Pit Bull Breeds and Types

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: October 28, 2018
Pit Bull Breeds and Types

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The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is one of the most most popular dog breeds. Unfortunately, even after long periods of domestication, there is still a lot of controversy surrounding them and their related breeds. This controversy is often due to misunderstanding and misinterpretation of their nature. The truth is that Pit Bull breeds can be some of the most loving, affectionate, loyal and beautiful companions a person can have.

In this AnimalWised article we will try to clarify any doubts that may arise when talking about the different Pit Bull breeds and types you might find. It is vital that you are well informed before making any decisions should you be thinking about adopting one of these wonderful dogs. However, you will also want to know their different characteristics and features. That's why we bring you these Pit Bull breeds with pictures so you can identify the differences.

You may also be interested in: 7 Interesting Pit Bull Facts

What are Pit Bull dogs?

We start by differentiating between the American Pit Bull Terrier from those generally referred to as Pit Bulls. In the first case we have a specific and well defined breed. The second is a term applied to a large group of different breeds which share similar physical characteristics.

Some sources suggest it is not appropriate to speak of Pit Bull breeds. Instead we might speak of different genetic branches which can help us differentiate distinct bloodlines or genealogical history. The result of this genealogical history is manifested in certain shared physical characteristics and behavior.

It is important to note that some of these dogs are rare pit bull breeds. Some are region specific, such as the Pynat and Stuffawler Pit Bulls. These dogs may not even exist in some areas due to a lack of breeding or the relative infancy of the breed as a whole. Others may have different names in different territories. For example, the Chamuco is commonly known as the Mexican Pit Bull outside of Mexico. Some, such as the Razors Edge Pit Bull, have been excluded due to lack of suitable breed traits.

Many of these Pit Bull Breeds are not recognized by international dog associations and kennel clubs. However, this is true of all dog breeds at some stage in their development. It will be interesting to see which Pit Bull types will become officially recognized in the future.

Pit Bull Breeds and Types - What are Pit Bull dogs?

What are the different Pit Bull breeds?

Here are the different types of Pit Bull breeds, along with the main characteristics of each.

In several entries you will see that the dog was originally bred for fighting. In noting this, we are simply highlighting the motive for its creation. In no case does this determine the behavior of an individual Pit Bull and under no circumstances does it mean every dog is intended solely for this purpose. All dogs deserve a home with caring and responsible owners willing to meet all their needs. Obviously, clandestine dog fighting is an intolerable practice.

1. American Pit Bull Terrier: this is the breed par excellence from which the other breeds are believed to have been created. Contrary to what some believe, aggression is not a feature of this dog's behavior. American Pitt Bull Terriers have a friendly and balanced nature. They possess great intelligence and a willingness to work. Their weight can range between 13 and 25 kilos (28 and 55 lbs).

Pit Bull Breeds and Types - What are the different Pit Bull breeds?

2. Staffordshire Bull Terrier: their weight ranges between 11 and 17 kilos (24 and 37 lbs). They are a compact, muscular and agile dog. While many Pit Bull breeds can show territorial behavior towards other dogs and animals, this breed is noted for a friendly character, particularly with children. They are intelligent, full of vitality and fun. The strong attachment they develop to their owners makes them one of the best family dogs.

3. American Staffordshire Terrier: they have well developed muscles, especially in the chest area. They can weigh up to 35 kilos (77 lbs) and can be found in solid colors, a bicolor coat or with speckles. It is a generally quiet Pit Bull breed, but they have strong instincts.

4. Bull Terrier: One of its most notable physical characteristics are their triangular eyes. They are a stubborn but gentle dog who needs the companionship and affection of its adopted family. They are brave and spirited, reaching up to 35 kilos (77 lbs) in weight.

The miniature variety of this breed is among the top 6 short-haired dog breeds.

