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Pitbulls vs. American Staffordshire Terriers — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Fiza Rafique — Published on February 29, 2024
Pitbulls are a type of dog often associated with strength and a controversial reputation, while American Staffordshire Terriers (AmStaffs) are a specific breed known for their muscular build and loyalty.
Pitbulls vs. American Staffordshire Terriers — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Pitbulls and American Staffordshire Terriers


Key Differences

Pitbulls are not a specific breed but a term used to describe dogs with similar physical characteristics, often including the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and others. The term "Pitbull" carries various connotations, partly due to media portrayal and historical use in dog fighting. American Staffordshire Terriers, or AmStaffs, are a recognized breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC), known for their strength, intelligence, and affectionate nature toward families.
The history of these dogs reflects their roles and perception in society. Originally bred for bull-baiting and later for dog fighting, Pitbull-type dogs are often viewed with skepticism. Conversely, AmStaffs have been bred more for show and companionship in recent years, leading to a stronger emphasis on temperament and sociability in breeding standards.
Physical characteristics of Pitbull-type dogs can vary widely, including size, color, and build, due to the lack of a single breed standard. AmStaffs, however, have specific breed standards, including a height of 17 to 19 inches at the shoulder for males and slightly less for females, a muscular build, and a short, stiff coat.
The temperament of a dog labeled as a Pitbull can vary significantly due to the broad range of breeds and mixed breeds included under this umbrella term. AmStaffs are specifically bred for certain temperamental traits, including courage, tenacity, and friendliness, making them suitable as family pets under the right conditions.
Both Pitbulls and AmStaffs can make loyal and loving pets, but potential owners should be aware of the legal and social responsibilities that come with owning a dog that may be perceived as a "Pitbull." Legislation in some areas may specifically restrict or regulate the ownership of Pitbull-type dogs, including AmStaffs.

Comparison Chart


A term used to describe several breeds with similar traits.
A specific breed recognized by the AKC.

Breed Recognition

Not recognized as a breed by the AKC.
Recognized by the AKC.

Physical Characteristics

Varies widely.
Muscular build, 17-19 inches tall, short coat.


Varies, often strong and determined.
Courageous, tenacious, friendly.

Historical Use

Bull-baiting, dog fighting.
Bull-baiting, companionship.

Compare with Definitions


Refers to dogs with certain physical and temperamental traits.
That Pitbull has a strong build and a gentle demeanor.

American Staffordshire Terriers

Recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The American Staffordshire Terrier competed in the AKC dog show.


Often subject to misconceptions and stereotypes.
Many Pitbulls are actually friendly and well-behaved pets.

American Staffordshire Terriers

Has a detailed breed standard for appearance and temperament.
Her American Staffordshire Terrier meets all the breed standards for size and coat.


Faces breed-specific legislation in some areas.
He had to move because local laws banned Pitbulls.

American Staffordshire Terriers

Known for their muscular build.
The American Staffordshire Terrier's muscular frame is impressive.


Can excel in various roles including companion, worker, and therapy dog.
The Pitbull proved to be an excellent search and rescue dog.

American Staffordshire Terriers

Bred for conformation shows and companionship.
The American Staffordshire Terrier won best in breed at the show.


Known for their physical strength and determination.
The Pitbull displayed incredible strength during the training session.

American Staffordshire Terriers

Often great with children and loyal to their families.
Their American Staffordshire Terrier is incredibly gentle with their kids.

Common Curiosities

Can American Staffordshire Terriers be considered Pitbulls?

Yes, American Staffordshire Terriers are often included in the broader category of dogs referred to as Pitbulls.

How can one tell the difference between a Pitbull and an American Staffordshire Terrier?

Identifying an AmStaff involves looking for specific breed characteristics as defined by the AKC, while "Pitbull" is a more general term without a strict breed standard.

Why are Pitbulls controversial?

Pitbulls are controversial due to a history of being bred for dog fighting and the media's focus on negative incidents, leading to a skewed public perception.

Are American Staffordshire Terriers good family pets?

Yes, when properly trained and socialized, they are known to be loyal, affectionate, and good with children.

What's the main difference between Pitbulls and American Staffordshire Terriers?

Pitbulls describe a group of dogs with similar traits, while American Staffordshire Terriers are a specific breed recognized by the AKC.

How should potential owners approach getting a Pitbull or AmStaff?

Prospective owners should research the breeds, understand the responsibilities, and consider adoption from shelters or reputable breeders who focus on temperament and health.

Is there breed-specific legislation affecting Pitbulls and AmStaffs?

Yes, some regions have legislation that restricts or regulates the ownership of Pitbull-type dogs, including American Staffordshire Terriers.

What are some common misconceptions about Pitbulls?

Common misconceptions include unfounded aggression towards humans and the idea that they are inherently dangerous.

Can Pitbulls and American Staffordshire Terriers be trained for the same activities?

Yes, both can be trained for a variety of activities including obedience, agility, and therapy work, depending on the individual dog's temperament and abilities.

Why do some people prefer American Staffordshire Terriers over other Pitbull-type dogs?

Some people may prefer AmStaffs for their specific breed characteristics, temperament, and the ability to compete in AKC events.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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