American Staffordshire Terrier Facts & Dog Breed Information

The American Kennel Club (AKC) described American Staffordshire Terriers as  “smart, confident, good-natured companions. Their courage is proverbial.

A responsibly bred, well-socialized AmStaff is a loyal, trustworthy friend to the end.”

Sounds like a pet every pet parent would want to have, right? Unfortunately, not everyone thinks so.

Like the Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire is regarded as dangerous and wild.

The media has helped propagate this bad image, and many myths abound. This is a far cry from AKC’s assertion. 

Who should we consider as right? The AKC or the media? Two sides have been drawn.

While one group heralds the virtues of the American Staffordshire, the other would rather they remained banned everywhere.

Let’s take an interesting look into the American Staffordshire Terrier facts, dog breed information, characteristics, temperament, care, grooming needs, and more.

Contents show

American Staffordshire Terrier Facts and Information

American Staffordshire Terrier Facts and Dog Breed Information
Dog Breed GroupTerrier Dogs
Height16 to 19 inches
Weight40 to 60 pounds
Color(s)A variety of colors
Life Expectancy10 – 15 years
Temperament / BehaviorLoving, strong, confident
OriginUnited States, England
Bred ForBullbaiting
Nickname(s) / Other Name(s)American Staffy, AmStaff, Staffie
Recognized by the AKC, ANKC, CKCYes

American Staffordshire Terrier Characteristics

AdaptabilityWith enough exercise, they can cope in an apartment
FriendlinessFriendly with everyone, including strangers
Kid-FriendlyGood with children, but ideal for older kids
Pet-FriendlyNot so friendly with other dogs; may see cats as prey
General HealthA healthy breed, though they suffer from some issues
Grooming NeedsEasy to groom
TrainabilityPossible to train but challenging
IntelligenceAn intelligent dog breed
PlayfulnessLoves to play with everyone around
Exercise NeedsNeeds a lot of exercise
Energy LevelPossess high energy level
Tendency to BarkBarks, but not often
Tendency to DroolDrools sometimes
Tendency to SnoreSometimes snores when asleep
Tendency to DigDigging is a habit

Related: Alphabetical List of Dog Breeds

Interesting facts about American Staffordshire Terrier dog breed

Brown American Staffordshire Terrier Hiking

Fact #1. The American Staffordshire Terrier is a fighter

In the days when bullbaiting was legal, the American Staffordshire Terrier’s ancestors were forced to partake in these competitions.

When bullbaiting got outlawed, their ancestors were used in dog fights. 

Thus, the American Staffordshire Terrier has fighting blood. They will not back down from a fight with other dogs.

The fighting gene also contributes to their courage and resilience. 

Fact #2. The American Staffordshire is often mistaken for Pit Bulls 

Though they have been separate breeds for years, people confuse the American Staffordshire Terrier for the Pit Bull Terrier.

The controversy as to whether ‘Pit Bull’ refers to a type or a breed further contributes to the confusion.

The Staffordshire Terrier is one of the Pit Bull types, but the Pit Bull breed refers to the American Pit Bull Terrier, the doggy brother of the Staffordshire Terrier.

Both share similar ancestry and were considered the same breed at a point, but they are distinct now. 

Fact #3. They were used in bullbaiting

Bullbaiting was an extreme sport that is the animal version of the Roman gladiator games.

The bloody sports involved a dog taking on a bull and was often a fight to the death. The Staffordshire Terrier was bred to partake in this game.

Not surprisingly (and fortunately) bullbaiting got outlawed.

Fact #4. They look like guard dogs, but aren’t

With their stocky frame and roguish reputation, one would assume the Staffordshire Terrier would make ferocious guard dogs—until they try to befriend every visitor that steps into your home.

The only ‘guarding’ they do is scare intruders away with their physique.

Having said that, they can sense when someone’s up to no good and alert you of it. They are also ready to defend their owners if they perceive a threat.

