American Staffordshire Terrier: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health


Among the characteristics of the American Staffordshire terrier, also known as “amstaff”, stands out its muscular, strong and agile body. Its character is fearless, loving and courageous. It is also very smart, bold and loyal. At Petlife , we explain everything about the American Staffordshire terrier dog breed.


Character of the American Staffordshire Terrier breed

The Staffordshire bull terrier is a very intelligent dog, endowed with an extraordinary character: self-confident, happy, stable and very effusive.

With people it is affectionate and very affectionate, and can live like a perfect family dog, very attached to its own. It can be had without any problem in families with children, since their relationship with them is fantastic.

Likewise, many people are surprised to see them act as a therapy dog ​​accompanying the elderly or sick of different kinds, but it is that its dedication to people and its behaviour with the weakest, with extreme care, far away from the stereotypes that they have been created around race.

The amstaff, diminutive with which the breed is known throughout the world, is also a dog with a brave temperament, full of life and with qualities to become one of the best guardians within its species.

Very obedient, its highest purpose is to serve its guide, its reference person, with whom it establishes a very strong relationship and unbreakable ties.

Once dog fighting became an event prohibited by law and increasingly reviled by the popular conscience, breeders and fans of the breed insisted on selecting specimens that, without losing their virtues and without losing a single gram of courage and generous dedication to their immense hearts, they had a sweeter and more stable temperament. In accordance with the new roles that awaited them in a modern society that does not understand animal abuse as entertainment.

This work has meant that the ruthless gladiator, famous for its tremendous bite and insensitivity to pain, has become a trustworthy, affectionate and loving dog and especially suitable for families with children.

Even with everything, it is not convenient to forget the saying that “where there were flames there are always embers”, because this dog has not lost neither its courage nor its courage and if it is provoked excessively, it draws all its energy to become a fighter again indefatigable.

That is why it is so valued by those who want to have a dog that behaves like a lamb with the family but defends its members or the house itself with its life.

Precisely because of this natural predisposition for fighting and because of its ability not to feel pain, one of the most important tasks that the family that welcomes this dog must assume is its socialization.

And it is that the little socialized specimens or bred in isolation conditions can turn into aggressive dogs at the slightest occasion.

A well-trained one, who has been exposed to stressful situations and the presence of strangers, noise, traffic, etc., becomes a delightful companion and an extraordinary family dog.

As can be deduced, due to its natural conditions, its temperament and its needs, the American Staffordshire terrier is not a suitable dog for everyone. They need their owners to be active, who like to do multiple activities and include their dog in them.

It is a dog with a lot of personality and medium adaptability, which can live in an apartment or in a small house as long as the necessary exercise is guaranteed.

Although, it is much happier if it is allowed to reside in a house with some land where he has a personal space in which to find tranquillity or some play when he needs it.

And above the place where you live, what is really important is that you live with the right people, those who are capable of assuming the needs of your pet, understand them and try to satisfy them.

At the same time that they have the capacity and enough experience to shape the temperament of the animal and turn it into a safe and balanced family dog.

  • Energy: High level. It is not enough for them to take simple walks, but it needs a good dose of exercise every day and to move freely in the open air: running, looking for objects, jumping, tracking.
  • Temperament: Its demeanor is brave, tenacious and fearless, it is a faithful, obedient and very intelligent dog, so it can be fully trusted.
  • Adaptability: Medium. You can live in an apartment or a small house, but since you need a lot of outdoor activity, you prefer life in the country.
  • Sociability: High. It is loving, affectionate and very attached to his family. Gregarious animal, it integrates well in the group and likes to know its place within it.
  • Health: Good. You may have hip dysplasia.
  • Longevity: High. Live between 12 and 15 years.
  • Utility: Versatile. Companion and guard dog, it can also work as a therapy dog, as it is affectionate. It also performs very well in some sports disciplines such as flyball or frisbee.
  • Use: Company and hunting.

Thus, the American Staffordshire terrier, despite having originated with a very specific purpose, fighting, currently stands as a wonderful companion dog, easy to maintain, healthy, good guardian, docile and, above all, very intelligent, all of them qualities that will surely delight their masters.


Characteristics of the American Staffordshire Terrier

Regarding the general appearance and physical characteristics of the American Staffordshire terrier or amstaff, it is a dog with an agile and elegant figure, but with a collected, solid, very strong and muscular body.

Its body is of solid and muscular structure, this dog gives the impression of having great strength, compared to its size.

Even so, it is agile and elegant, with the body collected. Always attentive to everything that surrounds them, its value is notorious.

The head is large, with a broad skull and a marked stop. The muzzle, moderately long and rounded at the top, descends somewhat abruptly below the eyes.

Their eyes are round, well set in their sockets and well apart; dark in color, with well pigmented eyelids.

Its ears are set high, sometimes the ears are cropped. Those not cropped are equally small, rose-shaped or semi-erect.

