Staffordshire Bull Terrier: The Ultimate Guide


While its origin might be shrouded in controversy and a past that every fan of the Staffie would rather forget, this energetic, affectionate little dog has left its history behind and claimed its rightful place on a million different couches all over the world.

It may have been bred to fight, but somewhere along the way, the Staffie forgot all about getting in the ring and decided that it would much rather share its life with people. 

Noted for their affable, good-natured, and friendly demeanor, the Staffie might not be the biggest dog in the park, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in personality.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

As far as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (or staffies as they’re more commonly known in dog circles) is concerned, every person they meet is their friend, and every day is a brand new adventure that they can share with families.

Even though it had proved itself to be one of the most dependable family dogs in the canine kingdom, the Staffie has found it almost impossible to escape its background as a fighting dog and the all-encompassing shadow that its cousin, the American Pitbull Terrier has cast. 

That’s why we decided that it was time to step in and finally put paid to the half-truths and gossip that continue to hound this woefully misunderstood breed, with an all-inclusive, no holds barred guide to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It’s time to meet the Staffie…

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Key Facts

There isn’t a loyal, more loving companion in all of dogdom than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, but before you choose your new best friend, there are some inescapable key facts that you’ll need to know and take into account about the breed.

Staffies are a lifelong commitment, so you’ll need to be prepared to devote yourself and your pocketbook (looking at, and caring for a dog properly isn’t cheap) to ensuring that dog is happy, healthy, and enjoys every moment of the time that he gets to share with you. 

And just because staffies enjoy spreading out on, and taking up every available inch of room on your couch, it doesn’t mean that they’re lazy dogs, they‘re not, so you’ll need to be prepared to head into the great outdoors and explore the world the Staffie way. 

So without further ado, let’s cut straight to the chase, and take a look at the Staffie essentials before we delve any deeper into everything you’ll ever need to know about the rambunctious little dog.  

Average Lifespan

They’re a rugged and sturdy breed, and tend to be long-lived for dogs, and have an average lifespan of twelve to fifteen years. 

Minimum Exercise (per day)

While you won’t need to dedicate the majority of your day to exercising a Staffie, they do need between sixty and ninety minutes of vigorous activity a day, which ideally should be split into two thirty to forty-five-minute sessions, one in the evening and one of the morning. 

Coat Length

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are short-haired dogs, which makes grooming and looking after them a little bit easier than it would be if they were long-haired. 

Minimum Cost Per Month

The minimum cost of making sure that a Staffie is well fed and looked after, food and pet insurance (a necessity if you want to avoid any unexpected and unwelcome vet bills) is somewhere in the region of one hundred dollars a month. 

Appearance

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are short to medium size, squat muscular dogs with large heads, broad shoulders, and wide chests. They have medium-length tails, floppy, folded ears, and bright, alert eyes.  

As far as color is concerned, staffies run an incredibly wide gamut and can be white, brown, grey, black, tan, or a combination of all of the aforementioned – although grey is a dominant color, and, with the exception of the odd white stripe, doesn’t usually appear with any of the other Staffie shades. 

Size

Depending on who you ask, and which Kennel Club’s guidelines you follow, staffies are classified as BOTH short and medium dogs. 

Average Height

And that difference all comes down to the height of an individual dog at the withers (the space between the shoulder blades), as Staffies tend to stand between fourteen to sixteen inches tall. 

Average Weight

As they’re muscular, solid dogs’ staffies weigh more than most dogs their size do and are usually between twenty-four and thirty-eight pounds. 

Temperament

Apartment Living

Staffies like to go where their owners are and have a relaxed, affable nature, and as long as they get their daily trip to the park or stroll through the city, they make great roommates and are ideally suited to apartment life. 

Good For Novice Owners

They’re perfect for first-time owners as long as you ensure that they get enough exercise and are properly socialized and trained. The more time you devote to your Staffie, the more he’ll be devoted to you. 

Sensitivity Level

Staffies can be incredibly sensitive dogs, and thrive on attention and interaction. They’re not ideally suited to the casual owner, as they do need, and will expect a little more attention than the average dog. 

