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The Complete Guide to the American Staffordshire Terrier

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When you first look at the American Staffordshire Terrier, you’ll see a strong muscular dog that might be a bit intimidating. However, underneath the well-built body lies a big affectionate heart. This loving dog is a self-assured companion that loves nothing more than spending time with its family. 

Being an intelligent dog means that this dog needs an assertive and devoted owner. So, where did the American Staffordshire Terrier come from? What is it like? In this article, we’ll answer all the questions you have about this fantastic breed.

Also Read: Large Dog Breeds List A-Z with Pictures

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American Staffordshire Terriers History

American Staffordshire Terriers History

The ancestors of the American Staffordshire Terrier came from the British Isles and made themselves at home in the US around the 1850s. This dog was first known for its incredible dogfighting skills as the ancestors were a mix of strong Bulldogs and Terrier breeds. 

Due to their mixed origins, this breed had several names throughout the years. It was called the Bull-and Terrier Dog, and the Half and Half. 

During the first half of the 20th century, these strong dogs were used by butchers to control wild boars and farmers to help with work and get rid of rats.

Later on, their affectionate nature made them popular as family companions who love to please and protect their humans.

Unfortunately, the American Staffordshire Terriers were exploited in the barbaric sport of bull-baiting due to their strength and muscular bodies.

After this bloody sport was banned, the American Staffordshire Terriers found their way to dog fight rings, where they would engage in gruesome fights that usually ended in one or both dogs dying of painful injuries. 

Sadly, this practice still continues in illegal events held across the US and in several countries. Due to these practices, the American Staffordshire Terrier gained a reputation as an aggressive dog breed. 

In the 1930s, the name of Staffordshire Terrier was chosen, claiming that this dog’s ancestors came from the County of Staffordshire.

However, in the 19696, the name was revised to avoid confusing this breed with the British Staffordshire Bull Terrier, as the American dog was bred larger than the British one. 

American Staffordshire Terriers

The American Staffordshire Terrier is an excellent watchdog because it’s always alert. It loves curling up on the couch with its owner and will show much affection and love towards everyone in the family, even towards strangers, if you paid attention to early socialization. 

However, due to their not so honorable history, American Staffordshire Terriers still have a bad reputation as being aggressive dogs and are sometimes banned according to the Breed Specific Legislation.

You might not be able to rent a place or get insurance if you own this dog, so you need to check local and state laws to make sure that you’re not breaking any if you decide to adopt this dog. 

American Staffordshire Terriers Temperament

Despite its old reputation as an aggressive dog, the American Staffordshire Terrier is currently popular as a loving family dog that loves nothing more than spending time with its family. This dog enjoys long play sessions with its humans, adores interacting with children, and will enjoy taking walks with you if you like jogging and hiking. At the same time, it doesn’t mind curling up the couch next to you for a night in.

It has a loving nature, but the muscular body might be a little bit intimidating, especially to strangers. However, you can expect it to greet people with affection, licking them and jumping over them to show that they’re welcomed. 

Experts believe that this dog is very good at understanding people’s intentions, so it’s likely to be friendly to some people and not so friendly towards others. As a result, the American Staffordshire Terrier usually makes an excellent watchdog because it can judge people properly. 

When spending time with your American Staffordshire Terrier, expect it to take the lead and even push you a little. The dog isn’t aggressive but can be too enthusiastic when it’s going on a walk.

If you don’t keep your dog stimulated mentally and physically, it will likely engage in some destructive behaviors like chewing, biting, digging, and barking. Proper training is essential to guarantee that the dog won’t pull on the leash. 

This dog needs an assertive owner who knows how to set boundaries and helps the dog stay motivated and stimulated without breaking the rules. This is an intelligent dog that understands the rules quickly, so it competes remarkably in agility and obedience competitions. 

The American Staffordshire Terrier loves to have a job. Ask your dog to do some nose work, run the course, or accompany you as you walk or hike, and it will feel happy. Meeting the dog’s physical demands isn’t difficult, but it might not be suitable for a busy parent or someone who doesn’t have enough time or energy to play with it. 

Early socialization is recommended to help control the dog’s enthusiastic nature. While it’s naturally friendly towards people, it can become a little intolerant of other dogs and pets.

Even with early socialization and proper training, it’s recommended not to leave your American Staffordshire Terrier with other dogs and pets because aggression is quite common. 

