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American Bulldog vs Pitbull: 5 Key Differences Explained

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key point

  • Bulldogs were bred for fighting, the result of breeding bulldogs with hounds.
  • Unlike the American Bulldog, which may have a friendlier temperament, they are quite aggressive.
  • Besides temperament, another major difference between the two breeds is size: American pit bulls are larger than bulldogs.

American Bulldogs and Pitbulls are well known, but not always for good reason. They are often mistaken for each other. They share a lot of similarities, so it's easy to see why this is the case. They are both thick, muscular dogs with lots of energy. However, despite their similarities, there are actually a number of points that make it easier to differentiate them. Join us as we learn all the key differences between American Bulldogs and Pitbulls.

Comparing Pit Bulls and American Bulldogs

American Bulldog vs Bulldog

© AZ-Animals.com

Both the Bulldog and the American Bulldog are believed to be descended from the Old English Bulldog. However, pit bulls are also descended from terriers that were crossed with pit bulls to create an agile and strong dog that was well suited for fighting. In fact, the term "pit bull" is often used rather loosely to describe several types of dogs used for dogfighting – such as Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American bulldogs and any other similar dog.

Because of their use in dogfighting, and historically for bullfighting, pitbulls have earned a reputation as particularly aggressive dogs, and have even been banned entirely in some countries. Not only that, but because of the confusion between American bulldogs and bulldogs, American bulldogs have also earned this reputation through their associations rather than through their own behavior per se. However, as we learn more about these dogs, we discover that they are actually very different.

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Check out the table below for some key differences.

pit bull american bulldog
size Weight – 30 to 60 lbs Height – 17 to 20 inches Weight – 60 to 120 lbs Height – 19 to 28 inches
color any color and any pattern Solid color, although usually white with black, brown, or red spots
put up Lean, muscular, well-proportioned Chunky shoulders broad chest
Face Slightly rounded with a broad jaw. No underbite and facial wrinkles Large and square with slight underbite and facial wrinkles
tolerance for other animals may be aggressive towards others well tolerated
bite force 235 lbs 305 lbs
life 12 to 14 years old 10 to 12 years old

5 Key Differences Between American Bulldogs and Pitbulls

American Bulldog vs Bulldog: Size

American bulldog standing in the park
American Bulldogs weigh about twice as much as Pitbulls

© PixieMe/Shutterstock.com

One of the main differences between American Bulldogs and Pitbulls is size. American Bulldogs are much larger than Pitbulls, weighing between 60 and 120 pounds. Males are usually larger than females, weighing between 66 and 120 pounds, while females are usually 60 to 90 pounds. The American Bulldog stands between 19 and 28 inches at the shoulder, with males also being the larger of the two.

Pitbulls, by comparison, are about half the size of pit bulls, weighing between 30 and 60 pounds. Females are usually slightly smaller than males, weighing 30 to 50 pounds. Pitbulls are also smaller than American Bulldogs, standing between 17 and 20 inches at the shoulder.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull: Colors

Another major difference between the two dogs is their coat color. Pitbull appearance varies greatly within the breed, and a Pitbull's coat can be any color or pattern. However, the American Bulldog is very different. Their coats are usually solid, although white with black, brown, or red patches are common.

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American Bulldog vs Bulldog: Build

Both the American Bulldog and Pit Bull have a strong and muscular physique, but with slight differences. Bulldogs are massive, with broad shoulders and a broad, deep chest. Pitbulls are slightly leaner and well proportioned. Their muscles are more defined than those of the American Bulldog, but the chest is not as broad as that of the American Bulldog.

American Bulldog vs Pitbull: The Face

One of the most notable differences between American Bulldogs and Pitbulls is the shape of their faces. The American Bulldog has a large, square face. The muzzle is broad, sometimes with a slight underbite. One of their most distinctive features are facial wrinkles, which are easily seen around their cheeks and mouth. Their ears can fold forward or stand erect.

Pitbulls have slightly rounded faces and high ears. Their jaws are wide and their noses taper slightly upwards. They do not have an underbite, nor do they have any facial wrinkles.

American Bulldog vs Bulldog: Temperament

Pitbull squatting on the road
Pit Bulls are less tolerant of other animals than American Bulldogs and may view other dogs and cats as prey


As we've already mentioned, the American Bulldog has a reputation for being aggressive due to its confusion with the Pit Bull. However, they are not actually aggressive dogs. Instead, they are energetic, eager to please, and fiercely loyal. Even the average Pitbull is not considered a loyal and loving dog.

Although both breeds of dog have the better temperament you might expect, one of the most notable differences between the American Bulldog and Pitbull is their tolerance for other animals. American pit bulls are generally better tolerant of other animals such as cats and dogs than pit bulls. However, as puppies, good training and socialization are still necessary to ensure they learn good behavior from an early age.

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Pit bulls, on the other hand, are almost the exact opposite of pit bulls in their attitude towards other animals. This is because they are often used in dog fighting, so they are naturally more aggressive towards other animals and have a strong desire to prey. This means they often see cats, dogs and other small animals as prey and are more likely to become aggressive towards them. However, as with the American Bulldog, good training and socialization during puppyhood can greatly reduce this behavior.

pit bull smile
Pitbulls may be known for their ferocity, however, some owners assert that the breed can also be affectionate.

© Natthapot Chantaraviboon/Shutterstock.com

FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do Pit Bulls Have Lock Jaws?

No, that's a myth. Despite their reputation for locking their jaws, there is absolutely no difference in the shape, structure or configuration of their jaws from those of any other canine. Pitbulls do not have a locking jaw, nor the ability to lock it. However, they do have a tendency to be pinned down, so they are better at grasping things than other dogs, which is where the jaw-locking theory comes in.

Are American Bulldogs Dangerous?

Although any dog can have adverse reactions if not treated properly or trained properly, the American Bulldog is not considered a dangerous dog. However, they do have a lot of energy and need a lot of daily exercise to stay happy and healthy.

Are Pit Bulls Dangerous?

Despite all the bad press they receive, Pitbulls are not usually naturally aggressive towards people. In fact, they are actually considered very affectionate and loyal dogs. Instead, pit bulls have earned them a bad name for the way they behave when their owners encourage aggression and use them in fights.


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Pitbull squatting on the road
Pitbulls are docile, adventurous dogs.

© Luxorpictures/Shutterstock.com

about the author

For many years, I have been writing professionally, with an emphasis on animals and wildlife. I love spending time outdoors, and when I'm not writing I'll be found on a farm surrounded by horses, dogs, sheep and pigs.

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