The American Staffordshire Terrier is on the breed list of dangerous dogs in Germany. However, with the right training, he can become a playful and affectionate companion dog. Here you will find everything you always wanted to know about the popular dog breed.
History of the American Staffordshire Terrier
The so-called “Bull and Terrier” is considered the ancestor of the American Staffordshire Terrier. The English bred the breed in the Midlands in the early 19th century specifically for dogfighting. They had to fight dog against badger, dog against the dog, or dog against rat in the arenas. So the dogs needed the strength of the pit bull and the courage, endurance, and tenacity of a terrier.
When animal fights were generally banned in Great Britain in 1835, some organizers decided to leave the country. So British immigrants introduced the dog to the United States around 1860, where they were able to practice dogfighting commercially again from around 1880. Gradually, two different lines of the Bull Terrier developed. The emigrants use one as a fighting dog and the other increasingly as a guard and family dog.
In order to draw a clear demarcation from the fighting dog scene, the breed was split into the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. The part of name “Staffordshire” comes from its place of origin in England. In 1936, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the American Staffordshire Terrier breed standard. The aim of breeding the Amstaff was to get away from dogfighting and to make the breed interesting for exhibitions. Since January 1, 1972, the breed has been part of FCI Group 3 “Terriers” and is assigned to Section 3 “Bull Terriers”. In Germany, the Amstaff is rarely found today, as it is notorious as an aggressive “fighting dog”.
Traits and Character Traits
The American Staffordshire Terrier is a brave, intelligent, and loyal dog that forms a strong bond with its owner. Despite its appearance, the Amstaff is surprisingly playful and loves to be cuddled. The alert dog guards its human pack with fervor and then goes into “defense mode”. So that there are no serious conflicts when the four-legged friend sees his family threatened, he needs a consistent but loving upbringing. In general, it is only suitable for experienced dog owners who can invest a lot of time in training.
Contrary to popular belief, the breed has a relatively high stimulus threshold and remains calm and composed in many situations. Due to his dominant nature and his pronounced strong character, he often does not get along well with other dogs. He has to satisfy his strong urge to move regularly and wants to be sufficiently exercised both physically and mentally. Due to its fitness-oriented breed, the American Staffordshire Terrier remains active into old age and has a relatively long life expectancy of 9 to 15 years.
How Do I Keep an American Staffordshire Terrier?
Considerations before purchasing
If you want to get an American Staffordshire Terrier, you should first of all be aware that it is a so-called list dog. The breeding of the breed is completely forbidden in some federal states and the import of the dogs to Germany is also not allowed. The breeder must be affiliated with one of the three VDH associations and good dog liability insurance is usually required. Under no circumstances should you buy puppies from dodgy breeders, as they are usually ill or have behavioral problems. For a purebred puppy from a reputable breeder, you should calculate around 1000€. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money and want to do something good, you can often find American Staffordshire Terriers and mixed breeds at the shelter.
In general, the breed does not require extensive grooming. You should only brush the short, smooth coat every now and then to remove loose hair. The American Staffordshire Terrier is also quite undemanding when it comes to dog food. In terms of health, the Amstaff is very robust and only occasionally suffers from hip dysplasia and congenital heart defects.
Puppy education and development
The American Staffordshire Terrier has immense strength as a fully grown dog and has to learn where its limits are even as a puppy. Since the breed is extremely intelligent, the dog tries to exploit the weaknesses of its owner, especially during puberty, and tests the hierarchy again and again. In order for the puppy to get used to other dogs and people, attending a dog school is an absolute must. With proper training, any breed can be made into a well-balanced and peace-loving dog. Unfortunately, many dog owners miss the basics of dog training in the first few months and are quickly overwhelmed with training the dominant dog. If the dog then exhibits undesirable behavior, this is in most cases due to incorrect training.
Activities with the American Staffordshire Terrier
Due to its strong urge to move and its enormous stamina, the American Staffordshire Terrier needs long walks and sporting activities every day. He feels most comfortable with owners who like to hike, jog or go for a walk themselves. With responsible handling and enough exercise, the Amstaff is an ideal companion dog that you can take anywhere. The breed, which enjoys exercise, is also enthusiastic about dog sports such as agility. Although useful as a watchdog is possible, the Amstaff tends to want to protect its family too much. A house with a large outdoor area is best suited for Staffordshire. He will not be happy in a cramped city apartment.