The dog prefers to live in a house with a big backyard and a high fence where it can run freely. If you live in an apartment, you need to take it out for daily walks.

However, you should understand that leaving the dog on its own in the yard all day long won’t make it happy. They need interaction with humans to feel that they’re part of the family. This is why this dog requires a devoted owner who knows its worth and gives it the attention it needs. 

If you have a new puppy, puppy training classes are recommended because they will help you understand how to deal with your American Staffordshire Terrier. The dog’s intelligence will make the training fun for both of you. 

Living with the American Staffordshire Terrier in an apartment can be a little challenging if you have no time to take it out. Moreover, it might not be welcomed in some locations, so you need to check with your owner if you’re a tenant. 

American Staffordshire Terriers Intelligence

This dog is quite intelligent, so it will respond well to positive training. Being assertive yet kind will make the training process easier and more rewarding. 

You can expect the dog to follow orders successfully because it likes to please its owners. As a result, this dog can be easily trained as a rescue dog because it stays focused on the target. 

American Staffordshire Terriers Health

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a healthy dog and doesn’t suffer from lots of health issues. However, this breed is prone to skin allergies and urinary tract infections.

You need to pay attention to the dog’s diet and drinking habits to make sure that it’s healthy. It’s quite sensitive to cold weather, so you might need to give it a sweater if the temperature drops.

A genetic test has been developed to detect cerebellar ataxia in dogs. The symptoms usually develop between the age of 3 and 5 and will cause the overall deterioration of muscle coordination. 

At an older age, the dog might suffer from hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis. It’s recommended that you visit the vet regularly to make sure that there’s nothing wrong with your dog. 


Giving your dog high-quality dog food will keep him in excellent health. A healthy mix made for medium to large breeds would be enough to provide your dog with all the needed energy. 

You should make sure that you’re not overfeeding your dog as this might cause weight gain that affects the bones, especially at an older age. During training, treats should be used controllably. They will help you control your dog’s actions but can lead to obesity. 

Nails Trimming

The nails should be trimmed regularly. When the nails get too long, the dog might face problems while they’re walking or running. 

However, you should be careful while trimming the nails as cutting the quick can cause too much pain and discomfort. In general, your American Staffordshire Terrier won’t like their nails to be touched, so you should train your dog to have their paws held. 

It’s always recommended to use a nail grinder instead of scissors because you will be able to cut the nails without making the dog uncomfortable. Nails should be trimmed every few weeks to make sure that they won’t get too long and snag when the dog is playing inside or outside the house. 


Inspecting the ears and removing wax buildup is essential. You should check behind the ears for pest infestation. The American Staffordshire Terrier is known to have bad breath, so brushing the teeth weekly is vital to keep them in excellent condition. 

The American Staffordshire Terrier doesn’t have a strong doggy odor and doesn’t need regular baths unless the dog gets into dirt.

When you’re giving the dog a bath, make sure that you’re inspecting all the skin folds. Remove sweat and debris using a special cleaning brush to make sure that the skin has been perfectly cleaned. You should also use a mild shampoo that is made specifically for dogs. 

American Staffordshire Terriers Weight and Size

American Staffordshire Terriers Weight and Size

The American Staffordshire Terrier gives the impression of great strength compared to its body. The dog has a stocky well-built body with prominent muscles, although it has a graceful and gentle personality. 

Males are usually between 17 and 19 inches in height, while females are slightly shorter, reaching a maximum height of 18 inches. The average weight of the dog is between 40 and 60 pounds. This dog has a broad skull and short legs that give it a muscular look. The nose is always black, and the ears sit high on the head. 

American Staffordshire Terriers Coat 

The smooth coat always comes in several solid colors. Approved colors include red, fawn, white, black, and blue. However, in some cases, there are mixes of white and other colors. 

The short hair sheds twice a year heavily but doesn’t shed much otherwise. To keep the coat in excellent shape, you should brush it regularly to remove knots and tangled hair. Use a soft-bristle brush to remove tangles or dirt to keep the coat in excellent condition. 

Unlike other dogs, you might not need to visit a professional grooming salon regularly. The short coat is easy to care for, and you can keep your dog looking great by combing the coat regularly. 

American Staffordshire Terriers Life Span

The American Staffordshire Terrier is expected to live between 10 and 15 years. In some cases, the dog can make it up to 16 years. Understanding the potential health problems and visiting the vet regularly will keep the dog in good health. 

