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American Staffordshire Terrier

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 American Staffordshire Terrier

This dog, also known as the Amstaff, and nicknamed Staffie, has its roots in England, where its progenitors were bred to fight; but the American version has been thoroughly gentled.

Here is the American Staffordshire Terrier at a Glance
Name American Staffordshire Terrier
Other Names Amstaff
Nicknames Staffie
Origin United States out of England
Average size Medium Large
Average weight 62 to 88 pounds
Average height 17 to 19 inches at the shoulder
Life span 10 to 12 years
Coat type Short, stiff, glossy
Hypoallergenic No
Color Various: black, fawn, sable, brown, brindle
Popularity Average
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Good
Tolerance to cold Average
Shedding Minimal
Drooling Not a drooler
Obesity Not usually a problem
Grooming/brushing Occasional brushing needed
Barking Not a barker
Exercise needs Very high
Trainability Firm hand needed
Friendliness Very friendly with people
Good first dog Probably not
Good family pet Yes
Good with children Yes
Good with other dogs Not great
Good with other pets Okay
Good with strangers Okay
Good apartment dog Okay
Handles alone time well Not that well
Health issues Hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, congenital cataract, ataxia
Medical expenses $250 average annual
Food expenses $235 average annual
Miscellaneous expenses $65 average annual
Average annual expense $585
Cost to purchase $850
Biting Statistics At least 1 child victim for certain.

The American Staffordshire Terrier’s Beginnings

Terriers have been a part of British and Irish history for several hundred years, at least since Norman times and probably before, chasing hares, spooking foxes, killing rats, and fighting each other. They have split into many different varieties, from small to middling large, over that time. The breed’s name comes from the French word for burrow, as many types of this dog were and are famous for their love of digging rats and other small burrowing critters out of their holes.

In the nineteenth century, breeders looking for a feisty dog to use in bull baiting and dog fights put terriers and bulldogs together, and the Bull Terrier was born. It crossed the Atlantic with the colonists, and as people began to spread across the United States, their terriers went with them as useful hunting and working dogs.

New Lease on Life

Breeders in the U.S. began working on Bull Terriers, seeking dogs of different sizes and temperaments, and wound up with three varieties: The American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier. They are very similar dogs in appearance and temperament; even experts on canine breeds sometimes have trouble telling them apart, and some owners have their pets registered by more than one organization.This is possible because the American Kennel Club recognizes the American Staffordshire Terrier, the AKC and the United Kennel Club both recognize the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier is recognized by the UKC.

However, breeders of all of these terriers have worked hard in recent decades to make the three breeds more distinctive. In the case of the American Staffordshire Terrier, fifty years of work has led to a dog that is recognized as gentle, easygoing, friendly with adults and children, and not feisty or aggressive. While it still has some of the qualities of a hunting or fighting dog, these days it is prized primarily as a companion.

The Dog You See Today

The Staffie is a medium large dog that typically weighs between sixty-two and eighty-eight pounds, and stands seventeen to nineteen inches at the shoulder. It is a stocky dog, big boned, and extremely strong for its size. The head is broad and somewhat large, with big, strong jaws. The back is straight and robust, and the ears are short and set high on the Staffie’s head. The tail is short and tapers to a point. The Staffie’s eyes are round and dark. Its coat is short and thick, with stiff, glossy hair.

Overall, the American Staffordshire Terrier resembles its cousins, but there is one noticeable difference between the Staffie and the Pit Bull Terrier; the Pit Bull sometimes has a reddish nose, but the Staffie’s nose always dark or black.

The Inner American Staffordshire Terrier


In general, the Staffie is a very easygoing dog, gentle, affectionate and playful. It is also nimble, agile, extremely strong, and smart.It has a lot of energy, and loves rowdy play, which also means that it needs early socialization and training so that it doesn’t accidentally cause harm with its strong jaws.

While its forebears, that mix of terrier and bulldog, were bred to be aggressive with other animals, they were also selected to be very good with people. That was especially important with a fighting dog, as the dog’s owner had to be able to control the animal before, during and after a fight. Obedience and responsiveness to humans were essential. That has not changed. One of the prime characteristics of the American Staffordshire Terrier is its desire to please the people around it, and its willing obedience to its owner.

That being said, The Staffie still shows its roots. It is fearless and tenacious, has a high pain threshold, and will not back down from a fight. If it feels threatened by another dog, it may be aggressive, and so its owner needs to be able to exercise firm control. Even after half a century of intensive breeding for gentleness, there can still be a wide variation in the Staffie’s temperament. Some are extremely gentle and playful, and others may be feisty and stubborn. One may deal very well with other dogs, and another may be a fighter. This is one dog where it is important to know and be able to trust that the breeder you deal with can assure you of the temperament of that particular line of dogs. In other words, you probably do not want to go to an animal shelter to look for your American Staffordshire Terrier adoptee.


Living with an American Staffordshire Terrier

Training needs

Staffies are smart, but not the easiest dogs to train. They are eager to please, but also stubborn, and again, there is a wide variation in the temperaments of individual dogs. One may be easy to work with, and another one less so, and you probably won’t be able to know that in advance. Also, all of them have a reputation for being somewhat difficult to house train. The smartest thing is to assume that you will have to put some real work into your Staffie.

An important thing to remember with an American Staffordshire Terrier is that it is a pack dog, and therefore needs a pack leader. That has to be the owner, or else it is likely to be the Staffie, which would not be a good thing. The owner of a Staffie has to be strong, firm, and able to be in control. Early obedience training is a must for this dog, and needs to be followed up with daily reminders about who is the boss. If you do not have the time, the energy, and the willingness to put quite a bit of effort into working with your dog, this is probably not the breed for you.

