American Staffordshire Terrier Dog Breed: Pictures, Colors, Bark, Characteristics, and Diet

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The American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff) is a medium-sized dog breed developed in the United States in the 1800s. They were originally bred from their English cousins, the British Staffordshire Bull Terriers to hunt vermin and do farm work. 

AmStaffs are born in litters of 5-10 puppies and typically reach their adult size at 12 months old, but they can take up to 18 months to fully develop.

A white-and-gray American Staffordshire Terrier dog standing in the outdoors
A muscular American Staffordshire Terrier

The average male American Staffordshire Terrier stands at 18-19 inches (46-48 cm) tall and weighs between 50–70 lbs (23-32 kg), while a female AmStaff is 17-18 inches (43-46 cm) tall and weighs 45-60 lbs (20-27 kg)

Also known as American Staffies, American Staffordshire Terriers have muscular, stocky builds, with a broad, round head and square jaw. Their ears are short, triangular, slightly flopped, and set high on the head.

The AmStaff’s coat is short, smooth, glossy, and comes in many colors and patterns. 

A black-and-white smiley American Staffordshire Terrier dog running on the grass and under the sun
An active American Staffordshire Terrier dog running

The AmStaff dog breed is known for being courageous, extremely loyal, and generally friendly but tenacious.

American Staffies have a strong bite force of235 PSI, and they can run fast with an average speed of around 25-30 mph (40-48km/h).

Due to their high energy level, they need a dog food that’s high in protein to keep them healthy.

Generally, AmStaffs are a healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12-16 years with good care.

Caring for American Staffies involves a healthy diet that’s low in fat because this breed is prone to obesity, heart problems, and joint problems in old age.

They also need a lot of exercise, play, socialization, and outlets for those instincts to bite and chew. 

Keep reading for all the information you need on how to look after your American Staffordshire Terrier!

Table of Contents

What is an American Staffordshire Terrier?

A white-and-gray American Staffordshire Terrier dog in a sad mood
A beautiful American Staffordshire Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a breed with British and American roots. They were developed from British Staffordshire Bull Terriers in America in the mid-late 1800s.

They used to do farmwork, primarily hunting vermin like rats and other rodents to control pests and maintain good crops and healthy livestock on farms. 

What is the History of the American Staffordshire Terrier Dog?

The American Staffordshire Terrier dog was bred from their English cousins, the British Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a breed which was famously used for competing in cruel bloodsports like dogfighting.

The breed began making its way over to America in the 1850s, where they were put to work.

They were officially recognized by the United Kennel Club as American Pit Bull Terriers in 1898, and then in 1936, they were accepted into the American Kennel Club as American Staffordshire Terriers.

Selective breeding with AKC registered dogs and strict conformation through the decades has transformed the American Staffy into its own different breed entirely, completely separate from their English cousins and the American Pit Bull Terrier. 

Sadly, their popularity has been in decline since the end of World War II, as newer, softer-looking breeds began to increase in popularity. In 2020, the breed was ranked 85th out of 197 for popularity in the US according to the AKC.

That said, they continue to be celebrated by AmStaff lovers and even compete in dog shows around the world. 

Where Did the Name American Staffordshire Terrier Come From? 

The name ‘American Staffordshire Terrier’ is rooted in the breed’s English ancestry.

As mentioned above, AmStaffs were developed from their English cousins, the British Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who originates from the county of Staffordshire in England

The “American” was added to separate the breed from its English roots, and the “Bull” was removed because the breed was no longer being used to participate in blood sports.

How Many American Staffordshire Terriers are There in the World?

As of 2021, there’s no available estimated number of American Staffordshire Terriers worldwide.

However, despite their decline in popularity in the US, they remain popular and are not endangered.

In fact, AmStaff is the 6th most popular dog breed in France, according to Société Centrale Canine, and was the 8th most popular breed in Australia, according to ANKC. 

What are the Types of American Staffy?

