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Pitbull vs. American Bully: What’s The Difference?

Many people confuse the American Bully and the American Pitbull Terrier as the same dog. These two pups, are in fact, not the same. While they do share some similarities, there are some differences when it comes to their sizes and their builds. Find out how these two bully dogs stack up against one another.

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Last Updated: April 25, 2022 | 10 min read

Pitbull vs American Bully

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The American Pitbull Terrier and the American Bully are both very similar dogs, and that’s because they are both Pitbull-type dogs. People often confuse the two. Yes, even all the Pitbull lovers out there! But there are a few differences that set two dogs apart.

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Before you welcome a new canine companion into your home, it’s important to understand what you can about the dog, including their history, personality traits, and temperament. Both the American Bully and the Pitbull can make great companion dogs, but neither dog is perfect for every family.

If you are here because you cannot decide between these two popular pups, you’ve come to the right place! You’ll learn about both dogs, starting with their history. You’ll also learn which dog is a better fit for which lifestyles. Both dogs can make awesome family pets; they just need the right family to do so. Let’s jump in and compare these two pups, by taking a look at their differences & similardfities.

Breed Comparison

Pitbull

  • Height 17 – 21 inches (F & M)
  • Weight 30 – 65 pounds
  • Temperament Affectionate, energetic, loyal
  • Energy Intense
  • Health Above average
  • Lifespan 12 – 16 years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and up

American Bully

  • Height 13 – 23 inches
  • Weight 25 – 120 pounds
  • Temperament Friendly, loyal, jolly
  • Energy Intense
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 9 – 13 years
  • Puppy Prices $1,200 and up

Dog Histories

Many dog owners welcome a dog into their life without researching the dog’s breeding history. But canine history is super important because it will tell you all about their intended purpose. Which will help you to understand them better and ensure that you can give them what they need. Let’s see how the Pitbull and the Bully’s history is linked.

Pitbull

Brown Pitbull Sitting In Forest
Pitbulls were bred by mixing the English Bulldog with the Terrier breed.

The American Pitbull Terrier, known simply as the Pitbull, originates from the 1800s across the pond in England. His ancestors were produced by mixing Bulldogs and Terriers to create the perfect fighting dog.

He was used in blood sports to fight other dogs and kill as many rats in the ring as possible. When the cruel sport was banned in England, the fighters took their fighting dogs to America. There, the largest, most successful breeds were bred with one another to create the Pitbull. And this is why they have a fearsome reputation.

But when fighting was banned in America, people began to realize just how soft and devoted he is. He became a popular ranch hand and therapy dog too. And with canine education, more families worldwide are inviting this gorgeous dog into their family homes. He is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), but he is recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC).

American Bully

Brown Stalky Dog Standing in Grass
The American Bully is in the Pitbull family, bred from the American Bulldog, English Bulldog and the Old English Bulldog.

The American Bully is one of four dogs that come under the Pitbull-type dog umbrella. He is a natural extension of the Pitbull, which is why they are both very similar. It is believed that the American Bulldog, English Bulldog, and Olde English Bulldog were also used in his creation. He originates from America, and he was recognized as a dog breed in his own right by the UKC in 2013.

This dog shares the same misunderstood reputation as American Pitbull Terriers, and he is also subject to Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). The American Bully is somewhat of a celeb in bully dog world. And the most expensive Bully, named White Rhino, fetched a whopping quarter of a million dollars. Making him a very sought-after stud!

Appearance

Two Brown Dogs Side by Side
There are very distinct differences in their appearances.

Although they are often both described as Pitbulls, these two dogs are very different-looking. The Pitbull usually measures between 17 and 21 inches tall, from paw to shoulder. And he weighs between 30 and 65 pounds, making him a medium, to sometimes large-sized, dog. His average size makes the Pittie suitable for most family homes.

According to the American Bully Kennel Club, there are four distinct American Bully sizes. The smallest size is the Pocket, leading onto the Standard, Classic, and XL. Depending on which Bully size you choose, Bullies tend to weigh anywhere between 25 and 120 pounds. With this remarkable weight range in mind, you need to know which size Bully you are inviting into your home. Their height ranges from 13 to 23 inches. A Bully named Hulk holds the record for 174 pounds!

The Pitbull is muscular and athletic in appearance and an overall proportionate-looking dog. The Bully is not a proportionately built dog, which is the easiest way to tell them apart. The Bully is a squat and wider dog than he is tall. He looks a lot like an English Bulldog but wider with more muscles. It is their scary-dog appearance combined with their history that makes many people unduly frightened. You’ve only got to look at their ear-to-ear smiles to know they are big softies!

