Those who have lived with an American Staffordshire Terrier (also called Amstaff) agree in highlighting its qualities. It is a dog with great qualities as a guardian, which knows how to easily win a place in people’s hearts.
In spite of their corpulence, these dogs move in a graceful and elegant way, a sign of self-confidence. Let’s see what their main virtues are and what precautions we should take.
Characteristics of the American Staffordshire Terrier
The dogs of this breed maintain an innate courage, with a robust and muscular anatomy. They are much taller and slimmer than their cousins, the English Staffordshire, although their lines should give a sense of rotundity rather than lightness. The back is short and muscular, the chest is deep and broad, while the belly is not usually very tucked up.
Its legs are rather short, with no angulation in the front legs; the hind legs are well developed. As for the tail, it is low set and relatively short in proportion to the rest of the body. It is thick at the base and tapers towards the tip.
The skull is broad, with muscular cheeks, a muzzle with powerful jaws and a broad forehead. The nose is always black. The eyes are round and of rather dark shades; they are set wide apart. The ears are high set, medium sized and rose-shaped.
The coat is glossy, hard to the touch, but not excessively rough. The frequent colors are red, black, fawn and bluish tones, although it is also possible to find bicolor individuals in which white is present.
- Height between 46 and 48 cm in males and between 43 and 46 cm in females.
- Weight between 25 and 31 kg in males and between 18 and 25 kg in females.
- Short coat and close to the body
- Brave, protective and sociable character
- Strong health although sensitive to hip and elbow dysplasia.
- Estimated life expectancy between 12 and 16 years.
What is the character of the American Staffordshire Terrier like?
The American Staffordshire Terrier enjoys the company of people very much, making it an excellent family dog. A well-balanced Amstaff will want to accompany you when you go for a walk or cuddle up next to you if you are watching your favorite show. They are tremendously affectionate and can shower you with licks within seconds when you return home.
They are very tolerant with children, especially if they have been raised with them. However, as they are very physically vigorous dogs, you should always control the shared games. With other dogs the relationship tends to be difficult, due to their fighting dog heritage. It is also not recommended that they live with small animals, because they can see them as prey.
Loneliness is not a good companion for them. They do not like to be without company and will show it by barking, digging holes in the garden, destroying plants or nibbling your favorite shoes.
Their need to please people makes them relatively easy to train, although a firm trainer who knows how to set limits is essential. Although socialization from a young age will help to temper their aggressive instincts towards other dogs, these will never disappear completely.
Care needed by an American Staffordshire Terrier
They are dogs of great vitality, so they need intense exercise every day. The ideal is to have a garden where they have space to romp, although they will always prefer to share the fun with someone else than having to play alone. They can adapt to living in an apartment without a garden, but it is essential that they go out to exercise regularly.
They require at least two long walks a day to keep them balanced. They should always go out on a leash to avoid running into other dogs or chasing small animals. The muzzle is mandatory, since in Spain they are considered Potentially Dangerous Dogs (PPP). Never let them go in front setting the pace, as they will consider that they are the leader. They should always leave the house after you.
In normal times they only need a weekly brushing, although during their two annual moults they should be brushed daily. Baths are necessary two or three times a year or when they are very dirty. Their coat does not usually give off the typical “dog smell”, although their breath is known to smell bad. To combat this, try to brush his teeth every day.
History of the American Staffordshire Terrier
Although it is a dog that descends from old English varieties, such as the Bull Dog or the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, it is considered a genuinely American breed, since it was developed in American lands. The first specimens arrived in North America in the middle of the 19th century with the settlers seeking fortune in the far West, who used these dogs for protection in a hostile environment.
At the beginning they were indistinguishable from the American Pit Bulls, although the two breeds were differentiated over the years and today their features are clearly marked. Already in the 20th century they became one of the favorite varieties of the North American public, although it was difficult for them to leave behind their fame of aggressiveness. Nowadays they are highly valued as members of the security forces, but also for their great sporting qualities.
Curiosities of the American Staffordshire Terrier
Although the American Staffordshire Terrier is considered a PPP breed by the Spanish legislation, the truth is that they are usually very friendly and trustworthy with humans. Properly socialized and trained, they pose no threat.
Their reputation for violence is due, in part, to the fact that they are confused with Pit Bulls, a breed that can be more aggressive in certain circumstances. Although both lines come from the same ancestors, the Amstaff is much more stable and sociable with people.
In the USA they were very popular during most of the 20th century, especially due to Stubby, a dog of this breed that participated in the First World War. This dog was promoted to Sergeant for his performance in combat and is the most decorated military dog in the history of the country.