The American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull – Which One Is Right For You? 

Pitbulls have gotten a bad rep, as anyone who is passionate about the breed already knows. However, in recent years these bully breeds have become increasingly popular, with supporters coming out in droves to stand behind what many might consider the world’s most misunderstood dog.

And if you’re trying to decide between an American Staffordshire Terrier and a Pitbull, you may be running into some walls. And if researching these two dogs is leaving you with more questions than answers, we’re here to help.

Join us today as we talk about the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull.


But First, Let’s Get The Truth About Bully Breeds

1 two dogs playing
Bully breeds get a bad rep, though they really make wonderful companions.

When it comes to asking yourself if the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull is right for you, you’re probably coming across some confusing information. This is because Pitbulls are not a specific breed of dog but instead an umbrella term used to describe several breeds.

In fact, the American Staffordshire Terrier even falls under this umbrella term and is also considered a Pitbull.

Some pitbull types include:

The above list includes just a few dogs that fall under the umbrella term “Pitbull”, but for the sake of today’s article, we will talk about the dog that is most commonly being referred to when people comment on “Pitbull” dogs.

In this case, it is the American Pitbull Terrier. But before we dive into whether the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull (or American Pitbull Terrier) is right for you, let’s get the truth about Pitbull breeds in general.

The origin of Pitbulls is somewhat muddy, especially as years pass and the breed becomes more and more diverse.

However, in the beginning, bully breeds were bred for bull baiting, hence their name. These dogs were a combination of ancient bulldogs and different types of British Terriers. Sadly, these dogs were primarily used for blood sports in the 16th and 17th centuries, where the dogs were pitted against each other to fight, often to the death.

Bully breeds are famous for their stocky, muscular bodies, large heads, strong jaws, and fearless temperaments, and it was these qualities that made them such ideal fighters.

Because of their violent history, many people have come to assume that modern-day bully breeds are aggressive and unpredictable. The truth is that these dogs are actually incredibly devoted, people-oriented, eager to please, and sensitive.

And some of what made them excellent fighters once upon a time actually helps to make them excellent companion dogs today. These traits include their willingness to please and their eagerness to do anything their owners ask of them.

Bully breeds like the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Pitbull do have a lot in common thanks to their early history. They also may even share some ancestors.

However, the two dogs are also quite different, which is why you’re right to ask whether the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull is right for you.

So, on that note, let’s talk about each dog in more detail to help you decide.

The American Staffordshire Terrier

2 an AmStaff in black and white
Also known as the AmStaff, the Amerian Stafforshire Terrier is the only dog recognized by the AKC.

Also known as the Staffy, the AmStaff, or the American Staffy, the American Staffordshire Terrier is a popular, beautiful dog known for his somewhat intimidating appearance. He has a strong, well-muscled body, a long tail, and floppy ears.

These dogs were bred for their confidence, which means they can be somewhat hard-headed at times. However, they are overall friendly and devoted, making them great family dogs when properly raised, trained, and socialized.

American Staffordshire Terrier dogs are terriers at heart, which means they can also be somewhat mischievous. Like many terrier dogs, the AmStaff is known to have a high prey drive, and he may be prone to going after smaller animals on walks or outings.

American Staffordshire Terrier dogs are medium-sized dogs, standing between 17 and 19 inches tall and weighing around 55 to 70 pounds. They have smooth, sleek coats that range in a wide variety of colors including sable, brown, black, fawn, blue, brindle, black, and white.

Of all the Pitbull types, the American Staffordshire Terrier is currently the only one recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

The American Pitbull Terrier

3 a pitbull in a car
The Pitbull is larger than the AmStaff though less muscular.

Though he may not yet be recognized by the American Kennel Club, the American Pitbull Terrier has found a home with the United Kennel Club as well as the American Dog Breeders Association. He is also a medium-sized dog breed that closely resembles the American Staffordshire Terrier, though he has a boxier muzzle and is slightly larger in size, though not in weight.

Standing between 17 and 21 inches tall, the American Pitbull Terrier actually weighs a bit less than the AmStaff, coming in at between 35 to 60 pounds.

American Pitbull Terriers are leaner dogs, with well-toned bodies, friendly faces (we all love that famous Pitbull grin), and floppy ears. They have sleek, short coats that come in an even wider variety of colors than their Staffy counterpart, including black, white, tan, brindle, brown, fawn, gray, blue, red, and a combination of white and colored.

Like the AmStaff, American Pitbull Terrier dogs are friendly and people-oriented. They get along well with most anyone when properly raised, trained, and socialized, though they can be more prone to stubborn behavior.

