American Staffordshire Terrier – Amstaff

American Staffordshire Terrier – Amstaff

It is said that this breed is extremely aggressive. Probably no other dog breed has such a tarnished opinion as Amstaff.  Is it due to its appearance or personality? We need to take into consideration what kind of people the breed’s owners tend to be. It is possible that we will find the answer then, why these dogs are considered dangerous …

FCI Classification

  • Group 3: Terriers
  • Section 3: Bull type terriers
  •  Without working trial
  • Name: American Staffordshire Terrier, Amstaff, Staffy, Staffie
American Staffordshire Terrier, Amstaff, Staffy, Staffie

Breed’s history

Despite the name, the first Staffordshire terriers were bred in Birmingham in the 19th century. However, regular breeding took place in Staffordshire. The breed’s first ancestors originated from England, where bulldogs were also bred. Illustrations from 1870 presenting the bulldogs indicated that they were very similar to modern Staffordshire terriers.

Some authors claim that the breed is a cross between a bulldog and Old English terrier, a Fox Terrier or Black and Tan Terrier

Those hybrids had different names, i.e. Bull-and-Terrier Dog, “Pit Bull Terrier” (Bull terrier used to fight on pit), or Half and Half. However, they were later called Staffordshire Bull Terriers. In 1870 they appeared in the USA, where they were called Pit Dog, then American Bull Terrier and eventually Yankee Terrier.

In 1936, Amstaffs were registered by the AKC as Staffordshire Terrier and classified to the terrier and molosser. The name was changed on the 1st of January 1969 into American Staffordshire Terrier. Therefore, a distinction had to be made within both breeds. After the outbreak of the Second World War, the breed’s popularity in the USA began to decline.

American Staffordshire Terrier, Amstaff, Staffy, Staffie


As for its size, Amstaff is a very strong dog, moreover, agile, heavily muscled and stocky with a large, broad head. The muzzle is of a moderate size, rounded at the upper side, but narrower below the eyes. The eyes are dark and round, set deeply in the head and widely apart. The jaws are very strong with the lips which strictly adhere to each other. The ears are high on the head and may be trimmed, however not in the case of the show dogs.

The natural ears are half-bent forward and slightly rounded on the tips.

The coat consists of a thick, stiff but shiny hair. The color is very diverse; it may be uniform or spotted, although according to AKC requirements, white should not constitute more than 80% of the body.

Dog shows organisers do not accept black, tan, chocolate or white coloration.

The tail is short compared to the length of the body, low set, narrowing towards the end. Forelegs strong and straight, widely spaced, which is rather necessary with a well developed chest, hind legs clearly muscled, medium-sized toes with tight toes.

American Staffordshire Terrier, Amstaff, Staffy, Staffie


According to the AKC the dog develops the best when spends a lot of time with people, therefore it may become a wonderful family dog. Although it is usually very friendly it is also extremely loyal towards its family members, therefore he will protect them against any threat.

On the basis of research in 2008, aimed at determining the temperament of the breed in comparison to the American pit bull terrier, Amstaff and Staffordshire bull terrier had a higher level of aggression towards alien dogs, but lower to humans.

Amstaff is distinguished by its strong character, but also by obedience and courage and intelligence. That is why it is full of life at every moment. Over the past 50 years, breeders have tried to make the breed friendly to people, trustworthy and safe for children, therefore the dog becomes a brave and durable warrior only when it is provoked.

American Staffordshire Terrier, Amstaff, Staffy, Staffie

Amstaff tends to guard its owner’s territory very fiercely. It may even fight with its ennemy if it jeopardises the family. Representatives of this breed have a very high tolerance to pain.

When not socialised properly, the dog may be dangerous and aggressive, therefore it is crucial that the dogs are trained with a consequence when it is still a puppy.

The breed may be difficult to learn to deal with physiological needs outside the home.

It is great at protecting and is as well a great companion unless it is not well trained or unsocialised.

The breed, however, is not suitable for a passive, gentle owner who does not understand that the animal has the instinct of the leader of the herd, which includes humans.

In order to take a starch out of its bossy attitude, the owner should be strong, self confident and charismatic, but not aggressive.

It is important to achieve the position of the leader in the dog’s hierarchy through the training.

American Staffordshire Terrier, Amstaff, Staffy, Staffie


Within the breed, there are several inherited diseases, including: congenital heart defects, elbow and hip dysplasia, thyroid disorders, cerebellar ataxia and patellar luxation. Apart from these serious afflictions, there may as well occur skin allergies, urinary tract infections, autoimmune diseases and osteoarthitis and spondylosis (common in older dogs).

Detailed information and dimensions

American Straffordshire Terrier / Amstaff

  • Height at shoulders:
    • males: 46 – 48 cm (18 – 19 in)
    • females: 43 – 46 cm (17 – 18 in)
  • Weight: 25 – 30 kg (55 – 66 lbs)
  • Lifespan: 12 – 16 years
American Staffordshire Terrier, Amstaff, Staffy, Staffie

Amstaff – curiosities

The most famous Amstaff

One of the most famous Amstaffs was Sergeant Stubby – a well-deserved dog in the army. It took part in the battles for 18 months in French trenches during the First World War. He survived 17 battles, warned his fellow soldiers against gas attacks, he was also responsible for catching the German spy in Argonne.

Are Amstaffs aggressive?

Although in society, the breed is considered aggressive and, therefore, dangerous, it is not on the list of dog breeds considered aggressive.

Required physical activity

Amstaff requires a lot of physical activity, especially long walks. However, it must be taught how to walk near its owner’s leg and to come into the house after its owner, so that it would not feel as a leader in the “herd”.

American Staffordshire Terrier, Amstaff, Staffy, Staffie


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