Fact #5. They have served as police dogs

American Staffordshire Terrier has been trained many times as a police dog. They are especially useful in sniffing out bombs and drugs.

They play a major role in search and rescue, too.

American Staffordshire Terrier History and Origin

Though they are named the American Staffordshire Terrier, ancestors of this breed originated in Britain before coming into America in the 1850s. 

Their ancestors—the Bull and Terrier breeds—were developed to partake in bull-and-bear baiting till 1835 when the sports became illegal.

Dogfighting became the norm, and the Bull and Terrier was a constant fighter in the rings. 

In America, though some of these dogs were used to fight, others had nobler works. They were farmers, hunters, and guardians against wild animals.

Further breeding by American settlers brought forward a dog breed bigger than the Bull and Terrier.

In 1898, the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized this new breed as the American Pit Bull Terrier. 

In 1936, the American Kennel Club registered 50 American Pit Bull Terriers under a new name: Staffordshire Terrier.

Staffordshire stood for the place in England where the Bull and Terrier originated from.

The name later got reviewed to American Staffordshire Terrier to differentiate it from the British Staffordshire Bull Terrier. 

The American Pit Bull Terriers and the American Staffordshire Terrier remained the same breed until the 1970s when the American Staffordshire Terrier was bred following the American Kennel Club’s conformation.

This led to the separation of the American Staffordshire Terrier from the American Pit Bull Terriers

American Staffordshire Terrier Temperament, Behavior and Intelligence

Black and Brown American Staffordshire Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier, nicknamed Staffy or AmStaff for easier pronunciation, has the same stereotype issue as her brother, the Pit Bull Terrier.

Not only is Staffy often confused for a Pit, but they are also feared. However, her scariness ends with her physique.

Staffies are friendly, loving dogs with cooler personalities when compared to Pit Bull Terriers.

Like their brothers, they love being around humans and do not cope with isolation. You’d find them either cuddling up to you or playing outside with a member of your family. 

Staffies do not make good guard dogs because they are predisposed to like people.

However, they do make good watchdogs as they would alert you of any incoming stranger, especially if they sense weird vibes. 

A confident dog breed, the American Staffordshire struts around with shoulders high.

On a stroll, they may want to pull you towards the direction they want to go. That’s the first indication of their stubbornness, which you need to match with firmness. 

Contrary to popular view, Staffy (and her brother Pit) wasn’t bred to be aggressive towards humans.

It is considered a defect if the Staffordshire Terrier attacks a person. Unfortunately, poor training can make a Staffy develop this undesirable trait.

Is an American Staffy a good family dog?

Staffies have many lovely qualities that make them good family dogs. Their outgoing nature makes them likable and they’re always ready for fun. The American Staffordshire Terrier loves being around people and can double as a companion and worker. 

Having said that, dogs under this breed aren’t meant for every household and pet parents.

Do not own one if you can’t train them well. They have enough red lights on them, as it is.

Are Staffordshire Terriers good with kids?

Like the American Pit Bull Terrier who once played the role of nannies, Staffy is gentle, patient, and loving with children. The Staffordshire Terrier makes a good playmate and would protect any kid around her from harm.

However, because of her size, she’s better suited for families with older kids.

A small child may not be able to cope with the size of the American Staffordshire unless the latter is still a puppy. 

Do Staffies get along with dogs?

Don’t count on the American Staffordshire to warm up to other dogs. They are more inclined to see a fellow dog as an opponent, not a buddy.

Even with proper socialization and good training, they would remain wary of other canines. It is better to have them in a one-dog household.

Are Staffies good with cats and small pets?

The American Staffordshire Terriers aren’t good with cats and rodents either. These pets might pose a temptation your Staffy won’t be able to resist.

Male vs Female American Staffordshire Terrier

The Staffordshire Terrier has few gender differences. In their physical features, they look almost the same.

