American Bulldog vs Pitbull – What Are The Differences Between These Beautiful Breeds?

American bulldog vs pitbull

Bulldogs and Pitbulls are breeds often confused with one another. It’s no surprise because most of us grew up thinking they are the same. But how are American Bulldogs different compared to the American Pitbull Terrier? Are they farm dogs or aggressive dogs? What do they have in common with other dog breeds? We’ve done our homework and put together a detailed comparison between the American Bulldog vs Pitbull. Let’s review and find out!

What Is An American Pitbull Terrier?

You may have heard that Pitbulls are notorious for dog attacks and are therefore considered scary dogs. Funnily enough, Pitbulls tend to be one of the most misunderstood animals in this regard, considering ‘Pitbull’ is not exactly a specific breed but an umbrella term for dogs with similar characteristics. The Staffordshire Terrier, American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog, and American Pitbull Terrier are commonly referred to as Pitbulls. Generally, dog enthusiasts and experts agree that ‘Pitbull’ is short for the American Pitbull Terrier breed. And it’s the American Pitbull Terrier that we are considering in this comparison.

american pit bull terrier

What is an American Bulldog?

American Bulldogs tend to be one of the most common breeds to be confused with the Pitbull. The two breeds indeed share similar muscular builds and other visual characteristics and are understandably often confused with each other. But there are notable differences between the American Pitbull Terrier and American Bulldog. We have listed some of the distinguishing features of the two breeds along with their brief explanations below. Read on to find out more!

american bulldog

American Bulldog Vs American Pitbull Terrier: Origins

The American Bulldog descends from Old English Bulldogs. Old English Bulldogs were brought to America by immigrants and raised as guards or farm dogs. Herding animals, hunting, and protecting cattle and crops were some of the tasks they were trained for. 

Old English Bulldogs were commonly bred for a dangerous sport called bull baiting. This involved a bull tethered to the ground while the dogs tried to bite its nose. If you haven’t guessed it by now, this is where the name Bulldog comes from. Bull baiting is no longer practiced but the name stuck. The dog breed almost went extinct after World War II but persisted due to the consistent efforts of some ambitious dog breeders. American Bulldogs today are raised as companion dogs rather than farm dogs.

While the American Bulldog is a pure dog breed or purebred, the American Pitbull Terrier is a mix of Old English Bulldog and Old English Terrier breeds. These dogs were often the subject of cruel outlandish sports such as ratting and dog fighting. Ratting involved these dogs being let loose in a pit (hence, Pitbull) full of rats. People would then bet money on the dogs to see who would kill the most rats. Such activities earned the Pitbull its reputation for being an aggressive dog. With time, these activities died down, and the Pitbulls were raised as family pets.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull: Build

Both the American Bulldog and Pitbull are muscular and sturdy dogs. Even though American Bulldogs are pups that look a lot like Pitbulls, they usually have a rounder skull and a more square muzzle. Pitbulls have broad muzzles and a wider head, so it appears less round than the head of an American Bulldog. Pitbulls are also leaner and have more muscle definition in comparison. The Pitbull has ears that lay high on its head and are sometimes cropped for visual appeal. Many animal activists are against this ear-cropping practice and are pushing to ban it altogether. 


The American Bulldog is generally larger than the American Pitbull Terrier. An adult male American Bulldog can weigh around 75 to 120 pounds while adult females weigh between 60 to 80 pounds. In comparison, a fully grown male Pitbull weighs 35 to 60 pounds, and a mature female Pitbull weighs around 30 to 50 pounds.


A similar trend is observed in the height comparison of the two breeds. Male American Bulldogs generally stand taller at 22 to 25 inches, and the grown female American Bulldog can reach the height of 20 to 23 inches. Male Pitbulls, however, stand at 18 to 21 inches when fully matured. The height range for female Pitbulls is 17 to 20 inches.


American Bulldogs are generally white with colored patches like black, brown, red, or sometimes brindle patterns. Pitbulls can be just about any color (black Pitbulls and brindle Pitbulls are particularly striking), although the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club don’t accept registrations of merle Pitbulls due to controversial findings and opinions about the merle gene and its associated effects on dog health.

American Bulldog
American Bulldog

Temperament And Personality Traits: American Bulldog and American Pitbull Terrier

American Bulldogs and American Pitbull Terriers share similar temperaments. Both breeds are loving and affectionate and don’t like to be left alone for extended periods. They are very caring and protective of children as well. 

The American Bulldog is generally wary of other dogs and strangers. This caution makes them an excellent choice as good guard dogs. On the other hand, Pitbulls are too friendly towards people to fulfill any guarding duties. Contrary to popular misconceptions, Pitbulls are not just looking for an outlet to let some kind of unruly monster out who is fueled by unbridled rage. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The American Temperament Test Society conducted a behavioral test in 2011, which showed a passing rate of 86.4% for Pitbulls. That’s higher than 121 other dog breeds, including Golden Retrievers. 

The difference in temperament becomes all too apparent when other dogs or cats are involved. While American Bulldogs generally do well with other animals, American Pitbull Terriers are prone to becoming aggressive toward cats or other dogs as they were trained for dog fights and violent sports for over a century. It’s crucial to have American Pitbull Terriers socialize with other animals while they’re still young to avoid potential aggressive behavior. The best window for social training is when the Pitbull puppy is about 3 to 12 weeks old.

The American Bulldog vs Pitbull Terrier: Who Barks More?

The American Bulldog and Pitbull Terrier are not keen on excessive barking. They mostly bark when excited or trying to get the attention of their owners. The American Bulldog is the quieter one as Pitbulls often make unusual sounds when trying to communicate with humans. Some pet owners find this behavior adorable while others prefer the company of the quieter American Bulldog. Some dogs bark and some dogs don’t get tired of barking!

