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Is an American Bully a Pitbull? FULLY Explained!

There’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the American Bully and the origins of what is essentially a crossbreed.

The American Bully is not recognized by most kennel clubs and there are a lot of backyard breeders trying to capitalize on all the different variants.

How can you make sure you get a healthy dog if you don’t even know which dog breeds went into him?

That’s why I created this article to give you an overview of all the different breeds as well as the American Bully’s size and temperament.

So, is the American Bully the same as a Pitbull?

The American Bully is not a Pitbull but a cross between some of the 3 Pitbull-type dog breeds, alongside bloodlines from breeds like the Old English Bulldog or Mastiffs.

When asking whether or not the American Bully is a Pitbull, some people refer to the general Pitbull-type while others mean the American Pit Bull Terrier dog breed.

In reality, the American Bully is a mix of Pitbull-type dogs. Many of these breeds share some physical and behavioral traits.

American Bullies can contain American Pit Bull Terrier bloodlines but don’t necessarily have to.

Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

What Breeds Make an American Bully?

American Bullies are often made up of the following dog breeds:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bullterrier
  • (Miniature) Bullterrier
  • American Bulldog (lean and stocky type)
  • Old English Bulldog
  • Mastiffs

The first three dog breeds are generally referred to as Pitbull-type dogs (APBT, Amstaff, and StaffBull).

To get smaller or bigger sizes or certain appearances, many people try to include other breeds.

Old English Bulldogs or stocky American Bulldogs give the dog a flat, wide frame – which is often associated with health risks.

Smaller American Bully with a very wide frame and stocky build.
Photo by emmapeel34 on Adobe

Mastiffs are used to create bigger versions and also change the dog’s temperament (Cane Corso, Presa Canario, Dogo Argentino, Dogue De Bordeaux, Tosa Inu, Boerboel, Neapolitan Mastiff).

There’s no regulation on which breeds go into an American Bully because it’s essentially a crossbreed.

For all you know, your potential American Bully could have Poodle genetics to some extent.

Do not fall for backyard breeders holding this crossbreed in high esteem when they can’t prove the health of their pups through elaborate health testing.

What’s the Difference Between a Pitbull and an American Pitbull?

First of all, it’s important to know that Pitbull ≠ American Pit Bull Terrier.

As we have laid out, there are 3-4 Pitbull-type dog breeds out there casually referred to as Pitbulls.

An American Pit Bull Terrier will always be a Pitbull-type dog but a Pitbull-type dog doesn’t necessarily have to be an American Pit Bull Terrier.

How can you tell if a “Pitbull” is purebred?

Differentiating the various bully types from each other is not as cut and dry as many people think.

There are some characteristics you can look for when identifying a purebred of either one of these breeds.

The Bull Terrier looks quite distinct and the Staffie is relatively small.

But the differences between Amstaff and APBT are hard to distinguish for a layman. Only papers will clarify the true heritage and genetics.

Is the XL Bully a Pitbull?

The XL Bully is just a term for the kind of American Bullies with Mastiff lines.

While these dogs tend to be larger and way heavier, they’re still American Bully crossbreeds, possibly made up of all the breeds listed above.

In short, no the XL Bully does not refer to an American Pit Bull Terrier.

The XL Bully is a cross between the Pitbull-type dog breeds and Mastiffs or other large dogs (sometimes even Great Danes).

American Bully Sizes

The American Bully comes in 5 different sizes.

Beware, many Bully breed lovers are arguing whether or not the results of poor breeding are deserving of a classification in sizes.

Giving them different size variants gives one the idea that there’s some legitimacy to this breeding.

However, there are absolutely no official rules on who can spit out what label.

Many breeders try to get buyers to check out their dogs with terms like “XXL ULTIMATE Bully Blue Line”.

This kind of stuff is often used to appeal to people’s desire to have big, stable, and well-tempered dogs that happen to come in a beautiful color.

Four American Bully puppies with gray and white coats and blue puppy eyes.
Photo by alberto clemares exposito on Shutterstock

The blue line is often just a gray coat with blue puppy eyes.

Gray coats are achieved through selected breeding which can include negative practices like inbreeding if the gene pool is diminishing.

Blue puppy eyes almost always disappear once the dog gets older so don’t be fooled by their beautiful shine now to be disappointed once it fades away.

That being said, crossbreed enthusiasts usually differentiate between these sizes (small to big):

  • Micro
  • Pocket
  • Classic
  • Standard
  • XL (or XXL)

When American Bullies are still puppies, it can be really hard to tell if they’re just buff purebred Pitbull-type dogs or a wild Bully mix.

Sometimes even Cane Corso or Old English Bulldog puppies can look like American Bullies and vice versa.

