15 Dog Breeds Most Similar to Pit Bulls

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Published: January 19, 2024
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Pit bulls have gotten a bad reputation due to their involuntary use in dog fighting, but in reality, these sweet dogs can make wonderful canine companions. American pit bull terriers are friendly dogs who are eager to shower you with affection and goofy grins. They love their human companions wholeheartedly and want nothing more than to be by your side, whether playing, going for walks, or snuggling up on the couch. But you may wonder, what other dogs are like pit bulls? Let’s look at the dog breeds that are most similar to pit bulls!

1. Boxer

Loyal Companion": portrait of a boxer dog with a loyal and confident expression

Boxers can be protective and stubborn, but they are not aggressive.


Like pit bulls, boxers have spirited and playful personalities. Boxers are known for their goofy personalities and loving nature. They are more energetic than pit bulls and require lots of exercise, but also have a gentle side and even get along well with children. Boxers develop strong attachments to their families and require proper socialization and training.

2. American Staffordshire Terrier

Dogs similar to pit bulls - American Staffordshire terrier progression

These dogs are sturdy and muscular, but inside they have a heart of gold.

©Aneta Jungerova/Shutterstock.com

Often included under the umbrella term “pit bull”, the American Staffordshire terrier is a supremely affectionate canine companion. They crave attention and want nothing more than to engage with their humans, sharing their enthusiasm for life in a playful manner no matter their age. In addition, “AmStaffs” are intelligent, confident, and courageous dogs that train easily and are gentle with children. However, they do have high energy levels, and as terriers, they can sometimes be prone to conflicts with other dogs.

3. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire bull terrier

Staffies are happy to do any activity that involves their human families.


Affectionately known as the “Staffy”, the Staffordshire bull terrier is a cousin of the American Staffordshire terrier and shares many of the same traits. Like their cousins, these dogs are often known as “nanny dogs” due to their gentle and affectionate nature. They do well with children and adore cuddling with their human companions. Staffordshire bull terriers are also very energetic and playful. They have an independent streak that can cross over into stubbornness, but with positive training and patience, they make excellent watchdogs and family companions. 

4. American Bulldog

White dog american bulldog on a background of autumn park

American bulldogs love their families and develop incredibly strong bonds with them.


Originally bred to work on the farm, American bulldogs are confident, intelligent, and courageous. They naturally keep a close eye on their loved ones, making them both excellent watchdogs and friendly companions. American bulldogs are truly puppies at heart and love to play and explore, especially if it includes being with their favorite humans. Their affectionate and friendly nature makes them fun to be around, and with proper training and socialization, they make great companions for children as well. 

5. Labrador Retriever

Yellow Labrador Retriever

Labs are easy to train and shower their families with love and affection. 


Both pit bulls and Labrador retrievers are renowned for their playful personalities and devotion to their human companions. Labradors are typically a bit more social and outgoing, however, and their high energy can make them overly excitable at times. They’re not quite as calm as pit bulls, but they are never aggressive — truly all they ever want to do is play with you! Labs are just very energetic and intelligent and need plenty of daily exercise and mental engagement to thrive.

6. Cane Corso

Dog breeds like pit bulls - Cane Corso laying outside in dirt

Cane corsos are large dogs who love to snuggle.


Although large and intimidating, cane corsos are kind and incredibly loyal to their human companions, much like pit bulls. These sweet dogs shadow their humans everywhere they go, wanting to be with their families every chance they can get. With proper socialization, they can also do well with children. Cane corsos are confident watchdogs with a stoic demeanor and can be wary of strangers. However, their playful side shines with their own families, although they are not quite as energy intensive as some of the other breeds on this list. At home, cane corsos are calm, quiet, and gentle, and enjoy cuddling with you as much as possible. 

7. Doberman Pinscher

side view of Doberman Pinscher standing

Dobermans are high-energy dogs and need lots of mental stimulation and physical activity.


Powerful and athletic, the Doberman pinscher is a loyal dog with a strong protective instinct. These loving dogs develop strong bonds with their families and are unwavering in their devotion. They are extremely playful and enjoy having fun and exploring the world with their families. Despite their unfortunate stereotypes, Dobermans are actually very sensitive, with gentle souls and big hearts. They require mental stimulation and positive reinforcement, but they thrive with humans who can spend lots of time with them. As with many breeds, early socialization and training are essential.

8. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian ridgebacks are strong-willed and require consistent training to truly thrive.


