The Breed History

The American Staffordshire Terrier is not a new breed. Although it gained American Kennel Club registration and recognition in 1936, it has been developed since the early 1800’s as a result of crosses between the bulldogs of that time and game terriers. One of the early and very famous AKC registered Staffs was Pete the Pup, (real name Lucenay’s Peter), dog star of the original Our Gang comedies of the 1930’s.

Although the early ancestors of this breed came from England, the development of the American Staffordshire Terrier is the story of a truly American breed. This type of dog was instrumental in the success of farmers and settlers who developed this country. They were used for general farm work, hunting wild pigs, bears, and other large game, guarding the homestead, and general companionship.

A number of the early ancestors were also developed for the “sport” of dog fighting. The extraordinary vitality of this breed is a direct result of breeding for successful fighting dogs. This now illegal activity is, unfortunately, more often cited as the early purpose of the dogs rather than the general farm work.

Although ancestors of the American Staffordshire were fighting dogs, the selective breeding since the 1930’s has been away from the fighting heritage. The American Staffordshire Terrier of today is a companion and show dog, rather than a gladiator. Although more rarely used on the farm now, the talents that made him a good all purpose dog are still to be found in the breed.

The American Staffordshire Terrier

With one of the most well documented histories in the family of dogs, the American Staffordshire Terrier is a unique breed. His combined power, grace and agility are coupled with a sleek athletic appearance and affectionate nature, making him a most versatile breed. His intelligence is evidenced through success in the obedience and agility field. Few other breeds possess such a remarkable combination of gentleness, camaraderie and reliability.


The American Staffordshire Terrier sprung directly from the roots of the Old Pit Dog, as did the American Pit Bull Terrier. However, the two are definitely not the same dog – their origins may relate but that is where the relationship ends. Accepted as a pure breed in 1936, the American Staffordshire Terrier followed a defined breeding pattern which produced a breed so versatile that it is now utilised as a family pet, family dog, guardian, show dog and obedience and agility competitor. It has emerged as one of the most reliable, trustworthy and loyal of all dogs.


The American Staffordshire Terrier should give an impression of great strength for his size. Well balanced, muscular yet agile, graceful in movement, is alive to his surroundings, with an excellent sense of smell and hearing. They can be any colour, solid or pied, but all white, more than 80% white, black and tan and liver are not encouraged. Height and weight should be in proportion. Males 46-48 cm (18 to 19in) at shoulder, Females 43-46cm (17 to 18in).


The American Staffordshire Terrier is renowned for its reliability as a family dog, they are extremely lovable, loyal and devoted to their owners, with special emphasis on their reliability with children. Notwithstanding this, it must be understood that the American Staffordshire Terrier in most instances will fight when challenged by another dog.


The breed requires little grooming as its coat is short, stiff and glossy. Bathing on an “as required” basis will suffice. Owners should ensure their dogs are correctly and adequately housed and not allowed to roam freely in public places. They should be sufficiently controlled in public and not permitted to run near unfamiliar dogs.


The Official AKC Breed Standard


General Impression: The American Staffordshire Terrier should give the impression of great strength for his size, a well put-together dog, muscular, but agile and graceful, keenly alive to his surroundings. He should be stocky, not long-legged or racy in outline. His courage is proverbial.
Head: Medium length, deep through, broad skull, very pronounced cheek muscles, distinct stop; and ears are set high. Ears – Cropped or uncropped, the latter preferred. Uncropped ears should be short and held half prick or rose. Full drop to be penalized. Eyes – Dark and round, low down in skull and set far apart. No pink eyelids. 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. Upper teeth to meet tightly outside lower teeth in front. Nose definitely black.
Neck: Heavy, slightly arched, tapering from shoulders to back of skull. No looseness of skin. Medium length.
Shoulders: Strong and muscular with blades wide and sloping.
Back: Fairly short. Slight sloping from withers to rump with gentle short slope at rump to base of tail. Loins slightly tucked.
Body: Well-sprung ribs, deep in rear. All ribs close together. Forelegs set rather wide apart to permit of chest development. Chest deep and broad.
Tail: Short in comparison to size, low set, tapering to a fine point; not curled or held over back. Not docked.
Legs: The front legs should be straight, large or round bones, pastern upright. No resemblance of bend in front. Hindquarters well muscled, let down at hocks turning neither in nor out. Feet of moderate size, well-arched and compact. Gait 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 percent white, black and tan and liver not to be encouraged.
Size: Height and weight should be in proportion. A height of about 18 to 19 inches at the shoulders for the male and 17 to 18 inches for the female is to be considered preferable.
Faults: Faults to be penalized are Dudley nose, light or pink eyes, tail too long or badly carried, undershot or overshot mouths.

Adopted and approved June 10, 1936.


American Kennel Club –
American Staffordshire Terrier Network –