There are lots of different types of pitbulls.
You may think of the adorable videos of blue pit pups dressed up in pajamas and cuddling their owners. Or you may think of ‘nanny’ dogs. Pitbulls who melt at the sight of their favorite children and protect them like another parent.
Sometimes these dogs are labeled Pitbulls, and other times Staffies, but what breed really are they?
They look almost identical, and appear to be the same breed, so why are there so many different names?
In this article we will clear up any misconceptions you may have on Pitbull type dogs. We explain the four different dog breeds that are commonly called Pitbulls. We also share how to tell them apart, how these loving pups have earned such a bad reputation, and much more…
Table of Contents
What Is A Pitbull?
The term Pitbull is used by many dog lovers without much understanding of what it actually means. Many people assume this label applies to one specific breed. But, Pitbull is a category of dog that includes four different breeds:
- American Bully.
- American Pit Bull Terrier.
- American Staffordshire Terrier.
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
These four dog breeds all have extremely similar names, so it is no wonder they are so often confused. In addition to having names that are almost identical, these Pitbulls all have a very similar appearance. They are known for their broad chests and shoulders, muscular bodies and big, square heads.
Many people misidentify breeds as a Pitbull because they share these same muscular traits.
Dogs like Boxers, Cane Corsos, Dogo Argentinos, and Bull Mastiffs are all commonly incorrectly labeled as Pitbulls. Mixed breed Cane Corsos are also identified as Pitbulls, especially in shelters, despite not being a part of this breed group.
History of Pitbulls
The ancestors of all four Pitbulls were initially bred in Britain for a gruesome blood sport known as bullbaiting. These Pitbull type dogs were placed in a ring with a bull and were supposed to kill the bull as audience members watched.
Bulldogs were the first type of dog to be selectively bred for this sport, but as the sport evolved, so did the breeders. In the nineteenth century they began breeding tenacious Bulldogs with feisty Terriers to create a super breed.
By the mid nineteenth century, this awful sport was outlawed. But fans and spectators took their sport underground and began pitting these dogs against each other.
Dogfighting still occurs today and, unfortunately, Pitbulls are often associated with this violent sport and have earned a bad reputation among many pet owners.
For centuries Pitbull dogs have been exploited because of their strength and desire to please their owners. This breed is known for their naturally gentle and affectionate demeanor. But, in the hands of bad owners, they can be trained to participate in these horrific sports. It is the acts of these owners who have tarnished the reputation of Pitbulls.
Different Types of Pitbulls
There are four different breeds that fall into the Pitbull category:
- American Bully.
- American Pit Bull Terrier.
- American Staffordshire Terrier.
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
There are four dog breeds that are categorized as Pitbulls because of the similarities they share; they are the American Bully, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Each breed is known for their sturdy appearance and unwavering strength. Also, they are all equally subject to the misconceptions that the media has created about their temperament.
How Many Pitbulls Are There?
There are only four types of Pitbull dogs that truly fall into the Pitbull dog category.
Some people are under the impression that the term Pitbull refers to just one specific breed, the American Pitbull. They are not aware that there is no single Pitbull breed.
Many people on social media try to promote Pitbull type dogs in a positive light, but they do so incorrectly by saying things about how wonderful Pitbulls are without truly understanding what this term means. Pitbull is a category of dog with four breeds, not a single breed.
These four breeds have many similarities in their appearance, size and origin, but they are all unique. Some are larger and leaner while others are shorter and stockier. Some, like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, come in the color blue. Others, like the American Bully have folds of skin over their face.
It is easy to misidentify Pitbulls at first glance, but as you take the time to learn about them, they become much easier to identify.
1. American Bully
American Bullies are the newest of the Pitbull dogs and were first bred in the 1980s. These stocky dogs were bred by crossing the American Pit Bull and the American Bulldog. Breeding two, strong and hefty dogs makes a stubby dog that packs a lot of weight into a compact body.
Similar to an English Bulldog, American Bullies have thick bodies and stubby legs. Their faces are wrinkled, and their eyes droop a bit. They are adorable dogs and it is incredibly hard to resist grabbing their wrinkly skin!
