The American Staffordshire Terrier, often known as the AmStaff, boasts a unique combination of strength, grace, and confidence. As a member of the terrier group, this breed is renowned for its athleticism and courage, inheriting the tenacious spirit of its ancestors. AmStaffs possess a muscular build that is more than just for show; it underlines their historical role as dogs capable of performing a wide range of tasks. They are sturdy, quick, and have an exuberant temperament which makes them both a joy and a challenge to train.
Despite their tough exterior, American Staffordshire Terriers have a soft spot for their families. They are known for their loyalty and affection, often forming strong bonds with their owners. As a breed, they require adequate training and socialization from an early age to make the most of their intelligent and eager-to-please nature.
However, because of the stigma around this breed, it’s very important to research them properly before searching for a American Staffordshire Terrier puppy for sale. So, we’ve referred to breed experts like Lisa Cornett from Bay Cities Amstaffs for the best dog breed information guide.
So, What Is An American Staffordshire Terrier? Breed Overview
The American Staffordshire Terrier, often known as the AmStaff, is a medium-sized, short-coated American dog breed. It is known for its strength, intelligence, and affectionate nature. Originally bred for bull-baiting, they are now popular as family pets, valued for their loyalty and protective instincts. AmStaffs require proper training and socialization.
Breeder Lisa Cornett explains that the Amstaff makes a great pet because they are a good “all-round dog.” They make good inside dogs and family members. They are a very family orientated pet. But they also love to be out with you exercising, and are a fantastic choice for active owners.
Discover the history behind the AmStaff’s tenacity with a look at one of the rarest pitbull lineages, the Colby Pitbull bloodline.
American Staffordshire Terrier History and Origin
The American Staffordshire Terrier, a breed admired for its courage and strength, carries a rich heritage rooted in England, becoming prominent in the United States. Known initially for dogfighting, the breed has evolved, with strict breeding standards emphasizing its physical capabilities and temperament.
The breed’s lineage began with a cross between Bulldogs, which were once agile bull baiters, and game terriers like the Fox Terrier, creating the dynamic and robust Bull-and-Terrier dog. These ancestors were vastly different from today’s Bulldogs, standing straight on their legs and even possessing muzzles. Over time, in England, this Bulldog-terrier mix was refined into the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Historical Significance and Development
As early adopters of industrious work in England, these dogs were later brought to the United States around 1870. They underwent a name evolution, from Pit Dog to American Bull Terrier, and eventually to Yankee Terrier. By 1936, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed as Staffordshire Terriers, a name which was changed to American Staffordshire Terrier in 1972 to acknowledge the heavier American variety. This breed stands apart from its close relative, the American Pit Bull Terrier, through AKC standards that favor conformation over the historical uses of the breed.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes the AmStaff different from other Pitbull-breeds in their appearance.
Size and Build
American Staffordshire Terriers are robust and well-proportioned, characterized by their muscular frame, which provides them considerable strength relative to their size. Here is a straightforward table to help you grasp the typical dimensions of these dogs:
|18 – 19
|46 – 48
|17 – 18
|43 – 46
This breed’s balanced stature is neither overly long-legged nor too sleek, providing a stocky but agile appearance.
The American Staffordshire Terrier boasts a broad head with very pronounced cheek muscles and a distinctive stop. Eyes are set low in the skull, dark and round, contributing to the keen and alert expression typical of the breed. Their ears can be cropped or uncropped, with the latter being preferred, ideally being short and held rose or half prick. The importance of a strong bone structure is evident in their straight front legs and powerful, muscular shoulders.
Coat and Colors
When it comes to coat texture, American Staffordshire Terriers are known for their short, stiff, and glossy coats. These coats are also close to the body, emphasizing their muscular contours. They shed lightly all year and are not hypoallergenic dogs.
In terms of color, they come in a diverse palette, including solid, parti, or patched shades. Although there are a variety of acceptable colors, an overwhelming white, black and tan, and liver shade is less desirable. Their coat’s sheen is a testament to their overall well-being and is an easy-to-spot hallmark of the breed.
