Why Are Pitbulls So Affectionate (Do Pitbulls Like To Cuddle?)

For many people, Pitbull carries a negative public perception, largely due to its historical association with aggressive sports such as baiting or ratting.

Pitbulls are a very popular loving breed, leading to many asking why are Pitbulls so affectionate.

Why Are Pitbulls So Affectionate

Pitbulls typically demonstrate their affection by placing themselves close to you.

You can expect them to climb and lean next to you. Do Pitbulls like to cuddle? Yes, they certainly do! It is a classic way for them to show affection.

In this article, we hope to dispel the myth of Pitbulls being considered aggressive dogs, but rather demonstrate just why they are so affectionate.

We will outline all of their affectionate traits so that you can spot signs of affection. Building a strong bond with your Pitbull is essential to ensure they become the loving companions that you seek.

What Makes Pitbulls An Affectionate Breed?

There are a variety of reasons why Pitbulls are so affectionate, these are explained below.

Biting Inhibition

Modern-day Pitbulls are bred to have inhibition to biting. They were originally bred to fight in the 19th Century, with them frequently fighting dogs or catching rats in the name of entertainment.

Despite being bred for use of their aggressive tendencies, Pitbull owners needed to tame their dogs in the ring without risk of being bitten, hence why biting inhibition was bred into the breed.

This trait has evolved into the modern-day Pitbull which will vary and rarely bite its owners.

Working Dogs

As the Pitbull became popular in the US, their roles evolved in households becoming hunters, service dogs, farm dogs, and herding dogs.

Affectionate Pitbulls

All of these activities require a close working relationship with humans, which has ensured the breed has become increasingly familiar, tolerant, and affectionate towards humans.


Many Pitbulls who are kept as companion dogs resided in shelters after being rescued. These dogs will likely have suffered neglect or cruelty in the past.

When rescue dogs are shown love and affection from their new owners, they will often reciprocate this and be very grateful to their owners for providing a loving home.

Pitbulls are smart enough to know their rehousing has saved them and improved their quality of life. They will show their affection as a result.

Why Are Pitbulls So Cuddly?

Many dog breeds are subtle in how they communicate love and affection. The opposite is true for Pitbulls who will be quite outlandish in how they demonstrate affection.

A Pitbull will want to cuddle you and lay on you as much as possible to show its affection.

Pitbulls are considered oversized lap dogs and will happily place their full body on their preferred person.

Pitbulls are cuddly largely because they are a physical dog breed. Their ancestors were hunters and herders and had to use their physiques to perform activities.

Related to this, Pitbulls are also less sensitive about being touched compared to other breeds and can handle a stray elbow or accidental nudge. It will encourage them to hug you even more.

Who Do Pitbulls Prefer To Be Affectionate With?

Pitbulls will display their affectionate traits to most people they meet. They won’t simply reserve these traits for family, but rather for any loving person they encounter.

Fundamentally, Pitbulls are people lovers and gladly climb into the lap of anyone who shows a willingness to host them.

If there is any group they will reserve extra affection for, it is children. Whether it is a maternal or paternal instinct, Pitbulls love to cuddle and show love to youngsters.

Affectionate Pitbull

The only exception to this rule of Pitbulls being very affectionate to all they come into contact with is if the Pitbull has suffered from abuse or neglect in the past.

Pitbulls are smart enough to know the human group who is associated with this abuse – whether it is elderly folk, men, or kids and will show less affection to this group.

Likewise, if there are a couple of family members who have behaved poorly towards your Pitbull, they will single them out and be less likely to show them affection.

The golden rule is that if you show a Pitbull love and affection, it will more than likely return it to you.

How Do Pitbulls Show Affectionate Traits?

Pitbulls are incredibly affectionate and have proven to be wonderful companion dogs. They can also be trained as service dogs to support the emotional needs of humans needing support.

Pitbulls demonstrate their affection in a variety of ways, some of which you may not completely understand to be affection.

