Types of Pit Bull Dog Breeds

5 Types of Pit Bull Dog Breeds

white American pit bull terrier smiling

Monique Rodriguez / Getty Images

There’s a lot of misinformation and confusion surrounding pit bulls. For starters, a pit bull isn’t a specific breed. Instead, it’s an umbrella term that’s used for several breeds. Pit bull-type dogs often face unfair discrimination. These dogs were bred for their muscular build and consequently have been used in inhumane dogfighting sports. This has given them an inaccurate reputation as being overly aggressive dogs. In fact, pit bull-type dogs are usually incredibly loving, loyal, and gentle with their family members. They also tend to be playful and eager to please.

Here are the five dog breeds that are most commonly referred to as pit bull-type dogs.

Breed Characteristics

Pit bull-type dogs typically have muscular, stocky build with deep chests and large, square heads. They’re notoriously determined dogs. When given a task, whether it be learning a new trick or digging a hole, they won’t give up easily. And they usually love people, including strangers, and crave attention. Training and socialization from a young age is important for pit bulls. Otherwise, their size and strength can be difficult to handle, as they might pull hard on a leash or jump up on people to greet them.


Due to the stigma surrounding these breeds, certain areas have banned ownership of pit bull-type dogs. Make sure to check your local legislation before bringing one of these dogs home.

American Bully

American bully standing in a forest
 sobakabarobaka / Getty Images

The American bully is a relatively new breed that was first developed in the ’80s and ’90s. Recognized by the United Kennel Club in 2013 but not yet by the American Kennel Club, the breed came from the American pit bull terrier and other bulldog-type breeds. In comparison to the American pit bull terrier, bullies are much broader, more compact, and have a wider head. Bullies from responsible breeders have been specifically developed for their gentle and affectionate temperament. But bullies are still strong and athletic, so they need plenty of exercises to keep them happy and healthy.

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 13 to 20 inches

WEIGHT: 65 to 85 pounds

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Compact, strong, thickset, and muscular; short and smooth coat; comes in a wide variety of coat colors and patterns

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American Pit Bull Terrier

brown American pit bull terrier
 Tara Gregg / 500px / Getty Images

The American pit bull terrier is another breed recognized by the United Kennel Club but not the American Kennel Club. Its ancestors were 19th-century terriers and bulldogs that came from the United Kingdom, and the breed took shape in North American in the late 19th century. Sadly this breed has been commonly used for dogfighting. Although modern American pit bull terriers can have a high prey drive and don’t always get along with other dogs, they’re known for forming strong bonds with their families. And as with most pit bull types, they tend to be loyal and affectionate.

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 17 to 20 inches

WEIGHT: 30 to 65 pounds

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Muscular build; short coat; colors include black, white, brindle, fawn, blue, red, brown, tan, and gray

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American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire terrier lying in grass
 Lunja / Getty Images

The American Staffordshire terrier also has roots in the terriers and bulldogs of 19th century England. Its development in late 19th century North America resulted in a dog that was larger than its English relatives. The breed wasn’t used as commonly for fighting as some of the other pit bull types, which resulted in more mellow dogs. But Am Staffs still can have a high prey drive and don’t always get along with other dogs. However, they’re known for being loyal, playful, and good-natured with their families.

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 17 to 19 inches

WEIGHT: 50 to 80 pounds

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Short coat; a variety of colors including black, brown, blue, fawn, red, and liver; brindle pattern and/or white markings are also seen

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

black Staffordshire bull terrier in nature
 Jennifer Hellbom / EyeEm / Getty Images

Despite the Staffordshire bull terrier’s development in the 19th century for dogfighting, the breed today is more closely associated with being unfailingly loyal and affectionate with its family. These dogs often love nothing more than snuggling with their owners, and they tend to be patient and gentle with children. They are a breed that is best suited to a household where they will have company for most of the day, as they can be prone to separation anxiety. Moreover, they tend to be people-focused and don’t always get along well with other dogs.

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 14 to 16 inches

WEIGHT: 24 to 38 pounds

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Muscular build; colors include black, blue, brindle, fawn, white, and more

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American Bulldog

white American bulldog
 Carlos L. Mendez / Getty Images

The American bulldog is a descendant of English bulldogs, which were developed in the 17th century for bull baiting—a blood sport that involved dogs fighting bulls. In North America, bulldogs became working dogs on farms and all-around friendly companions. They tend to be extremely affectionate with their families, often wanting to sit in laps despite their large size. They also often love kids. But they can be very protective of their families, so training and socialization are a must to ensure they will be friendly to people outside of your household.

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 20 to 28 inches

WEIGHT: 60 to 120 pounds

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Stocky build; deep chest; short muzzle; typically white with patches of brindle, red, black, or shades of brown or gray

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