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

staffordshire terrier vs pitbull

If you ask someone to name two of the most aggressive breeds, I’m sure the Pitbull (APBT) and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (not to be confused with the American Staffordshire Terrier) would be among their top choices. But that’s not because the breeds are dangerous. It’s because of the stigma that surrounds them.  

The stigma, by the way, is totally false and can actually apply to any dog, even those cute little teeny chihuahuas that look like they could do no damage.  

Both of these dogs are gorgeous, from their builds to their coloring and their personalities. They are often confused with each other, but that’s usually by inexperienced dog owners. While they do have some similarities, these pups are uniquely their own breed — or close enough.  

There are different types of Pitbulls, and they aren’t actually a dog breed but a catch-all term for the types of bully breeds, while the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is an actual breed recognized by several kennel clubs. 

The two dogs hail from different continents. Staffordshire Bull Terriers, also affectionately called Staffies or Staffords, hail from England, where they were commonly used for ratting. The Pit Bull Terrier is from America and is essentially a mutt of sorts.  

Then, there’s the elephant in the room. Both of these pups, especially the American Pit Bull Terrier, have a long history in blood sports, originally bred for dog fighting, bear baiting, and bull baiting. For that reason, they’re often listed as dangerous dog breeds.

While these so-called “sports” are no longer around, there are still pockets that exist illegally. The stigma associated with the dogs, who were trained to be aggressive around other dogs, still exists. Yet, the truth is you couldn’t ask for two more sweeter breeds than these guys. 

Pitbull vs Staffordshire Terrier: What’s the Difference 

When it comes to Staffordshire bull terrier vs. Pitbull, there are several notable differences. One is that the Pitbull is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), while the Staffordshire Terrier is a UKC-recognized and AKC-recognized breed with a detailed breed standard. 

Staffordshire Terrier vs. Pitbull


The American Pit Bull Terrier wins the variety category in the coat color column. You can find them in all sorts of colors, from white to black, multi-colored with brindle patterns, or a combination of colors. There’s even a Blue Nose Pitbull.  

Look toward Staffords, though, and you’ll notice that they are mostly solid colors, including brindle that covers the majority of their frame. Both of the breeds have short dense fur.


When it comes to weight, the American Pit Bull Terrier far outweighs the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. While there are pocket pitties that are smaller in statute, most are medium to large and can weigh up to 80 pounds.  

Staffordshire Bull Terriers, on the other hand, are medium-sized dogs and max out at around 38 pounds. 


Another area where the American Pit Bull Terrier differs is in its height. A Staffie is one of the smaller of the recognized bully breeds. Where the Staffordshire Terrier maxes out at 16″ tall, that’s where the pit bull picks up. They start at around 17″ and can grow up to 20″ tall. 

Facial Features

staffy vs pitbull

If you want to tell these two breeds apart, it’s best to start by looking at their faces. Pit bulls have a rounder face with a wide jaw and a nose that’s tapered upwards. Their ears are also higher set.  

The head of a Staffordshire Terrier is more rounded than its pit bull counterpart. Staffordshire Bull Terriers also have the cutest pronounced cheek muscles, too; you can literally see them move as they bark, chew, or play with their toys. Their personality also shines through.

Physical Build 

In terms of physical build, both of these animals are strong and muscular. They differ in their shape. The Staffordshire Terrier has a stocky build compared to the American Pit Bull Terrier’s stature, which is a lean, muscular build.

The Pitbull has broad shoulders and a deep chest, and it stands proud and tall, which makes sense as they are very courageous dogs. Staffords have a wide, muscular chest.


difference between pit bull and staffordshire terrier

The temperament of the two dogs differs as well. Speaking in generalities, where the Staffords tend to be more loving and eager to please, the pit bull tends to be a bit more stubborn and reserved, having been formerly bred in aggression.

However, in my experience, and I’ve been around dogs my entire life, having owned them and fostered many pups and volunteered my time at shelters — I’ve never met an aggressive pit bull. Never. They’ve all been non-aggressive, highly affectionate, and seeking companionship. Both of these bully breeds are loyal dogs.

That said, you will likely notice a bit more of a prey drive in the pit bull than you would in a Staffordshire. Not all staffords are great with other dogs and animals, but they tend to be the better of the two in this respect. A well-socialized staffie is important to ensuring there are no mishaps.

Similarities of Pitbull vs. Staffordshire Terrier

american staffordshire terrier vs pitbull

In addition to their key differences, these pups definitely have their similarities, too! 

Both the American Pit Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier are active breeds that have a lot of energy. I mean a lot! These bully breeds love to play and have the stamina to keep up with you all day. In fact, either one would make a great jogging partner.

However, you don’t need to exhaust them, a brisk walk will do the job, too. They both also have inquisitive minds and are intelligent.

Fun fact: one of the most widely-known pit bull dogs is Wallace, who loved to show off his disc skills using his high-drive athleticism.  

The two also have a similar life expectancy, though the Pit Bull Lifespan is a bit wider at 8 to 15 years when compared to the Stafford’s 12 to 14. 

These two dogs are also people dogs that are completely devoted to their owners and love to make them happy. You truly cannot go wrong with either Pit Bulls or Staffordshire Terriers, as long as they fit into your lifestyle.

Why Are Pit Bulls Banned In Some Countries?

what countries banned pit bulls

Despite being a total lovebug to their owners and many others, many countries have continued to uphold bans on the American Pit Bull Terrier. The pup’s alleged aggressiveness (it’s trained, not inherent) and its powerful bite force (this is true) have led to many nations deciding that the risk isn’t worth it.

There’s a lot of controversy as to whether their aggression is a result of human behavior or a defective trait.


Do Pitbulls and Staffordshire Bull Terriers Have a Locking Jaw?

No. This is a myth that has gained a lot of ground and has absolutely no evidence to back it up. It comes from the fact that when these dogs latch on, they refuse to let go. It’s not that they can’t because their jaw locks up; it’s because they choose not to. 

Are Pit Bulls Considered Dangerous?

In some circles, yes, they are considered dangerous, and many have a bad reputation that’s completely unwarranted. It comes from the few bad eggs who decided it was a great idea to have dogs fight to the death rather than treat them like the loving family pets they are. That increased the Pitbull attack statistics and made people wary. 

Can Staffordshire Bull Terriers Be Considered Dangerous?

Here’s the reality of the situation: any dog can be considered dangerous — and they should. There’s a reason people are cautioned not to approach a dog they don’t know.

In that respect, sure, Staffordshire Terriers, which are broad dogs, could be considered aggressive dogs without early socialization or training. The breed in its entirety? No. The same goes for all other dogs.

Is a Staffordshire Terrier a Good Family Dog?

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier can absolutely be a good family dog. It’s important that when you get one, as with any dog, you invest in making sure they’re properly trained and socialized at an early age.

However, here’s a fun fact: Staffies were once called the “nanny dog” because the dogs love children so much. So, if you have the time and devotion to give your pet, it 100% can be a great family dog.

Wrap Up  

While there are understandable differences between the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier, these two specimens are absolutely some of the finest you can have as a wonderful family pet, and they make outstanding companions. 

Just make sure you do your research and ensure you can provide the type of life they deserve, full of love, affection, and the proper training so they grow up well-behaved.

Christina Drury
Meet Christina Drury, a dedicated animal enthusiast, and proud pet parent. She has a deep-rooted affection for all creatures, and Christina has called the Buckeye State home for the past four years. As a seasoned writer, she possesses a versatile writing style that spans various niches, yet her heart truly belongs to animals. With her innate connection and expertise, Christina is committed to crafting engaging and insightful content for animal-related issues.

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