If you were ask the average person walking down the street what a Pitbull was they would look at you and either say the dog or the musician. If you were to chuckle and say: “I was talking about the dog” and then ask them if they could identify a Pitbull, the majority of people would be confident that they could. However, in reality most people don’t know that the term “Pitbull” actually encompasses at least 5 different dog breeds.

Yep, 5 different breeds are frequently called “Pitbulls”. In this article we are going to highlight each of the breeds considered Pitbulls, and talk a little bit about their history and origin.

This image shows all 5 different Pitbull breed. Image source: Pinterest

Pitbull Breeds

  1. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  2. American Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  3. American Pit Bull Terrier
  4. American Bull Dog (Scott Type)
  5. American Bull Dog (Johnson Type)

When we discuss the following breeds we’ll dive into their appearance, health, temperaments, behavior, strengths, and weaknesses. But first we’ll go through the history of the term Pitbull.

History of the Pitbull

Pit bulls were originally bred in the United Kingdom by mixing English bulldogs and terriers together to produce puppies with the best traits of both breeds. Proper specimens would have the power and strength of the bulldogs with the agility and determination of the terrier. The results were exactly what the British breeders wanted. However, the motives behind the breeding weren’t good. Breeders wanted these particular characteristics to use the dogs for their own dark entertainment.

Early “Pitbulls” earned their names by being thrown into pits to hold their own against Bulls and Bears. Participants would gamble on the events and select their favorite dogs to outlast or be put to death by the wild bears and bulls. It wasn’t until almost the mid 1800’s that these brutal events were outlawed. Despite their best efforts the British weren’t able to protect Pitbulls from bad people who then just pitted the dogs against each other. Even in moderns times Pitbulls are being bred for fighting, just to entertain and be the subject of gambling.  Sadly, Pitbulls have done nothing to earn their reputations, instead it is sick humans who are to blame.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

staffordshire bull terrier

The first “Pit bull” we’ll talk about is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This breed is specifically known for its muscular, short, and stocky frame. They are also know for being brave dogs, that will stand up to anything anyone. When it comes to size, they are usually the smallest of the bunch with a max height and weight of 17″ and 40 lbs respectively. If you are thinking of adding a Staffordshire Bull Terrier to your family, expect them to be around for 12 to 14 years.

Although, they have a rough past as highlighted in the history segment above, today’s Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a welcomed addition to any home, as long as their is adequate training. You should regularly exercise your dog, as they thrive when being challenged physically. Grooming a Staffordshire is simple as they’ll only need an occasional brushing, nail clipping, and removal of ear wax.

When possible it’s best to get your dog from a reputable breeder so you can get the full picture when it comes to potential health concerns. A responsible breeder will screen their puppies for health concerns like hip dysplasia, and eye cataracts.

American Staffordshire Bull Terrier

american staffordshire bull terrier

Where the original Staffordshire stems from Britain, the American version comes the United States, and just like everything in America its bigger. The American Staffordshire is real medium sized dog with sizes ranging from 17 to 19 inches in height and a max weight of 75 lbs. Known as a lover not a fighter this version of the Pit Bull has a longer life expectancy than the original Staffordshire, living between 12 and 16 years. One of the standout features in the American Staffordshire’s personality is their amazing loyalty and sense of family.  Dogs that are well socialized are truly laid back, smart and trustworthy.

Out of all the varieties this is my personal favorite.

Great power, strengths and athletic ability without being too big. On that note of being too big, some AmStaff’s have been known to be overweight on the border of obesity. Making sure your dog has a well balanced diet is key. We offer a whole list of recommended dog foods here.

Groom is simple with the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, if you can spare a few minutes for a quick brush once a week, you’ll do fine with this breed. It’s also noteworthy that the AmStaff’s coat doesn’t really shed. This Pitbull like the others can be a ball of energy so it needs adequate exercise. However, just letting the dog go out on its own to exercise isn’t quite enough. The American Staffordshire Bull Terrier needs companionship and social interaction to truly thrive.

American Staffordshire Bull Terrier Documentary

American Pit bull Terrier

Next up the American Pitbull Terrier, while it is a recognized purebred dog by many the AKC or American Kennel Club still doesn’t recognize the breed. Here at PitbullSmart we recognize the American Pitbull terrier as breed and a great one at that! This Pitbull is known for its strength, confidence and excitement. However, this breed can also be known for dog on dog aggression if not nipped in the bud. We recommend all American Pitbull Terrier owners to socialize their dogs, early and often to encourage less aggressive behavior.

