Staffordshire Terrier Dog Breed Decedents of Dog Fighting Ancestors

Staffordshire Terrier Dog Breed

The American Staffordshire terrier pictured above is participating in a UKC dog show. The Amstaff shows a great deal of similarities to that of the”American Pit Bull Terrier”. However, these two breeds have very different temperaments. The pitbull being more active and a higher drive, while the Amstaffs tend to have a more timid temperament when compared to pitbulls.

The Staffordshire terrier is principally an English dog and having descended from dog fighting ancestors, it is muscular, fearless and combative. While the amstaffs of today shown similarities to pitbulls, their temperament is milder.

Bulldog and a game terrier breed were crossed to create the Staffordshire terrier. Originally called the Bull-and-Terrier Dog, it became known as the Staffordshire terrier in England. When accepted for AKC registration in 1936, the name changed to American Staffordshire terrier to reflect the heavier American type and to distinguish them as separate breeds.

Having descended from dog-fighting ancestors, it is the subject to breed specific legislation in some jurisdictions. The Staffordshire terrier is an intelligent, agile, steadfastly loyal, and confident dog that is disproportionately strong for its physical size. This breed is a people-oriented dog that thrives when he is made part of the family and given a job to do. Their litter size is 5 – 10 Puppies and life expectancy is 9-15 years.

Appearance of the Amstaff

This dog breed is very muscular and stocky with a broad, powerful head (male more prominently than female). The muzzle is of medium length and the eyes are dark and round, placed low down in the skull and set wide apart. It has a relatively short fore face and the jaw is pronouncedly firm and the small ears are set high on the head and can be cropped or uncropped. It has a heavy, slightly arched neck tapering from shoulders to back of skull. There is no looseness of skin.

The shoulders are quite strong and muscular with blades wide and sloping. It has a wide mouth with a clean scissor-like bite (the top incisors slightly overlap the bottom incisors). The nose is black and the coat is made up of thick, stiff, glossy hair.

Their hind quarters are well-muscled and are what give the Stafford drive when baiting. The un-docked tail is rather short compared to the dog’s body size and tapers to a point. They come in different colors – brindle, black, red, fawn, blue, white, or any blending of these colors with white. The average height of male dogs is 17-19 inches and for bitches 16-18 inches (41-46cm) and they weigh between 25-30 kg.

Origin of the American Staffordshire Terrier

Staffordshire terriers, as the name indicates, have their origin in the English region of Staffordshire. During the 19th century bloodsports such as bull baiting, bear baiting and cock fighting were common.

The early “proto-staffords” provided the original stock for the Staffordshire bull terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire terrier. This common ancestor was known as the “Bull and Terrier”. Crossing among the Bulldog and various terriers led to the muscular, active, combative Staffordshire terrier.

As time went on the modern breed of Staffordshire terrier has become one with a temperament suitable for a pet and companion. When brought to the United States, the breed became popular with American breeders who increased its weight and gave it a more muscular body. Today, the American Staffordshire is larger and heavier than his British cousin.

As soon as dog fighting was banned in the United States in 1900, two different types of these dogs were developed – a show strain and a fighting dog strain. The show strain was labeled the American Staffordshire, while the fighting dog strain was labeled the American Pit Bull Terrier. The two are now being recognized as separate breeds.

Examples of the breed currently found in the United States have no local fighting history, being descendants of the later show dogs who migrated over the Atlantic from the United Kingdom.

History of Amstaffs

The Staffordshire bull terrier draws its character of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity from his past history. To correctly present the history of the American Staffordshire terrier, it is necessary to know briefly on two other dogs – the Bulldog and the terrier.

Until the early part of the 19th century; the Bulldog was bred with great care in England for the purpose of baiting bulls. The early bulldog was vastly different and lot more agile standing straight on its legs.

Some dog lovers contend it was the white English Terrier, or the Black-and-Tan Terrier, that was used as a cross with the Bulldog to perfect the Staffordshire terrier. It is however reasonable to believe that breeders who were attempting to perfect a dog that would combine the spirit and agility of the terrier with the courage and tenacity of the bulldog would not use a terrier that was not game. In any event, it was the cross between the Bulldog and the terrier that resulted in the Staffordshire terrier, which was originally called the Bull-and-Terrier Dog.

