American Bulldog vs Pitbull – How Do They Compare?

A short answer is that these types of dogs are two different things. American Bulldogs and Pitbulls have some common traits, however, American Bulldogs share a lot in common with English Bulldogs, while Pitbulls have more in common with terriers.

Despite significant differences, these dogs are often mistaken for each other, especially in shelter settings. Each of these dogs came into being to fulfill different purposes and dog enthusiasts can appreciate these breeds a lot better by familiarizing themselves with their traits.

Let’s take a look at how these dogs are alike and different:

Is an American Bulldog a Pitbull?

A common misconception is that an American Bulldog is a Pitbull when they are two distinct breeds. There are some similarities in appearance, but these breeds have distinct histories that have helped to shape them into the animals that they are today.

American Bulldogs are part of the Molosser class of dogs. Pitbulls have a terrier background, in addition to their Bulldog lineage that gives them strong hunting instincts.

How American Bulldogs and Pitbulls Resemble Each Other

One thing that stands out in an American Bulldog vs Pitbull comparison is that both breeds are very muscular. Although both dogs are rather broad, American Bulldogs usually have a wider chest. Pitbulls have more defined muscles than American Bulldogs.

Both breeds have coats defined as shiny and short but differ to the touch, with a Pitbull’s coat feeling stiffer. Both breeds have similar color variations, including fawn, although more American Bulldogs tend to have white coats.

American Bulldogs have flatter heads with more of a square shape, while Pitbulls have heads that taper. Both breeds have ears placed in about the same location on the head. However, American Bulldogs usually have floppy ears, while Pitbulls may have erect ears.

American Bulldog Physical Characteristics

American Bulldogs have a build described as muscular and stocky. Males usually weigh 57 to 115 pounds and stand 23 to 27 inches tall. The females weigh 60 to 83 pounds and stand 21 to 25 inches tall.

American Bullies have large heads that favor more of a square shape. Although their head shape is similar to an English Bulldog’s, most American Bulldogs lack an underbite.

American Bullies have short, smooth coats that commonly feature white and black or red. Brown and brindle colors are also very popular in this breed.

The wide, deep chests that American Bullies have helps to contribute to the breed’s agility and balance when in motion. Besides having muscular bodies, these dogs also have thick bones.

Pitbull Physical Characteristics

Male Pitbulls weigh 30 to 60 pounds, while females stand 16 to 20 inches tall and weigh 25 to 50 pounds. These dogs are well-proportioned, with a muscular, broad appearance.

Pitties have slightly rounded heads, without the wrinkled cheeks common with Bulldogs. Other features include high-set ears, low-sitting eyes, wide jaws, and tapered noses.

Pitbulls may have coats in any color or pattern. The short, somewhat stiff-feeling coats often feature fawn with white patches.

Similarities and Differences in Personality

American Bulldogs and Pitbulls need proper socialization to ensure they get along with people and other dogs. A calm, assertive manner on your part, as well as patience, will help these dogs get through their training.

Both breeds are loyal to their families and eager to please. American Bulldogs have a stubborn streak, and Pitbulls, too, will try to see what their owners will let them off with.

American Bullies and Pitties need family involvement because of their activity level, although Pit Bulls require slightly more activity. These breeds, despite stereotypes, have the potential for being excellent family dogs.

American Bulldog Personality

American Bulldogs are active, confident, eager to please, and social. These dogs do best in families that include them in activities. If you give your dog a lot of attention and exercise, your pet will be very happy.

American Bullies should be socialized around children from a young age. You should expect puppies to be a little reserved with strangers but act more confidently with age.

These dogs need opportunities to get used to other dogs from an early age as well. You will have fewer problems with conflict when your Bully accepts new canine additions as a part of their pack.

You must be consistent while training an American Bulldog because of their stubborn nature. If you don’t demonstrate leadership, the dog will take advantage of the situation.

Remember that these dogs were initially bred to catch livestock, serve as guard dogs, and perform other working functions. These traits can create a dog known for ferocity, but also intensely protective towards their family.

Pitbull Personality

Because of an often unwarranted negative reputation that Pitbulls have attracted, this breed is subject to a lot of scrutinies. As with any other breed, when treated well and properly socialized, these dogs are excellent companions for active families.

One thing that anyone who might share their life with a Pittie needs to know is that these dogs are very active. An hour or two of activity daily will help these dogs rein in their energy.

Remember, a dog that has no positive way of utilizing its energy is likely to act out in negative ways. Without regular stimulation, these dogs can become hyper and destructive.

Like American Bulldogs, Pitbulls need assertive, calm leadership. This breed requires socialization and training, particularly from puppyhood, to get along with people and other pets.

When training a Pittie, keep the training sessions short and use positive reinforcement. Because these dogs are often strong-willed, you will need to have some patience during training.

Remember that Pitbulls have origins in dogfighting, and these traits often became obvious around other animals. When confronted with another dog that has a hostile temperament, Pitties’ first instincts are usually to fight.


Health Problems That American Bulldogs and Pitbulls Might Have

American Bulldogs and Pitbulls are generally healthy breeds. However, they are not immune to health problems, some of which are common to both breeds.

Like many large breeds, these dogs may be prone to elbow and hip dysplasia. Both of these conditions can be very painful and debilitating for dogs living with them.

American Bullies and Pitties are also susceptible to thyroid problems. One of the most common thyroid issues is hypothyroidism, a disorder affecting the thyroid’s ability to produce enough hormones, causing low energy and weight gain.

Demodectic mange is a skin condition that can affect either breed. This condition causes hair loss and scaly areas on the skin, a health problem that can be painful for the dog.

American Bulldog Health Issues

American Bullies can develop a number of health problems, ranging from types of cancer to issues directly related to the dogs’ facial skin. Many of these conditions are genetic. Being aware of these potential health issues will help owners prepare to help their dogs live with any problems that may arise.

Bone Cancer

Bone cancer is one of the more aggressive types of cancer affecting large breeds like American Bulldogs. Legs are the most likely parts of the body to be affected, however, the hips, pelvis, jaw areas, and soft tissues are also vulnerable.

Bone cancers are aggressive and will often spread to organs such as the lungs and liver. When bone cancer is present in one of the limbs, amputation might be necessary to stop further spread.

Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is a condition that involves a prolapsed tear gland in the dog’s third eyelid. The eye will often become red and inflamed, as well as painful for the dog.

Veterinarians will perform surgery to help reposition or remove the gland in question. This condition requires proper care to prevent its recurrence, and the dog should be carefully examined to ensure that the other eye is not affected.

Kidney Problems

American Bulldogs are somewhat susceptible to kidney stones, which are often very painful and can lead to a medical emergency if unable to pass the stone. Although not quite as common as kidney stones, kidney disease is also a potential problem, where the organs are unable to filter waste from the dog’s body properly.

Kidney cancer is also a possible problem, especially in dogs with bone cancer that has spread to the organs and other soft tissues. You should carefully watch for signs of abnormalities when your dog is urinating.

Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis

Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis, often shortened to NCL, is a neurologic disease that is progressive and genetically inherited. Usually affecting dogs one to three years old, this condition may cause imbalance, weakness in the legs, and visual problems.

Genetic testing is available to detect this condition, but there are no effective treatments. Responsible breeders will refrain from knowingly breeding dogs that carry the gene causing this condition.

Skin Issues

Skin issues from chafing or moisture are fairly common in American Bulldogs. The wrinkles that many American Bullies have can lead to moisture buildup under the skin folds. Chafing is very likely, which can cause a lot of discomfort for your dog.

Ichthyosis, a condition that results in dry, flaky skin, is a disorder that can be inherited. Dogs living with this condition will require special shampoos to alleviate much of the discomfort.

Pitbull Health Issues

Pitbulls are generally a healthy breed but can face a lot of health problems that are common to large breeds. Like American Bullies, Pitties may also face health issues with a genetic basis. Understanding what problems these dogs may face will help prepare you to care for one properly.


Pitbulls are a breed particularly sensitive to all types of allergies. Pollen and grass are the allergens the most likely to be severe, although Pitties can also get severe reactions to flea, tick, and fly bites.

Any area of the skin affected by allergies should be treated to prevent scratching and licking that could lead to infection. These dogs may also have issues with allergies caused by food ingredients, requiring care when selecting a dog food.

Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis is the most common heart condition that affects Pitbulls. This condition involves a narrowing of the aorta and is a condition very likely to be inherited.

In most cases, this condition does not have symptoms. Regular visits to your vet will help you catch this and similar types of conditions much sooner before the disease ends up having a tragic outcome.


Pitbulls are more predisposed to cataracts than many other breeds. Although commonly occurring in older dogs, younger dogs can also develop cataracts.

When a veterinarian diagnoses cataracts in their earlier stages, medications may be able to help correct the problem. In severe cases or when the cataracts are advanced, a vet may perform surgery to remove cataracts.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy is a degenerative disease that affects some Pitbulls and other large breeds. Dogs that have this condition, which affects the spinal cord, experience weakness, and paralysis in their hind limbs.

When dogs develop this condition, the symptoms are very similar to those of arthritis during the early stages. A diagnosis from a vet is essential because unlike arthritis, degenerative myelopathy has no known effective treatment.


Pitbulls are a breed susceptible to developing diabetes. When a dog is diabetic, their bodies produce insufficient amounts of insulin to digest carbohydrates or their insulin does not work properly.

Although obese senior dogs have the greatest diabetes risk, dogs of any age may develop this condition. Insulin shots, given on a daily basis, help to make up for the insulin that your dog’s pancreas does not make.

