Skip to content

This is the ultimate comparison guide between the Pitbull vs American Bulldog

The American Bulldog is a gentle giant dog breed descending from the now-extinct Old English Bulldog. Being a large breed, this dog fits in any family very well.

The American Pitbull is a medium-sized pure breed of dogs. It is a short-coated and solidly-built dog that is a loyal and protective breed. This breed is companionable and people-oriented.

Pitbull vs American Bulldog

If you aren’t familiar with the breeds, the American Bulldog and the Pitbull can seem like one and the same. They’re actually quite different, with different histories, sizes, and personalities. How can you tell the difference between the two breeds?

There is a lot of misconception about the term “Pitbull.” Many people use the term loosely to refer to a group of breeds that were originally used in dogfighting rings. The term “Pitbull ” may be used for American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pitbull Terriers, and any dog that slightly resembles these breeds.

Let’s talk about the American Bulldog vs Pitbull and some of their similarities and differences. In this article, we’ll be using the term Pitbull to refer specifically to the American Pitbull Terrier (APBT), and we will be talking about the American Bulldog with another name they are known as, the “American Bully.”

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-bating 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 as 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).

Breed Histories

The American Bulldog and the APBT were both developed in America from dogs that were originally used for bull-baiting in England before it was outlawed in 1835, but that is where the similarities in their history end.

American Bulldog

Working-class immigrants brought the Old English Bulldog to America and further developed the breed to work on farms. The dogs were used for all-around farm work, but they were especially good at managing cattle and hunting invasive wild pigs.

The American Bully’s popularity started to decline in the first half of the 20th century and nearly went extinct by the end of World War II. A few breeders saved the breed and bred them to primarily be family companions rather than farm dogs.

The American Bulldogs are believed to descend from the English Bulldog for hunting and guarding purposes. Moreover, the breed in its early time was used for guarding and bull-baiting purposes. The Bulldog that we see today, survived from being nearly extinct. Efforts of Dr. Johnson D. Johnson is responsible for saving this breed from extinction.

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 guardians, herding dogs, and hunting dogs.

This breed’s original purpose was personal and property protection and 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. 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 bullbaiting, which involved tethering a bull to a stake in the ground and encouraging dogs to try to bite the bull’s nose.

Pit Bull Terrier

The APBT was originally brought over from England to be used in dogfighting rings or for ratting, which took place in a pit. Ratting was a betting sport where people bet to see whose dog could kill the most rats the fastest. The pit helped keep the rats in place and lent itself to the breed’s name.

Eventually, dogfighting and ratting became less popular, and Pit Bulls became farm dogs and family companions. They have amazingly impressive bite inhibition toward humans thanks to their days as fighting dogs because their owners needed to safely remove their dogs from ratting pits or dog fighting rings.  They are also a very common dog to get mixed with other breeds, like the Labrador.

American Pitbull Terrier or simply Pitbull, was originated as a result of breeding an Old English Bulldog and Old English Terrier that came from Ireland and England. Similar to the American Bulldogs, Pitbulls were also used in sports such as bull or bear-baiting before such activities were banned.

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 whose 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.


The biggest difference between the American Bully and the APBT is their size.

The American Bully is much larger, standing 22 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing 60 to 120 pounds or more.

The smaller of the two breeds, the APBT stands 17 to 21 inches high at the shoulder and only weighs 30 to 60 pounds.

Another difference between the breeds is their color. American Bulldogs are usually white with black, brown, red, or brindle patches. They often have black “eye-liner.” Pit Bulls, on the other hand, can be just about any color.

As you will see, American Bulldogs and American Pits have some similarities and some differences when you compare their temperament, training, and exercise needs side by side.

The simplest way to tell apart from an American Bulldog and a Pit Bull it’s by contrasting their appearances. Let’s take a look!

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

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 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 and 50 pounds.

In contrast, the American Bulldog is much larger. Males can grow between 22 to 25 inches and weighing 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 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 demeanour.

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.

For a full side-by-side appearance comparison, read our table below so you can identify the similarities and differences shared by Bulldogs and Pit Bulls when it comes to their physical attributes.

Pitbull Golden Retriever Mix

Temperament Comparison

American Bullies and Pits have very similar temperaments. They both love people and don’t do well left alone for long periods of time. Both breeds can be trusted with children better than you would expect – although you should never leave any dog alone with small children.

The primary difference in temperament between these two breeds is how well they tolerate other animals. Pitties, with their more recent dogfighting lineage, can be more aggressive toward cats, other dogs, or any other small animal they may see as prey.

