The American Staffordshire Terrier


The American Staffordshire Terrier finds his ancestors in the brutal days of dog-bull and dog-bear fighting. In 1835 a cross between the Old English Terrier and the Bulldog produced a dog breed called “Bull and Terrier.” This new breed ruled the ring and gained a sizable fan base.

After dog fighting was banned the Bull and Terrier mix found its place among farmers and proved useful as a ratter. Soon after making their way to America differences in Bull and Terrier breeding led to subdivisions within the group. The American Kennel club recognized the Staffordshire Terrier as an individual breed in 1936.

During the 1900s the Staffordshire slowly transitioned from a fighting dog into a family dog. During World War I he was also used on the battlefield. The greatest war-dog of that era was named Sergeant Stubby.

Sizing up:

  • Weight: 50-60 lbs.
  • Height: 17-19 inches
  • Coat: Short, smooth, and close
  • Color: Red, blue, black, fawn, white, or any shade of brindle
  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years

What’s the American Staffordshire Terrier like?

The American Staffordshire Terrier should be taken on by pet veterans. He is sweet natured and playful, but his instincts can make him difficult to handle. The American Staffordshire terrier has a strong prey drive and will chase anything. He’s also tough, intelligent, willful, and prideful. He won’t take direction easily so early training is essential. Perhaps even more important is early socialization. The American Staffordshire Terrier is unlikely to get along with other dogs, especially dogs of the same sex. Try to teach him to have polite interactions early in life, and always keep him on a leash at the dog park.

American Staffordshire Terriers shouldn’t be left outside alone, but they also won’t be happy inside doing nothing. They’re high maintenance canines and could walk for many miles per day. They have farm life in their blood and love to be given jobs to do. Indoors, American Staffordshire Terriers should be supervised around children, but will generally be very playful and friendly with them.

The American Staffordshire Terrier makes a poor guard dog. Despite his intimidating appearance he loves all people and will welcome intruders.

His grooming needs are minimal but he will need plenty of exercise every day.


The following conditions might affect the American Staffordshire Terrier:

  • Cataracts
  • Distichiasis
  • Mast cell tumors

Takeaway points:

  • American Staffordshire Terriers love people but will often be aggressive towards animals.
  • Adopted American Staffordshire Terriers are sometimes rescue dogs from abusive homes. They’ll need extra care and attention throughout their lives.
  • American Staffordshire Terriers are versatile dogs with many talents.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

American Staffordshire Terrier

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American Staffordshire Terrier, breed of dog, originally called Staffordshire Terrier when registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1936, that was developed in the United States and based on the smaller British Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The ancestry of the American Staffordshire Terrier, or “Staffie” as it is sometimes known, includes breeds such as bulldogs and mastiffs used for bearbaiting (that is, the setting of dogs on a bear or a bull chained to a stake) and dogfighting.

In the United States the American Staffordshire Terrier was bred for a stable temperament and adapted for hunting rodents and other vermin and game and for farm work, taking advantage of the breed’s strength and courage. Over time, larger dogs became the norm. American Staffordshire Terriers reached a peak of popularity in the first half of the 20th century “Pete the Pup” appeared in the Our Gang comedies, and the breed personified the all-American pet.

The American Staffordshire Terrier is strong, muscular, and stocky, with a broad head and full cheeks. Its “rose” ears (in which the top folds over and back) are sometimes cropped short. It stands 43 to 48 cm (17 to 19 inches) tall and weighs roughly 23 to 36 kg (50 to 80 pounds). Its stiff glossy coat may occur in any colour, with or without patches of contrasting colour, and many dogs have some white on the head, throat, and chest. The American Staffordshire Terrier is affectionate, loyal, and good with children, making it an outstanding family pet. Many authorities note, however, that the breed possesses some level of aggression, especially toward other animals, and they also note that properly bred and socialized dogs do not display innate aggression against humans.