Tolerates Being Alone

They love spending time with their families and their owners and are incredibly prone to separation anxiety. They don’t do well when they’re left on their own for long periods of time and their anxiety can manifest itself as both destructive (chewing furniture and fittings) and antisocial (whining and barking when they’re left alone during the day and night) behavior. 

Tolerates Cold Weather

As Staffies are single-coated, short-haired dogs, as long as they’re charging through the snow and the crisp, frost of a winter morning they’re fine in the cold. If they’re going to be out and about in freezing temperatures for an extended period of time, they will need a coat to keep them warm. 

Tolerates Hot Weather

Much as they love to lounge about in the sunshine, Staffies are prone to overheating, so you’ll need to keep a careful eye on your dog when the mercury in your thermometer starts to climb too high. If it does get a little too warm outside, keep your Staffie inside where it’s nice and cool. 

Affectionate With Family

The Staffordshire Bull Terriers’ favorite thing in the world is its family. They love to cuddle up with their owners and the only thing that you’ll ever have to worry about with one of these incredibly soft and affectionate dogs is being drowned in a tsunami of Staffie kisses. 

Kid-Friendly

They’re also exceptionally good with, and hugely tolerant of children, and can be trusted to be left alone with even the clingiest toddlers and the most dog-obsessed youngsters. 

Dog Friendly

They can be aggressive toward, and with other dogs which is almost certainly due to their genetic history. However, as long as staffies are properly socialized with other dogs from a young age, their aggression toward other canines is easily manageable and shouldn’t become a problem. 

Friendly Toward Strangers

Staffies love everyone they meet and will greet strangers as though they’d old and trusted friends. And if said strangers are willing to give a Staffie a belly rub, scratch, or stroke, they’ll end their brief encounter with a four-legged friend for life. 

Health & Grooming

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

While they’re generally regarded, much like their canine cousin the American Pitbull, as being “bulletproof” as far as their general health is concerned, Staffies are susceptible to a number of breed-specific health issues which we’ll discuss a little further on. Before we do though, we’re going to focus on the day to things that you’ll need to know about looking after a Staffie. 

Shedding

All dogs shed, but Staffies shed a lot less than most breeds do. While they might shed heavily in the weeks leading up to Summer, in general, they don’t tend to shed anywhere near as much as other dogs do. 

Drooling

The massive mighty tongue that a Staffie uses to lick and kiss everyone that pets and makes a fuss of him, also means that he has a tendency to drool. Even though they’re not the dog world’s biggest droolers, they can and do drool a lot more than some owners are comfortable with. 

Grooming

Because they don’t shed a lot, Staffies are easy to groom and should only need to be brushed a couple of times a week to ensure that your furniture and floor are kept fur free.  

General Health

As a breed, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are incredibly hardy and robust and don’t tend to be plagued or bothered by general health issues or problems, which is something that pleases and reassures most prospective Staffie parents. 

Common Health Problems

  • There are a number of breed-specific health concerns that you’ll need to be aware of before you adopt, or shop for a Staffie. That doesn’t mean that your dog will develop them, it just means that there’s a chance that they MIGHT. 
  • Like a lot of breeds, staffies can suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia (joint malformations that can lead to arthritis), but they’re also susceptible to atopic dermatitis (which can lead to patches of skin becoming sore and baldness in the corresponding areas), hereditary cataracts which can cause premature blindness and in middle and old age, Staffies can often develop a number of different, and often terminal types of cancer.  

Potential For Weight Gain

Staffies like to eat, and because they like to eat, they are prone to obesity. If they do pile on the pounds, the excess weight can exacerbate other potential health problems such as arthritis. It means that you’ll have to carefully monitor your Staffies diet and make sure that they don’t fall victim to the obesity trap. 

Trainability

Every dog needs to be trained, especially if they’re going to be exercised off lead, as they’ll need to be taught to follow vocal commands and listen to you even if they are preoccupied with, and by the sort of fresh sniffs and scents that every canine dreams about discovering.

