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Pitbulls are one of the most popular dog breeds in the USA. But there’s more than one breed of Pitbull – as well as a number of mixed Bully breeds – which, despite their similarities, also have a range of different characteristics, colourings, and other features.
In this article, we’ll look at the four purebred Pitbull breeds recognized in America, the breeds recognized by other global Kennel Clubs, and what to expect from each of them as a pet.
What Is A Pitbull?
In the USA, there are four officially recognized Pitbull breeds:
- American Pitbull Terrier (including red-nosed and blue-nosed)
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- American Bully
The breeds have their roots in 19th Century Britain where they were bred as fighting dogs due to their strong stature. Though the sport has long been made illegal and Pitbulls have proven themselves to make gentle, friendly, and affectionate family pets, they’ve struggled to shake off their reputation as aggressive dogs.
There are plenty of characteristics that the four Pitbull breeds have in common, but there are also different traits that set them apart and make them better suited to different family set-ups and environments.
Read on to learn about the different types of Pitbull, and which might be the best choice for your family.
Official Pitbull Breeds
American Pitbull Terrier
When you hear someone talking about the Pitbull, they’re usually referring to the American Pitbull Terrier. The largest and most athletic of the four Pitbull breeds, they are not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), but are recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC).
American Pitbull Terriers are strong and loyal working dogs that fit very well into families. They are prone to a range of genetic conditions due to their large and muscular size. There are two recognised variations:
- Red Nose Pitbull Terriers have a brown, fawn, or chestnut colored coat with red nose, lips, toenails, and sometimes even eyes. This variation is rare and can be prone to health issues, so always buy from a trusted and reputable breeder
- Blue Nose Pitbull Terriers tend to have a gray or blue coat, lips, eyes, nose, and toenails. Their coloring is the result of lower melanin levels that can result in health conditions including heart issues, cataracts, deafness, and a weak immune system.
American Staffordshire Terrier
Unlike the American Pitbull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier is recognized by the AKC – which ranks it the 75th most popular dog in the USA – but not by the UKC. There is dispute in breeding communities over the true differences between these two breeds, which share a number of common characteristics including their colorings and their gentle, loving natures.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Recognized by both the AKC and the UKC, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is more popular in the UK than in the USA. Small and stocky, they take up less space than the American Bully breeds and are just as fun-loving and intelligent.
If you’re considering getting a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, be aware of their high energy levels. All Bullies need a lot of mental and physical stimulation but the playful Staffy might be too much for families that aren’t active enough to match their dog’s needs.
The American Bulldog, also known as the American Bully, is one of the newest officially-recognized breeds of Pitbull only dating back as far as 1980-90. The American Bully comes in pocket, standard, or giant sizes and shares the sweet nature and intelligence of their older Bully counterparts.
Short, stocky, and incredibly muscular, the American Bulldog is bred for its strength. Where other Pibulls usually have longer, folded ears, American Bullies are more likely to have short, erect ears and often have docked tails. But despite their tough appearance, they love to cuddle their owners but still need plenty of exercise. And if you’re considering investing in this newer breed, you might need to save up: a purebred puppy can cost as much as $5,000.
Mixed Pitbull Breeds
Purebred Pitbulls are so popular, it’s no surprise that the four main breeds are often mixed with other popular dog breeds. These are some of the most popular hybrid Pitbulls, and some similar breeds that are often considered to be Bullies (but it’s up for debate).
You’ll probably recognize the Bull Terrier by their long, egg-shaped head and small, triangular eyes. The breed has a far more distinguishable look than other Pitbull breeds, and is not considered one of the ‘main’ four Pitbull pure breeds. However, it actually dates back to 18th Century England.
Bull Terriers are highly intelligent and active and fit best into families that have a lot of time to dedicate to their care and exercise. They also need plenty of mental stimulation and can become destructive if they’re left alone for too long and become bored or anxious. Though friendly when properly socialized, Bull Terriers can become aggressive with people and animals they don’t know.
The Mexican Chamuco is a rare breed that’s believed to be a mix between the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Bully, the Mexican Bulldog, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Pitbull Blue, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and possibly the Boxer. Visual similar to the Pitbull the Chamuco has high set ears and a muscular body. In temperament they are loyal and fearless, but can be very protective of their ‘pack’.
A cross between the Pitbull and the Boxer, this mixed breed is intelligent, playful, and highly active. They need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored and destructive, and they can be very protective of their families. Many Bullboxer owners use them as watchdogs as they have strong guarding instincts. This can mean they bark at unknown people and animals.
Bulladors or Pitadors
The mix of a Pitbull and a Labrador is as smart and playful as you’d expect from a breed that shares half its heritage with America’s most popular dog. Because both breeds have working histories, the Bullador/Pitador is intelligent with high energy levels and requires almost constant stimulation. Active and playful, they make wonderful family pets – as long as you have the energy to keep up with them! They don’t like to be left alone and can become destructive when bored or anxious.
This Pitbull Husky cross is a large, playful breed that inherits its parents playful and affectionate nature – but this also means they can be stubborn and require rigorous training. Pitskys often have the Husky’s blue eyes and can have either short, pointed or long, floppy ears.
Pitskys are highly energetic and don’t like to sit still so they’re not a good match for families that like to spend their spare time relaxing on the sofa. But if you’re into hiking, running, or almost any outdoor exercise they’ll make a brilliant companion.
The Pitweiler comes from crossing the Pitbull and the Rottweiler, resulting in a large, muscular breed that inherits strength and intelligence from both its parents. The Pitweiler makes a brilliant guard dog that can be friendly with humans and animals when properly socialized, but also has it in its nature to be distant and can be boisterous with children and smaller dogs.
Pitweilers can inherit different coat colors depending on their genes, but they will almost always have a short coat, deep nose, and a big head with big teeth. They have an intimidating look and their large size means they need a lot of physical exercise every day.