Temperament and Personality
Is it true that the AmStaff is aggressive and dangerous? Let’s explain.
The American Staffordshire Terrier, often known as an Amstaff, exhibits a personality that is loyal and confident. These powerful dogs carry themselves with a noticeable sense of courage. Your Amstaff is likely to be friendly and affectionate, forming strong bonds with family members. They also love to cuddle.
Suitability with Children and Other Animals
Your Amstaff can be playful and good-natured, making them a potential fit for children. However, always supervise interactions with younger children to ensure safety for both the child and the dog. While displaying a generally trustworthy nature, American Staffordshire Terriers can show aggressive behaviors towards other dogs. Socialization from a young age can mitigate this trait.
- With children: Usually gentle, supervision advised
- With other dogs: Can be aggressive; early socialization helps
Common Behavioral Traits
You’ll find your Amstaff to be eager to please, adding to their playfulness. Be mindful that they can have a short fuse with provocation, so it’s key to maintain a calm environment. Always employ positive reinforcement training methods to encourage their best behavior. American Staffordshire Terriers flourish with consistent, firm, but gentle training to harness their energy positively.
- Provocation: Can lead to aggression; stay calm
- Training: Consistent and positive is best
Remember that each dog is an individual, and while breed tendencies can be a guide, knowing your dog’s personal characteristics is essential. With proper care and training, your Amstaff can be a loving and devoted companion.
Health And Lifespan
Are these dogs a healthy breed and what do you need to watch out for? Let’s explain.
American Staffordshire Terriers typically live between 12 to 16 years. Your pet’s longevity can be influenced by genetics, nutrition, and their overall health care.
Common Health Issues
Your American Staffordshire Terrier may face several health challenges throughout its life. Being aware of these issues can help you spot problems early:
- Skin and Ear Issues: They are prone to skin problems like atopic dermatitis as well as ear infections.
- Heart Conditions: Keep an eye out for congenital heart issues and irregular heartbeats.
- Joint Problems: Conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia are not uncommon. They might also develop cranial cruciate ligament disease.
- Eye Conditions: Eye issues such as glaucoma and cataracts could affect your dog’s vision over time.
- Cancers: Be vigilant for signs of lymphoma and mast cell tumors, which can occur in this breed.
- Neurological Conditions: Neurological issues, including cerebellar ataxia and cerebellar degeneration, may affect your pet.
- Thyroid Issues: Hypothyroidism can be a concern and should be monitored.
- Renal and Urinary Conditions: Urinary problems like urolithiasis – cystine could develop.
It is essential to be attentive to any signs of health problems that may arise, as early detection and treatment can greatly impact your dog’s quality of life.
Preventative Care Tips
To maintain your dog’s health, consider the following:
- Regular Vet Visits: Yearly check-ups can catch health issues early.
- Balanced Diet: A nutritious diet tailored to your dog’s needs supports overall health.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity helps prevent obesity and joint problems.
- Dental Care: Maintain dental hygiene to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.
With proactive and attentive care, you can help your American Staffordshire Terrier lead a happy and healthy life.
Exercise & Housing Needs
Now what about keeping up with your Amstaff pup’s physical needs. Let’s take a look.
Daily Exercise Requirements
American Staffordshire Terriers are high-energy dogs requiring consistent, vigorous activity for at least one hour each day. To prevent boredom and destructive behavior, these dogs need more than a simple walk. Engage them in activities that challenge their energy and focus, like weight pulling, high-intensity games, or fetching a ball to encourage playfulness.
Examples of beneficial activities include:
- Agility courses;
- Tug-of-war; and
- Running alongside a bicycle.
Employing a dog treadmill may be a suitable option for days when outdoor exercise is not feasible. Swimming is another great activity to help tire out this breed.