Both dogs have short, straight double coats that are smooth to the touch. Their coats are soft, and the Bully is often described as being a velvet hippo. They both enjoy a wide range of doggy colors, and anything is accepted except for merle and albinism. The most popular Pitbull colors are white, red-nosed, and blue-nosed. Some irresponsible breeders will try to sell mere Pitbulls and Bullys, but these will not be true Pitties or Bullys.

Temperament

Brwon Dog and Black Dog Smiling Side by Side
Both of these dogs are known to be very loving and loyal to their people.

Both dogs are almost identical in their temperament. They are both people-oriented dogs that crave human company. Without it, they will become sad, frustrated, and anxious. If your family cannot offer them company for most of the day, you should look at other breeds for sure. But if you can, you’ll find a four-legged bestie come shadow in both of these guys.

They both make great family additions, and they are both very fond of children. They are both referred to as ‘nanny dogs.’ You shouldn’t leave children alone with any dogs, but you can be sure these guys will be naturally drawn to relaxing with and protecting your kiddos. They are very in tune with humans and their emotions, and this is why they are both top choices for therapy dogs.

They are both as loyal as each other and will defend their family in the face of danger. However, the reality is that these guys are naturally friendly and do not make great guard dogs unless trained to do so.

Not like the naturally protective Doberman Pinscher or German Shepherd. They will defend themselves in a fight, but they don’t tend to be the ones starting them. Contrary to some people’s opinions. Sadly, you will experience people crossing the sidewalk to avoid you and your bully-type breed.

Their love of humans and high energy means that they are both lots of fun. You can always count on these two to play games with you and the rest of the family. Top canine entertainment comes for free with these guys!

After a day of fun, they’ll love nothing more than laying on the bed with you for cuddles. They are both as affectionate as one another, but some might say the chunkier, rolly Bully gives warmer cuddles.

Exercise

Two Light Brown Dogs Playing in a Field
Both dogs will need around 60 minutes of exercise each day.

Both dogs are fairly similar when it comes to their exercise needs. They both require 60 minutes of exercise every day to be happy and healthy. Neither of these guys are couch potatoes. Even the chunky American Bully!

If we had to choose one breed that was more active than the other, it would have to be the Pitbull. The Pitbull is more agile, athletic, and needs more mental stimulation throughout the day. The Bully, with his English Bulldog blood, is partial to lazing around in between exercise sessions.

Both are tenacious and tough in play, so be sure to pick a tough toy that can withstand their constant play. Pitbulls are percieved as slightly more intelligent than the Bully, so be sure to invest in a few puzzle toys to keep him entertained. Keep their exercise varied and provide them with interactive play, and you shouldn’t find a bored pup on your hands.

Because of their feared reputation, it is advised to keep them both on a leash when out in public. Although they aren’t the ones likely to be causing trouble, all dogs have an element of unpredictability. Whichever dog you choose, you should check out your local BSL laws too. Some states require bully-type dogs to be muzzled in public. And some do not permit entrance to doggy parks.

Training

Brown Dog and Tan Dog Sitting in the Grass.jpg
Pitbulls are known to be easily trainable, whereas the Bully is a bit more stubborn.

Both dogs are slightly different when it comes to their training needs and abilities. Pitbulls are very trainable dogs who are both eager to please and intelligent. With a little doggy training research, he is suitable for first-time dog owners. Again, the Bully, thanks to his English Bulldog genes, can be a little more stubborn and headstrong. He requires a more experienced dog owner who can get the best out of him and his independent ways.

Both of these dogs must be socialized well from day one. A quality breeder will start training before you get them home. Then it’ll be your job to continue it. Mix them both with as many dogs and humans as you can. And expose them to different sounds, sights, and smells too. Because of the Pitbull’s dogfighting past, he might display fear-aggression tendencies more than the Bully if he is not socialized properly.

Both dogs respond best to positive reinforcement training, so be sure to research and utilize it. No dog should be exposed to harsh treatment or training techniques. But especially not powerful dogs such as these, because mixing the two can create dangerous dogs. Find out what motivates your pooch the best. The Bully is likely to be motivated by treats, and Pitbulls will be motivated by most things, including toys.

Both dogs crave human companionship. And as much as they deserve it and we would love to, it isn’t possible to spend 24/7 with them. It’s advised to crate train all dogs, but especially those prone to suffering from separation anxiety. Find the right Pitbull-sized dog crate, as all dogs crave shelter. We’d also bet your ‘mean’ Pitbull-type pup will take his favorite toys in there too.

