Are you comparing the American Bulldog vs. Pitbull for your next canine companion? If you aren’t familiar with the breeds, these pups 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 are a lot of misconceptions 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 discuss the American Bulldog. This is not to be confused with the “American Bully” which is an entirely separate dog breed.
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. And that is where the similarities in their history end, so let’s take a closer look at them.
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 Bulldog’s popularity started to decline in the first half of the 20th century and nearly went extinct by the end of World War II.
Thankfully, a few breeders saved the breed and bred them to primarily be family companions rather than farm dogs. Now they are less work-oriented and more accustomed to the doggy delights of family life. The American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted them into their Foundation Stock Service program in 2019 to allow him to develop as a breed.
American Pitbull 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. Sadly, this is where their ferocious reputation stems from.
Eventually, dogfighting and ratting became less popular, and Pitbulls 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. The AKC does not recognize the Pittie, but the United Kennel Club does.
The biggest difference between these two breeds is their size. The American Bulldog 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. This can mean that you could have four Pitties to just one Bulldog when it comes to weight. So, if size is tight for you, the Pittie is probably going to be the better fit.
Another difference between the breeds is their color. American Bulldogs are usually white with black, brown, red, or brindle patches. They often have black “eyeliner.” Pitbulls, on the other hand, can be just about any color. The only color that isn’t accepted in the Pitbull rainbow is merle because it isn’t a true Pitbull color.
The American Bulldog, having English Bulldog genes, has a squarer and flatter skull. His meaty head is bigger than the Pittie’s, and this is something that many Bulldog lovers adore. His flatter face can affect his airways, which is something that we’ll talk about in the health section. The Pittie is more athletic looking than the Bulldog.
These two canines 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. That’s why they are often referred to as Nanny Dogs, particularly the Pittie.
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.
Neither dogs 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, Pitbulls 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 quieter American Bulldog instead.
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.
They both make amazing family pets, and they are both lots of fun and affectionate. The American Bulldog takes the role of canine clown seriously. And he is quite clumsy and dopey like his English cousin. But they are both always up for a game in the yard or snoozing with their family. Basically, whatever they are needed for, they’ll be there.
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. Try to mix up their exercise regimes to keep their mind entertained as well as their body.
There is a common misconception that Pitbulls have locking jaws that make it almost impossible to pry their jaws open. In fact, their jaw structure is no different than any other dog breed, and their jaw doesn’t lock into place. However, Pitbulls are tenacious and stubborn and may hold onto things longer than other dogs. This means that you’ll need to make sure you have some durable toys to hold up to their chewing power in between outdoor exercise sessions.
Both breeds have high exercise requirements, and they may not have the option of playing at the local dog park. If you choose to have either breed in an apartment, you need to be dedicated to spending at least one hour every day walking or jogging with them on a leash. Both do best in homes with large, fenced yards.
Both pups are intelligent, but the American Bulldog can be stubborn, too. They both need an owner who is comfortable being firm with their training. But the American Bulldog needs an experienced owner to get the best out of his stubborn ways.
In the right hands, both 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.
It’s super important to socialize any dog but particularly dogs like these guys who have the potential to not to get along with other animals. Mix them both with as many other dogs and people as you can when they are young. The optimum window for puppy socialization is 3 to 12 weeks. You’ll get out what you put in!
Because both of these guys hate to be left alone, especially the Pittie, it’s a great idea to crate train them both. Separation anxiety is bad enough, but when a powerful dog is anxious, it can lead to disaster! Dogs naturally crave shelter, and it’ll give them a safe space of their own to offer comfort when you do have to leave them. You’ll need to invest in a strong, durable crate for these tough cookies.
Both breeds have some similar health problems and some health problems that the other breed is less likely to suffer from.
Conditions that both breeds are prone to include:
- Hip or elbow dysplasia
- Demodectic mange
Additionally, American Bulldogs are prone to breathing problems and cataracts, while APBT’s are prone to allergies, especially skin allergies. The American Bulldog’s breathing problems shouldn’t be as severe as the English Bulldog’s, but it can still affect his day-to-day life. If he does struggle to breathe, you should do things such as using a harness during exercise and exercise during the cooler parts of the day.
American Bulldogs have an average life expectancy of around 10 to 12 years. Pitbulls, being a smaller and healthier breed, have a longer life expectancy of 12 to 16 years. While there are no guarantees in life, the best ways to ensure your dog lives the longest, healthiest life possible are to get them from a reputable breeder, feed them a high-quality diet, brush their teeth regularly, and prevent them from becoming obese.
The American Bulldog tends to eat more than the Pittie, which is solely down to his larger, more muscular frame. The Bulldog will eat around four cups a day, compared to the Pittie, who usually eats around two cups daily. If you have a 120-pound dog on your hands, he’s likely to need much more kibble. Meaning the monthly food bill for the Bulldog is likely to be much more.
The best way to determine how much food your pup needs is to look at the package instructions. It depends on factors such as age, size, lifestyle, and kibble brand. If your Bulldog weighs over 50 pounds, he will need a dog food designed specifically for large breeds. His frame and joints will need the extra support thanks to optimized and controlled nutrients.
Both of these guys are prone to bloat, and it is a life-threatening condition that needs to be taken seriously and acted on quickly. Never feed your dog immediately before or after exercise, and split his food allowance into at least two different meal sittings. Be sure to research this condition and understand what symptoms to look out for.
The grooming needs for these two pups are the same. Both have short hair and are mild to moderate shedders. Brush them once a week with a rubber brush to help distribute their natural oils and remove loose hair. Occasional bathing with shampoo made for dogs will help them stay clean, shiny, and smelling their best.
Many Pitties and Bulldogs are known to suffer from skin problems. Particularly the Pittie. If he does, it’s important to speak to the vet to see if they can advise what doggy shampoo (if any) can alleviate the skin condition. If not, be sure to use a doggy shampoo designed for sensitive dogs.
While no dog breed is completely hypoallergenic, some dog breeds whose coat grows continuously (like Poodles, Maltese, or Bichons) leave less dander around the house to bother allergy sufferers. Neither of these two is a dog breed that would be good for allergy sufferers.
Pitbulls 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. Adopting is a wonderful thing to do, and it’s really rewarding too! The price of adoption is usually much lower than buying a brand new puppy too.
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:
- Buying a dog from a pet store (most of their puppies come from puppy mills)
- 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 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
- Pups who cost much less than the average Pittie or Bulldog price
The starting price of a Pittie pup from a breeder is usually $800, compared to $1,500 for the Bulldog. The main reason for this is that there are more Pitties in the rescue shelters than any other dogs, so there is less of a demand for them. If you seek a pup from a reputable or popular breeder, you can expect to pay more than this price for sure.
There are many similarities and differences between American Bulldogs and America Pitbulls. Make sure you do your research to pick the dog breed that is best suited for your family life. Since the biggest difference between the two breeds is their size, you should seriously consider how much dog you want to care for. Larger dogs eat more, cost more, and poop more – but they also make great family pets and enormous lap dogs. It all depends on how much dog you want, or can handle, in your life!
The other factor to consider is breed-specific legislation (BSL). Most BSL forbids Pitbulls and other breeds from living in certain areas. Bulldogs may or may not be included in BSL where you live or plan to travel, so make sure to research local laws and housing details before bringing home either dog breed. Please don’t do it after you commit to him because it’ll only end in tears.
If you have the energy to exercise and train your dog, either of these breeds could make an excellent ambassador around your neighborhood for scary-looking, misunderstood bully breeds. Hopefully, we’ve provided you with the information you need to decide which of these wonderful breeds is best for your family.