American Staffordshire Terrier – The Ultimate Guide


Steadfast, loyal and loving, bringing an American Staffordshire Terrier – or Staffies as they are affectionately nicknamed – into your life is nothing short of a delight.

American Staffordshire Terriers - The Ultimate Guide

Clever and confident to boot, they’re a fantastic family breed, fairly low maintenance and generally

Key Facts

Average Lifespan

Generally speaking, Staffies live a nice long life of at least 12 years, though some are lucky enough to make it to around 16. This is part of the reason why they make such a good family dog: you’ll spend at least a decade of your own life loving them, and they’ll return all of that love to you in spades.

Minimum Exercise (per day)

If you’ve ever hung out with a Staffy, you’ll know that they are a stocky, muscular breed with an athletic build and bundles of energy. As such, you’ll need to pencil in at least one long walk of around an hour a day, with plenty of time to run around off lead too.

If it’s easier to split up their exercise into several shorter walks throughout the day, that’s fine – just be aware that they probably won’t totally settle down until they’ve had a chance to burn off all of their steam, so be prepared to play in between!

Coat Length

Staffies have a short, stiff coat, so their grooming needs are minimal and no-fuss.
It stays nice and glossy, being made up of straight hair that’s not particularly thick. At most, they’ll have around half an inch of hair to contend with.

It’s worth noting here that American Staffordshire Terriers are some of the most eclectic and colorful coats around, available in numerous shades, including:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Cream
  • Red
  • Fawn
  • Blue
  • White
  • Sable
  • Brindle
  • Pied

Minimum Cost (per month)

You’re probably looking to spend around $125 on your American Staffordshire Terrier per month, which takes into account food, medical costs, treats, grooming, toys and other supplies, as well as pet insurance.

You may also want to consider a storage pot just in case other sudden costs like dog walking, dog boarding or even medical expenses not covered by your insurance payments come up.

Appearance

Size

Staffies are medium-sized dogs, though they can be significantly heavier than other dogs of similar sizes due to their significant amount of muscle! Don’t underestimate them, though – it’s likely they’re a lot tougher and stronger than you think.

Average Height

Male American Staffordshire Terriers tend to stand at around 18-19 inches tall, whereas their female counterparts will be a little shorter, coming in at approximately 17-18 inches tall.

Average Weight

Again, female Staffies tend to be on the lighter side, weighing on average between 40 and 55 pounds, whereas male Staffies are considerably heavier, usually falling somewhere between 55 and 70 pounds.

Temperament

Apartment Living?

Although Staffies are certainly not too large to live in an apartment, they are very active, so unless they get the right amount of exercise every day, they might take it out on your home and soft furnishings.

Even with enough of a workout, they can still have a tendency to move around a lot indoors, so access to a small yard or other outdoor space outside of walking time might help stop destructive behavior.

Good For Novice Owners?

Generally speaking, the American Staffordshire Terrier makes for a fantastic first dog. They’re affectionate, intelligent and bond to their families very quickly, making training relatively straightforward if you’re consistent.

American Staffordshire Terriers

However, you need to be prepared to go for at least an hour’s walk per day, as well as scheduling in some playtime, as Staffies are a particularly muscular breed who require a lot of exercise to tire them out.

As long as you’re willing to commit to training and being a responsible owner, there’s no reason why a Staffy wouldn’t become a beloved member of your family, whether it’s just you or a huge, full household.

Sensitivity Level

Clever, cuddly and eager to please, Staffies love attention and will be happy enough hanging out with you on the couch, making them fairly low maintenance pups. Once properly trained, they’re fairly independent and not especially sensitive.

Tolerate Being Alone?

Once over a year old and properly trained, Staffies will be fine spending time with themselves for between two and eight hours a day, depending on their age.

Of course, if they have separation anxiety or struggle being alone generally, irrespective of the breed, you’re going to need to train them to be okay on their own for shorter periods of time before building things up.

Staffies are at their best and most well behaved when they’ve got a task to focus on, so if you’re planning on being out for a while, make sure you leave behind something for them to do, or ask somebody to call in and play for a while when you’re gone.

