American Staffordshire Terrier: Breed Facts and Care Information

February 19th, 2018
The American Staffordshire Terrier, Amstaff or American Staffy, can be a challenging dog but provides a rewarding companion.

The American Staffordshire Terrier, or Amstaff, can be described as enough dog for everyone, but too much dog for some. This breed requires a dedicated owner, however the time and effort invested results in a lifetime of loyalty and laughter.

American Staffordshire Terriers are described by their owners as the perfect dogs. Their loyalty, energy and outgoing personalities are hard to resist. They’re highly intelligent, good with children, require little grooming, offer great company and will be as playful as puppies all their lives, says Melissa Greenall of the American Staffordshire Terrier Club of NSW.

“They are best suited to a family or individual willing to dedicate the time and effort required to raise a happy, healthy, well-socialised dog,” she says.

The American Staffordshire Terrier, having been selectively bred as a companion and show dog, should absolutely never appear aggressive towards people, Greenall states. “As a rule the Amstaff will thrive in a family environment. These are not dogs to be left in the backyard. They require time and attention. They definitely do best when treated as part of the family,” she says.

A well-trained Amstaff will be gentle with children, bright and alert, intensely loyal and affectionate, Greenall adds. “However, as with all dogs, their play with youngsters should be well-supervised.”

The Amstaff is a highly intelligent breed which can be very dominant if left to its own devices. It is strongly recommended that all owners undertake obedience training to ensure their new puppies grow into well-behaved, well-socialised adults.

History of the Amstaff

While the Amstaff was bred for the show ring, its intelligence and athleticism see the breed excel at obedience, agility and weight-pull. Amstaffs have the ability to shine in any dog sport, which means there is no excuse not to get out there and get involved. The history of the American Staffordshire Terrier dates back to the bull and terrier mixes of the 1800s. They were general farm dogs and were fundamental to the settlement of early America.

While a number of dogs went on to be used in fighting rings across America, by the 1930s a group of fanciers petitioned the American Kennel Club to recognise what is now known as the American Staffordshire Terrier as a breed in its own right — a breed not associated with dog fighting, but a family companion and show dog. These dogs were originally called Staffordshire Terriers but by the early 1970s the breed was formally named the American Staffordshire Terrier, or ‘Amstaff’ for short.

Do your research

When looking to add an Amstaff to your family, do your research. “Ensure you purchase your new puppy from a registered breeder and that your new puppy comes with ANKC pedigree papers,” Greenall urges. “With Breed Specific Legislation a real issue for all councils across Australia, it is imperative that you have ANKC pedigree papers to prove with out doubt that your puppy is an Amstaff.”

Also ensure the health of your new puppy by buying from a breeder who health tests. At a minimum the breeder should be testing for hip and elbow dysplasia, but also for heart, eyes, thyroid and patella luxation, Greenall adds. Remember, an Amstaff is a lifelong commitment and the process of bringing one of these dogs into your home should not be rushed. Do your research properly and ensure you are buying from a registered and ethical breeder. “Never buy a puppy based on colour but on correct temperament and health,” Greenall says.

The popularity of this fascinating breed promises to grow as people get wind of the gentle, loyal and courageous nature of these special dogs.

Is an American Staffordshire Terrier right for you?

Are you prepared to do your research and wait for the right puppy from a registered breeder?
Are you prepared to dedicate the time required for training and socialisation?
Are you prepared for a physically strong dog with high intelligence?
Do you have a safe and secure yard?

An Amstaff puppy should never be purchased just because of colour but always because of health, temperament and suitability to your lifestyle. Never buy an Amstaff without pedigree papers; if it doesn’t have pedigree papers there is no way of proving it’s an Amstaff. Don’t risk the heartache of Breed Specific Legislation.

Courtesy of the American Staffordshire Terrier Club of NSW Inc.

Five fast facts

Personality: American Staffordshire Terriers are courageous, intelligent, people-friendly, devoted and fun-loving — but these dogs will probably not back down if challenged by another dog.
Suitability: The breed is suitable for families and those wanting a good companion. Owners must be willing to train and socialise their dog.

Backyard requirements: A safe and secure backyard is a must for this breed. These dogs also need to be given at least a few hours of loving attention each day.

Original purpose: American Staffordshire Terriers have been selectively bred since the 1930s as family companion and show dogs.

Care and grooming: Owners must be committed to spending time giving their dogs companionship and exercise. Occasional bathing is required, as well as a wipe over with a grooming mitt weekly.

To find out more information, visit:

Breed Society of NSW
Breed Society of Victoria

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