Think of the American Staffordshire Terrier as a weightlifter. They’re muscular, strong and a bit of a show-off. (They enjoy flexing for everyone.) But you don’t mind—it gives you a sense of security no matter where you go. It’s kind of nice to have your very own bodyguard. But you know something no one else does: Your Amstaff’s a big ol’ softie whose favorite wubby is a stuffed moose. (You even caught them napping with it once.) Smart and playful with a no-nonsense side, you can’t imagine a better pup to call your own—or keep an eye on your front door.
Temperament:StrongProtective Of FamilyIntelligent
Coat Color:BlackBlueBronzeFawnLiverRedSeal BrownWhite
The American Staffordshire Terrier is best for experienced pet parents who are dedicated to early training and socialization. This serious-but-playful breed won't love a home that's always hosting parties or has other pets. But they'll thrive in homes where they can bask in the love of their immediate family.
American Staffordshire Terrier Traits
American Staffordshire Terrier Temperament
American Staffordshire Terriers are not lazy dogs, but they’re not super energetic dogs like Border Collies, either. At the end of the day, they’re content to curl up next to you. They are, however, very protective of their families by nature, although that doesn’t mean they’re all business. In fact, these super-smart dogs love to play with their families and let their goofy side really show. Some have even earned the nickname “gentle giants” because they’re so good with older children and tend not to be bothered by the hustle and bustle of a busy household.
How to Care for a American Staffordshire Terrier
The American Staffordshire Terrier puppy is a loving, loyal family pet. But they need a lot of socialization with other pets and animals from a young age, so they don’t become too wary of strangers or aggressive. They’re very smart and take well to training and just need short walks every day to stay happy. These dogs may be medium-sized in height and weight, but they’re big on personality and will quickly become your best friend.
American Staffordshire Terrier Health
American Staffordshire Terriers have a lifespan of 12 to 16 years, but the breed can have a few health issues. To help them have the longest life expectancy possible, work with an Amstaff breeder who screens for these issues and visit your veterinarian regularly. If you’re adopting your pup, be sure to get a copy of the vet wellness exam.
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia can be a common problem with Amstaffs and occurs when the hip joint doesn’t fit properly. Look for a breeder who tests for this issue. Dysplasia typically isn’t preventable, but your veterinarian can recommend treatments to help keep it from affecting your dog’s quality of life. If the condition is severe, surgery may be needed. But keeping your pup at a healthy weight can also help.
- Heart Disease: Heart failure is a leading cause of death in older American Staffies. This is often caused by a weakened valve and can be detected as a heart murmur during a regular vet checkup. If caught early, medications may be prescribed. Regular vet checkups, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise can help protect your pup from heart disease.
- Allergies: White and blue/gray Amstaffs are especially prone to allergies, which can lead to hair loss and reddened skin. Veterinarians can help you keep the allergies under control with either a change in diet or medications.
American Staffordshire Terrier History
The American Staffordshire Terrier is one of several dog breeds with a darker origin. They were bred as fighting and baiting dogs in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Amstaff’s exact genetic lineage is debated, but most agree that the Bulldog from 200 years ago makes up part of their genetic history. Others believe that the extinct White English Terrier and Black and Tan Terrier were also part of the Amstaff’s bloodline. Whichever specific breeds were used, for a time, the dogs were used mostly for dogfighting in the UK, even after the blood sport was outlawed.
The breed arrived in the United States in the mid-1800s. Some say that once in the US, they were used mostly for farming and hunting rather than fighting. Over time, they were bred to be taller, larger dogs and were first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1936 as the Staffordshire Terrier. In 1972, the AKC recognized two distinct breeds: the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Today’s Amstaff is much friendlier and calmer than their 18th-century fighting ancestor.
Fun fact: Some people mistake American Staffies for American Pit Bull Terriers, but they’re not the same dog. The AKC recognizes the American Staffordshire Terrier, but not the American Pit Bull Terrier (but the breed is recognized by the United Kennel Club). Generally, Amstaffs are less bulky, although similar in strength. Now, this is where it may get confusing. The term “pitbull” is also a generic term for all bully breeds, including the Amstaff. (Bully breeds are all the dogs who share a common, extinct ancestor called the Molossus.)
Where is the best place to find an American Staffordshire Terrier puppy? You can find a list of reputable breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. The average American Staffy price can be anywhere from $250 to $2,000 for a puppy, depending on the breeder, pedigree papers, and health screenings. Puppies with the most impressive pedigrees might even cost $10,000 or more. You can also find a purebred to adopt with the help of American Staffordshire Terrier rescue organizations and local shelters.
Are American Staffordshire Terriers Pitbulls?
American Staffordshire Terriers are pitbulls, but they’re not Pit Bulls. Confusing? The American Pit Bull Terrier is a separate breed from the Amstaff. (APBTs are not recognized by the AKC, but they are recognized by the United Kennel Club.) The breeds do look similar; some people try to use the red nose as a distinguishing mark of the APBT, but this isn’t reliable. The red nose was mostly bred out of the Amstaff, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a American Staffy with a red nose. “Pitbull”—one word—is a generic term used to describe a group of dogs known as the “bully breeds.” Since Amstaffs are a bully breed, they can also be described as a pitbull.
Do American Staffordshire Terriers shed?
Yes, American Staffordshire Terriers shed. Although they have short coats, they can still shed quite a bit. Granted, shedding isn’t as much of a problem as it can be for long-haired breeds, especially those who have seasonal shedding (spring and fall). But you can still find a lot of fur on the floor and might find yourself vacuuming frequently.
Are American Staffordshire Terriers dangerous?
Whether American Staffordshire Terriers are dangerous really depends on the individual dog. Historically, the dogs were bred in the UK to be fighting and baiting dogs, even after the dismal practice was outlawed. If they aren’t well-trained or socialized as puppies, some in the breed can be dangerous around people they don’t know or other animals. Good socialization paired with a confident pup parent and positive reinforcement can help minimize these concerns.
Are American Staffordshire Terriers aggressive?
Some American Staffordshire Terriers can be aggressive, especially if they aren’t properly socialized as puppies. They are often affected by breed-specific legislation designed to reduce the number of attacks by dogs in communities. Early socialization that starts when they’re puppies can help your pup be a well-adjusted canine citizen. In fact, many Amstaffs are referred to as gentle giants if trained and socialized properly. But they should still be supervised around kids and babies, just like many other large dog breeds.
What are the most popular American Staffordshire Terrier mixes?
The most common American Staffordshire Terrier mixes are:
- American Staffordshire Terrier-Labrador Retriever Mix (Labrastaff)
- American Staffordshire Terrier-Boxer Mix (Bullboxer Staff or Boxer Staffy)
- American Staffordshire Terrier-German Shepherd Mix
- American Staffordshire Terrier-Pitbull Mix (Staffy Bull Pit)
- American Staffordshire Terrier-Husky Mix
The American Staffordshire Terrier is a brave, loyal dog who can thrive in everything from a small apartment to a larger home with a yard. They need an hour of exercise a day to stay happy, and lots of playtime and bonding moments with you. But the Amstaff does need a lot of socialization from a young age so they get along well with strangers and other animals. This means they might not be the best choice for a first-time pet parents. But anybody who’s willing to put in the time will find that the investment is more than worthwhile.
Expert input provided by veterinarian Sara Ochoa, DVM, who is a consultant for DogLab, and positive-reinforcement dog trainer Ali Smith, who trained with the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers and is the founder of Rebarkable.
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Top American Staffordshire Terrier Names
These are the top American Staffordshire Terrier names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!