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American Staffordshire Terrier vs. American Pitbull Terrier: What’s The Difference?


Last Updated: April 17, 2023 | 9 min read | 94 Comments

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The American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pitbull Terrier are both considered Pitbull type dogs, or “bully breeds.”  There are several similarities between them, as well as some slight differences. American Staffordshire Terriers are slightly shorter but much stockier in weight. American Pitbull Terriers are more athletic in appearance.


Both breeds are equally striking in their looks. Some may say that they have an intimidating appearance. But despite this, both breeds are big softies at heart. They are so similar that many people believe that they are the same breed (they are not).  Both dogs are often compared to the American Bulldog as well.

For the purpose of this article, the American Staffordshire Terrier will be referred to as Am Staffs, and the American Pitbull Terrier will be referred to as the Pitbull. So, without any further hesitation, let’s compare the two pups and get into all the bully breed details regarding the American Staffordshire Terrier vs. the Pitbull.

Breed Comparison

American Staffordshire Terrier

  • Height 17-19 Inches
  • Weight 40-70 Pounds
  • Temperament Confident, Smart, Good Natured
  • Energy Intense
  • Health Above Average
  • Grooming Weekly
  • Lifespan 12-16 Years
  • Price $1,000+

American Pitbull Terrier

  • Height 17-20 Inches
  • Weight 35-70 Pounds
  • Temperament Affectionate, Energetic, Loyal
  • Energy Intense
  • Health Above Average
  • Grooming Weekly
  • Lifespan 12-16 Years
  • Price $1,000+

Breed History

Two Tan Dogs Outdoors
Both dogs came from similar origins and were bred for similar purposes.

The word ‘Terrier’ derives from the Latin word ‘terra,’ meaning earth. All Terrier dogs were created to go into the ground and hunt vermin. They were bred to scare them out of their burrows for their master to cull or to do the deed himself. For this reason, they were typically small.

However, in the 19th Century, Terriers, for their agility, were mixed with Bulldogs for their muscle. This was purposeful in order to create larger and more powerful dogs. These dogs were then used for dogfighting and bullbaiting. In 1835 dog fighting was banned in England. Immigrants who wanted to continue in the cruel sport took off to America and continued to fight them.

American dogfighters wanted to breed even bigger and more powerful versions of the fighting dogs from England. As a result, the Am Staff and the Pitbull were born. It is their fighting history that has unfairly earned them their vicious label.

The Pitbull was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) as their first dog in 1898. The UKC will allow Am Staffs to be registered as American Pitbull Terriers. However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes the Am Staff, but they will not recognize the Pitbull.

The Am Staff was originally called the Staffordshire Terrier. But the name being too similar to his cousin across the pond, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was changed in 1972 to American Staffordshire Terrier. The Pitbull, being the most closely linked to their shared fighting history, also had his name changed in 1996 and 2004 to ‘St Francis Terriers’ and ‘New Yorkies’ in the hope that his past would no longer be associated with him. There was also hope that more people would adopt him, but this was soon dropped after much criticism.

The multitude of name changes, and politics amongst kennel clubs in their registration rules, have created much confusion in the canine world between these two breeds. And while some believe that they are the same breed due to their almost identical appearance, with the Am Staff just being the chunkier brother and the Pitbull the more athletic sibling, the mainstream opinion is that they are separate breeds.


Blue and Tan Dogs
It’s easy to understand why these dogs are often confused with one another.

The Am Staff and the Pitbull are very similar in their appearance. They are both impressive-looking canines that are considered to be medium-sized dogs. The Pitbull is slightly taller, measuring 17 to 21 inches in height, measured from paw to shoulder. The Am Staff is shorter at 17 to 19 inches in height.

Pitbulls also weigh less, at 30 to 65 pounds. The Am Staff weighs anywhere between 40 and 70 pounds. The Pitbull is taller and more slender, whereas the Am Staff is shorter and stockier.  They are both often mistaken for other Pitbull mixes, or American Bullies, which also look similar.

They are both well-balanced dogs, and with the large square heads and muzzles and their defined muscles, in the Am Staff more so, they have a combination that gives them their powerful appearance. It is also common for them both to have their ears cropped. Again, this adds to their mean exterior. Their ears are normally either rose-shaped or half-pricked if they aren’t cropped.

