American Bulldog vs. Pitbull: An In-Depth Comparison (with FAQ)

American Bulldog vs Pitbull differences and similarities comparison

Some breeds are often mistaken for other dogs. This may be due to appearance, size, and even temperament. In the canine world, the most common breeds confused with each other are the American Bulldogs and Pitbulls.

When comparing an American Bulldog and a Pitbull, many people assume they are the same breed. However, American Bulldogs are a standalone breed, while Pitbulls can refer to any Pitbull type breed such as the American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or American Staffordshire Terrier.

This article will serve as your ultimate comparison guide between the gentle American Bulldog and the friendly American Pit Bull Terrier breed, which will be used interchangeably with Pitbulls.

Get ready to learn the main similarities and differences between their characteristics. Let’s begin!

History and Origin

American Bulldog

The history and origin of the American Bulldog can be traced back to the 1800s when Old English Bulldogs were brought to America by working-class immigrants.

They were considered excellent guard dogs for farms. They helped herd animals, perform hunting tasks, and keep feral pigs away from crops.

Back in England, the Old English Bulldog was used in an English sport called bull baiting, thus their name. This activity involves a bull being tethered to the ground while the dogs try to bite the bull’s nose.

After World War II, the breed was almost considered extinct. Due to the persistent efforts of breeders like Dr. John D. Johnson, American Bulldogs were still bred as companions rather than farm dogs.

RELATED: Johnson American Bulldog: All You Need to Know

American Pit Bull Terrier

The American Pit Bull Terrier is believed to be produced from crossbreeding an Old English Bulldog and an Old English Terrier from Ireland and England.

Like American Bulldogs, they were also brought to the United States by immigrants.

Both American Bulldogs and American Pit Bulls were also popular choices for bull baiting. However, once this sport was outlawed, Pitbulls were later used for dogfighting and ratting.

These activities gave the breed its famous name and reputation for being aggressive dogs.

Ratting, in particular, is a betting sport where people bet a sum of money to a Pitbull that can kill the highest number of rats in the least amount of time. 

The term “Pit” in Pitbull is derived from the place where the rats were usually placed to prevent them from escaping while the dogs hunted them.

As the popularity of these cruel blood sports dwindled, dedicated breeders decided to keep the breed alive by adapting them to become farm dogs and family pets.

READ MORE: Colby Pitbull: Facts and FAQ About This Top Pitbull Bloodline

Kennel Club Recognition

American Bulldog

The American Bulldog was recognized as a separate dog breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2019. 

Despite being acknowledged very recently, they were already accepted by other kennel clubs such as the National Kennel Club (NKC) in 1970 and the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1999.

However, upon registration at UKC, American Bulldogs are not to be mistaken with the American Bully which is a different classification in this registry.

American Pit Bull Terrier

American Pit Bull Terriers are currently not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). They only allow the registration of other Pitbull breeds like Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers.

However, owners can still register their dogs at the United Kennel Club (UKC) or the National Kennel Club (NKC). UKC was the first registry to acknowledge them back in 1898.


American Bulldog

American Bulldog appearance

The photo above shows a typical American Bulldog. As you can see, they are muscular and stocky dogs with prominent cheek muscles, strong shoulders, and a broad chest.

Compared to the American Pit Bull Terrier, Bulldogs have a wide, rounded head, a square muzzle, and folded rose-shaped ears.

Their medium-sized eyes are round or almond in shape and are set wide apart on their skull. The nose is long with wide nostrils while the neck is muscular and almost as wide as the dog’s head.

The Bulldog’s feet are well-arched and close together. Their tail is set low by default and thick at its base. However, the owner can choose to keep it natural or docked.

American Pit Bull Terrier

Pitbull appearance

Both the American Bulldog and American Pit Bull are muscular, broad, and sturdy dog breeds. However, Pitbulls are observed to be leaner and have more defined muscles. The head also appears to be wider and less round.

The Pitbull’s ears are set high on its head and can be kept natural or be cropped depending on the owner’s preference. The eyes are medium-sized and round, sitting well apart and low on the skull.

The ears of a Pitbull Terrier are small to medium in size and set high on their head. They can also be natural or cropped. The nose is large with wide nostrils and the muzzle is broad and deep.

Compared to American Bulldogs, the Pitbull’s feet are round and in proportion to the dog’s size. Their tail is set on as a natural extension of the topline and then narrows to a point.

Many animal rights activists oppose the ear cropping and tail docking of both American Bulldogs and American Pit Bull Terriers.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) warns owners that this practice can cause unnecessary distress and pain to their dogs. It provides no medical benefit to their pets.

