American Staffordshire Terrier

The American Staffordshire terrier, often called the “Amstaff,” has a heart of gold wrapped up in a very troubled past. These are close cousins to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a British classic. It’s not hard to mistake them as Pit Bulls, and for good reason. The Amstaff too was used as a fighting dog. However, responsible breeders now produce many sweet companions. Read on to learn more about the American Staffordshire Terrier.

Description of the American Staffordshire Terrier

These dogs look as strong as they are. Although smaller than most fighting dogs, they are still squat and thickly muscled, with rippling muscles barely concealed by their smooth, short coats. The Amstaff comes in many colors, including black, blue, fawn, and brindle.

The American Staffordshire Terrier is an update to the classic Staffordshire Bull Terrier. After coming to America, the breed became larger, but not much else changed. These were still fighting dogs.

Today, it is hard to imagine a face with such sweet eyes fighting to the death. In fact, today’s Amstaffs are very different from their forefathers. As dog fighting has finally fallen out of fashion, breeders have concentrated on making the breed friendly, rather than aggressive.

Life Expectancy and Size

These dogs stand between 17 and 19 inches at the shoulder, but can weigh anywhere between 40 and 70 pounds.

They are fairly healthy, though it is important to maintain their physical fitness and help them avoid obesity. The Amstaff can be expected to live between 12 and 16 years.

Protective Ability

This breed has turned itself around from a difficult past. Today, Amstaff should not be used for protection, despite their ability to fight. They should always be kept inside the house and allowed to bond with the family. These dogs also require early socialization to make sure that they do not become aggressive, especially with strange dogs.

That being said, many individuals have a strong protective instinct. It is important to solidify their sweet nature through obedience and socialization training so that this side of them only comes out if absolutely necessary.


These dogs are not usually difficult to train. They are very happy around their owners, and enjoy learning from them. If you are able to maintain positivity, you will see quick results with your Amstaff. Some individuals even excel in tough jobs, like search and rescue.

Ample praise is a great reward for these social dogs.

Energy Level

Usually the Amstaff is quite energetic and playful. He especially loves playing games with the family!

What Living with an American Staffordshire Terrier is Like

These dogs have easy-care coats that require little grooming. They are a rough and tumble breed that enjoys anything and everything that has to do with the family. Their biggest requirement is consistent social interaction. However, it is also important to make sure they get enough physical activity.

With proper socialization, the American Staffordshire Terrier should be friendly with all people. Some individuals can be aggressive with other dogs, and may get into tiffs even with family pets. Begin socialization early to avoid any problems.

Care of the American Staffordshire Terrier

These dogs can adapt to many environments, but do remember that is important to keep them inside because of their socialization needs. These are not outside dogs.

Environmental Needs

The American Staffordshire Terrier is not too picky when it comes to weather. These dogs have short hair, but are well muscled. This means they usually stay relatively warm. In extremely cold temperatures, they may need protective outerwear or limited time outdoors. Make sure to safely maintain their activity levels in all climates and monitor their water intake.

Exercise Needs

Exercise is important to keep the Amstaff healthy.

Try to give these dogs at least one vigorous walk per day. Challenging terrain can help them develop healthy muscle tone. They can easily keep up on hikes, and may also enjoy faster paces, like jogs or bike rides.

At home, this breed does best with a yard. They can vent excess energy here, and it leaves plenty of room for fun games. Many Amstaff enjoy tug of war, Frisbee, and fetch. These dogs are usually quite gentle when well trained and can safely play with older children.

Shedding and Grooming

It is quite easy to groom an American Staffordshire Terrier. They require weekly sessions with a grooming mitt to keep their short coats shiny, and their minimal shedding at bay. Only the occasional bath is required. Be sure to perform the routine maintenance required for all dogs, including regular ear checks.

Ideal Home Environment

These dogs may be well suited to athletic owners who they can join for hikes, jogs, and bike rides. However, it is important to commit to spending enough time. This is not a breed for single owners who leave the house for work all day every day.

The Amstaff will do well with children, and can get along with other family pets as long as they are properly socialized.

Health Concerns

Some Amstaff may have hip or knee pain, especially later in life. Eye problems are also a concern of aging. Allergies and heart problems also may be an issue.

Rarely, cerebellar ataxia can cause muscle degeneration. However, effective screening does exist for this condition.

Behavior Problems

Time, patience, and skilled training can solve most behavioral problems. The Amstaff’s biggest problems arise from boredom and loneliness. They may scale high fences, or dig underneath them if they are bored enough, so make sure to secure the perimeter. Just spend time with them! Always discuss serious issues with professionals.