American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pit Bull: Which is the Perfect Dog Breed for You?

Last Updated on April 26, 2023

Finding your perfect mate is hard. There are so many appealing breeds with their own unique traits.

If you’ve managed to boil it down to the American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff) and the American Pit Bull Terrier (Pit Bull), we’re going to make things easier for you by comparing the two breeds below. 

An American Staffordshire Terrier and an American Pit Bull Terrier
The glorious American Staffordshire Terrier (left) and American Pit Bull Terrier (right)

One thing to be aware of is that both AmStaffs and Pitties fall under the pit bull-type category. Not only do they share the same bloodline, but they also have very similar temperaments and builds. 

The American Staffordshire Terrier is recognized as an official breed by the AKC, but the American Pit Bull Terrier is not, and therefore cannot enter into shows. 

Breed Comparison: A Quick Overview

As mentioned, both breeds are extremely similar with slight differences, as you can see from the table below: 

American Pit Bull Terrier VS American Staffordshire Terrier
Name American Pit Bull Terrier American Staffordshire Terrier
Nickname Pittie, ABPT, Pit Bull AmStaff, American Staffy
Height 18–21 inches
(45–53 cm)
17–19 inches
(43–48 cm)
Weight 35–60 pounds
(15–27 kg)
45 to 70 pounds
Breed Recognition UKC AKC
Temperament Eager To Please,
Tenacious, Playful
Brave, Affectionate,
Energy Levels Intense Intense
Health Above Average Above Average
Grooming Weekly Weekly
Shedding Mild, Frequently Mild, Frequently
Lifespan 12 – 16 years 12 – 16 years
Price $1,000+ $1,000+

Are Pit Bulls and AmStaffs Related?

There are four distinct types of Pit Bulls, including the AmStaff and the Pittie and their histories are interlinked with one another. 

Old English Bulldogs were crossed with Black and Tan Terriers in Britain, during the late 1700s, creating the first Bull Terrier breed which will go on to sire American Staffys.

It wasn’t until the 19th century did dogfighting take off and breeders started actively breeding for the violent sport. 

The British took to mixing Old English Bulldogs with Old English Terriers to create the ideal fighter. Through crossbreeding, breeders made the first Pit Bull ancestors, referred to as the Bull and Terrier. 

In 1895, bull-baiting and blood sports were banned in England and that was when dogfighting enthusiasts brought the dogs to America to continue the cruel sport. 

After they were brought to America, the breed gained some height and became slightly leaner, giving birth to the American Pitties and American Staffordshire Terriers we know today. 

Due to their violent histories, AKC refused to recognize the Pit Bull, which was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1898.

Dog lovers petitioned for Pit Bulls to be renamed as ‘St Francis Terriers’ and ‘New Yorkies’ but due to public criticism, the name change never caught on. 

The American Kennel Club officially took the AmStaff into their ranks in 1936.

In the UK, you can register AmStaffs as APBTs. Since that’s the case, dog enthusiasts insist that the Stafford and Pittie are the same breeds, just going by different names. 

However, since they do have diverging bloodlines, the general consensus is that they are a separate breed and not brothers

You can take a look at these two dogs playing and decide for yourself, are they the same breed or not?

How Can You Tell if a Dog is an Amstaff or a Pit Bull?

Both the AmStaff and the Pit Bull have muscular builds, and at first glance, you might mistake one for the other but there are some subtle differences.

When placed side by side, the AmStaff will look noticeably smaller than the Pit Bull. But don’t mistake “small” as in “cute like a Chihuahua”.

The AmStaff might be smaller, but his ripped physique makes him look intimidating and often causes him to be mistaken for another cousin: the American Bully

Pitties can grow up to 21 inches (53 cm) and weigh up to 60 lbs (27 kg) but the AmStaff is shorter and more compact at a max height of 19 inches (48 cm) and 70 lbs (32 kg).

Headshots of the AmStaff and the Pit Bull
The beautiful facial features of the AmStaff (left) and Pit Bull (right)

If you look at their heads, you’ll notice that the Pit Bull has a longer muzzle and narrower skull. Those who like dogs with blocky heads will prefer AmStaffs. They have thicker cheeks as opposed to the Pit Bull’s gaunt face. 

While both breeds used to have cropped ears, the practice has fallen out of favor due to the associated cruelty. Both the AmStaff and Pit Bull may have half-prick or rose-shaped ears when uncropped. 

When it comes to their coats, they both have short single coats that shed minimally all year round. Pit Bulls have a wider variety of colors, ranging from brindle to blue, but they absolutely cannot be merle.

We have a complete guide to Pit Bull colors where you can see all the different coat colors there are. 