That’s not to say that American Bulldogs automatically get along with other animals. They may also attack other animals; they’re just easier to socialize when they are young to decrease the likelihood of them trying to kill other animals.

Whether you choose an American Bully or an APBT, either breed may not do well at a dog park. While they may not start a fight, their tenacity often means they’ll be the one to finish it, with potentially disastrous results.

American Bulldogs and Pit Bulls have very similar temperaments and personalities.

Let’s start with the AB!

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. The usually are alert and have strong protective instincts and can be act reserved towards strangers. American Bulldogs are loyal. They have an innate prey drive that must be monitored when around with unknown, smaller animals such as cats or dogs.

So how does the temperament of a Pit Bull compare to the Bulldog’s?

According to Pamela Reid, PhD, 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 rank high among the most affectionate, tolerant and least aggressive dogs.

It’s fair to say that these dogs may look tough, but they are only aggressive about snuggling.

In general, the American Pit Bull Terrier is known for noted for its playful temperament and friendly nature. They are tenacious dogs that need early socialization and handling. American Pit Bull Terries 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.

Training Comparison

Both American Bulldogs and Pit Bulls are intelligent but stubborn. They need an owner who is comfortable being firm with their training. In the right hands, both American Bulldogs and Pits can be trained to do many types of work or dog sports. In the wrong hands, however, these dogs can be antisocial at best and aggressive at worst.

These dogs are not ideal for novice dog owners or those who don’t like to spend a lot of time training their dog.

Exercise Comparison

Both breeds were bred to work all day, and both breeds have plenty of energy. They need at least an hour of exercise every day, preferably in a large fenced-in backyard. They can be jogging buddies, but American Bulldogs may be prone to overheating, especially if they have a short muzzle.

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:

The American Bulldog has a life expectancy of 10-15 years being prone to Hip Dysplasia. It is generally healthy throughout its life. Except for Hip Dysplasia, some common ailments include bone cancer and thyroid deficiency. Also, these dogs very often suffer from skin problems as well as thyroid disease and bladder stones.

According to PetMD, American Bulldogs are prone to the following health issues:

  • Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (a nervous system disorders with swelling and/or changes in some retinal cells)
  • Kidney issues
  • Cherry eye
  • Bone cancer

Also, due to their facial wrinkles, AB 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:

The American Pitbull lives a normal life of 8-15 years old. Diseases that these dogs are prone to include allergies, heart diseases, and cataracts. They require an adequate amount of exercise and playing to ensure their physical fitness.

The American Pit Bull Terrier can develop a number of health problems including:

  • Heart disease (i.e., valve malformations and irregularities in heart rhythm)
  • Diabetes
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Cataracts (Use Zesty Paws Eye Supplement to promote eye health in Pitties)
  • Sensitive to allergies
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Kneecap dislocation

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

Pitbull vs American Bulldog


Both American Bulldogs and Pit Bulls are intelligent but stubborn. They need an owner who is comfortable being firm with their training. In the right hands, both American Bulldogs and Pits can be trained to do many types of work or dog sports. In the wrong hands, however, these dogs can be antisocial at best and aggressive at worst.

These dogs are not ideal for novice dog owners or those who don’t like to spend a lot of time training their dog.

Early socialization and puppy training classes is suggested for both of these breeds.

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.

American Bulldog

The American Bulldogs are sometimes stubborn and can be challenging to train. However, with their desire to please, these dogs can be obedient if you use positive methods of training. You can use verbal praise, treats, and gentle patting to encourage them. Repetitive training bores them so be careful not to repeat a task many times.

As other puppies, early socialization of the Bulldog is necessary. They tend to chew anything they find. Hence, it becomes necessary to teach them to release anything from their mouth by commands.

American Pitbull

Training of the American Pitbull should start early in a calm and assertive manner as it won’t respond well to harsh tones. It is best to keep training sessions short because they’ll lose interest quickly even if you use treats as a reward. Training a Pitbull Terrier can be a long process and hence lots of patience is necessary during the process.

Grooming Needs

The grooming needs for American Bullies and Pit Bulls are the same. Both dog breeds have short hair and are mild to moderate shedders.

Both breeds will benefit from being brushed once a week with a rubber brush to help distribute their natural oils and remove loose hair. Occasional bathing with a shampoo made for dogs will help them stay clean and shiny.

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.

Occasional, when they become dirty, bathing with a shampoo made for dogs will help them stay clean and shiny.

Trim their every few weeks and ears should be cleaned once a month or as needed, especially in Pit Bull Terriers since they have perky ears that are susceptible to infection.

Price Difference

Prices can vary! But here is what you can expect to pay for a Bulldog or Pit Bull.

