Difference Between a Pit Bull and a Staffordshire

American Pit Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers are closely related breeds, but there are some slight differences for people interested in learning more about their furry friends. Whether you're interested in learning about how to take care of your pit bull puppy or just want to learn what type of pit bull you have, learning the differences between APBTs and ASTs is a great place to start.

Tired dog
In some cases, a single dog registers as two different breeds, with two different clubs.
credit: sanjagrujic/iStock/Getty Images

According to the American Kennel Club, Both APBTs and ASTs trace their roots to the same ancestors. While there are a few different physical traits between these lovable breeds, and the primary differences relate to ancestry and naming conventions employed by breeders and registry organizations. While the differences between the breeds are slight, most professional breeders such as the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club eschew mixing the gene pools, and treat the two lineages as distinct.

puppy staffordshire bull terrier
An American Staffordshire Terrier puppy
credit: cynoclub/iStock/GettyImages

Shared Ancestry

According to Pet MD, during the 1800s, European breeders began pairing bulldogs with terriers, in hopes of producing animals with the best traits of both parents. Ideally, the breeders hoped, they could produce dogs with the athletic prowess of bulldogs and the "gameness" of terriers. By the end of the 19th century, they had established just such a new breed, which went by several names, such as half-and-half dogs, pit bulls and Yankee terriers. Eventually, these dogs made their way across the Atlantic, as they traveled alongside their owners who immigrated to North America. Over the following years and decades, this new breed was used for a variety of purposes, including companionship, herding and fighting other dogs in small rings, called "pits."

Portrait of a happy dog
Pit bulls are very affectionate, loving dogs.
credit: sanjagrujic/iStock/GettyImages

Diverging Bloodlines

As time went on, breeders began refining this founding lineage in a variety of ways. Some sought to produce dogs that excelled in the pit, while others strove to produce unique-looking lineages; still others emphasized traits that served their own particular purposes. In 1898, the United Kennel Club began recognizing one of these lineages as American Pit Bull Terriers, and they remain the only registration organization to recognize the breed. Another lineage became slightly heavier than the founding British stock, and in 1936, attained recognition by the American Kennel Club, which originally christened the dogs Staffordshire Terriers, before eventually changing the name to American Staffordshire Terriers.

three adorable staffordshire terrier puppies playing
Staffordshire terrier puppies are the cutest!
credit: sasapanchenko/iStock/GettyImages

Breed Differences

Nose color is one of the most obvious differences between the two breeds. The AKC considers red noses — a liver color — a fault, preferring the either black or the so-called "blue" or slate-grey noses, while the UKC allows noses of any color. Accordingly, AST breeders have largely culled the genes that produce red noses from their bloodlines, while the same genes remain somewhat common in APBT lineages.

Additionally, ASTs are often slightly stockier than APBTs, weighing as much as 75 or 80 pounds, compared to APBTs, which seldom exceed 60 pounds in weight. The heads of ASTs are also more massive than those of APBTs.

Pit bull terrier looking at you
Pit bulls make wonderful pets and playmates, especially for children
credit: sanjagrujic/iStock/GettyImages

Breed Similarities

Both breeds are strong, muscular and solidly built. They exude athleticism and confidence, especially for breeds of such modest size. They love to put these abilities to work, and are often incredibly efficient diggers and capable of pulling heavy loads relative to their size. They are both typically friendly with people, but require strong socializing during their early life to ensure they play well with other dogs. According to Pet MD, both American Pit Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers tend to live long lives of up to 14 years, although they may be at increased risk of developing heart disease, mange, and dysplasia of the elbows or hips.

Pit Bull Dog
Whether your four legged friend is a pit bull terrier or a staffordshire terrier, they're sure to be a wonderful and loving breed.
credit: DemureDragonfly/iStock/GettyImages