American Staffordshire Terrier.jpg
Breed Group Group 4: Bull Breeds
Sub-group 4-B: Bull-and-Terrier Breeds
Origin Country United States
Weight Males: 56-67 pounds. Females: 56-67 pounds.
Height Males: 18-22 inches. Females: 17-21 inches.
Other Name(s) Am Staff, AmStaff, Staffordshire
Breed Type Pure
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American Staffordshire Terrier

Breed Group Group 4: Bull Breeds
Sub-group 4-B: Bull-and-Terrier Breeds
Origin Country United States
Weight Males: 56-67 pounds. Females: 56-67 pounds.
Height Males: 18-22 inches. Females: 17-21 inches.
Other Name(s) Am Staff, AmStaff, Staffordshire
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Origins

The American Staffordshire Terrier comes from a long lineage of strong working dogs. The breed descended from bulldogs and molossoid dogs that were used to catch large game (such as wild boar) and some of the grittiest terriers used to hunt and dispatch dangerous game (such as foxes and badgers). As agriculture became the norm and hunting became less of a necessity and more of a sport, these bulldogs, molossoids, and terriers were sent after bears, bulls, and one another as blood sport competitors, with the most vicious dogs bringing in the most money and fame.

Animal fighting was prohibited in 1835, including the baiting of dogs against bears and bulls, as well as each other. However, while one blood sport’s era of terror had finally come to an end, another was in line to take its place. Although it was difficult to conceal a bear or bull baiting, a dog fight was a different story. Unlike in the bear and bull ring, where size and strength won the day, in the dog-fighting pits grit, stamina, and survival instincts ultimately determined whether a dog would live to see the next match. Many of today’s beloved dog breeds originated in the pit, including the Boston Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier, and, of course, the American Staffordshire Terrier. Considered a champion breed, the ancestors of today’s APBTs weren’t known for their size and strength, but their fierce reputations as “pit bulls” preceded them and the moniker stuck. Thus, these pit bulls became famous far and wide, especially in areas of the United States where dog fighting had not been prohibited.

Because of their endearing, loyal nature outside of the pit, some pit bull owners decided it was time for the dogs to break away from the stigma of fighting. Joe Dunn headed up the effort to establish a new name and new way of life for his dogs and others like them. The name “Staffordshire Terrier” was first used and recorded; however, it did not become widely popular with other owners and breeders. Eventually, the name was changed to American Staffordshire Terrier, or AmStaff, to differentiate from the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a separate but similar breed.

After leaving the pits to become a companion dog, the AmStaff no longer needed a small, wiry size for fighting. Therefore, they were bred to be a bit larger. Thus, the AmStaffs of today still possess a more stoutly appearance than the American Pit Bull Terriers; however, all were from the same stock. It is for this reason that the Continental Kennel Club and organizations recognize and register the breeds interchangeably. Like their APTB cousins, the American Staffordshire Terrier thrives in today’s society, serving as a wonderful family companion and a hard-working dog while also fulfilling roles in law enforcement, therapy work, and trained assistance for individuals with special needs.

Breed Characteristics

Head: Somewhat brachycephalic in skull type. The head gives the impression of strength and power without appearing bully or overly coarse. It is broad, appearing somewhat viper-like. The skull is at least as wide (measured across the top in front of the ears) as it is long (occiput to stop). The skull is deep when viewed from the side, with the skull being as deep (from the top of the skull to the lower jaw line) as it is long (from stop to occiput). When viewed in profile or from the front, the skull may appear flat or feature slightly prominent temporalis muscle arches. The skull is broad between the ears. The brow is well-defined. The head is clean-cut, without excess skin or wrinkle. Some wrinkles may appear on the forehead when the dog is alert. Areas under the eyes and the cheeks are well-developed and well-padded.
Eyes: Moderate in size, may be somewhat round, oval, or almond in shape, and obliquely set. They may be any shade from blue to dark brown color. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented in areas in which color surrounds the eyes. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Ears are set on the highest and outermost corner of the skull. Ears may be left natural or cropped. Natural ears should be small to medium in size, and may be drop, rose, half-prick, or button ears. Cropped ears are cut short. The ears are never long or overly large.
Muzzle: The muzzle is deep, broad, strong, and well-developed. The plane of the muzzle may be straight or slightly tapered from the stop to the tip of the nose. The muzzle tapers and ends bluntly, forming a wedged box shape. The lips are tight, covering the teeth completely. The jaws are well-developed and strong. The muzzle should never appear snipey or so short as to hinder breathing.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat. The nostrils are large and well-opened.
Neck: The neck is of a moderate length, sufficient enough to allow freedom of motion range and head carriage. It is tightly, yet smoothly muscled, with a slight arch. The skin is well-fitted, tight, and never in excess, wrinkling, or with dewlap. The neck tapers from the head to the well-laid-back shoulders.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Body: Compact, solid, and of good substance. The body should never appear overly massive, heavy, or of heavy bone and muscle. The body of the APBT is built for agility and stamina. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: Set neither high nor low on the croup, but as a natural extension of the topline, thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. Carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, but never tucked, curled, or carried up over the back. Tail always left natural, never docked, and of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. The tail may be straight, pump-handle, or gently curved.
Movement: The American Staffordshire Terrier’s movement must be light, springy, effortless, and tireless. It should never appear heavy, constrained, or as a rolling gait. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither moving in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: The AmStaff’s temperament is one of the breed’s best attributes. Confident, intelligent, watchful, alert, self-composed, courageous, and hopelessly devoted to their families are apt descriptions. Their terrier ancestry and bulldog size make socialization and training a necessity to ensure that they serve as goodwill ambassadors to their breed. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 4: Bull Breeds

Proportions: The American Staffordshire Terrier is a well-balanced, off-square to slightly rectangular dog of medium size, moderate bone, and good substance. It should never appear overly bulky, heavily boned, or with excess prominent muscle.