Which of the two breeds is more stubborn? If you guessed the American Bulldog, you’re right! American Bulldogs are known to be more stubborn than American Pitbull Terriers. Both breeds are energetic and playful, but the American Bulldog needs a more firm approach while training. 

Exercise for the American Bulldog vs Pitbull Terrier

American Pitbull Terriers and American Bulldogs are both physically energetic and very active. They require at least one hour of exercise every day and will love cute toys, squeaky toys, and puzzle toys. Owners can let their American Bulldog or Pitbull buddies exercise by playing fetch or jogging with them, though you’ll need to mix up the exercise regimes of your American Bulldog, as they’re prone to overheating. High exercise requirements are prevalent in both the American Bulldog and Pitbull Terrier, so they do exceptionally well in houses with large backyards.

What About Lifespan And Health Issues For The American Bulldog And American Pitbull Terrier?

Generally, Pitbulls are considered the healthier breed and live longer than Bulldogs. The life expectancy of a Pitbull is around 12 to 14 years, while Bulldogs have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years.

American Bulldogs:

American Bulldogs are prone to the following health issues:

Bone tumor:

Osteosarcoma results in the body producing an abnormal amount of cells required to create or break down bones. 

Cherry Eye:

Dogs have a special gland in their lower eyelids. Cherry eye occurs when this gland pops out of the lower eyelid. American Bulldogs are especially prone to this health issue.

Chronic Kidney Disease:

This usually affects older Bulldogs. Worn-out kidneys become incapable of removing the waste from the blood. 

Skin Diseases:

Bulldogs are also more prone to skin diseases due to their wrinkly faces. Harmful bacteria can accumulate inside the folds of their skin and cause skin-related issues. It’s highly advisable to clean the folds of the facial skin of a Bulldog with quality products approved by your veterinarian to avoid any skin afflictions.


Pitbulls are also prone to several health conditions such as:

Dilated cardiomyopathy:

Pitbulls are vulnerable to many heart diseases. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common of these conditions. It causes thinning of the heart muscles and can adversely affect lifespan and overall quality of life.


Diabetes is a condition that causes the body to not produce the required amount of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. The high buildup of glucose in the blood causes the cells to malfunction. The most common type of diabetes in dogs is diabetes mellitus. Symptoms include weight loss, excessive urination, and cloudy eyes.


Pitbulls are prone to diabetes, which can result in cloudy eyes. This can further develop into cataracts and lead to diminished vision and blindness. 

Degenerative myelopathy:

DM is a spinal cord disease. Early signs include weakened hind legs that can result in paralysis.

Some experts claim that mixed breed Pitbulls, such as the Pitsky or the German Shepherd Pitbull Mix, are healthier. 

American Bulldogs
American Bulldogs


American Bulldogs eat much more than Pitbulls, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Bulldogs are big pooches and weigh almost twice as much as Pitbulls, so it’s a given that they need more nutrition. If your Bulldog weighs more than 50 pounds, you’ll need to shift to dog feed designed especially for larger breeds to provide the necessary nutrients to your pup. You could also think about fresh dog food as some of these providers design food especially for your dog’s weight. Don’t feed your dog immediately before or after exercise, as American Bulldogs and American Pitbull Terriers are prone to bloating, which can become life-threatening.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are American Bulldogs stronger than Pitbulls?

American Bulldogs have flatter heads, so their bite packs more punch than Pitbulls. However, the Pitbull is overall more athletic and stronger than even larger Bulldogs. Their leaner and sporty build gives them an advantage in strength and agility. 

Do Pitbulls have locking jaws?

No, they don’t. Pitbulls are determined little pups and hold on to their chew toys longer than other dogs. Otherwise, their jaws have the same structure and formation as any dog breed.

Are Pitbull dogs generally aggressive?

Yes and no. Pitbulls are thought to be very aggressive creatures, which is merely a result of inefficient or poor training. Pitbulls are very loving and loyal dogs who love to socialize with humans. Usually, it’s the owner’s behavior that encourages aggression. Any dog would be aggressive towards others if treated or trained poorly.

Are Bulldog pups more expensive than Pitbulls?

Generally, yes. Pitbulls are easy to find in dog shelters, so the demand for new puppies is relatively lower than for Bulldog pups. American Bulldogs are also bigger than Pitbulls, which means added costs of food and grooming as well.

Conclusion: American Bulldog vs Pitbull

American Bulldogs and Pitbulls are popular dog breeds that share a common ancestor and are very similar in temperament and personality. Both breeds are extremely energetic and playful and hate to be left alone for a long time. Early socialization and adequate training are vital for both.

American Bulldogs may prove to be high maintenance due to their size. A bigger dog means more grooming and food expenses, so you have to pick your furry friend with caution. Another factor that you might need to consider while adopting or buying a new pup is the restrictions related to Pitbulls. Some homeowners don’t allow Pitbulls on their properties. They are sometimes banned by insurance companies, and breed-specific legislation (BSL) also restricts Pitbulls from living in certain areas. Please research your local laws before you adopt one.

Both breeds are not chronic barkers. American Bulldogs are quieter than Pitbulls. So if you’re not one for unusual and random dog barking, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier might not be the best choice of companion. If you have other pets in the household already, you might want to consider going for a Bulldog rather than a Pitbull since Pitbulls are more prone to being aggressive towards other dogs and cats. That being said, it’s nothing that a good training regime and a little bit of healthy socialization can’t fix.

Want to know the differences between other popular pups? Check out Border Collies vs Australian Shepherds!