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American Staffordshire Terrier (Pit Bull Terrier)… Your Guide to Best Care.

If there were ever a dog that got a bad rap in life, it would, without a doubt, be the American Staffordshire Terrier.  You see, the American Staffordshire Terrier (and sometimes its British cousin, the Staffordshire Terrier) are often indiscriminately labeled as a “Pit Bull Terrier,” which we all know has a very negative reputation.

And while…

We don’t want to discuss whether or not there is such a thing as a “dangerous” dog breed; what can’t be denied is that once a dog is labeled a “Pit Bull” or an American Pit Bull Terrier, many folks, regardless of how many times you tell them how “sweet” your American Staffordshire Terrier is, some people will only see a monster!

So rather than try and change minds…

Let’s take a moment to discuss the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier that makes so many Americans afraid of them.

You see…

People haven’t always feared this dog breed the American Staffordshire Terrier has a long and largely positive history within the United States, dating back to before it was first recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1936.  Back then, the American Staffordshire Terrier originated when folks began breeding the older, more established Bulldog and some of the pre-existing terrier strains of the day, producing a crossbreed between a “Bull and Terrier.”

This is why…

Within the United States, the American Staffordshire Terrier will often be referred to by many names, including a Pit Bull, a Pit Bull Terrier, an Amstaff, an American Bull Terrier, and even the Yankee Terrier.

So why have they gotten a bad rap recently?

That’s simple; it’s because the physical attributes of the American Staffordshire breed gained popularity within the dog fighting community during the early 1900s, which kick started the urban legend that these animals are naturally aggressive simply because of their physique, which includes strong neck and jaw muscles allowed them to be very successful in the life and death situation upon which they were so cruelly placed.

This brings us to…

A firm belief that we here at IndulgeYourPet is that there is no such thing as a bad dog or breed.  There are only bad dog owners who either neglect their animals or specifically encourage them to act dangerously.

Either way, the fault lies 100% on the dog owner and should never be taken out on the breed itself.

American Staffordshire Terrier Fast Facts.

Average Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years.

Original Function:  Combat sports, including bull baiting and dog fighting.

(Yes, they were initially bred to fight bulls!)

Color:  Variable.

Size and Physical Characteristics of an American Staffordshire Terrier.

The American Staffordshire Terrier is one of the larger Terrier breeds in their group.  They typically range between 17 to 19 inches tall and weigh around 50-70 lbs; it’s no wonder these terriers can be intimidating to those who have an intrinsic fear of them.

And while…

The American Staffordshire Terrier dog can come in many different colors, both solid or mixed; the primary distinguishing characteristic of the breed will be its large, somewhat square head, with its pronounced cheek muscles that make them a potentially dangerous dog breed when owned by the wrong owner.

Grooming of an American Staffordshire Terrier

One nice thing about owning an Amstaff, or American Staffordshire Terrier, is that they’ll require very little care regarding grooming because their coat is very short and smooth.  Typically, you’ll find that just a good brushing once or twice a week is all that is needed assuming that they aren’t getting a lot of loving and pet downs from you daily.

American Staffordshire Terrier Temperament and Training

One of the most ironic things about Amstaffs is that despite their reputation as a killer, they are pretty sweet and often display a very comical disposition.  However, it is true that these dogs can be highly protective but isn’t that something that any dog owner would look for when thinking about owning a pet?

They’re also quite trainable and brilliant, particularly if you begin their training when they’re a puppy.


If you’ve read any of our other dog breed reviews, you’ll notice that one thing we always talk about is the “why” a particular dog breed has been created.  You see, some dog breeds were developed for protection, hunting, and in some cases, just companionship.  And by understanding “why” a breed was created, one can often better understand a particular dog breed’s nature.

And this is where…

We run into a bit of difficulty regarding the American Staffordshire Terrier because this dog was initially bred to be a hunter and was then bred to fight other dogs and, in some cases, even other animals (bull baiting)!

And while this…

Heritage can be overcome; it’s essential to understand that the main problem is that if an American Staffordshire Terrier does make a mistake and it does end up biting another animal or a person (God forbid), the sheer genetic makeup of this breed can mean that that “mistake” can be deadly.

This is why if someone chooses to own an American Staffordshire Terrier, they need to take that responsibility very seriously.  It also means that they need to research the dog breeder they decide to work with and be sure to take the obedience training of their animal very seriously.

Note: Please be aware that breed-specific stereotypes and generalizations can perpetuate biases. Considering individual temperament and behavior when discussing any dog breed is essential.

We would also…

Recommend that folks also reach out to their local American Kennel Society (AKC) in their area so that they can learn more about breeders in their regions as well as whether or not they may be able to adopt a puppy or puppies in their area that may have been rescued or abandoned.

