Staffordshire Terrier Vs Pitbull: How They’re Different

Strong and beautiful American staffordshire terrier portrait in the park

Are you considering adopting a dog? If so, it’s best to learn all there is to know about which type to adopt because there are so many options to choose from. One of the most well-known dog breeds is the Pitbull (officially called the American Pit Bull Terrier); they’re loyal and compassionate, and you can train them to be excellent guard dogs. Other breeds look similar to the Pitbull, including the Staffordshire Terrier (officially called the American Staffordshire Terrier).

We’re here to discuss the difference between the two. We’ll look at the history of the Staffordshire Terrier versus that of the Pitbull and why they seem so similar. We’ll also explore some top tips on how to care for both breeds properly.

The History of the American Pit Bull Terrier

The history of the Pitbull breed dates back to the 1800s in the United Kingdom. They were originally bred from the Old English Bulldog, which people used in the cruel blood sport of bull baiting. By 1835, Parliament outlawed the baiting of bulls, but people found ways around this. They used Bulldogs for rat-baiting instead, which happened in pits in the ground (which is where the Pitbull eventually got its name from). As more laws were instituted against baiting, immigrants from the British Isles came to the United States and brought their Bulldogs with them.

The Bulldogs were repopulated over multiple generations. Over time, the Bulldog evolved into the American Bully breed we know today as the Pitbull. The Pitbull was used in the United States to herd animals like cattle and other livestock and as a family guard dog. They were good with humans and never seemed to be aggressive towards children, which transitioned them into their role as family pets as well.American Pitbull black and white

The History Of The American Staffordshire Terrier

The history of the Staffordshire Terrier is very similar to that of the Pitbull. It began at the same time and place—the 1800s in the United Kingdom. In the UK, the Old English Bulldog breed was used for blood sports and dog fighting. The Bulldog was then bred with a terrier dog because terriers are known for their intelligence and strength. For people who owned dogs participating in blood sports, this combination would stand to produce a dog that would be the best of the best in these illegal sports.

By this point in time, Pitbulls arose in the United States as discussed in the previous section. The dogs that stayed in the United Kingdom (the Bulldog and terrier breeds) became more common outside of the lucrative blood sports. They then became known as the Staffordshire Terrier Dog. Eventually the Staffordshire Terrier came over to the United States as well, which is how it’s known today.

Organizations like the American Kennel Club didn’t want to recognize or be associated with a dog breed used for blood sports. They did not recognize the Staffordshire Terrier until the 1930s, over 100 years after the ban on baiting. They still do not recognize the Pitbull, but the United Kennel Club (UKC) does.Staffordshire terrier

The Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull: Similarities Between Them

Many things lead people to believe that these two dog breeds are the same. Let’s take a look at some of the traits that make them seem similar to one another.

Their Coat Types

Many people believe the Pitbull and the Staffordshire Terrier are the same because of their coat types. They both have shorter fur that’s very easy to manage with regular grooming. The two breeds also exhibit similar coat patterns and markings.

Their Muscle Structure

Both breeds are muscular. Because the original Bulldog was bred for dog fighting, they were short and stocky with a lot of muscle mass. Even after the two breeds (Staffordshire Terrier and Pitbull breeds) became distinguished from one another, there was no getting rid of years of genetics, and both continued to be muscular breeds. This is especially because they used many dogs on farms as livestock or family guard dogs.side image of staffordshire

Their Jaw Structures

Because of both breeds’ histories and a bad reputation that persists to today, some believe that the Staffordshire Terrier and Pitbull have a locking jaw, or a jaw that can lock onto an object. However, this is a myth for both breeds. Both the Staffordshire Terrier and Pitbull have the same rough jaw structure, and neither breed has a jaw that can lock. 

Their Life Expectancies

When looking at the Staffordshire Terrier and Pitbull as separate breeds, both have a similar life expectancy. They each live for around the same amount of time without considering dog-specific health conditions. The Pitbull can live anywhere from 12 to 14 years, while the Staffordshire Terrier can live from 12 to 16 years.

Their Activity Levels

Both breeds are very active. Even after the ban on blood sports and baiting, both the Pitbull and the Staffordshire Terrier remained active breeds. Farmers used the Pitbull to herd livestock, so the breed was often active for the majority of the day. Staffordshire Terriers were used for similar purposes, such as livestock herders and family guard dogs. They were always running around and had to remain on high alert. Even today, both breeds are still very active and love to play. 

