Pitbull vs American Bulldog: Breed Differences and Similarities

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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Various breeds of dogs are quite easily identified at the first glance while others require more effort to recognize. Studies have shown that the Pitbull is one of those breeds that have suffered mistaken identities over the years.

The Bulldog is easily identified by dog people who know their stuff but for those who are new to the canine world, it’s not uncommon for the Bulldog to be mistaken for the Pitbull as well as other dog breeds with similar appearance and that is more reason why we are looking into comparing the two dog breeds.

While the Bulldog and Pitbull share a lot in common, there are also some striking differences in their looks, history, and their personalities.

This article is written mainly for the purpose of comparing both breeds of dogs but before we do that, let us take a little time to explain each dog differently. For the sake of clarity and fairness, we will be using the American bulldog for our comparison as the bulldog breed is of different types.

Overview of Pitbull

The Pitbull is not technically a breed. Any dog of mixed breed that has unknown parentage and has specific physical characteristics such as a wide square-shaped head and bulky body type is labeled as Pitbull.

Though the Pitbull is known to exhibit a degree of ferocity and that is why people fear them. They are usually not allowed in crowded places or places with a considerable amount of children.

Despite the fear people have for the Pitbull, it doesn’t stop it from being a loving breed and also one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, especially in the United States.

Studies have also shown that they are the second most adopted breed of dogs in the United States.

Overview of American Bulldog

According to the English dictionary, the bulldog is a sturdy thickset breed of dog with an undershot jaw, muscular body, a short nose, and a broad shoulder.

The American bulldog has massive and strong jaws intended for latching on to its opponent and holding on. They have dark eyes and their ears are quite small and thin. They move with more of a waddle than a walk as they have short legs set at each corner of their body.

Although they are depicted as ferocious dogs, they are usually bred to be loving and kind. They are attention seekers and love to cling to the body of their owners. The bulldog is known to be a couch-loving pooch as they do not mind spending the whole of their day resting.

Pitbull vs American Bulldog: The Ultimate Comparison Guide

General History / Origin

Both dogs have a similar history as they were initially used for violent purposes but that doesn’t tell a full story about the nature of this breed.

Where Does Pitbull Come From?

The Pitbull was also brought over from England for the sole purpose of being used for bull-baiting. When bull-baiting was outlawed, the breed was used for dogfighting and ratting.

Ratting was a sports gambling activity where people bet to see dogs kill rats in a pit, hence the name; ‘Pitbull’. Then, whoever owns the dog that kills the most rats, wins the bet.

Later on, Ratting and dogfighting grew less popular and Pitbulls were brought to America by immigrants to become guard as well as family dogs. Now they are the commonest dogs to get mixed with other breeds.

Where Does American Bulldog Come From?

The origin of the American bulldog can be traced to the roots of the English bulldog. In the 1800s, immigrants brought their English bulldogs to the United States to help with certain tasks. They were also used as hunting dogs and farm guards.

After the Second World War, the breed was almost no longer in existence but some breeders in the south kept them alive as family dogs. The American bulldog wasn’t called so because of its looks but because they were used for bull-baiting (an English sport where a bull is put on the ground and dogs are encouraged to try and bite the nose of the bull).

Also Read: Pitbull Belgian Malinois Mix: Breed Info, Personality, And Looks

Appearance and Size

When it comes to appearance, both breeds cannot be any more different.

The Pitbull weighs about 25-60 pounds and stands as tall as 16-24 inches. They have a well-built musculature and a compact body. Their heads are rounded and their jaws wide.

They have high set ears which may be natural or cropped, their nose is usually large with wide-open nostrils and their eyes sit low on their skull.

In terms of the fur on their body, it can come in different patterns and either brown or ash colors.

On the other hand, the appearance of the American bulldog is quite different from the Pitbull as they are mostly white.

The American bulldog can weigh between 55 – 115 pounds and measure between 21 – 27 inches in height. They are muscular and stocky. They have large square-shaped heads with low dark eyes and folded ears on both sides.

Their nose is long and comes with wide nostrils. The cheeks on the face of the bulldogs are usually folded which gives them a very lazy and dopey appearance.


While there has been a lot of bad press surrounding both breeds as they are often described as too vicious. But the truth is that the actions of a few don’t dictate the state of other dogs under these breeds. No bad dogs, only bad owners.

Pitbull Temperament

The Pitbull is an affectionate and gentle companion who is eager to please his humans but the same temperament that makes them loved by people also makes them lousy guard dogs.

Nevertheless, the Pitbull is very protective of its family. They are not a one-person dog breed and are loyal to every member of the family. Even when rehomed, they easily adapt and bond to their new owners.

If not given proper exercise the Pitbull are known to be destructive and that is why owners are advised to give them vigorous activities daily in order to accommodate their energy.

American Bulldog Temperament

The American bulldog is completely different from the Pitbull in terms of temperament. Unlike the Pitbull, they are friendlier to other dogs.