Potential Health Issues with American Staffordshire Terriers.

As with all pure breeds, you’ll likely find that certain species may have an increased risk for specific health issues.  And in the case of the American Staffordshire Terriers, this is no different, and simply another reason why if you are looking to adopt a Pitbull puppy rather than an adult Amstaff, you’ll want to be sure and ask your breeder about the following conditions:

Which can be pretty pricey if you’re American Staffordshire does contract one of these issues.

Which brings us…

The last top that we wanted to discuss is insurance.  As you’ve probably noticed, we here at IndulgeYourPet don’t like to “sugarcoat” pet ownership.  We take owning a pet very seriously because, at the end of the day, when you choose to adopt a pet, whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re committing yourself to the well-being of that animal for its entire life!

And the last thing…

What we would want to see happen is for you to one day find yourself deciding between what you can afford and the life of your four-legged family member.  This is why if you are considering adopting an American Staffordshire Terrier, we would strongly encourage you to explore at least what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy on them so that if your pet does develop a costly medical condition, you won’t be forced to go into debt to keep your loved one alive or pain-free.

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “Best” pet insurance policies, please check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Laura p. January 31, 2020, 2:46 am

    I am a owner of a american terrior . its plain and simple if you get you dog as a pup its all up to you how the dogs future will turn out. I mold and shape my little boy everyday. Healthy food. Water. Lotts of love lotts of socializing him. Tripple on any other breed. Training. He has to know no means no. My boy will change his attitude rite away when i say no. If hes aggressive i put a stop to it rite away. Also alot of excercise. Very important. And with the rite amount of all of this any pitt raised from a pup will be fine. Very loyal and protective. Hes actually a goof ball.

    • indulgeyourpet January 31, 2020, 7:11 am


      Thanks, for sharing your experience with this breed. Too bad not everyone is as responsible as you. If they were, we bet these guys wouldn’t have the “reputation” that they do. Or at least have as many people think that the “whole breed” is bad.



  • Glen C April 11, 2020, 10:03 pm

    There are no bad pitbulls, just bad owners and ignorant people. I trained Shepherds for years and believed the hype about pitbulls until my wife convinced me to get one. Best dog I’ve ever owned. I’ve three of them now and they are the easiest to train, great around kids and other animals and the most lovable, gentle nature I’ve ever seen. I’ve had them all from being a puppy, so I can’t talk for ones that have already been abused or neglected.

    • indulgeyourpet April 13, 2020, 6:44 am

      Glen C,

      Thanks for sharing your own personal experiences with this breed.


  • Dan E. July 11, 2020, 1:38 pm

    I disagree. This breed got a bad rap not because of “polpularity among the fighting community”, but because the name is in the news everyday with incidents of mauling deaths – of humans and other pets.

    • Nick.S February 17, 2020, 7:10 am

      Please do your research before landing an opinion about this breed. Look at the statistics in regards to dog bites and what breeds make that list. As a very experienced American Staffy owner which includes two rescue ” Pit Bulls ” I can tell you they are amazing dogs. Ungodly intelligent and so loving. There are no such things as ” Bad Dogs ” The owners are to blame. Not the dog. Research this breed and read the book American Pit Bull, the loss of an American Icon. Educate yourself on these amazing and beautiful creatures. Did you see how many of Michael Vick’s dogs were rehabilitated? Owners need to take responsibility. This is not a dog to be taken lightly or for some moron who just wants the dog to look ” tough ” for themselves. This dog requires a lot of mental and physical activity. They are extremely sensitive and loyal. The media blows it up any time a Pit attacks. Once again, look at stats.

      • Char January 30, 2021, 10:12 am

        Thank you for that, Nick S. You are absolutely correct! I’ve never known a happier, more loving, and soulful dog in my life. We’re adopting a senior on Sunday in South Central LA. The South LA Shelter has literally hundreds of them available today. Please pass it on.

    • indulgeyourpet July 11, 2020, 5:32 pm


      It’s difficult to argue with your opinion about these animals. That said however, here at IndulgeYourPet we as a whole seem to lean more to the opinion that no “domesticated animal” is born “bad” and when these animals make it into the news, it usually because of what some human owner has either done or failed to do to make sure that their pet was raised properly.

      One thing that I think both sides of the argument can agree upon is that these animals are not ones that should be owned by an irresponsible person. And… that if someone chooses to adopt an American Staffordshire Terrier, they should be prepared to assume the responsibility of that animal for his or her entire life and not allow them to grow up to one day be a threat to the general community.



