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Difference Between Staffy and Pitbull

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Certain dog breeds exhibit the sturdiness, aggression, and musculature of their much larger cousins in tinier and more adorable bodies. While early and proper socialization is needed to tame these dogs, they retain a very sweet and loyal nature to their owners. Such breeds are exemplified by the Staffy – short for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier – and the Pit Bull. 

How is a Staffy different from a Pitbull?

The main differences between a Staffy and a Pitbull can be spotted in their face and head shape, general body size, and slight variations in temperament. Pitbulls are leaner and can grow a bit larger; their heads have longer snouts and high-pointing ears; and they are more excitable. Meanwhile, Staffies, on average, are smaller and lighter, with rounder faces, and have a more level-headed demeanor.

What is a Staffy?


The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is small and muscular, originally bred for dogfighting as a cross of the terrier and bulldog breeds. The introduction of the former’s genes into the mix later on created smaller and more amicable Staffies. 

A Staffy has a compact body. Its head “splits” at around 6 months old, leading to a large, well-defined forehead. Its cheeks are similarly big and muscled. Ears are slightly small and tend to fold downward. 

This breed has a reputation as a “nanny dog,” as it is particularly friendly and protective to children while possessing great reserves of energy and an openness to play. They are docile and peaceful to humans by design but can display aggression towards other dogs. 

What is a Pitbull?


Although the term “pit bull” can include related breeds, such as the Staffy and the Bull Terrier, in colloquial use, it specifically refers to the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT).

Pit Bulls have large, broad, and chiseled heads. When an APBT is fixated on something, its forehead tends to form wrinkles. Their medium-sized, muscular bodies have deep chests, strong legs, and round feet. These dogs exhibit good coordination and confidence when they walk.

APBTs are agile and very eager to socialize with humans, but aggression can be expected against unfamiliar dogs. While APBTs are bred for fighting, they may be overly friendly with humans – even strangers. Their affinity for bonding with children is also well-known.

Differences Between Staffies and Pitbulls


Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a bit smaller, on average, compared to APBTs. Pit Bulls are commonly the heavier breed.

staffy and pitbull
Two Staffordshire Bull Terrier and one Pitbull

Staffies are roughly 14-16 in (35-40 cm) tall and can weigh around 24-38 lbs (10-17 kg), while APBTs can be 17-20 in (43-50 cm) long and clock in at a heftier 24-80 lbs (10-36 kg).


Both breeds are quite muscular for their compact bodies. From their first year onward, the two types of bull terriers begin to develop strong muscles on their neck, chest, and front and rear limbs. 

Despite their compactness, APBT bodies are well-proportioned in size, from their ears, muzzle, and eyes, to their limbs and feet. Staffies can be stockier and appear bulkier at first glance.

Head and Face

pitbull head
A Pitbull's head

An APBT has a medium-length head proportionate to the rest of its body. The skull is broad, rather flat, with a deep furrow at the middle of its forehead; the forehead wrinkles when an APBT is concentrating. 

Its smooth cheeks are defined by strong muscles. It has a prominent lower jaw; a large, wide-nostrilled nose, low round eyes, and high-set ears.

staffy head
A Staffy's head

Staffy heads are proportionately shorter, although they are just as broad. Its forehead is smoother and less defined, while the cheek muscles are still very pronounced. The face’s overall shape is rounder. 

SBT eyes are round and front-set. The ears can be roseate or half-pricked; official kennel clubs disapprove of fully-pricked ears.

Coat and Shedding

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s coat is ideally short and smooth and kept close to the skin. The coat color can come in red, white, a light yellow-tan (fawn), black, blue, or brindle.  

In slight contrast, APBTs have somewhat glossier smooth, and stiff coats, also kept tight to the skin. Many colors are available, although dappled splotches of dark fur (merle) are unacceptable to most kennel club standards.

Because of their short coats, neither breed sheds often. However, Staffies may lose a little more fur on occasion.


Staffies and APBTs are average barkers that only bark on occasion. Both can display excited barking when meeting people, especially children. However, Pit Bulls are more commonly observed barking due to pure boredom. 


The habit of digging is bred deeply into the terrier's genes; as such, it is usual to observe both types of dog digging as a form of exercise, curiosity, or simple instinct.


The Staffordshire Bull Terrier and APBT are similar fundamentally as mixes of bulldog and terrier genes. 

