Pit Bull vs. American Bulldogs - What Are The Key Differences?

Pit bulls and American bulldogs are pretty similar when it comes to their physical appearance.

This is why a lot of people are often confused. Still, the truth is that these two breeds vary in several aspects, especially regarding their history and origin, characteristics, and behavior.

For example, the American Bulldog is a distinct breed. They hail from the molosser dog family, while the American Pit bull descends from the terrier family.

While the American bulldog used to be referred to as Old English Whites, White English Bulldogs, Old Southern Whites, and Country White Bulldogs, they are known today just as the American Bulldog.

american pitbull and bulldog in dog pajamas

The American Pit bull Terrier is also a name that could refer to a wide range of dogs, such as an American Staffordshire Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

In this article, we will discuss some aspects that differentiate these two dogs. Before we do, let's have a closer look at their ancestry:

History and Origin of the Pit Bull Terrier

Pit bulls, most popularly known as American pit bull terriers, were a result of crossbreeding between the Old English Bulldogs and Old English Terriers.

Pit bulls were originally bred for blood sports in the 1800s, known as "bull-baiting."

Bull baiting involved pitting a bull, tied to a tree or stake, against dogs. One can only imagine the gruesomeness of this spectacle. Thankfully, bullbaiting was outlawed in the US in 1835.

But what would happen to the Pit bulls that have been purpose-bred to tackle these larger opponents?

Aided by their muscular upper bodies and headstrong mindset, Pit bulls became excellent working-class companions. No longer used for dog fighting, these amazing dogs started working as farm dogs.

As years passed by, the breed has even become the "All American Dog and Sweetheart" since people began to understand and know them better. In fact, during the world war, Pit bulls were used as the war mascot because of their known bravery and loyalty.

an american pitbull in a blanket

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History and Origin of the American Bulldog

The American Bulldog is a breed of working dog that originated in the Southern United States in the 1800s.

They were used for various tasks, such as guarding and farming.

American bulldogs were also particularly useful as farm dogs and often used in hunting feral pigs.

However, during World War II, the breed almost went extinct due to neglect and lack of resources.

Many American Bulldogs were left behind by their owners, who were called to serve in the war. As a result, the population dwindled, and the breed was on the verge of disappearing altogether.

Fortunately, a few breed enthusiasts worked hard to preserve the American Bulldog, and today it is a thriving breed with a loyal following.

an american bulldog sleeping



A dog's temperament refers to its natural disposition or personality, which is largely influenced by its genetics and early experiences. 

A dog's temperament can vary widely between breeds, and even within breeds, but some general traits are commonly associated with specific breeds.

American Pit Bull Terrier

Pit bulls are known for their loyalty. In fact, these dogs love to please their owners. 

Aside from being courageous, they are sporty and lively. This is why they need regular daily exercise to maintain their fitness.

Also, contrary to popular belief, Pit bulls don't attack humans for no reason. Their natural instinct to hunt and catch prey does, however, make them formidable, even dangerous dogs if they've been trained to attack people.

There is a side of the American pit bull that dog owners should be wary of. They don't always play nice with other pets.

If you have other dogs, a cat, or any other pet, your pit bull is likely to attack it at one point or another. That's simply due to their territorial genetics. So if you plan on getting one of these dogs as a family pet, try to socialize it from a very young age.

American Bulldog

Aside from being confident, fearless, and courageous, American Bulldogs are also gentle and affectionate.

They are highly intelligent and respond well to training when done with positive reinforcement methods. American Bulldogs are also athletic and require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental health.

They have a playful and curious nature and enjoy spending time outdoors exploring their surroundings. While they can be wary of strangers, American Bulldogs are generally friendly and sociable with familiar people and pets.

With proper socialization and training, American Bulldogs can make great family pets and are known for their unwavering devotion to their loved ones.

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Physical Appearance

While many people will confuse these two breeds of dogs, there are quite a few physical traits that make them easily identifiable.

Let's look at just a few.

American Pit bull Terrier

The American Pit bull Terrier is a medium-sized, muscular breed with a short, smooth coat.

They have a broad, wedge-shaped head with a muscular neck and a deep, broad chest. Their ears are often cropped, and their tail is short and tapered.

The breed typically weighs 30-60 pounds and stands around 18-22 inches tall at the shoulder. This makes them smaller than the American bulldog.

Their coat can come in a variety of colors, including black, brown, fawn, and brindle. American Pit bulls have a strong and agile build, with well-defined muscles that give them an athletic appearance.

Overall, they are a powerful and imposing breed with a distinctive look that sets them apart from other dogs.

There's an assumption that American pit bull terriers make excellent guard dogs. And while that could be true of some dogs that have had proper training, most pit bulls are too friendly with people they meet and simply don't make very good guard dogs.

Check our Sparkpaw's range of dog coats specially made for meduim-sized dogs.

American Bulldog

The American Bulldog is a large, muscular breed with a broad head, strong jaw, and short, stocky body.

