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Science Diet - Vet's #1 Choice for Their Own Pets

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An incredibly trustworthy dog, the American Staffordshire terrier is playful, gentle and tolerant. The breed is good with children and other animals, but not necessarily other dogs.

     American Staffordshire Terrier At a glance


Weight Range:

Male: 50-70 lbs.
Female: 45-60 lbs.

Height at Withers:

Male: 19 in.

Female: 18 in.


Exercise Requirements: 20-40 minutes/day
Energy Level: Average
Longevity Range: 12-14 yrs.
Tendency to Drool: Low Tendency to Snore: High
Tendency to Bark: Low
Tendency to Dig: High Social/Attention Needs: High

Bred For:

Bull-baiting, dog fighting


Length: Short
Characteristics: Flat
Colors: Any color, solid, parti or patched
Overall Grooming Needs: Low

Club Recognition:

AKC Classification: Terrier

Prevalence: So-so

The American Staffordshire Terrier Dog Breed

The American Staffordshire terrier is a bundle of muscles in an agile package.

The American Staffordshire terrier is a bundle of muscles in an agile package.

Every inch the athlete, this breed has remarkable strength. Despite its brawn, it is quick and nimble, attributes that would have saved its life in the pits. The broad head with powerful jaws can be intimidating, but fortunately the face usually bears a happy expression and is usually followed by a wagging tail that is short, but not docked. Although the ears may be cropped, it is preferred that they be left in their natural rose shape. This dog is heavy for its size, weighing in at about 45 to 70 pounds (20 to 32 kilograms). It stands between 17 and 19 inches tall. The coat is short and sleek. Any color is acceptable, although a coat with more than 80 percent either white, black and tan, or liver are least preferred.


Ancestors of the American Staffordshire terrier were bred to be fighting dogs of indomitable spirit. Responsible breeders have focused on creating a dog with a sound, reliable temperament around humans. That breeding history is why many AmStaffs (as their friends call them) have incredibly trustworthy temperaments with their families. The average AmStaff is playful, gentle and tolerant. Most well-socialized AmStaffs are good with children, but as with any dog, AmStaffs and children should always be supervised when together. Interaction with other animals, especially other dogs, should be closely monitored.

The AmStaff wasn't meant to be a hop-to-it obedience whiz, and he isn't. If you try to force him, he will always win. If you try to make it a game, he will always play, and you will both win. Despite its tough dog persona the AmStaff is a breed that loves to love.

Living With:

This breed needs a vigorous daily workout, along with some mind games, in order to be at its best. A good long run or a rollicking game of ball is a great way to bond with an American Staffordshire terrier. Obedience training is also good mental exercise, and a good defense against public misperceptions about the breed.

Its short coat makes it unsuited as an exclusively outdoor dog, and besides, this breed wants to be a part of all family activities. Coat care could not be easier: simply wash and wear.


The American Staffordshire terrier's roots lie in the cruel practice of bull-baiting. The best bull-baiting dogs were strong animals, descended from mastiff-type stock, which were in turn descended from the Greek Molossians. The size, strength and tenacity needed by his ancestors are reflected in the modern AmStaff. This background also requires an owner with strong, consistent training skills.

An end to legal blood sports in England finally came in 1835, but blood sport fans and gamblers moved to covert matches, ideal for staging dog fights. The story goes that the bulldogs were crossed with terriers to produce a slightly more agile dog better suited for these fights.

In the late 1800s, these dogs were brought to America for use as farm dogs, where a slightly larger version than its English counterpart was preferred. AmStaffs became extremely popular as family pets by the 1930s; one of the most beloved was Pete the Pup (Petey) of Our Gang (The Little Rascals) fame. This American version eventually was registered in 1936 as the Staffordshire terrier (changed in 1972 to the American Staffordshire terrier). Some AmStaffs are dual registered with the UKC as American Pit Bull terriers, although not everybody agrees they should be considered the same breed. As one of the breeds often popularly lumped together as pit bulls, the AmStaff has come under considerable scrutiny in recent years.