For the AmStaff, the American Kennel Club has decreed in their breed standard that their coat color can only come in blue, fawn, red, white, black, or brindle

Temperament, Personality, and Behavior

Silly. That’s how many Pit Bull owners would describe their dogs. In spite of their vicious association, these dogs are extremely playful and affectionate.

While they may look cool and stoic, the opposite is true, and they would love nothing more than to cuddle with their owners and get goofy.

However, if they do not get the attention they require, you can be sure they will turn destructive quickly.

An American Pit Bull Terrier whose face being held by its owners
A smiling Pit Bull sitting between its owners

AmStaffs can also be prone to barking, especially if left alone for long periods of time. These dogs love to be with their families and also have stimulation and exercise needs.

You can’t expect to bring one home, leave it to its own devices, and expect to have a stellar companion.

A smiling American Staffordshire Terrier
Source: @wally_the_pit / IG


This is not a natural trait of dogs but the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffy can be aggressive if trained to be.

Their eagerness to please their owners means that they are happy to carry out any order their owner gives. 

On the other hand, if they are trained to be family pets, you best believe that they would be the best dog ever.

However, getting your APBT or AmStaff to be as placid as a nanny dog will require a devoted owner who has the time and patience to train them properly. Bully breeds often need a dog owner that’s firm but gentle.

They require early socialization in order to help groom them into the family dogs that you’d be proud of. 

The American Temperament Test Society has actually taken it upon themselves to prove that these pit bull-type dogs aren’t inherently more aggressive than other dog breeds. 

896 Collies had a passing rate of 81% while 87% of 931 Pit Bulls passed their test. 

How did the Staffy do? Out of 743 dogs, 86% of them passed with flying colors. 

While they can be gentle with humans, neither breed is known for their compassion and friendliness towards other animals.

Which breed is the perfect family and protection dog?

The fact is that both dogs can do well as family pets. While no dog trainer would ever recommend you leave a dog alone with a small child, both breeds make wonderful companions for children regardless of age.

It might surprise you to learn that a well-adjusted, trained, and properly socialized Pit Bull would make poor guard dogs and AmStaffs are better equipped for that job.

However, Pitties are wonderful watch-dogs as they rarely bark for no good reason.

Which Dog Breed is Easier to Train?

AmStaff and Pittie dogs are almost identical when it comes to trainability. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that guard dogs don’t need to be socialized.

On the contrary, you’ll find that socialization is paramount to guard duties. Early socialization is a must for both breeds if you want a well-adjusted dog. 

Their eager-to-please mentality, paired with their love for yummy treats, makes them the ideal candidates for obedience.

However, these dogs can have a mind of their own when faced with uncertainty. They need owners who know what they are doing and are consistent with their training. 

Taking Care of these Dogs

There’s no clear winner when it comes to which breed is more low maintenance, as they are both relatively easy to care for in terms of grooming.

Their short coats don’t require much effort to keep neat and tidy, but there are some downsides to their easy-to-care-for coats.

Neither breed will do well in extreme heat or cold. Without a double coat to protect them, they will need proper shelter from the elements. 

An AmStaff and a Pit Bull exercising
An AmStaff (left) and a Pit Bull (right) staying active


If you want either one of these dog breeds, you will have to be ready to lead an active lifestyle, if you don’t already. They have seemingly inexhaustible amounts of energy and will do well at agility or hiking. 

Not all AmStaffs or Pit Bulls are fond of the water, but you’ll have a hard time getting those that do love swimming out of the pool. 

One of the reasons why they make such good playmates for children is that they can wear each other out with their overwhelming energy.

You should try to spend at least one hour a day on exercise alone, with separate training sessions and short walks in between to keep them adequately entertained. 


You can wipe down their smooth coats with a wet tissue or damp cloth to keep them fresh between baths, which should only be given once every few months. 

You do have to pay attention to their dental health. Studies have shown that healthy teeth and gums lead to a longer and fuller life.

Dogs with periodontal disease are much more likely to develop heart disease. Try to brush your dog’s teeth twice a day to keep his teeth plaque-free.

Active dogs rarely need to get their nails trimmed because their nails will wear down naturally, but if you hear their nails clacking on the floor, it’s too long. 

Ideally, their nails should be checked on a weekly basis, starting from when they are little puppies because it would be rather difficult to get a strong dog like the AmStaff or Pit Bull to stay still if they aren’t used to having their paws handled. 


Adult dogs generally tuck away 2.5 cups a day, but this is entirely dependent on your dog’s activity level, health, and weight.

Active dogs, such as American Staffy and Pit Bull, would do better on a sporting diet, whereas sedentary dogs may fare better on a weight management kibble. 