5. Stuffawler: this line was originally bred for dog fighting. The Stuffawler weighs between 35 and 40 kilos (77 and 88 lbs) and is physically typified by its ‘gasping’ look when smiling. Some believe their aggression is high, but such behavior of a dog depends on its treatment by their owner.

Source: Rafa Cosworth

6. Monster blue: It is a cross between a Neapolitan Mastiff and Dogue de Bordeaux. They have a powerful jaw and a thick and heavy build. Their weight can range between 45 and 60 kilos (99 and 132 lbs).

Source: Youtube

7. Colby: Its breeding and reproduction began in 1889, with dog fighting in mind. Its character is balanced, being great at watching over children. The Colby Pit Bull is characterized by a broad, strong head with a flat and wrinkled snout. They are generally not very heavy.


8. Chamucos: It is also known as the Mexican Pit Bull. It is the smallest of the Pit Bulls and was designed for dog fighting. It is characterized by having high resistance based on a thin but muscular structure.

Currently breeding and selection are illegal, as they are still used for dog fighting. The truth is that the Chamuco is not very territorial and tends to trust humans.

9. Spike: It is a line of US origin believed to contain a Dalmatian bloodline as its fur is white with black spots. These dogs have poorly developed muscles and they are friendly and quiet, which makes them ideal as companions.

10. Red Nose: This line came about in Ireland in 1830. Its fur is brown or white, and it has honey-brown or green eyes. They are characterized by a pinkish nose and a thin muscular build with long legs and a strong back. Their weight can range between 25 and 30 kilos (55 and 66 lbs).


11. Cobra: Its physical structure is similar to that of the red nose, although this type is characterized by black or blue eyes and always has an unblemished white coat.


12. Villaliberty: A line bred in Spain from the Red Nose type. Its physical structure is admirable and its behavior makes this Pit Bull an ideal pet because it is balanced, stable, secure and brave.


13. Pynat: It is a thin but muscular dog that can weigh up to 30 kilos (66 lbs). Its coat can be brindle and its nose is soft. It has been used as a hunting dog.


14. Gamers: Yet another line unfortunately bred for fighting, which makes them inappropriate for first time owners. These dogs have a great athletic ability and a thin and muscular build. Their weight can range between 25 and 30 kilos.

15. Johnsons: Its maximum weight is 40 kilos (88 lbs), and physically speaking its features are reminiscent of the Bulldog. The coat comes with patches or in white. This is a very strong dog but it is also slow and docile.

Which is the best Pit Bull?

Noting the great diversity of Pit Bull types and breeds we may ask ourselves which is the best breed or bloodline. This question is misleading from the beginning, because each dog has different characteristics which are not negative nor positive by themselves.

What we must consider when asking ourselves if we want to adopt a Pit Bull is the degree to which its features are adapted to our lifestyle and needs. Regardless of the differentiation, if you want to adopt a Pit Bull you should consider the following:

  • They are dogs that need constant exercise, so they require a large space and a committed owner to supply the dog all the necessary discipline.
  • A good socialization process from being puppies is necessary, especially regarding other animals.
  • If there are young children at home we must be clear that adult supervision is necessary when they share a space with the dog, not because the dog is aggressive but because it is strong.
  • Pit Bull dogs can only go for a walk under their owner's responsibility.
Pit Bull Breeds and Types - Which is the best Pit Bull?

Have you decided to get a Pit Bull?

If you have decided to get a Pit Bull dog breed as a pet we recommend you consult local legislation as some breeds and types are illegal depending on the country. However, you should not think in any way that such dogs are necessarily aggressive. You would be surprised to see the skills many Pit Bulls have with kids.

Pit Bull Breeds and Types - Have you decided to get a Pit Bull?

Myths about Pit Bulls

While there are different types of Pit Bulls, they do share some common characteristics. Pit Bull breeds are generally muscular dogs with a strong bite and, unfortunately, a bad reputation with some. Incorrect information about Pit Bull attacks or sensationalized stories contribute to this situation. However, much of this has to do with the terrible abuse individuals have suffered at the hands of many owners who have historically engaged them in the vile practice of dog fighting. This does not mean that Staffies, for example, are inherently dangerous dogs.

