The American Staffordshire terrier is one of the sweetest, most family-friendly purebred pups you can bring into your home. But just like all other dog breeds, they can be an absolute handful to raise. That’s why it’s important to learn as much as you can about their history, their nature, and the best ways to properly train, groom, feed, and care for them before you make one a member of your family.
To help you bring out the best in this incredible terrier breed, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to the Amstaff puppy as well as the temperament of the American Staffordshire Terrier. This is required reading for any prospective Amstaff owner. It will serve to make your life easier, your dog’s life better, and it will even give you quite a few fun facts to share with other dog lovers on your many trips to the dog park.
American Staffordshire Terrier Dogs
The American Staffordshire terrier — also known as the Amstaff or Staffie — is a medium to large dog with an average lifespan of about 12-16 years. Males generally reach about 18-19 inches in height and weigh between 55-70 pounds, while females reach about 17-18 inches in height and weigh 40-55 pounds.
Amstaffs are not tremendous dogs. However, they are built with quite a bit of muscle, especially considering that they are high energy, so they tend to have the presence of dogs that are significantly larger than their size. In other words, these pups need a little extra room and a little extra attention to live comfortably.
These beautiful dogs are the result of a cross between the bulldog and the terrier. The now-extinct bull and terrier was originally bred in 19th century England with the explicit purpose of creating the perfect fighting dog. This unfortunate history has since stuck the Amstaff with an unfair negative stigma.
You may be surprised to learn, though, that in spite of their historical connection to dogfighting, the Amstaff is among the most loving and affectionate of all the terrier breeds.
They may be pretty energetic dogs, but they’re highly intelligent, highly trainable, and they tend to become quite attached to those who are close to them. Amstaffs are not inherently aggressive. When raised properly, they can be some of the finest family dogs around.
The History of the Staffie
You’ve learned a bit about the history of the American Staffordshire terrier, but to get a better idea of where they come from, let’s take a deeper look.
The Staffie is believed to have its origins in Staffordshire, England, sometime during the early to middle 19th century. During this period in England, dogfighting was a popular pastime. Dogs were bred specifically for their desirable fighting traits.
These unfortunate motivations led to the rise of the bull and terrier breed that would eventually become the American Staffordshire terrier.
Although they may have been bred to fight other animals, it was considered undesirable for these dogs to be aggressive towards humans, so the silver lining is that many of the descendants of the bull and terrier are actually very loving.
The Amstaff is also quite intelligent and confident. Their courage and loyalty can make them great guard dogs if they’re properly trained, although you might not want your watchdog to be the type to befriend everyone they meet, like these pups tend to do!
National Breed Clubs and Rescue
The American Kennel Club recognized the American Staffordshire terrier dog as an official breed in 1936, opening the door for the creation of a national breed club.
That club, the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America (STCA), is an organization that is dedicated to promoting and protecting the interests of the American Staffordshire Terrier breed.
If you want to surround yourself with passionate and knowledgeable Amstaff lovers and help this incredible dog breed to flourish, consider becoming a member!
How to Care for an American Staffordshire Puppy
Whether you’re thinking about bringing an Amstaff puppy home in the near future or there’s one in your living room right now, chewing on your furniture, you’re going to need to brush up on your dog training skills in a hurry.
In order to do that, check out this quick and easy guide to everything you need to know about raising an American Staffordshire Terrier puppy. We’ll cover everything from which dog foods can provide the proper nutrition to the best socialization techniques to the proper grooming techniques for a short-coat breed.
Read our full guide on the American Staffordshire food.
Training your Amstaff puppy as early as possible is the key to ensuring that they are well-behaved and friendly around you, your family, friends, strangers, and other dogs. Bad habits developed at a young age can be hard to break when your puppy becomes fully grown. It’s also important to remember that, although the Amstaff is not aggressive by nature, any dog has the potential to become aggressive through neglect or abuse. A dog as powerful and strong-willed as the Staffie has the potential to become dangerous if you don’t train and socialize it properly.
The first type of training that you’re going to want to give your Amstaff puppy is, of course, house training. A dog that goes to the bathroom all over your home will quickly become a destructive and costly headache, so you should get right to it the moment your puppy reaches four months old. Before that, keep a healthy supply of puppy pads around the house.
The Staffie can be stubborn, but they are highly trainable and respond very well to positive reinforcement. You should be able to have them fully house trained in about 4 to 6 months.
To do this, you must feed them and let them out on a regular schedule (at least six times a day at first and especially first thing in the morning!). You should bring them to the same potty spot every time. Remember…rewarding successful bathroom breaks will help, but punishing them for their failures will not!
The American Staffordshire terrier is a true pack dog, and your obedience training must be done with this fact in mind.
You need pups as early as possible that you are the leader of the pack. Otherwise, they are likely to develop some ghastly manners that will drive you nuts.
This means strictly enforcing rules like not feeding them at the dinner table, having them sit and wait for you to give them the okay to eat their food, only allowing them on furniture when they are invited, and never rewarding anything other than obedience.
