American Staffordshire Terrier


History & Origin

There are two schools of thought as to the origin of the American Staffordshire Terrier, or Am Staff, as it is also affectionately called. The first would have it that the breed originated in Britain by breeding Bulldogs with terriers, as breeders were looking for a dog that had the strength and tenacity of the bulldog, but the agility of terriers. Accordingly, the product of this interbreeding came to the U.S.A. via the U.K. and Ireland in the 1800’s, and was a firm favorite especially amongst those that used it for pit fighting hence it being named ‘Pit Bulls’.

The other school of thought would have it that the breed originates from the Spanish Alanos, which were the original Bulldogs. Apparently the belief is that many of these dogs were imported to Britain and that when the Irish immigrants later came to the U.S.A., they brought some of these dogs with them.

It is believed that some breeders kept their lines pure while others interbreed the Alanos with English Terriers. What is interesting to note, is the resemblance between the Alanos and the American Staffordshire Terrier.

Whatever the case may be, however, the Staffordshire Terrier was first recognized as a breed by the AKC in 1936, on the provision that these dogs be called American Staffordshire Terriers, and not Pit Bulls. Since then, the only recognized Am Staff dogs are those whose parents were registered as such, and these dogs are not allowed to take part in any dog fighting.

Interestingly, the “Staffordshire” in American Staffordshire Terrier is coined from the area in the U.K. where these dogs are commonly believed to have first originated.

On an important note, although the American Pit Bull and the American Staffordshire Terrier of today have common ancestry, the American Pit Bull is not accredited by the AKC.

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Your American Staffordshire Terrier puppy, or Am Staff, as it is also known, was originally bred to fight, and as such, this needs to always be kept in mind. They are extremely muscular and active.

Although they are great with children, one should always keep an eye on them while playing, but this is the case with any dog. They are also great with other pets, if raised with them, but if out and about, they should ideally be kept on a leash, as you never know what your puppy can get up to when confronted with a situation, such as a stranger or another dog that it perceives as a threat to either its owner, or itself. They have been known to attack when confronted with a situation where they see what could be a possible threat. With this kind of dog, always be on the safe side.

This is a breed that, despite its initial purpose, is gentle, tolerant and playful in nature, and loves being part of, and receiving love from, its family. It loves nothing more than to play with family members, although its size gives no real indication of its inherent strength, so when playing with younger family members, it could inadvertently knock someone over, but it would be an accident. They also need a good sized yard in order to run off excess energy, and a walk or jog with its humans.

Because they form such a strong bond with their families and are very protective of their loved ones, they make, besides a great family pet, excellent guard dogs as well.

Although highly intelligent, they are strong-willed, and once they make up their minds not to do something, they most certainly won’t. To this end, they love games, and the easiest way to train your Am Staff puppy is through play activities.

Once bored an Am Staff puppy can get up to all kinds of mischief, and chew on things you would much rather he left alone. To keep your puppy entertained, he needs positive attention, adequate exercise, and a lot of chewable puppy toys.

Although breeders have, as their aim, to breed these dogs in such a way that their fighting instincts are lessened, some unscrupulous breeders do not take care with this, and as such, before purchasing your puppy, make sure you have done your homework on both the breeder and your new puppy’s lineage.

american staffordshire terrier


nutrition and feeding


Your new American Staffordshire Terrier is an extremely easy dog to take care of and has absolutely zero special requirements.

These dogs need a well-balanced diet that fits their nutritional needs, should typically be ‘home-made’, and fulfill all their dietary requirements. To this end, it should include protein (e.g. beef, poultry or fish) as well as grains and vegetables, such as corn, soy, and brown rice.

As a puppy, your new addition to the family may need to be fed four to five times a day, and adding eggs to its diet as well as milk are recommended. Milk should, however, no longer form a part of his diet by the time he is approximately four months old. This is because most dogs become lactose-intolerant at that age. As for meat, any will do, although pork and sheep are not advised, while you can give it as many vegetables as it likes, such as carrot, pumpkin or marrow. Fruit, if he will eat it, is also fine.

By the time your dog is fully grown, however, two meals a day, following a balanced diet, is more than sufficient for its needs. Remember, though, the quantity a fully-grown dog needs depends on its size, and level of activity.

If you decide to go with commercial dog food, do pick a brand that is of excellent quality, and not the more commercial brands, as these are high in ‘fillers’ and do not meet your dog’s dietary needs, whether it is a puppy or full-grown.

Never give your puppy or fully grown dog chocolate, fresh garlic or onion, or sugar. They are harmful to dogs of any age.

coat and grooming


Quite a long-lived breed (a well-looked after dog can live up to approximately 9 – 15 years), the male is between 46cm-48cm in height and weighs in at between 28-40kg. The female is slightly smaller, and stands at between 43cm-46cm, while it weighs approximately the same as the male, depending on its size.