Tolerate Cold Weather?

Staffies are okay in the cold, so long as they are running around and getting some exercise rather than just standing still. Once it dips to around 45 degrees Fahrenheit, they’ll begin to feel chilly and require something to wear to keep them warm.

As they only have a short coat, taking them outside without a jacket or jumper for added warmth at any temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit could result in them starting to shiver.

Tolerate Hot Weather?

Again, their lack of thick fur means Staffies fare well when it is warm too, but they aren’t especially good at tolerating heat should the temperature crank up. If it’s too hot outside for you to comfortably sit in the sun with shorts and a shirt on, imagine how warm your pooch is covered in hair!

When they start panting, be sure to find shade for them to retire to, and make sure you have lots of water on hand and easily accessible for them to cool down. Ice cubes are also good for a little crunchy treat!

Affectionate With Family?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Staffies, whether American Staffordshires or their British equivalent, are known for being incredibly loyal, loving dogs, who adore nothing more than cuddling up with their families.

They are also incredible guard dogs and very protective, which whilst very useful for you can prove difficult should you fail to train them out of inappropriate barking, growling or other defensive behaviors when they are younger.

Kid-Friendly?

Absolutely! Although as with any dog, regardless of breed, it’s imperative to always supervise young children when they’re with dogs – as even the most good natured pooch can snap out of the blue if something provokes them – Staffies have a reputation for their heart of gold.

This especially extends to children, who they will very quickly become protective over and follow around like adorable bodyguards. As long as the kids know what is and is not appropriate behavior, there’s no reason you should ever have a problem.

Dog-Friendly?

Whilst yes, Staffies are typically fine with other dogs and will get along well with most any breed, they can be a little wary of new friends due to their protective nature.

This means that if they feel threatened or challenged – or believe YOU are being threatened or challenged – it doesn’t take much for them to get defensive on your behalf.

As long as they are properly socialized with other pups at a young age, you shouldn’t have any trouble with other dogs, though do be cautious initially and supervise those first few interactions more scrupulously than you normally might.

Friendly Towards Strangers?

Once they know you, Staffies are an uber-affectionate breed – but they need to know they can trust you first.

An innate desire to protect those they love means that you should be careful when introducing new humans, though just walking past a stranger on the street for instance should not cause any issues provided they do not perceive them as a threat.

Health and Grooming

Shedding

With just one heavy shed scheduled annually, Staffies actually lose hair minimally and are great for those who don’t want to spend their whole lives vacuuming.

So long as you give them a weekly brush, there’s no reason why you’ll find excess hair lying around, and this will keep their coat nice and shiny to boot.

Drooling

Though all dogs have a tendency to drool – just like us humans! – Staffies in particular do not tend to have particularly active salivary glands.

As such, spit is not a bodily fluid you’ll find yourself wiping up regularly; can’t say the same about other ones, though, unfortunately!

Grooming

As already established, a Staffy’s grooming routine is fairly simple and straightforward. Once every week,set aside time to brush their coat with a soft bristle brush, in order to get rid of any dead hair, dirt or other forieng matter.

This will help to distribute the oils from their skin across the coat, giving it a healthy, glossy sheen.

Baths are only really called for if they roll in something nasty: otherwise, you can save the shampooing for when they start to smell especially funky, though a regular nail trim is important to prevent any mobility issues or pain from too-long talons.

General Health

Hardy and robust, you’ll find American Staffordshire Terriers are some of the healthiest, longest-living pooches around. Living on average 12-16 years, they should have a happy and lengthy life as a member of your family, provided you take care of them appropriately.

Common Health Problems

As a breed, Staffies have a tendency to develop or can be vulnerable to the following illnesses or conditions:

  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hip dyslasoa
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Skin allergies
  • Autoimmune disease

As such, is is recommended that you make a point of scheduling tests (the regularly of these will be advised by your veterinarian) like hip evaluations, cardiac and thyroid exams; you might also want to have an NCL DNA test done, to see if they carry the gene for cerebellar ataxia, a disease which can cause decline in muscle coordination between the ages of three and five years.

