Staffordshire Bull Terriers are best suited for experienced pet parents and homes with older kiddos. Staffy dogs can adapt to almost any situation if they're properly socialized and trained at a young age, making them good companions who can thrive in an apartment or a house.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Traits
What makes the Staffordshire Bull Terrier a Staffordshire Bull Terrier? Let's find out how they stack up.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Temperament
Dedicated, steadfast, true—a whole thesaurus’ worth of synonyms for loyal couldn’t fully describe the level of commitment your Staffy will show you. Yes, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier does has an unfortunate history as a fighting dog, but these days, they’re better known as a fiercely faithful companion dog. These dogs are beyond devoted to their humans and would do anything to please them.
A Staffy’s temperament is boisterous and funny—they’re highly entertaining and love to make you laugh! They even have a distinctive “laugh” of their own; whenever they get excited, you’re likely to hear them erupt in a very noisy chortle.
Staffy dogs are extremely bright and practically vibrate with energy, so they need an abundant amount of both mental and physical stimulation. They’re great companions for active families and thoroughly enjoy training games, playing fetch and daily walks with plenty of sniffing opportunities. Just make sure to always keep them on a leash. With that strong prey drive, any passing critter could send them running.
If there are already multiple pets in your home, feel free to bring home a Staffy puppy; with training and socialization, they’ll be able to adapt in no time. But keep in mind that adult Staffy dogs may be more possessive, so they’re better suited as an only dog.
Staffy dogs rarely meet a person they don’t like—one of their predominant traits is that they adore human attention, whether from a family member, friend or newcomer. If you have kids at home, you’ll be happy to learn that they’re no more aggressive than any other breed. In fact, their nickname in the UK is “The Nanny Dog” because of their affection for children.
The Staffy’s gentle character didn’t develop overnight; it’s the result of good breeding and a structured upbringing. Their instinct is to love, but if they’re left untrained and unsocialized, you’ll end up with Staffy ruled by undesirable behaviors.
How to Care for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Raising a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a bit of a mixed bag. Because they don’t require regular brushing, you’ll feel like you hit the lottery in the grooming department. But if you want a well-behaved Staffy, the time you save on grooming should be invested in training; positive reinforcement of their best behavior is essential. When properly trained and socialized, they’ll easily become your most loving and devoted family member.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Health
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years and is generally regarded as a healthy breed. They are susceptible to a few serious health conditions, however. It’s wise to learn the facts about these health issues in advance so you can provide your pup with the best care possible.
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a common but painful condition that occurs when the ball and socket of the hip joint don’t fit together properly. If your Staffy dog limps, has trouble standing, sits in odd positions or makes popping sounds when they move, contact your vet. They can diagnose hip dysplasia with a simple examination and X-ray. Treatment will depend upon the severity of the condition and may include surgical or non-surgical methods, such as weight loss, medication or physical therapy.
- Hereditary Cataracts: The Staffy dog breed has a relatively high risk for juvenile cataracts. Dogs with this health condition have normal-looking eyes at birth but clouding of the lenses starts to develop by the time they’re a few months old. Since this is a known condition, responsible breeders now conduct genetic testing on their breeding stock to ensure it’s not passed down. Talk to your vet for more information if this condition affects your Staffordshire Bull Terrier or arrange an ophthalmology evaluation.
- L2 Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria: Some bloodlines of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier can carry a rare, hereditary metabolic disorder called L2 Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria (L-2-HGA). Dogs with this disorder may experience behavior changes like anxiety, loss of energy or increased aggression. More severe symptoms such as tremors, muscle stiffness and seizures can occur as the condition progresses. Though some of the symptoms can be treated with medication, the best way to avoid L-2-HGA is to adopt through a reputable breeder who routinely tests their breeding dogs for this condition.
- Skin Issues: Skin issues in Staffy dogs are usually caused by environmental allergens like grass, pollen, mold or dust. Itching, licking their paws and recurring ear infections are typically the first signs of trouble. To help manage their symptoms, wash your pet with medicated shampoo, feed them an additive-free diet and limit their exposure to allergens whenever possible. If their skin issues persist, your veterinarian may recommend medication or immunotherapy to treat the condition.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier History
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier can trace their origin back to England, where they were bred as a fighting dog in the 1800s. Back then, blood sports involving dogs were highly popular. One of the more popular events was bull baiting, which is how bully types got their name. The Bulldog, an ancestor of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, excelled in this sport thanks to their strong jaw.
