American Pit Bull Terrier vs. the American Staffordshire Terrier

By Shellie Alyssa

The American pit bull terrier and the American Staffordshire terrier, once considered the same, have different bloodlines and are two different recognized breeds. They look much alike in appearance and share similar history, temperament and characteristics. While they were originally bred for baiting and fighting, these breeds are now known as family pets and farm dogs.

History and Bloodline

A Staffordshire bull terrier laying in grass.

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The American pit bull terrier and the American Staffordshire terrier descended from the same bloodline. In the 1700s, dog breeders in England crossbred the old type of bulldog with old types of terriers, including the English smooth terrier, mainly for bull-baiting. The result of this crossbreeding were dogs referred to as bull-and-terriers and, later, Staffordshire bull terriers. They were brought to America in the late 1800s due to their fighting ability. In America, the breed was often known as the Yankee terrier, the American bull terrier and the pit bull terrier. Since Americans preferred larger dogs, they crossbred them with other breeds, including the black-and-tan terrier and the white English terrier. Due to the crossbreeding, they became two different bloodlines -- the breeds we know today as the American Staffordshire terrier and the American pit bull terrier.

Physical Appearance

An American pit bull terrier playing with his master.

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American pit bull terriers have strong, solid builds and large, broad heads. Their weight ranges between 30 to 60 pounds, and their height can be 17 to 19 inches. American Staffordshire terriers have muscular, stocky builds. They can grow to about 18 or 19 inches at the shoulder and weigh 57 to 67 pounds. Both breeds have short, close, shiny coats.

Temperament and Characteristics

Pit bull terriers playing on the beach.

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American pit bull terriers are hard-working farm dogs who enjoy spending time with their families, especially playing with children. They are loyal and energetic, and they provide great companionship. The American Staffordshire terrier is fearless, tenacious, stubborn, playful, docile and good with children. The most meaningful part of an American Staffordshire terrier's life is the caring and attention they receive from their owner. Both breeds are protective of their families and can become aggressive toward other dogs. Early socialization with other dogs and animals is beneficial, especially if you have other pets within your household.

Health and Care

An American staffordshire terrier plays catch.

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Possible health concerns for the American pit bull terrier include hereditary cataracts, congenital heart disease and hip dysplasia. American Staffordshire terriers are prone to congenital heart disease. Both breeds are energetic and require daily exercise to help burn off their energy. They are good athletes who commonly succeed in agility training, Flyball, rally, and weight-pulling sports and activities. Both breeds are able to live indoors or outdoors but need shelter during harsh weather. While they are both capable of living outdoors, they prefer being close to their family and living indoors with everyone else.