American Staffordshire Terrier Overview

Dog Breed:
American Staffordshire Terrier
Breed Group:
Confident, trustworthy, athletic, loyal, and strong-willed.
17-19 inches
40-70 pounds
Life Span:
12-16 years
Coat Colors:
All colors
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Experienced owners/Secure garden/Time to commit to socializing and training.
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for American Staffordshire Terriers
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for American Staffordshire Terriers

American Staffordshire Terrier Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The American Staffordshire Terrier

  • An intense and powerful breed

  • Training essential

  • Check for any restrictions on ownership in your area

The American Staffordshire Terrier, or the AmStaff as they’re known for short, is a smart, confident, and good-natured companion. Their courage is renowned, and when they are bred responsibly and carefully socialized, they become a well-trusted friend.

This is an intense dog that will pull, chew, dig, and bark if they’re bored. As strong, athletic dogs, they can be challenging to walk, and they’ll pull their walker wherever they go if they’re allowed to.

They do need a confident trainer who will be able to handle them on a leash and provide them with the mental and physical stimulation they need. Early socialization with both humans and other animals is critical to ensure a well-mannered adult dog. As a pup, they need relaxed meetings with calm older dogs to will help prevent confrontational behavior with other dogs when they’re older.

Before considering the breed, do check for any legislation in your area which may ban owning an American Staffordshire Terrier or place requirements such as the dog being muzzled and thw owner having liability insurance in place.

American Staffordshire Terrier Breed History

  • Developed from the pit fighting dogs of Great Britain

  • Arrived in the US in the 1800s

  • Recognized by the AKC in 1936


Even though the AKC did not recognize the breed until 1936, the breed predecessors of the AmStaff go right back to the 1800s in Great Britain. This is where several breeds were developed to take part in blood sports. These so-called ‘sports’ involved dogs being pitted against each other or packs of dogs being turned loose against a tethered bear or bull.

Lovers of the breed agree that one of the breeds which make up the AmStaff is the Bulldog. However, there is debate as to which terriers might also have been added to the mix. What we do know is that the build and ferocity of the old-style Bulldog combined with the courage and feistiness of the terrier created a fearsome opponent.

The forerunner to the AmStaff is the Staffordshire Terriers arrived in the US from England in the mid-1800s. Breeders then set to work to develop a dog that was much larger than the English dog. The American Kennel Club has now recognized these as two separate breeds, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier.

American Staffordshire Terrier Size & Weight

  • Males measure up to 19 inches and females to 18 inches

  • Males weigh up to 70 pounds and females up to 55 pounds

  • Strong and muscular breed


Male AmStaffs measure between 18-19 inches and weigh around 55-70 pounds. Females are between 17-18 inches and 40-55 pounds.

This is a stocky and muscular breed, and so owners must be confident in their ability to hold and handle them in all situations.

American Staffordshire Terrier Personality & Temperament

  • Great family dog

  • Early socialization essential

  • Dislikes extreme weather conditions


The American Staffordshire Terrier can become a fantastic family dog that adores being around humans. Despite their reputation for being a fierce guard dog, they’ll likely greet strangers with enthusiasm and affection.

Their muscular appearance seems to be the cause of an undeserved reputation as being aggressive. However, they can be an excellent watchdog, and they do seem to pick up on a stranger’s behavior in deciding who is a welcome visitor and who isn’t.

Early socialization and development of good manners are essential for the AmStaff, then they will learn how to calmly and politely greet other dogs. Without this, they are likely to be confrontational and challenging to handle around those that they don’t know.

Many AmStaffs live happily with cats, but they have usually grown up with them from a pup. An unknown cat running across the garden is likely to be chased.

American Staffordshire Terriers are known for being loving family dogs and are very good with children. That said, they may be best suited to homes with children who are over the age of six. This is a breed that can play rough, which might result in accidental injuries, especially for toddlers who are just finding their feet.  Older children will also be able to understand and abide by rules to ensure that they can safely live together. As with any breed, children and dogs should never be left alone together.

The AmStaff is not a lover of weather extremes, disliking both very cold and very hot conditions.  If outside in the summer, they will need access to shade and then shelter needs to be provided during the colder months.

American Staffordshire Terrier Health & Grooming

  • A healthy breed

  • Some genetic conditions which breeders should test for

  • Quick and easy to groom


Generally, the American Staffordshire Terrier is a healthy breed. For this to continue, responsible breeders screen their dogs for the following conditions.

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • NCL DNA Test
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

The NCL testing is to check for an inherited disease called Cerebellar Ataxia. This neurological condition causes a progressive decline in coordination with first signs often being seen when the dog is between three and five years of age. Affected dogs show loss of balance, difficulty going around corners, and falling when shaking their head. This test has been developed to identify dogs who are affected as well as those who are carriers of the gene.

Taking care of the AmStaffs grooming needs is quick and easy. A once-over with a soft bristle brush, every week is all that’s needed. Some AmStaffs shed their old coat once or twice a year.  Then you may find that you need to do a quick groom each day to prevent your home becoming covered in hair.

American Staffordshire Terrier Training

  • Ongoing training is essential

  • An intelligent breed who learns quickly

  • A bored AmStaff spells trouble


Training is essential, and it needs to start as soon as possible with puppy classes and then continue all the way through adulthood. In return, you’ll have a well-mannered dog who is an ambassador for this often-misunderstood breed.

This is a smart breed that learns quickly. They’ll love the chance to learn a whole repertoire of tricks or take part in dog sports such as obedience, tracking, and agility.

Providing your AmStaff with the opportunity to tire out both their brain and body will reduce the chance for other problems to develop. You can be sure that if they’re bored, then they’ll come up with their own version of fun, which is probably not the same as yours!

Many dogs of the breed have a high prey drive, meaning that they want to chase anything which catches their eye. Training can help you can gain control over this behavior, but you’ll still need to keep an eye out when exercising to prevent there from being any problems.

American Staffordshire Terrier Exercise Requirements

  • Ongoing training is essential

  • An intelligent breed who learns quickly

  • A bored AmStaff spells trouble


An athletic and energetic dog breed such as this is going to need a lot of exercise. They’re not going to be content with a walk around the block or being left to their own devices in a yard. A commitment to on-leash walking and free running every single day is needed to keep your AmStaff in top condition. Finding a location which is securely fenced for free running is essential prior to the AmStaff joining your home.

This is a breed that is always up for a game. Make sure that you teach the rules first and that they can leave a toy when asked for this to be a time when all the family can join in the fun.

American Staffordshire Terrier Diet & Feeding

  • Seek professional advice for individual dogs needs

  • Specially formulated puppy food up to 6 months

  • Adult food suitable for age, size and exercise level


For professional advice on the feeding needs of your AmStaff, chat with your veterinarian or pet nutritionist.

Most dogs will do well on a specially formulated puppy food until they’re around 6 months old.  This ensures that they receive all the nutrients they need whilst growing up. Then they can move onto an adult food selected to meet their size, age, and exercise level.

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American Staffordshire Terrier Rescue Groups

There are few AmStaff rescue organizations within the US. Sadly, most shelters have many dogs of this breed awaiting new homes having been surrendered by their owners. However, the breed club, the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America, is a good first point of contact if you’re interested in offering a new home to a rescue dog.