Health

Two Tan and White Dogs Sitting Side by Side
Both dogs are considered fairly healthy, and can live for many years.

Both of these dogs enjoy good canine health, especially Pitbulls. The Pitbull enjoys an average lifespan of 12 to 16 years, compared to the Bully, who enjoys 9 to 13 years. Like all dogs, both of these guys are prone to certain health conditions more than others. Feeding your pup the best quality food, keeping them fit, and attending regular health check-ups will extend their years for sure.

Like many other dogs, Pitbulls are predisposed to hip dysplasia. This is a congenital condition that occurs when the hip socket and the upper thigh bone do not sit as they should. This can cause the hip to dislocate and heighten the chance of painful arthritis in later life.

Another health issue to look out for is skin conditions. The most common are ichthyosis, demodectic mange, zinc-responsive dermatosis, and irritations caused by allergens. They aren’t usually serious but need investigating to improve quality of life.

Similarly, American Bullies also suffers from hip dysplasia. A variety of eye conditions affect the Bully, such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and cherry eye. Good-quality breeders will test for cardiac irregularities, which is something picked up from the English Bulldog genetics.

Although the Bully is not a brachycephalic breed, his muzzle is slightly shorter. Meaning he does not tolerate warm weather as much as the Pitbull.

Nutrition

Two Tan and White Dogs Eating Food
The amount of food these dogs will eat will depend on their age and size.

It’s difficult to compare these two regarding nutrition simply because of the American Bully’s vastly ranging weight and nutritional needs. The average Pitbull will consume between two and three cups of food a day.

But the Bully could consume anywhere between one and a half to five cups of food a day. Meaning the monthly food bill could be completely different or almost the same. Ultimately, you should follow the food packaging for tailored advice.

American Bullies should eat a kibble suggested for the Bully. And Pittbulls will do best on a kibble recommended specifically for them, as well. Like all dogs, feed them the best food that you can afford because diet can make a real difference to canine health.

Be sure to feed them both age-appropriate food. Especially during puppyhood because it lays the foundations for a healthy body. Many Pitbull-type dog owners state that Bully gas is the worst of all!

Grooming

Two Gray and White Dogs Posing for Camera
These dogs are both very easy to groom and are very low maintenance.

Thankfully, both of these pups have easy-to-care-for coats. Their short and straight hair only needs brushing once a week to keep them looking healthy and shiny. It will remove dead hair and dirt, spread natural coat oils, and it is a relaxing time to bond with your pup.

A great brushing tool for both of these guys is a simple bristle brush. Pitbulls are average shedders, and so are Bullies. Neither blows their coats seasonally, which is a big appeal for many owners.

Both dogs should be bathed once every two to three months. Or if they get super muddy on their walkies, as and when they need it. Just never more than once a month.

When shampooing either of these pups, it’s recommended to use a shampoo designed for dogs with sensitive skin. Their teeth should be brushed at least twice a week. Or more if you have a small Bully due to their heightened risk of periodontal diseases.

Puppy Prices

Two Small Gray Puppies
Expect to spend around $700 for a Pitbull puppy, and about $1200 or more for an American Bully puppy.

An American Bully puppy is, on average, pricier than a Pitbull pup. The price of a Pitbull from a reputable breeder starts at around $1,000. Compared to $1,200 for a Bully puppy. There are so many Pitbulls in the shelters across America, and this drives the price down.

Depending on the Bully’s size and shape, the birthing process can be more involved than other dogs. You can expect to pay much more if you want to work with a popular or ‘canine celebrity’ breeder.

When it comes to bully breeds, rescuing should always be part of the family discussion. If you choose to buy a puppy, you must work with a reputable breeder. Sadly, many people out there still fight their dogs, and both of these dogs are prime targets for these cruel sports.

Many breeders are more interested in making money than the health of their pups. So your research and ensure that the breeder you work with does everything they can to produce healthy pups.

There are also ongoing lifetime costs to consider, not just the initial puppy price. All puppies need new beds, crates, and toys. Plus, medical bills, pet insurance, and food, and much more. In some places, both dogs will require specific ‘dangerous’ dog insurance or licenses. These are extra financial commitments that need to be considered too.

Final Thoughts

And that’s all, folks! The Pitbull and the American Bully in all their glory. The main differences of note are that the Bully is sometimes larger in size. They can have a shorter lifespan, and they can be more stubborn to train.