Although American Staffordshire Terriers may adapt to apartment living, they typically thrive in environments with more space. If you’re living in an apartment, it’s crucial to ensure daily exercise needs are met. For those with a yard, a secure, robust fence is vital for responsible ownership, as this breed may try to escape if left unattended or inadequately stimulated.
Considerations for your yard:
- High fences to prevent jumping;
- Space for a variety of exercises; and
- Secure gates to prevent escapes.
Embedding elements from the sport of gameness where they navigate obstacles like a vertical wall jump can provide an excellent outlet for their energy.
For more insight, familiarize yourself with stories of dogs engaged in sports that harness their power, such as those found in this photograph collection.
By catering to their physical and mental stimulation needs, you’ll ensure your American Staffordshire Terrier leads a balanced, happy life.
Housing Needs for American Staffordshire Terriers
American Staffordshire Terriers are adaptable dogs, but like all breeds, they have specific housing needs to ensure their well-being and happiness.
- Indoor Living: AmStaffs thrive in a family environment and prefer to live indoors with their human companions. They are known for their strong bond with family members and do best when included in daily activities. A comfortable, designated space inside the home, like a bed or crate, provides them with a sense of security and belonging.
- Outdoor Access: Regular access to a secure, fenced outdoor area is ideal for this energetic breed. The space should be safe and enclosed to prevent escape, as AmStaffs can be strong and determined. This outdoor area allows them to exercise, play, and explore in a controlled environment. However, they should not be left outside for long periods, especially in extreme weather, as they prefer being close to their family.
- Temperature Sensitivity: Being a short-coated breed, AmStaffs can be sensitive to extreme temperatures. During colder months, they may need extra warmth like a coat or sweater when outside. In hot weather, ensure they have access to shade and fresh water to prevent overheating.
- Social Environment: A social and family-oriented breed, AmStaffs need regular interaction with their human family. They may not fare well in isolated conditions or when left alone for extended periods. Consistent social interaction helps prevent boredom and anxiety, which can lead to destructive behavior.
In summary, American Staffordshire Terriers require a loving, secure, and interactive home environment. Adequate indoor space, regular access to a secure outdoor area, and plenty of exercise and social interaction are key to keeping an AmStaff happy and healthy.
Training and Socialization for American Staffordshire Terriers
Owning an American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff) comes with a significant responsibility. These dogs are often unfairly stigmatized due to their resemblance to Pitbulls, placing a greater onus on their owners. As an AmStaff owner, it’s crucial to understand that training and socialization aren’t just part of pet ownership; they’re essential components of being a responsible guardian for this specific breed.
AmStaffs are known for their intelligence and tenacity, traits that make them highly trainable. They thrive in a structured environment where calmness and consistency are key. In fact, Studies show the American Staffordshire Terrier are very suitable to be service dogs.
Harsh methods don’t work well with this breed; instead, they respond best to positive reinforcement. A calm, experienced owner who can interpret their dog’s subtle body language will find training more effective and rewarding.
Striving for neutral behavior is important. An AmStaff should be able to walk past other dogs and strangers without showing excessive friendliness or reactivity. For this reason, it’s advisable to keep them on a leash in public and avoid places like dog parks, where uncontrolled interactions can occur. Continuous training and socialization are imperative to keep the dog and others around them safe.
Behavioral Training Tips
Owners need to be aware of the physical power of an AmStaff and be alert to signs of stress or agitation. Subtle cues such as a stiff body, ‘whale eye,‘ hard stare, yawning, or lip licking are important to recognize.
Dr. Bonnie Beaver notes that AmStaffs, and similar breeds, often show less warning before becoming aggressive. This is not because these dogs attack without reason, but because they exhibit less obvious signs of discomfort. It’s a myth that these dogs attack ‘out of nowhere.’ In reality, smaller breeds like Chihuahuas or Yorkshire Terriers are more likely to bite, but an AmStaff’s bite can be much more harmful due to their strength.
Diet and Nutrition for American Staffordshire Terriers
So, let’s look at what to feed your AmStaff.