Asking for papers and health testing is the way to go if you want to ensure you’re getting a healthy purebred pup.

Is the American Bully Considered an Aggressive Breed?

No, the American Bully is not considered aggressive.

In reality, no breed is really inherently dangerous due to aggression, but individual genetical lines can churn out aggressive dogs.

Granted, tempers are different and depending on the purpose a dog has been bred for, they may just display qualities we humans don’t like in our daily lives.

Among these undesired traits are: Prey drive, disliking other dogs, being territorial when guests are around for a BBQ in the garden, and so on.

Considering the background of the American Bully with the Pitbull-type breeds, it can very well be that a dog’s temperament turns out undesirable.

A high-strung and reactive dog with a reduced bite threshold is certainly not desirable but sadly many shady breeders have used these breeds for incredibly inhumane purposes.

Select a good breeder with my article on essential questions to ask a breeder. Alternatively, check out my dog adoption guide.

Are American Bullies Hard to Train?

Nearly all Bully breeds are said to be very tough dogs but depending on their genetic mark-up and socialization, they can be very gentle and loving too.

The American Bully might be a bit more stubborn than dogs with a strong will to please but if you treat them right, they might be agreeable during training and follow your lead.

“Lead” is the important word here because if you’re not taking the lead, the dog will and an American Bully can become quite powerful.

Are American Bullies Smart?

Since the American Bully is a crossbreed, their intelligence and ability not only depends on socialization and training but also on what breeds went into this individual.

All Pitbull-type dog breeds (APBT, Amstaff, Staffie) and, to some extent, American Bullies are generally said to be very intelligent dogs and can be great family companions as well as endurance monsters during training.

Whether or not a dog can be called smart depends on a lot of things, not just how quickly they learn tricks.

Getting down house manners, being agreeable during training, being able to focus and so much more goes into this.

Do your research about any individual before and make sure you know about the potential health risks of crossbreeds.

Let me know if you have any questions about the American Bully and I’ll make sure to address them!

Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

Equipped with 5+ years of expertise as a Rottweiler owner, I partner with licensed veterinarians and trainers to share research-backed and actionable advice for you and your furry friend.


Sunday 19th of November 2023

So at the end of the day, in the USA they are all still just Pit bull types, no? That's what I pretty much got from that. Maybe somewhere else the specifics might matter or to a breeder. The origin is still basically the same, no?

Danielle Mühlenberg

Sunday 3rd of December 2023

The American Bully is a cross between mostly Pitbull-type dogs, yes. But it's not the typical American Pit Bull Terrier which is common in the US but not recognized by the FCI and many countries so the differentiation is arguably more important in the US.

Tommie Edwards

Wednesday 11th of October 2023

If the dog is 95.8% american bully and 4.2% american pit bull terrier ia the dog considered a american bully. This percentage comes from embark dna.


Friday 13th of October 2023

Hi Tommie, yes sure if you believe the Embark results are correct, that'd be an American Bully since 95+% is a Bully already and the remaining roughly 5% are one of the breeds that usually go into the American Bully.


Saturday 4th of March 2023

Wow, this was an interesting read for me, I just brought home my first XL bully and he is growing so fast, he was 9 weeks old and weighed 22 pounds not even 3 weeks home and he's up to 39 pounds. Sometimes he looks like a Cane Corso, and on few occasions he looks like a Great Dane to me. I had no what made this breed which is why I ended up here. Thank you for this information!


Friday 30th of September 2022

What's the life expectancy of an XL pitbull?


Friday 30th of September 2022

Hi Vlad, Pitbulls in general live 8-16y. That's a pretty big span, but it heavily depends on the breeding.

XL Pitbulls or other mixed breeds are notorious to live shorter, 5-6 years is not uncommon, especially if they lack health testing. Personally, I wouldn't advise getting one and whatever you do, request to see complete health testing (hips, elbows, heart, eyes, etc.) before buying one. If it's a shelter dog, feed a healthy diet, exercise your dog and you might get them to live 8-12 years.

Just my personal opinion, of course every individual is different but considering the aspects I mentioned is your best bet.

Cheers, Danielle


Tuesday 7th of June 2022

American bullies are their own breed. You breed an American bully with another American bully to get an American bully… The foundation breeds used to create the breed initially 30 some odd years ago included pit bulls, yes, however… That was to create the American bully….


Friday 10th of June 2022

I get what you're saying but not every American Bully finds their ancestors 30 years ago. Theoretically, you can breed a Pitbull and Mastiff with each other today, go on a couple of generations and it'd still be a Bully, but a more recent one.

That's why American Bullies differ greatly in terms of genetics and foundation breeds. Some are bred to other mixes for generations already, while others have a recent and traceable ancestor line with only a handful of breeds.