There has long been some confusion between a Bulldog and a Pit Bull, causing many to ask the question: are they the same? However, the answer is no. Although they resemble each other a lot, there are in fact a number of differences between the breeds. The Pit Bull is technically part of the terrier family, while Bulldogs are not. However, both breeds do have Old English Bulldog heritage which accounts for some of their similarities.
It’s not hard to see why so many people get confused, when both Bulldogs and Pit Bulls both look and behave in a very similar way. But an American Bulldog is actually more closely related to both English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs than Pit Bulls.
There are several different types of Pit Bulls, but in this article we’ll focus on the differences between the American Bulldog and the American Pit Bull Terrier, as these are the two breeds which tend to get confused the most. Indeed, sometimes dog shelters misidentify them.
Read on to find out the differences between American Bulldogs and Pit Bulls. Hopefully after finishing the article, you’ll easily be able to spot which is which.
Bulldog vs. Pit Bull: Physical Differences
American Bulldog Appearance
American Bulldogs are known for their stocky and muscular appearance. Males usually weigh between 55 and 115 pounds and females weigh between 60 and 85 pounds.
Males tend to be between 21 and 27 inches tall, and females stand between 21 and 25 inches tall.
The head of an American Bulldog is reasonably large and has a square-like form. They don’t usually have an underbite, which is something you would often see on English bulldogs.
Their fur is smooth to touch and is short.
Typically, American Bulldogs will be white with red or black patches. However, they can have a variety of colors, including brown and black.
They have a wide-set chest which helps them to balance. Their bones are also on the thick side and their entire body has a very muscular look.
American Pit Bull Terrier Appearance
American Pit Bull Terriers are also broad and muscular in appearance.
Males usually way somewhere between 30 and 60 pounds, while females fall between 25-50 pounds.
Males usually reach heights of between 16 and 25 inches, while females start at around 15 inches and don’t usually exceed 20 inches.
The heads of American Pit bulls terriers are usually somewhat rounded and you won’t see any wrinkles on their faces. Their tilts slightly up and their jaws are wide and pronounced.
American Pit Bull fur comes in almost any color and a variety of different patterns. However, the most common color scheme for this breed is a light brown color with whit patches on the underbelly. Their coat is shiny and the fur is short and rigid.
Bulldog Vs. Pit Bull: Character
American Bulldog Character
American Bulldogs are full of energy, obedient, sociable and immensely loyal. They adore their family and hate to be parted from them. Because of this, they need a lot of affection and require a lot of exercise to use up their large stores of energy.
They are known to be on the stubborn side which can make training a bit more time consuming than with other breeds. You have to be very strict and patient when training American Bulldogs in order to get the best out of them.
American Bulldog puppies can be wary of strangers, but this usually alters as they get older. They make great companions for kids, but should be introduced to them from an early age.They really benefit from being socialized with other dogs from puppies too.
The breed was originally intended as a working dog, used for guarding. This means they can occasionally become intimidating and confrontational. However, with the right training they can be sweet and comparable family dogs.
American Pit Bull Terrier Character
The Pit Bull Terrier does have a bad reputation for being inhospitable and occasionally vicious. There are even parts of the world where pit bulls are not allowed. However, with the right training and attention, they can be faithful and docile animals.
Pit Bulls are very energetic and require a lot of exercise. This can mean up two hours of intense physical activity every day. If they don’t get this, then they can become uncontrollable and even aggressive.
Pit Bulls need to begin training at an early age. They are known for having short attention spans, so effective training will be short and efficient.
During training, you will need to teach your Pit Bull how to interact with strangers and other dogs so that they don’t become aggressive around them.
Even the most loving and docile Pit Bull can easily wind up in a fight with another animal. For this reason you need to be vigilant and constantly keep an eye on your Pit Bull when out and about. They were bred to fight at one point, and this is a trait which hasn’t completely disappeared.
Bulldog Vs. Pit Bull Breeding History
Both Bulldogs and Pit Bulls have Old English Bulldog heritage, which accounts for the similarities in the appearance. However, they have since been bred for very different purposes. The American Bulldog has not been greatly altered over the years, however the Pit Bull has, due to its mixing with the Terrier breed.
American Bulldog Breeding History
The Old English Bulldog was brought over to America by farmers. The dogs would carry out tasks on the farm. At this time, breeders did not keep track of pedigrees and instead bred dogs based on how good they were at the farm tasks required. Bulldogs were particularly good at keeping out wild pigs and other vermin.
