Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull: Main Differences

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The Staffordshire terrier and American Pitbull are almost identical in appearance. Their similarities mean it’s unsurprising the two breeds are often mistakenly identified as one and other or the same. 

Both breeds obtain the same adorable small eyes, wide smile, and perky ears. Yet despite their similarities in appearance, there are differences between the two breeds.

 If you’re looking to adopt a Pitbull or a Staffordshire Terrier, you need to know the differences in temperament, history, and health, alongside their physical characteristics.

To help you identify these differences, we’ve put together a guide to Staffordshire Terriers vs Pitbull. In this guide, we’ve outlined the key difference you need to know if you’re interested in either breed.

Breed History

The reason the Staffordshire Terrier and Pitbull look so similar is because of their shared ancestry. Both breeds of dog originated from the British Bull and Terrier. The Bull and Terrier resulted from the cross-breeding of the Old English Bulldog and the Old English Terrier. The Bull and Terrier originated in nineteenth-century England. 

Staffordshire Terrier History

Staffordshire Terrier

The Staffordshire Terrier originated in the city of Birmingham, a city in the West Midlands of England. Originally, the breed was bred for dog fighting and rat-baiting. These are two blood sports (a sport that uses violence for entertainment). After these sports were criminalised, attitudes towards the Staffordshire Terrier changed, and they began being bred responsibly for pet ownership.

Pitbull History

Pitbull

Both breeds originating from the British Bull and Terrier means they have a similar history. The Pitbull, like the Staffordshire Terrier, was also bred for dog-fighting. 

In America in the 20th century, Pitbulls were used as catch dogs. These are dogs used to catch larger wild animals. However, up until 1976 when it was criminalised, Pitbulls were primarily used as fighting dogs. Today, some owners still raise their Pitbull’s for fighting despite this being a criminal practise in most countries across the globe.

As a result of their history, and many high-profile attacks, Pitbulls have garnered a controversial reputation. The public stigma surrounding the breed is still a highly-debated topic. Many who own Pitbulls as family pets argue it is a matter of nurture vs nature. Others believe the breed’s history causes an inherently violent temperament in the dogs—we’ll be looking at temperament in more detail further on.

When it comes to history, the two breeds aren’t all that different. A lot of their shared histories have resulted in a similar attitude towards both breeds in the modern day.

Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull Temperament and Behavior

As mentioned previously, the temperament of these two controversial dog breeds is a highly debated topic. Fans of the two breeds tend to insist history has little role to play, and a dogs temperament is a direct correlation of the environment they live in. Others will argue that these breeds are naturally aggressive due to their history of fighting and blood sports.

It’s undeniable that these two breeds, both wide mouthed with perky ears, display the steadfast joy and excitement many dog owners want to see in their pets. 

Staffordshire Terrier Temperament and Behavior

Staffordshire Terrier Temperament and Behavior

Loyal, affectionate, and courageous are among the adjectives used to describe the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. On account of this temperament, Staffordshire’s are a great family companion. 

There are remnants of their past histories evident in their temperament that any potential owner needs to be aware of. Their loyalty means a Staffordshire will be unlikely to back down if aggravated by another dog. For this reason, you must socialise your dog from as early as possible to get them used to interacting with other animals.

Pitbull Temperament and Behavior

Pitbull Temperament and Behavior

Contradictory to their reputation as aggressive fighting dogs, the Pitbull also has a reputation for being gentle and loving towards children. Many Pitbull owners love the breed’s affectionate nature alongside their tenacity and zest for life.

The combination of these two characteristics makes them perfect family pets.

 We can not ignore the cases where Pitbull’s have been violent and/or aggressive to humans and other animals, but it’s important to note that this is not all Pitbulls. Many Pitbulls who enjoy a loving and attentive home never show signs of aggression.

Both the Pitbull and the Staffordshire terror are, by nature, protective and stubborn. These are two traits that can manifest poorly if not nurtured correctly. Despite this, if cared for correctly and trained in obedience from an early age, your Staffordshire or Pitbull can be the most fun and loyal companion a human can have.

Physical Appearance

One thing many people struggle with is identifying the physical differences between a Pitbull vs Staffordshire Terrier. The two dogs are very similar physical features. 

One thing many people struggle with is identifying the physical differences between a Pitbull vs Staffordshire Terrier. The two dogs are very similar physical features. Both dogs attain the same neat short fur, small beady eyes, upright ears, and short stature. It can seem impossible to tell the difference between the two if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Staffordshire Terrier Appearance

Staffordshire Terrier Appearance

The main difference between the two is size. The Staffordshire Terrier is short and stocky. They have the same wide jaw with wide-set eyes and pronounced cheekbones as a Pitbull.

Their short shiny coat can be in an array of colors, however brindle is the most common Staffie color. If you’re unfamiliar with brindle, it is a brownish color littered with specks of other, lighter, colors. You also see Staffies in Fawn, a pale tan color, and red. 

Pitbull Appearance 

Pitbull Appearance

Pitbulls are slightly larger than Staffies and are distinguishable from their athletic appearance. A Pitbull averages at 17 to 21 inches tall, whilst a Staffie is 17 to 19 inches. Due to their athleticism, Pitbull’s tend to weigh less and appear more agile.

Pitbull’s come in a variety of colors, black, white, brindle, and fawn. Fawn is the most common Pitbull color.

The easiest way to tell apart the Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull is by looking at their size and stature. If it’s wide and stocky, it’s Staffie. If they’re taller and slimmer, it’s a Pitbull.

Staffordshire Terrier vs. Pitbull: Grooming Needs 

Both breeds of dog are low maintenance when it comes to grooming. To groom a Staffie or Pitbull, they need brushing a few times a week and their nails clipped every two weeks. 

