Icon Breed Comparisons (Outline) Breed Comparisons

English Mastiff vs. Pitbull: Breed Differences & Similarities


Last Updated: May 22, 2023 | 8 min read | 4 Comments

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Here’s how it works.

Are you comparing an English Mastiff vs. Pitbull for your next family companion? The Mastiff and the American Pitbull Terrier are very different from one another, but there are also some sweet similarities. So, whether you are here because you’re trying to find out which breed might suit your family better. Or just because you fancy educating yourself on these gorgeous breeds, you have come to the right place.

Mastiffs are a less energetic breed, and more stubborn and expensive to care for. The Pitbull, despite his vicious reputation, is usually great family dogs that are very obedient. Both breeds have been used as guardian breeds, so their protective instincts sometimes give them a slightly unfair reputation.

In this article, we cover all of the similarities and differences between these two fantastic breeds. From the obvious to the not so obvious, there is no canine stone that we’ll leave unturned. And that’s just the beginning! So, let’s get straight into it and pit these two pups against one another.

Breed Comparison

English Mastiff

  • Height 27-30 Inches
  • Weight 120-230 Pounds
  • Temperament Courageous, Loyal, Gentle, Lazy
  • Energy Low
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 6-10 Years
  • Price $1,000 and Up


  • Height 17-21 Inches
  • Weight 30-70 Pounds
  • Temperament Fearless, Energetic, Loyal
  • Energy Very High
  • Health Above Average
  • Lifespan 12-16 Years
  • Price $1,000 and Up

Breed History

A dog’s history is always a great place to start if you want to understand what they might be like as family pets. All dog breeds are created with a purpose in mind, and often this purpose will determine their characteristics.

While every dog is different, generally speaking, each breed does have traits that are very specific to that breed. Let’s look at the English Mastiff and the Pitbull in a little more detail.

English Mastiff

Female English Mastiff in Field
The English Mastiff is a family-friendly giant breed dog.

The Mastiff, or the Old English Mastiff as he is sometimes known, is a huge dog. He is the English version of the mastiff-type dog, who has been around for thousands of years. He helped defend the British Isles against the Roman invasion, and Julias Caesar was so impressed by him that he took him back to Rome. They utilized his strength, and he was pitted in the ring against ferocious beasts such as lions.

He was the English gentleman’s choice of the big-game hunter and to protect their country estates. There were only 14 Mastiffs left in England after WWII. But thankfully, the Americans saved the breed thanks to their well-bred lines. Today, he is a lovable and popular family pet. Although he is courageous still, he can be found living the luxurious life on his master’s best armchair rather than on the battlefield. Mastiffs are sometimes compared to German Shepherds and other working dog breeds as a homestead guardian.

American Pitbull Terrier

Active Pitbull Outdoors
Despite their reputation, Pitbulls are excellent family pets if socialized early and raised properly.

The American Pitbull Terrier also has a fighting background, but not on the battlefield against humans. Instead, he was the human creation of the perfect fighting dog. His ancestors were the mix of Terriers and Bulldogs, and they were used in the sporting ring to fight dogs and kill rats. This is where he developed his vicious reputation.

Thankfully, the cruel bloodsports have stopped, and he is now recognized as being the delightful and human-loving dog that he is. Unfortunately, many people and local laws are still yet to catch up with his sweet reality. He now works on ranches as a herding dog, and he is a top choice as a therapy dog because he is so in tune with us humans.

Pitbulls are not recognized by the AKC, but they are recognized as a breed by the UKC. With regards to the AKC, there are other breeds that the AKC recognizes as Pitbull-type dog breeds.


Mastiff versus Pitbull appearance differences and similarities
The English Mastiff and Pitbull Terrier look very different from one another.

We hate to point out the obvious, but these two guys are incredibly different when it comes to their looks. The Mastiff can stand up to 10 inches taller, and at his heaviest, he can weigh 3 ½ times heavier than the Pitbull. So, if you have a small home, the Pitbull is the best (or only!) option. The Mastiff has large triangular drop-down ears, and the Pitbull has rose-shaped ears.