American Staffordshire Terriers vs. Pitbull

American Staffordshire Terriers vs. Pitbull

There are a lot of things in common between the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pitbull. The American Stafford Terrier has a slightly larger body, although they might be confused with each other. 

Moreover, this dog is more docile than Pitbulls and is often called a Nanny Dog because it’s quite affectionate towards children. Both breeds are very active and love to be on the move, as this keeps them stimulated. However, both of them need early socialization with other dogs to avoid aggression. 

The American Staffordshire Terrier and the BSL

The Breed-Specific Legislation is a law that restricts or bans a breed of dogs. Such laws are applied in different countries and cities, ranging from the ownership of a certain dog to posing restrictions on ownership. 

The American Staffordshire Terrier is usually banned according to these laws. Here are some of the things that you can expect if you live in a state where the law applies. 

➢ The owner of the dog should be at least 21 years old.

➢ The dog should be licensed. 

➢ When outside the house, the dog should wear a muzzle or should be kept in a secure container. 

➢ In some cases, warning signs should be posted. 

How the American Staffordshire Terrier Reacts Towards Children and Other Pets

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a loving family dog that loves interacting and playing with children. However, it’s recommended to keep the dog in a house with children above the age of 6. 

This dog is quite muscular, and play might get too rough, especially with younger children. Although the dog is quite loving, it might hurt younger children. Just like all breeds, it’s recommended to keep the dog under an adult’s supervision when they’re playing with children. 

Your American Staffordshire Terrier is likely to feel competitive towards other dogs. They love their owner and want to be the center of attention. As a result, it’s expected to see your dog reacting aggressively towards other dogs.

If you have a new puppy in the house, early socialization is essential. Growing up with other dogs and pets can help make your dog more tolerant. However, meeting other dogs in public might not always result in a positive encounter. This is why you should always keep your dog on a leash when you take it out to the dog park. 

Some Interesting Facts about the American Staffordshire Terrier

Some Interesting Facts about the American Staffordshire Terrier

Here are some amazing facts about the American Staffordshire Terrier.

➢ Although the dog was originally bred to take part in fights and to be aggressive towards animals, it was still quite friendly towards humans. The owners spent long hours with the dog, and they needed to make sure that they’re safe. 

➢ This dog will be a good guard dog if you want to protect your property from other dogs and animals, but not humans. It’s usually friendly towards strangers. 

➢ Being an intelligent dog, this dog is quite easy to train. However, it’s not a suitable choice for a novice owner. 

➢ This dog has a powerful jaw, but it doesn’t have the ability to lock the jaw. 

➢ The American Staffordshire Terrier is a mix of several breeds, but it’s not clear which ones were exactly used to create the breed. However, some experts suggest that the dog’s ancestors include Bulldogs and the White English Terrier, which became extinct in the late 1800s. 

➢ The American Staffordshire Terrier is banned in several European countries, including Denmark, Spain, Romania, Norway, and Germany. 

➢ In the United States, some states ban the ownership of the American Staffordshire Terrier. These include Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Arkansas, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado, Missouri, and Iowa. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an American Staffordshire Terrier the same as a pitbull?

No they are not exactly same but nearly same. The major difference between them is that the American Staffordshire Terrier limited to a narrow size range as per AKC standard and Pitbull have greater variances in size and other physical traits

Is an American Staffordshire Terrier considered an aggressive breed?

The American Staffordshire terrier is widely listed as one of the most dangerous breeds of dog around, because it is quicker to anger and bite than most other breeds.

Is an American Staffy a good family dog?

Yes, They are affectionate, loyal and shares a good bond with children which makes them a good family dog

Are Staffies easy to train?

Yes due to their high intelligence they are easy to train

Final Thoughts

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a loving family dog. It prefers spending time with the owner and will make a great hiking and running companion. 

For a novice owner, the American Staffordshire Terrier can be a little challenging to train. It’s a smart dog and will quickly pick up the rules, but it needs an assertive owner that gives it the attention and care it deserves. 

Although it had a reputation for being aggressive, the American Staffordshire Terrier is actually quite affectionate and enjoys spending time with kids. However, it can be a little competitive and aggressive towards other dogs, so early socialization is recommended. 

If you plan to bring an American Staffordshire Terrier home, make sure that you’re not breaking any laws as several laws regulate this dog’s ownership. Nevertheless, this dog will make a great companion if you’re up to it.

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