American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier Breed description: Character & Co

American Staffordshire Terrier


Origin and history of the American Staffordshire Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier was once known by many different names before it was internationally recognized in 1972 under the name you know today. You may also know this breed as the Pit Bull Terrier, Yankee Terrier, American Bull Terrier or American Stafford Terrier.

In any case, the American Staffordshire Terrier originated in Great Britain and the USA, where it was used for dog fighting. In England, these fights were later banned, but dog fighting in America tended to take off at that time. Today, unfortunately, this breed is still used in dog fights in some countries; fortunately, they are banned in Austria and Germany.

Suitability and attitude

Despite its history and negative image, this breed can be very suitable as a companion and family dog. It is also a great companion for a wide range of dog sports.

The American Staffordshire Terrier as a list dog

Due to its biting power and powerful appearance, the American Staffordshire Terrier is considered a listed dog in all of Austria's federal states, and in Germany it is considered a "dangerous dog" in many states. Since this breed is considered potentially dangerous, you should clarify under what circumstances you are allowed to keep this breed.

In Vienna, for example, the possession of a dog license is mandatory, in Vorarlberg a special permit from the mayor is required to keep an American Staffordshire Terrier, and in Lower Austria a certificate of competence must be presented.

In Germany, the keeping of Amstaffs is conditioned differently from state to state. In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, for example, the breeding of this breed is only possible with a permit from the local regulatory authority. This is similar in many federal states. In Hesse it is forbidden to let this breed run free outside the property, in Brandenburg the property must be explicitly marked with a sign that indicates a dangerous dog, and in Baden-Württemberg you as the owner must pass an examination before the responsible official veterinarian and the police dog handler.

As you can see, the legal situation varies everywhere, so be sure to check with your local authority.

Attention when traveling

If you like to travel with your Amstaff, not only the dog passport is an important criterion. In many countries the import and the breeding of this dog breed is forbidden, here you should inquire absolutely well before. For example, if you want to travel to Switzerland, you are not allowed to enter the cantons of Geneva, Zurich and Valais with your Amstaff.

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Alternate Name Amstaff
Origin USA
Life expectancy 10 - 15 years
Care requirements low-maintenance
Activity level average
FCI group Bull type Terriers
AKC group Terrier Group
KC group Terrier Group

Typical character traits of the American Staffordshire Terrier.

This dog breed is characterized by its human-centeredness, protective instinct and strength. Although the American Staffordshire Terrier is a true cuddler, he unfortunately has the reputation of a dangerous and aggressive dog due to his former use.

At the same time, he always wants to please only his human, which on the one hand makes education very easy, but on the other hand is gladly exploited. These self-confident dogs also have a relatively high threshold of irritation.

Education of the American Staffordshire Terrier

Good education is important not only for the American Staffordshire Terrier, but also for other dog breeds. The American Staffordshire Terrier tends to be stubborn and it is important to start with a species-appropriate and consistent education at the earliest possible time. In addition, he should be socialized as a youngster to make later handling as easy as possible.

Utilization possibilities

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a true athlete who absolutely needs enough exercise. Two hours of exercise per day is considered the benchmark for the Am-Staff. Long walks will further contribute to a relaxed disposition in your four-legged friend. This dog breed is also very playful and intelligent. Many do not know that this dog breed is also very suitable for dog sports.

Whether it is agility, trick dogging or flyball, the American Staffordshire Terrier is always involved. The dogs are also used in some cases as rescue dogs or therapy dogs, because they have a sunny disposition.


Breed diseases and life expectancy

The American Staffordshire Terrier, like most breeds, has a number of more common diseases. These include:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia.
  • Heart disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Patellar luxation
  • Osteochondritis
  • Skin diseases

Care of the American Staffordshire Terrier

The Amstaff is basically a very low maintenance dog. He causes little trouble and with proper training he is always recallable. The diet and coat care are very unspectacular and easy to handle. It is enough to brush your dog every now and then as well as to do the typical checks of claws, eyes and ears.

