The American Staffordshire Terrier
"Amstaff Terrier"

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American Staffordshire Terrier
Weight: 57 — 67 lbs
Height: 17” — 19”
AKC Rank: 2008 #69
Lifespan: 12—14 yrs
Group: Terrier
Origin: United States

Dog Breed Info - American Staffordshire Terrier

Breed Overview

Originated in the 1800’s. Original function: Bull baiting, Dog fighting. Today, Companion. Colors, any partial or solid color, white, black, tan, white and tan, black and white. aka “Amstaff”

The American Staffordshire Terrier (Staffy) (Amstaff) and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier descended from the same lines. The prototype originally came from crossing the old type Bulldog with some old terrier types, possibly the English Smooth Terrier. The crossbreeding showed up in America in 1870.

By 1936 a new Staffordshire Terrier was circulated and registered by the AKC. The breed has been known, unofficially as the pit bull terrier, American bull terrier, Yankee terrier and pit dog, largely due to illegal dog fighting groups which have been outlawed for many years but still exist.

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The American Staffy is intelligent and trainable. Training needs to start when very young puppies and must be strict, as this dog was bred to fight and guard. Heavy socialization and extensive training are a must.

Use a clicker when training the Amstaff. You'd be surprised how well these big, tough guys respond to clicker training when it's done right.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Amstaff puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Generally, the American Staffordshire Terrier puppy is pretty easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

American Staffordshire Terrier @ the beach.
She just HAD to bring her favorite ball!

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The Amstaff is typically docile and playful with his family. He is generally friendly toward strangers as long as his master is present. The American Staffordshire Terrier is generally good with children but must be closely supervised. This is a protective breed and can be aggressive toward other dogs, especially dogs that challenge it. This dog is stubborn, tenacious and fearless and will protect his family and property to the end. For all of it’s tough persona, the important thing in life to this breed is it’s owners loving attention which can cause separation anxiety with a few dogs.

If you get an Amstaff with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

No, not usually. Amstaff's have that aggressive fighting instinct and cannot be trusted.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

No, should probably be the only pet in the house.

Friendly Toward Strangers>

The Amstaff is wary of strangers UNLESS his owner is with him and assures him it’s all right.. Once the dog gets to know you, he’s a great friend.


The American Staffy can fool you. He can be quite playful and friendly.


Yes. The American Staffordshire Terrier gets a bad rap from those who fight dogs. Actually, the Amstaff, if socialized properly as a puppy and raised right, can be very affectionate. They love their family and show it with lots of kisses and physical play.

If you train a dog to be hateful and vicious, that’s how he will act. PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING THE PIT BULLS WHAT THEY ARE.

If you train a dog to be loving, kind and gentle, that’s what you’ll end up with.

Little girl with her pet "pit bull."
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Please Watch The Pit Bull Blues!

Good with children?
Yes. This is a family dog. The American Staffordshire Terrier is loyal to his family and kids and will protect them as well as any breed can. The kids should be older, around 6 or 7 and taught manners toward dogs.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Maybe. If the senior can walk a mile twice every day, as many can, this dog would be fine. The American Staffordshire Terrier is playful, loving, loyal and highly protective which a senior needs, and the breed thrives on the love of his master, which would occur. I would advise some last minute professional obedience training and I think the senior would have a great companion for the American Staffy!

Living environment

Farm or house with any size yard, fenced. A medium size yard would allow the Amstaff to chase balls and play fetch for exercise.

Temperamentally, the Staffordshire should live INDOORS with his family. He needs the social atmosphere of his people. Do NOT tie this breed up outdoors in the yard!

Energy level

Moderately high energy. 6 bars out of 10.

Exercise needs, daily

Moderate exercise. This breed must have enough daily exercise to burn off it’s energy or there will be problems. Jogging or walking a mile or around the block twice daily is good. Playing fetch with a ball in the park, anything where the dog can run is useful.


Yes. Naturally in his blood of the Amstaff.

Guard dog

Yes. Bred for the job.




Brush every other day and wipe off with a damp cloth to retain his naturally shiny coat. He’ll love the extra attention.

American Pit Bull Terrier puppy
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Suggested Reading For the Am. Staffordshire Terrier

The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. Vol 2, 2008 and includes a DVD.


