The American Staffordshire Terrier is the cousin to the American Pit Bull Terrier. Even though the American Staffordshire Terrier is the descendant of the American fighting dog just as their cousin, the Pit Bull does not mean this was their original breeding purpose. Development of this breed was for farm work, hunting wild game, companionship, guarding and for a show strain of the Pit Bull, not for dog fighting.
This is one of those misunderstood breeds of dogs whereas the animal is looked at as vicious, unpredictable, or even hated. Legislation has been passed banning or restricting the ownership of many pit bull type dogs, which does include the American Staffordshire Terrier. However, the fact is the temperament of the dog really depends on his master.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is very receptive to training and learns from the behavior of their owners. This breed learns continuously, not just during training session and will act accordingly. Many times, the owners themselves unknowingly encourage the bad behavior such as an aggressive attitude toward strangers.
Since the American Staffordshire Terrier can be trained very easily and want to please their masters, protect their family, and their property even to the death, many criminals or dog fighters desire to own this breed. However, when the dog is trained properly he is a happy, sociable, self-assured, kind, and affectionate toward people, friendly, entertaining, tremendously devoted family pet. He loves children and enjoys all kinds of playful activities.
The American Staffordshire Terrier may be aggressive toward other dogs if they have not been trained properly and given enough socialization. He will require lots of interaction with his family to ensure his temperament is acceptable.
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The male American Staffordshire Terrier is on average 17 to 19 inches tall while the females are 16 to 18 inches with both sexes weighing around 57 to 67 pounds.
They are very muscular and stocky with a wide short muzzle that is of medium length and rounded on the upper side. The jaws are well defined and powerful. The teeth meet slightly outside the lower teeth in the front. The American Staffordshire has close even lips. The ears are seen cropped or uncropped. Uncropped ears are normally short which are held in a half-pricked stand. Their eyes are round, dark, and far apart. The nose is black.
The American Staffordshire Terrier has a short coat, which feels kind of stiff or coarse when touched. The color of their coat is pretty much any color from solid, parti, or patched, with white as the main overall color.
Any color, solid, parti, or patched is permissible, but all white, more than 80 per cent white, black and tan, and liver not to be encouraged.
Their neck is large, arched just a bit while tapering from the shoulders to the back of their head. There is no loose skin on the neck area.
The American Staffordshire Terrier has shoulders that are broad, strong and slope.
Their back is a bit short and does slope just a bit from the withers to backend and then another slope to the base of tail. The body is muscular with deep ribs in the rear and close knit. The chest is wide and deep, thus the forelegs are set wide to give room for the development of the chest.
The legs of the American Staffordshire Terrier are sturdy, straight with pastern upright. The feet are of medium size, compact, and well arched.
Unlike what many people believe with what we see plastered on the news, concerning the American Staffordshire Terrier and other pit bull types this breed is a happy, gentle, loving companion. We often see so many attacks of children that we believe the dog is mean and vicious, however, this is not true. The dog is very easy to train and can be trained to behave the way in which the owner prefers. If you train this breed to be vicious, then you will have a vicious dog. If you train this breed to gentle, loving, and kind then you will really have the type of dog this breed was originally bred to be.
They are very well tempered to be included with families that have small children. Of course, as with any pet you should watch your children. Children can pester and challenge any pet, which can cause the pet to bite.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is great in the capacity of protecting those of his family, as he is more than willing to fight to the death to protect his family.
The Staffordshire Terrier is great as an indoor dog as long as he receives the exercise he needs. He loves warmer climates and does not need a large yard, but does need regular exercise.
While on a walk, he should be on a lease as he is prone to be aggressive with other dogs.
Grooming is not a major problem with the American Staffordshire because of the short stiff coat. It should be brushed on regularly about once per week. You should use a firm bristle brush. He will shed but nothing out of the ordinary. As for bathing, this can be done on an as needed basis using either wet or dry shampoo. If you towel dry with chamois or regular towel, his coat will shine.
The origin of the American Staffordshire Terrier began in the 19th century in the region of Staffordshire. Here they crossbred a variety of terriers to develop a more muscular, energetic, and aggressive Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This breed was brought to America and breeders immediately took to the dog and began to work on increasing their weight and a stronger more powerful head.
Prior to the dog-fighting group taking a fancy to the American Staffordshire Terrier, it was mainly used for farm work, hunting wild game, guarding, and companionship by the American farmer.
However, it fell prey to the dog fighters because of the easy training ability and strength of the breed. In addition to the fact, it would fight to the death in order to please its master.
Dog fighting was banned in the United States in 1990, which brought about two strains of the American Staffordshire Terrier, the show dog and the fighting dog. The American Staffordshire Terrier was the show strain while the fighting strain was known as the American Pit Bull Terrier. Today, both strains are recognized as different breeds.
In 1936, the American Kennel Club recognized the American Staffordshire Terrier and put them in the classification of the Terrier and Molosser groups.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is now being bred with the American Staffordshire Terrier to develop a more gentle nature for the pit bull terrier. Today, you can find many American Staffordshire Terriers in professions that include guarding, watchdog, weight pulling, police work, and rescue work.
However, many of these dogs are being rescued from abusive owners where they are being successfully rehabilitated and placed into loving homes. The American Staffordshire Terriers adapt very easily to their new environments and quickly love and trust their new family: humans and other pets alike.
A few famous American Staffordshire Terriers include Pete in “Our Gang” movies, the dog seen in the “Black Dog” movie, and the dog Jake in the horror film “Cabin Fever”.