American bulldogs and Staffordshire terriers share many common characteristics. Both are excellent watchdogs, loyal companions and extremely athletic. Recognizing the differences between the two breeds will help you make an informed decision regarding what dog best suits your family and lifestyle. Keep in mind that because American bulldogs are considered a rare breed, locating a purebred pup may prove challenging.
American bulldogs boast a wide chest, stocky build and chiseled, muscular appearance. Their nose resembles a boxy shape with the nostrils turned slightly upward. The American Bulldog Registry notes that the head should be large; the neck muscular and the body “powerful and athletic in appearance.” Gazing at the Staffordshire terrier, you will observe a more refined face, longer muzzle and slimmer bone structure both sturdy yet compact. The American Kennel Club describes the breed as a “well put-together dog, muscular, but agile and graceful.”
American bulldogs are larger than Staffordshire terriers. If you have a tiny apartment, think twice before bringing a large dog home, as they need considerable space. The National Kennel Club states that a standard, male American bulldog should stand 23 to 27 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh between 75 and 120 pounds Females should average 21 to 25 inches in height and weigh 60 to 90 pounds. In contrast, the breed standard for the Staffordshire terrier, which is set by the AKC, is for these dogs to measure 17 to 19 inches. They should weigh between 50 and 79 pounds.
Both breeds make excellent pets, depending on your living situation and personal preferences. The book “Dog Bible: The Definitive Source for All Things Dog” notes that the American bulldog and Staffordshire terrier require experienced owners who can invest ample time in training and socialization. Evaluate your schedule and make sure you have adequate time to care for your new dog. Large backyards or acreage is critical to meet the energy needs of both breeds. Because the Staffordshire terrier is closely related to the American pit bull terrier, public perception of the breed may sometimes be negative. Friends or neighbors may have a difficult time accepting and trusting your pet.
Unlike the Staffordshire terrier, American bulldogs are not accepted by the AKC. If a prestigious recognition is important to you, the American bulldog may not be the appropriate breed. These dogs can be registered through the United Kennel Club and the National Kennel Club. Another distinction between the breeds is that efforts are being made by organizations like the Working American Bulldog Association to preserve the American bulldog's working heritage and abilities.
- The American Bulldog Registry & Archives: Breed Standard
- The American Kennel Club: American Staffordshire Terrier Breed Standard
- National Kennel Club: American Bulldog Breed Standard
- Animal Planet: Staffordshire Terrier Guide
- Dog Bible: The Definitive Source for All Things Dog; Kristin Mehus-Roe
- The Working American Bulldog Association: Statement of Organization
- Bulldogs for Dummies; Susan M. Ewing
- Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images