10 Breeds Most Commonly Mistaken for Pit Bulls

Why are other dogs mistaken for the American Pit Bull Terriers?

Do you know why most people are confused about Pit Bulls nowadays? A lot of people think the term “Pit Bull” is a single breed of dog.

In actual fact, the term “Pit Bull” refers to many different breeds of canine.

The three popular types of Pit Bulls are the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The real issue is that the American Pit Bull Terrier has very close resemblance to a lot of different kinds of dogs. As a result, it could cause dog owners losing their beloved pets due to the sole reason of breed ban.

As mentioned, The American Pit Bull Terrier is actually a different breed. Their relevant ancestors, the Molesser dog is a part of a group of working breeds. Hence , this breed has a similar appearance to many other breeds.

As a result, many dogs have become misidentified “vitcims” of breed-specific legislation – the American Staffordshire, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Cane Corso, Dogs Argentino and the list goes on……

Worse still, the inability of identifying whether a breed is American Pit Bull Terrier would cause the pet to be euthanized in certain jurisdictions.

The confusion about Pit Bulls doesn’t get any better because of the media, misleading information and crossbreeding practices.

Read here to find out what the best dog food for Pitbulls is.

What Is a Pit Bull?

Most people call the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) as Pit Bull, Pit, Pit Terrier and many more other terms.

As clarified above that APBT is one of the many breeds that fall under the category of Pit Bulls.

We will use the term “American Pit Bull Terrier” to avoid the confusion throughout this article.


The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT)

This companion and family dog breed was initially bred to “bait” bulls. Then they were used as a farm dog before moving into houses to be a childminding dog due to its gentleness around kids.

An American Pit Bull Terrier normally has the height of 14 – 24 inches (35 – 60 cm) and the weight of 22 – 78 pounds (10 – 35 kg).

Nowadays, they are used in weight pulling, agility and obedience sports because of their tenacity, gameness as well as courage.

American Pit Bull Terrier APBT

Image Credit: Getty Images

To me every dog is unique and it is unfair to overgeneralize them. So we have to keep an open mind about whatever we read online towards a particular dog breed’s characteristics.

Just as the American Pit Bull Terriers, they are generally independent and distant though raised by the same owner since puppyhood.

However they could also be intimately bonded to one person and cold to everyone else; some could even shower the entire family with their love.

To be exact, breed is not the sole contributing factor that plays a role in affection levels.

Dogs will become more human-friendly and readily bonded when raised in a family with people constantly around.

Furthermore, past experiences also affect a dog’s characters, the American Pit Bull Terriers are of no exception.

Did you know that they are gentle with children whereas the tiny fragile dogs like Chihuahuas are not deemed very family-friendly?


Clearing up the confusion of the top 10 most commonly mistaken breeds for Pit Bulls?

The Dogs are:

1) The American Bulldog

American Bulldog

Image credit: Getty Images

There are two types of American Bulldog, standard and bully. The latter type is sturdily built with a shorter muzzle.

Normally the American Bulldog mainly has white short fur with patches of shade. They can weigh over 100 lbs (45 kg).

Most bulldogs are working dogs and so are this breed, working on a farm or even chilling out indoors. They are an adept hunting and sport dog.

They are also an excellent companion at home given that they receive enough attention and exercise.

How to differentiate the American Bulldog from APBT?

The American Bulldog is physically larger than the American Pit Bull Terrier around 40 lbs (9 kg) normally.

Similar to an APBT, this breed has a big head, an extended muzzle and a forceful jaw line.

Read more to find out what the best dog food for Bulldogs is.  

2) The Presa Canario

Presa Canario

The Presa Canario is a huge dog under the Mastiff dog group. They weigh around 80 – 100 pounds or above (36 – 45 kg) while standing at a height of 21 – 25 inches (55 – 65 cm).

They are originally bred in the Canary Islands as working dogs in a farm protecting livestock.

Despite their deterrent outlook and an intimidating bark, they are good family companions as well as guardians. They are cautious about strangers but once the owners accept their presence, it should be fine.

Dog owners should be experienced enough to comprehend the alpha nature of canines.

How to differentiate the Presa Canario from APBT?

On the other hand the American Pit Bull Terrier is much smaller in size and friendlier. The Presa Canario is a gifted guard dog with an “alpha” looking appearance. The APBT does not have any of these traits.

The reason why people are mistaken them for the Pit Bulls is that the Presa Canarios are physically muscular and usually with cropped ears. Plus The Press Canario has brindle which is streaks of black, brown or white.


3) The Cane Corso Italiano

Cane Corso Italiano

The Cane Corso Italiano (pronounced as KAH-neh COR-soh) is a medium to big size dog with powerful and long muscles. This robustly built canine came from Italy but the original breed of Cane Corso weighing from 70 to 100 pounds (32 to 45 kg).

They have a wide and deep muzzle with their neck slighted arched.