They share similar personalities but have some differences in the way they act and relate with both humans and other dogs. 

Is a male or female Staffy better?

The decision to choose either a male or a female American Staffordshire Terrier (puppy or adult dog) entirely depends on your preference. Male Staffies are challenging to train. They are more dominant and would always be the leader of the pack

Male and Female American Staffordshire Pups

The male Staffy is more ideal for an owner who wants a challenge in training—not an easy experience.

They are more dominant and won’t hesitate to boss other dogs around.

If allowed, they’d extend that dominance to humans. Someone who wants a male Staffy must be ready to be in charge and lead. 

Male Staffies also tend to be aggressive towards other dogs, especially dogs of the same gender. It isn’t wise to have a male Staffy with another male dog. 

The female Staffy is more willing to accept her owner as master. She’s also less aggressive towards other dogs—though she would defend herself if attacked.

With Staffies, a male-female combination is more ideal. 

The male Staffy trumps the female Staffy in size. While he weighs 55 to 70 pounds, the female Staffy weighs 40 to 55 pounds. He’s taller than her too, with about an inch difference.

Caring for an American Staffordshire Terrier

As the owner of a Staffy who knows a lot about the good sides of this breed, it is your job to educate people. Be ready to debunk some myths, ranging from the reasonable to the ridiculous. 

Of course, you wouldn’t want to contribute to the stereotype by parenting a reckless Staffy. Thus, training is essential.

Staffies are intelligent enough to pick up on commands and are skilled to do a lot of work.

They are stubborn, though, and may test your leadership from time to time. Don’t give them the opportunity to boss you around. 

This sturdy breed needs constant physical and mental activities. Don’t expect a sluggish, lazy pet when you get this breed unless he’s sick.

The healthy Staffy is an energetic dog who likes to be busy and wants to be exercised. 

Their grooming need is low, but you need to brush and bathe them occasionally. Don’t neglect some other hygienes like brushing teeth and trimming fingernails. 

This breed has a long life span, but you need to keep them healthy through regular checkups, good food, and careful observations.

Take them to the vet once you detect any unusual symptoms for early diagnosis. The latter saves lives. 

American Staffordshire Terrier Food and Diet

The energetic Staffordshire Terrier needs a meal fit for his size and energy level.

They burn a lot of calories, so tailor their meal to that effect. Do not overfeed them as that can be detrimental. 

It is recommended that you feed an adult Staffy once or twice a day. Twice seems preferable, morning and night.

Staffies need rich protein, some fat, and carbohydrates to be satisfied. Fruits and vegetables are also healthy additions to your Staffy’s diet. 

They can eat some human food like bread, salmon, carrots, and watermelon.

However, human food should be kept minimal. Not only does it make your Staffie obese, but they may also get too used to it. 

Do not feed your American Staffy these human foods:

  • Alcohol
  • Chocolates
  • Grapes
  • Raisins 
  • Tea

Related: Is Cheese Bad for Dogs?

The Staffy pup needs protein too and should be fed more than the adult. Keep them on a puppy diet as they grow to help in their development. 

Older Staffies need an abundance of protein. Reduce their fat and carbohydrate as those would make them gain weight.

Seniors tend to have less appetite, so do not be alarmed if your old Staffy doesn’t eat much or refuses to eat at all. Do check to be sure it isn’t because of an illness. 

American Staffordshire Terrier Exercise

There are two options when it comes to the American Staffordshire Terrier. You can either be the one to provide them with activities or let them find ways to be busy.

While the former is fun and productive, the latter would leave you with chewed shoes and holes in your backyard.

Set out at least an hour of exercise for Staffy. To make things easier for her (and for you), you can divide the time into segments. Make exercise an interesting moment, not a dreadful chore. 

Backyard play may work with other dogs, but it isn’t sufficient with Staffy. This outgoing dog would want to meet people, so get ready to step outside.