But as you can see from our canine comparison, they are more similar than they are different. They are both lumped into the same ‘scary bully dogs .’ With that comes a public fear and some unfortunate BSL laws. But if you can look past that, you will most certainly find a cuddly canine to join your family.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety or care advice. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, insurance expert, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

Leave a Comment

19 Comments

Cathleen D Becskehazy

May 4, 2022 at 2:11 pm

This article is very informative, balanced and appreciated.

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Becky

April 30, 2022 at 6:38 pm

Love love the bully..
.. I just rescued my third one. Had DNA tested and he's 50% American Bully 47% American Pitbull Terrier. He's a complete Joy has a lot of PTSD from being on the streets. Has a lot of battle wounds and scarring. This article really helped me to understand his training. Definitely treat and toy motivated.

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Anissa

April 28, 2022 at 7:18 pm

Recently purchased a red Merle bully. Love him to pieces he is the most lovable thing ever. However was not aware of the health issues a Merle will have. The breeder unfortunately lied about multiple things like updated shots, ukc papers (which I now know merles are not accepted) and now figuring out the dad is not even registered to him. Love my baby just hated I didn’t do much research

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MINDY Roland

April 3, 2022 at 6:40 pm

Jim wolcott-seems like you are basing your comments off of your dog or one dog. Everything youve said about a bully is the opposite of my bully.

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James R Wolcott

January 23, 2022 at 2:06 am

I bought a pocket and when I got the papers she was registered as American pit bull terror she grew to be 30 lbs and a lover like all the rest .so I have been around American pit bulls since 1979. my first one came out of going light barny game dogs my pocket was a tri-color and was as game as any dog I had which I never had any other breed. I don't fight dog but a lot of breeders don't know the head from the hole in the ground I love all dogs my daughter got a German Sheppard and it's mean as hell, and gets along with the pit they are besties for sure so you never know what you going to get just love them and they will do the same.just as a human

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Jim R Wolcott

January 23, 2022 at 1:38 am

American pit bulls are faster nicer have game u can't fight bullies, bullies are lazy hulk at 172 lbs was not a game dog, bullies are nice dogs but not even close to the American pit bull totally different dogs look the same that is it also pit bulls come in brindle color as well ain't will defend you till the death the bully not as much

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Tazama Brackenridge

January 10, 2022 at 10:36 pm

I bought an American Bully-Pocket and she is everything described in this article. She is so sweet, stubborn, strong minded, quiet, loving, energetic, mild mannered, love children affectionate, friendly; she is just so perfect! And what's crazy is I am a cat lover (well use to be). This dog is everything to me. She gives me purpose and meaning to move around and walk more. I never thought I would be willing to invest the time required to train a dog but she is so worth it! I never thought I'd say this but I love this dog and I'm so glad she is apart of my family.

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Golfergary

January 6, 2022 at 12:30 pm

We have what we believe is an American Bully. He was a rescue dog and did not have papers.
We took him to vet and vet classified him as terrier, American Staffordshire. I asked them to change to American Bully but they say that is not a breed they recognize.
Any advice, what is an American Staffordshire

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Michelle Schenker

January 6, 2022 at 4:09 pm

American Staffordshire is definitely a breed and you can learn more from the American dog breed authority the AKC here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/american-staffordshire-terrier/

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Dane

November 14, 2021 at 7:30 pm

Have a 7 month old Bully that we got about a month ago. The breeder made a huge difference as she came very well trained with sit and stay for food. So loving and amazing with the kids! Only issue now is that she’s very difficult to walk as the slightest noise from another animal through a gate and she goes bolting towards it with nothing being able to break the focus. Some tips would be appreciated!

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June Orbell

November 5, 2021 at 5:53 pm

We have just adopted an 11 month old bully from a friend as he couldn't look after him any more he's absolutely beautiful,any suggestions on how to train him would be very appreciated he's very head strong x

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Sande Cushman

October 29, 2021 at 2:20 pm

I have had my bully for a few years now and I just adore her. I owned a pitbull years ago and he was just as good as she is although she is very very affectionate and what's my attention all the time, which is fine but she does not like to be separated from me. I wish people would accept them more as I have run into the problem of people thinking that she is mean. So far from the truth. Anyone who has a pitbull or a bully are very very lucky. Take good care of them.