In 1835, blood sports were outlawed in the UK, but that didn’t stop them from occurring—they were simply driven underground. Because matches couldn’t be held in the open, the popularity of bull baiting waned but dog fighting increased.
While the Bulldog may have been bred to have jaws with a strong clamp, they’re not the most agile creature. So dog breeders in the UK decided to unite the Bulldog’s strength with the Terrier’s speed and tenacity to create the first Bull Terrier—a fast, tenacious and strong fighting dog. The breed was further refined by an Irish man named James Hinks and became especially popular in Staffordshire.
Over the years, the breed gained legitimacy and was officially recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1935. By this time, Staffords were already living as companion animals in the United States, but it wasn’t until 1974 that the American Kennel Club formally recognized the breed.
Thanks to modern breeders who prioritize the dogs’ affectionate, loyal nature, Staffy Bull Terriers are now known for being lovers, not fighters. Their playful energy and goofy antics have helped them become a much-loved family dog. If you want to add one to your family, be prepared to pay a fairly high price: the average Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy will cost you around $2,000. But for that price, you’ll likely get a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. The AKC website can help you find a reputable breeder. You can also check your local animal shelters to adopt a Staffy or contact a Staffordshire Bull Terrier rescue organization.
Do Staffies shed?
Yes, Staffies do shed. But thanks to their short coat, shedding is minimal compared to most other breeds.
Are Staffies aggressive?
No, Staffies aren’t inherently aggressive. They’re excellent canine citizens when provided with proper training, early socialization and daily exercise.
What were Staffies bred for?
Staffies were unfortunately originally bred for fighting back in the 1800s. These days, they’re known for being rambunctious and friendly family dogs.
Can Staffies swim?
Staffies are not particularly strong swimmers, though every individual dog is different. Because they’re so dense and muscular, they may struggle to keep their head above water. Be sure to supervise your Staffy dog whenever you’re around water and consider investing in a life jacket to ensure their safety.
What are the most popular Staffordshire Bull Terrier names?
Some of the most popular Golden Retriever names include Dylan, Jasmine, Ezra, Sandy, Bruno, Jett, Rocky and Wolf. Get more dog names here.
What are the most common Staffordshire Bull Terrier mixes?
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-American Bulldog mix (American Bully Staffy Bull Terrier)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Border Collie mix (Border Collie Bull Staffy)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Border Collie mixed with Jack Russell Terrier mix (Border Stack)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Labrador mix (Labrastaff)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Golden Retriever mix (Staffordshire Bull Terrier Golden Retriever)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Boxer mix (Bullboxer Staffy Bull)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Bullmastiff mix (Staffy Bull Bullmastiff)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Caucasian Shepherd Dog mix (Caucasian Staffy Bull)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Chihuahua mix (Chi Staffy Bull)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-English Bulldog mix (English Bully Staffy Bull Terrier)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Irish Wolfhound mix (Staffy Bull Wolfhound)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Pit Bull Terrier mix (Staffy Bull Pit)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Pug (Staffy Bull Pug)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Rottweiler mix (Staffie Bullweiler)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Scottish Terrier mix (Scottish Staffish Bull Terrier)
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a compact dog with a giant heart, a distinctive laugh and abundant energy. They’re easy to care for and excellent with kids and babies, but require structured training, early socialization and regular exercise to make them good canine citizens. Boisterous and playful, this adorable goofball is eager to please and will have you laughing along with their enthusiastic chortle.
Expert input provided by: Dr. Anthony Hall, Veterinary Consultant at Airvet & owner of Private Veterinary Consulting Services; Matt Schimsky, CPDT-KA, Owner of Tuff Pup Traning, LLC in Philadelphia, Pa.; Allison Lamminen, CTC, CSAT, Owner of Delighted Dogs; Beth Mullen, CBCC, KPA-CTP, Owner/Founder of Dog Latin Dog Training & Behavior Consulting; and Monica McGrew, Area 2 Director of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America.