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Different Types of Pitbulls – How to Choose The Pit Bull for You

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When you think of a Pit Bull, you probably have a very specific image in mind. However, did you know that there are several different types of Pitbulls? There are also a lot of dogs that aren’t Pitbull dog breeds but have a similar look.

Let’s talk about the types of Pitbulls and how to choose the right one for your family.

what is a pitbull

What Are Pitbulls?

The term “Pit Bull” refers to a group of dog breeds that were once used for bull-baiting and dogfighting. Both cruel sports often took place in pits with amphitheater-style seating, so everybody had a good view. When a dog fought against a bull in a pit, the term “Pitbull” was a natural choice.

In bull baiting, somebody would tie a bull to a stake. Then, dogs were sent in individually to try to grab the bull by the nose and bring it down. People would bet on which dog would bring the bull down or if the bull would beat them all.

Bull baiting was a national sport in England from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Fortunately, it was outlawed in 1835.

During its many centuries of popularity, bull-baiting altered the size and shape of Pitbulls. The original huge Mastiff-type dogs were too large and slow to go against an agile bull. Breeders favored smaller dogs with their weight focused toward their front end.

Once bull baiting was outlawed, Pitbulls were bred for different tasks, including farm work and illegal dogfighting. Pitbulls in different areas took on differing sizes and shapes. That resulted in the various types of Pitbulls that we see today.

Since several dog breeds owe their history to bull-baiting or dog fighting, many breeds are called Pitbulls.

The Different Types of Pitbulls (Common)

There is only one dog that’s officially called a Pitbull, and that’s the American Pit Bull Terrier. However, the term Pitbull is also often applied to other dog breeds. Let’s talk a bit about the various types of Pit bull.

These are the dog breeds most commonly referred to as Pitbulls.

RankingNameHeight WeightLife spanBreed sizeTemperamentOrigin
1American Pit Bull Terrier18-21 inches35-60 lbs 8-15 yearsmediumStubborn, Friendly, Clownish, Strong WilledUnited States
2American Staffordshire Terrier18-20 inches55-70 lbs12-16 yearsmediumTenacious, Friendly, Devoted, LoyalUnited States
3Staffordshire Bull Terrier14-16 inches28-37 lbs12-14 yearsmediumIntelligent, Reliable, Affectionate, BoldUnited Kingdom
4American Bulldog19-27 inches66-128 lbs10-15 yearslargeFriendly, Energetic, Assertive, Loyal, ConfidentUnited States
5American Bully13-20 inches44-132 lbs8-13 yearsmediumStubborn, Friendly, Clownish, Strong WilledUnited States, United Kingdom

American Pit Bull Terrier

American Pit Bull Terrier

The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is one of the tallest common Pitbull types. The ancestors of this breed were brought to America from Europe and bred to be farm dogs. They could guard property, hunt wild game, and provide companionship.

Thanks to their dogfighting past, American Pit Bull Terriers may be dog aggressive. However, they are not aggressive toward people. When the dogs fought bulls or other dogs, they needed to be safely handled by their owners.

American Pit Bull Terriers are very friendly with people, even being called “nanny dogs.” It’s important to note that no dog breed should be left alone with small children. Any dog can become aggressive in the right (or wrong) circumstances.

The American Pit Bull Terrier stands 15”-21” tall at the shoulder and weighs 30-65 pounds.

You might see dogs called a Red Nose Pitbull or a Blue Nose Pitbull. These aren’t separate breeds. They’re just color variants of the American Pit Bull Terrier.

American Staffordshire Terrier

american stafford terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff) is shorter (17”-19”) but stockier and heavier (40-75 pounds) than the APBT. They are very muscular and look bulkier than the American Pit Bull Terrier.

The AmStaff was bred to work. They do best if they have a job to do, or if they get plenty of rigorous exercise. Leash and obedience training is critical to avoid being dragged around by this powerful breed.

Without enough exercise, the AmStaff can get bored and put their strong jaws to use on anything around. Make sure your American Staffordshire Terrier has plenty of chew toys or bones to keep them busy.

Did you know that the most decorated American war dog was an American Staffordshire Terrier? Sgt. Stubby was an American hero during World War I. He’s the only war dog ever to carry the title of Sergeant.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

staffordshire bull terrier

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Staffy) is the dog that was used to create the American Staffordshire Terrier. Shorter and smaller than its American cousin, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is only 14”-16” tall and weighs 24-38 pounds.

Staffies have a very muscular build and a huge, blocky head. They need a lot of socialization as puppies to avoid being dog aggressive as adults. However, they are very sweet and gentle with humans of any size.

Like other Pitbulls, the Staffy needs plenty of exercise. However, they can often be satisfied with walks better than their larger cousins who need to run.

Staffies need to be around their people as much as possible and don’t do well left alone for long periods. Despite their intimidating appearance, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are giant cuddle bugs who need companionship.

American Bulldog

american bulldog

You can tell the difference between an American Bulldog and other Pitbulls by its size. The American Bulldog is significantly larger than other Pitbulls. It stands 20”-28” tall and weighs 60-120 pounds.

While some other Pitbull types are too friendly to be guard dogs, the American Bulldog is wary of strangers. They also tend to be more territorial than other types of Pitbulls. As a result, the American Bulldog makes a better guardian than other types of Pitbulls.