The American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff) has specific dietary requirements to maintain its health and well-being. A well-balanced diet is essential for keeping them in optimal condition. The diet should be rich in nutrients, providing all the necessary vitamins and minerals to support their active lifestyle.
Consistency is key when feeding an AmStaff. It’s recommended to establish a regular feeding schedule. Typically, adult AmStaffs do well with two meals a day. Puppies may require more frequent feedings, usually three to four times a day, to support their rapid growth and development. It’s important to adjust the feeding schedule and portion sizes based on the dog’s age, activity level, and health needs.
Special Dietary Considerations
AmStaffs may benefit from certain dietary supplements to support their overall health:
- Joint Support: They may need joint support from an early age, given their active nature and muscular build.
- Vitamin E, Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Supplements like green-lipped mussel extract, which is rich in EPA and DHA, are beneficial for maintaining gut health, skin health, and reducing inflammation.
- Probiotics: These can be crucial for maintaining gut health.
A high-protein diet, consisting of 30 to 40% quality protein, is typically recommended for AmStaffs. However, owners should be mindful of potential food allergies. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to prevent obesity and associated health problems.
In cases where an AmStaff develops health issues common to the breed, such as kidney or bladder stones, a specially tailored diet may be required. This diet might need to be lower in protein content and should be discussed with a veterinarian.
It’s always advisable to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best dietary plan for an individual AmStaff, especially when considering supplements or addressing specific health concerns.
Grooming Needs for American Staffordshire Terriers
American Staffordshire Terriers are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming, but regular care is essential to keep them healthy and comfortable.
- Coat Care: AmStaffs have a short, stiff coat that requires minimal grooming. A weekly brushing is usually sufficient to remove loose hair and maintain the coat’s natural sheen.
- Teeth: Dental care is crucial. Brush their teeth at least two to three times a week to prevent tartar buildup and gum disease.
- Ears: Check and clean their ears weekly to prevent wax buildup and infections.
- Nails: Regular nail trimming is necessary. Trim their nails once or twice a month, as overly long nails can cause discomfort or lead to problems walking.
- Brush: A rubber grooming mitt or a bristle brush works well for their short coat.
- Toothbrush: Use a dog-specific toothbrush with dog-safe toothpaste for dental care.
- Ear Cleaner: A vet-recommended ear cleaning solution can be used for ear care.
- Nail Clippers: Invest in a good pair of dog nail clippers or a nail grinder.
- Coat Care: When brushing, go over their coat to remove loose fur and distribute skin oils, which helps keep their coat shiny and healthy.
- Teeth Care: Introduce dental care gradually. Start by massaging their gums before moving on to a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Ear Care: Be gentle when cleaning their ears. Avoid inserting anything deep into the ear canal; focus on cleaning the outer ear.
- Nail Care: If you’re new to trimming nails, ask a veterinarian or professional groomer for a demonstration. Be cautious not to cut too close to the quick, as it can be painful and may cause bleeding.
- Regular Checkups: During grooming, check for any signs of skin issues, lumps, or infections. This regular checkup can help in early detection of health issues.
Proper grooming not only keeps the American Staffordshire Terrier looking good but also provides an opportunity to bond with them and check for any signs of health problems. Regular grooming, coupled with periodic professional grooming sessions, will ensure that your AmStaff is always comfortable and healthy.
Cost of Ownership for American Staffordshire Terriers
Owning an American Staffordshire Terrier, like any dog, comes with its financial responsibilities. Understanding the costs involved is crucial for prospective owners to ensure they can provide a suitable and stable environment for their pet.
Initial Costs (American Staffordshire Terrier Puppy Price)
- Puppy Price: The price for an AmStaff puppy typically ranges from $1,500 to $3,000, but if you’re looking for a puppy with a champion bloodline, the cost could be between $2,500 to $10,000.