The feet are compact, of medium size and well arched. They have muscular legs, straight and endowed with strong bones.

It has a tail that, compared to the size of the dog, is short, set low, and tapers from base to tip. The dog does not carry it curled up or over his back.

Its coat is short, tight, glossy and hard to the touch, it can appear in hair almost in any color, although a very high proportion of white is not typical of the breed.

Let’s now see in more detail what the American Staffordshire terrier is like and the breed standard:

American Staffordshire Terrier breed standard

  • General appearance: solid, muscular, with a collected body and with a great impression of strength, it is an agile, elegant and very alert dog.
  • Size: medium / large.
  • Height at the withers: between 46 and 48 cm for males and between 43 and 46 cm for females.
  • Weight: between 18 and 20 kg for males and between 16 and 18 kg for females.
  • Origin: United States.
  • Body: with the back slightly raised, the upper line of the back descends slightly from the withers to the rump, which slopes down to the birth of the tail.
  • Head: it is large and of medium length.
  • Skull: it is broad.
  • Muzzle: rounded at the top and of medium length, sloping down sharply from under the eyes. The cheeks are prominent.
  • Nose: it is black.
  • Eyes: well separated and sunken in the sockets, they are round and dark in color. The eyelids are well pigmented.
  • Ears: set high, may or may not be cropped. The non-cropped ones, nowadays the most advisable option, are small, rose-shaped or semi-upright.
  • Jaws: well defined, the lower jaw is very powerful, with a strong scissor bite. The lips meet at the edges and are not loose.
  • Neck: slightly arched and heavy, of medium length, without dewlap, gradually tapering from the shoulders to the insertion on the head.
  • Chest: broad and deep, the ribs are well fitted and developed backwards.
  • Back: it is quite short.
  • Forelimbs: straight and with strong bones, they are well separated, allowing a good development of the thorax. The shoulders are strong and muscular, with broad and oblique shoulder blades. His forearms and arms are well poised.
  • Hind limbs: they are very muscular, with the hocks in a low position, they do not deviate either outwards or inwards.
  • Feet: medium in size, compact and well arched.
  • Tail: short compared to the general size of the dog, set low and taper to the tip. The dog does not carry it curled up or on its back and its amputation is prohibited.
  • Color: the coat can be practically any color.
  • Hair: short, tight, hard and lustrous in texture.
  • Movement: the dog advances without rocking or ambling, with an elastic movement.
  • FCI Classification: FCI # 286 Group 3 – Terriers. Section 3 – Bull Terriers.

American Staffordshire terrier puppies

If you are looking for information about the amstaff, it may be because you are considering the adoption or purchase of an American Staffordshire terrier puppy.

Before making the big decision, you need to consider and know a number of aspects to make the right choice.

Due to its origin as a fighting dog, this canine pet tends to be conflictive with other dogs; hence the great importance of its early socialization, from the puppy stage.

On the other hand, it is important to take care of its diet, especially during the period of skeletal and muscular development, ensuring that the diet is of the highest possible quality and that the dog does not grow obese or malnourished.

Running, jumping, tracking, going to look for objects that have been thrown at a certain distance … are many of the activities with which this dog burns its excess energy. And if you get used to it and teach it as a puppy, it can even swim.

Life in the country is the most suitable for this breed, which needs to enjoy outdoor spaces quite frequently.


Amstaff Education and Training

As for how to train an American Staffordshire terrier, you should know that it is never a good choice for a passive and sedentary person.

Nor is it the most recommended animal for owners who lack experience in dealing with a dog and in the basic steps that have to be taken in its training and education.

As with many other working breeds, it is a gregarious animal that integrates well with the group and likes to have a defined place within it.

It is the most faithful of servants, but requires that its master be able to impose its leadership naturally and exercise it with conviction and firmness, without ever using force.

Therefore, the main objective when facing the training of an individual of this breed is to make them understand who is in charge and who occupies the position of leader in the pack.

The things that can be taught are not as important as the work procedures that will lead the dog to understand that it is dealing with a leader, whom it must obey, and who is worth working for.

The amstaff is usually a person’s dog, that is, although it integrates perfectly within the family, it shares its affection with all the members of the family and plays without problem with the children, its heart and soul only belong to that person who holds the highest position within the hierarchical family pyramid.

In fact, it may come to scold the behaviour of other members of the group in its own way if it considers that they are going against what the leader indicates.

So the person who becomes your reference can know that from now on you will have an ally who will always be on your side.

Even so, it is important to make the dog understand that all the people who live with them are above them in this aforementioned pyramid; in this way a fruitful and profitable relationship is built between all the components of the family and your new dog.

In its daily life, the American Staffordshire terrier needs a good dose of exercise on a daily basis, and although the typical walk on a leash is not enough, it is just as necessary.

