American Staffordshire Terriers are a strong, athletic breed with a stocky body and large head. The coat is short and stiff and comes in any color and in solid, parti-colored, and patched varieties. Their ears are set high on the head and their eyes are low, widely spaced, and dark. American Staffordshire Terriers stand 17 to 19 inches at the shoulder and weigh 50 to 60 pounds. With care, the breed can live up to 15 years.
When properly cared for and trained, this breed is a docile, loving, and attentive animal and makes a great companion animal for active adults.
These terriers are intelligent, friendly, and loyal dogs, and they enjoy being around people. They are, essentially, the same breed as the American Pit Bull Terrier, and therefore have a negative reputation with a large percentage of the public. When properly cared for and trained, this breed is a docile, loving, and attentive animal and makes a great companion animal for active adults. American Staffordshire Terriers, or AmStaffs, are not always tolerant of children and other animals.
American Staffordshire Terriers are incredibly strong and can pull most humans behind a leash.
The American Staffordshire Terrier needs and gives affection and is an adaptable, playful, and intelligent breed. These dogs are friendly around strangers but can be territorial; this, along with their intelligence and alertness, makes them good watchdogs. AmStaffs are a very loyal breed and will protect their family from any threat, but they are not vicious guard dogs like many believe. In fact, they tend to be naturally friendly, outgoing, and docile.
These dogs are not always good around other dogs or around cats, and they are not the best choice for households with small children. Some individuals may enjoy the company of children, however.
They love to play fetch and other games, and are ideal for active adults who enjoy running and biking, as AmStaffs will run along with their human companions. The breed needs a lot of time and attention, and American Staffordshire Terriers tend to become noisy and destructive when lonely, neglected, or angry. Although these dogs don't mind spending time in the backyard, they do not appreciate living outside all the time.
American Staffordshire Terriers are an active and generally healthy breed. They are more prone to cancer, allergies, skin problems, progressive retinal atrophy, and congenital hip dysplasia than some other breeds, and so require regular veterinary checkups.
These dogs sometimes suffer from a congenital heart defect called patent ductus arteriosis. This condition may cause fluid buildup in the lungs due to congestive heart failure, or it may cause no symptoms and be discovered during a routine veterinary visit. AmStaffs have a high tolerance for fatigue and pain that may make it difficult to detect injuries and health problems.
With plenty of exercise, routine veterinary care, timely vaccinations, and proper nutrition, American Staffordshire Terriers typically live 12 to 15 years.
American Staffordshire Terriers behave best when given a job to do. They are suited to dog sports, including tracking and agility, due to their size, build, and strength, and they are intelligent and fairly trainable. Without training and attention, these dogs can develop territorial issues and behavior problems, such as excessive barking and destructiveness.
The breed needs to be socialized, especially in urban settings where contact with other dogs is unavoidable during walks. The AmStaff's strength and weight make it difficult to control on a leash, and care must be taken in crowds or in other areas where the breed may be triggered to pull and run. With plenty of outdoor exercise, this breed tends to be cheerful and mindful.
If the individual dog has a fighting background, he should not be introduced to a household without expert evaluation and rehabilitation. These dogs can be dangerous due to their size, strength, and refusal to back down. These traits make them deadly under the right (or wrong) circumstances.
AmStaffs require very minimal grooming. Their low-maintenance coat does not shed very much, and the breed is usually happy to be brushed. When shedding does occur, a thorough brushing several times each week will help remove loose hair to keep it off furniture and clothing. When healthy, American Staffordshire Terriers have a glossy coat.
To prevent ear infection, check the ears at least weekly for redness, odor, and other signs of infection. Remove dirt and debris with a cotton ball dampened with ear cleanser. Report injuries or other concerning symptoms to a veterinarian.
Trim the nails once a month, or more often if needed, and bathe the AmStaff only when necessary to remove oil or other residue. Some American Staffordshire Terriers enjoy playing in wading pools or hoses, and this may serve as the only bath they need.
During the 19th century, breeders crossed Bulldogs and Terriers hoping to develop a dog with a large build and strong spirit. The resulting breed became known as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in England. After being brought to America in the 1800s, the breed developed into an even stronger and larger animal.
Once they were recognized by the AKC, their name changed to American Staffordshire Terrier in the United States to reflect the breed's heavy type and to distinguish between the American and English breeds. Historically, the breed also went by the name Bull-and-Terrier Dog, Pit Dog, and Half and Half.
AmStaffs were originally used on farms as ratters or for hunting bears and wild pigs. Some also served in the military. Unfortunately, the breed became popular in the wrong circles and breeders began using American Staffordshire Terriers in dogfights. As their popularity increased, the dogs were bred to be as strong and aggressive as possible. AmStaffs bred for fighting do not make good companion animals, and the resulting conflict has earned the breed a very negative reputation.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the American Staffordshire Terrier in 1936.