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American Staffordshire Terrier Dog Breed Guide and Pet Insurance

By Stacy Painter and medically reviewed by Jennifer Coates, DVM
published: November 29, 2023 • 5 min. read
American Staffordshire Terrier portrait

Introduction to American Staffordshire Terriers

The confident and good-natured American Staffordshire terrier is a dog breed that is very trainable and lovable. The breed does have a problematic dog-fighting history but is currently better known for being courageous, muscular, stocky, agile, and quick on their feet. Properly socialized, they are wonderful dogs to have around children and eager to please their family members. However, they also need a fair amount of mental stimulation throughout the day or they could dig and chew household items out of boredom. It’s important to give these dogs a job to do so they feel content and satisfied with their lives.

If you are thinking of adopting or purchasing an American Staffordshire terrier, read this Healthy Paws breed guide to learn about what to expect with your new pup’s size, temperament, care, health, and history.

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Size of American Staffordshire Terriers

A fully grown American Staffordshire terrier male should weigh 55 – 70 pounds and stand 18 – 19 inches tall. A healthy adult female will weigh 40 – 55 pounds and stand 17 to 18 inches tall. Puppies typically stop growing between 12 and 18 months of age.

Here’s a chart detailing how big you can expect your American Staffordshire terrier to get as the dog grows from puppyhood to adulthood:

Weight Chart3 months6 months9 months12-18 months
Male American Staffordshire terriers15 – 28 lbs.44 – 56 lbs.50 – 62 lbs.55 – 70 lbs.
Female American Staffordshire terriers15 – 25 lbs.32 – 44 lbs.36 – 50 lbs.40 – 55 lbs.

Characteristics of American Staffordshire Terriers

Some of the first characteristics that you will notice about American Staffordshire terriers are how affectionate, intelligent, and hardworking they are. There are certain stigmas and stereotypes associated with “pit bull type dogs,” but with responsible breeding, early and frequent socialization, and plenty of tender loving care, these dogs make fabulous additions to a family.

American Staffordshire terriers are not always tolerant of other animals, but they love cuddling with family members and running around in a yard. They are especially fond of children, make great exercise partners, and can be helpful watchdogs, too.

As you get to know an American Staffordshire terrier’s personality, here’s what you can expect based on his or her breed characteristics.

Breed CharacteristicLevel (High, Medium, Low)
Affectionate with PeopleHigh
Good with KidsHigh
Good with PetsLow
Need for ExerciseMedium
Energy LevelMedium
Intelligence LevelHigh
Able to Be TrainedHigh
Amount of BarkingMedium
Amount of SheddingLow
American Staffordshire terriers

History of American Staffordshire Terriers

Unfortunately, the history of the American Staffordshire terrier is tied to dog fighting and blood sports in Great Britain many years ago. Although these dogs got their start in life as fighting and baiting dogs in the 18th and 19th centuries, they have evolved to become lovable family companions today. Staffordshire bull terriers (a related breed) arrived in America in the mid-1800s, and breeders soon began developing the taller and heavier American Staffordshire terrier. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the American Staffordshire terrier as a breed for registration in 1936.

When the dogs come from a responsible breeder, American Staffordshire terriers are much mellower and affectionate than their fighting dog ancestors. They are often miscategorized as aggressive dogs and included in discriminatory breed-specific bans that affect people’s housing and travel lodging options. American Staffordshire terrier pet parents tend to be championing advocates for the breed and are on a mission to show the world how gentle and amazing their dogs really are. In fact, they are often used in the entertainment business, to help with police work; and excel at agility and weight-pulling competitions. 

American Staffordshire Terrier Standard Information

American Staffordshire terriers are impressively strong dogs that are graceful, alert, and courageous. When these dogs are judged at shows, there are specific standards by which they are compared to other American Staffordshire terriers in terms of physical appearance, temperament, and movement.

Here is an overview of the breed standard information for American Staffordshire terriers:


  • Broad skull
  • Pronounced cheek muscles
  • Ears are set high, and uncropped is preferred
  • Dark and round eyes
  • Medium length muzzle
  • Black nose

Neck, Shoulder, Back, Body:

  • Heavy neck that is slightly arched
  • No looseness of skin
  • Strong and muscular shoulders
  • Fairly short back with loins slightly tucked
  • Well-sprung ribs that are close together
  • Deep and broad chest


  • Short in comparison to size
  • Tapers to a fine point
  • Not docked or curled


  • Front legs straight with large or round bones
  • Hindquarters are well-muscled and let down at hocks
  • Feet are moderate size, compact, and well-arched


  • Short, close, stiff, and glossy


  • Any color is permissible
  • All white or more than 80 percent of white, black and tan, or liver is not encouraged


  • Springy but without roll or pace
black and white amstaff dog

Caring for American Staffordshire Terriers

Caring for one of these dogs is a lot of fun because of their energetic and loving personalities. They have moderate exercise needs and love tagging along with you on any adventures you take. You’ll need to keep your American Staffordshire terrier mentally stimulated to prevent destructive behavior.