There are no variations of American Staffy in terms of different sizes or coat lengths. However, there are plenty of AmStaff crossbreeds that you can check.

  • American Bull Staffy (American Staffordshire Terrier x American Bulldog mix
  • Staffy Pit (American Staffordshire Terrier x American Pit Bull Terrier mix) 
  • Bullboxer Staff (American Staffordshire Terrier x Boxer mix) 
  • Labrastaff (American Staffordshire Terrier x Labrador Retriever mix)

What are the Characteristics of American Staffordshire Terriers?

American Staffordshire Terriers get bad press, but they are generally good-natured dogs. However, they can be badly behaved or even aggressive if they’re not handled with care. They are not dogs for first-time owners.

To get a better understanding of AmStaffs, learn more about their key characteristics below.

    • Courageous – American Staffies are known for their exceptional bravery and fearlessness. They will courageously protect their owners and home from any threat or danger.
    • Loyal – AmStaffs require a lot of socialization to make them friendly with strangers and other dogs but are devotedly loyal to their families. 
    • Loving – Despite their tough reputation, American Staffies are very affectionate with their loved ones. With good training, they can be loyal cuddle bugs and family companions.
    • Smart – Training isn’t always easy, but AmStaffs are intelligent and eager to please, making them highly trainable dogs.
    • Stubborn – These independently-minded dogs require proper training with experienced owners to avoid stubbornness and bad behavior.
American Staffy
Relation with family 5
Good with Children 4
Friendly with strangers 3
Friendly with other dogs 3
Easy to train 3
Energy Level 3
Barking Level 3
Mental Stimulation Needs 3

What’s the Physical Structure of an American Staffy? 

The American Staffy is stockily built with broad shoulders and a muscular frame. Their legs are relatively short compared to the length of their bodies, but they are graceful looking rather than boxy, with long, thin tails and large, angular heads.

They also have small, triangular, floppy ears that are set high on their heads, and their coats are short, smooth, and glossy. 

A white-and-gray American Staffordshire Terrier dog standing, in a low mood
An American Staffordshire Terrier taking a break from a walk

How big is a standard American Staffordshire Terrier?

According to its AKC breed standard, an American Staffordshire Terrier is a medium-sized dog that stands 17 to 19 inches (43 to 48 cm) tall and weighs 45 to 70 lbs (20 to 32 kg).

It’s larger than its English cousin, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, with a height of 14 to 16 inches (36 to 41cm) and a weight of 24 to 38 lbs (11 to 17 kg).

While American Staffies can live comfortably in a medium-size home or apartment, it’s still recommended that you have enough space or a backyard for them to play and run.

A bored AmStaff can quickly become destructive, so it’s necessary that you give him plenty of exercise throughout the day.The physical features of an American Staffy dog can be found at the table below.

American Staffy
Physical Features
Male Female
Height 18-19 inches
(46-48 cm)
17-18 inches
(43-46 cm)
Weight 50–70 lbs
(23-32 kg)
45-60 lbs
(20-27 kg)

When crate training your AmStaff, you might want to look into a crate size that is around 12cm longer than the length of your dog from nose to tail base and 12cm higher than its height from floor to its tallest point when it stands so it can have ample space. 

How long does an American Staffordshire Terrier dog grow?

An American Staffordshire Terrier dog grows and reaches its full adult size by 12 months old, although its bones and muscles often continue to develop until 18 months of age.

It will mature sexually at 10-11 months and mentally/emotionally mature between the ages of 18 months and two years.

What’s the average height of an American Staffordshire Terrier?

The average male American Staffordshire Terrier is around 18-19 inches (46-48 cm) tall, and the average female American Staffy is 17-18 inches (43-46 cm) tall.

What’s the average weight of an American Staffy?

The average male American Staffy weighs between 50–70 lbs (23-32 kgs), and the average female AmStaff weighs around 45-60 lbs (20-27 kgs)

What’s the Average Life Expectancy of American Staffies? 