American Staffordshire Terrier breeding and purchase

If you are dreaming of an Am-Staff puppy, then you should contact a breeder who operates a registered American Staffordshire Terrier breed. You can find such a breeder in the directory of the three existing VDH clubs. However, you should expect social and governmental conditions and restrictions if you decide to get an American Staffordshire Terrier.

Interestingly, it is also believed that up to 20% of America's shelter dogs have at least some Amstaff. Therefore, you can also inquire at animal shelters or animal welfare societies whether they currently have specimens of this breed. However, you should always pay attention to the individual character.

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The American Staffordshire Terrier is classified by the FCI as Group 3 (Terriers), Section 3 (Bull-type Terriers). No working test is required.

Size and weight should be in correct proportion to each other. In the breed standard, a shoulder height of about 46 to 48 cm for the males and 43 to 46 cm for the females is preferred. They bring a weight of about 20-30 kg on the scale. They have a springy gait, which must not be rolling or a passing gait.

The head

The medium length head of the Amstaff is deep throughout its length and the skull is broad with a pronounced stop.

The muzzle

Exclusively black, the nose is set on a muzzle of medium length, which is well rounded on the upper side and slopes abruptly below the eyes. The lips are close fitting, not loose and the lower jaw must be strong as well as having bite power. The upper incisors closely overlap the lower incisors. A very pronounced cheek musculature is typical.

The eyes & ears

The dark, round eyes are set deep in the skull and wide apart. The eyelids must be pigmented.

The ears, which are set high, are allowed both cropped and un-cropped. Unplucked ears are naturally preferred, they are then carried short and either as a rose ear or as a semi-erect prick ear. Drooping ears are penalized at breed shows.

The rump

The heavy, slightly arched neck tapers slightly from the shoulders to the nape and has a small loose skin. The back should be fairly short with the upper profile line sloping slightly from withers to croup and the croup to tail set slightly sloping and short. The loins are slightly tucked up.

Amstaffs have a deep and broad chest and well sprung ribs reaching well back and well close together.

The tail

In proportion to the body, the tail is short, low set and tapers to a fine point. It is neither curled nor carried over the back. It should not be docked in a serious breeder.

The limbs

In general, the forelegs of this dog breed are straight with strong bone and set fairly wide apart to allow for good chest development. The shoulder is strong and muscular, with wide, sloping shoulder blades. The pastern is set vertically. The strongly muscled hindquarters have deep hocks which should be turned neither in nor out.

Both front and hind feet are characterized as medium sized, well arched and compact.

The coat

The short, dense coat should be stiff to the touch and appear glossy.

Color-wise, an Amstaff can be any color, solid, multicolored or spotted. However, in breeding it is prescribed that more than 80% white, black with blaze and liver should not be encouraged.

Fur length short
Fur flat coated
Ear shape Tilt-ear
Tail lang
Anatomy muscular, massive, strong, square
Size ♀ 43 - 46 cm
Weight ♀ 28 - 40 kg
Size ♂ 46 - 48 cm
Weight ♂ 28 - 40 kg
Suitable For -


  • Yes, the Amstaff is considered a list dog and is referred to as a fighting dog. However, with a lot of training and consistent education, he makes a great companion dog. You are also not allowed to import him in Germany. There is a ban here.

  • Its bite force is specified at 235 PSI. This is very high.

  • An American Staffordshire Terrier costs about 1600 Euro. If it should be a special coloring, you can also count with 2000 euros.

  • No, a dog is not automatically dangerous just because it belongs to a certain breed.

  • Because the American Staffordshire Terrier was often used for dog fighting in the past, it has gained a reputation as an aggressive dog.

  • If you bring enough time and motivation and possibly interest in dog sports, the American Staffordshire Terrier can be very suitable. However, you must pay attention to certain conditions and entry bans, so as not to be badly surprised.

  • A breeding requirement of the ÖCAST is that the breeding animals must have both an ataxia and an HD test.

Other medium dogs

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