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American Staffordshire Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier is noted for its impressive strength, protective nature, and fearless courage. The breed is classified by the American Kennel Club. It is often confused with the "American Pit Bull Terrier," a different, distinct breed recognized by the United Kennel Club. The primary distinction is that the American Staffordshire Terrier generally has a larger bone structure, head size, and is heavier than its relative, the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Physical Characteristics

This stocky and muscular breed is large, combining great strength with agility and grace. Its springy gait and low center of gravity, meanwhile, help it remain balanced while jumping, and nimble enough to easily escape an opponent’s teeth. Speaking of teeth, the American Staffordshire Terrier's jaws are immensely powerful.

The dog’s short and shiny coat, which is pressed close against its body, make it very attractive. The American Staffordshire Terrier's coat can be solid or patched and is seen in any color; however, all white, more than 80 percent white, black and tan, and liver are discouraged by kennel clubs.

Personality and Temperament

The generally playful and docile Staff (as it's lovingly referred to at times), shows affection to strangers in the presence of its owners. This protective dog is basically good with children, but is aggressive towards strange dogs, particularly those who pose a challenge to it. The Staff is daring, tenacious and adamant, and is always craving for its owner's attention and love.


The American Staffordshire Terrier can stay outside in temperate climates, but it feels most comfortable while indoors, sharing its master’s home. This energetic breed needs daily exercise, such as a vigorous game outdoors or a long leash-led walk. Minimal coat care is required.

The breed is also often placed in group commonly referred to as "pit bulls;" therefore, be prepared to educate strangers or passerby of the breed's genteel nature when walking the Staffordshire.


This breed, which has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, is prone to minor health problems such as elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and heart disease, and major ailments like progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), canine hip dysplasia (although seldom seen), and cerebellar ataxia. The American Staffordshire Terrier may also suffer from cruciate ligament rupture and allergies. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run hip, thyroid, cardiac, elbow, knee, and eye exams on the dog.

History and Background

A cousin to the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier was originally bred by crossing certain old terriers (e.g., the English Smooth Terrier) with an old variety of Bulldog.

The American Staffordshire's excellent fighting ability made the breed an instant favorite for fanatics of dogfighting, a sport which became popular in the United States in the late 19th century. Unlike dogfighting fans in England, however, Americans preferred fighting larger "pits." In the U.S., the dogs were known by such names as Yankee Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, and American Bull Terrier.

The breed was accepted for registration in the American Kennel Club's stud book in 1936, later revising the breed's name to American Staffordshire Terrier in 1972.

Docility became nearly as important as ferociousness for fighting dogs, as handlers needed to be able to control these powerful dogs in the midst of a fight. The American Staffordshire was no different, and it soon developed into a trustworthy dog with a sweet disposition. In spite of this, many chose the breed for its ravenous fighting quality.

Breed-specific laws in the U.S. would target the American Staffordshire in the 1980s, seeking to limit the population of the breed. Be that as it may, the American Staffordshire is still loved today by fanciers who prefer this playful yet misunderstood breed.

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  • World Changer 101
    12/17/2014 05:44pm

    We got a new puppy in Sept, 2014, she is playfull and loves our older labs, also both girls. Most people who meet her love her because she is friendly and loves attention. They call her a blue Pit, and we try to correct them and tell them she is a Staff, but even the Vet put her down as a Pit. We live in the country where she has a lot of room to run and play. These dogs get a bad reputation and its not right. We had her fixed so no more puppies, but how anyone could hurt these dogs and not know them makes no sense. I had a brindle Pit when I was growing up and she was one of the best dogs I ever had. People either love or hate, bigotry is ignorance, intolarance, and stupity, and you can't change stupid.

  • 04/11/2015 07:52am

    With all due respect Mommy Dearest, the concern with staffs as well as pit bulls and rotties is twofold.

    1) Yes, we all know there are great owners who properly train and socialize these breeds so that the true nature and friendly temperament shines through.

    However, these breeds tend to attract more than a few guys who act like they just got out of jail or want to look "tough" next to a potentially aggressive breed. Many of these owners tend not to bother socializing the dog and raising it well and suddenly, someone gets bit, mauled, and it's game over.

    2) Being attacked by a neglected staff/pit bull/rottie can easily be life-threatening.

    Sorry, but no unsocialized Irish Setter, Husky, Lab, or even Shepherd will do the kind of damage a staff would in an attack.

    Get a bite from any other breed and live. Get a bite from staffs? You could be dead.

    End of. Hope you get it now.

  • 05/08/2015 06:48pm

    incorrect! any dog can do the same damage, shame on you for thinking you know enough to leave a statement as such on a public forum. there is ZERO scientific proof that the staff has any such " lock jaw" so why would their bite be worse than say a German shepherd? a staff has the bite force of 235 lbs and the shepherd has a bite force of 238 - again another ignorant person who doesn't know jack for fact but feels the NEED to paint the breed in a negative light.

  • 11/01/2015 08:55pm

    My husband and I have recently adopted a Staffordshire Terrier while visiting Myrtle Beach. My niece rescues Pit Bulls in Michigan. If I hadn't been exposed to pits while visiting her I would only have the news media opinion to form an opinion with. We recently lost an English Bulldog to a rare heart cancer. If it hadn't been for my husband I never would have known how great a companion bulldogs can be. Now with this Staffie which is 8mos old how lovable they can be. I've known people bit by dogs and how traumatic it is. We need to remember dogs are animals and depending on their training makes a difference between good dogs and bad dogs. Like anything in life there are good and bad. God made all....it's up to us to take good care of what we have.


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