Size and Weight

American Bulldog

If you want a larger breed, you’ll be better paired with an American Bulldog. Generally, these dogs can weigh between 60 and 100 pounds when they mature. Males typically weigh around 75 to 100 pounds while females weigh only 60 to 80 pounds.

Since American Bulldogs were used to guard livestock and hunt small predators, they need to be powerful and agile enough to perform these tasks. 

In terms of height, male Bulldogs measure anywhere between 22 and 25 inches tall while females stand shorter at 20 to 23 inches when fully grown.

American Pit Bull Terrier

The American Pit Bull Terrier, on the other hand, is smaller than the American Bulldog. A mature male Pitbull is 35 to 60 pounds while a mature female Pitbull is usually between 30 and 50 pounds.

Their height measures from 18 to 21 inches for males and around 17 to 20 inches for females.

To appear well-proportioned and balanced, Pitbulls should have the appropriate weight-to-height ratio. 

READ NEXT: Pocket Pitbull: Are These Mini-Sized Pitbulls Right for You?

Color and Coat

American Bulldog

An American Bulldog has a short coat that can be soft or stiff to the touch depending on the dog’s inherited traits. It cannot be long or wavy.

The color can be any solid color, pattern, or color combination except pure black or blue, merle, and tricolor (white with streaks of black and tan).

Typical colors only include white with black, brown, red, or brindle patches.

RELATED: All American Bulldog Colors and Markings Explained (With Pictures!)

American Pit Bull Terrier

A Pitbull Terrier generally has a glossy and smooth coat that is moderately stiff to the touch. Wavy, curly, or sparse hair is not acceptable.

With regards to color, any solid color, pattern, or color combination is allowed by most registries, including the United Kennel Club (UKC). Merle Pitbulls are not desirable.

RELATED: Pitbull Colors: 23 Coat Color Variations Explained (With Pictures)

Temperament and Personality

Two Pitbull puppies playing together in garden

American Bulldog

The behavior of an American Bulldog resembles that of an English Bulldog. As pets, they are quite gentle and affectionate with their owners and other members of the household.

Even though they appear large and intimidating, their friendly and loving nature shows otherwise.

Large lap dogs as they are, Bulldogs also have a stubborn side. They can be very strong-willed and challenging to train. They need to be handled by a firm hand. Otherwise, they will assume the role of the pack leader.

If you want a dog that can protect your loved ones, an American Bulldog is a perfect choice. They make good guard dogs because of their high sense of alertness and strong protective instincts.

American Bulldogs tend to have a high prey drive so it’s best to introduce them to other animals in the household like cats, birds, or other small pets at an early age.

With proper socialization, they can easily get along with other dogs, too.

American Pit Bull Terrier

If you are looking for a more playful or goofy personality in a dog, you might want to consider getting an American Pit Bull Terrier.

Contrary to some misconceptions, they are proven to be the most affectionate, tolerant, and least aggressive dogs compared to other breeds.

Due to their history as fighting dogs, many people are skeptical about owning or even coming close to a Pitbull.

However, in a behavioral test conducted by the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS), American Pit Bull Terrier got an 87.4% passing rate which shows how friendly and non-threatening they are.

Many Pitbull owners can attest that their dogs are only aggressive about getting cuddles and attention. Like American Bulldogs, they are loyal dogs that make great family pets.

However, you can expect them to be more energetic and cheerful than Bulldogs, a common trait of breeds from the terrier family.

When it comes to barking, neither American Bulldogs nor Pitbulls bark frequently. Like other dog breeds, they only bark when they get excited but when a stranger is near, both these dogs remain calm and reserved.

READ NEXT: Male vs. Female Pitbull: Which Is Better?

Lifespan and Health Problems

American Bulldog

The average life expectancy of an American Bulldog ranges from 10 to 12 years.

However, the following health issues can affect their health and reduce their lifespan:

  • Osteosarcoma or Bone Cancer: A Bulldog can develop osteosarcoma which is a malignant tumor of the bone. These tumors are a result of the abnormal production of cells responsible for creating and breaking down bones. This commonly affects large dog breeds.
  • Cherry Eye: Dogs have a third eyelid which is located inside the lower eyelid. It contains a special gland that produces a large portion of the eye’s protective membrane. When this gland prolapses or pops out, it results in the condition called cherry eye.
  • Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): This refers to the failure of the kidneys to filter waste products in the blood. CKD mostly affects old Bulldogs that are likely to have worn-out kidney tissues. Early symptoms include frequent urination and dehydration.

Since Bulldogs have wrinkled faces, they can develop skin problems so it’s important to clean the skin folds regularly with vet-approved products.