The walk, in addition to constituting an exercise in itself, is the best way to establish the fundamental bases of their education because, in the first place, thanks to the leash, the idea of ​​what place each one occupies within the hierarchical pyramid is strengthened.

Since unconsciously, by ensuring that the dog always walks next to the foot of its guide or half a step behind, but never in front, the animal assumes that the person above it is the one who sets the pace and what path must be followed.

Second, this walk on a leash becomes the best time to introduce the dog to new experiences such as going to shops, teaching them to be caressed by other people, allowing its approach, always with care, to other dogs, etc.

But this dog is a true athlete and, therefore, these walks are not enough for him. Physically you need more. The ideal is to be able to drop it in a safe and well-defined place, and play with it to throw objects and make it go to look for them , or allow it to jump, drag, run, etc.

And these needs are not only physical, but also mentally it needs to know that it is doing something useful, that it has a specific place and role within the family it lives with.

For this, it is very practical to enroll in a work club, which you can go to to complete the dog’s training and at the same time be able to start thinking about other disciplines or alternatives.

This dog stands out in a large number of activities: agility competitions, especially in the United States, tests specially designed for this type of dog in which grip and the strength with which they do it prevail, or dragging weights pulling a harness.

All these kinds of sports are inspired by the original functions of this dog, but are devoid of any violent connotations.

In Scandinavia, for example, it is used with great success in crawling competitions, and it has even been seen integrated into a group pulling a wheeled sled in summer competitions of this discipline.

But if the American Staffordshire terrier stands out in some canine sport above others, it is in those that require strength, speed and explosiveness, such as flyball , frisbee or elimination races.

It is not that this is the breed most used by the security forces, but the truth is that the police force of some American counties has included amstaff in their dog patrols.

These have proven to be indefatigable workers and especially useful in the work of containment and vigilance of the public order due to their great dissuasive capacity.


Feeding the American Staffordshire Terrier

As for how to feed an American Staffordshire terrier, the diet must be rich in protein (preferably of animal origin) to meet the energy demands of the animal and provide adequate nutrition to the muscles.

It must also have a balanced composition of quality fats that provide essential food for eyes, skin and hair, and serve as fuel for its extraordinary energy.

It is also advisable to divide the daily ration into two or more feedings throughout its life, and especially in summer, to avoid possible episodes of stomach torsion, which can be very serious, and it is not advisable to feed the dog immediately before or after exercising.


American Staffordshire Terrier health and diseases

The American Stafforshire terrier is generally a healthy dog. If it is well fed, carries out a suitable exercise program and undergoes the mandatory veterinary checks, this animal can live perfectly 12 years or more.

In spite of everything, there are some diseases that occur in this breed with relative frequency, in general it is important to take extreme preventive measures, especially if you intend to raise the pet sometime.

Being a medium-sized dog with great muscular development, active and energetic, it has a certain propensity to suffer from hip dysplasia, a disease that can be very painful for the animal and even incapacitate it to carry out some tasks of ordinary life.

Therefore, the first measure that must be taken to avoid this condition is to control the state of the hips in all individuals older than 12 months and never use for reproduction those dogs that suffer from it severely.

Another basic pillar is exercise, which during growth should be just and necessary to collaborate in the harmonious development of the animal but without causing injuries or alterations due to overexertion.

Other common conditions in the breed are stomach torsion, for which an adequate feeding protocol must be established in order to avoid it, and some eye diseases.

But the transmission mechanism of the latter is so well known that it is enough to remove the affected or carrier specimens from the offspring to eradicate it in a short space of time.

Apart from these specific health problems, it is a very healthy, strong, long-suffering and resistant breed, and in principle it is enough to make routine visits to the vet to keep its health fully controlled.

It is important to complete the vaccination programs that the breeder has started and maintain a schedule of annual revaccinations, both against the most common diseases and against those of special incidence in the area where you live or those that may be legally required.

The veterinarian must also be in charge of identifying the puppy by implanting a subcutaneous microchip, so that in case of loss, accident or theft the dog can be conveniently located.

Likewise, internal and external deworming are essential for the animal’s health because parasites, in addition to acting as vectors of many other diseases, inactivate the effect of vaccinations, leaving the animal exposed to endless dangers.

Finally, the most sensitive areas of the dog, that is, eyes, ears, skin and mouth, should also be regularly checked by the veterinarian to detect any type of problem as early as possible and act accordingly.


Caring for the American Staffordshire Terrier

Regarding how to care for an American Staffordshire terrier, grooming this dog is very simple and hardly takes any work.

Their coat only requires routine brushing, using a horsehair brush or a terrier mitten to remove dead hair.

It is also not necessary to bathe it very frequently, since it is a rustic animal. When you bathe it, it is good, yes, to use a specific shampoo suitable for your hair type.

Care must be taken to rinse it well, without leaving any soap residue to maintain the natural texture of the hair.


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