There are ten ways in which Pitbulls show emotion, all of which are explained below.

Leaning on You

As they are physical dogs, Pitbulls are known for throwing their weight around. This can also be a key sign of them showing affection.

A Pitbull will often lean against a person while being scratched and they will also happily squeeze themselves between your legs while you are standing up.

You can also see them playing by going through your legs and placing as much of their body weight on you as possible.

Heavier Pitbulls may even push you over or push you off your stance to show their affection so be prepared to be put off balance.

A downside of this expression of love is that your Pitbull will likely shed a lot, so you may need to get the hoover out to remove all the hair.

Jumping on You

Most Pitbulls don’t have much for invading personal space. They simply want to be close to you as possible.

To get into your bubble, they will happily jump on you from a distance, with their tongue sticking out.

Many Pitbull owners prefer to bend down so that their tongue meets their face as they jump. This allows them to slather their saliva all over their face.

Licking You

Pitbulls are a very lucky breed. They won’t hold back with a gentle lick but would rather rinse your arm as if it is being washed by a tap.

Pitbulls will lick anything they come across, including your hair, legs, and face. Anything within reach is lickable so they can show their love.

Licking is a common affection trait when you first meet a Pitbull after a while.

The pure joy of seeing you will be expressed by their enthusiastic licking. Quick licking is also a sign of them wanting to be reassured by you.

Flea Biting

Flea biting is another common behavior trait from Pitbulls to demonstrate affection. Flea biting refers to a Pitbull softly nibbling your hair or skin.

If you are not used to doggy behavior, being on the receiving end of this may come across as intimidating.

Rest assured, that despite these big Pitbull teeth coming into contact with your skin, your Pitbull is simply showing affection and a desire to groom. Pitbulls will often alternate between flea biting and licking as signs of affection.

Being Your Shadow

If you can’t seem to get any free time from your Pitbull because they are following your every move, don’t be concerned, they are showing their love.

They are simply saying that separation from you, even for a few minutes, is too much to take. They want to be with you every single moment.

Affectionate Pitbull With Kid

Beyond being in the same room as their owner, many Pitbulls prefer to be in physical contact with their owner as much as possible. If you have a Pitbull with these traits, it will frequently bump against you and step on you.

While this trait may be cute, during their training you should try to let them be comfortable in their own company or separate from you.

If they need constant love and attention, it can become a burden, and you’ll get nothing done!

Contented Grunts And Moans

Pitbulls are also known as pigs of the dog world. This tag is assigned with a fair reason.

Pitbulls will often make snorting and grunting sounds which may sound pig-like rather than dog-like.

They will often make these sounds while you are petting them, so while they may sound weird, they are showing signs of affection.

Tail Wagging

Tail wagging is a very common way for Pitbulls, like most dog breeds, to show excitement and affection.

Being hit by a Pitbull’s tail can leave a fair mark on you due to the breed’s strength and high propensity to be excited.

This can lead to many owners opting to dock their dog’s tails to prevent the risk of injury. Particularly for legs below a table.

You can also request your Pitbull sits or lie down to contain the tail wagging.

Showing Their Belly

When a Pitbull rolls over for you to rub its belly, they are firstly seeking attention from you but is also showing its affection and trust.

While you are rubbing, it is common for Pitbulls to nibble or lick you while the rubbing takes place.

If your Pitbull rolls over while you are at a distance and this is combined with a yawning stretch, you can be certain that this is them showing you affection.

Giving You A Toy

Pitbulls are playful dogs and love their toys. If you notice that they are willing to have over their toys to you, that is a clear sign of their love for you.

Many Pitbulls will parade their toy around and then present it to you once they see you for the first time in a while.

Gazing at You

Have you ever noticed your Pitbull gazing longingly at you? Well, they are not bored, they are simply showing that they love you. While they are gazing, you will notice them slowly blinking too.

Pitbulls can come across as slightly dopey when staring. Their tail will wag and they will move their ears back and forth.

