Now-extinct ancestors of the American Staffordshire Terrier, Old English Terriers and Old English Bulldogs, were bred together in England to produce a breed that contains the traits and features of both the terrier and bulldog, making a versatile and durable hunting breed. As hunting became less of a necessity, the brutal sport of bull-baiting became popular. When bull-baiting was banned in 1835, another deadly sport of dogfighting took its place using breeds including the Boston Terrier, Bull Terrier, and of course, the American Staffordshire Terrier, commonly referred to by their nickname "Am Staff." Today, dogfighting is considered a felony in all 50 states, but still continues underground. A few dedicated breeders decided it was time to break away from the stigma of dogfighting. The Am Staff we know today was bred to be larger than their American Pit Bull Terrier counterpart to assist farmers and ranchers to bring dangerous cattle in from the fields. The reputation of the breed seemed irreparable, but Am Staffs are beginning to be shown in a positive light where they are commonly used in law enforcement, therapy, and assisting individuals with special needs.
Although Am Staffs closely resemble the American Pit Bull Terrier, they are considered two separate breeds - American Staffordshire Terriers tend to be larger in size than their Pitbull counterpart. Their brick-shaped head, which is especially broad between the cheeks to house their powerful jaws, is carried upon a thickly muscled, well-defined neck. With stocky features, Am Staffs are also an agile and graceful breed. They have a short, close, stiff, and glossy coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Their large head and dark round eyes give them a unique appearance. They have a rounded, medium-length muzzle with a black, blue, or liver nose depending on the coat color. The breed's thick tail is short in comparison to the size of their body.
American Staffordshire Terriers and many other "pitbull-type" breeds are commonly given a bad rap since they have been used for dogfighting over the decades, but they are not considered to be aggressive towards humans by nature. Despite their intimidating appearance, they can make an affectionate and playful family pet that gets along well with children and will wedge themselves onto your lap if given the chance. As with any medium-to-large breed, they should not be left alone with small children due to their size and strength. Considered a fairly quiet breed, Am Staffs are not nuisance barkers but will make entertaining "talking" sounds when trying to get your attention. These intelligent dogs can be difficult to obedience train because of their stubbornness and respond best to positive reinforcement using praise and treats. It is very important that obedience training and socialization are started early to avoid aggression and intolerance of other dogs as an adult. Consistent training, along with the proper amount of exercise, will produce a tranquil and obedient companion. Loyal and alert, the American Staffie has given outstanding results as a guardian but is at the same time esteemed as an affectionate family pet. When treated properly, these loving dogs are one of the friendliest and gentle-hearted breeds out there.