Is the Amstaff the breed for you?

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a bundle of muscles in an agile package. Every inch the athlete, this breed has remarkable strength. Despite its brawn, it is quick and nimble, attributes that would have saved its life in the pits. The broad head with powerful jaws can be intimidating, but fortunately the face usually bears a happy expression and is usually followed by a wagging tail that is short, but is not docked. The dog is heavy for its size, weighing in at about 20 to 34 kilograms. It stands between 17 to 19 inches tall. The coat is short and sleek. any colour is acceptable, although a coat with more than 80 per cent white, black and tan, or liver are least preferred.  More information in regards to the conformation of the breed is below in the breed standard.  


Ancestors of the American Staffordshire terrier were bred to be fighting dogs of indomitable spirit. Responsible breeders have focused on creating a dog with a sound, reliable temperament around humans. That breeding history is why many Amstaffs (as their friends call them) have incredibly trustworthy temperaments with their families. The average Amstaff is playful, gentle and tolerant. Most well-socialized AmStaffs are good with children, but as with any dog, Amstaffs and children should always be supervised when together. Interaction with other animals, especially other dogs, should be closely monitored.

The Amstaff wasn't meant to be a hop-to-it obedience whiz, and he isn't. If you try to force him, he will always win. If you try to make it a game, he will always play, and you will both win. Despite its tough dog persona the Amstaff is a breed that loves to love.


This breed needs a vigorous daily workout, along with some mind games, in order to be at its best. A good long run or a rollicking game of ball is a great way to bond with an American Staffordshire terrier. Obedience training is also good mental exercise, and a good defense against public misperceptions about the breed.

Its short coat makes it unsuited as an exclusively outdoor dog, and besides, this breed wants to be a part of all family activities. Coat care could not be easier: simply wash and wear.


The American Staffordshire terrier's roots lie in the cruel practice of bull-baiting. The best bull-baiting dogs were strong animals, descended from mastiff-type stock, which were in turn descended from the Greek Molossians. The size, strength and tenacity needed by his ancestors are reflected in the modern AmStaff. This background also requires an owner with strong, consistent training skills.

An end to legal blood sports in England finally came in 1835, but blood sport fans and gamblers moved to covert matches, ideal for staging dog fights. The story goes that the bulldogs were crossed with terriers to produce a slightly more agile dog better suited for these fights.

In the late 1800s, these dogs were brought to America for use as farm dogs, where a slightly larger version than its English counterpart was preferred. Amstaffs became extremely popular as family pets by the 1930s; one of the most beloved was Pete the Pup (Petey) of Our Gang (The Little Rascals) fame. This American version eventually was registered in 1936 as the Staffordshire terrier (changed in 1972 to the American Staffordshire terrier). Some Amstaffs are dual registered with the UKC as American Pit Bull terriers, although not everybody agrees they should be considered the same breed. As one of the breeds often popularly lumped together as pit bulls, the Amstaff has come under considerable scrutiny in recent years.



American Staffordshire Terrier

A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be mindful of features which could be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

Last updated: 01 Dec 1997

American Kennel Club - Approved 10 June 1936

FCI Standard No 286

  • Group:

    Group 2 (Terriers)

  • General Appearance:

  • The American Staffordshire Terrier should give the impression of great strength for his size, a well put-together dog, muscular, but agile and graceful. He should be stocky, not long-legged or racy in outline.

  • Characteristics:

    (Not specified.)

  • Temperament:

    Keenly alive to his surroundings. His courage is proverbial.

  • Head And Skull:

    Head medium length, deep through, broad skull, very pronounced cheek muscles, distinct stop. Muzzle medium length, rounded on upper side to fall away abruptly below eyes. Jaws well defined. Underjaw to be strong and have biting power. Lips close and even, no looseness. Nose definitely black, Dudley nose undesirable.

  • Eyes:

    Dark and round, low down in skull and set far apart. Light or pink eyes undesirable. No pink eyelids.

  • Ears:

    Set high. Ears should be short and held rose or half pricked. Full drop to be penalised.

  • Mouth:

    Upper teeth to meet tightly outside lower teeth in front. Undershot or overshot mouths undesirable.

  • Neck:

    Heavy, slightly arched, tapering from shoulders to back of skull. No looseness of skin. Medium length.

  • Forequarters:

    Shoulders strong and muscular with blades wide and sloping. The front legs should be straight, large or round bones, pasterns upright. No resemblance of bend in front. Forelegs set rather wide apart to permit chest development.

  • Body:

    Back fairly short. Slightly sloping from withers to rump with gentle short slope at rump to base of tail. Well sprung ribs, deep in rear. All ribs close together. Chest deep and broad. Loins slightly tucked.

  • Hindquarters:

    Well muscled, let down at hocks, turning neither in nor out.

  • Feet:

    Of moderate size, well-arched and compact.

  • Tail:

    Short in comparison to size, low set, tapering to a fine point; not curled or held over back. Not docked. Tail too long or badly carried undesirable.

  • Gait/Movement:

    Must be springy but without roll or pace.

  • Coat:

    Short, close, stiff to the touch, and glossy.

  • Colour:

    Any colour, solid, parti, or patched is permissible, but all white, more than 80% white, black and tan, and liver not to be encouraged.

  • Sizes:

    Height and weight should be in proportion.

    Dogs approx 46-48 cms (18-19 ins) at shoulders
    Bitches approx 43-46 cms (17-18 ins) at shoulders is considered preferable.

  • Faults:

    Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

  • Notes:

    Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.