Staffordshire Bull Terrier vs Pitbull: What are the Differences?

Written by Hannah Ward
Published: March 18, 2022
Image Credit Sophia Tr/Shutterstock.com
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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 a similar appearance, and both have a lot of energy, so it’s easy to confuse the two. However, when it comes to Staffordshire bull 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 bull 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.

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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 dogfighting. 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 descended from mastiffs and bulldogs and 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 bull terriers and Pitbulls are size, color, temperament, and the shape of their face.

Pitbulls are much larger and taller than Staffordshire bull terriers. They also have a lean and muscular build and have various colors and markings. Staffordshire bull 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.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier vs Pitbull: Size

One of the most noticeable differences between Staffordshire bull terriers and Pitbulls is their size. Pitbulls are much larger than Staffordshire bull terriers and weigh between 24 and 80 pounds while standing between 17 and 20 inches high. Staffies only weigh in 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.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier vs Pitbull: Build

Both Staffordshire bull terriers and Pitbulls have a strong and muscular build, 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.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier vs Pitbull: Face

Pitbulls have a slightly rounded face 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.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier vs Pitbull: Color

The appearance of Pitbulls varies widely within the breed – Pitbulls can have a coat that is any color or pattern. However, Staffordshire bull 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.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier vs Pitbull: Temperament

dog food for Pitbulls
Pitbulls are much larger than staffies and have a tendency to become aggressive towards 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 dogfighting, 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 towards them.

Despite their appearance, Staffordshire bull terriers are actually more loving than you might expect. They are energetic and boisterous and love to play, yet are eager to please. They 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.

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About the Author

I have been writing professionally for several years with a focus on animals and wildlife. I love spending time in the outdoors and when not writing I can be found on the farm surrounded by horses, dogs, sheep, and pigs.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Do pitbulls and Staffordshire bull terriers have a locking jaw?

No, locking jaw is actually a myth.  Although they have a reputation for having a locking jaw, there is absolutely no difference in the shape, structure, or formation of their jaw to any other dog.  Therefore, they don’t have a locking jaw, or the ability to lock it.  However, both dogs do have a strong bite and do have a tendency to be determined so therefore hold onto things longer than other dogs might, which is where the locking jaw theory comes from.  Their strength and determination comes from the dog and bull fighting that they were historically used for.

Are pitbulls dangerous?

Despite all of the negative press that they get, pitbulls are actually not considered to be naturally aggressive towards people.  In fact, they are generally considered to be highly affectionate and loyal dogs.  However, if they are not properly trained and socialized, or have owners who encourage aggression or use them for fighting then pitbulls can become dangerous.

Are Staffordshire bull terriers dangerous?

Staffordshire bull terriers tend to have a bad reputation because of the confusion between pitbulls and staffies and their association with bullfighting and dog fighting.  However, despite having a much higher bite force than pitbulls (328 pounds to pitbulls 235 pounds), they are not considered to be naturally dangerous dogs.  Studies have actually found that they are no more aggressive than any other breed of dog.  Rather, it is their upbringing and what role their owners use them for that influences whether they are dangerous or not.

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