Pitbulls VS Bulldogs: What’s the difference between these two muscular dogs?

Last Updated: 1 year ago

The term “Pit Bull” may be used for American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers.

In this article, when we say Pitbull, we are referring to the APBT(American Pitbull Terriers). American Bulldogs are also called American Bully.

Pitbulls VS Bulldogs: History and Origin

Pitbulls VS Bulldogs: History and Origin

There is no other breed that is as difficult to tell apart as Pitbulls and Bulldogs. They are strikingly similar in appearance but come with distinct differences that make them unique.

Both these dogs are very muscular. The Pitbull is classified as part of the Terrier family. But both these breeds have their lineage and roots associated with the Old English Bulldog.

These American-bred dogs were developed from dogs that were earlier used in bear-baiting in England. 

American Bulldog

Working-class immigrants from the 1800s came to America along with the English Bulldog. They were bred specifically to be used in farming. They helped to manage cattle and hunt invasive pigs.

By the end of World War II, Bulldogs were on the verge of extinction. So, some breeders started using them as family dogs rather than on the farm. Incidentally, these dogs are called bulldogs because they were originally used in bull-baiting.

American Pitbull

The American Pitbull Terrier was also brought to America from England. But it was created for different purposes such as dog-fighting rings and ratting.

The APBT is a cross between the English Bulldog and the terrier. This was done to combine the strength of the bulldog with the gameness and agility of the terrier.

Ratting is a sport that took place in a pit. In this betting sport, the competition was to see whose dog could kill the most rats in the fastest time. These pits helped to keep rats in check. And hence the “Pit” in Pitbulls.

As dogfighting in rings and ratting went down in popularity, these Pitbulls became farm dogs and family companions. The pit helped keep the rats in place and lent itself to the breed’s name. 

Pitbulls VS Bulldogs: Appearance and Physical Traits

Pitbulls VS Bulldogs: Appearance and Physical Traits


American Bulldog: 21 to 25 inches

American Pitbull: 17 to 21 inches


American Bulldog: 60 to 100 pounds

American Pitbull: 30 to 60 pounds


American Bulldog: Bulldogs have canine underbite where the lower incisors are in front of the upper incisors. The lower canine tooth is resting against the back of the upper 3rd incisor.

American Pitbull: No canine underbite


American Bulldog: Short and smooth

American Pitbull: Short, shiny, and stuff


American Bulldog: Mostly white

American Pitbull:  Many colors

Wrinkles on the Face

American Bulldog: They do have face wrinkles

American Pitbull: No, they don’t have any wrinkles on the face


American Bulldog: Round or almond in shape. Medium-sized eyes, medium-shaped eyes set wide apart.

American Pitbull: Round in shape. Medium-sized eyes set wide apart while being low on the skull.


American Bulldog: Almost as broad as its head

American Pitbull: Slightly arched at the crest


American Bulldog: Folded “rose ear” or forward flap

American Pitbull: High set; natural or cropped – battle, short, and show crop.


American Bulldog: Long nose, with wide nostrils

American Pitbull: Long with wide and open nostrils.

As you can see, there is a significant difference with the build of both these dog breeds. The Pitbull is slightly shorter and much less heavy, unlike the Bulldog. Both these dogs have large heads.

Both have a strong build and a muscular sturdy appearance. However, the American Bulldog has prominent cheek muscles, wrinkles on the face, wider chest, and less-defined muscles than the American Pitbull.

A Pitbull has a leaner and more athletic body and more defined muscles than the American Bulldog.

At first glance, it is easy to see why people confuse between the two. But take a closer look, and you can tell them apart.

Pitbull VS Bulldogs: Temperament

Pitbull VS Bulldogs: Temperament

The American Bulldog and American Pitbull both have high:

  • Affection level
  • Protectiveness
  • Exercise needs
  • Playfulness

The American Pitbull is not pet-friendly, while the American Bulldog is more tolerant of other pets, exceptionally when trained from an early age.

Both the dogs are people-friendly. The American bully may not be people-friendly in the early stages of life, but their affection for humans grows with time.

The Pitties, on the other hand, are very friendly towards their human companions. However, their highly protective nature can make them aggressive towards strangers. So, they need to be trained from an early age.

Both these dogs have a similar temperament. They both experience separation anxiety if they are away from their owners for extended periods.