Staffordshire Terrier Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Staffordshire Terrier puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been heavily socialized and started in obedience training. Here is a site with one of the best selections of breeders we've found.
American Staffordshire Terrier Breeders with puppies for sale.

Staffordshire Terrier Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a Staffordshire Terrier and are looking for a rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Dog Rescue -- Nationwide Check the dog health records if possible for serious past illnesses.
If you don't find anything here, do a little surfing and by all means check your local dog pound, SPCA and other kennels.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site so you might find something here. If not, try a search for American Staffordshire Terrier Rescue.

Lazy Pitbull house pet
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Want more Pitbull Information?

The Proper Pitbull
A devoted pit bull "mom" and former humane welfare worker shares her experience and advice on training, adoption and other issues facing pitbull owners.


Dog Health Issues-American Staffordshire Terriers
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the American Staffordshire Terrier by various vets.

The American Staffordshire Terrier is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness and difficulty walking for the American Staffordshire Terrier. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Mast Cell Tumors—Mast cells are found throughout the body and help maintain the dog’s normal immune response, health and body functions. The tumors in question are CANCEROUS and spread through the body. There is no known cause for mast cell cancer and no cure, other than surgery for early-detected, low degree tumors that haven't spread too far. The best formula is to keep the dog as healthy as possible and be aware of any signs of tumors or poor health. Whether the dog survives or not depends on how advanced and fast moving the malignant tumor is.

  • Cerebellar ataxia—An hereditary problem of cell degeneration in the cerebellum of the brain. This is called hereditary ataxia when just one cell type degenerates and the dog can still walk and she can live with the disability. More severe cases will totally incapacitate the dog. I can not find any evidence of a cure for this.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Hair loss and dry skin - Treating - There can be a number of causes for a dog losing hair. Hair loss and dry skin are common. See a vet to find out the CAUSE of the hair loss, such as hypothyroidism, flea allergies, dust or mite allergies and so on. Hair loss is usually treated with a topical ointment if it's a fungal infection, ringworm, pyotraumatic dermatitis or other forms of dermatitis. Dry skin problems are often associated with hair loss so look at both together with your vet. The vet should look for food allergies or Atopy, Demodectic or sarcoptic mange and so on. Once the SOURCE is determined, you can treat the hair loss and/ or dry skin on the dog effectively, sometimes with medicated shampoos, creams. diet changes, oral medication, disinfecting the house or whatever is needed.

  • Elbow Dysplasia—This, as with hip dysplasia, is something some American Staffordshire Terrier's are born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints in the American Staffy. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your dog down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

  • Lick granuloma - (Acral)_A skin condition caused by the dog licking excessively on the same spot. Cause not certain, but possibly separation anxiety, boredom, allergy, and so on. The lesion is licked almost to the bone and can not heal. Anti-anxiety drugs have been tried. A cast over the lesion does not work because the dog starts a NEW location. Vets are now trying laser surgery for healing. Talk to you vet to learn if any new ideas have come up regarding stopping the licking itself.

  • Patent ductus arteriosis— PDA - Canine congenital heart failure. Before birth, blood from the heart passes the lungs by a small vessel called the ductus arteriosis. That small vessel is supposes to vanish after birth and the infant breathes on it’s own With this disease, the vessel does not go away resulting in improper circulation of blood.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the American Staffordshire Terrier's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the American Staffordshire Terrier’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW Amstaff symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture—A ruptured Cranial Cruciate ligament affects the hind leg and is very very painful. It will prevent the dog from walking or placing any weight on his rear end. At Best, the American Staffordshire Terrier will limp severely. Lameness will happen immediately after the injury but should might subside in several weeks, only to return later on. A FEW symptoms include sound of bones rubbing together, decreased range of leg motion, rear leg extended when sitting, resists exercise, movement or mobility.

  • Cataracts - Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated will eventually lead to total blindness.

  • Deafness—Hereditary or caused by: Excessive loud noise, Intolerance to anesthesia, drug toxicity, and Otitis (middle ear infection), In some cases, one ear can have no hearing from birth and the other ear can be losing the ability to hear over time, undetected, then suddenly one morning the hearing is totally gone. There is no reversing once that happens.

  • Allergies. Be sure to see your vet for any itching, excess tearing and constant sneezing.

Other health issues could occur with your American Staffordshire Terrier. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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