American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull What’s the Difference

American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull

From pictures alone, the American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaffs) and the American Pitbull Terrier (Pitbull) look similar, but when you really dig into these breeds for a side-by-side comparison they each have some unique traits and characteristics. 

Before deciding to get either of these lovely pups, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. This article will outline the two “bully” breeds and hopefully give you a better idea of which one is the right fit for your home. 

American Staffordshire Terrier vs American Pitbull Terrier Comparison Table

  American Staffordshire Terrier American Pitbull Terrier
Average Age 10-15 years 12-16 years
Average Weight 40-60lbs 30-85lbs
Average Height (at the shoulder) 16-19 inches 17-19 inches
Official AKC/UKC breed? Yes/Yes No/Yes
Subject to “Pitbull” legislation? Yes Yes
Typical behavior with people Eager to please/work Lovable, great with children
Typical behavior with other dogs Can be aggressive Often aggressive 
American Staffordshire Terrier vs American Pitbull Terrier Comparison Table

American Staffordshire Terrier vs American Pitbull Terrier History

Both AmStaffs and Pitbulls are an English breed, and while they are commonly mistaken for one another, the breeds did separate approximately 50 years ago.

AmStaffs are currently American Kennel Club (AKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized while Pitbulls are only recognized as a unique breed in the UKC.

American Staffordshire Terrier History

American Staffordshire Terrier History
American Staffordshire Terrier History

AmStaffs were originally bred in England to work on farms, help manage bulls, and hunt wild boar. This need to work means today they have a drive to please and work for their owners.

Unfortunately, people soon found use for AmStaffs in some rather barbaric sports. AmStaffs were used for bull baiting and bear baiting.

Once these bloody sports were outlawed the breed’s strength, spirit, and tenacity made it a prime candidate for dog-fighting rings, something that unfortunately still happens to this day.

The AmStaffs originally came to America in the mid-1800s, and in 1976 the AKC would add the “American” to their name to distinguish them from the slightly smaller version that was still favored across the pond. 

American Pitbull Terrier History

Pitbulls like their cousins, AmStaffs, hail from England and were originally used as bait dogs in blood sports. They too quickly found themselves in dog fighting rings when the baiting sports became illegal in the early 1800s.

As they were more frequently used in dog fighting rings, one of the unique traits bred into this dog was an unwillingness to bite humans – as the handlers did not want to be injured if they needed to reach into the ring.

These traits carry over to today showing the breed to be highly protective and yet very cuddly to their owners. 

American Staffordshire Terrier vs American Pitbull Terrier Temperament

Both AmStaffs and Pitbulls tend to get a bad rap based on looks and their history of being used in dog fighting rings. They are both considered bully breeds and are often subjected to any legislation referring to pits or pitbulls.

Unfortunately, many people and companies paint these dogs with a wide brush, outlawing them or charging additional fees to own them.

American Staffordshire Terrier Temperament

AmStaffs are an incredibly intelligent and eager-to-please breed. They have a drive to work that has been bred into them to the point that without mental stimulation they sometimes can become destructive chewers.

This is easily dealt with however, through a trainer who ensures they receive not only physical but also mental stimulation regularly. Despite their bad rap, they often have docile personalities and are a great family companion. 

American Pitbull Terrier Temperament

American Pitbull Terrier Temperament
American Pitbull Terrier Temperament

Pitbulls are incredibly loving and well-mannered when they have a strong handler. Due to being bred for the dog fighting rings they are often highly protective, but at their hearts, these dogs are love bugs.

They are excellent with children and are often used as nurse dogs: protecting and watching over the family’s children.

Socialization and gentle, consistent discipline is key to ensuring that these pups don’t become an issue. Despite their size, they still think they can fit into anyone’s lap!

American Staffordshire Terrier vs American Pitbull Terrier Grooming

Both AmStaffs and Pitbulls are easy dogs to groom. They tend to be low maintenance and don’t shed very frequently.

Like all dogs, you should brush them regularly and inspect their eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and feet looking for rashes, discoloration, sores, or other early signs of health problems. They also both will need occasional nail trims and brushing their teeth to keep odors down.

American Staffordshire Terrier Grooming

AmStaffs tend to shed twice a year, switching between a summer and winter coat. Regular brushing will keep their coat shiny, and since they don’t often smell, you can go quite a while between baths.

American Pitbull Terrier Grooming

Pitbulls also have a shiny but somewhat stiffer coat that doesn’t shed that much. They should be brushed with a stiff brush followed by a light wipe down to help bring out the shine in their fur. 

American Staffordshire Terrier vs American Pitbull Terrier Training

A well-behaved dog is typically a sign of a consistent handler. AmStaffs and Pitbulls are no exception to this rule.

Both are very easy to train when you are consistent and firm. They can also both be very stubborn and strong, so it is vital their training and socialization starts when they are young. 

American Staffordshire Terrier Training

AmStaffs’ drive to please can be used by handlers to ensure a properly trained pup. Praise and affection are two major motivators to get AmStaffs to do the things you want: like going to the bathroom outside!

As with most dogs, consistency and reinforcement of good behavior is key for these pups. As one of the most intelligent breeds out there, they are a breeze to train with short, fun, focused sessions. 

American Pitbull Terrier Training

Pitbulls have a natural tendency to become aggressive when trained inappropriately; you want to make sure to use positive reinforcement with your puppy while training.

Pitbulls respond well to praise and positivity and it’s good to use treats as an occasional reinforcement – rather than every time.

Pitbulls can be stubborn and need a firm leader, so establishing yourself as the leader and maintaining consistently firm expectations will be key to a happy, healthy, well-behaved dog. 

American Staffordshire Terrier vs American Pitbull Terrier Lifespan

Both AmStaffs and Pitbulls should live into their early teens, when owners take good care of them.

American Staffordshire Terrier Lifespan

On average, AmStaffs typically live 10-15 years.

American Pitbull Terrier Lifespan

Pitbulls generally live a little longer at 12-16 years.

American Staffordshire Terrier vs American Pitbull Terrier Health

Both AmStaffs and Pitbulls rank middle of the pack in terms of health concerns. Neither is a dog that is likely to have constant vet visits, but especially as they get older, there are some things to be on the lookout for. 

American Staffordshire Terrier Health

Between the two, AmStaffs are generally the healthier breed. Skin allergies, autoimmune disorders, and urinary tract infections are the most common ailments for these dogs.

They also can develop osteoarthritis, elbow dysplasia, heart or thyroid problems, and – on the more serious side – progressive retinal atrophy. Luckily, regular visits to your vet can ensure your pup gets all the tests they should need to stay healthy!

American Pitbull Terrier Health

Like AmStaffs, Pitbulls are commonly affected by skin allergies and may have heart or thyroid concerns. They also have a higher likelihood of developing hip dysplasia, degenerative diseases, and kneecap dislocation. Overall though, this does tend to be a fairly healthy breed.


Generally, these dogs may look similar and may have similar reputations, but there are some key differences to note when picking your next dog.

Both will be excellent family dogs, but AmStaffs slightly edge out Pitbulls in terms of intelligence. Pitbulls make up for that loss by being some of the cuddliest companions you can ask for. They are neck and neck in terms of grooming and health concerns. They also have similar age ranges. 

We hope this article helps you make the choice on which dog might be right for your family. As you search for your next puppy, please make sure you select a dog from a reputable breeder or consider adoption.

Finally, don’t forget to check your local regulations to see if there are any rules regarding “bully” breeds.