According to the ‘American Temperament Test Society’[1], the Pit Bull is second only to the Labrador Retriever in terms of temperament. The test was carried out on as many breeds as possible, administering and recording the test to find out which met the highest standards in terms of temperament. This involved meeting oddly dressed strangers, firing guns to potentially spook them, walking on uncomfortable surfaces and more. They are carried out by professionals and are repeated as much as possible.

This test is not perfect, but it does go some way to show the importance of treating the dog as an individual. This is the stance of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which states that ‘genetics do not exist in a vacuum’[2]. Many factors influence a dog's behavior, but this is true of all breeds. More important than breed is adequate socialization, humane treatment and early positive experiences in terms of a dog's aggression. By enforcing breed specific legislation, as pointed out by the ASPCA, you only create the illusion of public safety. By treating dogs on an individual basis you will be better able to stop attacks, prevent purposeful mistreatment and educate owners and the public about how to treat a animals safely and humanely.

Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation is posted online by anti-Pit Bull acolytes. Many provide information which ostensibly looks credible, but crumbles under scrutiny with only a little digging. One of the major pieces of ‘research’ is the so-called Clifton Report which is written by an author who defrauded readers in terms of his credentials and continually refuses to publish the raw data behind his claims[3].

It is true there have been incidents where children have been attacked and even killed, but this is not limited to the Pit Bull. Families of these victims have, understandably, called for breed specific legislation, placing the blame on the breed itself. However, a nine year long study released in 2013 cites that dog-bite related fatalities in the USA were characterized by ‘coincident, preventable factors’ and that the dog ‘breed was not one of these’[4]. More importantly was a lack of supervision, a failure to neuter the dog, inability of the victim to interact appropriately with dogs, mismanagement, neglect and abuse. Breed specific legislation is a reactionary tack which has little evidence to prove its efficacy. This is something which was substantiated by President Barack Obama which is quoted in the ASPCA statement.

Another myth about Pit Bull type dogs is that they have a locked jaw which is impossible to break. While many of these dogs do indeed have a strong bite, it is a myth that their jaw locks. It can be broken with a bite stick or by some of the other ways mentioned in our article on breaking a Pit Bull's bite. Another important factor in Pit Bulls is the tendency to dock their tails and ears which makes it more difficult to recognize the signs of aggression in these dogs.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to discuss Pit Bulls without people using their emotional response rather than looking at the reasons behind dog attacks and what can prevent them. With such large muscular dogs, it is understandable people may be intimidated. However, we do not have the same stigma against Siberian Huskies which we appropriately consider adorable dogs, despite the fact that they contribute to the greatest number of dog attack fatalities in the parts of Canada where they are most common. Population numbers are often ignored by those who want to unfairly vilify Pit Bulls. The importance of population is pointed out in a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association which concludes that breed is ‘a poor sole predictor of aggressiveness and pit bull-type dogs are not implicated in controlled studies’[5].

Pit Bulls can be loving and wonderful dogs for individuals and families. It is only with proper understanding and consideration that their reputation can be changed and that people can really start to appreciate this breed appropriately, just as it is with any breed of dog. As always, we encourage readers to trust empirical evidence and rigorous study carried out by evidence based programs.

If you want to read similar articles to Pit Bull Breeds and Types, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.


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Thank you for the amazing article, filled with great and interesting information! I love such a clear-minded and healthy approach, where one can simply see that people truly know what they're talking about. Too often, as in negative myths, people write "oh they're just wonderful". Which is true!, but, it is better to be educated and have strong facts behind the statement so one can have a trustful argument when speaking – and to really show the people what is TRUE, not a personal opinion – be it in a positive or negative context.

