Breed of the Month–American Staffordshire Terrier

1December 2012

American Staffordshire Terrier

A.K.A. “AmStaff”

Color:  All colors: solid, patched, particolor
Height:  Males:  18-19 inches/  Females:  17-18 inches
Weight:  57-67 lbs
Life Span:  10-12 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Allergies, cataracts, cancer, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism spinocerebellar ataxia, hives, congenital heart disease, progressive retinal atrophy.

Coat:  Close, stiff, short, glossy
Country of Origin:  United States

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

Descended from mastiff-type dogs, the AmStaff was developed from bull and terrier type dogs to catch and hold wild game for hunters, and used to manage bulls by butchers.  The American Staffordshire Terrier was popular in bear and bullbaiting until it was outlawed in 1835.

Athletic, intelligent, strong, and tenacious, the American Staffordshire Terrier gained notoriety over the years for his affectionate nature with his family and his loyalty.  The breed became increasingly popular in the United States as a hunting and guard dog.

The AmStaff is adept at guarding, hunting, herding and weight pulling.  This breed can be aggressive towards other dogs if not properly socialized and trained.  The AmStaff is a very powerful breed and I would not necessarily recommend them for the first time dog owner.  Properly raised, the AmStaff is a wonderful breed and holds a special place in my own heart.  As soon as my family has really settled into our new lives in Maui, Hawaii, we will be looking to adopt an American Staffordshire Terrier (or more likely a mixed dog with this breed) to add to our pack.

The many dogs labeled “Pit Bulls” are very powerful dogs that need proper training and socialization.  Please do not get this breed if you are not willing to put in a large amount of work in training and basic obedience.  The “Pitbull” has gained a very bad reputation in the United States over the years as being a vicious, unruly dog that attacks for no reason.  This happens because many, MANY people who get a powerful breed such as the AmStaff do not raise the breed correctly, and end up adding to the stereotype.  I have witnessed this problem first hand many times.  When considering adding a dog to your family, you must consider what breed is the right one for you and your family.  It is not about what you think might look cool or that everyone else has.  Please do your research before considering adding any power breed to your family.  Do not add to the problem!  We need AmStaff owners who will take responsibility and raise a power breed to be a well-socialized, calm, balanced member of society.

When comparing the AmStaff with the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), it is noted that the AmStaff is more friendly with children and people in general.  There are very few differences in the two breeds, and many people and organizations consider them basically the same.  The AmStaff is generally shorter, seemingly smaller, and generally has a slimmer-looking nose.

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a high-energy breed that requires an extreme amount of exercise. The AmStaff requires several fast-paced walks each day to keep him from developing destructive behaviors.  The AmStaff also requires a large amount of mental exercise to keep him happy and healthy.

The coat of the American Staffordshire Terrier is easily cared for with regular brushing and bathing.

It is important to learn to read the body language of the AmStaff.  This is one of many reasons I do not recommend them for a first time dog owner.  Smart and responsive, the AmStaff will excel at training when proper positive reinforcement techniques are used.  Socialization from early puppyhood throughout his life is vitally important to raising a well balanced AmStaff.