The American Staffordshire Terrier Vs Pitbull Temperament

4 a blue pitbull laying down
Both the AmStaff and the Pitbull are affectionate and people-oriented.

If you’re trying to decide between the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull, it’s best to start with temperament.

When it comes to overall temperament, both dogs are true winners. They are both intelligent breeds that are eager to please, friendly with their families, and outgoing when well-trained.

However, if you’re looking for a more relaxed breed when comparing the two, you may want to set your sights on the American Staffordshire Terrier.

This dog is said to be more relaxed and less energetic than his Pitbull counterpart, and much more likely to want to lounge alongside you by the fireplace for longer periods of time.

With that said, both the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull make great workout partners. They will each enjoy quality outdoor time with their owners and will appreciate being loved on and played with.

Both breeds are incredibly affectionate and devoted, though the American Pitbull Terrier does tend to be more outgoing with people outside of his immediate family.

This may mean that if you’re looking for a dog who enjoys meeting new friends, the Pitbull is the way to go.

Regardless, both dogs can do well with strangers so long as they are properly socialized at an early age.

As with all dogs, it is incredibly important to begin training and socializing both breeds early during puppyhood. This will help ensure they grow up happy, healthy, and well rounded as adults.

American Staffordshire Terrier Vs Pitbull Appearance

5 a red American Staffordshire Terrier
The AmStaff comes in less color variations than the Pitbull.

Trying to tell these two dogs apart can be tricky, and the fact that the Pitbull comes in more color variations than the AmStaff may not help.

If you’re trying to decide between the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull based solely on looks, we’re here to tell you that you could toss a coin and go either way.

Both dogs have similar coats, which are short, sleek, and single-layered. They both shed lightly throughout the year, though they can also shed more during the shedding season which is in spring and fall.

This may mean that neither the American Stafforshire vs Pitbull dog would be great for allergy sufferers, although they do shed less than double coated breeds.

Shedding and coat color aside, you can tell an American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull apart based on a few factors.

The first and perhaps easiest way to tell the two apart is by the shape of their face. American Staffordshire Terrier dogs have a more narrow jaw, and they don’t tend to hold that same wide grin Pitbulls are generally famous for.

Pitbull dogs are also larger than American Staffordshire Terriers, though somewhat leaner overall in body mass.

And, as we mentioned above, American Staffordshire Terrier dogs have less color variations than their Pitbull counterparts.

Training And Exercising An American Staffordshire Terrier Vs Pitbull

6 a pitbull on his back
Both breeds can be prone to a stubborn streak, but starting training early will help.

As we touched on briefly, training and exercise are going to be important for both the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Pitbull, regardless of which breed you go for.

But, when it comes to energy level, the Pitbull takes the cake. The American Pitbull Terrier is more energetic than this AmStaff counterpart, and will require up to two long walks a day to help keep him happy and healthy.

The American Staffordshire Terrier may be less energetic, but not by much. He will still require a good walk or two each day, but this should curb his enthusiasm and he should be happy to lounge around after dedicated exercise and outdoor time.

The Pitbull, on the other hand, may want to continue to play and romp in a backyard after his walks.

Both dogs are also quite intelligent, and they’ll do well with quality dog toys like chew toys, puzzle toys, snuffle mats, and more that will help keep them engaged when you’re busy or away during the day.

Like many energetic large dog breeds, both the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull could be prone to destructive behaviors if their needs are not met. These needs include daily exercise, mental stimulation, and quality toys to help keep them busy throughout the day.

Training and socialization is also a must when it comes to the American Staffordshire vs Pitbull breeds, regardless of which one you are considering.

Because both of these dogs can be prone to stubborn and mischievous behavior, it will be important to implement training early on during puppyhood and continue with it throughout your dog’s life.

And while both the AmStaff and the Pitbull can be stubborn, it’s important not to use punishment during training. Instead, use positive reinforcement and keep training short, fun, and game-like to hold your dog’s interest. We also suggest using high quality treats that will keep them motivated throughout training sessions.

Along with training, both the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull are going to require early socialization to ensure they grow up well rounded, confident, and secure.

Without proper socialization, these dogs can become anxious, and this fear can lead to fear-based aggression.

When socializing any dog, make sure you are introducing early on to new experiences, people, places, and things. Avoid forcing your AmStaff or Pitbull into situations that you can see are clearly frightening for them, and encourage them instead gently using treats and praise.

