At first glance, an American bulldog and an American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) look remarkably alike. But there are several physical differences. There are also subtle differences in how people perceive them.
Breed or Type?
One controversial difference is that American bulldogs are a breed while pit bulls are a type, which can incorporate dogs with or without pedigrees. As long as they fit the physical type of a pit bull, they're a pit bull. There are many that do consider their "pitties" a breed, although the debate will go on. They certainly were considered a separate dog breed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Although APBTs are banned in the UK, just about all of the breeds that can be found in the APBT mix are allowed.
Being a purebred a crossbred does not make a dog better or worse. A pedigree is just a piece of paper. Both pit bulls and American bulldogs stem from the bulldog breeds of England. These dogs were bred to be friendly with people, although aggressive with large livestock and other dogs. But through patient and persistent training, these remarkably intelligent breeds/types of "bully dogs" will learn to tolerate just about anything.
The American bulldog is usually taller and leaner than a pit bull. The height of a dog is measured like that of a horse, from the ground to the highest part of the shoulder. The American bulldog averages 21 to 27 inches tall and a weight of 60 to 120 pounds. Females tend to weigh less than the males.
In contrast, the average pit bull is only measures 18 to 22 inches, but taller or shorter individuals certainly occur. Their average weight is 30 to 70 pounds, according to "ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs" (Chronicle Books; 1998) but individuals have been reported to tip the scales at 110 pounds. Pit bulls are much stockier than American bulldogs.
Pit bulls are the current canine scapegoats of an ignorant general public. In the 1980s, Rottweilers were the demons but have since been seen as acceptable pets by the general public. Pit bulls want to please people so much that they will do anything in order to please them – including violence. But this has to be trained. Pit bulls are born to please, not born to attack. There are individuals that would train any dog to attack humans, no matter what breed or type. They are far more dangerous to society than any pit bull.
In contrast, the American bulldog does not suffer such discrimination. This may be because its body resembles a boxer more than a pit bull or English bulldog. This may also be due to the relatively low numbers of purebred American bulldogs in the world as compared to the pit bull.