American Staffordshire Terrier

Country of origin:
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
any colour, solid, particolour, or patched; but more than 80% white, black and tan, and liver not encouraged
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Pros Cons

  • adapts easily to any living condition

  • playful and very sociable

  • good with children

  • unpretentious in grooming

  • great watchdog

  • aggressive towards other canines

  • needs lots of energetic exercise

  • independent and stubborn

  • vast socialisation is a must

  • not for a novice owner


The American Staffordshire Terrier is a brawny, tremendously powerful yet nimble and intelligent breed native to the United States. Despite the fact that it descended from fighting dogs most of present-day breed members is characterised by a first-rate trainability, unwavering devotion to its masters and human friendliness. It makes a wonderful companion animal as well as a dependable watcher.


The development of the American Staffordshire Terrier began in England in XIX century. Old-fashioned English Bulldogs were crossed with various types of English Terriers in order to produce the tough, well-built and immensely strong dog that subsequently became known as the Staffordshire Terrier. Although it’s still disputable as to what terrier breeds were utilised in its invention, majority of canine experts are agreed that the White English Terrier, Black-and-Tan Terrier and/or Fox Terrier are the most probable candidates for this role. Initially this dog served butchers to handle bulls and hunters to hold wild boar and other ferocious game.

Finally it became a frequent contestant of so-called sport of a bull- and bear-baiting. As this bloody entertainment was banned in England in 1835, it was replaced by dog fighting. This brave, hardy, tenacious and smart dog momentarily entered the fighting ring and quickly gained the reputation of an incredibly cruel combatant. Other attributes of this breed included fierce loyalty, non-aggressiveness towards humans and docile nature.

In the middle of the XIX century the first breed members were imported to the United Stated where it received several names: the fighting dog (Pit Dog), the American Bull Terrier, and later the Yankee Terrier. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognised it as the Staffordshire Terrier in 1936. The breed’s name was changed to the American Staffordshire Terrier in 1972.

At that point the American version of the original Staffordshire Terrier stood out for more prominent size and stouter constitution than its English cousin, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Nonetheless some part of breeders preferred to stick to the name of the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) so for already more than 50 years they have registered their dogs exclusively with the United Kennel Club.

The American Staffordshire Terrier of today represents a loyal and affectionate watch and companion dog. Unfortunately its fighting past as well as its participation in few dog attacks won its repute of a vicious, unpredictably aggressive and uncontrollable breed. Nonetheless aggressive issues are commonly the result of maltreatment or absence of training and socialisation in puppyhood. The typical American Staffordshire Terrier is clever, good-natured, extremely trainable and very patient with children.


Staunch, joyful, intrepid and gentle, the American Staffordshire Terrier wants nothing more than to shower its masters with its love. Despite its undeserved reputation of a vicious breed it has all essential traits to become a perfect companion animal. A well-bred and well-socialised specimen develops deep affinity to family kids and treats them with outmost tenderness. However, this dog must be exposed to various situations, people and animals as early as possible if you prefer to have an always predictable and manageable dog in the house.

Sociable disposition of the American Staffordshire Terrier makes it to perceive any unfamiliar person as a potential playmate. However this dog is always ready to switch from friendly mode to protective mode and will sacrifice its life to defend its masters. On the whole it’s not so interested in guarding its territory so it will deter unwelcomed guests only by its ferocious appearance. It’s only fair to say though that some of these dogs become very reliable guardians of both people and their property. This dog keeps alert at all times and will signal its family about any suspicious activity in its surroundings with its resounding voice. So it commonly makes an excellent watcher.

The American Staffordshire Terrier is prone to take aggressive stand towards other dogs. It treats strange canines of the same sex as rivals for its alpha status and can pick a quarrel without any external provocation. That’s why this dog should be released off-leash only in a safely enclosed area. It also tends to chase and kill homeless cats and other non-canine animals and can’t be considered as an optimal choice for families with other pre-existing pets. Of course early and continuous socialisation can make it to accept an individual cat as a part of its pack.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· canine hip dysplasia;

· elbow dysplasia;

· demodex mange;

· cerebellar abiotrophy;

· atrophy;

· cleft lip/palette;

· hypothyroidism;

· ichthyosis;

· luxating patella;

· zinc responsive dermatosis;

· congenital heart failure.


The American Staffordshire Terrier needs minimal amount of grooming. Its short coat should be brushed once a week in order to always remain shiny and neat. This breed sheds almost unnoticeably all the year around and much more intensely twice a year when the seasons change. It can’t stand when someone touches its feet so it’s highly important to train the dog to nail trimming since an early age.

As bad breath is a common problem for all American Staffordshire Terriers regular teeth brushing should be included in its maintenance routine. The dog’s ears also require regular examination but they should be cleaned only if it’s necessary. Bathe your AmStaff only occasionally, preferably no more than two or three times a year.


The training of the American Staffordshire Terrier may become a real challenge for an inexperienced dog owner. This headstrong and independent dog will listen only to a strong and skilful handler who can assert his authority without unnecessary harshness. Consistent and reasonably firm approach is a crucial requirement for its successful training.

Remember that this dog learns most readily and quickly if its efforts are rewarded with its favourite food and praise. Extensive socialisation is not just a recommendation for this breed but it’s rather an indispensable condition of its peaceable co-existence with humans and other animals.


The American Staffordshire Terrier is a spirited and athletic dog whose exercise routine should consist of a daily long walk and playtime in a well-fenced territory. Actually it welcomes any type of activity regardless of its intensity and usually becomes a tough and enthusiastic companion for a bicyclist or jogger.

The AmStaff behaves itself calmly indoors once its exercise needs were properly satisfied. That’s why this breed is well-suited for keeping in an apartment. Make sure to provide your dog with sufficient amount of both physical and mental stimulation otherwise it may develop propensity towards destructiveness and uncontrollable aggressiveness.