20 Dog Breeds Commonly Mistaken for Pit Bulls

Pit Bulls are a breed of dog that have been making the news for the past several decades. While there is some disagreement over whether or not they are a “violent” breed (we personally don’t think they are at all but that’s a whole different article), there is also confusion about other breeds that resemble them, but that are actually not pit bulls.  This can lead to mass confusion as well as bad reputations for more than one animal when none in fact are deserved. Here is a list of the top 20 dog breeds that are the most commonly mistaken as pit bulls.

1. American Bulldog

American Bulldogs are one of the most common breeds mistaken for pit bulls. Although the two breeds do have some physical traits in common, they are not the same. The American Bulldog at adulthood reaches up to forty pounds and is larger than a pit bull. They are working dogs which also make great family pets because of their solid temperament. There are two types of American Bulldog and these are the standard and the bully. The bully stands out because of its shorter muzzle and the standard is much stockier in its build.  However because both dogs are “muscular” and strong looking, they get confused.

2. Bull Terrier

The bull terrier is the another canine breed that is confused with pit bulls.  You may remember the Budweiser beer commercials with the famous Spuds McKenzie.  He was a bull terrier and everyone thought he was a pit bull. Bull terriers are not as gentle as pit bulls, and they are also much smaller as adults. The breed tends to have a head that is shaped completely different and its eyes are distinctly triangular, whereas the pit bull’s are not.  When they are compared side by side the differences are noticeable. Bull terriers can be dangerous to have around smaller animals because of their strong instinct to attack prey. They are a breed that should only be owned only by experienced dog handlers because of their unpredictability.

3. Cane Corso

Cane Corso’s are much larger than almost any pit bull. While an adult pitty may reach up to sixty pounds at the max, the Cane Corso will reach a minimum of seventy pounds. They are much larger than pit bulls, but it’s easy to understand why people would make this mistake. Corso’s have developed a “dangerous” reputation similar to the pit bull, and although they are not generally considered to be an aggressive breed, they do make excellent guard dogs. In fact, this is the main purpose that they were bred for. It is recommended, however; that only experienced dog handlers become Cane Corso owners because of their massive size.

4. Boxer

Boxers are another breed that are often mistaken for pit bulls. Although when they are compared there is not much actual resemblance, they do have the appearance of being a force to reckon with like pit bulls do, therefore some people get confused. This is a facade though, because most boxers are gentle and non aggressive. Boxers are very good with children and this is one of the reasons why they are so popular as family dogs. Another reason why they may be mistaken for pit bulls could be the variety of colors they come in. Boxers range from white, fawn, brindle, to multicolored. Boxers are a larger breed and they have a totally different body shape. They have a lot of energy and need to get plenty of exercise, but they are also highly protective of their loved ones.

5. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

It’s easy to understand how a person could confuse a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with a pit bull. They bear a decent resemblance to one another. They share many of the same physical characteristics.  The Stafford breed is wonderful with children and with other animals. Most of them have a very sweet temperament, and they are a popular breed as pets for families with kids. Their level of aggression is rated as being very low and they usually do well with strangers too.   But if you look at this picture and you don’t know dog breeds well, you could easily mistake this for a pit bull.

6. Dogo Argentino

The Dogo Argentino breed is generally white in color and has big muscles over a large framed body, hence some confusion with pit bulls. This dog is native to the country of Argentina, so it’s rare that you see them in other parts of the world, although some are in circulation. It is a breed that is very active by nature and requires a lot of exercise to be healthy. They are known to be extremely loyal to the humans who care for them, but they are a completely different breed than pit bulls with no common blood lines whatsoever.

7. Bull Mastiff

Bull Mastiffs are often mistaken for pit bulls and a variety of other breeds including the French Mastiff. There isn’t really any resemblance between a bull mastiff and a pit bull so it’s difficult to understand why this error is so commonly made. It could be their intimidating appearance.  Bull mastiff’s are among the most powerful dog breeds on earth. They are extremely intelligent and most have an independent nature. One of the favored features of this breed by their owners is that they are fiercely loyal and will even fight to the death for the humans that they love. This is a massively large dog and owners should be quite experienced and firm handlers because hands down, they are much stronger as adults than humans are.

