From the tiny, clown-like French bulldog to the giant bull mastiff, there are several different breeds using the term "bulldog." Within the American breeds of bulldog you can find the elite's American bulldog and the everyman's American pit bull terrier. These two breeds are more similar than they are different.
Both the American bulldog and pit bull terrier are of the Mastiff family and can be traced back to the "bulldog." Bulldogs were so named because they were used in the English sport of bull-baiting (where dogs attacked bulls that were coming into market). After bull-baiting was outlawed, the bulldog was bred by different lovers of the breed, resulting in different breeds of bulldog.
American Bulldog Features
The dog which became the American bulldog was bred to be physically similar to the bulldogs of bull-baiting and was brought to America by immigrants while the bulldog that remained in England (now known as the English bulldog) was bred to be a smaller, squat dog with the flat face that jumps to mind when you hear the term "bulldog." The American bulldog is a tall (22 to 27 inches), powerful dog with a square head and loose jowls, prone to drooling.
Pit Bull Terrier Features
Pit bull terriers are bulldogs who were crossbred with terriers for the purpose of ratting (killing rats for work and sport). Unfortunately, some people choose to breed pit bull terriers for fighting other dogs as well. Pit bull terriers are generally not as tall as American bulldogs (18 to 22 inches), but are also powerful dogs. They have a very muscular neck, a brick-like head and wide jaws which are extraordinarily strong.
Both the American bulldog and the pit bull terrier are touted as excellent family dogs with a sweet, loyal and gentle nature, which they were bred to have. Both breeds are also cited to be good watch dogs and guard dogs. Both dogs have histories as working dogs and have a colorful tradition of being the all-American dog.
The American bulldog is a less common breed than the pit bull terrier and has not experienced the popularity that the pit bull terrier has. Alternately, the pit bull terrier has suffered from bad press, irresponsible owners and witch hunts. While it is true pit bull terriers have a dangerous bite and can be aggressive towards other animals, they are not vicious dogs. With a loving and responsible owner, the pit bull terrier is a wonderful pet.