The American Staffordshire Terrier, or Am Staff, is one of several types of dogs that are described as “pit bulls.”
“Pit bull” is an umbrella term used for dogs that share select physical features of the “bully breeds” such as square heads, wide jaws, and stocky bodies. Dogs that fall under the “pit bull” label include the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
In fact, the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier share a common lineage, but differ in nomenclature, as The United Kennel Club (UKC) calls the breed the American Pit Bull Terrier, while the American Kennel Club (AKC) calls it the American Staffordshire Terrier.
The Am Staff was originally bred in the county of West Midlands, England. It was not actually bred in its namesake county, Staffordshire, until later. The Am Staff’s ancestors were bulldogs bred specifically for the sport of bull baiting. Those bulldogs did not resemble today’s bulldog. Rather, they were closer in appearance to the modern-day Am Staff. Breeders of the day sought to create a dog that combined the courage and grit of the bulldog with the spunk and agility of the terrier.
While there is some disagreement as to which terrier was crossed with the bulldog to create the Am Staff, it is believed that the Fox Terrier is the most likely contributor to the modern day Am Staff’s genetics.
The Am Staff found its way to America in the 1870s, where it earned itself a number of nicknames including Pit Dog, Pit Bull Terrier, and American Bull Terrier. The Am Staff received recognition by the AKC in 1936 as the Staffordshire Terrier. American breeders changed the breed’s build into a slightly heavier version of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England, so in 1972, the AKC changed the name to the American Staffordshire Terrier in order to distinguish it as a different breed from its English relative.
The Am Staff is a courageous, loyal, and intelligent watchdog that thrives on human interaction. He loves being part of a family and having a job to do. The Am Staff has a bit of a stubborn streak and is also a clown at heart, so early and consistent obedience and socialization training with a firm, but gentle hand is key. Anecdotally, the Am staff is described as a “personality dog” around the house.
Naturally athletic, he needs plenty of regular exercise to keep his mind and body healthy. The Am Staff’s average life expectancy is around 12 years.
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