Because of their inherent aggression toward other dogs, it’s also important to socialize Staffies from an early age, in order to control and manage the behavior so that it doesn’t become a problem as they get older. 

Easy To Train

They’re bright, clever dogs so Staffies are relatively easy to train, but as they can be stubborn, you’ll need to be patient and use a positive, reward-based training program that can and will minimize the risk of their independent streak throwing a large bone sized wrench in the works. 

Intelligence

Staffies are intelligent dogs who are eager to please, and they tend to master new commands quickly. They can and do, easily adapt to new situations which makes them, as we’ve already mentioned, relatively easy dogs to train.

Potential To Bite

The chances that your Staffie will bite anyone are incredibly low. In fact, they’re so low, they’re almost non-existent. For a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, biting is an absolute weapon of last resort and they usually won’t bite even when they’re directly threatened or in danger. They’re much more likely to attempt to lick and kiss any potential enemy into submission. 

However, the same can’t be said for other dogs, as Staffies will fight other canines. And the only way to stop them from doing that, or reduce the chances that they will do it, is by making sure that they’re thoroughly socialized with other dogs from an early age. 

Tendency To Bark Or Howl

Even though they don’t tend to be very vocal dogs and generally won’t bark a lot, there are a number of situations that can make a Staffie raise its voice. They tend to bark when they’re scared, which is why they’ll start yapping when they’re left on their own for too long, and a Staffie that hasn’t been properly socialized with other dogs will bark at them without hesitation.

They can also be incredibly funny, as they’ll communicate with their owners through a series of grunts and snorts, and have also been known to howl when they think it might get them something that they’re particularly interested in.

History

While it’s generally agreed that the Staffie was always used as a fighting dog until the barbaric practice was outlawed, no one seems to know for sure whether the dog is a specific breed in its own right or was created by breeding Old English Bulldogs with smaller Terriers in order to create smaller, lighter and faster fighting dogs. And as neither school of thought looks like it’s going to back down soon, the debate will go on and on.

What is certain, is that the Staffie first came to prominence in Warwickshire and Staffordshire (where it takes its name from) in the early eighteen hundreds and as well as being used as a fighting dog, has always been a family pet.

Its reputation as a fighter was unchallenged for nearly a century until dog fighting became illegal when the Protection For Animals Act was passed in nineteen eleven.

It was the dog’s fearsome reputation as a fighter that stopped it from being recognized by the Kennel Club for more than twenty years after dog fighting was banned, and the Kennel Club didn’t actually acknowledge the Staffordshire Bull Terrier until nineteen thirty-five. And a year later, the AKC (American Kennel Club) also relented and recognized the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a unique breed.

Costs

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are incredibly popular dogs, as their reputation as dependable, loyal and affectionate family dogs tends to precede them. That’s why the price for a puppy has remained fairly constant over the last decade and depending on whether the puppy in question is AKC registered, the parent’s bloodline, and the breeder’s reputation, a Staffie can cost anywhere between fifteen hundred and three thousand dollars. 

That said, a lot of Staffies often end up in rescues and shelters through no fault of their own, so before you start shopping for a puppy, give your local shelter or rescue a call and see if they have a resident Staffie or two.

We always advise any potential owner to adopt rather than shop as not only will you be giving a dog who desperately needs one a home, but it’ll also be a lot kinder to your bank balance, as adoption is far less expensive than shopping is. 

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Fun Facts 

  • The Staffordshire regiment of the British Army has a Staffordshire Bull Terrier as its mascot, and the dog is called Watchman. 
  • They are absolutely fearless dogs and will protect their families regardless of how much larger whatever is threatening them is. Staffordshire Bull Terriers do not know the meaning of fear. 
  • Despite their fearsome reputation as fighting dogs, the only thing that a potential Staffie parent needs to be scared of is being kissed to death. Staffies are incredibly affectionate dogs and love to show their owners how much they adore them, by licking them. All the time. 
  • Staffies don’t just bark, they also “talk” to their owners through a series of excited grunts and snorts, which just adds to their already incredible cuteness. 

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.

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