A common health issue seen in Pitbulls is hip dysplacia, this variety is no different and suffers more than the average breed of dog. Parvo is another known issue, with Pitbulls being more susceptible. Both health concerns can be addressed though, dysplacia with a healthy diet and exercise. The risk of Parvo can be lowered by limiting your Pitbull from accessing grassy areas where other dogs have been and getting the recommended vaccinations. For more on Parvo checkout this out.

When it comes to size the American Pit Bull Terrier is similar in size to the American Staffordshire Terrier. However, APBT’s are usually a tad bit taller and less compact than AmStaffs are. This Variety is extremely loyal and will thrive in a caring home.

American Bulldog

American bulldogs

Probably my second favorite the American Bulldog is the largest of the Pitbull breeds. The American Bulldog is known for its loyalty and bold personality. As I was saying before, these guys are BIG! Males can range from 75 to 120 lbs, as with larger breeds the life expectancy is slight lower than others at around 10 years. What I and many others love about the American Bulldog is its well roundedness. American Bulldogs have an amazon temperament, as they show love in the family, but can also go anywhere and handle anything. Breeders have said, they’ve taken their American bulldogs out hunting wild boar, in which the dog drug a boar down to the ground, and later in the evening the same dog could cuddle their two year old. American Bulldogs are great guard dogs, as they will alert owners and their shear size will intimidate trespassers.

One key area as with all Pitbull breeds is exercise, as a large muscle dog the American Bulldog needs good long walks. Even better if you can stimulate their muscles with higher intensity games of fetch or other activities where they can run in short bursts. When it comes to diet, American Bulldogs have big appetites. However, you shouldn’t just feed them anything. As such muscular dogs, a diet that consists mostly of protein is recommended. Lots of dog foods on the market contain fillers, like rice and other grains. Option for a grain free dog food will really benefit your dog.

Johnson American Bulldog

The Johnson variety is the largest of all the Pitbull breeds. It has the large head, broad chest and wide shoulders.

Scott American Bulldog

The Scott variety is the leaner more sleek American Bulldog, these dogs are a true working breed and love to be assigned jobs and tasks.

What is the Best Pitbull?

The Best Pitbull for you is the one that goes the best with your lifestyle. Can you provide the dog with adequate exercise, enough space, attention and love? If so you can select any of the 5 Pitbull breeds. While I’m more partial to the AmStaffs, you might like American Bulldogs, or American Pitbull Terriers. All of the breeds are extremely intelligent, energetic, and loyal. While they have bad reputations in the minds of many, Pitbull are incredible dogs and anyone who owns one will enjoy every minute they get to spend with one.

Popular Pitbull Mixes

Img Src: https://www.buzzfeed.com/sarahaspler

Believe it or not Pitbull mixed dogs are increasingly popular these days. Many people are interested in Pitbull mix puppies specifically. Some of the most desirable mixes are Pitbull mixed with Boxer, Pug, and Labrador retrievers.  One of the cutest Pitbull mixes I’ve ever seen was a Pitbull x Beagle. You’ll see a picture of the very pup below, isn’t he adorable? When it comes to Pitbull mixes you never really know what the results will be, but what you can be sure is that the genetic make up of both parents will go to the offspring.


True or False: The Truth About Pitbulls

Pitbulls are dangerous: Yes, but any dog can be dangerous if they are not properly trained and socialized. Pitbulls are no different, while they are notorious for being aggressive due to their history of bull baiting and dog fighting. They are no more dangerous than a comparable dog the same size. The thing that does give Pitbulls an advantage over some other breeds is their tenacity and determination.

Pitbulls are smart: Yes! Pitbulls are incredibly smart. They are great problem solvers, and will figure things out if given time. For this reason is its good to leave them for hours on end chained or cooped up in a crate. They will use their intelligence and endlessly try to get out, if they can’ t they will end up incredibly frustrated and will need to get that frustration out somewhere.

Pitbulls are illegal: Yes and No, in many states, cities and even countries Pitbulls are illegal to posses. For a full list of cities and stands check this list.

Pitbulls have locking jaws: No! This is an urban myth. Pitbulls do not posses a locking mechanism in their jaws. However, they do have extreme determination and will hold with everything they have.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this article gave you some added clarity on what a Pitbull is. The label Pitbull is commonly placed on a variety of different dogs, while they may not be completely wrong, the breed do have proper names. While they are similar, in appearance, characteristics, demeanor, behavior, etc. Each Bull breed has their own quirks and unique qualities as well. They all can be amazing family oriented dogs, that are extremely loyal. Make sure to take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

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