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American Staffordshire Terrier


General Description:

American Staffordshire was recognized by the AKC in the US in the 1930's. Their genetic heritage is that of the American Pitbull Terrier, who was registered with the UKC and ADBA before the AKC accepted select individuals of that breed as American Staffordshire Terriers.

The AST differs slightly in breed standard from the UKC American Pitbull Terrier, but not enough to always be able to tell one from the other. The safest way of identifying an AST is to have the dog's AKC papers in front of you. As you can register an AST with UKC as an American Pitbull Terrier, it is safe to assume that most un-papered pitbull type dogs are not AST's. Registration numbers for the AST are low, while APBT's are quite high. In general, you will find the AST to be heavier in build, with a shorter loin, a heavier, rounder head structure and a more square appearance than the American Pitbull Terrier. Many people refer to them as the “show version” of the American Pitbull Terrier.

While you may find more low drive and lower activity individuals amongst the AST than the APBT, that generalization can not be made. Level of activity, longevity, ideal temperament and trainability are a matter of genetics and can differ from line to line in both breeds.



The preferred height at the withers for bitches is 17-18 inches, for males 18-19 inches. AKC does not have a weight specification, but balanced bitches at height should weigh around 40 pounds and males around 50 pounds.



Almost all colors can be seen in this breed. Variety is the name of the game. Dilution of colors is discouraged within the breed, hence dogs with light colored noses or eyes are generally removed from breeding programs. Same goes for dogs with white covering their body for more than 80%, and black and tan dogs. The only color considered not occurring naturally in this breed is merle.


Energy Level:

The word describing their activity level best is: short to long periods of intensity. American Staffordshire Terriers are terriers at heart; they like to check things out that go on in their environment, chase things, dig and keep themselves busy while not supervised or spending time with their owners regularly. However, once everything is calm in their environment, they are not opposed to lounging on the couch and letting the day pass by.


Life expectancy:

Depending on the genetic profile of the particular dog, 10 – 15 years.



The ancestors of this breed (Staffordshire Bull Terriers) were referred to as “Nanny Dogs” for their endless patience and tolerance with children. The well bred and cared for American Staffordshire Terrier has not missed a beat in this department. While still puppies and adolescent dogs, they can be too strong and exuberant for young children. Apart from that word of caution, it should be noted that no dog of any size or temperament should be left alone with young children without adult supervision.


Other animals:

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a terrier. Terriers were bred to get rid of vermin on the farm. The American Staffordshire Terrier has not lost its prey-drive when it comes to animals on the run. Given some of their older breed history, their tolerance for dogs is also limited in most cases. They can be taught to respect housemates, dogs, cats and bunnies alike, but they should never be 100% trusted to not get into an escalating scuffle with them. Their terrier nature often does not allow them to back down once challenged or engaged by another dog. Multi-dog households of this breed is by far not something to be attempted by a novice dog-owner.



These dogs are smart, but will generally need a paycheck to perform. “Perform” can mean “coming when called”, “not pulling when walked on leash” or any other basic training. It can also mean “perform”, as in performance sports, such as agility, obedience, weight pull, tracking, fly-ball, you name it. Not many breeds are as versatile as this one. So, what about that paycheck? This breed works for treats, play-time, and sometimes just to please you. Their needs may differ from day to day and in their mind, it is up to their owner to figure out what it is and adjust.



The coat of the American Staffordshire is short and straight. It is not supposed to be excessively soft and primarily consists of guard hairs. In the grooming department, these are extremely low maintenance dogs, if you ignore that most of them love to get dirty. Shedding is moderate in amounts, however the hairs attach themselves to anything fabric almost permanently.



Elbow and hip-dysplasia, heart-disease, ruptured cruciate ligaments, allergies and false pregnancies are the most common health concerns within the breed. Currently, a disease known as “Ataxia” has been found to infiltrate more and more lines of this breed. Extensive studies are on their way to prevent this debilitating disease from affecting more dogs than it already has. Dogs afflicted with this disease usually don't show symptoms until later in life and lose the ability to control their motor functions and equilibrium. There is no cure for this disease and euthanasia is generally the only option to end the suffering.


Best with:

Active dog-lovers who like a challenge. This dog tends to be more dog than most people are willing to own. While they are soft at heart and take scolding from their people very personally, they will also challenge you for everything just to see if they can. Their versatility can make them excellent partners for a person dedicated to be active with their dogs.


Not for:

New dog-owners, people who have trouble asserting themselves, people who are overly assertive or people who wish to capitalize on the bad rap this breed has earned. None of these people are going to find what they are looking for in this breed.



Smart, personable, loving, determined and loyal



Other animal aggression and their bad reputation you, as an owner will have to deal with on a daily basis.


Further Information:

Breed Details

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