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Breed Spotlight: American Staffordshire Terrier

by: Tammi Burton

The American Staffordshire was first recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1936 when the Americans wanted a heavier and larger version of the Staffordshire Terrier. These dogs have genetic lines that can be traced back to the early Mastiffs and the Original Bulldogs of England which were used for bull baiting. According to the AKC standards, these dogs are 17 – 19 inches tall at the shoulder and have a short coat that does little shedding and come in a wide variety of coat colors and patterns. This breed is highly intelligent, good natured and confident but sometimes be a little stubborn (What terrier from the Airedale to the Yorkshire isn’t stubborn?). This breed has an average lifespan of 12 – 15 years. The American Staffordshire Terrier has a medium energy level and is a natural clown, therefore this breed needs a owner who will make training fun and interesting for the dog but also have a firm but patient hand to deal with their stubborn streaks. The breed really thrives when they are made part of a family who will put love and time for socialization into them. The 2 most notable dogs from this breed are Stubby, who earned the rank of Sergeant in World War I and was the most decorated dog of his time, and last but not least Petey, from the 1930’s Our Gang comedies (also known now as The Little Rascals).

In my Experience with this breed, they are a fun-loving, excellent dog who mostly think they are a 10 pound lap dog (which they are most certainly not.. lol) and are very gentle and loving with kids. They are very loyal to their owners and aim only to please them. Sure they can be energetic at times, they are a terrier of course, but other times they just want to cuddle. That being said, there is never a dull moment with theses dogs around you. American Staffordshire Terriers along with Staffordshire Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers (which are NOT a breed recognized by the AKC but only recognized by the UKC or United Kennel Club) are commonly referred to as “Pit Bulls” and are given bad reputations by all forms of media as being aggressive in nature. Before I came to work here at PAVG, I was working at a shelter where it was common to hear the public say “Oh look, that is a Pit bull so that means that one has to be dangerous” and for the most part that is the furthest from the truth. Most of these bully breeds are so sweet and gentle and just want to give kisses (licks) all day long. One of the stories I have to tell is that I was at an offsite adoption event with this shelter where I was handling a very sweet older American Staffordshire Terrier and these 2 kids came up to her and ask to pet her. I said that they could and within minutes, the dog rolled over and started to fall asleep while these kids were petting her. Then after a few minutes the mom comes up and starts yelling for her kids to get away from that “dangerous pit bull.” That fact of the matter is that the mother’s yelling scared the dog more than the kids did. These breeds and mixes of these breeds are the most common that are found in shelters because of these stereotypes (because people have trained them to be this way) and how are we to rid the human race of stereotypes if we can’t get rid of it for animals who can’t speak for themselves. No I am not saying that this is a breed for everyone, but what I am asking is that you educate yourselves and even go meet some of these very wonderful animals before you judge or ban them. And please ask yourselves…. Don’t all pets deserve a chance at their fur-ever homes?