8. Olde English Bulldog

The spelling of the name for this breed goes back to the era when middle English was a thing, but in reality, it’s not an old breed at all. It’s actually a hybrid of the old bulldog popular in the 1800s, recreated in the 1970s. It’s a mixture of American bulldog, bull mastiff and English bulldog, along with American pit bull terrier. This could very easily explain why it is so frequently mistaken for a pit bull. This athletic dog is tenacious and muscular, but he has a shorter muzzle and larger head than the American pit bull.

9. Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog

This is a breed that is a bit obscure and not well known to most people, but it is an old dog breed that has been around for many years. In fact, it is an ancestor of the American pit bull terrier. This may be one of the reasons why people confuse the two breeds. Alapaha blue blood bulldogs, unlike pit bulls,  must be highly socialized at an early age to prevent each dog from becoming aggressive. They are instinctually aggressive, yet they are just as strongly loving, loyal and good with children. With the proper early training, Alapaha blue blood bulldogs can make wonderful family pets as well as excellent guardians and protectors.

10. Black Mouth Cur

The black mouth cur is a canine that bears absolutely no resemblance to pit bulls, but they are still frequently mistaken for the breed. The Cur has a thinner body style and is not generally as muscular or stocky as the average pit bull. Black mouth cur’s generally form a black or deep brown shading around the mouth and nose, which sets them apart from pit bulls and most other dog breeds. They are most similar to the yellow labrador retriever in appearance.

11. Vizsla

This is another breed that is sometimes mistaken for the pit bull, though in this case it’s quite vague as to why as appearance wise they’re not really a match.  Vizslas are born with a golden brown coat of fur that is shiny in appearance. Their long ears hang down low and are really floppy. This breed has long legs and then tend to be tall and lean in stature. Vizsla’s originate in Hungary and were bred initially to be sport dogs. They have protective yet caring and loving personalities and they are usually gentle in their manners.

12. Presa Canario

The Presa Canario breed is among the largest dog breeds in the world. They look similar to the Mastiff but can weigh as much as one hundred and fifty pounds when fully grown. Presa Canarios are used mainly for herding or guarding livestock. They can become quite aggressive and it is recommended that they are supervised and handled by experienced owners who have a firm grasp on how to manage them. When Presa Canarios are compared to pit bulls, the differences become immediately apparent. Pits are smaller and much friendlier. Some of the larger pits may actually have been cross bred with a Presa Canario for the advantage of the massive size. When this happens, there is a greater chance that it will also have inherited the aggressive nature of the larger dog as well.

13. Dogue De Bordeaux

Anyone who has watched the movie “Turner and Hooch” has seen a Dogue de bordeaux. This is one of the most muscular and powerful dog breeds. It originates in the country of France and is one of the oldest dog breeds around. They are working dogs with stocky bodies and massive heads. Their hair is short and fine in texture with a range of colors from red to fawn. They are not very active and need a minimum of exercise. This dog is very protective and affectionate with a fierce loyalty, yet they are not aggressive in most instances. They’re good with children when supervised, but not so much with other dogs. They respond well to training, and reach an adult weight of around one hundred and ten pounds, sometimes more. They are frequently mistaken for pit bulls, but there isn’t any resemblance whatsoever. They look more like a mastiff which is also often confused for a pit.

14. Ambullnoo Mastiff

Ambullneo Mastiffs are a hybrid that were created by the breeding of three different types of European mastiffs and three different types of bulldogs. This makes them quite unique, but they still don’t look like pit bulls. They were bred specifically for the job of being a guard dog. They are large dogs that are born with a naturally protective temperament that is uncommon in most canine breeds. Their massive size makes them appear to be imposing, and even though they are quite large, they have a remarkable degree of agility. Even though there is no likeness to a pit, people still confuse Ambullneo mastiffs for them.

15. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs reach an adult height of 28.5 inches. I addition to this, they have amazing musculature which gives them high levels of strength. Bred to be working dogs, they have a great deal of strength, yet are also incredible agile. They have been used for moving flocks of sheep and goats down from steep mountains into the valleys. They are natural herders. The coat is characterized by a tricolor of red, white and black. The muzzle and head generally have a white blaze type marking. They have also been mistaken for pit bulls, even though there is no resemblance at all. Swissies are active dogs but they’re mellow when indoors. They truly love being hard at work in herding situations. They are very good with children, but should be supervised when around other dogs. They are dependable, faithful and even tempered. Swissies are quite family oriented and respond well to training. They are much larger in size than pits as they reach between 115 to 140 pounds when fully grown. These dogs have body and head shapes that are very dissimilar to pits so it’s difficult to understand why anyone would compare the two.

16. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are another breed of dog that is mistaken for a pit bull. They are in the hound classification. This large dog is muscular and was developed to be a hunting dog as well as a protection for families. The color of the dogs range from wheaten red to light wheaten. The coats are glossy and sleek in appearance. They are also known as an African Lion Hound because they were bred for hunting the big cats. These dogs are very good with children and get along with other dogs but supervision is recommended. They are keen tempered and somewhat dignified in their attitudes. They are extremely affectionate with their loved ones, but they behavior becomes reserved when they are around strangers. They are active, athletic, strong and very quick. They respond well to training and do require lots of socialization and exercise. This breed averages between seventy to eighty pounds when fully grown with a height of between 24-27 inches. While they don’t look like pits, people still confuse the two breeds.

17. Patterdale Terrier

Patterdale Terriers are sometimes mistaken for pitbulls, even though they don’t look anything alike. Patterdales were originally bred in England to chase rats, rabbits and foxes. They are hard working dogs and that is what they truly enjoy doing. They have sturdy frames which are fairly compact and small. Their coats may be anywhere from rough to smooth in black & tan, brown, black or red colors. Their tails are usually carried high with no curl over. Their ears are forward folding V shapes. The eyes are dark, yet keen, and it’s entirely possible that the strong heads and their tough appearance is what makes people think of pits. The tapered muzzles are a dead giveaway that they are not pit bulls though. These dogs truly are friendly. They are dependable, intelligent, tough, protective and courageous which makes them the ideal human companion. They are an outdoorsy type dog with a friendly and inquisitive personality. They want to be everybody’s friend, but they need to have plenty of exercise and if you want to keep them out of mischief, keep them entertained.

18. Rottweiler

Rottweilers were bred for the purpose of being a guard dog. This breed is known for its’ large frame and strong musculature. They do have a menacing appearance and this is one of the features that make people think it may be a pit bull. They really look nothing alike though. This dog is good with children and other dogs only under direct supervision. He is self confident and generally has a quiet attitude, but he’s keeping his eye on you. They make good police dogs because of their high endurance, intelligence, and love of working. They are also commonly used as therapy dogs, service dogs and herders. It is in their nature to want to protect their loved ones. This stocky and robust looking dog responds very well to training and should be socialized early for use as a family pet. They can reach weights of up to one hundred and thirty pounds when fully grown.

19. Boerboel

The Boerboel breed has a very distinct block shaped head. They are very muscular and strong with an heir of confidence. This is a very big dog that reaches weights of between a hundred and fifty to two hundred pounds when fully grown. It was originally bred in the country of South Africa and was intended to be a working dog on the farm. They are active dogs that are capable of moving quickly when they need to, but their preference is to hang back and watch the situations until it’s time to take action. They respond very well to training and they are good with other dogs when they are supervised.

20. Fila Brasileiro

The Fila Brasileiro dog is a mastiff hybrid that originates in the country of Brazil. This dog is characterized by a massively large head with a heavy rectangular shaped body. The coat may be fawn or brindle in color, which is why so many people mistake it for a pit bull. It reaches a height of nearly thirty inches with an average adult weight of 100 pounds. This is an adaptable dog that isn’t that friendly to other dogs, but is high on the scale for showing affection to loved ones. He loves to be with his owners, but isn’t the best with children and must be supervised. The intelligence level is average and so is the trainability. It’s not a good idea to have him around strangers and it can take two handlers to keep him in line. He makes an excellent guard or watch dog and this is the preferred use for this particular breed.

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