However, when you look at them side by side, you can see a similarity in that they have a square and stocky shape. And some say that the Pitbull looks like the smaller, and more athletic, sibling. They both have long tails and a deep chest.

Their coat is similar too, although the Mastiff’s coat is ever so longer and denser. Although sometimes a rare fluffy Mastiff graces us with his presence. Mastiffs have a double coat, while Pitbulls have a single coat. Mastiffs shed more in the fall and spring, while Pitbulls shed moderately throughout the year.

The Pitbull has a wide variety of color choices, including a red or amber color, blue, white, or merle. The Mastiff only has apricot, fawn, and brindle, with a black mask.


Active Pitbull and Mellow Mastiff Compared
The Pitbull has a very different temperament from the Mastiff.

Aside from their size, their personalities are where you can see most of their differences. The Mastiff is a laid back chilled guy who isn’t always up for a long hike. Instead, you might have to try your hardest to convince him that he needs a walk. Compared to the Pitbull, who is always up for an adventure.

With that being said, the Mastiff is a fun goofball with his family. And after he has recharged his batteries he loves to play a game with his family. The Mastiff is a clumsy dog, knocking things over with his tail. Pitbulls might knock a few things over thanks to the zoomies.

This means that if you are after a working dog, the Pitbull is the only choice for you. Pitbulls are also becoming a top choice for search and rescue as well as K9 narcotics work. Not only will the Mastiff struggle to squeeze into without knocking anything over, but it would also require too much effort!

The Mastiff is known for being a courageous dog who will defend his family to the end. Compared to the Pitbull, who will be so excited to meet a new human, he would let an intruder into the house if it meant belly scratches and games. So, if you are looking for a guard dog, the Mastiff is your best bet.

Similarly, they both make fantastic family pets, and they love nothing more than to be with their family. If you’re looking for a canine partner to binge-watch box sets with, they both love to snuggle. They are fantastic with children, and as long as they are socialized well, they can both live happily in a multi-pet household too.


Mastiff and Pitbull both Exercising
Mastiffs won’t need much exercise, but Pitbulls need quite a bit.

Exercise is another deciding factor for many when it comes to these two breeds. The Mastiff needs around 45 minutes of exercise every day, compared to the Pitbull, who needs at least 60 minutes. And although this doesn’t seem like a big difference, the Mastiff would be happy to take a casual stroll around the neighborhood. Whereas the Pitbull needs intense and varying exercise to keep his body and mind stimulated.

The Pitbull also needs a lot of mental stimulation throughout the day. And although the Mastiff will happily play along with a family game, he’ll also happily bask in the sun and watch you do the work. Those that are interested in an active giant breed are more likely to consider a Boerboel, who has similar activity levels to a Pitbull in comparison.

There’s no chance of the Pitbull standing back; he needs to be in the center of the action. The Pitbull has a lot more energy, which he needs to expel, and you need to keep up with him.


Mastiff and Pitbull in Training
Both the Mastiff and the Pitbull Terrier can be extremely stubborn and difficult to train.

To say that the Mastiff has an independent streak is being kind – this boy knows how to be stubborn! Mastiffs are also known for being less intelligent than many breeds. All this equates to the Mastiff doing things on his terms, not yours. This is compared to the Pitbull, who isn’t that stubborn at all. Instead, he focuses on pleasing his master to the point that he would do everything that you ask him.

Essentially, this means that the Mastiff is not for a first-time dog owner. Instead, he needs to live with a family that understands how to handle a stubborn pooch. Compared to the Pitbull, who is so obedient that if you are a newbie to training dogs, you should get on just fine. Pitbulls can use a crate during training. Mastiffs can use a crate as well, but just be aware that you’ll need a giant-sized dog crate to fit your pup.