Walking is a great activity for this breed. You may have some leash trouble with Staffy as they like to move around a lot, but it is a great bonding experience. 

The American Staffordshire Terrier also likes to run, and if that’s your favorite form of exercise, she’s a good running buddy.

Her muscles and stamina can keep her going for a long time. 

Another activity a Staffies enjoys includes hiking. So, pack up a bag with the essentials and go on a hike with your pet.

The dog park is a fun place to take your pet dog to, but there are things to consider with an American Staffordshire Terrier.

These dogs aren’t fond of other canines and would accept any fighting challenge without backing down. If you’re not sure your Staffy is well socialized, skip the dog park till she is.

Related: How to Prepare Your Dog for Hiking

Exercise should begin when your Staffy is a puppy, but don’t make them go for an hour unless you have a death wish for your pup.

A few minutes’ walk is okay for a Staffy pup. The same rule applies to seniors. 

American Staffordshire Terrier Training and Socialisation

The American Staffordshire Terrier needs both sufficient training and enough socialization. Most times, cases of Staffy aggression on humans were a direct result of bad training.

New pet parents should consider a breed with a more peaceful background and traits. 

These dogs make good family companions when their owners devote enough time to shaping them up.

The same is true for any other dog breed, but crucial for the American Staffordshire Terrier. 

If you’re not confident around dogs, it is not advisable for you to get a Staffy, even if you’ve had a successful stunt with other breeds like the Labrador Retriever.

The American Staffordshire Terrier will take the wheels if you’re a faint-hearted driver.

The only problem is, she doesn’t have that license. It is counterproductive for your dog to be in charge. 

There are subtle ways to communicate to your Staffy that you’re in charge, and it starts with food. Learn to feed her after every human has eaten. You should also be firm while training, but not harsh. 

Obedience training is important for the American Staffordshire Terrier. The Staffy puppy should start training at about 6 months when she can start learning.

Be consistent, not sporadic, when training them. 

Socialization is another necessity for this breed as it helps curtail any aggressive tendencies. Other forms of training to give them includes leash training and house training. 

American Staffordshire Terrier Grooming Needs

The American Staffordshire Terrier needs to be groomed and kept neat, like any other dog breed.

They shed moderately but have moments when shedding increases. Keep your environment free of dog hair and brush their coat regularly during those periods. A bristle is the recommended tool for Staffy’s coat. 

Body odor is not common with this breed, so bathing should not be regular. Only give them a bath when they get too dirty or muddy. 

What they do lack in body odor, they make up in bad breath. Staffies develop mouth odor with ease, so dental care should be regular.

Brush their teeth at least twice a week. You can add one more day if needed. Ensure you use vet-approved toothpaste and a good toothbrush. 

Also, keep their nails at a low level by trimming them. This is a bit tricky with the American Staffordshire as she doesn’t like getting her paws touched.

You need to be good with this to earn her trust, or you hire a groomer. 

Check their ears frequently to remove debris and excess ear wax. It also helps prevent ear infections. Do not use any other tool on their ears except a cotton ball and ear cleanser.  

American Staffordshire Terrier Health Conditions

The American Staffordshire Terrier should be kept healthy in any way possible. Every other aspect of dog care has the benefit of good health. 

As a pet parent, you need to know a thing or two about the health of your pet and the complications he may be prone to.

The American Staffordshire Terrier has a few of those, and though these problems don’t affect all dogs of this breed, they are worth knowing.

Some of the health conditions that may affect Staffies include:

Skin allergies

This is a common medical condition that affects the American Staffordshire. Allergies come in many forms and range from mild to severe.

Some forms include grass allergies, food allergies, and flea allergies. In general, the symptoms include spots on the skin, itching, scabs, and sores. 

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is common to almost all dog breeds, Staffies included. This anomaly manifests when the hip joints are loose, due to improper development of the femur and pelvis.

It is often hereditary and can be made apparent by other factors like excessive growth and bad exercise.

