American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier

Group: Terrier Group

Origin: United States

Height: Males: 18 to 19 inches at the shoulder; – Females: 17 to 18 inches

Weight: Ranges from 50 to 75 lbs. Height and Weight should be in proportion.

Note: Starting in 1936, the American Kennel Club accepted for registration in the AKC Stud Book, the breed known as “Staffordshire Terrier.” However, to avoid confusion with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the name was changed effective 1 January 1972 to the American Staffordshire Terrier.

American Staffordshire Terrier
Int.Ch. Barberycoast Second to None (Tonne)
Photo: Barberycoast Reg’d American Staffordshire Terriers

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Breed Profile

The American Staffordshire Terrier originated sometime in the 1800s, when dog fighting was a popular sport in the U.S. The Am Staff was also used for farm work, hunting large game such as wild pigs and bears, as a guard dog, and for general companionship. The breed, known over the years as the Half-and-Half, Yankee Terrier, Pitbull Terrier and American Bull Terrier, was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1936 as the Staffordshire Terrier. The name was changed to the American Staffordshire Terrier in 1972 to avoid confusion with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Although the American Staffordshire Terrier resembles the American Pit Bull Terrier, it is a separate breed.

Today’s Am Staff is mostly seen as a companion and show dog. He is courageous, muscular, and agile. His working abilities, intelligence and high activity level make him well suited for many dog sports and activities. He is very loyal to his family and makes a good guardian. The Am Staff is very people oriented and requires interaction and plenty of attention from his family. The breed is not naturally aggressive towards humans. However, because they are extremely loyal, if trained by an owner to be aggressive toward humans, there is a possibility that the dog may become aggressive. Like other large, powerful dogs early socialization and obedience training are a must for this breed.

The American Staffordshire Terrier comes in all colours — brindles, parti, patched, or any combination. His short coat is easy to maintain and requires little grooming.

Note: The term “Pit Bull” is often used to refer to a breed type as well as different breeds of dogs, including the AmStaff. Other breeds commonly referred to as “Pit Bulls” include: the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier. Some believe that all of these breeds of dogs originally came from the same pit fighting stock over 100 years ago but have been bred to differing standards and are now known as distinct and separate breeds. Others believe that these dogs are simply different strains of the same breed.


Health Issues

As with all breeds of dogs, American Staffordshire Terriers may exhibit some genetic health problems. The following is a list of some of the disorders which may be of concern for the breed:

  • Spinocerebellar or Hereditary Ataxia — This is a neurological disorder which has become a major concern with the American Staffordshire Terrier. This disease affects the cerebellum which, together with the vestibular system, control coordination of movement. Initially, subtle signs of clumsiness and an occasional sway of the body may be noticed. As the disease progresses, the clumsiness becomes more pronounced, where the affected dog easily loses his balance and falls over. Additional signs may be seen in the eyes, where sudden movements of the head can cause rapid flicking of the eyes. With time, the affected dog has more difficulty walking due to a lack of coordination in the legs. Weight loss may also be seen. Research has confirmed that this disease is inherited and most likely by an autosomal recessive trait. Evidence also suggests that the gene is widely distributed in the breeding population of American Staffordshire Terriers. The onset of symptoms generally appear in dogs anywhere from two to eight years of age. For additional information, see:
  • Heart Disease — Several forms of genetic heart disease have been seen in the American Staffordshire Terrier breed. These include: Mitral Valve Prolapse, Pulmonic Valvular Stenosis, Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS), and others. It is strongly recommended that breeding dogs be tested by a Cardiologist. For additional information, see:
    • Heart Disease — This website was developed to bring awareness to the prevelance of heart disease in Amstaffs and also to stress the importance of using a certified Cardiologist when testing for this problem. By Pam Perdue, Breeder/Owner since 1988.
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia — The OFA ranks the Am Staff at number 9 for Elbow Dysplasia.
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy — PRA has been known to occur in the American Staffordshire Terrier breed.

If you are considering the adoption of a American Staffordshire Terrier, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the General Information page.)

Recommended Health Screening:

For the American Staffordshire Terrier, the CHICNote 1 database includes health screening for the following:

  • Hip Dysplasia;
  • Congenital Cardiac evaluation;
  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis; and
  • NCL-A (Cerebellar Ataxia)
  • Optional screenings include Eye Examination by a board Ophthalmologist, and Elbow Dysplasia.

Additional Health Resources:


Grooming Information

  • Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.


Training Resources

Like all dogs, the American Staffordshire Terrier should be socialized at an early age. The Am Staff is strong, intelligent, inquisitive and determined and, if left untrained, the bored Am Staff can become destructive to home and property. Early obedience training is highly recommended for this breed.

  • Training — For training information, see this section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.


Additional Information

  • An informative Brochure by the STCA — Provides information on choosing the breed, breed description, breed history and the official AKC Breed Standard (in PDF format)
  • Pit Bulls — The Real Deal — From Pit Bull Rescue Central (PDF Format)
  • From Homeless to Hero — Norton’s Story — Norton was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame in 1999 for his heroic act.
  • What is a “Real” Pit Bull? — Understanding the difference between: American Pit Bull, American Staffordshire, Staffordshire Bull
  • Clubs, Sports & Activities — For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
  • Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.


*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit:

*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.

Breed Listing

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