American bulldogs and pit bulls have important differences in their history, origin, coat, color, behavior and characteristics, their similar appearance is frequently mistaken as the same breed by observers. Both breeds belong to the molosser family and are considered working dogs. Farmers frequently use them as guard dogs and hunting dogs.
Origin and History
American bulldogs were originally bred for guarding and hunting. Their ancestry is thought to derive from English bulldogs who were brought to America by European immigrants. The breed seen today in America is a typical example of the English bulldog breed from the 17th and 18th centuries. Pit bulls originated in England during the 19th century. They were bred to participate in dog fighting, also known as the bull and bear-baiting sport. Once immigrants brought them to America, their job changed from dog fighting to working farm dogs. Their duty was to guard the property and hunt wild game.
Coat and Color
White and brindle is the most common coat color of the American bulldog. Other colors include solid blue, solid black, merle, white with patches of tan or black and tri-color. The coat has coarse, short hair that can appear straight or wavy. Pit bulls have a stiff, shiny, short coat that comes in colors such as brindle, red, brown, white, black, gray and blue. Both breeds require little grooming.
The average height for an American bulldog is 25 inches and weight is about 105 pounds. He has a broad large head and a high, wide forehead with ears that are set level with the skull. Eyes are almond-shaped or round and are wide set. The American bulldog has a compact, sturdy frame, a wide chest and a thick-based tail that tapers to a point. The average size of a pit bull is 18 to 19 inches for males and 17 to 18 inches for females; weight can vary between 30 to 85 pounds. Pit bulls have a powerful jaw, wide skull and round eyes. Their body is lean, muscular and stocky. At times, body frames may appear bulky. The tail tappers to a point.
Temperament and Behavior
Bulldogs are fearless and courageous. They become aggressive when they feel threatened. They have a natural ability to keep a watchful eye, which makes them valuable watch dogs. Bulldogs are sociable, friendly and loyal towards their owners. Pit bulls are courageous and confident. They can be people-friendly if socialized from a young age. They have a keen sense and awareness of their surroundings and are devoted to their family. Pit bulls will defend and protect their family with their life if necessary.
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