Meet the Breed: The American Staffordshire Terrier

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Overview:

  • Height: 17"-19" (Male), 16"-18" (Female)
  • Weight: 57-67 pounds
  • Historical function: Guarding, fighting, war mascot, companion
  • Modern function: Companion, working, and guarding
  • AKC classification: Terrier

Physical Characteristics: The American Staffordshire Terrier (Am Staff) is extremely strong for its size. Agile, very muscular and stocky with a broad, powerful head, and a medium, wide muzzle. The American Staffordshire Terrier is generally of larger bone structure, head size and weight than the American Pit Bull Terrier. Their chest area is broad and muscular. The coat is short, stiff, and glossy.

History of Breed: In the English region of Staffordshire in the 19th century, the Bulldog was crossed with terriers to develop an athletic, tenacious dog for bull baiting. It became known as the Staffordshire Bullterrier. After it was imported to America the breed was further developed to increase its weight and the size of its powerful head. This breeding program produced what became the American Staffordshire Terrier. After dog fighting was banned in the United States in 1900, two strains of these dogs were developed, a show strain and a fighting dog strain. The show strain was labeled the American Staffordshire, while the fighting dog strain was labeled the American Pit Bull Terrier. The two are now being recognized as separate breeds in some dog registration programs. The two breeds vary in coat color and build from each other, but both are being developed to channel their loyalty and athletic ability into dependable, stable pets to counteract the negative press they've gotten as fighting dogs, even though other dogs are rated as more aggressive.

Temperament: The American Staffordshire Terrier is a bright, friendly, stable, and confident dog. Gentle and loving toward people, it is a good-natured, amusing, extremely loyal and affectionate family pet. It is good with children and adults. This dog has a high desire to please its master. It is an extremely courageous and intelligent guard dog that is very full of life. Over the past 50 years, careful breeding has produced this friendly, trustworthy, dog that is an especially good dog for children. They should be monitored around children simply because the dog is powerful and can be overwhelming to a child. These dogs need to be socialized early and trained well by a confident leader who lets the dog know where he stands in the family. This socialization is also required to prevent aggression towards other dogs, particularly ones of the same gender. This dog may or may not be a good candidate for dog parks. Be sure to know your dog's tendencies and be a strong pack leader to ensure this powerful dog is well mannered. As the target of Breed-Specific Legislation, these dogs are counting on good handlers to turn the tide against the negative press this and other bully breeds receive. Because they are so loyal and protective by nature, they will be a courageous and a persistent fighter if provoked. Highly protective of his owners and the owner's property, it will fight an enemy to the death if the enemy traps the dog in a corner and threatens its loved ones. This breed has a very high tolerance for pain.

  • Best suited for: Experienced dog owners as the American Staffordshire Terrier requires firm, consistent training. May not do well with other dogs, particularly of the same sex. Wonderful in families with children when socialized well and early.
  • Preferred living conditions: Staffordshire Terriers will do okay in an apartment if they are sufficiently exercised, but again, early and consistent socialization is required to ensure this dog is a good citizen in the close quarters of apartment life. They are very active indoors and will be okay without a yard, but would prefer one. This breed prefers warm climates.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: The smooth, shorthaired coat is easy to groom. Brush on a regular basis with a firm bristle brush, and bathe or dry shampoo as necessary. This breed is an average shedder.
  • Exercise needs: This is an active dog that needs a daily walk or run.
  • Life expectancy: 10-12 years.
  • Health concerns: Some AmStaffs are prone to heart murmurs, thyroid problems, skin allergies, tumors, hip dysplasia, hereditary cataracts and congenital heart disease.

