- Breed group — Terrier group (American Kennel Club)
- Height — 14-16 inches
- Weight — 30-40 pounds
- Coat length & texture —Smooth, short-haired coat
- Coat color — Black, white, red, fawn, blue, brindle with or without white
- Exercise needs — High
- Intelligence — High
- Barking — Average
- Life span — 12 -14 years
- Breed temperament — Gentle, docile, and people loving
- Hypoallergenic — No
- Origin — England
Staffordshire bull terrier temperament and characteristics
Staffordshire bull terriers, or Staffies, have a tough muscular appearance. Yet, these are gentle, docile, intelligent dogs that love to be with their people and be part of the family. They make calm, loyal, and loving companions that enjoy nothing better than curling up on the sofa with their owner.
However, Staffies are often unfairly portrayed as aggressive and vicious dogs, which couldn’t be further from the truth. They rank incredibly high on temperament testing by the American Temperament Testing Society, scoring higher than even golden retrievers, poodles, collies, and cocker spaniels.
The sweet nature of the Staffy has earned them the nickname of nanny dog. This is because of their trustworthy nature around children, although you should always supervise them both when together. Staffies do best in a one-pet household. Yet, this breed can get along with other pets if raised together, watched closely, and trained correctly.
Staffordshire bull terrier fun facts
- Staffies remain misunderstood. Once raised for bull baiting and dog fighting, properly-socialized Staffordshire bull terriers today are often known as sweet-natured nanny dogs for children.
- These dogs often look like they are smiling. To keep Staffies happy, they need plenty of exercise and a chance to do different and exciting things.
Common Staffordshire bull terrier health problems
Staffordshire bull terriers are generally healthy dogs with an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. However, they are subject to specific health conditions, which potential owners should be aware of before buying a puppy.
- Hip dysplasia. An inherited condition where the dog’s hip socket forms abnormally, hip dysplasia can lead to lameness or arthritis.
- Elbow dysplasia. An inherited condition with abnormal development of the elbow joint, elbow dysplasia is found in medium-to-large dogs like the Staffordshire bull terrier.
- Patellar luxation. This condition occurs when the patella (kneecap) shifts out of alignment, typically in one or both hind legs, often leading to arthritis.
- Skin allergies. Staffies may suffer from an allergic reaction to food, pollen, insects, plants, or medication.
- L-2 hydroxyglutaric aciduria. This hereditary metabolic disorder can cause seizures.
Cost of caring for Staffordshire bull terrier
The average price of a Staffy puppy from a reputable breeder is $2,000. This includes health screenings, medical expenses, and registration papers. Additionally, in the first year, you will have veterinary expenses. These include essential vaccines costing an average of $595, plus a one-time payment for spaying/neutering, with most clinics charging $100 to $300 or more for the procedure. Pet insurance can help pay some of those unexpected vet bills.
History of the Staffordshire bull terrier
The Staffordshire bull terrier originated from England. It is a descendant of the bulldog, used for bull baiting during the 18th century. As Britain began introducing animal welfare laws, bull baiting became illegal in 1835. Staffy owners turned to dog fighting instead, cross-breeding bulldogs with small terriers for a more agile breed designed to show aggression toward other dogs.
It was James Hinks who developed the breed during the mid-19th century into the gentle dog we know today. American breeders developed a larger version of the breed known as the American Staffordshire terrier or AmStaff. The American Kennel Club eventually recognized them as two separate breeds, the AmStaff and the Staffordshire bull terrier or Staffy, recognized in 1974.
Caring for your Staffordshire bull terrier
Caring for a Staffy puppy is an exciting but challenging experience with many things to organize. Visiting the vet is essential to schedule vaccinations for your new four-legged friend and give them a check-up. You must also puppy-proof your home and help them stay comfortable during teething.
Staffies are muscular and powerful medium-sized dogs with lots of energy and stamina. The amount of exercise your Staffordshire bull terrier needs depends on their age, weight, and overall fitness level. They have high levels of intelligence, so need plenty of mental stimulation as well. Never walk your Staffordshire bull terrier off-leash, as they can be aggressive towards unknown dogs. They see other smaller animals, like cats, as prey.
A Staffordshire bull terrier requires daily exercise of around 60 minutes, which you can split into two or three walks. Be careful exercising them on hot days as they don’t tolerate the heat well. To keep their brains engaged, you can include games of catch. If you enjoy jogging, Staffies make ideal partners. But they must be fully grown and in good health. Other forms of exercise can come from running around the backyard. Be aware that being a terrier, they may try and dig a tunnel, so you may have to reinforce your fence.
The Staffordshire bull terrier’s short, smooth coat means they have minimal grooming requirements. They need brushing once a week to keep their coats and skin in good condition with the occasional bath, using a dog-specific shampoo. Staffies shed at a low to moderate rate all year round, shedding more in the spring and then again in the fall when they require more frequent brushing.
Good dental hygiene is vital to avoid gum disease, so brush your dog’s teeth at least three times per week. Trimming nails once a month, or as needed, will keep their feet in good condition and prevent them from getting caught in carpets and rugs and breaking. Ear problems are common in Staffies, so you should clean their ears weekly to keep them healthy.
Diet and nutrition
The feeding requirements of a Staffy depend on their age, health condition, and activity levels. Puppies require a diet containing the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to grow and develop properly and need three to four feedings daily. Mature adults require two meals a day.
Adult Staffies require plenty of protein because of their high energy levels. As they are prone to skin problems, they should have a diet high in omega fatty acids for healthy skin. Your vet can advise how many portions your Staffordshire bull terrier should have, devising a special diet if they have specific health issues.
Training your Staffordshire bull terrier
The Staffy is sharp, intelligent, and responsive, with an urge to please their owners, so they are relatively easy to train. However, they possess a stubborn streak, requiring firm but gentle handling. As with all dog breeds, training should start when they are puppies — the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends positive reinforcement methods , using treats, praise, and cuddles as rewards.
Early socialization is just as important so your Staffordshire bull terrier grows up to be a well-socialized, friendly dog. Introduce them to new people, children, and other dogs and animals, exposing them to different sights and sounds so they feel confident in the world. Staffies have a bad reputation which is due primarily to irresponsible owners. Socialization and correct training are essential for your pet’s health and happiness as an adult dog.
Breeds similar to the Staffordshire bull terrier
Not quite sure that a Staffordshire bull terrier is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- Boxer. One of the most favorite and popular dog breeds in the U.S., boxers are affectionate, loyal, and intelligent. These energetic and playful dogs like to stay busy and love companionship.
- Bull terrier. These small dogs with their unique “eggheads” adore their owners, keeping them entertained with their mischievous and comical ways. Bull terriers make loyal, loving, and entertaining companions.
- American pit bull terrier. These medium-sized dogs are loyal and intelligent and just love to please, being easy to train. American pit bull terriers have a playful nature and, with proper training, make excellent family pets.
Frequently asked questions
Are Staffordshire bull terriers good family pets?
Staffies can live with children and other dogs. They require early training, socialization, and constant supervision so they can become calm and gentle members of the family.
Can Staffies be left alone?
Because Staffies love the company of people, they can suffer from separation anxiety if you leave them for long periods alone. They can develop habits like destructive chewing, digging holes in the backyard and escaping.
Are Staffordshire terriers good for first-time owners?
The Staffy makes an excellent pet for first-time owners, so long as they can give them the care, attention, and exercise they need along with a commitment to proper training and socialization.
Do Staffies bark a lot?
Staffordshire bull terriers bark an average amount and often for excitement, complete with wagging tails!