American Pit Bull Terrier

American Pit Bulls generally live longer than Bulldogs. Their life expectancy ranges from 12 to 14 years.

They are also prone to several health conditions as listed below:

  • Heart Disease: Pitbulls can experience one of several heart diseases. Two of the most common ones include valve disease and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The former results in heart murmur while the latter condition causes the thinning of the heart muscles.
  • Diabetes: In dogs, diabetes occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin to regulate the amount of sugar. The most common form of diabetes in canines is diabetes mellitus. Affected dogs have a high buildup of glucose in the bloodstream which results in cell dysfunction.
  • Aortic Stenosis: This is an inherited disease characterized by the narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve. As a result, the heart works harder to pump blood to the valve. Veterinarians often detect a heart murmur in affected dogs. In severe cases, aortic stenosis can lead to heart dysfunction.
  • Cataracts: When a Pitbull has cloudy or opaque eyes, it has an eye condition called cataracts. Dogs with diabetes often develop cataracts which can progress to blindness. Early detection and surgery can be done to restore diminished vision.
  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): This is a degenerative disease affecting the spinal cord. It is marked by weakened hind legs that can eventually result in paralysis. DM often happens to dogs between 4 and 14 years old.

As you can see, Pitbull terriers are predisposed to many health issues. If you want to own one, purchase from breeders that perform health screening for genetic-related conditions.

Puppy Price and Expenses

Brindle coat American Bulldog puppy dog on nature

American Bulldog

In the United States, American Bulldogs cost anywhere between $1,500 and $3,500 per puppy. Those from superior bloodlines can cost up to $8,000.

If you buy from a backyard breeder, the price will be much less but their health might not be guaranteed.

The final price for an American Bulldog puppy also depends on their bloodline, health, location, and paperwork done by the breeder.

American Pit Bull Terrier

You can buy a Pitbull puppy from a reputable breeder for around $3,700 to $10,000. They are much more expensive than Bulldogs because of their sudden popularity in recent years. Some puppies can even go up to $20,000.

Once you take a puppy home, you need to prepare some items to help them transition to their new life.

In terms of initial expenses, both the American Bulldog and Pitbull Terrier can have the following cost breakdown:

Type of ExpenseAverage Cost
Dog Food and Treats$105
Leash and Collar$20
Food and Water Bowl$15
Chew Toys$24
Dog Crate$50
Dog Bed$40
Grooming Essentials$38
Urine Cleaner$25
Poop Scooper$20
Total Initial Cost$337

The estimated initial cost of expenses for a Bulldog or Pitbull puppy is expected to be around $337.

If you are on a tight budget, you can look for discounts at your favorite pet shops or follow tutorials for making DIY dog toys or making homemade treats.

Breeders and Rescues

American Bulldog

American Bulldogs are widely available breeds in the country due to their popularity. To help you get started, here is a list of reputable American Bulldog breeders you can reach out to:

  • We Love American Bulldogs – Operating since 1997, this breeder is dedicated to producing high-quality American Bulldogs for families in North Carolina and Florida. All of their puppies are vaccinated, de-wormed, socialized, potty trained, and microchipped before adoption.
  • Grand Future Kennel – This breeder has been producing champion American Bulldogs since 2000. Their kennel is based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Los Angeles, California. All of their dogs are trained and certified for obedience and defense.
  • Birt’s American Bulldogs – This is another breeder from California that offers powerful, protective, and intelligent American Bulldogs. All of their puppies come with full breeding rights and a health guarantee. They are also registered in several kennel clubs. 

If you are looking for a cheaper option, check out the following rescues:

  • American Bulldog Rescue – This is an all-volunteer group dedicated to rescuing and finding permanent homes for American Bulldogs. They are based in Pennsylvania and partnered with different shelters in the mid-Atlantic region.
  • Adopt-a-Pet – This is the largest adoption website in the United States. You can easily find an available American Bulldog for adoption by filtering your location and other preferences. They are partnered with over 21,000 shelters, groups, and agencies.
  • SaveaRescue – This is another rescue group that caters to all breeds of cats and dogs, including American Bulldogs. They perform medical treatment, spaying, and neutering (if necessary) and provide other needs until the dogs are ready to be adopted.

You can also try adopting directly from your local shelter but you may need to shoulder the veterinary expenses and deal with behavioral issues.

