How to Identify An American Pit Bull Terrier

Some AKC American Staffordshire terriers are double-registered with the UKC as American pit bull terriers.
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The type of dog referred to as an American pit bull terrier is also commonly called an American Staffordshire terrier or a Staffordshire bull terrier. The Pit Bull Rescue Center says these are not technically different breeds of dog; rather, different breed-registering authorities recognize the dogs under these three different names. Under United Kennel Club rules, an APBT can also be registered as an AST, and vice versa. The American Kennel Club only allows such double registration when a dog is registered first as an American Staffordshire terrier with the AKC, then as an American pit bull terrier with the UKC.

Step 1

Assess the dog's overall height, weight and build. An adult APBT weighs between 30 and 60 pounds, with male dogs normally a little heavier than females. The height of an APBT is typically between 18 and 22 inches, measured from the top of the dog's withers to the ground.

Step 2

Look at the dog's coat and color. APBTs have a short, glossy coat that shines in sunlight, and feels slightly stiff when stroked. The United Kennel Club does not consider long, curly or wavy coats true to the APBT breed standard. The traditional APBT may have any color coat, although the UKC disqualifies merle-colored APBTs. Dogs may commonly have multicolored or patterned coats.

Step 3

Examine the dog's head, face and ears. An APBT has a thick, muscular neck and a broad face across the cheek area. The dog's eyes are widely spaced and under UKC breed regulations may be any color except blue. The APBT nose is large, with wide nostrils. The dog's ears are small or medium-sized, sitting high on the head. APBT ears may be cropped short or left natural.

Step 4

Look at the dog's registration papers. The American pit bull terrier is registered with the United Kennel Club. The American Staffordshire terrier is registered with the American Kennel Club.

Items You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Scales


About the Author

Jae Allen has been a writer since 1999, with articles published in "The Hub," "Innocent Words" and "Rhythm." She has worked as a medical writer, paralegal, veterinary assistant, stage manager, session musician, ghostwriter and university professor. Allen specializes in travel, health/fitness, animals and other topics.

Photo Credits

  • father and daughter image by BJ Productions from