Breed Club Links: Staffordshire Terrier Club of America Inc. Do you have any stories or thoughts about the American Staffordshire Terrier? Photo credit: DogTemperament.com

This entry was posted by Mary.
Carol Ann Sullivan on January 15 at 10:37 AM said:

Good looking dog...no pit fighting...perhaps that is gone forever..no dog should be used for such a terrible situation...dogs need to be loved and cared for and they will take care of their owners....just heard of a dog that was shot with buckshot and left to die..thanks to wonderful people he is being cared for now..
Linda Wenger on January 15 at 11:45 AM said:

It is so sad that these beautiful dogs are being discriminated against by so many cities and states. There is no reason that they should be considered any more dangerous than any other breed if well treated by humans. I've read of case after case of terribly abused or neglected bull terriers being rescued and showing nothing but love and gentleness toward their rescuers. Even many of M. Vick's victims were able to be rehomed.
Rose on January 15 at 12:52 PM said:

We love our American Staff! She is eleven years old, small only 43 lbs., is as loving and gentle as our beloved Golden Retriever girl, loves all people and is perfectly polite with ALL dogs. She would never growl or start a fight and has never ever shown one ounce of agression to dogs or humans alike. She exercises for at least one hour with other dogs each day in all weather elements with at least her Golden Retriever sister and our dog clients. We are so lucky to be loved by her. Rose @ For the Dogs, NH
Aileen on January 15 at 3:12 PM said:

A while back, we decided to drive out to check out an agility dog park with our 9 y.o. Border Collie - there was a young guy with a pit puppy there. The guy, who was on a bench staring into the ground, seemed not the least bit interested in his puppy, who was pretty much in our faces, looking for attention, while we were exercising our BC. Although we tried to acknowledge the puppy w/ attention and petting, we eventually looked over at his owner to see whether he was going to call his puppy back. He caught our glance, got up, came over, and DRAGGED the poor puppy back (by the scruff of the neck) to his bench, where he started cuffing and shoving the poor pup!!! I didn't know what to do, as he was quite big and intimidating, with his black hood over his head and his many tattoos! I couldn't help thinking that this sweet, little pit pup might turn into an aggressive dog as it got older! I hate to say this, but the situation really scared me and we left in a hurry and haven't been back since.
Rose on January 15 at 5:44 PM said:

With a little luck, the guardian of that sweet little dog got terribly bored and gave it away to some loving family. We know that the person who first had our Amer. Staff. Terrier was a mean, dominant tatooed, teeth jeweled young man whom just so happened to "train" this beautiful, timid, sweet girl with an iron fist and iron foot. When she was a pup and peed, he kicked her. When she was frightened, her kicked her. We got this beauty four years ago from a family member whom loved her but, was heading off to Iraq for a year at least. Since this girl has been with us, we have worked so hard and it has taken three years for us to put out our hand to pet her for her to stop thinking she was going to be hit. It is heartwrenching, but, through it all, this girl has maintained her polite, happy, willing to please self. This rot of human being who abused her will get his on judgement day, but, meanwhile, he did not successfully beat the beautiful soul out of her. We are blessed to have her in our lives.
Mary on January 15 at 10:28 PM said:

I've always thought these were attractive dogs. I would tend to gravitate to them in the shelters because of those big grins and energy, and would always be surprised when I was told they were "pit bulls," since I hadn't been educated about what the bully breeds look like. I'm glad people are working to bring these breeds back into favor.
Mary on January 15 at 10:29 PM said:

That's true. Unfortunately, the city I work near is one of the worst offenders... Denver. It is a blot on the conscience of this community.
Mary on January 15 at 10:31 PM said:

She sounds adorable! Hopefully you'll send in pictures: http://www.baxterboo.com/contests/rules.cfm
Mary on January 15 at 10:34 PM said:

Your stories make me sad, Aileen and Rose! I pray Rose's prediction will come true and that the poor dog finds a good home like Rose's angel!
maria on February 16 at 5:11 PM said:

I just love my bully she is 11 months , very playful loves children and Gets along great with my Shi Tzu who is 8 years ,I just cant imagine how People could be soo crule to these dogs
What do you think?

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