

Puppy Prices Of American Bulldogs And Pitbulls

Pitbull puppies are usually cheaper than Bully pups. Pitbull puppy prices usually start at $800, and American Bulldog prices start at $1,500. Puppies from both breeds can cost considerably more depending on their bloodlines and color.

Similarities Of American Bulldogs And Pitbulls

Both American Bulldogs and Pitbulls count the Old English Bulldog as an ancestor. Their heritage can be seen in their similar facial shapes and muscular bodies.

The two breeds are known for their short easy-to-manage coats. The coats are ideal for hot climates, but American Bulldogs and Pitbulls need some protection from icy weather.

White dogs from either breed will be more prone to sun damage and skin cancer. They should be protected from too much sun exposure.

Bullies and Pitties are both loveable dogs that are loyal and devoted to their owners. They are tolerant with children and will patiently play with them. Both breeds are easy to train, but the Bulldog is a little more stubborn.

The two breeds share some health problems, which is not surprising considering their common heritage.

American Bulldog Vs. Pitbull: Which Is Better?

The choice of an American Bulldog or a Pitbull is always an individual one. Both breeds are best suited to experienced owners and should be handled by a confident person capable of setting boundaries.

An American Bulldog is easier if you have a multi-dog household. If you cannot deal with some stubbornness, then a Pitbull is a better dog for you.

Many American Bullies and Pitties find themselves the unhappy occupants of shelter kennels. Adopting a rescued dog allows you to see if the dog will fit in with your household as its character has already formed.

Dogs are individuals and do not always follow breed standards. Some individuals may be completely soft and companionable with other dogs, even if they are Pitbulls.

Dogs in shelters crave attention; for people-loving dogs like Bullies and Pitties, being locked in a kennel is a miserable life. They deserve loving homes, so please always consider the shelters when looking for a new dog.

American Bulldog Vs. Pitbull Bite Force

American Bulldogs have an average bite force of 305 pounds per square inch. Pitbulls have a wide range depending on the individual, with bite strength of 240 to 330 pounds per square inch.

Final Thoughts From Me

Pitbulls and American bulldogs are wonderful dogs that make good pets. The decision to get one of these dogs should be made with care to ensure you can provide the dog with the training, environment, and nutrition it needs. My best dogs have all been rescue bullies including Otto – my soul dog.

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Emily Andrews