Hailing from South Africa, the Rhodesian ridgeback was originally bred for hunting lions. These majestic canines are fiercely loyal and protective and develop strong bonds with their families. However, they are also surprisingly gentle and calm, and at home, many reveal a playful and goofy side beneath their serious exterior. When properly socialized, Rhodesian ridgebacks do well with children and can be friendly towards family and friends. However, they do retain a strong prey drive and can be dog-aggressive if not properly trained and socialized.

9. Weimaraner

Two Weimaraner dogs standing at the river.

Weimaraners are high-energy dogs and need daily exercise.


Friendly and fearless, the Weimaraner is another dog breed similar to the pit bull. Not only are these playful pups stunning to look at with their sleek silver coats, but they are very smart and quick to learn. They have a ton of energy and love to play with their human companions, requiring a few hours of exercise each day. 

Weimaraners are gentle dogs with sensitive souls who want to be by your side as often as possible. They will devote themselves to their humans and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for too long. Weimaraners are great for active families and do well with children, but they do require consistent training and exercise.

10. Rottweiler

beautiful big dog breed Rottweiler for a walk autumn

Rottweilers are strong dogs with a sweet heart.


Strong, powerful, and protective, the Rottweiler shares many similarities with pit bulls. These large dogs are confident, courageous, and ready to bravely protect their loved ones. Despite their size and strength, Rottweilers are also extremely loving dogs who love to be with their families. At home, they are calm and often display a goofy, fun-loving personality. When properly socialized, Rottweilers are sweet and gentle with children and can make excellent family pets. 

11. Dogo Argentino

white Dogo Argentino dog in the snow

Dogo Argentinos are all white, although some may have a spot of gray or black.

©Hanna Dymytrova-Kaihila/iStock via Getty Images

Originally from Argentina, the Dogo Argentino is a big dog that can weigh up to 100 pounds. These powerful canines were bred to hunt large animals like pumas and wild boars, and as such they need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. Dogo Argentinos are tough but sensitive, and while they are activity-driven, they are also calm and dignified at home. They crave affection and love to be pet and cuddled. Dogo Argentinos need early socialization, but with proper training, they are friendly, affectionate dogs who love their families. 

12. Boerboel

Biggest Dog Breeds - dogs similar to pit bulls - Boerboel

Boerboels have a fun-loving streak and love to play with their human companions. 

©Dora Zett/Shutterstock.com

Another incredible dog that typically weighs 150 to 200 pounds, the boerboel is a confident guardian who will protect their family with the utmost devotion. Despite their massive size, these South African dogs are surprisingly agile and versatile. Boerboels are independent and can have a stubborn streak, but with patience and consistency, they are easy to train. With the proper socialization, these sweet dogs are friendly with both friends and strangers. They love their families with their whole hearts and are gentle and calm.

13. Bull Terrier

The portrait of a white with a brown patch Miniature Bull Terrier dog with a black collar posing outdoors in summer

Bull terriers can be stubborn, so early socialization is important. 


Like a pit bull, the bull terrier is a playful dog with a charming personality. These unique canines with egg-shaped heads are loving and playful, forming strong bonds with their families and offering plenty of affection. They are very energetic, need lots of exercise and mental stimulation, and are always up to play or go for a walk with their favorite humans. When raised with children, they are also very gentle and have sweet, silly personalities.

14. Bulldog

Adorable English bulldog poses in the autumn in the park

Bulldogs have unique health concerns and should not overexert themselves.

©Vera Reva/Shutterstock.com

With the demeanor of a dapper gentleman or high-class lady, the bulldog is a sweet and gentle soul with a heart of gold. These affectionate canines love to cuddle up beside you on the couch and enjoy low-key activities with their families. Bulldogs are often great with children, and their loyalty to their families is strong. They have the charming and slightly silly personality of a pit bull and will always put a smile on your face. While they are not high-energy dogs, they can be stubborn and require lots of patience and positive reinforcement. 

15. Mastiff


Mastiffs aren’t high-energy dogs, but they do enjoy playtime or leisurely walks.


Massive and imposing, the mastiff is much more than meets the eye. These enormous dogs are well-known for their gentle, calm, and easygoing nature, and many love to cuddle right up on the couch with you! Mastiffs are intelligent and form strong bonds with their families. They are sweet, affectionate, and will always make you feel loved.

Summary of the 15 Dog Breeds Most Similar to Pit Bulls

American Staffordshire Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
American Bulldog
Labrador Retriever
Cane Corso
Doberman Pinscher
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Dogo Argentino
Bull Terrier

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Natthapot Chantaraviboon/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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