What Isn’t A Sign Of Affection In Pitbulls?

Although most Pitbulls who are residing in a loving household will regularly show affection, sometimes they will not show affection.

Knowing how these traits manifest can be key to ensuring there are no unwanted clashes. These traits are explained below.

Aggression Towards Others

Your Pitbull is not showing affection when they are aggressive toward other animals or people. Most cases of this behavior occur when they are with their favorite person and they want to protect them from a threat.

Although there is love behind the aggression, a Pitbull who is trained well and has a balanced temperament will not interpret others as a threat.

Aggressive Pitbull

Aggressive behavior is commonly an expression of jealousy or possessiveness, so don’t read it as affection.

Continuous Licking

Although Pitbulls will often lick you as a sign of affection, if the licking becomes too frequent or obsessive, it can be interpreted as a sign of anxiety and a need to self-soothe.

If the licking continues for too long in a relaxed state, this can be a cause for concern. Many will purchase a bitter spray to prevent this trait, and many are available to purchase online.

What To Do If Your Pitbull Is Too Affectionate?

Pitbulls will serve up plenty of affection, but sometimes it can be too much to handle. Your Pitbull needs the training to learn appropriate and inappropriate forms of affection.

The recommended approach to teaching this is through leaving the room when the overly affectionate traits are occurring.

Your Pitbull will fast learn that this behavior does not yield the desired response from owners.

If you don’t want to be licked you can also give your dog a toy so that they can slabber all over it.

Do Pitbull Puppies And Adults Show Affection In The Same Way?

Regardless of whether they are puppies or adults, Pitbulls will show affection in similar ways. You can expect puppies to express it more enthusiastically than adults, but the traits will be the same.

Puppies may tend to lick more and wag their tail more vigorously.

Are Male Or Female Pitbulls More Affectionate?

You can expect minimal differences between how male and female Pitbulls express affection. There is minimal diversity in temperament or behaviors between genders.

Are Pitbulls Affectionate With Other Animals?

Most Pitbulls will be very friendly in the company of other dogs and will show affection.

If you have other dogs in your household, a Pitbull will likely be more affectionate towards them compared to stranger dogs.

When Pitbulls meet other Pitbulls they will likely be especially affectionate. It will be common to see two of them lying together.

Affectionate Pitbull With Cat

With other animals such as cats and small birds, Pitbulls are also affectionate. Few may have a prey drive with certain animals which may affect the relationship but this is rare.

Pitbulls will show their affection to other species by being tolerant, placing themselves close to them, and licking them – very similar to how they show affection to humans.

How To Show Affection To Your Pitbull

If you want to show affection towards a Pitbull, you can take some of the following steps.

  • Given them lots of cuddles and close body contact. Pitbulls love having close body-to-body contact.
  • Giving your Pitbull training will strengthen their bond with you and develop mutual affection.
  • Explore the environment together as Pitbulls are curious and adventurous. They will treasure the memories and forge a strong bond.

Final Words

Hopefully, this article has convinced you that Pitbulls are an affectionate breed and show this affection in a variety of ways including licking, cuddling, and shadowing.

Pitbulls will show affection provided they have had a secure upbringing and feel comfortable in their household.

Pitbulls won’t show affection if they feel unsafe or threatened. Likewise, if their behavior is obsessive or compulsive, it may be due to inadequate training.

All-in-all, Pitbulls make great household companions and will bring you so much love and affection. Just make sure you are in a position to show them affection too, to ensure you build a strong mutual bond.


Hi there, my name is Blake and I have an American Bully named Rocky. I fell in love with the breed around ten years ago after seeing some of my friends adopt a Bully. I love the combination of the muscular physique and calm, loyal companionship that the American Bully breed has to offer. My enthusiasm for the breed has led me to train as a dog behavioralist and trainer. Over the last ten years, I have supported many households in raising their American Bully and maximizing the potential of the breed. I’m delighted to share my knowledge and expertise on this site.

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