- Initial Supplies and Equipment: These may include items like a bed, leash, collar, crate, and food and water bowls, costing around $200 to $350. Additionally, initial vet visits, vaccines, deworming, flea and tick medications, microchipping, and other essentials can add up to a total initial cost of approximately $505 to $2,710.
- Training: Professional training, such as private and group sessions, can range from $900 to $1,200 on average, though the costs can vary based on the type of training and location.
- Food: Monthly food expenses can vary significantly depending on the type of food (kibble, wet, raw, freeze-dried) and amount required, with monthly costs ranging from $25 for kibble to over $400 for raw, freeze-dried food.
- Veterinary Care: Regular vet check-ups and routine preventive services can cost around $50 to $100 per visit. Additionally, pet insurance premiums for AmStaffs average between $30 and $110 per month.
- Miscellaneous: Other yearly expenses, including toys, grooming, and potential emergency medical costs, should also be considered.
Adoption and Buying Tips
If you’ve decided the AmStaff is for you, let’s look at the best way to find your ideal puppy or adult dog.
Where to Adopt/Buy American Staffordshire Terriers
Adopting an American Staffordshire Terrier
- Rescue Organizations: One of the best ways to find an American Staffordshire Terrier is through rescue organizations dedicated to the breed. Rescue dogs are often looking for a second chance at a loving home.
- Stafford Rescue: For those looking to adopt, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America offers a rescue service. Visit Stafford Rescue for more information on available dogs and adoption procedures.
Buying from a Breeder
- Reputable Breeders: If you prefer to buy a puppy, it’s crucial to find a reputable breeder. The American Staffordshire Terrier Club of America (ASTCA) provides resources to help potential owners find ethical breeders. Visit ASTCA for more details.
- Breeder Directories: Websites like the AKC Marketplace are also helpful for finding breeders, but always ensure they follow ethical breeding practices.
What to Look for in a Breeder
Ethical Breeding Practices
- Health Testing: Ethical breeders conduct health tests on their breeding dogs to ensure they are free of hereditary diseases common in the breed.
- Transparency: A good breeder will be transparent about the puppy’s health, vaccination records, and pedigree.
- Facility Inspection: Ethical breeders allow and encourage visits to their facility to meet the puppies and their parents.
- Knowledge and Passion: Look for breeders who are knowledgeable about the breed and passionate about improving it.
Commitment to Aftercare
- Support: Reputable breeders offer ongoing support and are interested in the puppy’s welfare throughout its life.
- Contracts and Guarantees: They often provide a contract that may include a health guarantee and return policy.
Choosing the Right Puppy/Dog
Observing Behavior and Temperament
- Temperament Testing: Observe the puppies’ behavior and interactions. A well-balanced temperament is crucial, especially for a breed like the American Staffordshire Terrier.
- Socialization: Check if the puppies have been properly socialized. Puppies should be exposed to various people, sounds, and experiences.
- Health Checks: Ensure the puppy appears healthy, with clear eyes, clean ears, and a shiny coat.
- Activity Level: Look for a puppy that is playful and energetic, but not overly aggressive or shy.
- Puppy or Adult: Decide whether a puppy or an older dog would be more suitable for your lifestyle. Puppies require more training and attention, whereas adult dogs may be more settled.
By taking the time to research and find a reputable source, whether adopting or buying, you can ensure a better chance of getting a healthy, well-tempered American Staffordshire Terrier. Remember, adopting from a rescue or shelter can be a rewarding experience and gives a deserving dog a loving home.
For more detailed information on finding ethical breeders and adopting, please visit the American Staffordshire Terrier Club of America at ASTCA and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America’s rescue service at Stafford Rescue.
Finally, if you want an AmStaff puppy, it is vital to take the following breed-specific considerations into account.
American Staffordshire Terriers are adaptable to various climates but have some limitations:
- Heat Tolerance: AmStaffs should have access to shade and water and should not be left outside for long periods in hot weather.
- Cold Tolerance: In colder climates, they may require additional warmth like jackets or indoor shelter, as their coat is not suited for extreme cold.
