15 Dogs That Look Like Pit Bulls But Are Not

If the Pit Bull is that dog you desire but you don’t want the complications of bans and legislation, don’t be discouraged.

There are other dogs that look like Pit Bulls but are not—with the features and qualities you want from a Pit.

With a strong figure, intelligence, and comfortable medium size, Pit Bulls are a favorite of many.

Their strength and confidence make them reliable household pets, while their enthusiasm is enough to give a little sunshine to your cloudy days.

They also get along with kids and are energetic. Who wouldn’t want a pet like that?

Unfortunately, not everyone sees beneath the muscular frame of this breed. In cities like Louisiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri, Pit Bulls have been banned.

The sad part about the legislation—known as Breed Specific Legislation or BSL— is the apparent bias in them. A dog can be considered dangerous based on appearance alone. 

Furthermore, the term ‘Pit Bull’ is controversial. Many can’t seem to decide whether it refers to a breed or a type.

This misunderstanding largely stems from the fact that the term ‘pit bull’ is used as an umbrella term to describe breeds like an American pit bull and the American Staffordshire.

Such confusion results in misinterpretations. In this article, we would use the term to describe the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Like fishes in the sea, there are other breeds with the qualities you want from a Pit Bull.

Let’s take a look at 15 dogs with a close resemblance to the Pit Bull. As you peruse, you may discover one that’s right for you.

Top 15 Dogs That Look Like Pit Bulls

1. American Bulldog

Life Span: 10–15 years

American Bulldog

First on our list is the American Bulldog, and you got to have strong proof that this breed isn’t a Pit Bull—because, to the casual observer, they look the same. 

The American Bulldog and Pit Bull are similar in:

  • Strength and activeness
  • Looks
  • Intelligence and tough will

The difference starts with their size. The American Bulldog weighs between 60 and 120 pounds, bigger than the Pit Bull who weighs like 55 to 60 pounds.

Another point of divergence is their color. The American Bulldog is usually white with brown, black, or red patches while the Pit Bull comes with a wide range of colors.

The American Bulldogs also make a better family pet and tend to live longer than the Pit Bull.

Due to their energy and activeness, American Bulldogs require regular activities.

Don’t judge them by their size, however, as their friendliness is endearing. They do not make good guard dogs because of their loving nature but you can place them in the role of watchdogs.

Their toughness may make training a challenge, but once you’re able to, they remain loyal and remember commands with ease. 

American Bulldogs are inclined to obesity, cherry eye, and hip dysplasia. 

2. Dogo Argentino

Life Span: 10–15 years

Dogo Argentino

With a 100 pounds average weight, the Dogo Argentino is a good choice for lovers of big dogs.

They were made to be guard dogs and if that’s what you’re looking for, here’s your choice.

The Dogo Argentino and Pitbull are similar in:

  • Life Expectancy
  • Looks
  • Muscular build

A first key difference to note is that the Dogo Argentino is bigger than the Pit Bull.

They are also more stubborn, so you should have a stronger will to train them. Their coat colors aren’t the same too.

The Dogo Argentino is a good choice for active, experienced dog owners who love adventure and require a companion as they explore the outdoors.

You gotta love the Argentino for their stamina, loyalty, and beauty. Exercise them as much as possible to keep that muscular frame healthy. 

Meanwhile, unless you got them as puppies and trained them right, keep them away from other pets like cats.

It will not be safe for little Tommy if you leave the Dogo Argentino around as the latter has a strong hunting instinct. Also, they don’t do well with other dogs.

The Dogo Argentino can suffer from deafness, hip dysplasia and may have allergies. 

3. Boxer

Life Span: 10–12 years

Boxer Dog

While the name may make you think of Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali, these dogs prefer the playground to the ring. This makes them good for the family.

If you like cuddling with your dog, having fun, and appreciate a happy welcome after a busy day, the Boxer is willing to do all those and more.

They also make good guard dogs and are best kept indoors or in a yard. 

The Boxer and Pit Bull are similar in:

  • Friendliness, energy, and playfulness.
  • Length of training needed. 
  • Activeness. 

Differences include color as well as lifespan. Boxers don’t normally live as long as Pit Bulls. 

To ensure you get the best of your dog, start training them as pups. Exercise is not optional as they need a lot of it to maintain calmness and prevent aggression.

Also, socialize them to behave well with strangers.

Note that the Boxer has a mischievous tendency. Without proper training and exercise, they exhibit bad behaviors like continuous barking and chewing objects.

However, while you should be firm, don’t be harsh on them.

Boxers have a shorter life expectancy compared to other breeds and can fall victim to cancer, hip dysplasia, deafness, heart conditions, and allergies.

