American Staffordshire Terrier Traits


Get to Know the American Staffordshire Terrier Traits

Last Updated on August 8, 2023 by Denise Leo. Post first published on June 27, 2021.

Learn about the American Staffordshire Terrier’s unique traits and characteristics for a friendly, practical, authoritative guide to owning one of these lovable canines.

Are you considering adding an American Staffordshire Terrier to your family? This dog breed is becoming increasingly popular thanks to its friendly and affectionate nature. But it’s important to be aware of all aspects – good and bad – when deciding whether this breed is right for you.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the traits of the American Staffordshire Terrier, from how they interact with other dogs and people to their unique exercise requirements and trainability. With practical advice along the way, we aim to provide you with enough information about these loyal dogs so that you can make an informed decision on whether an ‘Amstaff’ is a suitable choice for you.

The defining American Staffordshire Terrier traits are an agile muscular build, strongly defined cheekbones, broad shoulders, medium height, round eyes, and attentive appearance.

These traits set American Staffordshire Terrier apart from all the other dog breeds. Popularly known as Amstaffs, American Staffordshire Terriers are the darling of keen dog owners who themselves are known as Amstaffers.

This article will be all about American Staffordshire Terrier’s outstanding traits. So, brace yourself for all that is yet to come.

The American Staffordshire Terrier is intelligent and athletic, so he’s suitable for dog sports, including agility, obedience, conformation, and tracking. You can recognize him by his powerful head and stocky body. His coat is short and can be any color. It can be patched, solid, or parti-colored. This dog used to be known as a Pit Dog, a Half and Half or a Bull-and-Terrier dog before the English decided this was a better name in the early 19th century.

This dog loves being with people and is very loyal. He’s also friendly but will protect the household from trouble when necessary. His coat is easy to maintain but needs regular training and exercise. His height is 17-19 inches tall.

History of American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier originally hails from England. This dog breed was raised for a specific purpose. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Englishmen were fond of blood sports. These included dog fights, turning a pack of dogs loose on a stacked bear or a bull. In those days, spectators were fond of blood sports. They used to bet on the outcome to make money.

Those days of grisly blood sports are long gone. But the blood sports gave us an outstanding breed – our American Staffordshire terrier.

The now-extinct breeds, such as White English Terrier and Black-and-Tan Terrier, are thought to be alive in the American Staffordshire, and the latter is supposed to carry the former’s gene pool. Nevertheless, American Staffordshire Terriers are certainly a cross between Bulldogs and Terrier breeds.

The dog was introduced to the US in the mid-eighteenth century, where it was loved and used as farm help or to hunt down wild boars.

American Staffordshire Terrier Traits
American Staffordshire Terrier Traits

American Staffordshire Terrier Traits

People are concerned about this dog breed because of their lineage and history. But worry not, for we will present in detail all the necessary traits of Staffordshire Terrier in considerable detail.

American Staffordshire Terrier Appearance

The Staffordshire Terrier is a muscular dog that is strong for its size. They look agile and active. The face’s bone structure is well-defined, and the overall appearance is attractive. The jaws are strong, and the eyes round. Sometimes you would see their cute puppy dog face while looking at the humans. At other times, they would appear the master of the ring when at large.


American Staffordshire Terrier is a medium-sized dog ranging from 17 to 19 inches in height. The height of the male dog is an inch longer than the female dog’s. The weight ranges from as low as 40 pounds to as high as 70 pounds. Female dogs are relatively smarter than their male counterparts.

The exact height and weight range of American Staffordshire Terriers, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), is given below in the table.

Male Female
Height 18 – 19 inches 17 – 18 inches
Weight 55 – 70 pounds 40 – 55 pounds

American Staffordshire Terrier Personality

The appearance leads to a perceived notion that American Staffordshire Terrier personalities are aggressive. But the reality is completely different.

Is American Staffordshire Terrier a Good Family Dog

The most important concern about any dog is whether it is a good family dog. In that regard, you can completely trust AmStaff. It is a well-behaved family dog.

The Terrier is fond of humans and loves nothing more than to be useful to humans. It is a happy family dog through and through. It loves to play around. In an outdoor setting, it is in full action, such as in the backyard or lawn. It is loyal to its owners and loves to be around them.

AmStaff is generally good with children but tends to be relatively overprotective. Hence, it is highly advised that the dog should be allowed to bond with the children but not without supervision. These dogs are also very gentle and friendly towards strangers and mingle well with them.