    • Tescha T. December 11, 2020, 7:52 am

      I have always owned and rescued pits and they have been the best most gentle dogs ever. I have owned an Akita, multiple labs, and a Jack Russell. The Akita was aggressive towards anyone outside of our family, much to over protective. The Jack Russell bit my son. Of all my dogs the 3 pits have been the best. All 3 have been great with all kids, strangers, and other dogs. My neighbors kids (ages 3, 6, 8) come over just to play with them.
      A small dog ran up to my pit and bit her in the face twice so she pinned the dog down to protect herself. The small dog was not injured but of course they wanted to blame my dog just because she was a pit breed. Another neighbor runs his kids in the house if I’m walking her, mind you she’s usually got neighborhood kids laying all over her. I understand they are big, muscular, strong dogs but that’s no reason to stereo type them as mean. In England they are very much loved and called Nanny Dogs because they do so well with the children. Pits are gentle, loving, smart and sadly abused and unwanted because of people’s ignorance towards the breed. They are just puppies that want love like any other puppy, but they are a bit cuter! We need to stop the BREEDISM and educate people!

    • Beverly May 29, 2021, 6:31 pm

      I am planning on adopting a Pit-mix puppy at the shelter to be my emotional support dog and train her as my service dog, so I’ve been doing my research. I must agree that no dog, just like no human, is born with evil intentions. Dogs and other animals, just like humans, develop their personalities based on the experiences they have while their brains and bodies develop from birth to adulthood. It’s the nature vs nurture debate. While you aren’t wrong that they often make the headlines, what you aren’t accounting for are the times when it’s good news. Such as an article about a Pit Bull who saved the family’s baby from a fire. Or one who saved a drowning boy. Also, every decade since I was born has named a breed as a bad breed. To quote Cesar Millan, “In the 70s they blamed Dobermans, in the 80s they blamed German Shepherds, in the 90s they blamed Rottweilers. Now they blame the Pit Bull. When will they blame the humans?” It’s always going to be something. I’ve personally met more mean Dachshunds and Chihuahuas than any other breed. Any strong, muscular dog can be a serious threat, and that’s where some of the fear comes from. You’d be more afraid to fight someone like Hulk Hogan than Pee-Wee Herman, right?

    • Dena A. July 23, 2021, 8:11 am

      I have owned many Pitts, ALL have been gentle babies more gentle than my supposedly gentle breed dogs such as cocker spaniels and poodles ( I have owned all, sometimes simultaneously). My current Staffordshire is my best friend and companion, as friendly and gentle as any dog can be. I know from personal experience it is the owner, not the dog. People felt the same about Doberman Pinchers when I was young, again it wasn’t the dog it was the owners. As a pet mom, I hope for pets like I do for kids that they land good parents that will love them, train them well, and protect them—not lead them down roads of degradation to lives as killers. My human kids and my pet kids are upstanding citizens!

    • Ted December 7, 2021, 2:21 pm

      Any dog is capable of mauling a person if it isn’t trained correctly.

  • Alper August 16, 2020, 4:38 am


    As an Amstaff owner, I can see Dan’s point and I agree that the prejudice among people towards Pit Bulls in general are sourced by the media coverage of bad incidents really happened. Ordinary people don’t know about this breed’s past and breeding reasons. But looking at the big picture, said incidents really happen just because their owners are not vigilant (or smart) enough to train them with care, taking into account the physical and mental characteristics of their dogs or simply because their subconscious ego of being strong, powerful and offensive.

    In any of the cases I’ve witnessed, encountered or informed of, I’m unable to find the dogs themselves guilty of the situation. Rather, I can clearly see what was done wrong in the past or present to lead to that specific outcome.

    People who are not careful enough to handle and train a powerful, stubborn and determined dog should definitely not own them.

    Do you like Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson? He is a funny and heartwarming guy in real life. But seeing his build and size, he could be an intimidating or even dangerous person for some, if he acted (trained) differently. I like to use that allegory about Amstaffs. Hope I could make my point clear, English is a second language to me.


  • Ellie August 26, 2020, 6:57 pm

    My husband and I are adopting a bull terrier from a shelter (not sure of her full breeding). Most of the people there have said she is very friendly. However she does not like one of the staff, possibly because when she had pups, 2 of them died and this person had to take them away from her. We were also there when she barked at 2 strangers (the only thing in common that we noticed were that they were females and had black hair). Since we don’t know her previous owners what is the best way to get her to be a home pet. She is between 1 and 2 years old.

    • indulgeyourpet August 27, 2020, 2:16 pm


      In cases like these, we always advise that folks proceed with extreme caution particularly if they don’t have ton of experience working with or rehabilitating dogs. Especially in cases where a Pit Bull is concerned because a “missteps” could end in a tragedy.

      Perhaps you should spend more time with your “potential” new family member at the shelter and see if there isn’t a local Pit Bull rescue expert you can consult with local that might actually be able to visit your animal specifically.