They have a short, stiff coat that can come in a wide variety of colors such as white, black, blue, grey, brown, brindle, red, fawn, and tan. Like many white dog breeds some pure white American Bullies are deaf.
The skin on their body can be wrinkly like their face, or it can be tightly fitted to their bulging muscles. This will depend on what kind of shape your dog is in. The Pocket Bully normally always has a tight fitting coat.
Most American Bullies are beloved family pets. They are excellent family dogs because they get along well with dogs, other pets, and especially children! They are gentle and take care of children like they are the parent.
As well as being kind to you, your American Bully will love everyone they meet. Their extroverted personality makes them a friend of everyone they meet. They are highly affectionate and have a strong desire to cuddle their family members. You will need to make room on the couch for this dog.
These happy dogs have a silly smile and playful personality.
American Bullies are goofy dogs that get into mischief at times but will always keep you laughing. They are athletic dogs, even though they look a bit out of shape, and demand lots of play time during the day.
2. American Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier was bred in the United States, but can trace its roots back to Terrier and Bulldog dogs from the United Kingdom. This breed was developed in the late nineteenth century and became the dog of choice for dogfighting because of their strength and agility.
Many owners have tried to erase the disturbing history of this breed, but the one trait that remains is that these dogs have dog aggression tendencies.
Not all American Pit Bull Terriers are dog aggressive, and with proper socialization, some can have canine friends. But, many years of breeding for puppies who showed aggression towards other dogs has made this a persistent trait that is difficult to control.
These dogs can still live wonderful, fulfilling lives with their families. They just prefer to have all the attention on them rather than another canine.
They are immensely loyal and affectionate towards their family. They love attention and snuggling, so you can fully expect a very clingy dog who wants all your love. This behavior earned them the title of the nanny dog for faithfully watching over their favorite children.
These beautiful dogs can come in a large variety of colors, and most beautifully, can come in the blue nose and red nosed varieties! This stunning appearance is just as it sounds, a gorgeous red or blue nose accompanying a red or blue coat. Their blue coat is very similar to the deep navy tinge seen in Blue German Shepherds.
3. American Staffordshire Terrier
The American Staffordshire Terrier was bred in the United States in the late nineteenth century. This breed can also trace their roots back to Bulldogs and Terriers.
American Staffordshire Terriers are unique from all other Pitbull dogs because they were bred to be working farm dogs. They are known for having a very mellow and focused personality, and were not initially bred to be fighting dogs.
Unfortunately, as the breed gained popularity, they were also subjected to exploitation like the other Pitbull breeds.
American Staffordshire Terriers and American Pitbulls are very similar in appearance and temperament. They are both medium sized, muscular dogs with a serious face. The only difference is American Staffordshire Terriers have larger, square heads.
Despite their intimidating appearance, these dogs are loyal, affectionate and energetic. They love to play and will eagerly chase a ball around the yard all day long.
Similar to the American PBT, they would much rather be the only dog in your home. They can also have aggressive tendencies towards other dogs because they have such a high prey drive from their farm work. Proper socialization can sometimes help this, but it is important to go slow when introducing them to another dog.
Like all the other Pitbull breeds, these dogs can come in a large range of coat colors and are known for their short, stiff hair. When you pet any Pitbull you will notice they all feel the same in terms of texture.
4. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terriers, lovingly known as Staffies, are famous for their seal-like appearance and noises. They are known for being vocal dogs that make odd sounds and will always make you laugh. Their goofiness is also highlighted by their radiant smiles and their adorable appearance when their owners dress them up in doggie pajamas.
Staffies were bred in England in the nineteenth century for dogfighting. These dogs are anything but aggressive nowadays and are much more popular as beloved family pets.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers crave constant petting and would much rather nap on the couch and cuddle than chase a ball around the yard. They need to be with their owners at all times. They are so over attached that they often develop separation anxiety and will cry or become destructive if left alone for too long.
Their big heart does not always extend to other dogs though. Some Staffordshire Bull Terriers interact well with other dogs, but some never truly warm up.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers have the signature short, stiff fur that the other Pitbull dogs have. The most famous color of this breed is blue, but they can also come in white, tan, black, brindle and red.
