American Staffordshire Terrier

An American Staffordshire Terrier sitting down

Breed standard: AKC, FCI | Size: Medium | Average lifespan: 12+ years | Temperament: Energetic, intelligent, and stubborn | Coat: Short | Origin: United States.

Also called the AmStaff or Staff, the American Staffordshire Terrier is known for having the strength of a Bulldog and the agility of a Terrier. As these dogs were historically trained for dog fighting, these dogs have a developed musculature and remarkable strength. Behind this dogs’ tough allure is a great pet, who is endearing, kind, and intelligent. With good training, you will be able to have a gentle and affectionate dog.

The origins of the American Staffordshire Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a cross between two dog breeds that are now extinct.

A breed between the Bulldog and the Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier is the result of a cross between a Bull and terrier and a Blue Paul Terrier. During the beginning of the 19th century, these dogs were used as fighting dogs in the United States. That is until dog fighting was made illegal. The lineage of the American Staffordshire Terrier is said to have been developed by American breeders in the 20th century. The breed was known as the Staffordshire Terrier at first. It was later named the American Staffordshire Terrier in 1972.

AmStaff: historically a fighting dog

The American Staffordshire Terrier had a long history as a fighting dog. In the past, fights between dogs or other animals were very frequent. Characteristics that were highly sought after were robustness, strength, and combativeness. The Bulldog was chosen for dog fights because they had a high pain tolerance. Terriers, on the other hand, were chosen for their agility. As years went on, the breed evolved and became domesticated. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that the AmStaff became a well-loved pet and companion dog. 

American Staffordshire Terrier running
This dog is very energetic, dynamic, and endearing.

The character of the American Staffordshire Terrier

From this breed’s origins, the AmStaff kept its ardor and courage. These dogs are also energetic, dynamic, and endearing. In addition, as these dogs are intelligent, it is best to train them with firmness from a young age. Without clear commands, this clever dog could quickly take control of their owner. 

A strong-willed and headstrong dog breed

AmStaffs are great guard dogs because they are very alert and attentive. With that being said, they also know how to be affectionate with their owner. Even if they are not be unhappy in apartments, it’s important to make sure that this dog gets outs of the apartment very frequently. These energetic dogs need to stretch out their legs and play outside in the open air. As these dogs are athletic, they like to maintain their strength and muscles. You can even do sports with this dog to help them use up their pent up energy. 

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a stubborn and intelligent dog. From a very young age, you need to show authority and be firm when training them. By showing your faults and weaknesses, these dogs will take advantage of your kindness. They are easy to train, but you need to be perseverant and persistent all of their life. 

As we mentioned earlier, the American Staffordshire Terrier is a guard dog and historically a fighting dog. Because of this, they can become aggressive towards people who might hurt them, treat them badly, or show aggressiveness towards them. Brutality can make this dog malicious. Make sure that this dog’s environment is serene so that this dog can blossom and grow fully.

A black and white American Staffordshire Terrier lying down
This medium dog does not fail to impress with its developed musculature and imposing head.

The American Staffordshire Terrier’s physical characteristics

The AmStaff has imposing physical characteristics, with a musculature that is particularly defined. 


This medium dog does not fail to impress with its developed musculature and imposing head. It’s easy to see that this breed is resistant and robust. This dog is attentive to its environment. 


The head of this breed is massive with very defined cheek muscles. The muzzle is rounded on the upper part, the jaw is well-defined, and allows this dog to open their mouth wide. The nose is black, as long as the dog does not suffer from depigmentation, which is very frequent for Rottweilers. When it comes to this breed’s ears, they are semi-straight on the head. It should be noted that floppy ears are not allowed by the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) standard. The eyes of the American Staffordshire Terrier are big, round, and dark (typically brown). 


Weighing up to 31 kg (≈ 68.3 lb), the body of the AmStaff is massive and compact. The bone structure is very strong. When you look at the AmStaff, you can notice right away that it is an athletic dog. The tail is straight, rather short, and low. In addition, it is not rolled but rather horizontal. The ribs are visible, giving this dog an imposing stature. 

A black and white American Staffordshire Terrier puppy
A black and white American Staffordshire Terrier puppy.

Coat, color, and grooming

To start off with, the coat of the American Staffordshire Terrier is short, hard, and shiny, which is characteristic of the Bulldog breed. When it comes to the color of their coat, many different colors and nuances are possible. A few of these colors include black, red, fawn, blue, brindle blue, brindle fawn, brindle black, or white. However, the FCI advises against coats that are black and tan or more than 80% white because these coat colors predispose this dog breed to deafness.

Caring for an American Staffordshire Terrier

The AmStaff requires daily care and special attention.

Daily care

Just like all dogs, you should brush your AmStaff’s coat every week to get rid of dirt and falling hairs. You should keep an eye on your dog’s claws as well because this breed’s claws are long and do not wear out naturally. For this reason, it’s best to trim them. If you do not trim their claws regularly, it can become painful. Additionally, pay close attention to their eyes, which could be fragile. If you notice any redness or impurities, ask for advice from your vet. 

Diet and exercise

To keep your AmStaff healthy and happy, it’s important to take your dog out for walks regularly and let them roam around in your backyard. As these dogs are very playful, they absolutely enjoy playing games of catch. When it comes to their diet, it should be rich in meat and proteins. You can also opt for high quality kibble and add red meat to it. These dogs should eat around 300 to 350 g (≈ 0.6 to 0.77 lb) of food per day. With that being said, it’s best to check with a vet as their diet should also be adapted to their age. 

The American Staffordshire Terrier at a glance

Size: Male AmStaffs measure around 45 to 48 cm (≈ 17.7 to 18.9 in) while females measure around 43 to 45 cm (≈ 16.9 to 17.7 in).

Weight: Males weigh around 25 to 31 kg (≈ 55.1 to 68.3 lb) while females weigh around 18 to 25 kg (≈ 39.6 to 55.1 lb).

Health: The American Staffordshire Terrier is not predisposed to any genetic or hereditary diseases. With that being said, hip dysplasia could eventually develop in this breed. In addition, this breed can also suffer from cerebellar abiotrophy, which is a degeneration of the cortex.

Average lifespan: 12 to 16 years.

Are American Staffordshire Terriers good with children? When children grow up with these dogs, these dogs tend to be protective of them. However, for protective measures, it is best not to leave a child alone with this dog breed.

Is the American Staffordshire Terrier easy to train? This dog breed is stubborn and intelligent. For this reason, it is important to show your authoritativeness, patience, and firmness when training this dog breed. Additionally, it is best to train them while they are still young. With good training, you will be able to have a gentle and affectionate American Staffordshire Terrier.