The American Staffordshire Terrier temperament is similar to that of their neighbor across the Atlantic, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, although the American dog has a larger head and heavier body weight. Both breeds are active and muscular, and both were bred for combat
American Staffordshire Terrier Origins
American Staffordshire Terrier history began in England and the breed eventually traveled to America where it became the dog we know today.
In the early 20th century, the American Staffordshire Terrier evolved, through selective breeding, into two types.
The show type was known as the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the fighting type was called the American Pit Bull Terrier. Some breed registries consider both types to be the same breed, while others recognize them as two quite separate breeds.
American Staffordshire Terrier vs. American Pit Bull temperament
Although some people feel there are distinct differences, most professionals within the animal field feel that the temperaments of the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pit Bull terrier are quite similar to each other. Both varieties of terrier are smart, brave, affectionate towards people, and tend to have a high prey drive towards other animals.
The Family Friend and Protector
This dog's temperament is that of an intelligent and affectionate companion that loves being with their owner.
I have met many American Staffordshire Terriers that just want to wrestle and tumble with you. They love to play, but because they are so strong, they can knock over small children.
Always watch your children when they are playing with any dog.
If you're an active person, then the American Staffordshire Terrier temperament will definitely fit your lifestyle.
One aspect of dogs' temperaments that often appeals to people is the tendency to be protective of their loved ones.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is very good in this role.
Depending on the individual dog's breeding, they can be very reserved around people they don't
It is absolutely essential that your American Staffordshire Terrier is well socialized so they get used to being around different people. This will help them learn to be relaxed and friendly around strangers, but won't reduce their instinctive watchfulness. Sign up for a socialization class at your earliest opportunity!
Animal Aggression and the American Staffordshire Terrier Temperament
A difficult aspect of dog temperament is aggression towards other dogs and most American Staffordshire Terriers exhibit their fighting instinct when they encounter other animals. If they are not properly trained and supervised, they can actually kill small creatures such as cats, and they can seriously injure larger dogs that they encounter.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is a popular breed of dog and this has led to unscrupulous breeders producing puppies with unsound temperaments. These dogs are dangerous, even in the hands of an experienced dog owner. Always be sure to evaluate a potential dog’s temperament before you buy or adopt. Ask the breeder or rescuer lots of questions about the dog’s personality.
Early socialization and training can counter these instincts to a large extent, but you must always be vigilant with these dogs around other pets. Because of these aggressive tendencies and strong will, I don't recommend this breed for novice dog owners. They need to be owned by someone with experience in managing dogs with challenging behaviors so that people and animals in the community are safe.
There are some extra precautions that you can take to make sure that you are a responsible Amstaff owner:
- Always walk your dog on a leash and have them under control in public. Use a harness or a Gentle Leader for extra control. Do not use a Flexi-leash.
- Avoid dog parks where you have no control over the interactions with other dogs. Instead, set up small, supervised play dates with friendly dogs.
- Always supervise your dog’s interactions with other animals. If you have to leave, separate your dog from other pets in the household using a crate or baby gates.
- If you think an off-leash dog might run up to your Amstaff on a walk, you can walk your dog with a basket muzzle or carry citronella spray to deter off-leash dogs.
- Take an obedience class. Your dog can even work towards earning its Canine Good Citizen’s certificate.
Training your American Staffordshire Terrier
This dog is very clever and isn't hard to train. However, they can be strong-willed and bossy. They need a confident and experienced owner, or they will take over the household.
Start training your dog from puppyhood and continue throughout their life, with firmness and consistency.
This doesn't mean you need to be harsh with them. Positive training methods work well with these intelligent dogs. However, if you give an inch, they'll quickly take a mile.
Sign up for a positive reinforcement obedience class with a trainer near you. Positive reinforcement is an effective and humane method of training. It is fun for the owner and the dog! It will help strengthen your bond with your American Staffordshire Terrier.
American Staffordshire Terriers can also compete in canine sports such as agility, freestyle, weight pull, disc dog, and rally obedience!
The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan a world-class Dog Trainer from New Zealand is worth taking a look at. This online resource has hundreds of fun informative dog training videos that can help you learn the basics and more.
Destructiveness When Bored
Most dogs get bored when they are left alone for long periods of time and they don't get enough mental stimulation.
This breed, in particular, likes to chew, and with their powerful jaws, they can really do some damage to your home and furnishings. Give them things they can chew safely, such as rawhide or stuffed rubber Kong toys.
Another useful activity to alleviate boredom and prevent your American Staffordshire Terrier from creating their own fun is to exercise them.
A tired dog is a happy dog, and they are more likely to have a nap when alone than turn their mind to mischief.
If you have to leave your American Staffordshire Terrier alone for long stretches of time, you can hire a dog walker to check on them during the day.
You can also enroll your dog in doggie daycare. This will also help your American Staffordshire Terrier socialize with other dogs in a safe, supervised way.
American Staffordshire Terrier Size and Appearance
The average American Staffordshire Terrier weight is between 40 and 70 pounds.
The average American Staffordshire Terrier height is between 17 and 19 inches.
American Staffordshire Terrier colors can come in just about anything under the sun! Some of the most prevalent colorations include brindle, brown, grey, tricolor, black, white and blue.
