Originally bred as fighters and bull baiters, these powerful dogs are slightly heavier and taller than the English Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Over time, the breed was used for entertainment in pits, giving rise to its name, the Pit Bull. However, it is still debated today whether the Am Staff and Pit Bull are in fact the same. Despite their unfortunate reputations as aggressive dogs, developed early in the breed’s history, the American Staffordshire Terriers, Am Staffs for short, are gentle, loving dogs that are easily trained and make excellent family protectors. Am Staffs require a lot of attention and vigorous exercise to keep their minds and bodies healthy as well as preventing them from developing destructive behaviors.
Before the 19th century, the ancestor of the modern day American Staffordshire Terrier was a cross between the old Bulldog and a Terrier or unknown descent, possibly a Fox Terrier or an English Terrier. The former old Bulldog of England does not resemble its modern day namesake but appears more like a current day Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Initially, these early Staffordshire Terrier dogs were bred for baiting bulls for the butcher and later for sports entertainment as pit fighters, particularly for gaming rats and dog fighting in the pit. Their strength and spirit gained them passage to the Americas where they continued to fight and compete in the pits, earning them the name of Pit Bull and Yankee Terrier.
Americans preferred slightly larger dogs; which was selected for during breeding. The American Kennel Club accepted the Am Staff for registration in 1936, and its name officially changed to the American Staffordshire Terrier in 1972 to distinguish itself as a separate breed from its smaller cousins in England, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Loyalty is a trademark quality selected for in this breed, which was once used for sporting. Loyalty is a much-needed trait for a tenacious, high-spirited dog with great agility and strength; such is the character of the Am Staff.
Unfortunately, the American Staffordshire Terrier has suffered a bad reputation throughout history. Several breed-specific laws have been passed regarding owning this loyal and loving dog, but the Am Staff continues to appeal to people aiming to use it for fighting and gaming history rather than its ability for love and companionship.
At once the American Staffordshire Terrier gives the impression of strength, despite being low to the ground. The Am Staff is stocky and muscular with a medium length head and pronounced cheek muscles. His ears are set high and at points. The American Staffordshire Terrier’s eyes are dark and round and set far apart. His jaws are powerful, and his lips are tight with no drooping. The American Staffordshire Terrier’s neck is heavy and slightly arched as it tapers from the shoulder to the back of the head.
The Am Staff’s shoulders are robust and muscular with his forelegs set wide apart, giving rise to a broad, deep chest. This breed’s coat is glossy, short, stiff to the touch, and comes in all colors, including brindle with several marking types, such as masks, points, spots, patches, and brindle. The Am Staff’s tail is short in proportion to the rest of its body and is set low, tapering to a point.
American Staffordshire Terriers have short coats and with early exposure to grooming and brushing are easy to maintain. Dirt and excess hair are easily removed to once weekly brushing, which will also keep your Am Staff’s coat shiny, but an American Staffordshire Terrier can be quite stubborn about grooming. Despite having short hair, the Am Staff will shed often, and brushing will significantly help the process.
American Staffordshire Terriers are prone to develop more bacteria in the mouths than the average canine and require teeth cleaning at least once a week if possible. Never use teeth cleaning products designed for people and consult with your veterinarian or local grooming specialist of the best products and methods for cleaning your dog’s teeth at home.
The Am Staff is an active dog who loves to dig in the ground and is at his best when he’s got a task to do. Task-oriented training and playing will help keep his mind sharp, and his interests satisfied. He doesn’t require a lot of space to run around, so the American Staffordshire Terrier is a good choice for apartment living, so long as he gets his mental and physical stimulation.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is considered a medium size dog and should be fed in proportion to his body size and activity levels. You should always pay close attention to your dog’s dietary needs and consult with your veterinarian to develop a feeding formula that best suits your Am Staff.