Identifying Pitbull Dogs
Despite their similarities, these four dogs are all unique and have subtle differences that are often overlooked! The first difference is size.
These four Pitbull type dogs all differ slightly in size. The American Bully is the shortest. Although they are shorter, American Bullies are hefty dogs that typically weigh more than the other three breeds, weighing in at over 65 pounds. For reference that is as much as a fully grown silver Labrador Retriever.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are only slightly taller than American Bullies, but weigh much less at around 30 pounds. American Pit Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers are equal in height.
|American Bully||13 to 20 inches||65 to 80 pounds|
|Staffordshire Bull Terriers||14 to 16 inches||24 to 38 pounds|
|American Pit Bull Terrier||17 to 20 inches||30 to 65 pounds|
|American Staffordshire Terrier||17 to 20 inches||50 to 80 pounds|
Three of the Pitbull dogs are very similar in appearance. However, the American Bully has a unique appearance. American Bullies are stubby dogs with pointy ears, extremely wide faces, short snouts, and an incredibly wide body.
As well as size and appearance, their origins differ too. All four breeds were developed for blood sports, but one breed comes from a different country.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was bred in England, the other three Pitbulls can trace their roots to the United States and have not been in existence for as long.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are also more expensive with a price of $1500. The other Pitbull type dogs have a price of $800, if purchased from a breeder. The unfortunate truth about Pitbull type dogs is that they often end up in shelters. You can usually welcome a rescue Pitbull into your home for a much lower price.
American Bullies and American Pit Bull Terriers are not recognized by the American Kennel Club due to their violent history. But, they do recognize the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
The United Kennel Club recognizes the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American as the same breed.
Types Of Pitbulls Chart
|American Bully||American Pit Bull Terrier and other Bulldog breeds.||U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s for dogfighting.||Thick, short and stocky|
|American Pit Bull Terrier||Bulldog type dogs and terriers.||Late 19th century in North America for dogfighting.||Lean, tall, and muscular|
|American Staffordshire Terrier||Bulldog type dogs, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and terriers.||Developed in late 19th century in North America for farming.||Muscular, sturdy, tall|
|Staffordshire Bull Terrier||Bulldog type dogs and terriers.||Developed in 19th century England for dogfighting.||Short and light with a big body|
Dogs That Look Like Pitbulls
It is not uncommon for many dog breeds to be misidentified as Pitbulls. Many muscular dogs with big heads are immediately called Pitbulls.
Mixed breeds and hybrids are sometimes labeled as Pitbulls too, especially in shelters. The issue with misidentifying dogs as Pitbulls is that many people will choose not to adopt or purchase them. This is common in black dogs too and is known as black dog syndrome as people adopt lighter-colored pets.
Some purebred dogs, like the American Bulldog, Boxer, Cane Corso and Bull Mastiff are accidentally labeled as Pitbulls because they are extremely muscular with big heads. They can share some similarities, but these dogs are not a type of pitbull.
Other breeds such as the Black Mouth Cur, Vizla, Presa Canario and Dogue de Bordeaux are often mistaken for Pitbulls too. This is because these breeds are very rare and hard to identify.
Wrapping It Up
Pitbulls have faced years of discrimination. Their loyalty to their owners and immense strength have, at times, been exploited. They have earned a bad reputation that continue to ban them from apartments, dog parks, and even certain cities!
Recently, social media has started to reverse the stigma against these sweet-natured, loving dogs. Videos of Staffies in cute pajamas and American Pitbulls faithfully watching over children melt our hearts.
Pitbull owners are working hard to change the public’s perception of these incredibly affectionate dogs, but it may take years to reverse the damage to their reputation.
The first step to making people see Pitbull breeds as friendly, family dogs is educating them about the different types of Pitbulls and their temperament. Conquering the misconceptions and myths that shroud these breeds’ true identity is the only way to prove to the world that the four Pitbull type dogs make incredible family dogs and are not dangerous.
Their history has tarnished their reputation, but it is not impossible to reverse it.
Leave a comment in the comments section if you have any further questions or want to share your thoughts and opinions on these four miraculous breeds.