In 1936, Staffordshire terriers were accepted for registration in the AKC Stud Book as Staffordshire Terriers. Breeders in America had developed a type which is heavier in weight than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England and the name change was to distinguish them as separate breeds.


Staffordshire Terriers are generally prone to heart murmurs, thyroid problems, skin allergies, tumors, hip dysplasia, hereditary cataracts and congenital heart disease. If your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia, veterinarians recommend using a glucosamine for dogs supplement. The breed is known to be at a higher risk from mastocytoma (mast cell tumors) as compared with the general population of dogs.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are also known to suffer from a metabolic disorder resulting in behavioral changes and dementia-like symptoms-both of which are detectable via DNA tests. It’s recommended to give your Dog Vitamins daily for health and a strong immune system.

Distichiasis (commonly known as “double eyelash”) and Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous (or PHPV) can both be checked by way of an ocular examination throughout the life of the dog to minimize the transfer and spread of these conditions.

Temperament of the dog breed

Staffordshire Terriers will feel comfortable living in an apartment provided it is sufficiently exercised. It is remarkably active indoors and does not require a yard. This breed has a very high tolerance for pain and the puppies can be easy to house train. Keenly alive to his surroundings, it functions admirably as a guardian of property, but is at the same time esteemed as a companion dog.

Staffordshire Terriers are big-hearted and usually affectionate towards humans. They express their affection through jumping up, nuzzling, licking and pawing. It is said that “No breed is more loving with its family than the Staffords”. Staffordshire Terriers are perhaps not suitable pets for those who prefer quiet, reserved dogs.

This breed needs a firm, owner who can be assertive and capable of enforcing discipline. Staffordshire Terriers are temperamentally well-suited for guard dog training. Survey reports suggest that problems occur when bad owners exploit the Staffordshire terrier’s desire to please by training them to show uncharacteristic aggression.”

Staffordshire Terrier Show Dog
The Amstaff pictured above is a great example of the breed. This particular Amstaff was participating in a dog show where it won 1st place in best in show. This breed of dog loves to please their owner and has great train-ability. This makes for a great show dog.

Exercising your dog daily is absolutely essential. Without exercise, the Staffordshire Terrier will become very difficult to handle. The Staffordshire Terrier’s athletic build makes it ideally suited to many dog sports such as obedience, agility, tracking and conformation. You have to take them for long daily walks and even encourage them to jog/run. While out on walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind you holding the lead, as instinct tells a dog the leader leads the way.

Grooming your amstaff dogs

The smooth, short-haired coat is quite easy to groom. All you have to do is to brush on a regular basis with a firm bristle brush, and bathe or dry shampoo as you feel necessary. A rub with a piece of towel will make the coat gleam. This breed is an average shedder.

Is your dog undernourished? Do you want your dog in the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America (STCA)?

The Staffordshire Terrier Club of America (STCA) is actively promoting and protecting the interests of this breed. The STCA was formed in 1936 and is a member club of the American Kennel Club. STCA membership is open to Staffordshire terrier owners who are interested in establishing a uniform breed type, participating in AKC dog shows, obedience and agility trials, developing the desirable traits and protecting the interests of the breed.

It is also open to those who merely love Staffordshire terrier for what it is and seek friendship with fellow owners and admirers. STCA publishes newsletter/magazine four times a year, sponsors various awards, supports American Staffordshire terrier breed rescue efforts, sponsors specialty shows, provides educational materials and opportunities, and promotes responsible Staffordshire terrier ownership and breeding. If you are interested in a newsletter/magazine subscription to the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America Magazine, you may contact the club secretary at the or send them an e-mail.


The Staffordshire terrier is extremely brave and obedient, highly intelligent and affectionate and has an uncanny sense of humor. This, coupled with its affection for its owner, family members and children in particular, its playfulness and trustworthiness, makes it a foremost all-purpose dog. He looks forward to daily exercise, and his powerful jaws demand a supply of sturdy chew toys. While he is a sweet-tempered, affectionate dog, his strength and determination require a skillful and seasoned owner who can work with him in a firm, but gentle way.

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