Previously used as a guard dog and working dog, so they might become overprotective of the owner and family members if not well-socialized enough at a young stage.

Generally they are not aggressive to other canines while being able to bond closely with family members.

Read more: Best dog food for Cane Corso

How to differentiate the Cane Corso Italiano from the American Pit Bull Terrier?

In comparison the friendly APBT is very social and smaller in size at a maximum of 60 pounds (27 kg), unlike the Cane Corse which is at least 70 pounds (32 kg).

Their differences in physical appearances are also another way to distinguish them.

Some Cane Corso Italianos have cropped ears but some have their hanging floppy ears.


4) The Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier

The Bull Terrier is a solid built muscular dog. Their body is well rounded with a short yet strong back. They have a long oval-shaped head with a black nose. The small thin ears are erect and close together.

According to AKC, there are two varieties of them, namely the White Bull Terrier and the Colored Bull Terrier. The former one would have colored markings exclusively on their head but not anywhere else, whereas the latter one might be black, brindle, black brindle, light brown, red or tri-colors with white markings.

There are also two different breeds as AKC sees it: Standard Bull Terrier and Miniature Bull Terrier.

For a Standard Bull Terrier, their height is around 20 – 24 inches (51 – 61 cm) and weight is from 45 to 80 pounds (20 – 36 kg); while the Miniature Bull Terrier is, as the name suggests, smaller in size standing at the height of 10 – 14 inches (25 – 33 cm), weighing at 24 – 33 pounds (11 – 15 kg).

Generally as a terrier, they have a high prey drive and exude interest for harming smaller animals if challenged. They weren’t bred as a guard dog and they are much gentler than they used to be.

They are fearless, courageous, loyal, obedient, active, foolish dogs who are very connected to their owners. Since they are very active, they need plenty of exercise both physically and mentally.

How to differentiate the Bull Terrier from the American Pit Bull Terrier?

It doesn’t make sense when people are confused them with the APBT as the Bull Terrier has a very distinctive head shape.


5) The Boxer

The Boxer

The Boxer is cheerful, lively, playful, inquisitive, energetic and eager. This highly intelligent breed is a quick learner, so they are ideal for competitive obedience.

The Boxer’s height is normally between 21 – 25 inches (53 – 63 cm). They can weigh between 53 – 70 pounds (24 – 32 kg).

Looking tall and proud from a distance with their common light brown coat.

Their head is proportional to the compact and powerful body. Their short muzzle is short yet blunt with a recognizable stop.

When it comes to their large black nose, it has very wide nostrils. The high ears could be cropped or natural.

Due to their loyalty and affection, the Boxers are able to bond tightly with the family, not to mention children.

Getting along with dogs and other domestic pets is not a problem if they are appropriately socialised and brought up.

Their courage also makes them an excellent guard dog and hunter.

How to distinguish the Boxer from the American Pit Bull Terrier?

The Boxer could have white, brindle, tan, mahogany, black with white markings.

I think the main reason people are mistaken them for the American Pit Bull Terrier is due to their “multi-colored” coat, as what we normally see is a fawn-colored Boxer.

Although both the Boxer and Pit Bull are stubborn, energetic, ideal with children, the Boxer is larger than an APBT.

Also, the Boxer has an easily recognizable shape.


6) The Dogo Argentino

Dogo Argentino

The Dogo Argentino is also known as the Argentinian Mastiff. Their height is around 24 – 27 inches (61 – 69 cm) whereas their weight is 80 – 100 pounds (36 – 45 kg).

This playful and highly intelligent canine is very good with children.

Socialisation with other animals and obedience training is needed from puppyhood.

The owners need to claim their pack leader status to achieve their obedience.

The Dogo Argentino is a huge muscular dog with a wide chest. Their large head is rounded from the front to the back.

Their dark brown, hazel or light brown eyes are wide apart from each other; while their triangular ears are set high and usually cropped.

They are a fierce hunter as seen from their scissor bite that both teeth will meet plus strong jaws.

How to differentiate the Dogo Argentino from the APBT?

The Dogo Argentino’s distinguished body size can easily set them apart from the American Pit Bull Terrier.


7) The Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Staffie

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Staffie or Staffy is an overly affectionate dog. They are very friendly to humans and children.

This breed is also playful, obedient and clownish.

This breed’s height is 13 – 16 inches (33 – 41 cm); while their weight is around 23 – 38 pounds (10 – 17 kg).

Their level of aggression is very low and friendly to strangers. It happened to me when I walked Kyra and she wanted to follow some joggers home.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a muscular dog with a short as well as deep head, a broad skull and a short fore face.

Their teeth meet in a scissor bite.

They have short smooth coat that is in red, white, black, blue, white mixed with other colors and in any different shade of brindle with or without white markings.

They are highly intelligent and active but not good at swimming. They are suitable for agility and competitive obedience.

They keep testing their limits with their owners, so an alpha owner is able to control them and have a thriving relationship.

