American Staffordshire Terrier
Other names: Amstaff
The American Staffordshire Terrier, or Amstaff as their fans call them, is a companion dog that is all too often considered dangerous. In reality, they are sociable, friendly and very affectionate. Their character selection limited their aggressiveness and made them softer. Only if they are provoked (e.g. with cruel methods), can aggressiveness reappear. This breed has a bad reputation due to the way people have treated them; there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.
Key facts about the American Staffordshire Terrier
Origins and history
Unlike most Terriers, the American Staffordshire Terrier was not born in Great Britain, but in the English colonies of North America and Canada, hence their name. Their ancestors are the "Bull-and-Terrier" and the Blue Paul Terrier, an extinct breed that was previously raised in Glasgow, Scotland, before spreading to the colonies.
At the beginning of the 1930s, two breeding movements were formed. The first one tried to create dogs corresponding to a precise standard, with a strong but very balanced temperament: the result was the American Staffordshire Terrier. The second movement, was looking for a fighting dog: a larger, more aggressive breed, with a stronger jaw grip. The result was the American Pit Bull Terrier, now only recognised by the American Kennel Club and not the FCI.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 3 - Terriers
Section 3 : Bull type Terriers
Physical characteristics of the American Staffordshire Terrier
Female : Between 17 and 18 in
Male : Between 18 and 19 in
Female : Between 55 and 66 lb
Male : Between 55 and 66 lb
Their coat can be single-coloured, multi-coloured or variegated. All colours are accepted, however dominance of white and a liver colour is not encouraged. It should be noted that the blue American Staffordshire Terrier is very popular.
Type of coat
Their coat is short.
Their coat is coarse to touch, shiny, and lies flat and close to the skin.
Their eyes are dark.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is a dog of great power in relation to its size: well-built and muscular, though at the same time agile and graceful. Their head, of medium length, appears large on all sides; the skull is broad. Their ears are set high. Their eyes are round, low and wide apart. Their jaws, especially the lower one, must be strong, to allow for a very good grip. Their muzzle should have a square appearance. The construction of their body is almost square-shaped. Their limbs are perfectly straight. Their tail narrows towards the tip, more or less at hock height.
Good to know
The American Staffordshire Terrier is part of the second category of ‘dangerous’ dogs, following the law of the 6th of January 1999.
It is thus necessary for the owner to apply for a detention permit from the town hall, which will only be issued following their participation in an aptitude training course and the results of the dog's behavioural assessment.
The aptitude training is completed with an authorised canine educator.
Their behavioural assessment should be completed between the age of 8 and 12 months with an authorised veterinarian.
The dog must be kept on a leash and wear a muzzle in public places.
The dog's possession permit and vaccination record may be requested at any time by a public service employee.
In addition, be careful not to confuse the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (known as the Staffie) and the American Staffordshire Terrier, which are two very distinct breeds, be it by their physical characteristics or their temperaments.
Being very loyal and devoted to their owner, the Amstaff is a loving dog that, despite their stubborn reputation, is a great choice of companion for the whole family.
Full of energy, lively and playful, this dog loves spending time around people to play and be active. Playful activities are extremely useful to help train the dog, channel their energy and strengthen their interspecific relationship.
Providing all their needs are met and if, and only if, they have been well trained, the American Staffordshire Terrier can be calm at home.
If the training methods used are consistent, caring and positive, the Amstaff can be very skilful and receptive. Agile, courageous and intelligent, they are predisposed to many activities.
Their heritage as a Terrier gives them a propensity for hunting, but it is not an activity in which they excel.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Despite their bag reputation, they are rather welcoming, even with strangers. However, should they not be well adapted to social situations or the people who approach them do not have good intentions, they can be challenging.
Although they are very loyal to their owner, the American Stafford is an independent dog that knows how to be alone, even if they prefer not to be.
Behaviour of the American Staffordshire Terrier
Providing their need for exercise is met and they were progressively exposed to the absence of their owner as a puppy, American Staffordshire Terriers respond well to periods away from their owner.
Easy to train / obedience
Although they are easy to live with on a daily basis, their Terrier heritage makes them naturally stubborn and tenacious, which can sometimes hinder their training.
Moreover, the sensitivity they inherit from their Bulldog cousins requires a training that is patient and gentle, though at the same time firm.
Their education must start early to establish authority and prevent the American Staffordshire Terrier puppy from developing bad habits. If the methods used are consistent and intelligent, this dog, contrary to what is believed, can be very docile.
As a dog concerned by the law on so-called "dangerous" dogs, when they are a puppy, the priority is to teach them to walk on a leash without pulling and to accept the muzzle positively.
This ‘dangerous’ dog rarely barks. Their physique alone is sufficient for intimidation.