Both the Am Staff and the Pitbull are available in a variety of colors. Generally, kennel clubs will not accept black and tan or liver in the Am Staff, and white that covers 80% or more of his body is not encouraged, and merle is not accepted.

The Pitbull is welcome to be any color except merle.  The red nose variant is the second-rarest color, followed by the blue nose.  The merle gene has recently made its way into the gene pool from outbreeding, and so despite the increase in popularity, this is not a traditional color in either breed.

It is also common for them to have different color patches across their bodies. Of course, neither of these dogs is accepted if they are albino. Their coats are both short, smooth, and shiny. This tight coat enhances their muscular frame. The AKC provides the full Am Staff breed standards for further information on their appearance, and the UKC provides the full Pitbull breed standards.


Black and Blue Bully Dogs
Both dogs are very similar when it comes to their temperament.

The most common question for those who are not familiar with either breed is ‘are they vicious?’ The answer is no. They are not inherently vicious. As the famous saying goes, a dog is just as good as its owner. In reality, the Am Staff and the Pitbull are no more vicious than a Chihuahua. It is entirely dependent on their upbringing and their owners.

The American Temperament Test Society conducts temperament tests every year with a vast variety of dogs. The latest results show that 86% of Am Staffs passed the temperament test. 87% of Pitbulls also passed. With the samples being 743 and 931, respectively, no one can argue that the samples weren’t large enough to be conclusive. If this is compared to another well-known dog, the Collie, whose sample was 896, only 81% of them passed the temperament test.

Because these pups are often in the news for aggression-related issues, they are often compared to other dogs that pop up in the news for similar negative headlines. The Pitbull is often compared to the Rottweiler and compared to other Molosser dogs like the Presa Canario, even though there’s little similarity in their appearance, only in temperament.

Both breeds are very sociable and happy-go-lucky canines who adore their master and their family. They also both have a soft spot for children. This is how they inherited the name ‘nanny dog.’ While we would never suggest leaving a dog alone with a child, this is one of the many reasons they make such a great family pet. They love to have a good romp around in the garden and play interactive games, so both of these pups will provide you with hours of bouncy entertainment.

The general consensus is that neither the Am Staff nor the Pitbull extends their sociability toward other animals. While they are gentle with humans, they can exhibit fear and aggression towards other animals who they see as a threat to them or their families.

Of course, this is not the same for every Am Staff or Pitbull, but this is a generalization and is something that you need to consider if you are a multi-pet household or walking your pup in public. For this reason, neither of the breeds is suitable for a novice owner, but ultimately training and the owners are equally responsible for this behavior.


White and Tan Dogs Outdoors
Both dogs have very similar exercise needs.

Both the Am Staff and the Pitbull are similar in their exercise needs. They are both high-energy dogs who require up to 60 minutes of exercise a day. Being the more athletic version, the Pitbull would enjoy slightly more exercise. Am Staffs are more partial to an afternoon nap.

Both breeds have a lot of energy that needs to be expelled. The best way to do this with these breeds is to play interactive games with them, such as fetch or agility courses. Although they are only medium-energy dogs, they require a lot of mental stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored and destructive.


Tan and White with Brown Spots Dogs Outdoors
Both dogs are equally intelligent and easy to train when it comes to training.

Again, the Am Staff and the Pitbull are almost identical here. They need early socialization to avoid any guarding tendencies and minimize fear aggression with other dogs or animals. Many owners say that their Am Staff and Pitbull are great with other dogs in the local dog park, but this is entirely down to their training.

You cannot skip out on training if you want a well-mannered pup. Luckily, they are very intelligent, and combining this with their love for snacks makes them very trainable. We recommend training with a harness from a very young age. Any Pitbull-sized harness will work, and this should be done after their first round of shots to discourage any potential leash aggression.


Healthy Bully Breed Dogs
Both dogs have longer lifespans with minimal health issues.

Both the Am Staff and the Pitbull are healthy pups. They have the same lifespan of 12 – 16 years. They are both prone to Elbow and Hip Dysplasia, which is similar to most breeds in later life.