How to tell the Staffordshire Bull Terriers and the American Pit Bull Terriers apart?

The Staffordshire Bull Terriers are the most easily mistaken canine for the APBT because of their close resemblance.

However their distinctive feature is their “joker’s smile” and their square-shaped head.


8) The Bullmastiff


The Bullmastiff is a huge dog and they can be a great guard dog too.

They are friendly, strong, intelligent and independent; so they are great at agility competition and a fantastic tracker.

Nevertheless the Bullmastiff dislikes repetitive tasks.

This canine has the hight of 24 – 27 inches (61 – 69 cm) and the weight of 100 – 133 (45 – 60 kg).

They are child-friendly at the same time fearless if proved.

This devoted dog will catch an attacker and knock them down though they are not likely to launch an attack.

They need a firm owner who is an alpha to give them leadership.

How to differentiate the Bullmastiff from the APBT?

The Bullmastiff is usually mistaken for the American Pit Bull Terriers and the Olde English Bulldogge.

The Bullmastiff’s mouth and nose area is surrounded by a darker shade of fur, their winkled face is their distinctive feature that an American Pit Bull Terrier doesn’t have.

Additionally, the Bullmastiff tends to drool, snore and slobber.


9) The Olde English Bulldogge

Olde English Bulldogge

The Olde English Bulldogge is a medium-sized canine but with massive strength. With their large cheeks, they also show strong jaw muscles.

Unlike the Bullmastiff, their forehead is only slightly wrinkled. Their skull is narrow and the forehead is domed shaped.

They also have a square, wide and deep muzzle.

Their height is 16 – 20 inches (40 – 51 cm) whereas the weight is 50 – 80 pounds (22 – 36 kg).

This athletic breed is fearless, protective, persistent, active which make them a good candidate for pulling competitions, obedience contests and therapy work.

Read here to find out: The best food for Olde English Bulldog.

How to tell the Olde English Bulldogge and the American Pit Bull Terriers apart?

Did you know that this breed came from the mixture of English Bulldog, American Bulldog, BullMastiff, and the American Pit Bull Terrier?

Now it explains why people get the APBT and the Olde English Bulldogge mixed up.

A quick way to distinguish them is that Olde English Bulldogge has droopy eyes with slightly wrinkled face; they tend to drool and slobber.

Everyone should come to their senses that it is not the dog that is aggressive, it is how they are trained to be.


10) The Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog

Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog

The Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog is a devoted dog, making them very adaptable to any training.

They are famous as a watch dog or a guard dog as they are very defensive about their owners as well as children.

The Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog weighs up to 100 pounds (47 kg) and measuring at a height of 24 inches (61 cm).

This loyal dog is high-spirited, tenacious, enthusiastic.However they need to be properly socialized to lower the aggression level.

Despite this, they are generally not aggressive even without training, unlike the American Pit Bull Terriers.

As an active dog, they love outdoor activities.

Let’s look at bit of the history of The Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog: They were bred from the Black Mouth Cur, the Catahoula Leopard Dog and the American Pit Bull Terrier.

How do we differentiate the Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog from the American Pit Bull Terrier?

This canine has a wide head and cat-looking paws. Additionally, their tails are not docked and the ears are uncropped.


They look like Pit Bulls or they are really Pit Bulls. So What?

I think the list of misidentified dogs as the American Pit Bull Terrier doesn’t just end here.It is not easy to tell a dog’s breed by merely looking at their appearance.

Yet not all dogs look the same due to mixed genetic heritage.

However, breed misidentification is a serious issue if ones have the authority to euthanize them due to breed bans in certain countries.

For example, the American Pit Bull Terrier will never be allowed to be in the United Kingdom, in the Canadian province of Ontario and many locations in the United States.

To avoid the misery of dog separation from families due to the wrong identification, DNA testing should be carried out for affirmation.

Does it really matter if a dog is really an American Pit Bull? They are actually a fantastic, loving and loyal dog.

Everyone should come to their senses that it is not the dog that is aggressive, it is how they are trained to be – human work.

The American Pit Bull’s dreadful fate started from the day they were bred for dog fights hundred of years ago.

We should keep in mind that human aggression and animal aggression are two different subjects.

Nevertheless, according to the American Temperament Test Society, the American Pit Bull Terrier has a passing rate of 82.3%, making them one of the top 5 most stable dog breed in the US.

Even like my sweet Kyra, a puppy Staffordshire Bull Terrier will get shouts from people when I walk her. “This dog should be put down!”

I know sometimes she’s mistaken for an APBT; there are also other times that people think Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a bad dog due to its bad reputation.

Come on! Who created this reputation? It was those irresponsible parties involved in breeding them for fighting, taking their loyalty for granted.

We learnt that appearances are often misleading.

If we are deemed the “superior” species amongst other living creatures on earth, don’t you think we should fight for breed-specific legislation to be repealed?


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