Both dogs owe their muscularity and most of their body plan to the first breed, while the addition of terrier genes has made them friendlier to humans. 

American Staffies, or AmStaffs, are a larger cousin to the original British Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix.


Due to their fierce history, both bull terriers are known for being courageous, intelligent, and tenacious dogs that show incredible hospitality to humans, albeit with a slight competitive streak against other canines. Properly socialized, the Staffy and APBT can be loyal companions to family and friends alike.

Note that Staffies may enjoy periods of quiet rest more often than APBTs, which are known for being quickly excited by people, animals, and curious phenomenon.


On average, most Staffordshire Bull Terriers live longer lives than APBTs.

The usual APBT lifespan is 8 to 15 years, while Staffie lifespans can range a more uniform 12 to 14 years.


The Staffy is a well-recognized dog breed, with a standard acknowledged by the Kennel Club (KC), American Kennel Club (AKC), Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), and United Kennel Club (UKC), and the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA), among others.

APBTs are in a less-defined territory. They are recognized by the UKC as American Staffordshire Terriers, while the ADBA registers them as two different breeds. Meanwhile, the AKC has not accepted their status as a distinct breed at all.

Comparison Chart: Staffies Vs Pitbulls

Size14-16 in (35-40 cm) tall; 24-38 lbs (10-17 kg) heavy; shorter and lighter 17-20 in (43-50 cm) tall; 24-80 lbs (10-36 kg) heavy; taller and heavier
BuildStockier for its sizeBody is leaner and well-proportioned
Head and FaceShorter and rounder head, smoother forehead, rose earsMedium-length head, deep and wrinkly forehead furrow, high-set ears
Coat and SheddingRed, white, fawn, black, blue, or brindle. Sheds slightly moreAny color except merle is acceptable
BarkingModerateModerate; can bark more when bored
DiggingFrequently observedFrequently observed
GeneticsBulldog and terrier mixBulldog and terrier mix
TemperamentBrave, very friendly to humans. Sometimes enjoys quietudeBrave, very friendly to humans. More excitable
Lifespan12-14 yrs8-15 yrs
RecognitionWidely recognizedNot recognized by the AKC

How are Staffies and Pitbulls similar?

Both breeds are so similar that even various kennel clubs disagree on how they should be told apart, if differentiated at all.

APBTs and Staffordshires are similar in having rather small, compact but very muscular bodies. Both have round eyes, well-defined cheeks, and strong chests and limbs. These features come from their shared bulldog and terrier heritage.

The two bull terriers are also average barkers, habitual diggers, and distinctly personable companions to humans, especially children. 


Why do Pit Bulls have a bad reputation?

Pit Bulls are gentle, playful, and extremely friendly to humans – even strangers – yet they are banned in several countries, including the United Kingdom.

This infamy comes from the breed’s tragic history in dogfighting. Even once fighting pits were outlawed, criminals and gang members would violently condition pitbull-type dogs to be vicious by taking advantage of their natural courage and aggression. Heavy publicity starting from the 1980s helped cement these abused dogs’ reputations as ill-bred attackers.

To date, Pit Bulls and their mixes are the most euthanized dog breeds in the United States.

What is a bully dog?

“Bully dogs” became a common nickname for strongly-built breeds that used to participate in bloodsports; the name itself likely originated from one particular sport – bull-baiting.

The term commonly describes such dogs as hostile, aggressive, and formidable in fighting.

Contrary to the imagery of this term, however, bully dogs such as Pit Bulls, bull terriers, Rottweilers, and Great Danes are generally noted as gentle, family-loving dogs that are quite protective of their owners’ children.


Staffies and APBTs are two closely-related dog breeds known for their compact, muscular builds. 

The key differences between Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers include slight trends in their size and build, head shape, behavior, and recognition with official kennel clubs.

Staffies are somewhat shorter and lighter, with stockier bodies, rounder heads, and rose ears. They shed hair infrequently, but more so than APBTs. While just as enthusiastic as the APBT, they rest and relax more often. The breed is widely recognized by several kennel clubs.

American Pit Bull Terriers are longer and much heavier, with well-proportioned bodies, a deeply-furrowed forehead, and high-set ears. They are more likely to bark when bored and are generally more energetic with people. Its recognition is less standardized, and it is not accepted by the AKC.

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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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