Staffordshire Bull terrier and English Bull Terrier

What is the difference between a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and an English Bull Terrier?


As far back as the 13th Century dogs had been bred for public entertainment such as fighting in a ring or a pit. These illegal dog fights were very  popular with all classes and lucrative as well. This led to  breeders crossing the stronger bulldogs with terriers to add speed and agility to the mix. Although cross breeding with terriers and bulldogs had been fairly commonplace previously, it was a dog breeder named James Hink who standardised the bull terrier breed in the 1850’s. Again it is not entirely clear what other breeds were used to create the modern English Bull Terrier but possibly an English White Terrier and a Dalmatian may have been included. The Hinks Bull Terriers were predominately white.

Much of the history of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Staffy) is the same as mentioned above because they have a shared ancestry with the English Bull Terrier (Bully). Again, the Staffy was bred with the objective of creating a strong and fearsome fighting dog for the illegal pits. Unfortunately, because of its former association with fighting it was not officially recognised by the Kennel Club until the 1900’s.

What are the main differences?

The Bully and the Staffy are not similar in appearance and, therefore, it is relatively easy to  see the difference at a glance. I have listed some of these differences below.

Size and weight

The size and weight of the two breeds set them apart and provide an obvious physical difference. The Bully is a substantially larger dog than the Staffy in both height and weight although both dogs are strong and muscular having a significant physical presence.

Physical features

Apart from size the Bully, which is in the medium sized range, has a very distinctively shaped head. It is described as long and egg shaped when viewed from above. The top of the head is almost flat between the ears and the muzzle curves downwards from the head to the nose. The eyes are small and triangular in shape and the ears are small and kept upright. The Bull Terrier has a muscular appearance with a strong jaw and a perfect scissor bite.

On the other hand the Staffy is a  small to medium sized dog but with a stocky, muscular frame. However this dog has a sensitive side to its nature which is much admired by owners. They have a broad skull, a wedge shaped head and a short fore-face. The cheeks are prominent and the eyes round. The ears are small. As with the bull terrier, the staffy has a strong jaw with a clean scissor bite.


The Bully is more difficult to train and might even require specialist obedience training. A young bull terrier can be boisterous when they are happy because they love to have fun. At this stage their behaviour can become challenging and firmness will be required to avoid any bad habits. However, as mentioned before they are a loyal and affectionate breed. The Staffy is easier to train and will be more willing to listen and obey. It is always best when training a dog to choose a quiet place with minimal distractions.

What are the main similarities?

The similarities are mainly in the temperament of both breeds. Whilst neither would be the ideal choice for a first time owner they would both make affectionate family pets.  Both breeds are good with children and both need a lot of space and plenty of exercise.

Hair and coat

Both the bully and the Staffy need minimal grooming. A Bully’s coat will stay shiny and smart with a weekly brush and the occasional dry shampoo. Owners should increase the brushing during the Spring and Autumn when shedding increases significantly. Staffys are a short coated breed and need more regular brushing because they shed their coat throughout the year. As with other dogs they shed more in the Spring and Autumn.

Top left image | © Anna Krivitskaia |

Top right image  | © otsphoto |

Eric Armstrong

Eric is an author, content writer and dog owner from the UK.

1 Comment

  • Goodday. I just have a question to ask. I have a print of what I am told is an English Staffordshire Bull Terrier. I have had it framed as a gift for a family member who loves them but cannot keep one. I would appreciate your email address so that I can send it to you? I live in South Africa. Thank you.

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