Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Breed Group: Terrier

Temperament and Behavior

Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a gung-ho attitude toward life. They are known to be so tenacious and courageous, they often have to be protected by their owner from things like fire or broken glass. They are always ready for action and adventure and most love doing anything that involves their people. With their great loyalty, Staffordshire Bull Terriers make excellent watchdogs, and although they may appear intimidating, some can be too people-friendly to make the best guardians of people or property. But with their tremendous sense of loyalty, the vast majority will vigorously defend their family if they threatened. Unlike most other terriers, well-trained Staffordshire Bull Terriers are exceptionally good with children. In the U.K. they are sometimes called nanny dogs, reflecting their legendary tolerance for little ones. Early socialization is key if they are expected to live with small animals or other dogs, although keeping two males together without supervision is never recommended. They possess both the vermin killing instinct of a terrier and the instinct of a pit fighter to attack other dogs. Being extremely active dogs both inside and out, these dogs need vigorous exercise every day. Outside play areas must be well secured as Staffordshire Bull Terriers are both strong climbers and diggers. Some localities require them to be chained. With their strong jaws, they can rip almost anything apart. They should be provided with plenty of strong chew toys without parts that they could swallow as they rip it to shreds. Toys made of tough natural rubber, rope or nylon are recommended.
Physical Characteristics

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier is medium in size, growing 17 to 19 inches tall and weighing 30 to 40 pounds. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are stocky and very strong with extremely powerful jaws. The dense, smooth coat comes in many colors including red, fawn, black, blue, brindle, white, and any combination of these colors. The coat requires only minimal brushing and it sheds very little. They do not tolerate either hot or cold temperatures well, needing a moderate climate to thrive.

Trainer's Notes

Even though Staffordshire Bull Terriers are naturally friendly with people, an extra effort to socialize them well, especially with other dogs, will pay dividends. With appropriate and consistent training, they prove to be very capable and willing dogs that can excel in many activities including obedience and agility. But quick to learn and bred to fight other dogs, with improper (or no) training, they can become quite aggressive and unmanageable. Even though naturally good-natured and affectionate, this breed is not for the inexperienced dog handler.

Photo © by Pleple2000 available under the GNUFDL
Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier


Between 16% and 17% percent of Staffordshire Bull Terriers are affected by either Elbow or Hip Dysplasia. Cataracts, including juvenile cataracts, are also sometimes seen in the breed. On average, Staffordshire Bull Terriers live to between 12 and 14 years of age.


Not nearly as popular as their American counterparts, Staffordshire Bull Terriers rank 80th in popularity of all the American Kennel Club recognized breeds. Approximately 1,000 dogs are registered in a typical year.

Breed History

Not a cross between the American Staffordshire Terrier and Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was developed in England in the early 1800s as dog fighting became popular. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a result of the cross between the English Bulldog and the Black and Tan Terrier. They were bred for extremely strong jaws and a fighting spirit, but also affection towards humans to allow for safe handling. After dog fighting became illegal, their fanciers bred them to become better pets and show dogs. The American Kennel Club did not recognize the breed until 1974.

Additional Information

Starting in the 1980’s, the aggressive reputation of pit fighting dogs led to efforts to ban these breeds from private ownership in many communities. Make sure you are not in such an area before getting one; and even if no ban exists in your locale, beware of the public perception and liability issues that go along with owning a breed frequently described as vicious. Some areas require them to be chained when outside. John F. Kennedy Jr., Mel Gibson, and Anne Bancroft are all Staffordshire Bull Terrier owners of note. The National (US) Breed Club is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America.

Is A Staffordshire Bull Terrier THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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