American Staffordshire Terrier
Breed Group: Terrier
Temperament and Behavior
These sturdy, powerful dogs are typically docile, friendly and playful with their entire family including children, especially older, well-behaved kids. The reaction of an Am Staff, as some owners call them, to strangers varies from exuberant face licking to stand-offish. This tough, fearless dog is utterly devoted to their family. They are not as barky as many smaller terriers but they use their voice frequently making them a superb watchdog. A close relative of the American Pit Bull, some are extremely protective and may not give an intruder a chance to leave the house after entering. But others offer no protective instincts at all. Though they frequently play well with other dogs, they can be aggressive, especially with those that attempt to dominate him. Canine interaction should be supervised and a human referee should be ready to intervene if aggression flares. They should not be completely trusted with other pets. Cats may not be safe, even if raised together. American Staffordshire Terriers have an above average activity level when outside. Some are noted escape artists who can open gates, or climb, jump, or dig their way to freedom. Once inside, they become even more active; but, curiously only average exercise is needed to maintain their muscular physique.
Physical CharacteristicsThe American Staffordshire Terrier is an average size dog. They have a stocky, muscular build that gives the overall impression of great strength and endurance. Their average weight is 57 to 67 pounds with a height of 17 to 19 inches at the shoulder. Coat colors range from solid to partially colored, but more than 80% are white with black and tan, or liver which is currently less popular. Their coats are short and glossy, require very little grooming, and shed modestly. American Staffordshire Terriers tolerate both heat and cold reasonably well but should be protected from extremes in either direction.
Trainer's NotesCompanionship is important to the breed. But with temperaments varying widely from dog to dog, socialization is paramount. Trainers must understand training versus testing and dominance versus bullying. Indulgence will let the dog take control of the household. Harsh handling results in a defensive dog. Both can result in serious issues. But with their unique power, agility, and intelligence, they can be exceptional at almost any dog sport and a joy for a knowledgeable trainer to work with. This is not a dog that can be chained in the backyard and ignored. They are best only with dog savvy owners.
American Staffordshire Terrier
HealthOne in four American Staffordshire Terriers have problems with Hip Dysplasia and another 17% are affected by Elbow Dysplasia. About 8% have Thyroid gland problems and some lines have a genetic predisposition for Juvenile Cataracts. They have a typical lifespan of 12-14 years.
PopularityWith approximately 1,600 dogs registerd each year, the American Kennel Club ranks the American Staffordshire Terrier 63rd in popularity.
Breed HistoryBoth the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier descend from common lines. Both dogs gained fame in England as fighting dogs, although this practice was (and still is) illegal. They were brought to America in the late 1800’s, where they dominated dog fighting pits. In time, the two strains diverged becoming known as the Pit Bull Terrier and the American Bull Terrier. In 1936 the AKC recognized the breed as the Staffordshire Terrier; then in 1972, the name was changed to the American Staffordshire Terrier.
Additional InformationTheir reputation for aggression has led many communities to ban the breed from private ownership. Make sure you are not in such an area before getting one. And even if no ban exists in your area, beware of the public perception and liability issues that go along with owning a breed that is frequently described as vicious. American Staffordshire Terriers have been owned by John F. Kennedy, Anne Bancroft, and Mel Brooks. The (US) National breed club is the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America.