While the names American Bulldog and Pit Bull are often used interchangeably, the two are actually totally different breeds of dogs that have their own unique history, distinctly different temperaments and, if you look closely, they look quite different too.
Pit Bulls have gained a bit of a reputation for being ferocious, vicious dogs, a reputation that many Pit Bull owners would dispute, but nonetheless, Pit Bull related breeds have been banned in some countries and other countries have placed restrictions on their ownership. For that reason, American Bulldog owners are always very keen to point out the differences between their pet and the much maligned Pit Bull.
So, if you are one of the many people who often confuse an American Bulldog for a Pit Bull, here are some of the main differences between the two breeds and a little bit of history of where they originated from.
The American Bulldog
There are actually two main types of American Bulldog, the Standard and the Classic. The Standard American Bulldog also called the Scott American Bulldog is the type of bulldog that is most often confused for a Pit Bull. It has a more athletic look than the Classic Bulldog and it has a narrower head and muzzle. The Classic American Bulldog, also known as the Johnson American Bulldog, is heavier and wider than the Standard Bulldog and it has much more of the look of an Old English Bulldog about it.
Classic American Bulldog or Johnson American Bulldog
The reason that we have two main types of American bulldog can be traced back to two breeders, John D. Johnson and Alan Scott. Bulldogs were originally brought to the American South by early English settlers who used them was working dogs on their farms. By World War II, bulldogs were virtually extinct in America, until John D. Johnson and his father took it upon themselves to revive the breed. Alan Scott became interested in Johnson’s work and he began breeding Johnson’s dogs with other bulldogs from American farms, while Johnson began breeding his dogs with English bulldogs, hence the difference in appearance between the Standard and the Classic American bulldogs.
A Standard American Bulldog or Scott American Bulldog
The American Bulldog is typically a confident, social dog with loads of personality. If they are trained properly and they are socialised at an early age, American Bulldogs can be great with children and make very good family pets, even though they were originally bred to work on farms, kill vermin and guard property.
The American Pit Bull
The American Pit Bull Terrier, more often just called an American Pit Bull, was produced by crossing Old English Bulldogs with Old English Terriers. The name is used to describe three different breeds; the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.The dogs were originally bred to combine the athleticism of the bulldog and the gameness of the terrier and they were used as working dogs on farms.
In England, pit bulls were used in blood sports, such as bear baiting and bull baiting and then, later on, they were used in illegal dog fights too. In America, pit bulls were used as hunting dogs, for driving cattle, and as catch dogs. And some have been selectively bred for their fighting abilities and used in illegal dog fights.
It is because of the illegal use of Pit Bulls that they have gained a reputation as an aggressive dog, but if they are trained properly and socialised early, they make loyal, confident pets and they are renowned for their loyalty and their love of children.
American Bulldog vs American Pit Bull for Hunting
Both the American PitBull and the American Bulldog were originally used as farm dogs and both breeds have a history of being used as catcher dogs or big game dogs. Today, both breeds are more usually found in family homes than on the farm, but they are both still used for wild pig or boar hunting.
As for which of the two breeds is the best hunting dog, that’s almost as controversial as this type of hunting with dogs itself it is. It really depends on the individual dog and on the preference of the hunter that you ask.
American Bulldog vs American Pit Bull for Family Guard Dogs
As to which of the two breeds would be the best family guard dog, most people would say that strength and courage of the American Pit Bull would make it the winner in that category, but both have the loyalty and the tenacity to make a formidable guard dog.
American Bulldogs are fearless and courageous dogs as well, though, and they have developed a reputation for being excellent family pets. Of the two breeds, it’s the American Bulldogs that are more laid back, whereas the Terrier that is in the American Pitbull makes them much more active and they need to be exercised regularly so they can work off some of that energy.
Both the American Bulldog and the American Pit Bull are wonderful dogs that have their own unique physique, history and temperament. Like any dog that was bred as a working dog and a hunting dog, both of these breeds will make wonderful loving pets, so long as they are trained properly and they are socialised early on in life.
American Bulldogs are classified as a direct offshoot of the Mastiff Breed and they have none of the Terrier’s looks or temperament about them. They are laid back dogs that will work when they need and you won’t catch an American Bulldog wasting energy chasing its own tail! Pit Bulls definitely do have the energy of a Terrier and they need a lot of exercise to stop them getting bored, frustrated, and possibly short-tempered.
If you are ever again confused between the two breeds, you can distinguish a Pitbull by its block shaped head that rounds towards the muzzle and its pointed ears. An American Bulldog, on the other hand, has a much shorter boxed shaped snout, wrinkles on its face, and a Bulldog is usually larger and bulkier than a Pitbull and it has a broader chest and head.