Potential For Weight Gain

Unfortunately, Staffies have a tendency to put on weight fast, especially if they aren’t being fed nutritionally appropriate meals or exercised properly.

So long as you give them all of the physical and mental stimulation they need and make sure their food contains all of the vitamins and minerals needed to keep them strong, you shouldn’t have much trouble.

The real difficulty comes in saying no when they start pining for a bite of your dinner!

Trainability

Easy To Train?

Despite being very clever pups, Staffies can have a little bit of a stubborn streak that makes them slightly more difficult to train than other medium-sized breeds.

American Staffordshire Terrier

First time dog parents will certainly need the assistance of a professional trainer to help them in the beginning, though once you’ve cracked it you should have a loving and obedient furry friend on your hand!

Intelligence

Yes, Staffies have a reputation for being nasty, but this is entirely unfounded. They are very much a loving, intelligent, caring breed that wants nothing more than to please the humans around them.

If trained properly, you’ll find them incredibly smart and intuitive dogs who love puzzle-based treats and games, enjoying the mental stimulation of having to figure out how to access their rewards.

Potential To Bite?

Though especially loving creatures, particularly towards the humans they love, Staffies can have a habit of being defensive if they feel you or they have been threatened, whether that’s by a human or another animal.

As such, you should do your best to avoid situations where they feel under attack, so they don’t have a reason to step in and defend you!

Tendency To Bark Or Howl?

In spite of being excellent guard dogs, Staffies don’t tend to bark or howl more than any other breed on average.

However, all dogs have the ability to act out if they are bored, understimulated, hungry or otherwise upset, so making sure they are entertained and have something to do at all times is only going to help with that.

History

Back in the early 1850s, initial Bull-and-terrier breeds from Great Britain began to be exported into the United States, some of whom developed a reputation for being good fighters.

However, it took until June 10th, 1946 for the American Kennel Club to officially register the breed, with the name Staffordshire Terrier selected to represent their ancestors, who it is believed hailed from Staffordshire, England.

They are specifically referred to as American Staffordshire Terriers, in order to demonstrate their distinctiveness form the British Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a separate yet similar breed.

Though initially very popular in America, the number of Staffies in the States began to decline after World War Two – as of 2018, they were ranked 85th in the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular purebred breeds in the United States.

Costs

Though how much you’ll pay for a puppy really depends on the breeder, the quality of the dog and other factors like what area you’re from, American Stafforshire Terriers tend to be relatively affordable pups for a purebred breed.

Generally speaking, it’s likely to cost you in the area of around $2,000 on average for a Staffy puppy, especially from a quality breeder, as the temperament, characteristics and physical traits that owners want will have been specifically encouraged and carefully bred into their puppies.

Of course, if you’re looking for a show dog, you can expect the price per puppy to effectively double, as they come from the best and brightest Staffies around and are therefore considered far more valuable than your average pooch.

The most affordable way to introduce a Staffy into your family is to rescue one from a shelter or kennel, as you’ll usually only have to pay a few hundred dollars to bring them home.

This doesn’t guarantee you a puppy, obviously, but many kennels have waiting lists for furry friends of specific breeds, so if you’re really keen to adopt a baby and don’t mind waiting, this can be the most economical and ethical option for you.

Fun Facts

The police regiment of Staffordshire has a Staffy named Watchman who serves as their guard and protector, a tradition which stems from ‘Boxer’, the very first South Staffordshire Regiment staffy, who lept from a moving train when they were at war in Cairo, only to be found a few days later after walking over 200 miles across a boiling hot desert railway to find them

Difficult to scare, Staffies are some of the bravest dogs around and make excellent guards as a result… but they’re also some of the biggest BABIES around and, particularly if they miss you or feel like they’ve not had enough attention, will definitely start to pout a little. Talk about the best of both worlds!

Steve Irwin, the famed conservationist and TV star, had a beloved Staffy named Sui, who he had for over sixteen years and rarely went on and adventure without

Kerry White

Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

Recent Posts