Staffordshire Bull Terrier vs Pit Bull Terrier: What's the Difference?

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  • Staffordshire bull terriers are a genetic mix of pit bulls, mastiffs and terriers, while pit bulls contain genes from their pit bull and terrier ancestors.
  • Both breeds were originally bred for pit bulls and fighting dogs, however, the Staffordshire bull terrier is energetic and mild-tempered while the bull terrier is more moody.
  • The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is the more athletic of the two, with pit bulls tending to be leaner and more muscular.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy in the leaves
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are energetic and need a lot of activity to prevent destructive behavior.

©Aneta Jungerova/Shutterstock.com

Both Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Pit Bulls are strong, muscular dogs that have a reputation for being—and that's not always a good dog. They have similar looks and both possess a lot of energy, so it's easy to confuse the two. However, when it comes to Staffordshire Terriers and Bulldogs, there are some key differences that make them easier to tell apart.

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about the Staffordshire Terrier and Bulldog, including their size, appearance and temperament.

Comparing Pitbulls and Staffordshire Bull Terriers

Pitbulls differ from Staffordshire Bull Terriers in size, color and build.

© AZ-Animals.com

Bulldogs are the descendants of terriers that were crossed with bulldogs to create an agile and strong dog for fighting. In fact, the term "pit bull" is used so broadly that it can describe several dogs used for dogfighting. These dogs include Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Bulldogs. Pitbulls have historically been used in dogfighting and bullfighting, and are still used in illegal dogfighting today. This has earned them a reputation as aggressive dogs and led to their outright ban in some countries.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier (also known as Staffies) is a descendant of mastiffs and pit bulls and was originally used for dogfighting and bullfighting – a sport that requires large dogs of 100-120 lbs. Eventually, however, the terrier was added to the mix, resulting in the smaller dogs we know today as Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Although workers are often referred to as "pitbulls," there are some differences between them.

Read more  cat breed
pit bull staffordshire bull terrier
size Weight – 24 to 80 lbs Height – 17 to 20 inches Weight – 24 to 38 lbs Height – 13 to 16 inches
color any color and any pattern black, white, fawn, red, brindle
put up Lean, muscular, well-proportioned Medium build, strong, muscular
Face Slightly rounded, with a broad chin and high-set ears The head is short and broad. more rounded
temperament Brave, stubborn, low tolerance for other animals Energetic, hilarious, playful
bite force 235 lbs 328 lbs

5 Key Differences Between Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Pit Bull Terriers

Isolated staffordshire bull terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are smaller than Pitbulls but are stocky and muscular.

© Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

The main differences between Staffordshire Terriers and Pitbulls are size, colour, temperament and facial shape.

Pitbulls are larger and taller than Staffordshire terriers. They also have a lean yet muscular build and a variety of colors and markings. Staffordshire terriers generally have more solid colors and generally do better than pit bulls with other animals.

Let us discuss all these differences in more detail below.

Pitbull squatting on the road
Pitbulls have been known to be stubborn, but brave

©Luxorpictures/Shutterstock.com

size

One of the most notable differences between Staffordshire terriers and pit bulls is their size. Pitbulls are much larger than Staffordshire terriers, weighing between 24 and 80 pounds and standing between 17 and 20 inches tall. Staffies weigh only 24 to 38 pounds and stand between 13 and 16 inches tall. In both breeds, males tend to be larger than females.

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Both the Staffordshire terrier and the pitbull have a strong and muscular build, but they have slightly different shapes. Pitbulls are lean and muscular, but well proportioned. They also have a short, muscular tail that is often described as whip-like. Staffies are medium in size, but strong and muscular. They have an exceptionally broad and muscular chest.

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Pair of staffordshire bull terriers
Staffordshire terriers are known for their playful nature and short, broad heads.

©Hamik/Shutterstock.com

Face

Pitbulls have slightly rounded faces and high ears. Their jaws are wide and their noses taper slightly upwards. They don't have any facial wrinkles. The head of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier generally appears rounder than that of a Pit Bull Terrier. Their heads are also short but broad, which is especially noticeable in the width of the forehead. Their ears are not as high as pitbulls.

Two American Staffordshire Terriers sitting in the park
The coat of the Staffordshire Terrier is usually a solid color (black, white, red, etc.), although white is sometimes seen.

© Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com

color

Pitbull appearance varies widely within breeds—a pitbull's coat can be any color or pattern. However, Staffordshire terriers are very different. Their fur is usually a solid color – such as black, white, fawn, red or brindle. However, whites with any of these colors can sometimes be seen as well.

temperament

pitbull dog food
Pitbulls are much larger than Staffies and tend to attack other animals.

©Sophia Tr/Shutterstock.com

Pitbulls are brave but stubborn, with little tolerance for other animals. This is because they are often used in dog fighting, so they are naturally more aggressive towards other animals and have a strong desire to prey. This means they often see cats, dogs and other small animals as prey and are more likely to become aggressive towards them.

Despite their appearance, the Staffordshire Terrier is actually more loving than you might think. They are energetic, boisterous and playful, yet eager to please. They tend to behave well with dogs and other animals they know, but can be wary of dogs they don't know. In these cases, if they feel threatened, they will attack.

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featured image

blue bulldog
Stocky with almond-shaped eyes, the Pit Bull is a medium sized dog that comes in a variety of colors.

© Sophia Tr/Shutterstock.com


about the author


For many years, I have been writing professionally, with an emphasis on animals and wildlife. I love spending time outdoors, and when I'm not writing I'll be found on a farm surrounded by horses, dogs, sheep and pigs.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Bull Terriers have Lock Jaws?

No, the locked jaw is actually a myth. Despite their reputation for locking their jaws, there is absolutely no difference in the shape, structure or configuration of their jaws from those of any other canine. Therefore, they do not lock the jaw, nor the ability to lock it. However, both dogs have a strong bite and do have a tendency to be firm and thus hold on to things longer than other dogs, which is where the jaw locking theory comes in. Their strength and determination come from their historical use in dogfighting and bullfighting.

Are Pit Bulls Dangerous?

Despite all the bad press they get, pitbulls are not actually considered to be naturally aggressive towards people. In fact, they are often considered very affectionate and loyal dogs. However, pit bulls can become dangerous if they are not properly trained and socialized, or have owners who encourage aggression or use them for fighting.

Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers Dangerous?

Staffordshire Bull Terriers tend to get a bad rap because of the confusion between pit bull and staff and their association with pit bulls and fighting dogs. However, despite having a much higher bite force than a Pitbull (328 pounds vs. 235 pounds for a Pitbull), they are not considered inherently dangerous dogs. Studies have actually found that they are no more aggressive than any other breed of dog. Instead, what affects whether they are dangerous is how they were raised and what their owners did to them.

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