The American Bulldog and the Pitbull are often confused because of their similarities. That makes sense, given that the Pitbull is more of an umbrella term that describes several bully or pit-type breeds rather than one breed. In fact, Pitbulls arose from breeding bulldogs with terriers, so these dogs share a common ancestor.
If you’re considering bringing home an American Bulldog or a Pitbull and you’re not sure which is right for you, you’re in luck! We’ll break down the key similarities and differences between these two dogs so you can pick the best one for your family.
At a Glance
American Bulldog Overview
A descendent of the English Bulldog, the American Bulldog is a muscular mastiff-type dog that was historically used for protection and livestock guardianship on farms and ranches. The breed’s survival in the southern US is due to its ability to catch feral pigs.
American Bulldogs are confident, social dogs that bond strongly with their owners. They’re not typically friendly with people they don’t know, as they were used for centuries as guardians of the home and livestock.
Bulldogs require early socialization and obedience training to direct their energy and establish good boundaries. They need consistency and a firm hand to avoid behavioral problems in the future, but they should always be trained with positive-reinforcement methods.
Health & Care
The American Bulldog is generally a healthy breed, but it’s important to keep up with regular veterinary exams and preventative care to avoid issues in the future. American Bulldogs are prone to joint problems, particularly in the hip and elbow, and they can get skin conditions with their skin folds. These dogs are also susceptible to genetic diseases, which is why it’s vital to work with a reputable breeder.
American Bulldogs are fairly easy to groom. They don’t require baths often unless they get dirty playing outside, and their short coats are easy to maintain. You may need to pay some attention to skin folds, which can have moisture that harbors bacteria and cause irritation. Bulldogs also need their nails trimmed and their ears cleaned regularly.
American Bulldogs are versatile and can adapt to life on a farm, in a family home, or as a competitor in canine sports. Whichever use you have for your Bulldog, it’s important to train and socialize it well to ensure it’s comfortable with other pets and family members.
As mentioned, the Pitbull is not one breed but a group of breeds that share bully or pit characteristics. The American Pit Bull Terrier, one of the most recognized of the Pitbull types, was created when breeders combined Bulldogs for their strength with terriers for their gamesmanship.
Originally called “bull and terrier,” these dogs were then used for blood sports like bull and bear baiting. Once these sports were banned by animal welfare laws, pit owners turned their dogs on each other with dog-fighting. Other than blood sports, Pitbulls may be used as catch dogs, working dogs, police dogs, and therapy dogs.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is the only “true pit,” but the other pit types that are included in the Pitbull category include the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Bully, and sometimes, the American Bulldog.
Because the Pitbull can include a variety of bully breeds, their personalities can vary widely. They share many similarities to American Bulldogs, however, such as strength, athleticism, sociability, and wariness of strangers. Because of their gameness, Pitbulls may have a higher prey drive and may not readily accept new pets.
As athletic, working dogs, Pitbulls require a lot of exercise to stave off boredom. Depending on the specific breeds, these dogs excel at canine sports like rallies, agility courses, and protection sports. They also make great companions for running or hiking.
The Pitbull’s trainability largely depends on the breed, but overall, they are highly trainable with the right methods. Part of these dogs’ use in dogfighting is because of their loyalty to their owners. During a fight, they are loyal and less likely to redirect aggression on their owner. But given issues with perception, including breed-specific legislation, it’s vital that these dogs are trained well to avoid any issues with aggression toward dogs or humans.
Health & Care
The health of a Pitbull also depends on the specific breeds as well as the breeder. In the past—and to some degree in underground circles—Pitbulls were selected for their ability to fight and win instead of health or good temperament. They’re also common with backyard breeders, so they may have genetic health conditions from unethical breeders. It’s important to take your Pitbull to the vet regularly for preventative care and to identify any potential health concerns.
Like the American Bulldog, Pitbulls are not difficult to breed. They don’t shed often, as most of the breeds are shorthaired, so they only require regular brushing and bathing. They’ll also need their nails trimmed and their ears cleaned every few weeks.
The various breeds that make up the Pitbull are suitable for a variety of owners and situations. They can be loyal family companions, guard dogs, farm dogs, and competitors, depending on breeding and training.
Which Breed Is Right for You?
The American Bulldog and the Pitbull are more alike than they are different, as they share lineage with the English Bulldog. Otherwise, the differences lie in the specific breed that’s described as the “Pitbull” and its traits. Always evaluate not only the breeding of the dog but its individual personality and temperament.
Featured Image Credit: Top – American Bulldog (Zanna Pesnina, Shutterstock) | Bottom – Pitbull (Brett Sayles, Pexels)