Head

General Appearance: Somewhat brachycephalic in skull type. The head gives the impression of strength and power without appearing bully or overly coarse. It is broad, appearing somewhat viper-like. The skull is at least as wide (measured across the top in front of the ears) as it is long (occiput to stop). The skull is deep when viewed from the side, with the skull being as deep (from the top of the skull to the lower jaw line) as it is long (from stop to occiput). When viewed in profile or from the front, the skull may appear flat or feature slightly prominent temporalis muscle arches. The skull is broad between the ears. The brow is well-defined. The head is clean-cut, without excess skin or wrinkle. Some wrinkles may appear on the forehead when the dog is alert. Areas under the eyes and the cheeks are well-developed and well-padded.
Expression: Keen, intelligent, self-composed, anticipating, and watchful.
Stop: The stop is well-defined and moderately deep.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is between 1:1 and 3:2, with the topskull being equal to or just longer than the muzzle.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis is parallel or may be slightly is convergent.
Muzzle: The muzzle is deep, broad, strong, and well-developed. The plane of the muzzle may be straight or slightly tapered from the stop to the tip of the nose. The muzzle tapers and ends bluntly, forming a wedged box shape. The lips are tight, covering the teeth completely. The jaws are well-developed and strong. The muzzle should never appear snipey or so short as to hinder breathing.
Lips or Flews: Lips are clean and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws, with no signs of looseness or pendulousness
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat. The nostrils are large and well-opened.
Cheeks: Well-padded and pronounced, denoting strength and giving the head and face substance and width.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level, scissor, or reverse-scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors. Missing or broken teeth as a result of routine work is not to be penalized.
Eyes: Moderate in size, may be somewhat round, oval, or almond in shape, and obliquely set. They may be any shade from blue to dark brown color. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented in areas in which color surrounds the eyes. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Ears are set on the highest and outermost corner of the skull. Ears may be left natural or cropped. Natural ears should be small to medium in size, and may be drop, rose, half-prick, or button ears. Cropped ears are cut short. The ears are never long or overly large.

Body and Tail

General Description: Compact, solid, and of good substance. The body should never appear overly massive, heavy, or of heavy bone and muscle. The body of the APBT is built for agility and stamina. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Neck: The neck is of a moderate length, sufficient enough to allow freedom of motion range and head carriage. It is tightly, yet smoothly muscled, with a slight arch. The skin is well-fitted, tight, and never in excess, wrinkling, or with dewlap. The neck tapers from the head to the well-laid-back shoulders.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Topline: Level from slightly prominent withers to croup, or with a gentle, almost imperceptible arch at the loin. Topline may also almost imperceptibly slope from withers to the croup. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut and may be flat and level, or slightly arched, yet supportive. The topline is never swayed or roached.
Croup: The croup is very slightly arched and sloping downward.
Underline: Slight tuck up may be present, or the underline may run parallel to the topline. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, and oval-shaped. Never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set neither high nor low on the croup, but as a natural extension of the topline, thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. Carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, but never tucked, curled, or carried up over the back. Tail always left natural, never docked, and of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. The tail may be straight, pump-handle, or gently curved.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are approximately equal in length to the upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The point of the elbows is approximately half the dog’s height at the withers.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle and bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are equal in length, strong, sturdy, of good bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one paw-length behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: Short, glossy, smooth, close, and stiff to touch.
Coat Color or Pattern: CKC recognizes two color varieties of the American Staffordshire Terrier breed: the standard color and nonstandard color variety.
Standard coat color variety: Solid colors including white, black, blue, gray, fawns (with black, blue, or gray mask), buckskin, cream, tan, red, brindles all with or without with white markings (white on marked dogs must not exceed 80% of the body).
Nonstandard coat color variety: Liver, Isabella, platinum, silver, mouse, lavender, or black, blue, gray, silver all with tan points, running tan, creeping tan, or saddle, brindled tan, sable, agouti, merle, solid white, any of the following with white markings covering more than 80% of the body. Large patches or amounts of white indicating homogenous merle genotype/phenotype is undesirable.

Movement

The American Staffordshire Terrier’s movement must be light, springy, effortless, and tireless. It should never appear heavy, constrained, or as a rolling gait. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither moving in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

The AmStaff’s temperament is one of the breed’s best attributes. Confident, intelligent, watchful, alert, self-composed, courageous, and hopelessly devoted to their families are apt descriptions. Their terrier ancestry and bulldog size make socialization and training a necessity to ensure that they serve as goodwill ambassadors to their breed. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.