One of the keys to raising a well-adjusted pup is early socialization. Get your Staffie used to meeting new people and new dogs by taking them down to the park. This will not only help to prevent aggressive or otherwise antisocial behavior, but it will also give this high-energy breed the mental stimulation that it needs to become the perfect family pet.
Well-trained Amstaffs can be great guard dogs at home, but you want them to know the difference between when it’s time to protect and when it’s time to play.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is a short-coat breed, so grooming your puppy will be a breeze. Grab a nice, short bristle dog brush and give them a quick brushing about once a week or so and they’ll stay looking shiny and clean.
Remember that brushing your pup won’t just keep them clean; it will also make their coat healthy by distributing their skin oils.
Once every one or two months, you should give your American Staffordshire terrier the full grooming experience. This means a bath with shampoo, an ear cleaning, and a nail clipping. This will help your Amstaff puppy stay tidy and adorable and it will help them to avoid some major health problems.
If you’re willing to put up the extra money for a grooming service, it can help to relieve some of the responsibilities dog owners take on when they bring home a pup.
If you prefer to do the grooming yourself, check out the following products:
- The Healthy Dog Company’s 6-1 All Natural Dog Shampoo
- 4-Legger Certified Organic Dog Shampoo
- ProGroom Natural Oatmeal Dog Shampoo
- H&H Pets Nail Clipper
- BOSHEL Dog Nail Clippers
- Casfuy Dog Nail Grinder
- Furminator Deshedding Edge Dog Brush
- KONG Dog Zoom Multi-Use Brush
- Safari Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush
These are just a few suggestions for some great grooming supplies, but there are plenty more out there that you can check out if you don’t see what you’re looking for here.
Keep in mind that the pet food you choose can actually help to give your Staffie a nice, healthy coat, too.
It’s incredibly important that you give your American Staffordshire terrier puppy a diet that is both healthy and age-appropriate. This means puppy food only until they’re around 12 months.
A healthy Amstaff diet includes amino acids, animal-based proteins, labeled fats, whole meat, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. It’s also important for their food to include either natural preservatives or no preservatives.
Feeding your Amstaff puppy the wrong type of food can lead to obesity and a whole laundry list of health problems down the road.
Fortunately, the options for healthy pet food are bountiful today. Just check the following list out and you’re bound to find the perfect food for your pup.
- Lily’s Kitchen Puppy Complete (wet food)
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy (kibble)
- Purina Pro Plan Puppy Large Breed (kibble)
- Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy (kibble)
- Diamond Naturals Puppy (kibble)
There are even fresh food delivery services for your Staffie, such as NomNomNow, if you want to go the extra mile. If you’ve got the money, then feeding your Amstaff the best possible food is one of the best ways to give them the best possible life.
Exercising Your Staffordshire Terrier Puppy
One of the best ways to make sure that your Amstaff puppy avoids both health problems and behavioral problems is to ensure that they get plenty of playtime and daily exercise.
Not only will taking them out to the dog park for daily exercise help them to burn their excess energy, but it’s also a great way to give them the socialization they need. This can work to keep them from behaving like a guard dog any time that a stranger or an unfamiliar dog comes along.
Here are just a few ideas for getting your American Staffordshire terrier puppy the exercise they need:
- Walking (or even better, running)
- Playing chase
- Swimming (after they’re six months old)
- Allowing them to play with other dogs
Remember, your Amstaff puppy will learn to drop the watchdog act rather quickly if you allow them to meet others early and often. Make sure to get them out so they can burn that energy and become accustomed to meeting strangers.
After all, you don’t want to have to pay for expensive obedience training to correct behavioral issues later on.
All dogs have the potential to experience health issues if they aren’t properly fed, trained, exercised, and cared for. Certain breeds are even more susceptible to certain issues. That’s why it’s important to learn all you can about the American Staffordshire terrier before you raise one.
Giving your pup the care and the proper dog training it deserves will lengthen its lifespan, allowing you to enjoy more time with them.
All potential dog owners should be aware of the following health problems that their Amstaff may experience:
- Hip dysplasia
- Heart disease
- Cerebellar ataxia
- Thyroid issues
- Demodectic mange
- Skin problems
This may be alarming to you, but don’t panic. Your American Staffordshire terrier puppy isn’t necessarily going to experience any of these health issues. You can’t avoid all of them through great care, but you can absolutely help to prevent them.
Similar Breeds to Look At
Here are just a few similar breeds to the American Staffordshire terrier:
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
If you’re open to looking at these similar purebreds before you settle on a Staffie, then be sure to do all the research you can on them, too. If you’re set on getting a short coat dog, then we suggest looking into any of the terrier breeds (except the bull and terrier, which is now extinct).
Now, you know pretty much everything about the American Staffordshire terrier, from their size to the history of the breed to all of the tips and tricks for training and caring for the perfect Amstaff. We hope you found this guide useful — good luck in raising the newest member of your family!