Here are some general tips for taking the best care of an American Staffordshire terrier:

Best Living Environments:

  • Households with active family members
  • Moderate climates that aren’t too hot or cold
  • Homes with older children

Type of Exercise:

  • Jogging with family members
  • Hiking
  • Long daily walks
  • Playtime in a fenced yard

Mental Enrichment:

  • Non-destructive outlets to chew and dig
  • Dog sports and athletic competitions
  • Agility and search and rescue training
  • Cuddle time on the couch with family members

Training Strategies:

  • Resilient dogs that are easygoing
  • Generally easy to train 
  • Positive training techniques only
  • Start socialization early to avoid confrontations with dogs and other pets

Grooming Tips:

  • Minimal grooming is required due to the short coat
  • Overall, a low-maintenance dog
  • Brush teeth daily
  • Trim nails as needed
  • Check ears for wax build-up and infection

Common Health Problems of American Staffordshire Terriers

The average life span of an American Staffordshire terrier is 12 to 16 years. They are sturdy and robust dogs that are generally easy to take care of; however, there are still certain health issues that pet parents of American Staffordshire terriers should be aware of.

These are some of the most common health issues that arise with American Staffordshire terriers:

  • Skin allergies, itching, and demodectic mange
  • Osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease
  • Elbow and hip dysplasia
  • Heart diseases, including murmurs and cardiomyopathy
  • Eye problems, including cataracts
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cerebellar ataxia, a neurological disorder

Diet and Nutrition for American Staffordshire Terriers

Most adult American Staffordshire terriers will thrive when eating a high-quality, nutritionally complete and balanced adult dog food. Puppies should eat large-breed puppy food until they are around 12 to 18 months old. If you feed your American Staffordshire terrier homemade dog food, make sure you are working from a recipe that is designed by a veterinary nutritionist and that is appropriate for your dog’s age and health status.

Feed the amount of dog food needed to keep your pet slim. You should be able to see your American Staffordshire terrier’s waist and feel (but not see) their ribs without having to press too hard. Divide the total amount of food for the day into at least two meals for adults and three to four meals for puppies.

Good nutrition is very important for American Staffordshire terriers to live long and happy lives. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about your dog’s diet or health.

gray amstaff dog standing in grass

Where to Adopt or Purchase American Staffordshire Terriers

The Staffordshire Terrier Club of America is the breed club for this type of dog and has a rescue organization to help homeless pups find loving families. Also, the American Kennel Club Marketplace is a resource for puppies from registered litters.

However, this is a dog breed that is readily available in many animal shelters because of misconceptions about the breed and irresponsible breeding practices from the past. There are local and regional rescue groups that focus specifically on this breed and helping dogs get adopted into safe environments.

Related Breeds

If you like what you have read so far about the American Staffordshire terrier, then you may also be interested to learn more about these similar and related breeds of dogs:

Pet Insurance for American Staffordshire Terriers

Once you invite an American Staffordshire terrier into your family, there’s no doubt that you’ll want to do everything in your power to take the best care of your pup. Pet insurance can help you afford expensive vet bills whenever your pet gets into an accident or becomes sick.

Our top-rated pet health insurance plan features flexible premium and deductible options with no enrollment or administrative fees. You’ll have peace of mind that you can afford the care your American Staffordshire terrier needs at all times, whether your vet recommends alternative care, delivers a devastating cancer diagnosis, or begins treatment for a genetic or breed-specific condition.

Visit our website today for your American Staffordshire terrier insurance quote and enjoy more incredible days with your canine companion!

Stacy Painter profile
By Stacy Painter

Stacy has always been an animal lover and has worked in the pet industry and pet insurance specifically for over a decade. As a writer since early childhood, content writing for Healthy Paws pet insurance was a natural career path to combine her two passions. She currently lives in Florida with her boyfriend and Taiwanese rescue dog, Kaya.

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jennifer coates
By Jennifer Coates, DVM

Dr. Jennifer Coates received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. After graduation, she worked for several years in the fields of conservation and animal welfare before pursuing her childhood dream—becoming a veterinarian. She graduated with honors from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and has worked as an Associate Veterinarian and Chief of Staff in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. Jennifer is also a prolific writer about all things related to veterinary medicine and the well-being of our animal friends. She has published several short stories and books, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian. She currently contributes to the Healthy Paws pet insurance blog as a freelance writer. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys life in Colorado with her family and friends… many of whom walk on four legs.

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