They have a short, smooth coat in various colors, including white, brindle, and fawn. American Bulldogs have broad chests and thick, muscular legs that give them a sturdy and robust appearance.

They typically weigh between 60-120 pounds and stand around 20-28 inches tall at the shoulder, making them slightly larger than Pitbulls. The breed has a distinctive wrinkled face with a pushed-in nose and a pronounced underbite, further setting them apart from other bully breeds.

Their ears are typically medium-sized and can be either cropped or left natural. Overall, the American Bulldog is an impressive and imposing breed with a robust build and a distinctive look that sets them apart from other dogs.


If you're considering either of these two breeds as your next family dog, you should also consider their overall health.


Perhaps it's because of their genetic makeup, lineage, or similarities in build, but these two breeds have many health conditions in common.

Here are a few health concerns surrounding both dog breeds:

Hip Dysplasia

This genetic condition affects the hip joint and can cause pain, lameness, and arthritis.

It occurs when the ball and socket joint of the hip does not develop properly, resulting in instability, wear and tear of the joint, and eventually arthritis. Dogs with hip dysplasia may experience pain, stiffness, and lameness, particularly in the hind legs.

While it is most commonly seen in large dog breeds, it can affect dogs of any size. Treatment options may include medication, exercise, weight management, and surgery in severe cases.


Both Pit bulls and American Bulldogs can be prone to skin allergies, which can cause itching, hair loss, and skin infections.

These allergies can be caused by a variety of factors, including food ingredients, environmental allergens such as pollen or dust, and flea bites. They may also be prone to allergic reactions to certain medications or chemicals, such as flea or tick preventatives.

If you suspect that your dog may have allergies, it's important to work with your veterinarian to identify the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Demodectic Mange

Mites cause this skin condition and can result in hair loss, scabbing, and skin infections.

Demodex mites are normally present on the skin of all dogs, but when the dog's immune system is weakened or immature, the mites can multiply and cause skin irritation and infection.

Symptoms of demodectic mange may include hair loss, redness, and scaling on the face, ears, and front legs.

Heart Disease

American Pit bull Terriers and American Bulldogs are susceptible to various types of heart disease, including dilated cardiomyopathy and mitral valve disease.

Overall, both dog breeds can be healthy dogs with a lifespan of around 12-16 years.

Like all breeds, these dogs may be prone to certain health issues, but with proper care and attention, many of these can be prevented or managed with proper care and attention.

Training and Exercise

Being medium and large-sized dogs, these two breeds need a healthy dose of daily exercise to keep in shape. Let's have a closer look at what exercise routine is needed to keep either an American bully or a Pit bull in shape.

a pitbull running in the snow in a jacket

American Pit Bull Terrier

Pit Bull Terriers are high-energy dogs that require plenty of exercises to maintain their physical and mental health. Regular exercise helps to prevent boredom and destructive behavior, and it also strengthens the bond between you and your dog.

Activities such as daily walks, jogging, swimming, and playing fetch are great ways to provide your Pit bull Terrier with the physical activity they need to stay healthy and happy.

As a general rule, most Pit bulls require at least 30 minutes to an hour of exercise per day, which can be divided into multiple shorter walks throughout the day.

Puppies and senior dogs may require shorter walks, while younger and more active Pit bulls may need longer walks or even jogging sessions

American Bulldog

Like Pit bulls, American Bulldogs are high-energy dogs that require regular exercise to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

However, there are some differences in training these two breeds. American Bulldogs are generally larger and heavier than Pit bulls, which means they may not be as agile or quick. Therefore, they may not excel in activities that require speed and agility, such as agility courses. I

Instead, American Bulldogs may prefer activities that involve strength, such as weight pulling or carrying a backpack.

Did you know?

The United Kennel Club (UKC) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) are two of the largest dog breed registries in the world.

a brown pitbull

Steve DiMatteo/Pexels

While the UKC recognizes the American Bulldog as a distinct breed with a specific breed standard, the AKC does not recognize the Pit bull as a breed.

Instead, the term "Pit Bull" is often used to refer to a group of breeds that share similar physical characteristics, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier.

Despite their differences in recognition, both the American Bulldog and the Pit bull are beloved breeds that are known for their loyalty, courage, and athleticism.


Both the American bulldog and Pit bull terrier come from a lineage of fighting dogs. They were originally bred to provide entertainment to people who enjoyed the cruel sport of bull baiting.

Fortunately, over the years, many people realized that there's much more than fierce fighting dogs. Underneath the tough and rugged exterior there lies fun-loving, family-oriented dog breeds.

In fact, both breeds are so good with families with young children that they have often been described as nanny dogs. While they have some physical differences with the American Bulldog being slightly larger of the two, they are quite similar in their genetic makeup.

If you're looking for a guard dog that will get along with your other animals, opt for a bully. They're a large, active breed that will fit right in to any family, large or small.

But if you're looking for an agile dog, ready to tackle any obstacle and enjoy the outdoors with you, consider adopting a Pitbull Terrier. They're medium-sized dogs and great family dogs.