As a dog of fighting origin, the Pitbull is energetic and confident, as well as alert, making them excellent watchdogs. They are attention seekers who want the companionship of their owners at all times.

They are not very easy to train due to their stubbornness and that is why trainers are advised to be completely patient with them. They are usually known as slow learners but with the advantage of never forgetting when they eventually learn.

The bulldog is also a very lazy breed of dog that doesn’t mind spending most of its time lying on the couch or taking a nap. Despite its laziness, the breed is usually up to any task whether it includes running or playing in the yard.


In terms of health, both breeds are healthy dogs. They both have a lifespan of 10 – 15 years and are also prone to suffering from joint issues and tail problems later in their lives.

Pitbulls are known for having allergies and other skin conditions so they need to be bathed and treated properly.

The Bulldog loves to eat and quickly becomes overweight if they don’t get enough exercise. Too much weight stresses their bodies and may aggravate existing health problems. They are also prone to certain types of cancer and thyroid conditions.

Due to their unique body and head structure, they are prone to respiratory and joint difficulties (like hip dysplasia and patella luxation) which can affect their day-to-day life.

Training Requirements

Both the Pitbull and the American bulldog are intelligent, especially as young pups.

Whilst the American bulldog can be stubborn but that doesn’t change the fact that they are smart, especially with training. The same goes for the Pitbull. Both American Bulldog and Pitbull need an owner who is comfortable being consistent with their training.

When trained by a consistent and experienced owner, both dogs will excel in different tasks and dog sports but in the wrong hands, they may develop some temperament issues like excessive aggression, shyness, or destructive behaviors (especially the Pitbull).

As a puppy, both the Pitbull and the American bulldog can master their training in 3-12 weeks at most.


Some breeds find it very difficult to have puppies on their own and require the attention of specialists.

Breeding a bulldog is an expensive proposition as the female finds it difficult to produce puppies without assistance.

Most of them require cesarian sections by doctors to be able to have puppies of their own. On the other hand, the Pitbull is able to reproduce as easily as other breeds do. They have the tendency of producing 4-7 puppies with each pregnancy. Special reproduction cases are rare with Pitbulls.

Feeding Requirements

Feeding both breeds can sometimes prove to be an expensive endeavor as they sometimes require special foods.

The Pitbull is known for having allergies so one needs to be careful about what type of food they are given. The attention of an animal nutrient specialist is often needed when feeding a Pitbull to prevent them from eating random human foods or too many treats that can be dangerous to their health.

The American bulldog on the other hand gains weight easily and special attention is also needed when feeding them so that the appropriate diets will be given to them at the right time. A weight control formula nutrient will help to control the weight of the American bulldog.

In addition, both dogs are prone to bloat and this has proven to be a life-threatening condition that needs to be taken seriously. It is advised that the dogs shouldn’t be fed immediately before or after exercises.

Also, their mealtime should be split into at least two different sittings, preferably morning and very much later in the day.

Grooming Requirements

Neither Pitbull nor American Bulldog requires difficult grooming procedures as they are very easy to maintain.

They both have short hair and do not experience extreme shredding. They just need to be bathed with dog shampoo after which their furs are dried immediately. It is also advised that their hair be brushed at least once a week to help remove loose hair.

Keeping both dogs neat is not such a tedious activity although sometimes, the Pitbull may need a little more care as it is prone to skin problems.

Also Read: Bulldog Pug Beagle Mix: A Complete Guide To The Bull Puggle

Cost of Pitbull vs American Bulldog

Both breeds are usually not very expensive as they are both readily available (as puppies) mostly in animal shelters so adopting one is even cheaper and not much of a hassle.

The Pitbull pups cost around $800 and above while the bulldog is a little bit towards the higher end with a price between $1500 -3000. Of course, these can vary based on location, whether they are trained, an d the quality of the breeder in question.

The Pitbull and American bulldog are prone to health problems, hence, require thorough and regular medical checkups. Allergies are common with the Pitbull while obesity and dysplasias for the American Bulldog.

Choosing Between a Pitbull and an American Bulldog

One factor to consider before choosing a breed is breed-specific legislation (BSL).

Sometimes BSL forbids the Pitbull and some other breeds from living in certain areas or visiting certain places because of their violent nature. Pitbulls may or may not be included in the BSL where you plan to live so it is necessary for you to carry out your research about those laws before going ahead to adopt one.

Aside from that, both breeds make amazing family pets as they are both very affectionate despite the size and the myths surrounding them. If you have the energy to exercise or vigorously train a dog, both breeds are good choices for you. Although quite similar, they both have their unique qualities and personalities, but they are great dog choices.

When the question of which one to buy or raise ever pops up, one should think hard about which particular quality you want in your dog.

If you are the type that loves large but friendly dogs, a dog that can accommodate the people around you easily, then the bulldog should be your choice.

If you want your visitors to be welcomed by the lovely sight of your canine friend, or want an athletic breed that can engage in canine sports like weight pulling, then the Pitbull is the better choice for you.

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Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.