Their ears can be cropped or natural, but the latter is preferred both in the show ring and as a pet. The tail should not be docked.
Their coat is short and easy to maintain. It does not require much grooming.
Is the American Staffordshire Terrier hypoallergenic? American Staffordshire Terrier shedding is minimal, but the breed is not considered hypoallergenic.
American Staffordshire Terrier Health Problems
The American Staffordshire terrier is prone to a few health concerns. Be sure to discuss these thoroughly with your veterinarian.
As with all dogs, your American Staffordshire Terrier should visit a veterinarian once a year for a checkup and yearly vaccinations.
Your American Staffordshire Terrier should also receive heartworm prevention and flea prevention on a monthly basis. It is crucial that your Amstaff stay up to date on heartworm prevention at all times.
It is also important to get your American Staffordshire Terrier spayed or neutered at the appropriate age. This will prevent health problems and will also avoid adding to the pet overpopulation crisis.
With good care, the American Staffordshire Terrier lifespan is between 12 and 16 years.
Note: if you agree that your health and your dog's health should be a top priority then get a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. Your Spitz friend will love you for it. This guide will help save you money, time and most of all help you keep your dog healthy.
American Staffordshire Terrier Adoption and Rescue
The need is great
There are many homeless and abandoned American Staffordshire Terriers that are looking for new and loving homes.
Happily, many people are discovering the joys of adopting homeless pets, so Amstaff adoption is on the rise.
However, there are still many American Staffordshire Terriers in need of homes.
If you think this breed might be right for you, please explore adoption and rescue options first.
Even if you are looking for a puppy, you will be able to find one through an animal shelter or an American Staffordshire Terrier rescue group.
Finding the Perfect Adoptable AmStaff
There are many ways to find your perfect Amstaff for adoption. You can start off by visiting your local animal shelter or humane society.
Let the staff know that you are looking to adopt an American Staffordshire Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier mix.
Let them know what types of qualities you are looking for.
For example, if you are looking for an Amstaff that is compatible with kids or other pets, you might get the best results with a rescue group that houses some or all of their dogs in foster homes.
The foster families will be able to give you a better idea of what to expect in terms of behavior in a home environment.
Landlord and insurance restrictions
You will find that most of the Amstaffs in shelters and rescue groups are there through no fault of their own.
One of the most common reasons for surrender is landlord and home insurance restrictions.
American Staffordshire Terriers are on the list of prohibited breeds in many places. Be sure you know the rules and regulations of your residence before you bring one home.
Finding AmStaff Rescue Groups
You can use Facebook or Google to find American Staffordshire Terrier rescue groups in your region. Some rescue groups specialize in other “Bully Breeds” as well as Amstaffs.
For example, some rescue groups assist American Pit Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, Boxers, and common mixes such as American Staffordshire Terrier/lab mixes and American Staffordshire Terrier/boxer mixes.
Another great way to search for AmStaffs for adoption is to check out adoption websites such as Petfinder.com, Adoptapet.com and Getyourpet.com.
American Staffordshire Terrier Puppies for Sale
When you go through a high-quality breeder, the American Staffordshire Terrier price will be between $800 and $1000.
When you go through an adoption agency, the American Staffordshire Terrier price range is lower between $75 and $200.
This price usually includes spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchip, and sometimes other vetting as well.
With so many Amstaffs needing homes, please make adoption your first option.
But if you decide to work with a breeder, do a lot of research to make sure you are working with a reputable one.
You can visit the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America for a list of American Staffordshire Terrier breeders, but just because a breeder is listed on this site does not necessarily mean it is a quality breeder. However, this list is a good place to start your search.
You will still need to visit the breeder in person, ask lots of questions, and do some digging to make sure the breeder is using best practices.
Signs of a good American Staffordshire Terrier breeder include:
- Welcoming you for a visit to the premises,
- Asking you questions to make sure you can provide a good home to one of their dogs,
- Providing you with veterinary records,
- Asking you to sign a contract promising to spay/neuter your American Staffordshire Terrier puppy at the appropriate age,
- Asking you to return your puppy to the breeder if things do not work out in the future.
Signs of an unscrupulous breeder include:
- Refusing you access to the property,
- Asking very few questions about your home and lifestyle,
- Providing no follow-up support,
- Primarily caring about the money and not about finding the best possible homes for their puppies.
Other Terrier Dogs
The American Staffordshire Terrier is a member of the Terrier Group of dogs. Dogs in this group come in various sizes and are ALL full of spunk and spirit.
Though they have many things in common, each terrier also has varying temperaments. Here are a few other terriers and their temperaments:
Conclusion: Why the American Staffordshire Terrier?
If you are a confident dog owner, and are looking for an active, intelligent and protective dog to keep you company, then the American Staffordshire Terrier temperament may suit you perfectly.
However, don't be complacent when you welcome this breed into your home. Be prepared for their strength and instinctive aggression towards other animals, or you may find yourself with more dog than you can handle.
Allie has worked in the field of animal welfare for over ten years and as a freelance writer the space for many years. She has had many different kinds of dogs (and cats) throughout her life—all adopted. She currently shares her home with a lovable pit bull mix named Huckleberry.