Both are highly tenacious, devoted, and loyal to their owners. Both can be great family dogs, and with proper training, they can also be excellent companions. While great around children, you should never leave young children alone with either dog breeds.

The significant difference is their tolerance towards other animals. With Pitbulls, with their fighting lineage, Pitbulls are less tolerant of other dogs, so they can be more aggressive towards cats and other smaller dogs that they see as prey.

It is not like American Bulldogs do not attack smaller animals. But these are easier to socialize with other animals when they are young.

Both have high energy levels, but Pitbulls even more so. 

American Bulldog pups may not be so responsive towards strangers, but become more confident with age. American bulldogs are regarded as gentle and affectionate, almost like a large lapdog. Brave, strong-willed, and fearless, they have some protective instincts. 

The American Pitbull terriers are lively, sporty, and entertaining. They have a playful temperament and are eager to please. These dogs are also strong and courageous and considered ideal for guarding purposes. 

Pitbull VS Bulldogs: Training

Pitbull VS Bulldogs: Training

While both these dogs are intelligent, they can be stubborn. They like to please, and in the right hands, their energy can be channeled properly, and the desired behavior can be evoked.

You need to be kind but firm. Also, they have short attention spans, so keep the training sessions small and productive.

If you are not too fond of spending a lot of time dog-training, these may not be the best breeds for you.

In the wrong hands and without proper structural training (along with other activities and exercise), they can become destructive forces and exhibit antisocial or aggressive behaviors.

Pitbull VS Bulldogs: Exercise

Pitbull VS Bulldogs: Exercise

Both breeds were created for working either on the farm or in the ring. So they need an hour or two of exercise every day out in the open. 

Bulldogs require 45 minutes to 60 minutes of vigorous and energetic physical activity every day. It includes jogs, hikes, and other activities. However, Bulldogs are prone to overheating. They are also prone to bone and joint damage. So, keep these in mind.

Pitbulls are just as energetic as the American Bulldogs, and they should get a minimum of 45 minutes of exercise per day.

An under-exercised American Bulldog is a destructive and aggressive Bulldog. Other behavior-related problems due to lack of exercise and pent-up energy include excessive barking, hyperactivity, hyperexcitability, and even nervousness. 

Pitbull VS Bulldogs: Health Issues

Both breeds have health problems that are not common with other dog breeds.

Both have similar health conditions like:

American Bulldogs: Apart from these, the American Bulldogs are prone to breathing problems, nervous system disorders, cherry eye, bone cancer, and kidney issues. 

American Pitbull: The ATBT’s are prone to heart disease, diabetes, cataracts, and allergies, particularly skin allergies.

Pitbull VS Bulldogs: Grooming Needs

Pitbull VS Bulldogs: Grooming Needs

Fortunately, the grooming requirements are the same for both breeds, and they are both low-maintenance dogs when it comes to the grooming aspects. Both have short hair and are low to moderate shedders.

To brush, use a soft to medium rubber or bristle brush to spread their natural oils all over and remove loose hairs. You can do this weekly.

When they get too dirty, say around once a month, bathe them in a shampoo tailored for dogs. It will keep their coat smooth and shiny, and the dogs clean and hygienic.

The average life expectancy of American Bullies is anywhere from 10  to 12 years. Pitties being a smaller breed, have a longer leverage life span of 10 to 14 years.

What is the cross between Pitbull and Bulldog called?

What is the cross between Pitbull and Bulldog called?

Pitbull Bulldog Mix is a cross between the American Bulldog and American Pitbull. This mixed breed is called Bullypit.

The medium-sized BullyPit is around 20 to 25 inches tall and weighs anywhere between 70 to 120 pounds. This crossbreed’s average lifespan is 10 -13 years, which falls between the two distinct breeds.

Final Thoughts

If you have read till the end, you should know by now that there are lots of striking similarities between Pitties and American Bullies. Both are energetic, eager to please, friendly dogs that make for great family dogs. They are good around kids too!

The significant difference lies in the size of the dog. Being larger, the Bulldogs will cost more, poop more, and require more food.

Both dogs require plenty of exercise and physical activity to channelize their energy in the right manner. They also need an owner who is okay to put in the time and effort to train them. Not doing so can result in destructive and aggressive behavior in both breeds.

Cuddly, loyal to a fault, protective, and eager to please, we’re sure that no matter which breed of dog you decide to bring home, everyone in the family will fall in love with it!

Happy Pittie and Bully Parenting!

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