How active is it?

The Staffie is probably not the best dog for someone who lives in an apartment, although many do. The owner, however, needs to have the time and willingness to see to it that the Staffie gets enough exercise—at least a good run or walk every day. The Staffie also does not tolerate a lot of time isolated from its people; it will be bored and lonely, and wind up being destructive. It may also take out its frustration on other animals.

The Staffie does not, however, need huge amounts of space, and will do well in a smaller yard. A good fence, however, is important, because the Staffie needs to stay separated from neighborhood dogs. Other dogs in the family can also be a problem with some Staffies, and so if you already have other dogs, this might not be the best choice for your next pet.

Caring for the American Staffordshire Terrier

Grooming requirements

The Staffie has a short and smooth coat which is easy to maintain. Brush it with a firm bristled brush once or twice a week and give it a bath just when it needs one. Avoid bathing too frequently so that it does not develop skin problems from having the natural oils in its skin damaged. It sheds a low to average amount. There is always the option of using a dry shampoo now and then too. To get the coat nice a shiny you can also rub it down with a towel or even a chamois. Give its ears a check and wipe clean once weekly and brush its teeth using a proper dog toothpaste and brush at least twice a week. If it does not naturally wear down its nails and they become too long have them clipped by someone with experience who knows what the risks are with dog nails.

Feeding time

How much your Staffie will need to consume daily will depend on its metabolism, size and level of activity amongst over things. About 2½ to 3 cups or even more is likely. Feed it to it in at least two meals to avoid issues with Bloat and make sure you do not let him gulp down a meal after vigorous exercise. Use a high quality dry dog food as it is better for your dog in terms of ingredients and nutrition.

How they get on with children and other animals

Given that, however, the American Staffordshire Terrier is a very good family dog. Staffies bond well with all the people in the family, and love children. They are loyal and protective. They make good watch dogs and guard dogs. Although other dogs may be a problem, family pets that are not canine do fine. Your Staffie won’t chase your cat or eat your hamster.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a healthy, sturdy dog for the most part. There are not a lot of congenital health problems, and it is not prone to traumatic injury because of its strong muscles and heavy bones. There are some potential problems, however.

Staffies are vulnerable to hip dysplasia, where the joint becomes dislocated. If this happens frequently, surgery may be desirable. There is also some tendency to patellar luxation, but this is less likely.

Staffies are also at some risk for thyroid problems, which can be dealt with through diet and medication, and have some vulnerability to congenital cataract.

The most serious potential medical problem is ataxia, a neurological disorder that leads to loss of coordination of the legs, head or body, so that the dog falls or loses its balance and staggers. In some cases anti-seizure medication can help, but not always. Fortunately, ataxia in Staffies is very rare.

Biting Statistics

The American Staffordshire Terrier is often mistaken for the Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier. Looking at the data we have that covers 34 years of dog attacks there is one attack on a child where a bite needed intimidate medical attention but no scarring occurred. However there are 3397 attacks attributed to what are labeled just Pit bulls and it is possible, even likely, that some of those attacks were Staffies. While in general it is not a dog that is aggressive to people, things can happen and with other dogs there are aggression issues. There are sadly a lot of unstable dogs being bred nowadays from lines that are aggressive. It is vital when buying a dog that has a history of aggression that you buy from trusted breeder who only use stable lines. You also need to dedicate time to early socialization and training and make it clear to this dog that you are the dominant one. Any dog can become aggressive given certain circumstances but there are ways to reduce the risk.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

Start with the purchase price. The average cost of a new American Staffordshire Terrier is about $850, although this may go up or down a couple of hundred dollars depending on where you are looking. If you can find one at an animal shelter, the cost would be considerably less; but as already noted, a pet shelter may not be the best place to go looking for this particular breed because of concerns about temperament.

Wherever you find your Staffie, the next step is having it spayed, if it is a female,or neutered, if it is male. These days you can expect that to run you in the neighborhood of $220. At the same time, you will be wanting to take care of other routine medical work like de-worming and getting it the first round of puppy shots, which will typically cost another $70. At this time you will also want to decide whether or not to invest in pet insurance. Many people do these days because of the increasing cost of veterinary services. If you decide to buy insurance, you are looking at around $200 or more, depending on how comprehensive the coverage is, per year.

Then, of course, you will need a collar and leash for the pup—say $35 for the two—and a pet license for about another $15. If you decide to crate your pet, a crate of the proper size will cost about $125.

Next, of course, is food. For a dog this size you will want to get food that is meant for larger dogs, beginning with a puppy formula that will help your pet grow at the right speed—not too fast and not too slow. Good quality food will cost in the neighborhood of $235 a year. That doesn’t include treats, of course. How much you spend on those is up to you, but you can probably figure on a minimum of $75 a year.

Overall, the annual cost for your new Staffie will probably be somewhere around $585.


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American Staffordshire Terriers, also known as Staffies, are close relatives of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier, all of which come down from fighting dogs bred in previous centuries in Great Britain. The Staffie, however, has been intensely worked with by breeders over the last half century or more to turn it into a gentle, playful family pet. The breeders have succeeded for the most part, but the temperaments of individual Staffies can vary widely. If you are looking to adopt one, it will be important to make sure you have real confidence in the breeder you deal with. But once past that, you can count on your Staffie being a loyal and loving family pet.

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