There are many breeds of dogs that are closely related. Sometimes they look so much alike that it can be difficult to tell what breed a dog is. Some of the most closely related dog breeds are the pit bull and Staffordshire, recognized officially by the American Kennel Club as the American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American pit bull terrier, which is recognized by the American Dog Breeder's Association and United Kennel Club, but not the AKC. Each of these breeds represent three types of pit bulls. All are descendants of terriers and English bulldogs bred for distinct purposes and characteristics.
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The names for these breeds are often used interchangeably by casual observers, but according to the website CanineOwners.com, while the American Staffordshire terrier and the American pit bull terrier both do share pit bull genes, today they are registered as separate breeds. Both dogs were bred from the Staffordshire bull terrier stock, but they have a bulkier appearance and larger heads than their ancestors. Both dog breeds have a long history. The dog breed registry American Dog Breeders Association was formed in 1909 to register the American pit bull terrier.
Difference between various pit breeds
Pit Bull Rescue Central explains that while many people refer to the various pit bull breeds of dogs interchangeably since it's difficult to tell them apart, there are specific designations for each. The American pit bull terrier is recognized as a distinct breed by the American Dog Breeder's Association and UKC. The AKC recognizes the American Staffordshire terrier. And the Staffordshire bull terrier is recognized by the AKC and UKC. The AKC explains that as the breed moved from the UK to America, the names pit dog and pit bull terrier were commonly used. However, American breeders wanted a breed that was heavier than the UK breed, so they developed the American Staffordshire terrier. There is no breed officially recognized as the Staffordshire pit bull or American bull terrier, though the names are used interchangeably with officially recognized pit bull breeds.
Bulldog, Amstaff, and pit bull
While the characteristics of a bulldog give it cute floppy ears, a squashed nose and a mouth that looks like it's smiling, it does have a history of fighting bulls. According to Love-A-Bull, the bulldog breeds were charged with attacking bulls in a cruel sport known as "bull-baiting," and then later fought with other dogs in small rings, or pits. Later breeds also have a history of being used to battle rats in small pits. The English bulldog has loose skin around the cheeks and a pushed-in nose and has lost the aggressive characteristics of its ancestors.
According to the AKC, the eyes of the American Staffordshire terrier should be dark and round, with no pink eyelids. The Staffordshire bull terrier stands 14 to 16 inches and is very muscular with a short and broad head, and the coat comes in several colors.
Pit bulls with blue noses are popular, but these are not designated as a separate breed. The Staffordshire is noticeably smaller than the American pit bull terrier.
Pit bull versus Staffy
Since the breeds are recognized as being separate, they do have some distinguishing characteristics, but Pit Bull Rescue Central admits that it's hard even for experts to tell the difference. The American Staffordshire terrier, or "Amstaff," weighs between 50 and 80 pounds and is good-tempered. They are strong for their size and have a large, powerful head. Amstaffs with a red nose are not considered desirable, so that trait has been bred out. If the dog has a red nose, it is more likely to be an American pit bull terrier.
Eye color in pit bulls
According to the American Dog Breeders Association, pit bull coats can be many colors. They can range from fawn-colored (a light tan) to chocolate (a dark brown) with white, black, or brindle markings, which are light and dark browns mixed. Pit Bull Training says that baby pit bulls often have blue eyes, but their eye color typically darkens as they get older. Most pit bulls grow up to have brown or hazel eyes.
- Hillspet: The American Pitbull Terrier
- Canine Owners: Staffordshire Terrier vs Pit Bull
- Love-a-Bull: The History of Pit Bulls
- Pitbull Rescue Central: FAQ
- American Kennel Club: American Staffordshire Terrier
- American Dog Breeders Association: Pit Bull Color Chart
- American Kennel Club: Staffordshire Bull Terrier