The Pitbull is more likely to develop Cerebellar Abiotrophy, which is where the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination is damaged, and therefore he can struggle with his mobility. This is something that generally appears in later life. The Am Staff is also known to suffer from cardiac issues in later life, more so than the Pitbull.

Many Terrier dogs are also known to inherit skin allergies, and although this is something that they may experience throughout their lifetime, it is something that can easily be managed with medication and nutrition. If in any doubt, be sure to speak to your veterinarian.


Staffy and Pit Waiting For Food
Both dogs should be fed high-quality kibble to promote skin, coat, and joint health.

They will both eat around 2 1/2 cups of food a day, although some dogs will need more depending on their activity levels. Both breeds should be eating food that’s recommended for Pitbulls or Bull Terrier breeds.

Skin and coat health is important, so both will do best on a fortified food with omega fatty acids. Depending on how active your dog is, you may need to find a formula specifically made for sporting breeds, with a higher calorie count and supporting muscle growth. It is worth noting that both breeds can have sensitive stomachs. This means you may also consider a limited ingredient dog food.

For dogs that have shown an allergy to poultry, consider formulas that contain alternate protein sources. Overall, nutritional quality will impact the overall health and lifespan of both the Amstaff and the Pitbull. It’s always recommended to spend more for higher quality dog food if your budget allows for it.


These dogs are exceptionally easy when it comes to grooming compared to the average pup. A bath once every two months or so will be adequate, and a brush once a week will keep them looking shiny and healthy. Other general grooming tasks, such as teeth brushing and ear cleaning, are the same as any other medium-sized pups.

Both breeds are fairly light shedders. Am Staffs and Pitbulls are single-coated dogs, meaning their shedding will be pretty stable all year. You won’t need to worry about an undercoat rake due to the length of their hair. While they aren’t considered hypoallergenic, they both shed less than other double-coated dog breeds.

Puppy Prices

Puppies Outdoors in Autumn and Spring
Expect to pay about $1,000 and up for a puppy from a reputable breeder.

Both the Am Staff and the Pitbull, from a reputable breeder, will cost, on average, $1,000 and up. If you are after a pup from a particular bloodline, then puppy costs will be significantly more expensive.

It is important to research reputable breeders when it comes to getting either of these breeds. Reputable breeders will only breed dogs who are gentle and friendly. If any of their pups show aggression, they will not be bred. If you buy your pup from anywhere else, you are risking that he has either been bred from active fighting dogs or is violent himself. A reputable breeder will not sell a vicious dog. Puppy mills will do whatever they can to make a quick buck.

Alternatively, hundreds of thousands of these dogs are in rescue shelters across America. With over 93% of Pitbull-type dogs in shelters being euthanized, rescuing is something that you should consider. Of course, you may not know his history if you adopt. But, as long as you are a firm dog owner, this is something that you can overcome together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can DNA testing tell the difference between an Am Staff and a Pitbull?

Yes. Canine DNA testing can help determine if your pup is a Pittie or an Am Staff. Tests cost anywhere from about $50 to $200. Most high-quality tests are fairly accurate. Learn more by reading the information about the specific DNA test you are using. Try to choose the test with the highest accuracy.

Is an American Staffordshire Terrier the same as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier?

No, these are not the same dog. These are two different breeds. The Am Staff is larger, but the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a much older breed. Both are muscular, smiley dogs. Both are very friendly and make great pets. Though they look similar and have names that are close, they are not the same breed.

What kind of dog is an American Staffordshire Terrier and Pitbull mix?

The Staffy Bull Pit is a cross of these two breeds. They are medium-sized, about 35 to 65 pounds. These pups are active, muscular, smart, and very trusting. They have short attention spans and can be a challenge to train. These pups can also be a tad on the aggressive side and can retain a high pretty drive as well as some fighting instincts. This mix may not be the best for first-time owners or those who are away from home a lot.

Final Thoughts

The Am Staff and the Pitbull have shared the same hardships when it comes to their reputation. However, when you educate yourself or get to know either breed, you will quickly learn that their fierce reputation is unjust.

Ultimately, they are almost identical, so for most prospective owners about to choose either breed, it really comes down to their slightly differing appearances. Either way, they are both sweet souls who have a lot of love to give.

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