The origin and differences between the Amstaff and the Pit Bull

Bull-and-Terrier, Pit Bull, Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Bull Terrier, Yankee Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier.

The origin and differences between the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier.

In this article we will learn about the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier breed clubs in their origin, new information about the American Staffordshire Terrier and the differences between the APBT and AST.

  • American Kennel Club (AKC)
    Founded in 1884 by an association of 13 breeders clubs (10 US clubs and 3 Canada clubs), it is the oldest active club and the largest purebred dog registry in the world, at its foundation the “Pit Bull” or “Pit Bull Terrier” as they were called at the time, was not recognized.

  • United Kennel Club (UKC)
    Founded in 1898 by C. Bennett in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The UKC attracted many breeders seeking to register their dogs under the name “American Pit Bull Terrier”. Although today it does not have the same relevance as in the past, it is still a vital part of the breeds history.

  • American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA)
    Founded in September 1909 by Guy McCord and Con Feeley (co-founder).

“Mr. Colby was the mainstay of the ADBA which prompted the boast of being the “home” registration office of the Colby dogs. All members, in good standing, could register their dogs and litters with the registration department upon the yearly payment of $2.50 dues fee. It seems that the exclusive members idea gradually was replaced into an open registry of multiple breeds and over time the ADBA focused on the registration of the American Pit Bull Terrier.”

Source.: ADBA

ADBA Birthday Bash 100 Years — Cover. The Pit Bull Terrier Breeders Association by Guy McCord. (later in 1913 the name was changed to American Dog Breeders Association.)
  • The American Bull Terrier Club (ABTC)
    Founded in 1921 in Clay Center, Kansas. The standard of the American Staffordshire Terrier breed to this day has been derived from the standard set for the “American Bull Terrier” or “American Pit Bull Terrier” made by the now extinct “The American Bull Terrier Club”.

  • The Staffordshire Terrier Club Of America (STCA)
    Founded in 1936 by Wilfred T. Brandon, shortly after the AKC’s recognition of the Staffordshire Terrier, it played an important role in advertising the breed and was known for its anti-dog fighting stance and for funding organizations that goes against such practices.
    In the present date with 83 years old, STCA’s is the oldest American Staffordshire Terrier club.
An Old Ad announcing the Staffordshire Terrier recognition and presenting Wilfred T. Brandon (STCA’s Founder in the right) and Lucenay’s Pete (The famous Pit Bull from “Little Rascals/Our Gang” TV show) with his owner and trainer Harry Lucenay.


In 1930, with the popularity of the American Pit Bull Terrier and the breed being supported and promoted by great breeders like John P. Colby, Con Feeley and other leading figures of the time like the Irish-American Boxer John L. Sullivan “Boston Strong Boy” and Theodore Roosvelt the 26th President of the United States, the American Kennel Club decided to open its studbook for the breed, but as we explained in one of our articles:

By not registering fighting dogs, but yielding to the commercial pressure around the American Pit Bull Terrier breed, in 1936 the AKC (American Kennel Club), the largest and oldest kennel club in the United States, recognized about fifty (50) American Pit Bull Terrier, naming them “Staffordshire Terrier”, after unsuccessfully attempting to register under the name “American Bull Terrier”, removing the word “Pit” and disassociating the word that refers to dog fight, however, English Bull Terrier breeders for fear of the “reputation” of APBT dogs did not allow the use of such a similar name.

Source.: The so-called “modern” bloodlines

The Staffordshire Terrier Breed Standards by Wilfred T. Brandon

Letter from Wilfred T. Brandon (STCA’s Founder) to A.K.C’s Exec. Vice-President Charles T. Inglee defining how he understand the standards of the Staffordshire Terrier breed. *Property of American Kennel Club
A woman presenting Wheeler’s Black Dinah (A.K.C #A 86066 — sired by Garm D and Topsy W). The first photo to represent the breed standard in the American Kennel Club in 1938. *Property of American Kennel Club
Wheeler’s Black Dinah (A.K.C #A 86066 — sired by Garm D and Topsy W) *Property of American Kennel Club
Letter from Wilfred T. Brandon to Charles T. Inglee seeking his opinion by suggesting Colby’s Primo as a representative for the breed. *Property of American Kennel Club
Another letter from Wilfred T. Brandon to A.K.C’s Exec. Vice-President Charles T. Inglee seeking his opinion by suggesting Colby’s Primo as a representative for the breed. *Property of American Kennel Club
Colby’s Primo (ADBA 500–01, UKC 233–460, AKC #641–443 sired by Colby’s Brandy and Colby’s Mabel) *Property of American Kennel Club
Letter Response from the secretary of Charles T. Inglee to Wilfred T. Brandon. *Property of American Kennel Club

