American Pit Bull Terrier VS Golden Retriever: 19 Differences

Updated May 5, 2023

Let’s start by saying there’s no clear winner in the American Pit Bull Terrier vs. golden retriever competition.

These breeds are quite different, one could even say they are complete opposites, but both deserve their popularity.

Answering several questions will help you determine which type of dog you need. Consider how much time you can invest in exercising and grooming your pet, what’s the dog’s purpose, and whether you can handle a stubborn dog.

Neither of these breeds is low-maintenance, but one is more demanding of training and socialization to avoid behavior problems.

The best dog is one that fits your personality and lifestyle. With proper care and discipline, both dogs can become wonderful companions.

Size & Weight

Golden retrievers and American Pit Bull Terriers are medium-sized dogs with athletic, muscular bodies.

Golden retriever males range from 22 to 24 inches, and females usually don’t exceed 22.5 inches. An adult golden retriever weighs 55-75 pounds.

American Pit Bull Terriers are slightly smaller – males reach 18-21 inches in height and weigh 40-60 pounds, while females range from 17 to 20 inches in height and weigh 30-50 pounds.

However, American Pit Bull Terriers are believed to be stronger than goldens.


Golden retrievers may seem perfect, but like any dog, they have drawbacks. One of such pitfalls is heavy shedding. Goldens shed year-round, with intense shedding phases in fall and spring.

American Pit Bull Terriers have a short coat that lies close to the body. They shed year-round as their hair goes through its life cycle, but shedding isn’t as noticeable.

American Pit Bull Terriers don’t have seasonal shedding phases and are better suitable for people allergic to dog fur.


Golden retrievers have earned their popularity as family dogs for their obedient, affectionate, gentle, and playful temperament.

They are curious and energetic dogs that need equally active owners. Goldens are rarely aggressive and are quick to make friends with strangers.

Numerous misconceptions surround American Pit Bull Terriers’ temperament. Some people go as far as to call these dogs a danger to society.

While it’s true that American Pit Bull Terriers have a higher capacity to be aggressive than an average dog, they don’t pose a threat to people if trained and socialized from puppyhood.

American Pit Bull Terriers are active, courageous Alpha dogs but aren’t killing machines as some people portray them.

In fact, they are loving, affectionate, and loyal to their owners. Some American Pit Bull Terriers are adorably goofy and playful.


Golden retrievers are among the best dog breeds for families with kids. Despite their high energy levels, they are gentle and affectionate with children.

Still, goldens are better suited for school-age children who can play with the dog than babies.

Whether American Pit Bull Terriers are good for children is a controversial topic. If a dog is socialized since puppyhood and gets accustomed to kids, it’s unlikely to be aggressive and can even become best buddies with a child.

However, American Pit Bull Terriers that aren’t getting proper training and socialization can be impatient and quickly frustrated.

Ideally, parents should never leave a American Pit Bull Terrier with a child without supervision until the child learns how to behave with dogs.


Golden retrievers get along with everyone. These dogs look beyond species and don’t mind playing with a cat, rabbit, or another dog. However, each dog is unique, and some goldens may be jealous of the owner’s attention or anxious.

American Pit Bull Terriers aren’t a good fit for households with multiple pets. They are less tolerant of other dogs than most breeds and have a high prey drive. However, if the dog is socialized from a young age, it can become friends with other dogs.

Barking Level

When it comes to golden retriever vs. American Pit Bull Terrier barking level, both breeds receive a point. Neither of them is a huge barker – they only bark when they sense danger, are overly excited, or need to draw the owner’s attention.

Intelligence & Trainability

Golden retrievers are ranked fourth among 138 breeds in the most intelligent dog study by canine researcher Stanley Coren. American Pit Bull Terriers’ intelligence rank is 82nd. Does this mean that American Pit Bull Terriers aren’t very bright?

Not really. American Pit Bull Terriers are fast thinkers and can act independently when necessary.

However, they tend to be stubborn, which hinders training. Even a child can train a golden retriever, but training a American Pit Bull Terrier requires experience and dedication.

Common Behavior Problems

Without proper training and socialization, a dog may develop behavior problems. However, golden retriever and American Pit Bull Terrier behavior problems are entirely opposite.