Both dog breeds need to be socialized well as a pup to ensure that they grow into polite pooches. This is particularly important for these guys, considering the Pitbull’s propensity to display fear aggression against other dogs. And the Mastiff’s tendency to be overprotective of his family. Both of these guys respond well to the positive reinforcement training method.


Healthy Mastiff and Healthy Pitbull
Pitbulls are less likely to have health problems than English Mastiffs.

The Pitbull is the healthier breed of the two, and because he is much smaller than the Mastiff, he also enjoys a longer lifespan. The Mastiff is more likely to suffer from weight-related problems, including obesity, leading to other health concerns. This is why you need to convince him to get his big butt out of bed and get his heart pumping.

The Pitbull is prone to suffering from just two common health concerns, which are hip dysplasia and a variety of skin disorders. The Mastiff is prone to suffering from hip and elbow dysplasia and various eye and cardiac conditions.


Hungry English Mastiff and Hungry Pitbull
English Mastiffs will consume up to 8 cups of food per day, while Pitbulls will eat around 2.5 to 3.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the Mastiff eats much more than the Pitbull. The Mastiff will consume approximately 8 cups of high-calorie Mastiff dog food every day, compared to the Pitbull, who will eat about 2 ½ cups of Pitbull friendly sporting formula dog food. Of course, this will be dependent on their age, size, and energy levels. But you can expect to spend much more money on a Mastiff’s monthly food bill.

The Mastiff should be fed a kibble that is specifically designed for large or giant breeds, and the Pitbull will do fine on an all-breed kibble. They both need a high-quality kibble that will provide a well-balanced diet. This includes high-quality protein, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. We advise feeding them both the best food that you can afford.


Grooming Mastiff compared to Pitbull
The Mastiff will need to be groomed more frequently than the Pitbull.

The only real difference between the Mastiff and the Pitbulls grooming regime is that you can expect to spend a lot longer brushing and washing the Mastiff due to his sheer size. Pitbulls are also single-coated breeds, while most mastiffs are double-coated dogs. The English Mastiff will shed more during spring and winter, Whereas Pitbulls will shed evenly throughout the year. Both breeds have coats that are relatively short, and they are simple to brush.

Be sure to cast an eye over the Mastiff’s eyes as you groom him, to make sure they are healthy. And the same goes for the Pitbull’s skin, as these are their problem areas. Always use a gentle and natural doggy shampoo to keep them smelling their best. Wash them every 8 to 12 weeks or so.

The Mastiff is said to have a strong doggy odor, and he is quite a drooly dog too. This means that if you aren’t a fan of doggy odor or dribble, the Pitbull is the less messy option.


English Mastiff Puppy Compared to Pitbull
Mastiff puppies are more expensive, and Mastiffs also cost more to care for over their lifespan.

The price of a Mastiff pup is almost double the price of a Pitbull. Thankfully, from a reputable breeder, you can be sure that you will receive a healthy puppy who has had the best start to life. This is particularly important for these guys because many backstreet breeders and puppy mills will not care for the wellness of their puppies, often resulting in ill and unruly pups.

Pricing is a significant factor for many families, and not just because of his initial puppy price. Because the Mastiff is a giant dog breed, when it comes to his food bill, clothing, equipment, and medical bills, he is much more expensive than the Pitbull. Therefore, financially, you need to be sure you can take care of him.

Final Thoughts

Overall, there are a lot of differences between the Mastiff and the Pitbull. The Mastiff is the giant lovable pooch who is stubborn and sassy, and he needs an experienced owner. But he makes up for it in his protective watchdog abilities. The Pitbull is a medium-sized athletic dog that is full of beans, love, and loyalty. And this guy is great for social families or very active ones.

Whether you bat for the Mastiff team or the Pitbull crew, know that as long as you can tick all of their boxes, they will return the favor in lots of love and doggy kisses. Or, if you still can’t choose between these breeds, you could always check out the Pitbull Mastiff mix, which is the best of both worlds.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

Notify of
Oldest Most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend