Staffordshire Bull Terrier vs. Pitbull: What Are the Differences?

Blue Pit Bull
© Sophia Tr/Shutterstock.com

Written by Hannah Ward

Updated: October 12, 2023

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Staffordshire bull terrier puppy in leaves

Staffordshire bull terriers have a lot of energy and need plenty of activity to prevent destructive behavior.

©Aneta Jungerova/Shutterstock.com

Staffordshire bull terriers and Pitbulls are both stocky and muscular dogs known because of their reputation – which isn’t always a good one. They have similar appearances, and both have a lot of energy, so it’s easy to confuse the two. However, when it comes to Staffordshire terrier vs pitbull, there are some key differences that make it much easier to tell them apart.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about Staffordshire terriers and Pitbulls, including how big they are, what they look like, and their temperament.

Comparing Pitbull vs. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

A Pitbull differs from a Staffordshire bull terrier in size, color, and build.

Pitbulls are descended from terriers that were crossed with bulldogs to create an agile and strong dog for the purpose of fighting. In fact, the term “pitbull” is often used quite loosely and can describe several dogs used for dog fighting. Such dogs include Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, and American Pitbull terriers. Historically, Pitbulls were used for dogfighting and bullfighting and are still used for illegal dog fights today. This has earned them a reputation as aggressive dogs and led to them being completely banned in some countries.

Staffordshire bull terriers (also known as Staffies) are an English breed that are descended from mastiffs and bulldogs. They were also originally used for dogfighting and bullfighting – this sport required large dogs in the 100-120 lb range. However, eventually, the terrier was added into the mix to produce smaller dogs that we know today as Staffordshire bull terriers. Despite staffies often being described under the term “pitbull,” there are a few differences between them.

PitbullStaffordshire Bull Terrier
SizeWeight: 24 to 80 pounds
Height: 17 to 20 inches
Weight: 24 to 38 pounds
Height: 13 to 16 inches
ColorAny color and any patternBlack, white, fawn, red, brindle
BuildLean, muscular, well-proportionedMedium-sized, stocky, muscular
FaceSlightly rounded with a wide jaw and high-set earsShort, broad head. More rounded
TemperamentCourageous, stubborn, low tolerance for other animalsEnergetic, boisterous, playful
Bite Force235 pounds328 pounds

The 5 Key Differences Between Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Pitbulls

Isolated Staffordshire bull terrier

Staffordshire bull terriers are smaller than pitbulls but have a stocky and muscular build.

©Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

The main differences between Staffordshire terriers and Pitbulls are size, color, temperament, and the shape of their face.

Pitbulls are much larger and taller than Staffordshire terriers. They also have a lean and muscular build and various colors and markings. Staffordshire terriers often have more solid colors and are usually better behaved with other animals than Pitbulls are.

Let’s discuss all of these differences in more detail below.

pitbull crouched down on path

Pitbulls are known to be somewhat stubborn yet courageous.

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Size

One of the most noticeable differences between Staffordshire terriers and Pitbulls is their size. Pitbulls are much larger than Staffordshire terriers and weigh between 24 and 80 pounds while standing between 17 and 20 inches high. Staffies only weigh between 24 and 38 pounds and stand between 13 and 16 inches high. The males tend to be larger than the females in both breeds.

Build

Both Staffordshire terriers and Pitbulls have strong and muscular builds, but there are some slight differences in their shape. Pitbulls are lean and muscular but well-proportioned. They also have a short, muscular tail, often described as being like a whip. Staffies are medium-sized but stocky and muscular. They have a particularly wide and muscular chest.

Pair of Staffordshire bull terriers

The Staffordshire terrier is known for its playful nature, and short, broad head.

©Hamik/Shutterstock.com

Face

Pitbulls have slightly rounded faces with high-set ears. Their jaw is wide, and their nose is slightly tapered upwards. They don’t have any facial wrinkles. Staffordshire bull terriers often appear to have a more rounded head than Pitbulls. Their head is also short but broad, and this is particularly noticeable in the width of their forehead. Their ears are not quite as high-set as those of Pitbulls.

Two American Staffordshire Terriers sitting in the park

A Staffordshire terrier has a coat usually of solid colors (black, white, red, etc.), though white is sometimes seen.

©Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com

Color

The appearance of Pitbulls varies widely within the breed: Pitbulls can have a coat that is any color or pattern. However, Staffordshire terriers are considerably different. Their coats are usually solid colors such as black, white, fawn, red, or brindle. However, white with any of these colors can also sometimes be seen.

Temperament

dog food for Pitbulls

Pitbulls are much larger than Staffies and have a tendency to become aggressive toward other animals.

©Sophia Tr/Shutterstock.com

Pitbulls are courageous but stubborn and have little tolerance for other animals. This is because they have frequently been used for dog fighting, so they are naturally more aggressive to other animals and have a high prey drive. This means that they often see cats, dogs, and other small animals as their prey and are more likely to be aggressive toward them.

Despite their appearance, Staffordshire terriers are actually more loving than you might expect. They are energetic and boisterous and love to play, yet are eager to please. They are sometimes nicknamed “nanny dogs” because of their patient and caring attitude towards children, Staffies tend to be well-behaved with dogs and other animals that they know but can be wary of dogs they don’t know. In these situations, they can attack if they feel as though they are threatened.

Bonus: Why Do Some Countries Ban Pit Bulls?

Deadliest Animals in America

If your pit bull has a bad history or has been beaten and mistreated before, then they feel threatened and become defensive.

©alekta/Shutterstock.com

Pit bulls were bred to fight chained bulls and later other dogs – resulting in a strong, muscular canine with a powerful bite force and aggressive tendencies. They are also known for biting and hanging on – refusing to release their bite even if they are lifted off the ground. They have a bad reputation despite support from such organizations as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Pro-ban supporters cite evidence that pit bulls contributed to 66% of all dog attack deaths in the U.S. between 2005 and 2019. Pit bull supporters argue that a dog’s upbringing and environment have a greater impact on behavior than breed-specific tendencies. As a result of the controversy – many countries have chosen to play it safe and ban the breed altogether. Countries that have banned pit bulls include:

  • Argentina
  • Belarus
  • Bermuda
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Puerto Rico
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • Venezuela

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About the Author

Hannah is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on reptiles, marine life, mammals, and geography. Hannah has been writing and researching animals for four years alongside running her family farm. A resident of the UK, Hannah loves riding horses and creating short stories.

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