The American Staffordshire Terrier Vs Pitbull Health And Lifespan

7 a black and white pitbull
Pitbulls can have more health issues than AmStaffs due to inbreeding.

All dogs can be prone to suffering from health issues, regardless of the breed or mix. The same is true for both the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull.

Luckily, there are several steps you can take to ensure your American Staffordshire Terrier or your American Pitbull live their longest, healthiest lives, and one of the first steps is understanding what your specific dog could be predisposed to.

Let’s take a look now at the health of the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull.

The American Staffordshire Terrier Health And Lifespan

Lifespan: 12 to 16 Years

Health Issues:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Heart Disease
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • And Cerebellar Ataxia

The American Pitbull Terrier Health And Lifespan

Lifespan: 12 to 14 Years

Health Issues:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Skin Allergies
  • Food Sensitivities
  • Kneecap Dislocation
  • Mange
  • Thyroid Issues
  • Heart Defects
  • And Degenerative Myelopathy

How To Keep Your AmStaff or Pitbull Healthy

The best way to ensure you have a healthy dog from the start is to go through a reputable source when looking to obtain a puppy or a rescue dog. With American Pitbull Terriers especially, inbreeding can be relatively common. This can lead to a wider risk of genetic health issues that could be otherwise avoided when going through breeders who take caution to ensure their dogs are bred carefully.

When going through a breeder, be sure to ask plenty of questions. You can also request a certificate of health, and you can even ask for a list of references.

When it comes to investing in Pitbull breeds of any variety, be careful of going through backyard breeders or online sellers. These types of dogs are very popular, which means irresponsible breeders are more likely to breed these dogs quickly without using responsible breeding practices in an effort to make quick money.

If you want to save money or rescue, you’re in luck! There are plenty of shelters and rescues that specialize in these types of dogs, and we highly recommend going through a reputable shelter or organization dedicated to Pitbull dogs to find the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull of your dreams.

Pros and Cons Of An American Staffordshire Terrier Vs Pitbull

8 a brindle American Staffy
Like all dogs, the AmStaff and Pitbull come with their share of pros and cons.

It’s difficult to decide between two dogs you love, especially when these dogs are both so similar in so many ways.

When it comes to the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull, we know the choice can be tough. Let’s take a quick look at some pros and cons of each dog to help narrow it down.

The American Staffordshire Terrier Pros And Cons


  • Intelligent
  • Affectionate
  • Friendly
  • Mild-Mannered
  • People-Oriented
  • Trainable
  • Great with Children


  • May have dog aggression if not properly socialized
  • Can be destructive if not kept mentally stimulated
  • Requires regular exercise and training
  • Can be stubborn
  • May not be legal in some regions

The American Pitbull Terrier Pros and Cons


  • Highly Trainable
  • Eager to Please
  • Family-Oriented
  • Outgoing
  • Confident
  • Social
  • Devoted


  • More health issues
  • Destructive without proper mental stimulation
  • High-Energy
  • Requires consistent exercise
  • Stubborn
  • May not be legal in some regions

What You Should Know About Breed Specific Legislation When It Comes To The American Staffordshire Terrier Vs Pitbull

You may have noticed a few things in common with the above list of pros and cons when it comes to comparing the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull, namely when talking about the legality of the breeds.

Sadly, due to Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), Pitbull type dogs are not always legal in many regions throughout the United States. Furthermore, if they are allowed, owners may be required to pay a fee upfront and to have their dogs registered or to obtain a specific license to own a Pitbull breed.

While many communities are coming together to try and change these laws, they still stand strong today and any potential owner of an American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull should be aware of them.

The American Staffordshire Terrier Vs Pitbull – Which Is Best For You?

9 a pitbull on the beach
Luckily, you can’t go wrong with either of these dogs!

The choice between the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull can be a difficult one to make, but the great news is that you really can’t go wrong with either.

In fact, these dogs really do have a lot more in common than they don’t. Overall, if you’re looking at investing in one of these breeds, the most important thing you can do is to take your time and find a good breeder or rescue.

It’s also important to not only make sure that the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull is the right dog for you, but that you are the right owner for that dog.

Remember, both the AmStaff and the Pitbull are medium-sized dogs with a bit of a stubborn streak. They are both people-oriented but may not always get along well with other dogs, and they will require plenty of exercise, training, and early socialization throughout their lives.

So, now that you know more about the American Staffordshire Terrier vs Pitbull, which one do you think is right for you?

Tell us which dog is pulling at your heartstrings in the comment section below.

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