John D. Johnson is credited as being the man who brought the breed to the mainstream. Johnson bred his bulldogs with the English Bulldogs from the North of America to create a breed which went on to be known as the Classic Type.
American Pit bull Terrier Breeding History
Pit Bulls came into existence by breeding bulldogs with terriers. The aim was to create a dog with the athletic ability of a terrier and the sheer strength of a bulldog. The Pit Bull was used in many blood sports, including bull-baiting. When that became illegal, people instead began using them for underground dog fights. By the 20th Century, Pit Bulls were intentionally bred for hunting, herding and as companions.
Pitbull vs Bulldog Health
American Bulldogs have a higher average life expectancy, living on average between 10 to 15 years. American Pitbull Terriers have a life expectancy 8 to 15 years.
Both breeds are generally seen as healthy dogs and have strong immune systems. However, the American Pitbull Terrier is more partial to hereditary cataracts, heart disease and certain allergies than other dogs breeds. The American Bulldog, meanwhile, is more likely to suffer hip dysplasia.
The health of an American Pitbull Terrier can be improved by having a living space which allows them to exercise indoors, especially if they suffer from allergies to grass or pollen.
Equally, The American Bulldog will experience better health if he can spend large portions of time outdoors for exercise.
Other Dog Breeds You Might Confuse for an American Bulldog
The American Bulldog and the American Pit Bull Terrier are not the lookalikes people confuse. There are a number of other mixes and breeds which are often mistaken for American Bulldogs. Below we’ll take you through some of the key characteristics so that you can correctly identify each dog.
The American Bully is a far newer breed than the American Bulldog, and was intentionally bred to be a friendlier and more manageable pet than the American Pitbull Terrier.
In order to make a loveable and gentler dog, breder mixed a large number of dog breeds, including Bulldogs (English, American and French), Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers.
Compared to American Bulldogs, American Bullys are slightly lighter and less powerful and usually don’t exceed 110 pounds in weight. The bully shares the square-shaped head and stocky build of Bulldogs, but tends to have an even more muscular look.
In terms of temperament, the American Bully has been specifically bred to have little to no aggressive tendencies. For this reason, they make tender and very friendly family dogs. However, they are still powerful and muscular and so need to be adequately trained so that they don’t accidentally harm someone.
Bulldogs originally hail from the British Isles. They were bred to work as bull baiters, which is where the name comes from.
Compared to an American Bulldog, English Bulldogs are slightly smaller and are slightly less athletic. Indeed, they cannot match the speed of an American dog when running.
English Bulldogs are also known for their wrinkly faces. American Bulldogs, on the other hand, have smooth, unwrinkled faces.
Olde English Bulldogge
Today’s Olde English Bulldogge was an attempt to breed the old Regency period English Bulldog back into existence. To do this they mixed English Bulldog, American Bulldog, American Pit Bull Terrier and English Mastiff. The result of all this mixing was a petite and athletic dog with a good temperament.
The Olde English Bulldogge and the American Bulldog resemble each other quite strongly, however the American Bulldog is much larger and heavier. Olde English Bulldogges rarely exceed 85lbs, whereas American Bulldogs can be around 120lbs.
Generally speaking, American Bulldogs are more energetic and need slightly more exercise than Olde English Bulldogges. However, both are great with kids and make ideal family pets.
French Bulldogs are popular lap-dog pets and are much smaller than American Bulldogs. In fact they rarely exceed 30 pounds, which is far less than the average weight of an American Bulldog. However, despite their small size, they pack in a lot of strength and still have a bulky look.
A distinctive feature of French Bulldogs is their large and prominent ears. Most owners find this trait adorable!
French Bulldogs are very sociable and friendly.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is another dog breed people tend to confuse with American Bulldogs and even Pitbull Terriers.
While the Staffordshire Bull Terrier shares some physical characteristics with other Bulldogs, it has a distinctively less prominent chest. It is also smaller than American Bulldogs, and has a noticeably chunkier appearance.
Generally, Staffordshire Terriers have less white on the coat than American Bulldogs.
Finally, American Bulldogs are more active and require more exercise. A Staffordshire Terrier, meanwhile, will happily live with a family who has a less active lifestyle.
American Bulldogs and American Pit Bull Terriers are similar in appearance and in character. Both are broad, muscular dogs with a propensity for athleticism. Pit Bulls, however, have been historically bred to fight which makes them more partial to aggression. For this reason, American Bulldogs tend to make better family pets.
However, there is no reason why an American Bulldog, with the right training, can’t be just as friendly and gentle as an American Pit Bull Terrier.