The American Staffordshire bull terrier is often mistaken as the pitbull, though they both belong to the Molosser breed group, both of them have distinct differences.
Illegal dog fighting has tarnished the breed’s reputation. The breed became a banned breed in the UK.
The American Staffordshire bull terrier along with his cousin, the Staffordshire bull terrier, descended from the bulldog and terrier breeds from England. This earned him many nicknames such as the pit bull terrier, bull and terrier dog, and half and half.
The Amstaff became a handy companion for butchers, hunters, and farmers. He was used to managing bulls, hunt down wild boars, and assist in the farm and act as ratters. Families also welcomed him into their homes and made him into a family companion.
Unfortunately, the Amstaff became commonly seen in the dogfighting ring. When a ban was enforced in the UK in 1835, many people continued to run and support the illegal sport. Because of this, the reputation of the American Staffordshire terrier was tarnished. The breed is often stereotyped as vicious and aggressive.
In 1850, the American Staffordshire started getting exported to the United States. American breeders developed him to be taller and larger compared to the Staffordshire terrier. He was dubbed as the American bull terrier, pit bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, and Yankee terrier.
In 1936, the breed as recognised by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as the Staffordshire terrier. However, his name was later on changed into American Staffordshire terrier in 1972. This was made to differentiate the Amstaff from the Staffordshire terrier.
Today, the American Staffordshire terrier is valued as a watchdog, police dog, and family pet. However, some fall into the wrong hands of people, who seek his boldness and strength instead of his companionship.
Are American Staffordshire bull terriers banned in the UK?
The American Staffy is banned in the UK along with a few other dog breeds. This includes the Irish Staffordshire terrier, Irish blue or red nose pitbull, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasileiro.
Appearance and Grooming
American Staffordshire terrier has a robust and heavily muscled physique. He owns a wide head with a strong jaw and well-constructed cheek muscles.
His triangular-shaped ears are short and erect. His round eyes are dark similar to his nose. They should not be set too close together.
He has a smooth neck that must have no dewlap of skin. He has a wide chest and shoulder and a short back that gently slopes. His tail should not be too long nor too short.
It tends to taper off to a point. The Amstaff has a graceful gait despite his huge and muscular body.
The American Stafford’s coat is stiff, short, and shiny. It comes in various colours such as black, blue, fawn, red, and white. Some may also have a mix of white and other colours, or a mix of white and brindle.
Is an American Staffordshire bull terrier the same as the pit bull?
The American Staffordshire bull terrier and pitbull belong to the Molosser breed group but both of them have distinct differences. The American Staffordshire is smaller compared to the pit bull. He is about 40–50 pounds and 17–19 inches in height, whilst the pit bull is 18–22 inches in height and 22–110 pounds in weight.
In terms of coat colours, the pit bull has a wide range of colours and coat patterns except for merle. Meanwhile, the American Stafford terrier’s coat colour is more spread out and limited in range.
Does the American Staffordshire bull terrier shed?
Despite having a short coat, the American Staffordshire sheds. Normally, he moults in minimal amounts. However, it becomes more frequent when the shedding season starts. The Amstaffy commonly sheds heavily twice a year.
How to groom an American Staffordshire bull terrier
The American Stafford’s coat requires at least once a week of brushing. Once the shedding season starts, it should be brushed more often. Only bathe him when he starts smelling bad or becomes dirty. Overwashing can dry out his coat and skin, which can lead to skin problems.
Trim his nails every three to four weeks to prevent splitting or cracking of nails. Check and clean his ears once a month as it can accumulate too much dirt and wax, which can cause ear infections. Daily tooth brushing is a must to get rid of cavities and keep periodontal diseases at bay.
Temperament and Intelligence
Unlike the aggressive and ferocious image that the Amstaffy is often painted, he is very affectionate and friendly. He enjoys sticking close to his human companions and participates in family activities.
Expect an American Staffordshire terrier to be a talkative dog. He won’t hesitate to communicate with his owner if he craves for a treat or affection. Although he loves talking with his humans, he isn’t a barker unless often left alone at home.
The American Stafford is noted for his keen senses and courageousness. He has a reputation as a guard dog. This is also partly because of his heavily muscled body and the distorted belief that he is innately aggressive. However, Amstaffy tends to befriend strangers.
The American Staffordshire terrier is great with children and can put up with their shenanigans. However, constant supervision is always necessary just like any dog. He might enjoy playing too much and accidentally knock off younger children. On the other hand, be sure to teach children proper and gentle handling of animals to prevent them from hurting the dog.
Befriending other pets especially same-sex dogs can be tricky for the Amstaffy due to his terrier blood. Spaying or neutering him can minimise this trait. It is best not to allow him off lead when walking in parks to prevent dog aggression.
Generally, the American Staffordshire terrier goes well with cats and other pets if they are introduced during puppyhood. Because of his ratter nature, he has a high prey drive towards cats and other small animals. Thus, it is crucial that he gets early socialisation and training to curb this habit.
How to train an American Staffordshire terrier
The American Staffordshire terrier is a highly trainable dog. When training him, exercise firmness, patience, and consistency. There may be times when he is obstinate or loses focus. Entice him by turning the training session into an enjoyable game for him.
Positive reinforcement should be used in the training to get his motivation back. Never resort to verbal or physical punishment. It will only make him more adamant to do things his way.
Nutrition and Feeding
One- to two-months-old American Staffordshire terrier puppy should be fed about 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups of food each day. Once he reaches the age of four to five months, give him 1 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups of food per day. When the puppy turns six to eight months old, he needs 1 1/8 to 2 1/3 cups of food. Nine- to eleven-month-old puppy should have two to three cups of food a day.
A fully grown American Staffy weighing around 40–50 pounds needs at least two cups of food per day. An Amstaffy that weighs about 60–50 pounds requires approximately three cups of food daily. Make sure to divide his meals into smaller servings to avoid overeating and bloat.
Health and Exercise
The American Staffordshire terrier is full of vigour and high levels of energy. Give him at least one to one and a half-hour of exercise to tire him out.
Make sure to play games that will mentally stimulate him such as obstacle course, doggy puzzles, and hide and seek. The Amstaffy has a high energy level, and lack of exercise will lead him to develop destructive behaviours.
The American Staffordshire bull terrier has a lifespan of twelve to fourteen years. He may even live longer if he is properly cared for. The Amstaffy is generally a healthy breed, but he is predisposed to a few health problems such as:
- Skin allergies
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Urinary tract infection
Breed Fun Fact
In a temperament test conducted by the American Temperament Test Society, the Amstaff scored considerably high. The breed’s score in the latest data is 85.5%. The Amstaff exceeded the Chihuahua, beagle, German shorthaired pointer, and other popular breeds.