In 1936, Amstaffs were accepted for registration in the American Kennel Club (AKC) Stud Book as Staffordshire Terriers, belonging to the terrier and molosser groups. The name of the breed was revised January 1, 1972 to American Staffordshire Terrier; breeders in the United States had developed a variety which was heavier in weight than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England. The name change was to distinguish them as separate breeds.
Images of the breed were used to represent the US during the 1900s as a depiction of strength and dignity.
This is a smart, gentle, loving dog who wants and needs to spend lots of time with his people. A fun-loving freethinker, the Amstaff takes well to training when it’s done in a positive manner with lots of food, games, rewards and praise. In fact, although they have a reputation as being guard dogs, they are likely to greet strangers with lots of licks and affection. It is mostly their muscular build, broad head and strong jaws that intimidates intruders and keeps them away. That said, many AmStaff Terrier owners claim that dogs of this breed are great judges of character and know people’s intent, and they can make excellent watchdogs for that reason.
American Staffordshire Terrier pups should not be bought weaned before they are 8–10 weeks old. Their life expectancy is generally 12 to 16 years with good care. Notable issues related to health and wellbeing include:
• Congenital heart disease (OFA rank: 11; normal 95.1%, abnormal 1.6%)
• Elbow dysplasia (OFA rank: 12; normal 81.4%, abnormal 17.8%)
• Canine hip dysplasia (OFA rank: 21; normal 71.7%, abnormal 26.0%)
• Luxating patella knee complication that imparts a bow shape to the leg (OFA rank: 72; normal 98.7%, abnormal 1.3%)
• Thyroid dysfunction (OFA rank: 19, normal 80.0%, abnormal 8.0%)
• Minor incidence of other conditions, such as senior ataxia and hereditary cataracts.
The breed may be vulnerable to skin allergies, urinary tract infections (UTI), and autoimmune diseases. Spondylosis and osteoarthritis are common in older dogs.
American Staffordshire Terriers should be given a diet formulated for a mid-to-large size dog with moderate energy levels. You should consult your veterinarian or professional nutritionist for advice on what to feed your American Staffordshire Terrier and what size portions they require. Their needs will change with age, so be sure to make adjustments from puppyhood to adulthood and old age as recommended.