Related: Dogs With Low Prey Drive

4. Bullmastiff

Life Span: 8–10 years

Bullmastiff Dog

A natural guard dog who gets curious, the Bullmastiff is a huge canine who start off being mischievous pups but end up as dignified adults. They are good at watching and guarding as they are protective of their family.

The Bullmastiff and Pit Bull share similarities like:

  • Same shape 
  • Both make good pets
  • Short coat type

Meanwhile, for dogs who confuse people, they have many differences. Let’s talk about their size for a start.

The Mastiff is bigger than the Pit Bull and weighs more. Also, the Mastiff doesn’t require as much exercise as the Pit Bull because the level of agility differs.

While the latter has enough energy to spare, the former tends to be a couch potato. 

Even their training needs are not the same. Generally, the Mastiff displays more stubbornness and is less intelligent. They pose a tough challenge if you have no experience in dog training.

The Pit Bull, on the contrary, wants to please you. Though it takes work to train the Pit Bull, they are not as stubborn as the Mastiff. 

The Mastiff doesn’t live as long as the Pitbull and other similar breeds like the American Bulldog.

This is due to numerous illnesses they can experience during their lifetime, including obesity, heart conditions, and hip dysplasia. 

Related: Dogs With High Prey Drive

5. Presa Canario

Life Span: 9–11 years

Presa Canario Dog

The Presa Canario can be a handful for various reasons. Not only are they large, but they are also meant to be guard dogs. This makes them territorial.

Without firm training, they get aggressive towards other animals and strangers.

Nonetheless, they’re loyal and a good choice if you can handle a big, stubborn dog. They guard with their lives. 

The Presa Canario and Pitbull share a few similarities like:

  • Strength and muscular frame
  • Short coat
  • Large heads

However, they are different in many ways. The Presa is bigger than the Pitbull and requires a lot more experience to train.

If you’re a novice, it is not advisable for you to own a Presa but you can handle a Pitbull if you’re up for the challenge.

Pitbulls make better family pets while the Presa is reserved for guard duty. 

As the owner, you should be the alpha and ready yourself to prove to the Presa that you are in charge.

Your family members must be in charge too, which is why you shouldn’t get this breed if you have little children.

Train them to socialize and be obedient. Then, their aggression would be reserved only for intruders. 

Exercise this dog as often as you can. Take daily walks with them behind or beside you, not in front. It is essential your dog recognizes you as the leader.

This breed can suffer from illnesses like heart conditions, epilepsy, and hip dysplasia.

6. American Bully

(Life Span: 8–12 years

American Bully Dog

The name and size may make you picture a savage, reckless dog. The American Bully is nothing like that.

They have a happy, extroverted personality mixed with gentleness and tolerance towards children. 

The American Bully shares some similarities with the Pit Bull like:

  • Loyalty and stability
  • Eagerness to please their masters
  • Outgoing personality

However, while people tend to mix them up, they differ in appearance. The Bully is larger and stockier than the Pit Bull.

In addition to being extroverted, the American Bully is confident, strong, trustworthy, and protective.

With enough training, they won’t be aggressive even towards strangers. Be an active and bold person before you decide to get the American Bully as the pack order must be maintained.

In other words, don’t let yourself get bullied by the Bully. They need a firm, calm, confident owner who spells out the rules. 

This breed can be good indoor pets and doesn’t need the outdoors, except for exercise which they require on a regular basis. It helps them release pent-up energy. 

Some health conditions to look out for include hip dysplasia, heart diseases, and eczema.

Also, be aware that some breeders apply steroids to American Bullies, a practice that has negative effects.

7. Cane Corso

Life Span: 10–12 years

Cane Corso Dog

This Italian fine breed strikes the onlooker with its muscular frame and impressiveness. It also goes by the name Italian Mastiff and is a good guard dog.

Similarities between the Cane Corso and the Pit Bull includes:

  • The Muzzle
  • Head
  • Muscular build 

As for differences, the Cane Corso is larger than the Pit Bull with more weight and is less playful.

Training the Cane Corso is fun because of their intelligence and ability to learn fast.

However, you may require some experience in taking care of them to avoid obesity struggles.

Also, because they like working, keep them busy or they would get bored and engage in destructive activities.

They are better suited for the outdoors where they can run around and exercise. 

They tend to be wary and disinterested of strangers, so don’t expect them to warm up to visitors immediately. With family, however, they are loyal and protective.

As their owner, you have to be confident and constant in training. In the right hands, they are great dogs without a hint of unnecessary aggression.

However, they become dangerous when neglected or badly trained. Except for some bossiness and boundary tasting from them, but do not use harsh treatment as that may affect them. 

While good health is common amongst the Cane Corso, they can fall victim to medical conditions like eye problems, hip dysplasia, and bloating. 

8. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Life Span: 7–9 years

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

A worker from history and relatively rare, these dogs thrive in an active lifestyle. They became household pets courtesy of their playfulness and affection.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog shares some similarities with the Pit Bull like:

  • Friendliness 
  • Eagerness to please
  • Tendency to bark

Like many others on this list of dogs that look like Pit Bulls, the Mountain Dog weighs more than the Pit Bull and is less aggressive towards other pets. 

For you to own a Mountain Dog, you need a large environment and experience in handling big dogs. If you’re new to this game, best to start with smaller, less stubborn breeds. 

Their size and reputation as barkers make them fit to be watchdogs. Compared to similar breeds, they need less amount of exercise to keep them healthy and active. 

As a worker, the Mountain Dog enjoys activity. Do well to fill up your dog’s time with training and competition that’d put them in their element.

Furthermore, teach them to be obedient and friendly with other dogs and strangers. Do note that they are late bloomers and don’t do well with heat. 

Some health conditions to be aware of when getting a Mountain Dog includes hip dysplasia, bloating, and cataract. 

9. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Life Span: 12–14 years

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Dog

The Staffordshire Terrier and the Pit Bull are so similar, they were once considered the same breed.

If you look at them once, you may think they are the same. However, they are now two different breeds. 

Staffordshire Terrier is similar to Pit Bulls in areas like:

  • Strength
  • Short coats 
  • Body size

In differences, the Pit Bull is taller and weighs more than the Staffordshire. Their coat color differs too, as well as the muzzle.

Their beautiful qualities include courage, playfulness, intelligence, and their flow with kids.

Of course, you should supervise any encounter your child has with any dog, but they’re usually safe with Staffy— the breed’s nickname.

Stafford looks tough and scary, but don’t let the exterior fool you. They are actually sensitive and love having fun. They enjoy human companionship so give them loads of attention.

With a confident owner who’s understanding, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier flourishes. 

Start training them as puppies for maximum results. Like many other dogs, they need to know you are in charge.

Being timid and unsure may not work to your advantage with Staffy. Take them outdoors and let them meet people, places, and unfamiliar environments.

A good place to begin is a park where other dog lovers are likely to spark off a conversation and meet them. You may even end up making a new friend.

Keep in mind that they do not accommodate other dogs, so their socialization training should be limited to people. 

They can be vulnerable to certain health conditions like cataracts, hip and elbow dysplasia.

10. Olde English Bulldogge

Life Span: 10–12 years

Olde English Bulldogge Dog

In the 1970s, someone thought about bringing back old bulldogs of the 19th century. The end result was the Olde English Bulldogge—a strong worker breed.

The Olde English Bulldogge and the Pit Bull share similarities like:

  • Strength and muscles
  • Kid friendliness
  • Ability to show affection

However, the Bulldogge weighs more than the Pit Bull with higher intelligence. Pit Bulls are also more playful than the Bulldogge.

This breed is well known for its strength, stability, and athletic prowess. Savage looks notwithstanding, the Bulldogge is friendly with family.

Their boldness and courage are enviable qualities and they are ready to protect their owners with everything they got. They go the extra mile. 

To train them, you need experience and firmness. They’re not advisable for new owners.

Bulldogge likes to chew, so provide them with rubber bones and toys they can indulge this habit with.

Exercise is important for them, though it does not have to be rigorous. A walk round the park would do wonders. Meanwhile,  watch out for their drool. They let out a lot of it. 

They are susceptible to medical conditions like bloating and hip dysplasia. 

11. Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog

Life Span: 12–15 years

Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog

This rare breed has been in existence since the 19th century and continues to grace our world today. Here’s a family-friendly pet who doubles as a guardian.

They share certain similarities with the Pit Bull like:

  • Love for children
  • Playfulness
  • Loyalty

The first difference is in their classification. While the Pit Bull is a hunting dog, the Blue Blood is a working dog. The latter is also larger in size. 

The Blue Blood is well-loved for their confidence and alertness. They are also easy to train, compared to other dogs on this list.

Protective to the core, they can give their lives for their owners. This makes them good for guard duty. 

They require a normal level of exercises like daily walks and light jogs. If exercised well, they can stay indoors as they are less likely to mess up the place.

They tend to be distant and reserved, especially towards strangers. Early social training is necessary.

While easy to train, ensure that you make it positive. Harsh treatments should not be used on Blue Blood or any other dog.

If you get their training right, they do not get aggressive except when protecting their family.

They are vulnerable to illnesses like eye complications, hip dysplasia, and deafness.

12. Black Mouth Cur

Life Span: 12–18 years

Black Mouth Cur Dog

The name comes from the black color around their lips and muzzle. This breed is a worker and protector who can be both a family companion and a guard dog.

The Black Mouth and Pit Bull share similarities like:

  • Similar looks
  • Kid friendliness
  • Short coat

Their courage, strength, loyalty, and loving nature make them good at what they do—protecting their loved ones.

