Comparing Breeds: American Bulldog vs. Pitbull

Comparing Breeds: American Bulldog vs. Pitbull

It makes a lot of sense why you would need to look up American Bulldog vs Pitbull: both breeds are so uncannily similar in looks, people can’t usually tell them apart. Because they come down from different lines and histories, there are some variations to their behaviors and characteristics. If your options for your next companion are between an American Bulldog or a Pitbull Terrier, this article should make it clearer based on their differences which of these breeds are a better match for you and your lifestyle.

The Breeds

Essentially, what makes these two breeds so different is their different ancestral lines.

American Bulldog

Can you imagine the American Bulldog we all love and raise today almost went extinct by the end of the second World War? Leading up to that, its popularity had started to decline: the breed (whose roots trace to the English Bulldog) was ultimately developed to be a farming dog, with the occasional hunting, herding, and guarding.

With the decreasing need for a dog for those purposes around that time, some breeders - to our relief - saved the American Bulldog from extinction by breeding them to be family dogs instead.

Pitbull Terrier

How the Pitbull got its name was by way of an old betting and blood sport: ratting placed two dogs and rats in a pit to see which one gets the most game in the least amount of time. The pit was what trapped the rats and kept them from escaping. Interestingly, owners having to safely remove their dogs from these ratting pits was what gave the Pitbull its amazingly impressive bite inhibition towards humans.

The Pitbull gets skills like gameness and agility for being a crossbreed between old English Bulldogs and terriers respectively. What were once the skills that were used for blood sports started proving worthy as advantages of farm and family dogs, which is what the Pitbull became after these sports lost their popularity.

The Differences


Size is what mostly tells the American Bulldog and Pitbull apart.

The Bulldog is heavier and taller, weighing on average around 60 to 120 pounds, with their height varying from 20 to 27 inches.

Pitbulls are generally smaller in size – more medium-sized dogs – and could weigh almost half as much at 30 to 60 pounds. They stand usually 17 to 21 inches.


The American Bulldog and Pitbull have a life expectancy similar in range: the Bulldog living up to 10-15 years and the latter 8-15.


Both breeds have short hair and shed seasonally, meaning they mostly have the same grooming needs (and are luckily fairly easy to groom). Brushing their hair at least once a week with a soft to medium brittle brush helps distribute their natural oils while also removing loose hair and debris. It also helps to trim it every couple of weeks.

A good suggestion is to also clean their ears once every month and accordingly. The Pitbull especially has perkier ears, making them more prone to infection. Also, when bathing these breeds, a shampoo made for dogs will help keep them clean and shiny.

Exercising needs

Both the American Bulldog and Pitbull come from lines of hunting dogs – they were both bred to have high energy levels. Though the Pitbull has a higher vivacity and energy level, they both would need at least an hour of vigorous exercise a day.

Inadequate exercise for either dog could lead to frustration and aggression, which is why it’s important to ensure they’re worked out generously. It is said, however, that American Bulldogs may be more susceptible to overheating, so be wary of short muzzles on long walks.

Temperament & Social Qualities

Much like their appearance, the American Bulldog and Pitbull share a lot of qualities when it comes to their temperaments.

The Bulldog makes for a great family companion. They’re very family-oriented, loyal, and are great around children. Besides being socially active, they’re also courageous, confident, and dominant; when socialised properly at a young age, their alertness and protectiveness puts them in the position to grow up to be strong pack leaders.

Similarly, Pitbulls are known for their playful temperament and friendly nature. They’re seen to be touchier and show more emotion and affection towards their owners. Although they might be less tolerant towards other dogs or animals compared to the Bulldog, they do not fall under the myth that accentuates their aggression. In fact, according to the American Temperament Test Society, the Pitbull has a pass of 86.4%, even higher than that of a Golden Retriever.

Here’s a table that captures some similarities and differences in both breeds’ characteristics:

Characteristics American Bulldog American Pit Bull Terrier
Action Level High High
Protectiveness High High
Friendliness High High
Kid-Friendly High High
Pet-Friendly Medium Low
Exercise Needs High High
Playfulness High High
Energy Level Medium High
Trainability Medium High
Intelligence Medium High
Tendency to Bark Medium Medium
Amount of Shedding Low Medium

Source: Canine Bible


According to the Stanley Coren Intelligence Test, dog breeds in the Pitbull category (namely the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier) have average to above-average intelligence. Just repeat a new command 15 to 25 times and your dog will understand it! It will also obey a known command on the first attempt 70% of the time.

That doesn’t mean the American Bulldog’s any less intelligent. As you’ve read, they were once bred for hunting, herding, and guarding, which are jobs that require a lot of decision making and intelligence. If your choice ends up going to an American Bulldog, don’t worry: they’re far from hard to train.


Both dogs are incredibly loyal to their owners. Both are even known for it! The American Bulldog and Pitbull’s devotion to their human friends makes them favorites in every dog-lover’s book for being both great family companions and guarding dogs.

The Verdict

Hopefully by now you’re better able to tell the difference between the American Bulldog and Pitbull Terrier if you weren’t. Whichever is your choice, both breeds both make loyal, friendly dogs that would be a great addition to any household. The most notable differences that would help you decide which dog might be a better fit for you are that the Pitbull is smaller and more energetic than the American Bulldog. The Bulldog, on the other hand, could be a bit more chill in temperament.

Whatever you decide, both breeds are equally as fun, and either dog would be sure to make the most of any home they go to.