Staffordshire Bull Terrier vs. Pit Bull: What’s the Difference?

While the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is an AKC-recognized breed with a detailed breed standard, technically the pit bull is not a separate breed or recognized with a breed standard with a Kennel Club registry. Rather, it is an umbrella term for many so-called bully breeds, such as the American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Bully, American Bulldog, and even the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Who is who?

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier is one of the smallest recognized bully breeds. They’re tiny and adorable—standing just 14 to 16 inches at the shoulder and weighing 28 to 38 pounds for a male and 24 to 34 pounds for a female. The breed description on the AKC website says it all: a gallon-sized dog in a quart container. Full Disclosure: They are one of my favorite breeds and when I saw a little Staffordshire bull excitedly pull his master in my general direction at a dog show I squealed with delight.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers come in a wide range of accepted colours: red, fawn, white, black and blue (a bluish slate grey) or any of these colors with white and any shade of brindle or brindle. with white. Staffies, or Staffords as they are known, are small, muscular, fearless dogs with a short, broad head and prominent cheek muscles and natural, uncropped ears. And can you say sweet?

Pitbulls, as a general term, are usually a similar type, except they have slightly more leg room. A registered American Pit Bull Terrier or APBT (recognized by the UKC) stands approximately 17 to 21 inches at the shoulder, weighing 35 to 60 pounds for males and 30 to 50 pounds for females. The APBT breed standard emphasizes the balance of the dog’s proportions. This means that dogs should be balanced with a weight-to-height ratio that avoids long, tall dogs or wide, burly dogs. You must be powerful and agile.

Both breeds have a short, dense coat with no undercoat—true wash-and-go dogs.

history of the breed

As with all bully breeds, these two breeds evolved from the vile “blood sports” of yesteryear of bull baiting, bear baiting, and pit fighting with other dogs, where their owners would place the two animals together in a fighting pit and bet you. Luckily, these horrible “sports” were long ago phased out, but unfortunately, illegal boxing fights still exist in niches in the United States.

As such, the Pitbull types were bred to be animals that were expected to be very good to their owners/carers (not aggressive toward humans, even in the height of excitement) but aggressive toward other dogs.

This age-old aggression toward other dogs or animals of yesteryear can be an ongoing problem even in our modern Staffords and APBTs, so it’s important that owners of Bully breeds take extra care in socializing their dogs with other dogs from an early age. . A well behaved and well socialized Staffie or APBT makes a wonderful family pet, gentle and docile and ideal for children, other dogs, the family cat and other animals.


Staffordshire Bull Terriers have been nicknamed “the nanny dog” and “the nanny” due to their known affection for children. They are not watchdogs and greet all guests like friends, wagging their tails, which is often the most “aggressive” part of their anatomy – a happy Stafford tail can look like a riding crop when greeting you enthusiastically, and they do don’t know any other way to greet you with enthusiasm.

With their common ancestry, the APBT is also a very friendly dog. They may be a bit more serious than easygoing Staffords, but ultimately they are people dogs. They also love children: Petey in the old 1920’s and 1930’s Little Rascals was a pit bull.

In fact, aggressive behavior towards people is not characteristic of the breed, and they are extremely friendly even with strangers. They have a zest for life and are eager to please, usually with the same actively wagging “gun” tail as the Staffords. This breed performs very well in performance tests such as obedience, rallying, and lure racing because of its natural agility, high intelligence, and eager personality.

The exercise

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier are active breeds. You love to be on the go and have an inquiring mind with a seemingly endless source of energy. A long, brisk walk on a leash will exercise you both. And with its longer legs, the APBT can also be a great running companion.

Both dogs love to run and jump, and flyball or agility can be great fun with and for them. And one of the most famous pit bulls of recent years was a dog named Wallace, who became the world champion discus dog with his high level of athleticism and energy. His legacy lives on in the Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation.

Not all Staffords or APBTs enjoy swimming, but for those who do, dock diving can be a lot of fun for them. Both breeds also enjoy weightlifting competitions, where their compact and muscular builds stand out. Nosework is also a sport they are good at, be it tracking or nosework.

Pixabay/Free photos


But at the end of the day, these two breeds love nothing more than to snuggle up to their humans, preferably under the covers on chilly nights. They are friendly, people-focused dogs whose will to work and enjoy themselves makes them unbeatable in everything they do, and most importantly, they make exceptional companions at the same time.

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