      We know this might not be the advice you were looking for, but one really does need to be careful when adopting a new pet with aggressive “tendencies”.



  • vinny September 26, 2020, 3:10 pm

    they are the best breed of all .the bad ones are a product of there enviroment my bud is the most gentle dog i ever had he is a big lap dog they have a bad rap

  • Belinda M October 2, 2020, 7:28 am

    I need to find out if our dog is an amstaff. We were told he si American pitbull but the more pics I see of amstaff the more I see in him the amstaff where can I send photos of him?

    • indulgeyourpet October 4, 2020, 12:06 am


      We’re sure there are probably a dozen or so Amstaff Facebook groups in your area that might be able to help or you could check with some of the experts at your local animal shelter. Those folks are very good at identifying breeds as well as “mixes”.

      Good luck!


  • Amy G. October 12, 2020, 4:43 pm

    I rescued my Hefner when he was about a year old. He had been put in the backyard with other dogs and basically forgotten. They did feed him but not as much as they should have. Oh and they felt it necessary to get him “debarked” which is getting his vocal cords cut. He is a little over 4 now. We recently got his DNA tested and according to them he 8s 100% Amstaff. He is the biggest, goofiest, most loveable dog I have ever had. He is not dog aggressive and not aggressive towards other people. He has bad anxiety and will suck on a stuffed animal or blanket when his anxiety is bad. The debarking only worked for 5 or 6 months and then he got his bark back. He is very loyal and protective when necessary. He barks at the funniest things like the ceiling fan or hot water heater. He loves attention and gets his feelings hurt if you don’t give it too him. I wouldn’t trade my 93lb baby for anything in the world. Anyone who says these are an aggressive or vicious breed has never owned one. I agree completely, it’s not the dog it’s the owner.

  • Kai December 19, 2020, 5:13 am

    We rescued our AmStaff Terrier/PitBull mix 2 weeks after his third birthday and have had him for 6mo now. And boy are they right when they say their demeanor can be comical. He’s such a lover, anyone who meets him loves him although he looks intimidating. Never barks, growls or play bites no mater how hard we try to get him to. Sometimes he forgets how strong he is but when he sees kids it’s a whole different story. Again we rescued him so we are not to familiar with how he was raised or his background but I know it wasn’t always peachy. They did tell us he was raised around kids, I truly believe he never forgot about them though bc he becomes so gentle, will sit down and let them pet them cuddles up as soon as they sit down but if he can help it when we’re in public or around people in general his back is always to me separating me and others, I personally love it bc he greets them with a smile and is just trying to keep me safe. I had no knowledge on the breed before we got him. I didn’t need to bc the breed doesn’t matter it’s not hard to tell a good dog from a bad one. I will stress this once again, it’s about how they’re brought up and how much time was put into your dogs. Similar to how it works for humans.

  • A G April 27, 2021, 3:07 am

    Aren’t Pit Bull Terriers different than Staffordshire Terriers? You’ve grouped them as 1 in this post.

  • Olivia J. M July 8, 2021, 10:18 am

    The Staffordshire Terrier is not the same as a Pit Bull although they are similar in appearance. Staffordshires are more intelligent which makes them a bit less aggressive. This article seems to be full of over generalizations. Do your research with multiple sites.

  • Brianna M. August 22, 2021, 11:06 pm

    My pup was only 2 weeks old when I bought him. He was born on July 04th , 2021. He was all white white Greg patches like charcoal grey and grey eyes. Deep grey eyes, he would have been sold to a dead group if I wouldn’t have bought him. Some believe let him live for what he is made for yet the dog isn’t a fighter he is a protector. He is 9weeks old and can title 25 Lbs in weights. I come from pure ghetto lifestyle. Still I portray the epic greatness of mans best friend and i

  • random person November 30, 2021, 5:41 pm

    It’s the owner not the dog

  • Deborah February 8, 2023, 3:57 am

    I never owned a dog in my entire life. My first dog at age 60 is a Pitbull I named Odin. Maybe not a wise choice due to my age but I get to spend all day with him. My sons visit often and throw frisbee and he loves to run. The first two years I cried a lot, but was determined to discipline and teach him commands with kindness and to socialise him while putting up with the chewing of my stuff. He is three now and the most amazing and loving dog. He Is very protective of me so I dont take chances with people I don’t know. The TEST: delivery guy arrives he pushes threw the gate, I couldn’t hold the leash and he charged at lightning speed towards the bloke. I gave a stern command. Odin Stay, Then Come and he stopped in mid charge and turned around and came back into the yard. I took him into the house and safely retrieved the parcel. I never take his size or power for granted. Vet said you have an at risk dog and that is what they all say about a Pitbull but his love for me and wanting to please me gives me hope.

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