American Staffies have an average lifespan of 12-16 years, provided they’re well cared for. The breed is prone to becoming overweight as well as experiencing heart problems and joint conditions in old age, so keeping their weight down with a healthy diet is key. 

What Coat Type Do American Staffordshire Terriers Have?

A white-and-tan American Staffordshire Terrier dog standing on snowy ground, sticking its tongue out
Milla, an American Staffordshire Terrier, loves playing in the snow – Image source

American Staffordshire Terriers have short, thick, smooth, single coats, meaning there’s no undercoat beneath their visible fur. Their coats are fairly low maintenance and low-shedding and require a weekly brush with a pin or bristle brush. 

What’s the American Staffordshire Terrier’s coat like?

The American Staffordshire Terrier’s coat is stiff but not rough to touch, although it’s not particularly soft or silky either. 

How long is American Staffy’s coat? 

The average American Staffy’s coat is around 1 inch in length. It’s smooth and glossy, with straight hairs and no curls or waves.

How is the American Staffordshire Terrier dog’s coat density?

Even though their fur is short and they are not double-coated dogs, the American Staffordshire Terrier’s coat is fairly thickand dense. 

Do American Staffies shed much?

Due to their single coats, American Staffies don’t shed heavily.

However, they do shed a little, and they shed all year round, with slightly heavier shedding occurring during shedding seasons; the transition from spring to summer and fall to winter. 

Are American Staffordshire Terriers Easy to Care for?

A tan American Staffordshire Terrier dog and its owner resting their foreheads on each other
An American Staffordshire Terrier who is affectionate to its owner

The American Staffordshire Terriers are not super easy to take care of, but not difficult, either. They’re fairly high maintenance in terms of social, exercise, and play needs but very low maintenance in grooming and dietary needs. 

Can American Staffies Live in Hot Weather?

Despite their single coats, American Staffies are prone to overheating because of their large build and should be closely monitored in hot weather.

Dogs are at risk of dehydration and heatstroke in temperatures as low as 70°F (20°C). So, make sure to keep an eye on your American Staffy in these temperatures and make sure they have access to shelter and water. 

What Colors are American Staffies?

The stiff, glossy coat of the American Staffies can come in a variety of colors and patterns, with brindle, sable, liver, and brown being the most common, often seen with some white on their heads and chests. All of which are officially recognized by the AKC. 

Two white-and-tan American Staffordshire Terrier dogs lying on their stomachs on a carpet
Two American Staffordshire Terriers resting

What Markings Do American Staffies Have?

Common markings for American Staffies include white markings on the chest, stomach, legs, and paws, black, white, or blue masks, tan points, brindle points, and random spots and patches on the body. 

What is the American Staffordshire Terrier Dog’s Temperament?

The American Staffordshire Terrier’s temperament is generally good-natured and incredibly courageous, with a stubborn side. They are devotedly loyal to their loved ones and can be friendly towards strangers and other dogs with training.

However, without it, they can be unfriendly or even aggressive.

American Staffy’s Temperament Rating
Adaptability 2
Friendliness 4
Mouthiness 3
Playfulness 4
Family-oriented 5
Stranger tolerance 3

Are American Staffies good with other dogs?

American Staffies are super friendly with other dogs that they’re raised within the home or family.

However, because of their genetic history of dogfighting, most AmStaffs are naturally a little suspicious of unfamiliar dogs and are unlikely to get along with other dogs, especially those of the same sex, without lots of early socialization. 

Socialization should start as early on in your AmStaff’s life as possible. It’s best to start at home by inviting friendly family dogs over to play in a secure environment and then interacting with friendly dogs on walks. 

Are American Staffordshire Terriers friendly with other people?

American Staffordshire Terriers are very loyal and affectionate with their families and tend to be friendly towards strangers while in the presence of their family members. 

Can the American Staffies get along well with strangers?