Differences Between the Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull

Now that you know more about the similarities of the breeds let’s look at some differences between the Staffordshire Terrier and the Pitbull; they are in fact a separate breed from one another!

The Two Breeds’ Weights

When comparing the Staffordshire Terrier and Pitbull in terms of weight, the Staffordshire Terrier weighs more despite them being classified as a medium sized dog. The Pitbull can weigh between 35 to 60 pounds as an adult male, with females ranging from 30 to 50 pounds. However, the Staffordshire Terrier female can weigh anywhere from 40 to 55 pounds, while males weigh 55 to 70 pounds.

The Two Breeds’ Height

The Pitbull is taller than the Staffordshire Terrier. A Pitbull is usually between 17-20 inches measured at the shoulder, and the Staffordshire Terrier is shorter, measuring 13-16 inches at the shoulder.

Their Personalities

When looking into the personalities of a Staffordshire Terrier and a Pitbull, minute differences set the two apart. One misconception about these breeds is that they’re inherently aggressive and dangerous, especially toward children. Despite being used for terrible purposes in the past, they are not vicious toward people, especially if properly socialized and trained. The Staffordshire Terrier is an extremely friendly, loving, loyal, and courageous dog. You can train them to be guard dogs, but they would prefer to be happy and not on high alert. Though they may be friendly and loving, they can be stubborn with training and may need a lot more positive reinforcement than a Pitbull. The Pitbull is known as the nanny of all dogs. They love looking after their humans and are very protective of them. The Pitbull makes for a good guard dog and watchdog if trained properly. The biggest difference between a Pitbull and Staffordshire Terrier is the Pitbull’s predisposition to exhibit aggressive behavior toward unfamiliar dogs if they aren’t properly trained.

Their Health Concerns

Despite the breeds looking similar, Staffordshire Terriers and Pitbulls have different health concerns. Due to Pitbulls being taller than the Staffordshire Terrier, they’re more prone to bone diseases such as hip dysplasia, dislocation of their knees, and degenerative myelopathy. Hip dysplasia is a fancy term for irregularities in the growing process of the hips. Degenerative myelopathy refers to dogs’ slow, yet progressive hind leg weakness and paralysis. The Staffordshire Terrier is shorter and may not experience bone diseases to the same extent. However, the Staffordshire Terrier is more likely to experience hypothyroidism, heart disease, and progressive retinal atrophy because they live longer. pitbull silly

Their Facial Structures

Although they may look similar head-on, the Staffordshire Terrier and Pitbull each have different facial features that set them apart. The Staffordshire Terrier has a broader and wider skull than the Pitbull. However, the Pitbull has a longer muzzle, which makes his face look longer than that of the Staffordshire Terrier. The Staffordshire Terrier has a shorter muzzle, giving his face a more compact look.

The Accepted Colors of the Two Breeds

Both the Staffordshire Terrier and Pitbull have different accepted colors. Accepted colors are legitimized through the organization that officially recognizes the dog as a breed. Although the Pitbull isn’t an accepted breed by the AKC due to its history, it is accepted by the UKC. The only colors NOT acceptable for the Pitbull are Merle and Albino coat colors, otherwise every other color is accepted. The Staffordshire Terrier works the other way. While it is accepted by the AKC, it is not accepted by the UKC. The coat patterns accepted by the AKC include a solid and patched pattern. 

How to Properly Care for a Staffordshire Terrier

Although there are many similarities between the Staffordshire Terrier and Pitbull, they are different breeds that both require specific care. We’ll talk about top tips on how to best take care of each, starting first with the Staffordshire Terrier.

The Staffordshire Terrier’s Diet

The Staffordshire Terrier requires a very specific diet to keep him healthy. The Staffordshire Terrier will benefit from a prey-based and raw-food diet. Here are some of the foods you should feed your Staffordshire Terrier to keep him healthy.

Raw Meats

Feeding your Staffordshire Terrier raw meat will allow him to consume plenty of the protein and vitamins that meat offers. It is good practice to ensure the meat is fresh, so there’s no risk of parasites or other bacteria. You can feed him a variety of raw meats, including chicken, turkey, steak, and many others.

Ground Bones and Vegetables

Giving your Staffordshire Terrier ground bones and vegetables will allow him to consume calcium and other vitamins/minerals that he won’t be able to get from eating raw meat.


