Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Stafford)

Staffordshire bull terrier
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The Staffordshire bull terrier, also called the Stafford, Staffy, or Staffie, is a medium-sized dog of somewhat short stature with a muscular, athletic body. Contrary to its tough appearance, the Stafford is a gentle, loyal and highly affectionate dog breed. However, this breed is quite powerful and tends to be stoic in the face of pain.

Breed Overview

  • Group: Terrier
  • Size: Weight 24 to 38 pounds; height 14 to 16 inches at the shoulder
  • Coat and Color: Short, smooth coat in red, fawn, white, black, blue or brindle (any shade). All colors may be with or without white.
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Characteristics of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Low
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The Staffordshire bull terrier was developed in England during the 19th century for dog fighting. In order to create a faster and more compact dog breed, bulldogs were crossed with small terriers (likely Manchester terriers and similar breeds). At the time, bulldogs were large, fierce and intrepid—much different than today's bulldog.

Before landing on its current name, Staffords have been called bull-and-terrier dogs, bulldog terriers, and old pit bull terriers. Once dog fighting was made illegal in the early 20th century, Staffords became more widely recognized and loyal and affectionate companion dogs.

The Staffordshire bull terrier was brought to the U.S. towards the end of the 19th century but was not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) until 1974.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Breed Specific Legislation

Unfortunately, the Stafforshire bull terrier, along with other so-called "pit bull-type" dogs may be subject to stereotypes, discrimination, and even breed specific legislation. You will need to check the laws of your jurisdiction and any you may travel through with your pet. Some insurers will require additional liability coverage for homeowner or renter insurance if you have this breed.

The truth is that any dog can be aggressive, regardless of breed. Most of these dogs make loyal, loving companions. The key is training and socialization.

No matter the breed, if you adopt a dog, ask about temperament testing (most rescue groups and shelters do this before placing pets up for adoption). If you are buying from a breeder, meet the puppy's mother (and father if possible) and ask about the line's temperament history. It is possible for behavior traits to be inherited. Sadly, some irresponsible breeders will purposely breed dogs for aggression.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Care

The very short, smooth coat of the Stafford requires little more than routine grooming. This breed tends to shed at a low to moderate rate, though shedding does increase seasonally. Be sure to keep the nails neatly trimmed for healthy, comfortable feet.

As with any dog breed, proper training is a must for the Staffy. This is a very intelligent dog breed that can be stubborn, following his own will if permitted. Therefore, obedience training is essential in order to manage your dog and give him structure. Socialization is just as important so your dog will be comfortable in all kinds of situations.

The Stafford is an athletic dog breed with plenty of energy, so routine exercise is essential. Be careful not to overdo it in warmer weather as the breed is typically sensitive to heat. Staffords will especially benefit from dog sports that challenge them mentally and physically. Regardless of the type of exercise you give your Stafford, be sure it is provided about twice daily or more.

Staffordshire bull terriers should never be walked off-leash as they can be aggressive with unknown dogs and will chase any small animals they consider to be prey. They are unlikely to do well at free-run dog parks. They are strong dogs and you will need to train your dog not to pull on the leash.

A securely fenced yard is a good play area, but be aware that the Stafford is a terrier and will dig an escape tunnel if able. You may wish to reinforce the bottom of fences.

Overall, Staffordshire bull terriers have friendly, gentle dispositions and make lovely companions for many types of households. Praised for its "nanny-like" instincts, the Stafford gets along remarkably well with children when properly trained and socialized. However, because of this breed's strong prey drive and dog fighting ancestry, use caution around other pets. If raised together, well-trained, and closely supervised, they may even learn to get along beautifully. But some of these dogs will be best suited for a one-pet household.

While not ideal as guard dogs for the home, this breed will protect people from harm. The Stafford is very loyal and tends to bond closely with its owner.

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to develop hereditary conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

Diet and Nutrition

Your Staffordshire bull terrier should be fed two meals a day of dry dog food, each of up to one cup of food. Your dog's individual needs will be determined by age, activity level, and health conditions. It's best not to exercise your dog for an hour after eating in order to help reduce the risk of bloating and stomach torsion.

Obesity can shorten a dog's lifespan, so it is important to monitor your dog's weight. If you see that your dog is putting on extra pounds, talk to your veterinarian about appropriate feeding interventions.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you are active, patient, and ready to provide plenty of one-on-one affection to your dog, the Staffy could be the dog breed for you. However, it's important to do more research before you decide to get one of your own. Talk to veterinarians and pet professionals, Staffy owners, responsible breeders, and bully breed rescue groups to learn all you can.

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