Pitbull vs. Staffordshire Terrier - The Main differences

The American Pitbull Terrier (commonly known as a Pitbull) and the American Staffordshire Terrier (more commonly known as an AmStaff or Staffy) are both considered as bully breeds.

In fact, these two dog breeds share so many physical and personality traits that they're often confused with one another.They are equally striking in their looks and intimidating.

But despite their aggressive appearance, both dog breeds actually have loving personalities. They are affectionate and very loyal to their family.

While these dogs may look the same, they have some key differences. Let's have a closer look at these two breeds and identify the main similarities and differences.

Physical Differences

American Staffordshire Terrier

Staffies are the shorter of the two breeds, with the males standing about 18 or 19 inches tall, fully grown.

Staffordshire bull terriers weigh between 55 and 70 pounds in weight. This makes them short, stocky dogs.

As far as their coat is concerned, Staffies have a short, stiff-to-the-touch, and glossy coat. They come in a variety of colors, 18 to be precise. But their most common coat color is a blue-grey tint.

As far as muscle structure is concerned, the Staffordshire bull terrier is very muscular for its size. It has a short, broad head and boasts pronounced cheek muscles. They have natural, uncropped ears.

They're a medium-sized breed standard with a deep chest.

American Pitbull Terrier

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Slightly larger than American Staffordshire Terriers, Pitbulls generally stand about 18 - 21 inches at the withers.

Surprisingly, they generally weigh more or less the same as their shorter cousins, toppings the scales at about 60 pounds.

Pitbulls have a short and glossy coat that is moderately stiff to the touch. While any color combination is available, the most common is a mix of white and brown or white and black.

American Pitbull Terriers have a smooth, well-defined muscle build. Their legs are of medium length and their body is only slightly longer than their tails.

Both breeds are agile, athletic, and well-built. Really, the main physical difference is that the Amstaf is shorter than the Pitbull.

Breed History

Sad to say, both of these dog types were originally bred for “blood sports” in the 19th century. These practices included bull-baiting, bear-baiting, and dog fighting.

In 1898, the American Pitbull Terrier was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC), which also allows American Staffordshire Terrier to be registered as American Pitbull Terriers.

Unfortunately, the American Kennel Club (AKC) doesn’t recognize the American Pitbull Terrier breed and only recognizes the American Staffordshire Terrier as the official dog breed.


Knowing a dog's temperament is extremely important when considering adopting a new family pet.

A dog's temperament is its disposition, its personality, nature, or makeup. It's not to be confused with the tricks or commands that a dog learns, like sit or stay.

Here's a closer look at both terrier dog breeds' temperaments:

American Staffordshire Terrier

The AmStaff is a real people pleaser. Eager to play rough and enjoy a run in the park, these dogs are also perfectly happy to sit down and relax with their owners.

Although they're great with humans, they can show aggression towards other dogs, even without any warning. They're extremely brave dogs, not holding anything back when they feel the need to defend their owners from other animals.

American Pitbull Terrier

There are a lot of controversies when it comes to Pitbull's temperament.

That's because they can be dogs of real extremes. At times they are the most loving, laid-back dogs. While at other times they can be super aggressive and seem to have an unstoppable rage. It's important to remember that not all dogs within a specific breed have the same temperament.

Much depends on the way they are raised and how well they have been socialized with humans and other animals. By nature, these dogs are caring and loyal to their owners, going out of their way to display affection to people.

In fact, they have been nicknamed nanny dogs in years past simply because they are so loving towards children. That also makes them terrible guard dogs. Once they're socialized, they are more likely to smother intruders with thugs than chase them off.

Health and Grooming

Thinking of getting one of these two breeds as a family pet or even just a personal canine companion?

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But how do they measure up in the health and grooming departments? Here's a closer look:

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier is overall a healthy dog breed. Through selective breeding, they have been genetically programmed to be robust, farm-working dogs that just keep going.

So, in a loving family environment, they should live a long, healthy life.

There are, however, a few common health issues among these dogs. Here's a brief look at just two issues that you might encounter:

- Cerebellar Ataxia

 Best described by a well-known pet medical website as

"a progressive decline in the dog's muscle coordination. Cerebellar ataxia is caused by the development of lesions in the cerebellum region of the brain. This condition starts to develop between ages 3 and 5 and may worsen with time.

The dog struggles with managing their gait's rate and range. As a result, you'll find them taking exaggerated steps even when walking on a flat surface." (1)

- Hypothyroidism 

Hypothyroidism in dogs is a condition where the thyroid gland, located in the neck, doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. This hormone plays an important role in regulating the dog's metabolism, and a lack of it can lead to a wide range of symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, and skin problems.

Hypothyroidism is relatively common in dogs and can be diagnosed through blood tests. It's usually treated with daily thyroid hormone supplements, which can help manage the symptoms and improve the dog's quality of life.

American Pitbull Terrier

Much like their smaller, stockier cousins, Pitbulls have been bred to last. They have a robust build and don't get sick too often.

But again, there are a few illnesses that this breed is likely to suffer from, so prepare yourself to deal with the following health problems during their 12 - 14 year lifespan:

- Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia in dogs is a condition where the hip joint doesn't develop properly, leading to instability and damage to the joint. It's most commonly found in larger dog breeds but can affect dogs of any size.

Symptoms may include lameness, stiffness, reluctance to exercise, and difficulty getting up or lying down. Hip dysplasia can be diagnosed through physical examination, X-rays, and other tests.

Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the condition and may include medication, weight management, physical therapy, or surgery. Early detection and intervention can improve the outcome for affected dogs.

- Kneecap Dislocation

Kneecap dislocation, also known as patellar luxation, is a condition that can affect pitbulls, where the kneecap slides out of its normal position, causing discomfort and difficulty walking.

The kneecap normally sits in a groove at the end of the thigh bone and moves up and down as the leg bends and straightens. In dogs with patellar luxation, the groove is shallow or misshapen, causing the kneecap to pop out of place.

This can happen intermittently or continuously, leading to lameness, pain, and muscle atrophy.

As far as grooming is concerned, both dog breeds are relatively low maintenance. They require a brush every other day, and good quality dog food to keep their coats nice and shiny.

These dogs also benefit from regular exercise, so be sure to take them on a walk every day so that they can get rid of any extra pent-up energy.

This will also help with any behavioral issues that might arise.


Both Pitbulls and Staffordshire Terriers are sweet, loving, people-oriented dogs that make wonderful family pets.

When deciding between the two bully breeds, I'd personally think about what's most important to me as a dog owner.

If I enjoy long stretches of exercise and want an intimidating dog that will be at my side no matter what, I'd probably suggest adopting a Pitbull puppy.

But on the other hand, if I wanted a family pet that will likely spend more time indoors, next to me on the couch, I'd go for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

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Article Resources:

1 - Pets.webmd.com