The differences between the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier

As we learn in one of our articles:

In the late 1800s with the industrial revolution, thousands of families migrated from rural areas to large industrial centers in search of employment.
Some of these families had as a form of “extra” income and tradition sell and bet on fighting dogs,“Pit Bull” dogs, when they saw the opportunity of a better future in the big cities they start to move and they took their dogs with them, changing drastically from a habitat where they developed completely, to small spaces in apartments and other cheap options where they were confined most of the time, without practicing exercises and losing their habit, which combined with a selection for smaller dogs, caused a visible reduction in muscular and bone structure.

Source.: The so-called “modern” bloodlines

After this period it was not only the conformation of these dogs that changed. To better understand the differences between the two breeds today, we need to go back in the late 1960’s with the United Kennel Club (UKC) being pressured by political movements associated with animal protection organizations and dropping its support for dog fight which at the time had became a part of American culture and was promoted by UKC.

With the dog fighting becoming illegal in most states, many breeders started to migrate to legal events like dog shows in order to secure its investments or preserve the breed regardless the way it would be used for, it was then that conformation events and the show dogs within the breed began to steal the spotlight.

This period was decisive for what we see today as a separation within the breed; Traditional breeders that continued with their selection made based on the parameters of the reason for its origin and the modern dogs (both APBT and AST dogs) that emerged from the necessity of the market as the ban approached, pure breed dogs however sold as pets or show dogs, many for financial purpose but there were some of those who were actually concerned with the preservation of the breed.

To understand the reason for this separation we need to learn about a single and major difference between the modern and traditional APBT which differs one dog from another even with both being pure breed.
But what would this characteristic be and why dogs selected as pets or show dogs not have it?
For traditional breeders and dogmens this difference or “characteristic” is commonly known as “Gameness,” which can be defined as the ability to overcome any adversity, complete its task or die trying, which is why the American Pit Bull Terrier became so famous and also the reason for its origin, the dog fighting.
Is believed that this “characteristic” is hereditary, so future generations are more likely to replicate it if preserved by the traditional method of selection, but this can also be defined in psychology as genetic memory “…a memory present at birth that exists in the absence of sensory experience, and is incorporated into the genome over long spans of time.”, for this reason dogs considered pets or show dogs, which had their selection for years based on beauty and conformation, eventually lost this trait, which traditional breeders believe to be the essence of the true American Pit Bull Terrier.

In this scenario with the breed being divided and dog fighting becoming an illegal practice in most states, some breeders of these so-called “modern dogs” started to gain notoriety within their clubs and the influence of their work to this day even if controversial, cannot be denied, they helped popularize the breed, demystify false information and build a legion of followers around the world, regardless of the differences and opinions regarding the way those dogs were selected.

I think we can all agree that the American Pit Bull Terrier breed has become something bigger than the purpose of its creation, today you’ll find the breed as pets, watch dogs, guide dogs, police dogs and many work skills, its intelligence and good socialization with humans made it possible.

I hope you have enjoyed this article, my goal is to promote the study and research of the American Pitbull Terrier, feel free to contact me, we can both learn and discover new pieces of history together.

Thanks to Joshua Coty of American Kennel Club’s Library for helping me and authorizing the publication of these documents.

*A special thanks to Géraldo Berghmans and Mike Morabito who are always by my side in my studies.

To follow my work:
Facebook — 19th Legacy Kennel
Instagram — 19th Legacy Kennel

Want more?

*All images and information used on this article are from my research through the archives of APBT.Online-PedigreesSTCA Offical Site — The American Staffordshire Terrier by H. Richard Pascoe — The Ultimate American Pit Bull Terrier by Jacqueline O’Neil and from other sources duly described along the article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *