American Staffordshire Terrier: A Fighting Dog

American Staffordshire Terrier

Have you ever wondered what it was like to have a dog that was bred for fighting? Well, the American Staffordshire Terrier is just that – a dog that was originally bred for fighting other dogs. But don’t let that scare you away from this breed.

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a breed of dog that is known for its strength, agility, and proverbial courage. These are one of the several dog breeds that were originally bred for fighting, but today they are more commonly used as loyal protectors and loving family pets. Despite their fighting origins, American Staffordshire Terriers are actually gentle and loving dogs that are great with children.

If you are considering adding an American Staffordshire Terrier to your family, it is important to have some basic knowledge about their temperament and personality, here is a detailed guide to help you get started!

American Staffordshire Terrier Dog at a Glance

ColorAny color from black, white, brown, red, fawn, brindle, liver, blue, etc.
MarkingsPatched, spotted, white markings, tan points, black mask, blue mask, brindle points, white mask, etc `
Coat typeShort and sleek with dense hair coverage
EarsRose-shaped ears
Height18-19 inches (male)17-18 inches (female)
Weight55-70 lb (male)40-45 lb (female)
Life expectancy12–16 years
Bred forFighting, guarding and hunting
Drooling amountLow
Exercise neededMedium 20-40 mint per day
TemperamentGentle, Calm, friendly, outgoing and protecting
Good withChildren and other family members 
Overall grooming requireLow


Several years ago in Great Britain, various large dog breeds were developed to excel in blood sports like bull baiting, bear baiting, and dog fighting. Dogs were set against one another or turned loose in packs to fight a staked bear or bull, with spectators gambling on the outcome.

These revolting events cast a dark pall over history but they did leave us one silver lining; Some of today’s most popular dog breeds such as the Bulldog, American pit bull terrier, pit bulls, Bull Terrier, and the Staffordshire Terrier.

The ancestors of Staffordshire Terrier were a mix of Bulldogs and Terrier breeds which explains their many nicknames, including Pit Bull Terrier, Bull-And-Terrier Dog, etc. In the end, they became popular as Staffordshire Bull Terriers. These dogs were popular among butchers for managing bulls, hunters for bringing down wild boars, and farmers for help with farm work and ratting.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers made their way to America in the mid-1800s when U.S. breeders developed a new version that was larger than the British one. Consequently, a debate began about whether Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier belong to the same breed or different.

In February 1898, they were recognized as American Pit Bull Terriers by the United Kennel Club (UKC). Similarly, on June 10, 1936, the American Kennel Club (AKC) registered approximately 50 American Staffordshire Terriers dogs under a new breed name and category and made breed specific legislation. These dogs now belonged to the AKC terrier group.

The Australian National Kennel Council ranked this breed as the eighth most popular in 2017, while Société Centrale Canine placed it sixth in France that same year. According to the American Kennel Club, however, popularity dipped to 85th place by 2020.

Physical Characteristics


The American Staffordshire Terrier is a stocky, muscular dog with a broad head and strong jaw, pronounced cheekbones, and dark eyes that are set wide apart. The AmStaff’s agile movement and springy gait exude innate confidence. Staffies can have either half-pricked ears (also called half-cocked) or rose-shaped ears. Rose-shaped ears fold backward, just like a greyhound does. However, as there are many Staffy crosses out in the world, you might encounter one that has button ears or even upright ears which is less common.

A height of about 18 to 19 inches (46 to 48 cm) at shoulders for the male and 17 to 18 inches (43 to 46 cm) for the female is to be considered preferable. The nose should always be black. Many coat colors are accepted. However, dogs with liver or black-and-tan coat, and dogs with more than 80% white are discouraged.
American Staffordshire Terriers
American Staffordshire Terriers

Size and Weight

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a medium/large-sized, healthy and robust dog that typically weigh between 40–70lb (18–32 kg) and 87–99 in (220–250 cm) in height. Male Amstaffs tend to be slightly larger than females.

Color and Spots

The American Staffordshire Terrier has a short, stiff coat that is easy to groom. The coat comes in many colors, including black, blue, brindle, fawn, red, and white. Some AmStaffs have spots of color on their coat, which is called merle. Merle is a pattern that can be found in many different dog breeds, such as the Australian Shepherd and the Catahoula Leopard Dog. American Staffordshire Terriers may have different Patches, spots, white markings, spotted Tan points, black masks, blue masks, brindle points, and white masks, etc.

Temperament and Personality

The Staffordshire Terrier is known for its tenacious temperament and fearless personality. These dogs are game for anything and make excellent family pets. They are keenly aware of their surroundings and have a robust personality that endears them to humans. They enjoy having a job to do, whether that’s being a jogging buddy, using their nose for work, running agility courses, or performing in other dog sports.

Despite their fighting origins, Staffies are typically gentle, playful, and tolerant around family members. They make excellent guard dogs due to their sharp sense of hearing and awareness but are also loving companions.

Barking Level

The American Staffordshire Terrier typically has a low to moderate barking level. They are known for their keen sense of hearing and awareness, which makes them excellent guard dogs. It may be territorial and will bark when it encounters people or other animals that are not part of its family. This dog may also bark excessively when bored and seeking attention from its owner.

Drooling Level

The American Staffordshire Terrier typically has a low drooling level. These dogs have strong jaws and pronounced cheekbones, which gives them the appearance of being heavy droolers. However, they are actually quite neat eaters and do not produce excessive amounts of saliva.

Interaction With Family Members and Children

Staffordshire Terriers are incredibly loyal and make excellent family dogs. They thrive on human companionship and love being around people. These dogs are gentle, playful, and tolerant around children, making them ideal playmates. Staffies require consistent training and socialization from an early age to prevent aggression towards other animals or humans.

Staffy Care


The Staffordshire Terrier is an intelligent breed that is eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. However, they can be stubborn at times and need a firm hand. Like all dogs, Staffies need early socialization exposure to different people, sights, sounds, and experiences when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your AmStaff dog grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

If you try to make him do something he doesn’t want to do, he will always win. However, if you turn it into a game, he will play along and both of you can come out victorious.

While certain behaviors, such as chewing and digging, may be difficult to kick, it’s important to know that even the best-socialized AmStaffs can develop aggression. For this reason, an AmStaff should never be left alone with other dogs.

Exercise Needed

American Staffordshire Terrier is an energetic and athletic dog that requires a lot of exercise at least 20 to 40 minutes of activity each day. This can be accomplished through a brisk walk or jog, playing fetch in the yard, or a romp around at the park. It’s important not to overdo it with these breeds, as they are susceptible to joint problems as they age. This means that extended playtimes or hours of running around outside are not recommended. These dogs thrive when they get to spend time with their people, so canine sports such as obedience, agility, and dock diving can be a lot of fun for both the dog and the owner.

Fur Shedding and Grooming Requirement

The American Staffordshire Terrier has stiff, glossy hair that sheds heavily twice a year with the change of seasons. The rest of the year, it only sheds minimally. However, grooming will help to proper blood distribution in the skin as well as make hairs shiny and smooth. In order to reduce the amount of hair shed, it is recommended that you brush your American Staffordshire Terrier at least once a week using a bristle brush.

Nail trimming is also important for this breed, as their nails can grow quite long if left untended. It’s best to get your dog used to this process from an early age so that it doesn’t become a stressful experience.

Bathing is only necessary whenever the dog gets dirty which shouldn’t be more than a few times per year unless they get into something smelly. Usually, this breed doesn’t have much of an odor and can go without baths for some time! All in all, their grooming needs are quite low compared to other breeds. 

Feeding Requirements

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a large dog breed that is known for its significant muscle mass and power. As a result, they require a diet that is high in protein and fat to maintain their energy levels and muscular build. It’s important to avoid overfeeding these dogs, as they are prone to weight gain. Feeding them twice a day, in smaller portions, can help to control their weight.

Puppies require a diet that is high in protein and calories to support their growth and development. Adult Amstaffs need a diet that is balanced and provides them with the nutrients they need to stay healthy. Senior Amstaffs may need a diet that is lower in protein and calories to help them maintain a healthy weight.

For puppy food, look for a minimum of 22% protein and 8% fat content, while adult dogs should have 18% protein and 5% fat in their diet. This will help your Amstaff build beautiful lean muscle mass without risking obesity or resulting health complications. Many reputable brands of dog food contain the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that your pet needs.