Authorities differ on whether the American Staffordshire Terrier and the pit bull are the same breed. The AKC and the Continental Kennel Club separate them, whereas the United Kennel Club combines both within the American Pit Bull Terrier breed.

This article was most recently revised and updated by John P. Rafferty, Editor.

Characteristics of the American Staffordshire Terrier

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

Click Play to Learn More About the Friendly and Trainable American Staffordshire Terrier

Comparison between the Staffordshire Bull and American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier

Originating from the same source, almost a century of development has separated these two different breeds which, at first might appear similar. But a closer examination reveals the difference in the general build of these two breeds. Although the Staffordshire Bull Terrier should be obviously smaller, the American Staffordshire has a far more graceful build with his longer neck and slightly sloping topline.

The allowable colours of the two breeds have remained remarkably similar. But two colour combinations are not allowed. These are any shade of liver and black and tan. This is because those who first developed the breed believed these colours indicated cross-breeding. However, it is amazing how these colours can suddenly crop up in the best of litters as evidenced by the attached picture of quite a nicely conformed modern Staffordshire Bull Terrier with the typical black and tan marking pattern.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier American Staffordshire Terrier
General Appearance Muscular and agile with great strength for its size Muscular and agile with great strength for its size but graceful without being long legged or racy
Size Desirable height at withers 36-41 cms (14 to 16 ins), these heights being related to the weights. Weight: dogs: 13-17 kgs (28-38 lbs) bitches 11-15.4 kgs. Bearing in mind the height and weight should be in proportion, the height for dogs is around 46 - 48 cms (18 - 19 inches) at the shoulder with bitches 43 - 46 cm (17 - 18 inches)
Colour Any of the following colours either whole or mixed with white: red, fawn, white, black or blue or of the brindle colours. Black and tan or liver highly undesirable. Any solid, patched or parti-colour is permissible. However all white or more than 80% white or black and tan or liver not to be encouraged.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier American Staffordshire Terrier
Head Short through and deep through with broad skull, very pronounced cheek muscles and distinct stop. The nose is black but the foreface should be short. Medium length and deep through with broad skull, very pronounced cheek muscles and distinct stop. The nose is black but the foreface should be of medium length and fall away under the eyes.
Eyes Dark and round, of medium size and set to look straight ahead. Dark and round, set low in skull and far apart
Ears Rose-shaped or semi-erect but not large Small, rose-shaped or semi-erect
Mouth Lips tight, perfect scissors bite Lips tight, perfect scissors bite
Neck Rather short, muscular with no dewlap Medium length, heavy and slightly arched with no dewlap
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Am Staffordshire Terrier
Forequarters Forelegs straight, set wide apart with upright pasterns, but front feet may turn out a little (for balance). Forelegs straight, large with round bone, with upright pasterns. The forelegs are set wide apart (to allow chest development).
Topline Level Sloping slightly from withers to rump with a gentle short slope at rump to base of tail.
Body Balanced, well sprung ribs with chest deep and wide Fairly short, well sprung ribs with chest deep and broad
Hindquarters Well muscled with a good turn of stifle and short hocks that neither turn in nor out Well muscled with a good turn of stifle and short hocks that neither turn in nor out
Feet Medium sized with well arched toes Medium sized, well padded feet with black nails in solid coloured dogs
Tail Medium length, set low and tapering to a point and carried low. The tail's shape and carriage may be likened to an old fashioned pump handle. Short compared with the size of the dog, set low and tapering to a point. The tail should be fairly straight and never curled or carried over the back.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier American Staffordshire Terrier
Gait Free, with discernible power derived from its hindquarters. With economy of effort, the legs should be parallel when viewed from the front or rear. Springy without roll or pace.
Coat Smooth, short and close. Short, close and glossy feels stiff to touch.

Watch the video: American Staffordshire terrier. AM STAFFS. Royal Staff Kennel. Dog Kennel. Scoobers (July 2021).