American Staffordshire Terrier Traits
American Staffordshire Terrier Traits

Is American Staffordshire Terrier Considered an Aggressive Breed

AmStaff has a past of being a dog employed in blood sports. The appearance, size, and personality display certain features that make Staffordshire Terriers a relatively aggressive breed. AmStaff has a reputation for being the guard dog. Stubby, the most notable of these guard dogs, earned the rank of Sergeant and decorations in World War I. Some dog owners have reportedly claimed that Terriers are a good judge of human intentions and can satisfactorily perform guard duties.

Considering these characteristics, AmStaff can come as an aggressive dog. But if this dog starts training early, the aggression is taken from its personality. It turns out to be a pretty well-tamed dog if it finds a trainer that can handle its physical demands.

Terrier is an intense dog and likes to stay busy. AmStaff would pull, dig, chew, and occasionally bark when bored. Sometimes AmStaff becomes a pain to handle while walking because they would pull the walker along with them. So, it is extremely necessary not to let the dog take charge.

Also, they may not be as friendly towards other dogs as they are to humans.  These dogs respond well to training but can be stubborn to forceful methods. So, it is highly advised that they be trained in an understanding manner.

Overall, American Staffordshire Terrier is not an aggressive breed if trained and handled well.

If we were, to sum up all the American Staffordshire Terrier personality traits, we would say that they are loyal and friendly, loveable and loving, kind to children but a bit overprotective, and responsive to training.

The table below summarizes the personality and traits of the American Staffordshire Terrier. The more the score out of five, the better this dog is.

Personality Traits Score out of Five
Jogging Partner Three
Lap Dog One
Good with children Two
Warm weather Three
Cold weather Three
Grooming requirements One
Shedding Three
Barking Two
Ease of training Four

AKC Breed Standards for American Staffordshire Terrier

American Kennel Club (AKC) describes official breed standards for American Staffordshire Terriers. These standards are described below in detail.

  • Head: The head is medium length with a broad skull and very pronounced cheek muscles. Ears, either cropped or uncropped, are set high. Eyes are dark and round, laying low down in the skull and set far apart from each other.
  • Neck: This dog’s neck is heavy with a slight arch, tapering from the shoulders to the back of the skull. The neck is of medium length with no loose skin.
  • Shoulders: The shoulders of this dog are agile and muscular. The shoulder blades are wide and sloping.
  • Back: The back of the dog is fairly short. It is slightly sloping from withers to rump with a gentle short slope at the rump to the base of the tail. Loins are slightly tucked.
  • Body: The dog’s chest is deep and broad, with forelegs fairly wide apart to permit full chest development. The dog has well-sprung ribs that are deep in the rear.
  • Tail: It has a relatively short tail in comparison to the size of the body. The tail is neither curled nor held back, and neither is docked.
  • Legs: The dog’s Front legs are straight with large and round bones. There is no bend in the front legs. The muscles in the hind legs are strong. Feet are of moderate size and compact, allowing them to easily carry the body’s weight and be agile simultaneously.
  • Gait: The gait of this dog must be springy but should be without a roll or pace.
  • Coat: The coat is short that largely remains close to the body. It is glossy and relatively stiff to the touch.
  • Color: The dog can be of any color. Over 80 percent of the dogs are white, black, and tan.

American Staffordshire Terrier vs. American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT)

AmStaff and APBT are so similar that it gets difficult to find any difference between them. These terriers were first bred in the British Isles and brought into America.

Apparently, APBT is smaller and leaner in size and form than AmStaff. The height of AmStaff ranges from 17 to 19 inches, with an approximate weight of 50 pounds. On the other hand, APBT reaches a height of 18 to 22 inches with a weight of 30 to 60 pounds.

Another apparent difference is that AmStaff has a short, dense, and soft coat, whereas APBT has a shiny, thick, and short coat. Whereas the two breeds may look identically similar, they also are similar regarding loyalty, devotion to the owner, and intelligence.

However, it is generally observed that AmStaff is friendlier and behaves well with the children compared to APBT, and that is why AmStaff is the darling of dog owners who want to keep a family dog as a pet.

American Staffordshire Terrier Traits
American Staffordshire Terrier Traits

American Staffordshire Terrier Growth Stages

The American Staffordshire Terrier passes through various stages of development before it finally becomes a loveable adult dog. Here we will discuss the growth stages in the life of an AmStaff.