While golden retrievers are prone to separation anxiety and phobias, American Pit Bull Terriers are more likely to be aggressive. Both breeds can pull on the leash and engage in destructive habits like digging, barking, and chewing.

Exercise Needs

Both golden retriever and American Pit Bull Terrier are exuberant dogs that need plenty of physical activity to stay healthy and happy. They require at least an hour of walking daily or 40 minutes of vigorous exercise.

Grooming Needs

When it comes to golden retriever vs. American Pit Bull Terrier grooming, a point goes to the latter. The long lustrous coat of golden retrievers needs daily brushing and regular bathing.

Goldens should never be shaved, but feather trimming prevents tangling and keeps the coat neat. American Pit Bull Terriers only need brushing every so often, about once a week or fortnightly.

Shaving is unnecessary for American Pit Bull Terriers because their fur is already short, and bathing is only needed when the dog gets dirty.


Most golden retrievers and American Pit Bull Terriers live for 10-12 years, which is standard for medium-sized dogs. However, some dogs of these breeds are known to live over 15 years.

Health Issues

Golden retrievers are prone to a number of health conditions, including hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, cancer, obesity, progressive retinal atrophy, thyroid disorders, skin issues, and ear infections.

American Pit Bull Terriers are less prone to ear infections because of their anatomy but can suffer from skin problems, hip dysplasia, allergies, thyroid disorders, gastric dilatation, ichthyosis disorder, cataracts, cerebellar ataxia, and heart diseases.

Some of these diseases can be ruled out with genetic tests, while others occur in most dogs at an old age regardless of their lifestyle or lineage.


Because of higher demand, golden retriever puppies tend to cost more than American Pit Bull Terriers. Goldens cost $1,000-$3,000 on average, although top-quality puppies with champion bloodlines may be more expensive.

American Pit Bull Terrier puppies range from $800 to $2,000, depending on compliance with the breed standard, lineage, and breeder’s reputation. Rescue dogs usually don’t exceed $500.

Suitability for Inexperienced Dog Owners

Golden retrievers aren’t low-maintenance dogs. They require a lot of upkeep and physical activity. However, they are easy to train, rarely aggressive, and blend into households with other pets without any issue.

As long as the owner is ready to invest time into taking care of the dog, a golden retriever is a good choice for people without experience.

Given the controversy surrounding the breed, many people wonder – is American Pit Bull Terrier a good choice for a first-time owner?

Most canine behavior specialists don’t recommend people without experience training and handling dogs to get a Pitbull.

These dogs are strong and stubborn, and many have a history of aggression. One must know how to treat the dog to uncover the best traits of the breed.

Suitability for Apartments

Golden retrievers and American Pit Bull Terriers can live in apartments, provided the owner dedicates enough time to exercise their dog.

They aren’t barky and are unlikely to bother the neighbors but may behave mischievously if under-stimulated.

Suitability as Service Dogs

Golden retrievers are arguably the best service dogs. They are intelligent, obedient, sociable, and loyal. However, socialization is crucial because the breed is prone to anxiety.

According to a widespread American Pit Bull Terrier myth, these dogs are banned from being service animals. This is false – any dog can help its owner.

The truth is that American Pit Bull Terriers can make excellent service dogs if trained and socialized from puppyhood, but owners must be ready to receive backlash from some strangers when they enter public places.

Suitability as Guard or Protection Dogs

Golden retrievers are loyal to their owners and make excellent protection dogs, but they aren’t born to be guard dogs because they are too friendly to strangers.

American Pit Bull Terriers are perfect protection and guard dogs. They will never let a stranger approach their property or owner. Furthermore, many people are terrified by the sheer sight of a American Pit Bull Terrier.

However, American Pit Bull Terriers aren’t suited for life outdoors. They are social, affectionate dogs that deserve to be around family.

Suitability as Hunting Dogs

Golden retrievers were historically used to retrieve waterfowl and have all it takes to become perfect hunting companions.

American Pit Bull Terriers can be hunting dogs if trained, but their stubbornness and intolerance of other animals may be problematic.

American Pit Bull Terriers are more suited for tracking and chasing medium-sized to large animals. Golden retrievers can be used for tracking animals but aren’t ideal for chasing because they have a low prey drive.


Golden retrievers are in the top three of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S., so they are anything but rare.

Although many people are intimidated by Pitbull Terriers, they are commonly seen on the streets of American towns.

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