Well-socialized American Staffies should be friendly towards strangers, especially when in the presence of their families. They may, however, be unfriendly or suspicious of strangers without proper socialization. 

Do American Staffordshire Terriers get along with young children?

American Staffordshire Terriers tend to get along with children of all ages, but supervision is a must.

All young children should be taught how to approach and interact with dogs safely and kindly, and American Staffies should not be left alone with young children unsupervised for any length of time. 

Can American Staffies Adapt Easily?

American Staffies are not particularly adaptable dogs, as they need a moderate amount of space, exercise, stimulation, and a lot of attention. They do much better in set routines and tend to get anxious around change.

That said, they can live in medium-sized apartments and don’t require particularly large homes. 

Are American Staffordshire Terrier Dogs Aggressive?

American Staffordshire Terriers can be naturally wary of new people, new dogs, and new situations due to their fighting DNA. This can lead to aggression, especially in situations where they feel threatened.

However, with proper training and socialization from an early age, American Staffies should be able to discern a threatening situation from a non-threatening one.

Are American Staffordshire Terriers dangerous?

As with all dogs, American Staffies can be dangerous if they are mistreated and/or mishandled.

However, this is amplified in the breed due to their genetics. Worldwide, they have often been included in banned breed lists that target pit bull-type dogs and breeds with fighting DNA.

Do American Staffordshire Terrier dogs bite?

American Staffordshire Terrier dogs are not a common culprit of dog attacks in the US, however, they are one of the biggest culprits of dog attacks and bites in Australia, where they are one of the most popular breeds and have a bite force of 235 PSI

Are American Staffordshire Terrier dogs protective?

Yes, American Staffordshire Terriers are very protective dogs. They can be territorial over their homes and protective of their family members, both human and otherwise, and especially vulnerable family members, such as little children. 

Are American Staffies easy to train?

American Staffies are clever, eager to please, and quick to learn. They’re very trainable dogs, but they’re also very stubborn, so owners should take great care not to let their dogs get bored or confused.

Training sessions should start early in their lives and be regular, consistent, and concise.

Positive reinforcement should be the driving force, and a behavioral signal such as a clicker will speed up the training process.

Negative signals should be firm but gentle, and remember to be patient with your American Staffy.

Can American Staffies Be Left Alone? 

American Staffies are very sociable dogs and don’t do well left alone for long periods of time.

Leading UK charity Dog’s Trust suggests you don’t leave a dog for more than four hours at a time, and this is especially important with breeds like AmStaffs, as they get bored and lonely very easily.

That said, a healthy adult American Staff can be left for 6-8 hours if necessary. This can result in separation anxiety and destructive behaviors, which will require extra training to overcome.

In order to avoid separation anxiety in American Staffies, you should build up their sense of independence gradually by leaving them for small periods of time and slowly increasing the length of time that you’re gone. 

Do American Staffordshire Terriers Love Car Journeys?

Every dog is different. Some American Staffies really like car journeys, and some don’t like them at all. Whether or not a dog likes traveling in the car usually depends on their past experiences.

For example, when a dog has a particularly traumatic experience at the vets after traveling in the car, they can become anxious around car journeys. 

Can American Staffies be used as working dogs?

Although American Staffies are no longer used as hunters, they’re sometimes used as guard dogs, and even therapy dogs. Despite their controversial reputation, AmStaffs are a popular choice for therapy dogs.

Do American Staffordshire Terriers Bark a Lot?

A lot of American Staffordshire Terriers growl and whine during play and social interactions, but they are not known to bark a lot. They tend to only bark when they are alerting their owners about something.

That said, like all dogs, American Staffies can bark excessively when suffering from anxiety. They can also be trained to bark for guard dog work.

How does an American Staffy bark?

The American Staffy’s bark can sound different depending on why they are barking. Playful or greeting barks are often higher in pitch and lighter in sound, while serious, warning barks are loud, low, and deep.

The sound that they are more known for is their high-pitched playful whining, which sounds like it is coming from a much smaller, fluffier dog. 