Thank you for your professionalism and warmth at the same time!
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Tamara,

Thank you so much for this comment. Professionalism and warmth is part of what we aim for, so we appreciate when it gets recognized. Some contentious topics lead to understandable emotional responses, on both sides. We don't want to offend anyone's views, but our approach will be an unapologetically evidence-based one. Thanks again for your support.
Thank you! The internet needs more people like you.

And, as far as dogs are concerned, I would love love to have a Bully friend :-) Currently I am mostly thinking between American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull or American Bulldog. American Bulldogs I know pretty well, Staffordshire some and with the Am. Pit Bulls I haven't had longer experiences. So, please, if you have some article or words of advice which could draw some more detailed comparison, please share. I have of course googled it all, but it all comes down to similar as I thought – they are similar in temperament, only American Bulldogs are better guards and generally a bit calmer/slower (more mastif, less terrier). All of them very gentle, loving, athletic. Is there something more or different you would say?
Of course, maybe I'll end up rescuing one, not buying, so that will determine which one to adopt.

Thank you again; love your approach!
Eric Ridenour
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! This explains everything about our baby boy Jasper. Thank you for this article! Jasper is a rescue that we had since he was born. Sadly, some jerk left him and his three sisters in a card board box along side of the road. Thank GOD they were all rescued and live in great homes!
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Eric,

Thank you for sharing your experience and the picture. It's always great to encourage people to know that taking care of abused animals means they can have a second chance at life and simply carry on terrible cycles of abuse.
Stephanie Rambo
Great article! I hate the stigma associated with this loving, loyal, clownish breed. We adopted Kane (pictured) in December. Now, I will be honest, it's been sort of a rocky relationship between Kane and the resident cats, but that's because Kane was one-and-a-half years old when he became a part of our family. But he's learning that cats are his friend. It's a slow process but I knew that already and was prepared. Pits are just like kids - they learn from their environment. Now Kane has a loving, fun, and safe environment he can learn and grow from. I've owned many different dog breeds and by far, even with his "shady" past, Kane has showed us more love and affection than any other.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Stephanie,

Thank you so much for sharing! We are glad Kane has been able to adapt and it sounds like you're doing a great job. We hope you get to enjoy a long and happy life together.
Richard Jackson
This was an amazing read, thank you for posting. This is my baby her name is Dallas Rae, not sure how old she is (she's adopted). I couldn't be happier.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Richard,

Thank you for the kind words and what a great picture, she looks like she's cool as can be. If only she had some shades too!
nice last name lol but hes to die for
Love pits never had a problem with them recommend for anyone
Matthew Nesbitt (AnimalWised editor)
Thanks for sharing Broderick!
do u know what a rednose pitty look likes
Amazing article about pit bull breeds!!
What y’all think about possibilities of his bloodline or opinions? Thanks in advanced
Administrador AnimalWised

This dog looks ostensibly healthy, but there is no way we can give them a health assessment from a photo and it would be irresponsible for us to try to do so. No one can give information on their bloodline like this either. You need detailed info from the breeder on their lineage and any related health issues. Also a veterinary check up is required.

You asked us for our opinion and we will give it to you honestly. There are too many dogs in the world for us to be able to give them the care they need. Animal shelters are already strained and too many animals are killed every year because we don't have the resources to care for them. The popularity of Pit Bulls means they are particularly prone to abandonment and abuse. There are too many opportunistic breeders who think it is fun to breed their dog, yet many do not properly consider the repercussions. Even experienced breeders don't always make the right considerations, especially when turning a profit is more important than ensuring the right care for individual dogs. Anyone who is considering breeding needs to have experience, training and a proper understanding of many disparate factors.

Our advice would be to neuter your dog, spend your energy on creating a happy and healthy life for them and enjoy it. Neutering has many benefits for the dog, particularly in terms of health and behavioral issues.

We hope this has provided some food for thought and we wish you well on your time together.
Hey not sure if she’s a red nose(mom) or bull terrier(dad)
red nose definaty
Angela Patton
Picture of my puppy
Administrador AnimalWised
Adorable Angela!

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