Do note that, despite their courage and tough exterior, they are quite sensitive, especially if you use harsh treatments on them.

While you should be firm, keep punitive measures on a low. Training sessions should be short but rigorous to hold the dog’s attention. 

This breed requires a high level of exercise and shouldn’t be left idle lest they get busy destroying things. They are outdoorsy and don’t do well in an apartment.

Also, their tendency to be protective can make them aggressive to any perceived intruder—even a harmless first-time visitor. Train them early and curb that aggression. 

While they get along with children, they play rough, so you shouldn’t leave them with younger children and definitely not unsupervised, no matter the age. 

They are vulnerable to illnesses like ear infections, epilepsy, and hip dysplasia. 

13. Dogue de Bordeaux

Life Span: 5–8 years

Dogue de Bordeaux Dog

Also known as the French Mastiff, this chien puissant is loved for the qualities of loyalty, affection, and courage, amidst others. 

As for similarities, Dogue and the Pit Bull share:

  • Strength and a muscular frame
  • Both can be watchdogs 
  • Both are kid-friendly

Two major areas they differ in are size and personality. The Bordeaux weighs more than the Pit Bull and is less extroverted. 

This breed is a walking paradox. They mix traits like power, gentleness, affection, stubbornness in a canine package as a gift for you, the owner.

Of course, such a gift comes with responsibilities that you must accept. If you’re willing and able to meet up with the challenge of training a Bordeaux, you’d be in for a treat. 

As we’ve mentioned, this breed is more reserved than the Pit Bull and a couple of others on this list. They’d rather stay by your side than wander off.

If you need a formidable bodyguard, the Bordeaux can play that role. They certainly have the looks.

Start training your Bordeaux early and make sure you’ve experienced it before getting one. They can be stubborn and strong-willed, which may make them a handful for the inexperienced.

Get them used to new places and unfamiliar people as they tend to be wary of strangers. Also, they need moderate exercise. 

Bordeaux has a short life span and should be checked up for medical complications like heart disease, cancer, epilepsy, and hip dysplasia. 

14. Fila Brasileiro

Life Span: 9–11 years

Fila Brasileiro Dog

Also known as the Brazilian mastiff due to its origin, the Fila Brasileiro is popular for its quality of faithfulness.

They are classified as working dogs, which comes as no surprise seeing as they weigh an average of 100 pounds and have a lot of energy. 

Compared to the Pit Bull, the Fila Brasileiro share certain traits in common:

  • Affection
  • A tendency for aggressiveness
  • Strength

The Brasileiro, however, weighs more than the Pit Bull. Another important distinction to note is the Brasileiro doesn’t do well with children, unlike the Pit Bull.

Do well to teach your kids how to act with our Brazilian friends. 

This breed is outdoorsy and stubborn, so it’s not advisable for you to own one if you’re inexperienced and/or live in an apartment.

To meet up with the task of training this Mastiff, you should have enough time and skills.

The Brasileiro is loyal to no one but the owner, which means they may withdraw from strangers.

Early training on socialization would go a long way towards teaching them to accept visitors. 

Ensure that they get enough exercise as they are prone to obesity due to their size. Also, watch what they eat to avoid weight gain.

In addition to obesity, the Brasileiro is vulnerable to illnesses like hip dysplasia and entropion. 

15. Boston Terrier

Life Span: 13–15 years

Boston Terrier Dog

The coat pattern of this breed led to the nickname ‘the American Gentleman’. People confuse them with the Pit Bull, especially when the coat of the latter is black and white.

The Boston Terrier is similar to the Pit Bull in other aspects like:

  • Kid friendliness
  • Affection
  • Friendliness

The Boston Terrier, however, is a small dog and weighs less than the Pit Bull—though they are muscular too. They equally tend to live longer. 

As gentlemen, they are good at affection, friendship, and intelligence. They’re considered very smart so expect that they fall into trouble and try to ‘bribe’ their way out by looking cute.

They flow with everyone in the family and adapt to any environment, indoors and outdoors. Also, they tend to be hyperactive, a trait to be careful of. 

Other factors to consider are exercise, feeding, and socialization. The Boston Terrier eats a lot and can get obese. Thus, you have to control their feeding.

A normal level of exercise is required, as well as early exposure to new places and people. 

This breed is vulnerable to illnesses like hip dysplasia, cataract, and cherry eye.

Wrap Up

With this list of dogs that look like Pit Bulls, it should be easy for you to make other choices besides the Pit Bull.

Your choice ought to depend on your personality, experience, and lifestyle. If you are new and really want a dog on this list, consider getting a dog trainer.

When getting a dog, make sure you meet a responsible breeder who can provide proof of health.

Also, it is better to adopt a pet from rescue groups. Give a furry beauty a new home.

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Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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