The Differences Between American Bulldogs & Staffordshire Terriers

The American bulldog and the Staffordshire terrier are similar looking, but as pets, suit very different types of people. Both are courageous and love being around people. Their common ancestors are now extinct, but included a variety of English bull and terrier breeds, from whom they inherit their enthusiasm for family life.


The Staffordshire terrier is considerably smaller than the American bulldog. Staffordshire terrier males typically grow no taller than 19 inches at the shoulder, with females growing no taller than 17 inches. American bulldog males can grow up 27 inches. Female American bulldogs typically outgrow even the tallest male American staffordshire terriers, achieving a typical maximum height of 25 inches. Due to his size, the American bulldog requires more food than the Staffordshire terrier. A Staffordshire terrier puppy requires a more protein-rich diet as a puppy because of his faster growth rate. As well as physical growth, mental development is a key difference. The larger American bulldog hits maturity later in life, meaning he's in his puppy phase for longer.


Both breeds have a round head with a strong jaw. This a common physical trait of all dogs who share ancestry with the original British bulldogs. However, the Staffordshire terrier has very pronounced cheek muscles, compared to the American bulldog. The American bulldog has strong cheek muscles too because of his ancestral history as a bull baiting breed, but by comparison they are much less distinct than those of the Staffordshire terrier. The American bulldog has rounder eyes than the Staffordshire terrier, who has distinctive almond-shaped eyes. The ears are an important physical distinction too. The American bulldog’s ears are larger and naturally fold forward, while the Staffordshire terrier has smaller pricked ears. Both dogs share an alert, confident expression, although the American bulldog is the slightly more "clownish" of the two breeds. His face is more expressive, especially when he folds his ears forward and tilts his head in bemusement.

History and Personality

Both breeds descend from a mixture of bull and terrier breeds. However, the American bulldog is not a terrier. He is more closely related to the bull breeds and displays instincts and behaviors common to those dogs, including strong protective instincts toward family. The Staffordshire terrier is a true terrier because of his ancestral proximity to other terrier breeds, including the Manchester terrier. While he is also protective of his family, he has strong terrier instincts, which include a propensity for chasing small animals, which the American bulldog doesn’t have.


Both breeds have an athletic, powerful physique, but the American bulldog is leaner with a less prominent chest. The Staffordshire terrier, while smaller, has a more “chunky” physique. Both breeds have strong front legs and short coats that come in a variety of solid and mixed colors, including white with tan patches, brindle and all white. With mixed color coats, the American bulldog typically has more white coverage than the Staffordshire terrier. The coat of both breeds is short and both dogs require minimal grooming. Both breeds are active and benefit from daily walks and regular play. The larger, leaner American bulldog is most suited to a highly active family. He will take a lot longer to tire out than the smaller, less agile Staffordshire terrier, who will adapt to a moderately active daily routine.

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