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Amber Midyette

October 28, 2021 at 9:38 am

The American Pitbull terrier is totally different from the American bully. In looks, the classic American bully would look the closest to American Pitbull terrier . In temperament they are very different.
Unless you purchase an American bully from a breeder that is concentrating on functionality and working ability, the American bully has lower drive and low to medium energy requirements. According to the standard they were bred for family compatibility mainly and should have no dog aggression or people aggression. The American bully should have no prey drive whatsoever as the goal with this breed was to maintain a similar look to the American Pitbull terrier along with all of the positive attributes in behavior and none of the characteristics that would no longer function in today's society. They typically look way thicker in stature but come in four different sizes with the classic looking more in build like that of an American Staffordshire terrier. If you compare some of the show akc American Staffordshire terriers to the classic American bullies that have shown, there can be virtually no difference in looks between the two.
The American Staffordshire terrier though bred directly from the American Pitbull terrier, was primarily bred for show, working, and family compatibility. Though they may still show some dog aggression in general, they are still less likely to show this behavior than an American Pitbull terrier. If getting a puppy from a responsible breeder that breeds for health, temperament, and confirmation, more than likely you will get a puppy that shows no dog aggression or people aggression. In looks, they tend to be thicker in stature and weigh more than the American pit Bull terrier but they still retain a lot of the terrier qualities that the American bully does not. Their energy requirements are anywhere from medium to high.
The American pit Bull terrier has a very high prey drive and a very high energy requirement. They were not bred for looks so you can see a variation in size, but in general they tend to be smaller than the other two breeds with a thinner more terrier like body. Their head is less blocky and large. They were bred for gameness and being able to accomplish things that no other dog can do. The gameness serves the dog in being fearless and completing the task even if all odds are stacked against the dog. Not too long ago, this gameness this was proven in dog fighting rings. Now, the gameness is tested in hog catching. Despite them being bred for gameness most of these dogs are curs meaning they do not have the drive to complete the goal if they see they're losing or their life is in danger. A game dog will keep fighting even if they are dying. They are not bred for family compatibility though most are very loving of people. They were bred to have low people aggression simply because it's easier to handle a dog that isn't trying to bite you. However, if you choose to have this breed you must understand that there is a potential for human aggression. They are way more likely to have dog aggression and animal aggression. Responsible owners of this breed understand that these behaviors are genetic and even with proper socialization their dog may still never be trusted around other people and especially other animals. To keep their dogs happy they work them daily doing high energy activities and plenty of mental stimulation. They are not a beginner breed and require a very experienced owner who is extremely active with them.
Out of all these dogs, if they are backyard bred, more than likely they will not fit the standard in looks and/or temperament. Most of these breeds that you find in shelters are backyard bred or mixed and you must be very careful when introducing them to other dogs and people. Even a sweet American bully that is backyard bred can be people or animal aggressive genetically because of dumpster fire breeding for looks or color only.
We accept the pros and cons of other breeds and do a lot of research before choosing a breed that's right for our lifestyle. You do not get a guardian breed
and expect it to be loving and friendly with everyone it meets. You socialize it safely and ensure the dog is well trained so you can control and manage it better. If you do not understand the breed's tendency to be a suspicious and aggressive with strangers, you are less likely to devote yourself to working on these things possibly for the rest of the dog's life.
We should do the same with bully breeds if we want to truly help them and ensure they are going to the right homes. Especially the three mentioned above that are usually lumped together and described as being the same when they are far from it.

Reply

B

October 26, 2021 at 11:48 pm

Not true. A pitbull was never made from a English bulldog and terrier. It was made from the original bulldog from England mixed with a terrier. Wow

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Michelle Schenker

November 1, 2021 at 12:28 pm

Thank you. We researched this forward and corrected this detail since the Bulldog could have come from England, Ireland or Scotland, making it possible but not necessarily an English Bulldog.

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Paula

October 22, 2021 at 8:09 pm

I recently got an American Bully puppy from a friend. We thought she was a Pit bull, but I did DNA thru Embark & found out she's 100% American Bully. She is such a cuddle bug, but seriously head strong. What confuses me us that she looks more like a Pit Bull than a Bully. She does have the Bully muzzle though. But whatever she is, I love her dearly.

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Carlos

October 7, 2021 at 10:26 am

Tengo un American bully, muy precioso ,jugueton y muy hiperactivo.
Es mi mascota favorita lo amo,pero últimamente le ha dado por morder se que para el es un juego pero me preocupa por si tengo visita,que me sugiere, lo regaño pero continua haciéndolo espero me aconsejen.

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Jacqueline Keys

September 28, 2021 at 5:36 pm

I love my American Bully. She is my best friend because I lost my pocket pit bully. She was a blue one. She had a tumor on her brain and she couldn't stand up anymore. That was my very best friend, my partner that I love so much. I miss her. But I have a new little baby blue and she's awesome.

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Apiffany Gaither Billings

September 29, 2021 at 11:55 am

We are so sorry to hear about your loss but we are happy that you also have a new baby to love. Thank you for sharing.

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