Compatibility with Lifestyle
- Active Lifestyle: AmStaffs are well-suited to active households. They require regular exercise and mental stimulation.
- Family Environment: They are known for being affectionate with family members and can do well in a family setting with proper training and socialization.
- Space Considerations: While they can adapt to apartment living, they do best with access to a yard or regular outdoor activities.
- Training and Socialization: Given their strength and energy, AmStaffs require consistent training and socialization from an early age, throughout their life.
- Health Monitoring: Regular vet check-ups are important to monitor for breed-specific health issues.
- Overview: The American Staffordshire Terrier often falls under breed-specific legislation (BSL) due to its classification as a pit bull-type dog or fighting breed.
- Legislation Variability: BSL can range from complete bans to restrictions and conditions of ownership. This legislation is in place in various regions, including parts of the United States, France, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and Turkey.
- Housing Restrictions: The breed is frequently listed on breed restriction lists for apartments and military housing in the United States.
- Impact: Owners of AmStaffs should be aware of local laws and housing policies regarding the breed. It’s important to check local regulations and breed-specific legislation in your area.
Given these considerations, potential owners should be prepared for the responsibilities that come with owning an American Staffordshire Terrier, including adhering to local laws and ensuring a suitable living environment for the breed.
100 Best names for An American Staffordshire Terrier
Here’s a table of 100 suggested names for an American Staffordshire Terrier, categorized into various themes for easier selection:
|Names Inspired by Nature
This table offers a wide range of names to suit different personalities and characteristics of American Staffordshire Terriers. Whether you’re looking for something classic, tough, cute, unique, or inspired by nature, this list should provide plenty of options to consider for your new pet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is the American Staffordshire Terrier a Pitbull?
The term “Pitbull” is commonly used to describe a group of dogs with similar physical characteristics, including the American Pitbull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and others. While they share a common ancestry and have similar physical traits, the AmStaff is a distinct breed recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Are American Staffordshire Terriers a good family dog?
American Staffordshire Terriers can be excellent family dogs. They are known for their loyalty, affection, and good nature with children. Like any breed, they require proper training, socialization, and responsible ownership. With the right upbringing, AmStaffs can be loving and protective companions in a family setting.
What is the difference between an American Pitbull Terrier and an AmStaff?
The American Pitbull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier have similar origins but have diverged into distinct breeds. The main differences lie in their recognition by different kennel clubs and slight variations in physical traits. The American Pitbull Terrier is not recognized by the AKC, while the AmStaff is. The AmStaff tends to be stockier and may have a slightly different head shape compared to the American Pitbull Terrier.
Is the AmStaff the same as the Staffy?
The AmStaff is not the same as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Staffy). While they share a common ancestry, they are distinct breeds. The AmStaff is typically larger and heavier than the Staffy. The Staffy is recognized as a separate breed by the AKC and is known for its distinct physical and temperamental characteristics.
Is the AmStaff dangerous?
The American Staffordshire Terrier, like any dog breed, can be a safe and loving companion with proper training and socialization. The breed is not inherently dangerous. However, due to their strength and powerful build, responsible ownership and understanding of the breed’s needs are crucial. Any dog can become dangerous if mistreated, poorly trained, or provoked. It’s important to dispel breed-specific stereotypes and focus on individual behavior, training, and upbringing.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is a breed that encapsulates strength, loyalty, and affection. This article has navigated through various aspects of their lives, from their training and socialization needs to their diet, grooming, and overall cost of ownership. Understanding the breed’s characteristics and needs is vital for any prospective or current owner. AmStaffs are more than their muscular build and strong demeanor; they are capable of immense love and loyalty, making them excellent companions.
It’s important to recognize the responsibilities that come with owning such a powerful breed. Proper training, socialization, and understanding of their health and lifestyle needs are essential. The breed’s history and the controversies surrounding it, like breed-specific legislation, remind us of the importance of responsible ownership and public perception.