Pit Bull Breed Information

This information is for anyone interested in acquiring a pit bull*, for those who already have one or more and would like to learn more about the breed, or for anyone who would simply like to understand these great dogs a little better.

*Please note, “Pit Bull” is NOT a breed. It’s a generic term often used to describe all dogs with similar traits and characteristics often known by the public as “pit bulls.” There are actually three breeds that can be easily confused. Please also note that the proceeding breed designations would categorize a “purebred” dog. Today, a “pit bull” is more generalized and their characteristics and traits are generalized as well.

The correct breed designations are:

American Staffordshire TerrierThe American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT)

The APBT was bred for performance above everything else. Therefore, many APBTs were bred primarily for their fighting abilities and for certain physical characteristics that will ensure good performance in the pit (mouth, air, stamina, etc.).

Because performance is the most important trait, less consideration is given to conformation (this refers to how closely the dog matches a set physical standard for the breed). You may see APBTs weighing as little as 30 lbs or as much as 100 lbs.

Some are bred for conformation, temperament, weight-pulling, obedience trials, therapy work, etc. The foundation of their bloodlines however, has most likely been tested in the pit and kept the physical and mental characteristics of the pit dogs — lean and athletic body, agility, intensity, drive, etc.

Cropped ears are not an indicator of the dog’s background. Some dogs bred for the pit have cropped ears, some don’t. Show dogs often have cropped ears, both with the APBT and the AST, but not always. Some dog fighters prefer cropped ears, some don’t.

Today, you will find that many people are breeding “pit bulls” indiscriminately to be pets, or just to make a quick buck. Most of them have stable dispositions and make excellent companions. Unfortunately, some backyard bred dogs may be born with bad temperaments and/or human-aggressive tendencies because unknowledgeable and irresponsible individuals who don’t make temperament a priority, are allowed to breed dogs. This is true of any breed, not just the APBT. Reputable rescues do temperament testing to ensure they accept well-rounded, family dogs.

American Staffordshire TerrierThe American Staffordshire Terrier (AST or Amstaff)

The AST or Amstaff used to be the same dog as the APBT but was taken out of the pit in the mid 1930s. AKC opened its stud books to a few APBTs that fit a standard they had chosen, and came up with the name Staffordshire Terrier. In the early 1970s the name was changed to American Staffordshire Terrier to avoid any confusion with a breed from England called “Staffordshire Bull Terrier” which was also recognized by the AKC.

Amstaffs are now primarily bred for conformation and temperament. They have a set height standard and usually weigh between 50 to 80 lbs. They may be a little stockier than the APBT, but not always.

Red noses are considered a fault within the AST breed standard and this physical trait has been bred out of most AST lines. Red nose dogs are common in APBT lines, however. This may help you differentiate between the breeds. If the dog has a red nose, it is more likely to be an APBT than an AST.

Since they share the same ancestors as the APBT (some are even dual-registered), AST and APBT not only share the same look, they also have similar personalities. Dog-aggression is a potential trait in both breeds although not as strong and common in the AST as its close cousin the APBT. Amstaffs, just like the APBT, often have a threatening and intimidating look. That look and dominant attitude could trigger a hostile reaction from other dogs and result in a fight.

American Staffordshire TerrierStaffordshire Bull Terrier (SBT, Staffie or Stafford)

Staffies remain very popular in England, but are a less common in the U.S. They also share the same ancestors as the APBT and AST. They are much smaller though, about 15 to 40 lbs maximum and their ears are rarely cropped. They are essentially bred for good disposition and conformation. They are often referred to as “nanny dogs” because they are excellent with children.

Staffie’s are strong, athletic, agile, and active dogs who crave your affection and attention. They absolutely hate being left alone often times suffer from separation anxiety.

This is an energetic breed who needs daily exercise. They love to play ball and go for walks. They are a courageous, affectionate, trusting and trustworthy all-purpose dog. They are adaptable and can live anywhere.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a well-earned reputation for being dog aggressive so it is important to socialize a puppy around other dogs and animals as much as possible. Some people still use them in the pit in certain countries, but rarely in North America .