American Staffordshire Terrier puppy

Tips Regarding Feeding

  • It is best to free-feed puppies until they are six months old. After that, you can switch to scheduled feedings. Free feeding means leaving food out for the puppy to eat whenever he is hungry. Scheduled feedings are set mealtimes where the food is only available for a certain period of time.
  • Staffordshire Terriers should be fed 1-2 cups of food per day, generally divided into two meals. However, the amount given each day may vary depending on how active the individual dog is and its metabolism.
  • Avoid giving your American Staffordshire Terrier table scraps, as this can lead to obesity and other health problems
  • Never offer your Staffies wet food as this can increase the risk of bloat, give them feed as dry as possible.
  • Avoid foods that contain fillers such as corn, wheat, and soy as these can cause gastrointestinal distress. Choose a food that is rich in animal-based proteins such as chicken, beef, and lamb.
  • American Staffordshire Terriers are prone to obesity, so it’s important to keep an eye on their weight. Avoid overfeeding and make sure they get plenty of exercises.

Health Issues

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a relatively healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12-14 years. However, like all breeds, they are prone to certain health conditions. Some of these conditions include

Cerebellar Ataxia

This is a neurological disorder that affects the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance. Dogs develop this condition between the ages of three and five years, and it progressively gets worse over time. The main symptom is a decline in muscle coordination, which results in an exaggerated gait. You’ll notice your dog taking big steps even when they’re walking on flat ground.

Other symptoms include

  • Unusual eye movement
  • Standing with wide-apart legs
  • Unsteadiness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Tremors and seizures.

Chiari-like Malformation

Chiari-like malformation (CM) is a condition that affects the brain and spine. It occurs when the bones of the skull are too small to protect the brain, which causes it to push down into the spinal canal. This can cause a variety of symptoms, including

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of appetite.

Myotonia Congenita 

Myotonia congenita is a condition that affects the muscles and nervous system. It’s characterized by muscle stiffness and delayed relaxation after contraction. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including

  • Muscle weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of coordination.

L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria

L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria (L2HGA) is a condition that affects the nervous system and muscles. It’s characterized by a build-up of a substance called L-2-hydroxyglutarate in the body. Symptoms are similar to other neuromuscular disorders.


Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of the hormone thyroxine. This can happen for a number of reasons, including Hashimoto’s disease and surgical removal of the thyroid gland.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include

  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Lethargy
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Depression

Skin Allergies

The American Staffordshire Terrier is prone to skin allergies, which can be caused by a variety of things, including diet, fleas, insects, molds, and pollen.

Some of the most common symptoms of skin allergies include

  • Itching and scratching
  • Hair loss
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Hot spots

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is a condition that affects the elbow joint. It’s caused by a mal articulation of

bones in the elbow, which can lead to pain and lameness. Symptoms include 

  • Limping
  • Swelling in the elbow joint
  • Pain when the elbow is extended.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Staffies Be Left Alone?

Staffies can be left alone for short periods, but they do best when they have companionship. They’re social animals and can become anxious when left alone for too long.

How Far Should You Walk a Staffy?

How far you walk your staffy depends on their age, fitness level, and health. Puppies and older dogs should only be walked for short distances, while adult dogs can handle longer walks two to three miles. If your dog is healthy and fit, you can walk them for up to an hour a day.

Do Staffies Like To Cuddle?

American Staffordshire Terriers may look intimidating, but all they really want is some love from their owner. They are extremely affectionate animals that would do anything for those that they care about.

Final Thought 

The Staffordshire Terrier is a loyal, loving, and protective dog that makes an excellent family pet. These dogs require consistent training and socialization from an early age to prevent aggression. Staffies are incredibly versatile and can excel in many different roles, including working dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, and even explosives detection dogs.

Simon Wilson

Simon Wilson

I'm Simon Wilson, and I love beagles. I've been living with and owning beagles for over 15 years now, and during that time I've learned a lot about myself and the beagles. I love to write about my beagle experiences, and I hope that by sharing my experiences, others may find use in my learnings and experiences. Read more about Simon Wilson