It’s a bit confusing to understand the differences between the AKC-recognized American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pitbull Terrier. Indeed, some breed registries consider the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pitbull Terrier the same breed, while others give them a separate designation with one being bred for the show ring, and the other with a history of being bred for pit fighting.
Let’s learn about the American Staffordshire Terrier, and see if this breed could be for you.
- Height: 17”-19” (Male), 16”-18” (Female)
- Weight: 57-67 pounds
- Historical function: Guarding, fighting, war mascot, companion
- Modern function: Companion, working, and guarding
- AKC classification: Terrier
Physical Characteristics: The American Staffordshire Terrier (Am Staff) is extremely strong for its size. Agile, very muscular and stocky with a broad, powerful head, and a medium, wide muzzle. The American Staffordshire Terrier is generally of larger bone structure, head size and weight than the American Pit Bull Terrier. Their chest area is broad and muscular. The coat is short, stiff, and glossy.
History of Breed:
In the English region of Staffordshire in the 19th century, the Bulldog was crossed with terriers to develop an athletic, tenacious dog for bull baiting. It became known as the Staffordshire Bullterrier. After it was imported to America the breed was further developed to increase its weight and the size of its powerful head. This breeding program produced what became the American Staffordshire Terrier.
After dog fighting was banned in the United States in 1900, two strains of these dogs were developed, a show strain and a fighting dog strain. The show strain was labeled the American Staffordshire, while the fighting dog strain was labeled the American Pit Bull Terrier. The two are now being recognized as separate breeds in some dog registration programs.
The two breeds vary in coat color and build from each other, but both are being developed to channel their loyalty and athletic ability into dependable, stable pets to counteract the negative press they’ve gotten as fighting dogs, even though other dogs are rated as more aggressive.
Temperament: The American Staffordshire Terrier is a bright, friendly, stable, and confident dog. Gentle and loving toward people, it is a good-natured, amusing, extremely loyal and affectionate family pet. It is good with children and adults. This dog has a high desire to please its master. It is an extremely courageous and intelligent guard dog that is very full of life. Over the past 50 years, careful breeding has produced this friendly, trustworthy, dog that is an especially good dog for children. They should be monitored around children simply because the dog is powerful and can be overwhelming to a child. These dogs need to be socialized early and trained well by a confident leader who lets the dog know where he stands in the family.
This socialization is also required to prevent aggression towards other dogs, particularly ones of the same gender. This dog may or may not be a good candidate for dog parks. Be sure to know your dog’s tendencies and be a strong pack leader to ensure this powerful dog is well mannered. As the target of Breed-Specific Legislation, these dogs are counting on good handlers to turn the tide against the negative press this and other bully breeds receive.
Because they are so loyal and protective by nature, they will be a courageous and a persistent fighter if provoked. Highly protective of his owners and the owner’s property, it will fight an enemy to the death if the enemy traps the dog in a corner and threatens its loved ones. This breed has a very high tolerance for pain.
- Best suited for: Experienced dog owners as the American Staffordshire Terrier requires firm, consistent training. May not do well with other dogs, particularly of the same sex. Wonderful in families with children when socialized well and early.
- Preferred living conditions: Staffordshire Terriers will do okay in an apartment if they are sufficiently exercised, but again, early and consistent socialization is required to ensure this dog is a good citizen in the close quarters of apartment life. They are very active indoors and will be okay without a yard, but would prefer one. This breed prefers warm climates.
Care and Health:
- Grooming requirements: The smooth, shorthaired coat is easy to groom. Brush on a regular basis with a firm bristle brush, and bathe or dry shampoo as necessary. This breed is an average shedder.
- Exercise needs: This is an active dog that needs a daily walk or run.
- Life expectancy: 10-12 years.
- Health concerns: Some AmStaffs are prone to heart murmurs, thyroid problems, skin allergies, tumors, hip dysplasia, hereditary cataracts and congenital heart disease.
Breed Club Links: Staffordshire Terrier Club of America Inc.
Do you have any stories or thoughts about the American Staffordshire Terrier?
Photo credit: DogTemperament.com