Staffordshire Terriers also benefit from eating fruit. Fruit will help them stay naturally hydrated and get additional vitamins and antioxidants. They can eat fruits such as apples, bananas, pumpkin, and blueberries. However, you should not feed them grapes, avocados, cherries, or tomatoes. These fruits have chemicals in them that make dogs sick. 

Tips for Training a Staffordshire Terrier

Staffordshire Terriers are friendly and caring dogs. Despite this, there are some best practices that should be followed when training a Staffordshire Terrier. Staffordshire Terriers have vibrant personalities, and may have trouble listening. One of the best things you can do for a Staffordshire Terrier is to give him consistent meal times and allow him to adopt a fixed eating schedule. It’ll also allow him to get used to going to the bathroom at the same times, so he doesn’t randomly use the bathroom when he wants to. American Pitbull brown and white

Another tip for properly training a Staffordshire Terrier is to give him a goal to work towards and include positive reinforcement. You should try to avoid punishing your Staffordshire Terrier as best as you can. Because Staffordshire Terriers are highly intelligent, they’re receptive to others’ emotions and feelings. If they notice you’re angry or upset with them when they’re getting punished, they may start to fear you. By including positive reinforcement when they complete tasks successfully, they’ll be more likely to trust you long-term as well as avoid things they’re not supposed to do. 

Maintaining a Staffordshire Terrier’s Health

The Staffordshire Terrier breed has some health concerns that should be paid close attention to, especially as the dog ages. One way to ensure your Staffordshire Terrier has good health is by regularly taking him to the vet. Your vet will be able to keep tabs on health conditions your dog may develop and administer routine vaccines as needed. Another best practice is giving your Staffordshire Terrier plenty of exercise.

How to Properly Care for a Pitbull

Now that you understand how to properly care for a Staffordshire Terrier, we’ll talk about how you can best care for a Pitbull. 

The Pitbull’s Diet

The main nutritional foods that keep a Pitbull healthy are raw bones, raw meats, fish, small amounts of greens, certain herbs, vegetables, fruit, and eggs. This list will help you to understand why Pitbulls need to eat these foods.

Raw Bones

Pitbulls need raw bones in order to keep their calcium levels high. This helps with bone development and maintenance.

Raw Meat

Pitbulls need to eat meat to consume protein and other trace minerals contained in the meat. They can eat just about any meat, including chicken, pork, lamb, oxtails, turkey, and ducks. 


Fish contain many nutrients Pitbulls need to stay healthy, including Vitamin B1 and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. 

Herbs, Greens, Vegetables, and Fruits

These foods help Pitbulls get all the vitamins and minerals they need that aren’t in many processed dog foods and raw meats. However, there are some fruits and vegetables that dogs will get sick from. These include avocados, cherries, grapes, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, and onions. 

Raw Eggs

Giving Pitbulls raw eggs (including the shell) will provide them with calcium for bone health and balance out the  phosphorous in meat and fish. 

Tips for Training a Pitbull

Pitbulls have different personalities than Staffordshire Terriers, so they will have to be trained differently to maintain all their positive personality traits. One of the top tips for training a Pitbull not to be aggressive towards other people and dogs is to socialize them, especially when they’re puppies. According to Certified Professional Dog Trainer Minette, “Aggressive training techniques can often create aggression.” By socializing them properly, they won’t be as jumpy or aggressive. Pitbulls also benefit from positive reinforcement. By positively reinforcing desirable behaviors, a Pitbull remembers those behaviors and will naturally be drawn to doing them. One last tip for training a Pitbull is to keep them occupied. By having a goal to work towards, they’ll accomplish certain tasks and remember desirable behaviors.Staffordshire terrier side view

Maintaining a Pitbull’s Health

As mentioned previously, Pitbulls have different health concerns than Staffordshire Terriers. Therefore, they’ll require different care to keep their health in check. One of the best things you can do for your Pitbull is to feed him a proper diet and give him plenty of exercise. That will ensure he’s in good shape and stays happy and healthy. Another factor you’ll want to consider is regular vet visits. Getting your Pitbull a checkup annually (or if other concerns come up) ensures he gets all of his vaccines and has no health issues. 


Although the Staffordshire Terrier and Pitbull are separate dog breeds, they share similar looks and traits, and even similar histories. Despite the negative perceptions people have of them, they are both friendly breeds that make perfect companions for just about anyone. Whether you’re looking to adopt a Staffordshire Terrier or a Pitbull, we hope this article was able to clear up any confusion and help you become more educated on both beautiful breeds. 

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