  • The neonatal Period characterizes the time from birth to 12 days. The puppy is unable to hear and cannot see. It needs to stay close to its mother for nutrition and protection.
  • The Transitional Period starts from the 13 days after birth and lasts until the 20th day. The eyes open, the smell develops, and the puppy can finally see.
  • The Awareness Period begins on the 20th day after birth. It needs to stay close to its mother. It starts becoming aware of its surroundings and knows everything around it. It is a very crucial stage for the puppy.
  • Canine Socialization begins on the 21st day and lasts until the 49th day. This is when it gets to know that he is a dog. The specific dog characteristics start forming inside its mind, such as biting, chasing, chewing, and barking. During this time, the puppy requires plenty of play time with their mother.
  • Human Socialization starts in the 7th week and lasts until the 12th week is over. At this point, it knows that it is a dog, but as regards human interactions, its slate is clean. The puppy should be removed from the mother. It is when the most rapid learning occurs and prepares it as a family-loving dog.
  • Fear Imprint Period. This period is a part of human socialization. The timing of this period is between the 8th and 11th week. If a puppy is exposed to any fear, it will likely stay with it for the rest of its life. A good trainer would allow the puppy to stay happy during this time. The training should be fun and playful.
  • Maturity does not come immediately. It would not come until the puppy is one year old. It has passed through several stages during this time. The most significant is the shedding of puppy teeth and the growth of adult teeth.

The Life Expectancy of American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier is a healthy dog. The life expectancy of the American Staffordshire Terrier is approximately 12 years. During the life of the dog, it may contract several diseases. The incidence of the disease depends upon the genetic makeup of the ancestors. Some dogs are more vulnerable than others.

Here we will discuss some of the diseases that may affect and cut short the lifespan of your beloved dog. American Staffordshire Terriers are more likely to develop dental problems. Starting from the buildup of plaque and tartar, it ultimately ends up bleeding, aching gums, and decayed teeth.

The dog can catch bacterial and viral infections. These are the same infections that any dog can get. The most notable of these include parvo, rabies, and distemper. Other than that, it can be attacked by parasites. Parasites can cause pain, discomfort, restlessness, and, in severe cases, may even lead to death.

Obesity is another serious health risk. It occurs when the dog cannot get enough physical exertion. Obesity is the mother of many other diseases. With obesity comes joint problems, heart problems, and digestive disorders.

Knee cap dislocation and ligament tearing are two badly damaging knee diseases common to AmStaffs. Whereas AmStaffs are expected to live for 12 years, the same is not the case for their near cousins.

The life expectancy of American Staffordshire Bull Terriers is between 12 to 16 years which makes them living longer years than AmStaff.

American Staffordshire Terrier Traits
American Staffordshire Terrier Traits

Summing up American Staffordshire Terrier Traits 

American Staffordshire Terrier is an amazing dog to keep as a pet. It originated in the British Isles, brought to America in the mid-eighteenth century. The Staffordshire Terrier is a celebrated family dog that is lovable and friendly.

The AmStaff is full of energy, and if proper care is taken of its physical and emotional needs, the dog becomes your best friend. It is a medium-sized agile, muscular dog best known for its guard duties. Other members of its near family are the English Bull Terrier and American Pitbull Terrier. With a life expectancy of 12 years, American Staffordshire Terrier is the darling of family dogs.

Copyright CaninePals.Com. All Rights Reserved.

References and Further Reading:

[1] American Kennel Club, American Staffordshire Terrier Information.


  • Denise Leo

    My name is Denise Leo, and I hail from Australia. My journey with dogs, especially with the delightful Pomeranian breed, has been a lifelong passion extending over 50 years. I have had the honor of breeding and exhibiting close to 100 Pomeranian Champions, dedicating many years to the intricate art of dog training across various disciplines. Beyond the show ring, my experience stretches to the pastoral fields as both a Dairy Farmer and Beef Cattle Breeder, where working with dogs of all breeds has been an integral part of my daily life. This diverse exposure has deepened my understanding and appreciation for these incredible animals. I firmly believe that dogs are the most extraordinary beings in our universe, capable of offering us unconditional love that surpasses even their own self-interest. The countless wonderful dogs that have shared my life over the years have not only brought immense joy and companionship but have also profoundly enriched my existence in ways I could never have imagined. About us page