The American Bulldog needs plenty of exercise and doesn’t do well left alone for long periods. These dogs need to be with their people as much as possible. Without enough exercise, they can become destructive, especially when they’re alone.

There is a wide variety of American Bulldogs these days, including the Johnson type and the Scott type.

American Bully

American Bully

The American Bully is considered by some to be a variety of American Bulldog. The American Bully is a cross between the American Pit Bull Terrier and the English Bulldog. A stocky breed, the American Bully stands 16 to 20 inches and weighs 30-55 pounds.

The American Bully is a newer breed with a variety of sizes ranging from “Pocket” (17” tall) to “XL” (23”). There is little in the way of a breed standard yet for this newly popular Pitbull breed. Seemingly every kennel has its own idea of how the American Bully should look.

Despite their height, the American Bully has a massive head and looks ferocious. However, this is a gentle breed that loves people.

Types of Pitbulls (Rare Breeds)

Bull Terrier Rare Pitbull Breed

The previous 5 breeds are the most common types of Pitbulls in the United States and Great Britain. However, other types of Pitbull can be found around the world. These other Pitbull dog breeds include:

Dogo Argentino Dog

Dogs That Aren’t Pit Bull Dog Breeds – But Look Like They Could Be

People who aren’t familiar with dog breeds often mistake a variety of dog breeds for Pitbulls. A few dog breeds mistaken for Pitbulls include:

Why Are There So Many Different Types of Pit Bulls?

pit bull life expectancy

First, everybody had their own idea about what features made the best bull-baiting or dog fighting dog. Then, once the sports were outlawed, Pitbulls made their way to various countries and were bred to different standards.

Pitbulls were then used for things like farm work and needed different physical or personality traits. Additionally, dogfighting has remained an underground sport, and some people breed Pitbulls for that to this day.

In reality, the term “Pitbull” is assigned to a wide variety of dog breeds that share a common past. The term is used almost as a classification for a group of dogs with similar features. That’s why there are so many types of Pit Bulls.

Pitbull Dog Breed Myths

There are a lot of myths surrounding Pitbull dog breeds. Let’s try to debunk some of the most common Pitbull dog breed myths.

Myth #1 – Pitbulls Have Locking Jaws

Truth – There is nothing about a Pitbull’s jaw structure that makes it lock in place after it bites down. In fact, Pit Bulls don’t even have the strongest bite force of any dog breed.

Pitbulls are more tenacious when they hold onto something, but their laws are not locked closed. You can pry open their jaws with a bite stick like any other dog breed.

Myth #2 – Pit Bulls Are Vicious

Truth – Pitbull breeds perform better on temperament tests than many other dog breeds. 87.4% of 931 American Pit Bull Terriers that were tested passed the test. A few popular dog breeds that performed worse than the APBT include:

  • Alaskan Malamute 84.8%
  • Australian Shepherd 82.2%
  • Beagle 79.7%
  • Border Collie 82.4%
  • Chihuahua 69.6%
  • German Shepherd 85.3%
  • Golden Retriever 85.6%
  • Portuguese Water Dog 77.9%
  • Rottweiler 84.7%

While some Pit Bulls are not friendly with other dogs, most are quite friendly and gentle with people. It’s the exceptions to the rule that gives the breed a bad reputation.

Myth #3 – Pitbulls Are Hard to Train

Truth – Pitbulls were bred to work, and they are intelligent and trainable. While they can be stubborn, they learn quicker than many other dog breeds. They do need to understand that you are the boss, so they aren’t great for first-time dog owners.

Since there is such a negative stigma about Pitbulls, your Pitbull must be a master of obedience. Each dog of the breed should be an ambassador and show people there’s nothing to fear.

Myth #4 – Pitbulls Are Only Good for Dog Fighting

Truth – Pitbulls love to work and will happily do any job you ask of them. They are becoming increasingly popular as police dogs. While they are no longer allowed in the military, they traditionally excelled as war dogs.

Aside from work, Pitbulls genuinely love people and make amazing pets. As with any dog breed, you must socialize them from a young age. You must expose them to a variety of people, places, and animals as puppies.

pitbull breed types

What is the Best Pit Bull Dog Breed?

The best Pit Bull dog breed is the one who fits in your family. With a variety of sizes and temperaments, there is a Pit Bull for nearly any family. They do need plenty of exercise, training, and socialization.

Are you looking for a smaller breed that’s cheaper to feed? Check out the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Want a large dog that doesn’t look like a bodybuilder? Think about getting a lean American Bulldog.

There is a Pitbull dog breed for just about any home situation. So, as long as you do a little research into each breed, you’ll find the perfect one.

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)

Sadly, many cities and countries around the world ban Pitbulls or other specific breeds. Therefore, if you’re thinking about adding a Pit Bull to your family, check your local laws first.

Additionally, apartment buildings, doggy daycares, hotels, or other facilities may also restrict Pitbulls. When you plan on taking your Pitbull anywhere new, always check rules and laws before you go. The last thing you want is to accidentally move somewhere that wants to put your dog to sleep simply because of its breed.

different types of pitbull breeds

A Final Word About Pitbulls

All in all, Pitbulls are often misunderstood dogs who make great family pets. With all the different Pitbulls, you should have no problem finding the right one for you. Hopefully, we’ve given you enough information to help decide which Pit Bull breed is best.


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