Heart Disease

In addition to aortic stenoses, other types of heart disease such as irregular heart rhythm and malformed valves are also common in Pitbulls. An irregular heart rhythm increases a dogs’ chances of a heart attack or cardiac arrest event.

Malformed valves can contribute to circulation issues, leading to problems like congestive heart failure symptoms. Many cardiac problems in dogs are managed with medications, while others require surgery.

American Bulldog
American Bulldog

American Bulldog vs Pitbull Costs

The cost to acquire a dog of either breed may vary, with many factors determining the cost. Some of the considerations include the individual breeder, the bloodline and pedigree, and whether the dog has been bred primarily as a show or working dog, or as a companion. The costs also vary when a dog comes from a shelter or a rescue organization.

American Bulldog Costs

Most American Bullies sold as pets average around $800. dogs bred from show lines average around $1,700 and up, with much of the actual cost depending on the pedigree.

American Bulldogs that come from the most superior bloodlines often cost around $8,000 or more to acquire. One working line in high demand is the Johnson line, bred for conformity to the breed’s earliest working standards.

Pitbull Costs

Pitbulls are somewhat more expensive to acquire than American Bulldogs. The average price is $1,100 and, as with American Bullies, prices vary based on bloodlines and the breeder chosen.

Prices for Pitbulls from some of the highest-demand bloodlines may average between $3,700 and $10,000. A popular line that many Pitties come from is the Gotti line.

Adopting from Shelters or Rescues

There are many American Bulldogs and Pitbulls that end up in shelters or rescues that need homes. The costs for these dogs may vary based on the location, what type of shelter or rescue you adopt from, and whether the dog requires spaying, neutering, or vaccines.

The location of the shelter or rescue may play a role in the cost to adopt. Organizations that make arrangements to transport dogs to their new homes will usually charge higher fees to help offset their costs.

Municipal shelters or pounds that hold dogs for shorter periods often charge lower fees than their non-profit counterparts. Non-profit shelters and foster-based rescues often include the vetting costs in their fees, resulting in higher adoption fees.

Some government-run shelters may charge fees ranging from $25 to $75, possibly including vouchers for discounted vetting. Non-profit organizations that have higher costs may charge fees ranging from $100 to $300.

These breeds can be a challenge for many dog owners, especially first-timers. It’s not unusual for owners to feel guilty as they return their Bulldogs and Pitbulls to the rescue center.

American Bulldog and Pitbulls History

American Bulldogs and Pitbulls share a lineage that includes Old English Bulldogs. Because of this common ancestry, they share many traits, although the breeds developed for different purposes that have shaped the dogs that they are today.

American Bullies have retained many of their original features, with the connections to other Bulldogs obvious. Pitbulls, on the other hand, have been mixed with terriers, contributing to a reputation for being fighters.

American Bulldog Origins

American Bulldogs were the descendants of English Bulldogs who arrived in what are now southern states in the U.S. These farmers used the dogs for many purposes, with the breed’s history as a bull-baiter making it suitable for works that involved the use of strong jaws.

The English Bulldogs that were American Bully ancestors had their origins in bull-baiting. These dogs would bite and hold a tethered bull’s nose, resulting in the large, strong jaws that are part of this breed’s distinguishing characteristics.

Farmers and ranchers found these dogs helpful in catching hogs and cattle. Besides catching livestock, these dogs were also suitable for guarding rural properties.

American farmers began to selectively breed these dogs based on working traits, resulting in a somewhat larger dog better suited to the American South’s warmer climate. One of the tasks that these dogs became well adapted to was hunting feral pigs.

Over time, breeders who were trying to preserve and improve the breed started breeding American Bullies back to English Bulldogs. Others sought to refine the populations native to the U.S., resulting in multiple varieties of the breed.

Around the end of World War II, when farming in the U.S. had started to change considerably from the family-owned model that had been prevalent, this breed was facing extinction. A revival of the breed as a family pet helped to keep up the demand.

Pitbull Origins

Pitbulls came from a mixture of English Bulldogs and terriers, including breeds popular for ratting. These dogs were used for blood sports such as bull-baiting.

However, the British government banned bull-baiting in the 1800s, causing the focus for this breed to shift to ratting. Spectators would place wagers on which Pitbull would kill the most rats.

Dogfighting replaced bull-baiting and ratting, and many English and Irish immigrants in the 19th century used dogfights as a form of entertainment. As dogfighting declined, these dogs were more commonly used as pets, as well as driving cattle and hunting.

Final Thoughts on the whole American Bulldog vs Pitbull Debate

American Bulldogs and Pitbulls are both versatile breeds that are particularly popular as companion animals. Both breeds have a lot in common with their Bulldog ancestors but have become very different breeds and distinct sets of traits.

Although both breeds can have some difficult traits, both types of dogs have a lot to give to their families. Active families willing to train the dogs using assertive yet positive methods will be sure to have a happy life with their pets.