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 $1100. But prices for American Pit Bull Terriers fluctuate between $3,700 to $10,000.

If you’re interested in adopting, APBT or American Bulldogs may be available for adoption at your local shelter.

American Bulldog

The price of American Bulldog is usually expensive than the Pitbull Terrier. A Bulldog puppy costs an average amount of $800 USD.

American Pitbull

The price of American Pitbull is less than that of the American Bulldog because of the crossbreeding related to it. A Pitbull Terrier puppy costs an average amount of $500 USD.

Pitbull vs American Bulldog

Bulldog vs Pit Bull FAQ

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 and fund. They only difference might be that one is larger and may require a little 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.

Are American Bulldogs or Pit Bulls Good Guard Dogs?

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

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.

Are American Bulldogs or Pit Bulls Hypoallergenic?

No, there is no truly hypoallergenic dog. Dog hair isn’t the only culprit that triggers allergies. Allergies are caused by different proteins found in a dog’s dander, hair, saliva, and urine. All dogs shed these proteins to some extent. Some more than others. While these two dogs sport a short coat and shed moderately they are not hypoallergenic.

Is the American Bulldog a better family dog than the Pit Bull?

Not at all! Both make great family pets. With the proper training and guidance, these dogs will do well in a family. They are people-oriented, affectionate with both adults and children. However, just as with any dog, never leave a dog alone with a small child.

Do Pit Bulls have locking jaws?

No, if you compare the skull of a Pit Bull skull to a skull of any other dog breed, they don’t have any special locking mechanism or bone structure that allows them to “lock” their jaws. They are determined, so if they bite onto something, it may seem that they have locked jaws, but in reality, it’s just their nature.

Do American Bulldogs have locking jaws?

No, same as the Pit Bull, there is no special mandibular structure that allows them to lock their jaws.

Are American Bulldogs & Pit Bulls Aggressive towards humans?

It’s a myth that Pit Bulls are all inherently vicious. Unless a Pit Bull or American Bulldog has been poorly bred or purposefully trained to attack humans and other animals, then dog-aggression and people-aggression will be a problem. They generally love people. In fact, they are one of the most loving, loyal, friendly, and dedicated companions you can have.

Are American Bulldogs or Pit Bulls Good Guard Dogs?

Many people bring home these dog breeds thinking that they will make excellent guard dogs. While both breeds can look intimidating (especially the larger American Bulldog), they are usually much too friendly to be good guard dogs.

They may decide to protect your family from attackers, but they’re just as likely to let a burglar in and show them where you keep your valuables. With that being said, their appearance alone may be enough to scare off the average intruder.


Can an American Bulldog or Pitbull Live in an Apartment?

Both dog breeds need lots of exercise and may not be welcome at dog parks. If you don’t have access to a fenced yard, you must commit to walking or jogging your Bulldog or Pitbull for at least an hour every day. These dog breeds do best with a large fenced-in yard to run around in.


How Can I Find a Reputable American Bully or Pit Bull Breeder?

Pit Bulls and other “bully breeds” are often the most popular dog breed in shelters. You may choose to start your search for a new furry family member there.

If you really want to get a puppy, you’ll want to put in a little research to find a breeder who is more concerned with the health and happiness of their puppies rather than simply making money. To increase your odds of finding a reputable breeder, avoid:

Breeders who don’t allow you to visit their puppies on site

Places where you can’t meet at least one of the puppy’s parents

Breeders who ship most of their puppies

Puppies younger than 8 weeks old

Breeders who don’t ask you questions to ensure you’re a good fit for one of their puppies

Breeding facilities that offer more than one or two breeds of puppies


Do American Bulldogs or Pits Bark a Lot?

Neither American Bulldogs nor Pits are especially frequent barkers. They may bark when bored or excited, but they aren’t as known to be chronic barkers as other dog breeds.

However, Pit Bulls do like to “talk” a lot. They make a wide variety of vocalizations in their attempts to communicate with their humans. If you find this behavior adorable, then the APBT may be the better choice for you. If whining and other unusual dog sounds bother you, then you should probably go with the American Bully instead.


Should I Get a Puppy or Adopt from a Shelter?

While you may not see many American Bulldogs in shelters, the Pitbull is one of the most common dog breeds you’ll find at a shelter or rescue. There are too many breeders and too few good homes for Pitbulls, so it’s worth looking into adopting a Pitbull.

If you’re looking for an American Bulldog or Pitbull puppy from a breeder, be very careful and do plenty of research to avoid supporting a backyard breeder or puppy mill. These places are very cruel “puppy factories” that are only interested in money and not the health or wellbeing of the pets in their care.


Pitbull vs American Bulldog