They have an athletic build while being relatively short and stocky, with a strong, powerful head. These dogs pack a punch for their size!

Their coat is short and flat and has a tendency to shed throughout the year. They do not have a double coat with a shorter, fluffier undercoat.

They can be bathed about once every four to six weeks, using a good quality, hydrating shampoo which will help combat flaky patches on its skin as well as dandruff (yes, dogs can get this condition too; it is not limited only to humans).

Wiping out their eye area with wet cotton swabs will clear out the area around the eye where many dogs tend to get a stain due to tearing. Cleaning out their ears in this way as well will not only keep them clean but alert you to any possible ear infections – if there is a smelly discharge, go see your vet immediately.

As for their toenails, this is a very active breed and the nails tend to be filed down naturally. However, they always need to be checked and clipped, if needed, so that your puppy does not end up with possible infections.

Due to its habit of constantly shedding, regular brushing with a bristle brush is advised. It should keep the problem down to a minimum while keeping your puppy’s coat shiny as well.

Your Staffordshire puppy comes in all shades, e.g. black, white, tan, and brindle or combinations thereof. All are perfectly acceptable.



Your new puppy’s training begins the moment you bring it home! These are highly intelligent, strong-willed dogs, and if you do not start teaching your puppy its place in your home immediately, he will try training you!

The first thing your American Staffordshire Terrier needs to learn is that you are in charge. To this end, you, as the owner, need to establish yourself as the ‘alpha’ of his new pack.

Defining yourself as the alpha dog is extremely important, and can be accomplished in a few ways, such as, for example, always entering your home first, eating before you feed it, and clearly marking your and its sleeping area (never let them sleep on your bed). By doing this, and being consistent about it, your new puppy soon starts learning that there are rules that need to be followed and that you are the one that sets them.

Something to keep in mind is to never shout at your dog! A firm tone of voice needs to be kept when instructing or training him, as a loud voice will only serve to excite your dog, and he takes it to mean you are actually spurring him on with regards to any bad behavior it may be showing.

Also, do not reward him with treats while training. Rather, when calling him, rewards him with a hug or a pat. You may not always have treats around when you want or need it to behave in a certain manner.

Socialization should also be started right from the outset. This is a breed that does not naturally get along with other animals, and proper social training teaches it that attacking another animal is not acceptable. The same goes for strangers. Your new puppy will quickly become very territorial and bond with its new family, wishing to protect it. If it sees someone as a threat, it may attack. It needs to be socialized so that it will not do so indiscriminately. Regular walks (with your puppy on a leash) where it is exposed to strange dogs and people are therefore a must.

Of course, one of the main issues any new puppy owner faces is housebreaking your dog. To this end, regular feeding times are invaluable, as a puppy typically needs to defecate approximately 15 minutes after a meal. If you have this down, taking it outside at that time soon teaches it the appropriate place to relieve itself, and saves you a lot of time cleaning up after it. As it grows older, it will even start letting you know when it needs to go out, which is the exact behavior you wish to cultivate.

Your puppy can start with formal puppy training when it is about 16 weeks old, i.e. after it has received its last puppy shots.

Never, under any circumstances, tie your dog up, or allow adults or children to tease it. This could lead to your cute puppy learning to attack people, which is something you most definitely, as a conscientious dog owner, do not want!



Taken holistically, this is a healthy breed and is not prone to many health issues. Those that do sometimes occur, however, are elbow dysplasia (it is. therefore, necessary to make sure you buy your new puppy from a reputable breeder and that you know the history of its parents) as well as hip dysplasia, although this very seldom occurs with this particular breed.

Other ailments include possible heart disease and renal atrophy. Renal atrophy is a kidney ailment that is quite prevalent in certain breeds, but once more, not so common in American Staffordshire Terriers. Once more, to be on the safe side, make sure you know the history of your new puppy before purchasing.

They may, at times, get certain skin conditions or allergies, but these can usually be easily treated by your local veterinarian, and are usually not life-threatening.

The American Staffordshire Terrier, or Am Staff as it is also affectionately known by owners and breeders, is a kind, considerate, playful and loving dog with a will of its own. It needs a home where it gets the stimulation and guidance it needs to be a happy dog, and will protect its family with its life if the need had to arise.

They have had a bad rap over the years due to indiscriminate breeding and people using them in dog fights. This does not detract from their inherent lovable, affable nature, however.

Under no circumstances is it ever advised to tease these dogs, as their protective instincts could arise and the consequences would be disastrous. They are also not advised as a first-time pet, despite their smaller size, as they are exceptionally strong physically, as well as strong-willed, and need a firm hand with the proper discipline when training, and a home that understands their needs.

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