Pit bulls, also known as American Staffordshire terriers, and South African Boerboels are both big, tough, muscular breeds. Neither is recommended for the novice dog owner, but these canines can be a good choice for an experienced person familiar with dominant, potentially aggressive breeds.
American Staffordshire Terrier Appearance
At maturity, the "Staffy" stands between 17 and 19 inches tall at the shoulder, and weighs between 50 and 60 pounds, although larger and smaller dogs are not uncommon. The short coat might be any color, although solid white or more than 80 percent white, liver, or black and tan is discouraged in the breed standard. Staffies have broad skulls with strong cheek muscles and high-set, short ears. The underjaw should be strong with "biting power," according to the breed standard. A Staffy's build is stocky but muscular, giving an overall impression of a very powerful canine.
American Staffordshire Terrier Traits
While pit bulls can get along well with people, that's not always true of dogs and other animals. They're quite vocal, but not in the sense of constantly barking. Rather, they make frequent noises in an attempt to communicate with their people. These athletic dogs can do well in canine sports, such as agility and tracking. Unfortunately, the breed still is used for illegal dog fighting. That unfortunate activity focuses on this breed because pit bulls are very game dogs. As the American Kennel Club breed standard puts it, "His courage is proverbial," and that courage extends to combat.
Boerboels are considerably larger than pit bulls. Full-grown Boerboels stand between 22 and 27 inches tall at the shoulder, with weight in proportion to size. While there is no official weight limit in the breed standard, these dogs descend from mastiffs, so they are quite large. The dog's broad, blocky skull sports wrinkles over the forehead. Also short-coated, the Boerboel usually is a shade of brown, ranging from tan to red, with or without a black facial mask. Coat colors other than black or blue are permitted. Boerboels should exude strength and confidence.
Boerboels are devoted to their people, including kids in the family. While they can be dog aggressive, their background as farm dogs makes them protective of livestock. According to the American Boerboel Club website, they also can be fine with house cats. If you have a farm or other non-canine pets, the Boerboel might suit your situation more than a pit bull. If you do want to share your home with a Boerboel and another dog, choose one of the opposite sex of your Boerboel, preferably not from another dominant breed.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.