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The American Staffordshire Terrier
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The American Staffordshire Terrier

Ellie, Critter Culture Staff
Updated Oct 6, 2020

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American Staffordshire terriers were once used for bull- and bear-baiting, but their reputation as an aggressive fighter is unfortunate and inaccurate. Deep down, this is a loving and friendly family dog. The American Staffordshire terrier is a medium- to large-sized dog, growing to about 16 to 19 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 40 and 60 pounds.

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1

They're family-friendly watchdogs

strong muscular build MarijaRadovic / Getty Images

The American Staffordshire terrier loves to be around people, whether they're out for a walk, playing fetch in the backyard, or curled up next to then on the couch. Although they have an intimidating, muscular build, they often greet strangers with love and affection. Some American Staffordshire terrier owners believe that this breed is a great judge of character and can tell when someone isn't what they seem.

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2

American Staffordshire terriers need a capable trainer

training confident owner Pekic / Getty Images

American Staffordshire terriers are strong and intense. They can be difficult to walk because they pull and can chew and dig when they get bored. The breed needs a confident owner who knows how to set boundaries and incorporate early socialization and mental and physical stimulation into their training.

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3

This breed is very healthy and can live as long as 15 years

puppy healthy lifespan Emre Ceylan / Getty Images

This breed is generally healthy and can live a long time, but is prone to some health issues, though, including skin allergies, autoimmune diseases, and urinary tract infections. Other things to look out for are osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, mange, heart disease, and dislocated knee caps. Not all American Staffordshire terriers will develop these issues, but it's something to keep in mind if you're bringing one into the family.

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4

Their coats come in a variety of colors

coat colors short smooth Emre Ceylan / Getty Images

American Staffordshire terries have short, smooth coats that come in a wide range of colors, including red, black, fawn, white, and blue. Sometimes, they have a solid color coat, but they can also be a mix of white and brindle or white and any other fur color. The American Kennel Club considers it a fault if more than 80 percent of the coat is white, so keep that in mind if you're looking for a dog to show.

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5

American Staffordshire terriers have low grooming needs

minimal grooming shed Emre Ceylan / Getty Images

American Staffordshire terriers have low grooming needs. They heavily shed twice a year, though, so brushing once or twice a week is needed to keep this under control. These dogs don't get much of a dog odor, so you usually only have to bathe them every few months, unless they get into something messy.

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6

They're great with kids, but should always be supervised

American staffordshire terrier playing in the park in autumn

Despite their unfair reputation of being aggressive fighters, American Staffordshire terriers are great with children. They love their families and are known for being loving pets and careful watchdogs. They are big and muscular and tend to play rough, so they may not be the best choice for a home with small children.

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7

They do best when they're the only pet in the household

Blue American staffordshire terrier, amstaff, stafford

American Staffordshire terriers were bred to fight, and although breeders have worked very hard to remove that instinct, the breed can be standoffish around other dogs. They don't always get along with other dogs, whether at the dog park or in the home, although growing up together as pets in the same family goes a long way to curbing this tendency. American Staffordshire terriers do not make good housemates for cats and other small animals. They are likely to see them as prey.

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8

They have an undeserved reputation

Two American Staffordshire terriers lying on the grass.

The American Staffordshire terrier is considered a pit bull breed, which is commonly misunderstood. Most Breed Specific Legislation includes them, and some insurance policies won't cover homes that keep this breed as a pet. Although they are gentle, loving family watchdogs, they can be intimidating. Check with your insurance company and read any neighborhood ordinances about dog breeds before bringing one home.

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9

The American Staffordshire terrier vs. the American pit bull terrier

pit bulls docile DevidDO / Getty Images

Although American Staffordshire terriers have been bred separately for more and half a century, they share many traits and look quite similar. American Staffordshire terriers are a little bigger than pit bulls, but they're also more docile. The versatile breed makes an amazing family pet and watchdog and is also used as police dogs and performs well in various competitions.

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10

The American Staffordshire terrier has been recognized since 1976

Dog standing in water Blue American staffordshire terrier

American Staffordshire terriers date back to the 1850s when their ancestors were brought to America. At the beginning of the 20th century, they were recognized by the United Kennel Club as American pit bull terriers. In 1936, the AKC recognized them as Staffordshire terriers. Forty years later, the breed earned the name American Staffordshire terrier because American breeders had bred the dog to be so much larger than the original.

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