As highlighted below, some dogs with dietary restrictions might do better on a special diet, such as a limited ingredient diet or one without grain. 

Which is Healthier?

These two different breeds share the same life expectancy of 12 to 16 years.

They are also breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Aside from screening your dog’s parents, you can help prevent the disease by offering proper care and nutrition. 

Over-exercising before their bones have had the chance to fully develop often leads to joint problems later in life, so always make sure to clear it with your vet before you start any workout regime for your dog. 

Terrier breeds are also often plagued with skin allergies, which means a limited ingredient diet would do much better with these pooches.

Aside from adjusting your dog’s diet, you may also need to make sure that its environment is free from the allergen that triggers its itching.

With the Pit Bull, Cerebellar Abiotrophy is more prevalent, which can cause mobility issues. Cataracts, patellar luxation, and aortic stenosis are also problems that the breed may face.

An American Pit Bull Terrier mix lying on brown wooden floor
A PitBull resting

AmStaffs can sometimes develop heart problems, hypothyroidism, urinary tract infections, osteoarthritis, and spondylosis. 

A bored American Staffordshire Terrier lying at home
An AmStaff taking a break

If you’re really serious about getting a healthy puppy, you will need to invest your time in looking for a responsible breeder.

Which is More Expensive?

Some of the best dogs come from shelters and rescues. Before you start looking for a breeder in your area, why not call up the local shelters to see if they have any Pit Bulls up for adoption?

Here are a few that rescue Bullies, Pitties, and American Staffys.

  • Fresno Bully Rescue (Sanger, CA)
  • The Love Pit Rescue (Dallas, TX)
  • Bella-Reed Rescue (Southeastern, PA)

Most shelter staff would be able to place you with a dog that’s suitable for your lifestyle. Furthermore, older dogs mean that you don’t get any nasty surprises regarding their health. 

American Staffordshire Terrier and American Pit Bull puppies
The adorable AmStaff (left) and a Pit Bull (right) puppies

If you’re interested in starting to train your dog from a young age or prefer a puppy for whatever reason, here are a few breeders that produce quality American Staffordshire Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers: 

  • High Altitude Pit Bulls (Rifle, CO)
  • Explicit AmStaff (Pleasant Garden, NC)
  • Ambition AmStaff (Sandy Springs, GA)

When purchasing a puppy, you will have to have a keen eye for detail. Watch out for signs of neglect and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

A reputable breeder would be happier dealing with someone who nit-picks as much as they do, than a buyer who just isn’t bothered. 

Puppies are priced upwards of $1,000 and the price can get steeper depending on lineage or even color. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

An American Pit Bull Terrier lying on a rug
A cozy Pit Bull

Which is more popular?

While the AmStaff may be the 85th most popular dog on AKC’s rankings, statistics show that Pit Bulls make up 20% of American dogs. 

What breed of dog has a stronger bite?

When it comes down to it, both breeds can exert a force of 235 PSI, which is considered only average.

If bite force is something that you take into consideration when choosing a dog breed, you can check out our guide to dogs with the strongest bite force

What is the difference between them?

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier dog barking on the field
A cheerful Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is one of the smallest bully breeds and is recognized by the AKC as a breed that has a soft spot for children. 

Also bred from Old English Bulldogs, the Staffordshire Bull Terriers are cousins of American Staffys. 

What are common mistakes between Bull and Terrier breeds?

Aggression is one thing that has been built into how people perceive Bully or Terrier breeds. They aren’t inherently evil and prone to violence, but they are encouraged through careful nurturing. 

Unfortunately, their association with blood sports has given them an unfair reputation that Pit Bull and AmStaff lovers are trying to overcome by showing the public how sweet they really are. 

Another common misconception when it comes to these breeds is that they are one and the same.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not American Staffordshire Terriers, and Pit Bulls are not a pedigree, as illustrated above. 

It’s easy to see why these dog breeds are often confused for one another, because not only do they share the same history, their names are similar, and websites peddling misinformation don’t always fact-check before publishing.

American Staffordshire Terrier or Pit Bull: Which One Should You Get?

The American Staffordshire Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier headshots
The loving AmStaff (left) and Pit Bull (right)

These two dog breeds are so similar that it doesn’t really matter which you choose, but always make sure that you choose a dog for the right reason

Dogs are a long-term commitment and you should think twice before you get a dog. That being said, both dogs are similar and can provide you and your family with lots of happy memories. 

However, if you’re interested in showing your dog, you’re better off with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

What are your two cents on these two sweetheart breeds? Let us know in the comments and make sure you share it so more people learn that they aren’t as scary as the media makes them out to be!

Further reading: Compare More Misunderstood Dog Breeds



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