The maintenance for both breeds is low, but you must prioritise keeping their short coats clean and shiny. A well-maintained coat isn’t hard to achieve, just brush frequently, bathe rarely (3-4 times a year), and ensure your dogs eat correctly. 

When washing your dog, make sure to use a dog shampoo free of any chemicals and pesticides. Human shampoos contain fragrance and other chemicals that can irritate their skin. Pitbulls and Staffordshire Terriers are highly susceptible to skin irritation, so you mustn’t use any harsh chemicals.

When it comes to their claws, make sure their nails never come out further than their paws.

Many misinterpret a Staffordshire or Pitbull’s shiny coat as an indication of their internal health. The health of your dog isn’t always visible on the outside. You must ensure they’re getting all their essential nutrients from within too. To do this, you need to be feeding your Staffie or Bully a high-nutrient diet. This diet should include vitamin E, omega-6, and omega-3.

As for all dogs, you need to brush their teeth. Teeth-brushing should happen daily if possible. If this isn’t possible, make sure you brush your dog’s teeth a few times a week and give them dental chews.

When brushing your Staffie of Pitbull, we recommend using a rubber curry brush to stimulate their coats natural oils and wash away any debris that may be lingering in their fur.

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Health Differences

Staffordshire Terrier Health Issues 

Staffordshire Terriers have an average lifespan of 12-14 years, and many live this long without serious health issues. 

Unfortunately, some Staffies will encounter health problems in their lifetime, and you must be aware of these as a Staffie owner. These health risks include:

Pitbull Health Issues

Pitbull’s are generally healthy dogs with a lifespan of 12-14 years. If you are thinking of owning a Pitbull or already do, you must be aware of the common health conditions your dog is susceptible to. These include:

  • Various skin problems
  • Cataracts
  • Gastric Dilatation – Volvulus
  • Knee complications
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Thyroid disease
  • Cerebellar Ataxia 
  • Heart Disease

Both Staffies and Pitbulls are known to have a high chance of developing allergies.

Exercise Comparison 

When it comes to exercise, there isn’t much difference. Both breeds require sufficient amounts of daily exercise. This means whether you own a Staffie or a Pitbull, you need to make sure your dog is getting a minimum of one hour of exercise a day. 

The more exercise your dog gets, the better. Both breeds are high-energy, so they need the time and outdoor space to run this off. By not providing your dog with an adequate amount of exercise, your dog can become irritable. This irritability may manifest itself in poor or aggressive behaviour. 

To help make exercising your dog as easy as possible, you can learn about the 7 Best Harnesses for Pitbulls in 2021 in our previous blog post.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are American Pitbulls and Staffordshire Terriers The Same Breed?

Whilst there are distinct similarities in physical appearance and temperament, Staffies and Pitbulls are not the same breeds. This article has outlined the key differences between the dog breeds and how you can distinguish between the two.

Are Pitbulls Aggressive?

It’s impossible to determine if Pitbull’s are “naturally aggressive”. Every dog is different and subject to unique circumstances. This subjectivity makes it difficult to know if Pitbull’s have a naturally aggressive temperament. Despite this ambiguity, we do know that lots of Pitbull’s exhibit love and attentiveness towards their loving and nurturing family. 

Like all animals, the external environment is the biggest factor in your dog’s attitude. As long as you train them right and show them love and attention, there’s no reason you won’t have a kind and caring pet!

Are Pitbulls and Staffies trainable?

If you’re interested in owning either a Staffie or a Pitbull, but you’re concerned about their history, you’ll likely want to expose your dog to expert training. The good news is, Pitbulls and Staffies are highly highly trainable dogs.

Pitbulls and Staffies are extremely intelligent and attentive. As a result of this, they’re perfect for training in complicated skills and general day-to-day etiquette.

Can Staffordshire Terriers or Pitbulls Be Kept With Other Dogs?

Like all animals, this comes down to socializing. If you make sure your dog is socializing from an early age, they will get on fine around other animals. If your dog hasn’t had exposure to other animals, this can result in them becoming overprotective and aggressive. This lack of social interaction can be a hindrance on them staying in the company of other dogs.

If you own a Staffordshire Terrier or a Pitbull, we recommend exposing them to other dogs and other animals as early as possible.

Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull – Which Dog is Right For You

If you were undecided between the Staffordshire Terrier or a Pitbull, hopefully, this article has informed you and provided clarity on the matter. Whilst these two breeds are similar, there are differences between them. These differences may make one breed more preferable than the other according to your needs and desires. 

Both dog breeds can be loving, loyal and affectionate pets, for families or just as a companion. Equally, if you don’t have the time to dedicate to training and attending to your pet, a Staffie or Pitbull might not be the best breed for you. 

You need to make sure you’re training your dog from as early as possible and exposing them to other dogs and animals from a young age. The first few months of dog ownership are formative in the development of your dog and their relationship with others.

Overall, if you’re concerned about how the breed’s ancestry could potentially influence their temperament, you should choose a Staffie out of the two. Whilst both breeds share a common ancestry and were bred for blood games, Staffies have had significantly less high-profile incidents relating to anger or aggression.

Despite it being illegal, Pitbull’s are still bred with malicious intent. Although rare, some people are still breeding Pitbull’s to be aggressive and violent. This is a less common occurrence with Staffies. 

Whilst this is extremely rare, and you shouldn’t encounter a problem if you raise and train your Pitbull right, you may feel safer with a Staffie in the home.

Whichever breed you choose, with the right training and attention, you will have a loyal and loving friend for life.

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