Symptoms include limping, pain, and disinterest in moving around. 

Demodectic mange 

Demodectic mange is another skin condition caused by a note named ‘Demodex Canis’. This is very contagious as the mites can infect other animals and humans. Symptoms include swelling of the skin and loss of hair. 

Elbow dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is an inherited joint problem that also affects a good number of dog breeds.

It happens when the elbow joints don’t develop the right way and the three bones of the elbow— radius, ulna, and humerus— don’t fit together. It often leads to lameness.

Patellar Luxation

This is the dislocation of the kneecap (also called patella) and is one of the most common causes of lameness. It often affects toys, small, and medium-sized breeds.

Symptoms include skipping movements, pain, and a reluctance to run or jump.

Cerebellar ataxia

Ataxia occurs when there’s a lack of coordination in the nervous system. They are many types of ataxia, the cerebellar ataxia being one of them.

Symptoms include an abnormal gait, frailty in the limbs, and dragging of feet. 


What are Staffordshire Terriers known for?

Back then, ancestors of the American Staffordshire were used for Bullbaiting. When the American Staffordshire Terrier was developed, people sought to separate them from their fighting past. While the stigma isn’t gone yet, American Staffordshire Terriers are now known for being good companions.

How big do Staffies get?

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a medium-sized breed with muscles. A full-grown Staffy weighs 40 to 60 pounds and grows as tall as 16 to 19 inches. 

Do Staffies like cuddles?

The American Staffordshire Terrier loves to be around humans, making them cuddly. When they are not outside running around, they would like to cuddle with their owners.

Is it hard to care for a Staffy?

Staffies have a low grooming need and are easy to maintain. They may give you a hard time with exercise and training, but they are not hard to take care of. 

How many years do Staffies live?

American Staffordshire Terriers have a long life span and are generally a healthy breed. They live up to 15 years. 

How much does American Staffordshire Terrier cost?

Buying a Staffy may put a hole in your wallet because they are costly. A standard pup can be gotten at $2,000, on average. 

Do Staffies shed?

American Staffordshire Terriers are moderate shedders. They have two seasons in a year when they shed heavily. 

Is an American Staffordshire Terrier a Pit Bull?

The American Staffordshire has much in common with the American Pit Bull Terrier and was once the same breed 50 years back. The Staffy is considered a breed under the ‘Pit Bull’ type, but they are different from the American Pit Bull Terrier. 

Is American Staffordshire Terrier aggressive?

American Staffordshire Terrier has a reputation for being aggressive, due to their fighting days. However, aggression towards humans is considered abnormal. 

What is the difference between a Staffy and a Pit Bull?

Staffies and Pits look similar and are usually confused. However, they have a few differences. For one, the American Pit Bull Terrier is slightly larger than the American Staffordshire Terrier. 

What does American Staffordshire Terrier prey on?

The Staffordshire Terrier has a prey drive, though they weren’t originally bred to be hunters. Staffies see any small animal as prey, including cats.

Is a Staffordshire Terrier right for you?

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a pet many people would like to have, and others would want to avoid. Whichever position you find yourself determines to a large extent if this breed is the right one for you.

Staffies have their strengths and weaknesses, like many other dog breeds. Consider both sides of the coin before making a decision. 

Final Thoughts

With this American Staffordshire Terrier Facts and Information, you can easily determine if the Staffy is right for your home.

The Staffy is a formidable breed, and you shouldn’t be bothered about haters when you have one.

As we’ve seen, only a poorly trained Staffy would attack or bite a human. Give them enough training and you’d ward off those bad habits.

This doesn’t mean the Staffordshire Terrier is perfect. Even a well-trained Staffy has some issues like pride and the occasional stubbornness.

The good qualities surpass the bad, though. Staffy’s a good household pet for the willing, confident pet parent.

Useful Resource:

Official American Staffordshire Terrier Dog Breed Information and Breed Standards:

Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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