Do the American Staffordshire Terrier Dogs Howl?

Like all dogs, American Staffordshire Terriers may howl if they hear a high-pitched sound that triggers their instinct to howl.

However, they’re not known to howl any more so than many other dogs but may well howl when left alone if they suffer from separation anxiety. 

Are American Staffordshire Terriers High Energy Dogs?

American Staffordshire Terriers do have relatively high energy levels and require lots of exercise and mental stimulation to prevent them from getting bored.

That said, they’re not hyperactive and can even be couch potatoes. Unlike some breeds, they know when they’ve had enough and will happily stop laying and take a nap on the couch when they’re tired.

A white-and-tan American Staffordshire Terrier dog playing with a red frisbee on a yellow flower field
An American Staffordshire Terrier playing frisbee

Are American Staffies Active?

Yes, American Staffies are pretty active dogs. They’re known to enjoy walking, running, hiking, and exploring.

The only thing they’re not really built for is swimming – Staffies of all kinds are not natural swimmers due to their heavy builds, and great care should be taken around water.

Are American Staffies Playful?

American Staffies are very fun-loving, playful dogs.

It’s a good idea to invest in some mentally challenging toys like puzzle games, snuffle mats, and treat dispensers for your AmStaff to engage their brains and burn up some energy. Spring poles are also great for exercising their natural instincts to bite and chew.

They enjoy the following games:

  • Fetch
  • Chase
  • Tug of war
  • Hide and seek
  • Treasure hunt

How Much Exercise Do American Staffordshire Terriers need? 

Healthy adult American Staffies need at least one hour of exercise per day, but closer to 90 minutes is preferable. Growing pups need 5 minutes of exercise per month of their age twice a day, and older AmStaffs will need to slow down gradually. 

Do AmStaffs Drool a Lot?

If you’re not too keen on dogs that drool a lot, you’re in luck. The Amstaff dog is not a particularly drooly dog. That said, like any dog, they may drool a little when they are eating or when they are around food that smells good.

What is the Family Life of American Staffordshire Terriers Like?

American Staffordshire Terriers can make wonderful family dogs. With the right training and lots of love and early socialization, AmStaffs can be very loving, loyal, sweet, and cuddly companions for the whole family.

They love being part of a pack and are ideal for active, fun-loving families, but budding owners must be aware that dedicated training is necessary.

What Kind of Food Should American Staffordshire Terriers Eat?

American Staffordshire Terriers do well on high-quality commercial dog food that’s nutritionally complete, high in protein to power those strong muscles, and low in fat to prevent obesity.

Always look for foods containing natural, recognizable ingredients and avoid those containing artificial additives and fillers. 

The average adult AmStaff should eat around 2 ½ cups of food per day split into two meals.

Puppies should eat 20g of food per 1kg of their body weight per day and elderly American Staffies should eat fewer calories to prevent gaining weight and putting strain on their hearts and joints.

What are the Best Dog Foods for American Staffordshire Terriers?

Following the criteria mentioned above, we would recommend the following foods for American Staffordshire Terriers. 

What Other Dog Breeds Look Like American Staffordshire Terriers?

American Staffordshire Terriers share a lot of physical traits with other Staffies and Bull-type Terrier breeds, such as: 

The Verdict: Should You Get an American Staffordshire Terrier? 

Two black-and-white American Staffordshire Terrier dogs standing outside and wearing red accessories on their necks
Two American Staffordshire Terriers flaunting their stylish accessories

As you can see, the American Staffordshire Terrier is not for lovers of cuddly crowd-pleasers like the Labrador Retriever, and they’re certainly not for first-time owners. 

They are, however, a classic American breed with an interesting history and a complex temperament that requires a lot of dedicated training, companionship, exercise, and stimulation.

With the right owner and the proper care, they can be wonderful companions and lovely family pets. 

If you have an American Staff, let us know what you love about them in the comments below.


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