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American Pitbull Terrier vs American Bully: What’s the Difference?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Pitbull vs American Bully

Despite the controversy surrounding Pitbulls, with many regions even banning the breeds outright, more and more dog lovers are opening their homes to bully rescues. However, while much of the negative reputation surrounding these dogs is overblown, it’s still incredibly important to know exactly what you’re getting into before bringing home a Pitbull.

When researching the different characteristics and household needs of these dogs, you’ll probably stumble across a few questions of your own. One of the most common of these questions is: What’s the difference between an American Pitbull Terrier vs. an American Bully?

Before we can jump into the answer to that question, though, let’s take a closer look at what makes a Pitbull, well, a Pitbull.

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Visual Differences

Although the American Pitbull Terrier and American Bully might look like any other Pitbull to an untrained eye, the two breeds are actually quite different.

American Pitbull Terrier vs American Bully side by side
Image Credit: Left – KruBeer Photo, Shutterstock | Right – Glenn Van Bergen, Shutterstock

A Quick Glance – American Pitbull Terrier vs American Bully

American Pitbull Terrier
  • Average Height (adult): 18-19 inches
  • Average Weight (adult): 30-80 pounds
  • Lifespan: 11-13 years
  • Exercise: At least 40 minutes per day
  • Grooming needs: Low
  • Family-friendly: Often
  • Dog-friendly: Only sometimes
  • Trainability: Stubborn
American Bully
  • Average Height (adult): 16-20 inches
  • Average Weight (adult): 60-120 pounds
  • Lifespan: 11-13 years
  • Exercise: At least one hour per day
  • Grooming needs: Low
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Good

What Is a Pitbull?

Aside from the pit bull’s unfortunate reputation, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding these dogs. To start, a Pitbull is not a singular breed. In fact, the term “Pitbull” can refer to several different breeds, including the:

  • Bull Terrier
  • American Pitbull Terrier
  • American Bulldog
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • American Bully
  • American Staffordshire Terrier

When someone says that a dog is a Pitbull, it generally means the dog has one or more of these breeds in their bloodline. However, the exact mix is unknown. In other words, most of today’s Pitbulls are mutts.

At the same time, though, purebred Pitbull breeds do exist. The American Pitbull Terrier and American Bully are two popular examples.

Tri color Pitbull puppy
Image Credit: PPstudio, Shutterstock

The American Pitbull Terrier

The American Pitbull Terrier is one of the quintessential bully breeds yet is not formally recognized by the American Kennel Club. Still, when you picture a pure Pitbull, this dog is probably what you see!

The American Pitbull Terrier is very similar in appearance to the American Staffordshire Terrier, but with a slightly larger frame. The breed stands at about 18 to 19 inches at the shoulder and can weigh anywhere from 30 to 80 pounds.

Like all Pitbull breeds, the American Pitbull Terrier has an extremely short coat. Because of this, the breed requires very little grooming and rarely sheds. Although most Pitbulls sport white, tan, or grey fur, you can technically find these dogs in any color (including striking patterns like brindle).

american pitbull terrier
Image Credit: Voltgroup, Shutterstock

Temperament and Training

While modern Pitbulls are seen as tough guard dogs, they actually require more bonding and affection than other popular breeds. An American Pitbull Terrier — or any Pitbull, for that matter — left alone for extended periods of time will quickly develop emotional problems.

At the same time that American Pitbull Terriers are extremely loving, they are also headstrong and stubborn. For this reason, the breed isn’t recommended for novice owners who have little-to-no experience training difficult breeds. Unfortunately, their sheer size and strength mean that a poorly trained Pitbull is a recipe for trouble.

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The American Bully

American Bully
Image Credit: dillondygert, Pixabay

The American Bully is a new addition to the Pitbull ranks, with many kennel clubs first recognizing the breed within the last decade. Unlike older Pitbull breeds that were bred for hunting, livestock protection, or fighting, the American Bully was created specifically for human companionship.

The American Bully is about the same height as the American Pitbull Terrier, measuring between 16 and 20 inches at the shoulder. However, because the breed is built with significantly more muscle than other bully breeds, some individuals can reach up to 120 pounds.

As with other Pitbulls, the American Bully exhibits a short, stiff coat that requires very little grooming. All colors are accepted within the breed standard, except for a merle pattern.

Temperament and training

According to the breed standard, the American Bully combines the level-headed loyalty of an American Pitbull Terrier with the more fun-loving and outgoing personality of an American Staffordshire Terrier. This combination results in an excellent family dog that is more trusting of strangers and other dogs than the average Pitbull.

Because some of the stubbornness has been bred out of the American Bully, they are notably easier to train than the American Pitbull Terrier. However, complacency in training is still a no-go, especially considering the breed’s impressive size and strength.

american bully playing
Image Credit: rzierik, Pixabay

Divider 8Which Should You Choose?

Of course, there are countless mixed Pitbulls out there looking for a caring home, so a purebred American Pitbull Terrier or American Bully is far from your only option. At the end of the day, you should choose a dog that best fits you and your family’s lifestyle.

Which Pitbull breed is your favorite? We hope this guide has helped you decide.

Featured Image Credit: (L) Maayan Kuperstein, Shutterstock | (R) LaruelleSphotography, Shutterstock

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