American Pit Bull Terrier

You also won’t have trouble finding a Pitbull breeder but if you want to save time searching for one, take a look at the list of breeders below:

  • Dark Dynasty K9s – This is a family-operated kennel founded in 2004 in New Hampshire. They are known for producing American Pit Bull Terriers. The puppies are raised together with kids and other dogs.
  • Monster Bully Kennels – This is another breeder focused on providing customers with confident, friendly, and protective American Pitbulls that make great family pets. All of their dogs are health-tested and come in a variety of colors.
  • Bossy Kennels – This kennel is home to American Pit Bull Terriers with amazing temperaments, making them great companions. They offer shipment within and outside the United States.

RELATED: 10 Best Pitbull Breeders (2023): Our Top 10 Picks!

For those who are looking to adopt a Pittie, you can inquire at the following rescue organizations:

  • Biggies Bullies – This rescue was founded in 2011. After years of being a foster-based rescue organization, they opened their own headquarters in 2021. Now, they can easily meet with their potential families and be taken care of by their growing number of volunteers.
  • Born Again Pit Bull Rescue (BAPBR) – Since 2017, BAPBR has been rescuing Pitbull breeds from local animal shelters. Through their Pit Stop and Adopt program, you can easily bring home your beloved new pet. They currently accept applications from Salem, Portland, and Vancouver area.
  • Hello Bully – This rescue began rehoming American Pit Bull Terriers that were victims of illegal dogfighting. They provide both medical treatment and behavioral rehabilitation for rescued dogs. All of their pups are being taken care of by foster families.

To get approved by a rescue in no time, make sure to fill up the application form completely and educate yourself about the breed.

RELATED: 10 Best Pitbull Rescues for Adoption (2023): Our Top 10 Picks!

Similarities Between American Bulldogs and American Pit Bull Terriers

When talking about similarities, both American Bulldogs and Pitbulls almost share the same history and origin.

Both these dogs trace their roots from the Old English Bulldog. They were both used for bull-baiting and were later used as farm dogs.

Bulldogs and Pitbulls have the same muscular and stocky appearance. In terms of behavior, these two breeds both need early socialization to get used to new people easily and get along with other pets.

Whether you choose a Bully or Pittie, you‘ll be sure to get an amazing family dog that is friendly and affectionate. They are also both very loyal and protective so they both make good guard dogs.

American Bulldog vs. Pitbull: Which Is Better?

As the battle between American Bulldogs vs. Pitbulls continues, the ultimate question as to which breed is better needs to be answered. 

If you want a dog that can match your energy and active personality, an American Pit Bull Terrier is a better choice.

They are highly active which means lots of long walks and physical exercise are needed to deplete this dog’s energy. 

However, Pitbulls are not recommended for those that need to leave their dogs alone for a long time. This can cause them to have separation anxiety and develop destructive behaviors like biting shoes or ruining furniture.

Bulldogs, on the other hand, are calmer but equally sociable. You can also benefit from their low-maintenance coat. They are also smart dogs but moderately hard to train. You may also find them chasing other animals.

In the end, they are two completely different breeds with a shared past but distinct personalities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Young American Pit Bull Terrier in no pull harness on the meadow

Is an American Bulldog the Same Thing as a Pitbull?

No, an American Bulldog is not a Pitbull. They are a separate breed of dogs while Pitbulls can be one of the several Pitbull type breeds including the American Pitbull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier.

Is an American Bulldog Stronger Than a Pitbull?

Even though American Bulldogs are generally larger, Pitbulls are more athletic, thus stronger than an average Bulldog.

Their physique gives them the advantage when it comes to running, jumping, and even pulling heavy objects. Their broad chest and strong shoulders enable them to display excellent strength and power.

American Bulldog vs. Pitbull: Who Will Win in a Dog Fight?

While dog fights shouldn’t be tolerated, it’s a common curiosity to know which breed will win between a Bulldog and a Pitbull. In terms of strength and agility, Pitbulls have a clear advantage.

However, due to their head size, Bulldogs can give a stronger bite. Even so, Pitbulls have a better chance of winning.

Is the American Bulldog Considered an Aggressive Breed?

American Bulldogs are not naturally aggressive breeds. Like other dogs, they can show aggression when provoked.

Due to their high prey drive, they may attack other animals when they are not socialized early during puppyhood.

Final Thoughts: Which Breed Is Right for You?

Choosing between an American Bulldog and Pitbull Terrier will ultimately depend on your ability to handle medium to large dogs as well as your current lifestyle. Like any other dog breed, they need proper care and attention.

If you have a lot of time to spare for physical activities, you are better off with having a Pitbull as a companion. They are also more easygoing, loving, and a bit clownish with a stubborn side.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a calm pup that also makes a great family dog, a Bulldog is a perfect choice. They may be slow learners but they can easily get along with anyone.

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