American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire TerrierAmerican Staffordshire Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier retains its athleticism and some Bulldog characteristics from its past. Its current popularity is testament to how breeders have ensured that both its good looks and temperament meet the social expectations of modern society.

The American Staffordshire Terrier becomes a Pure Breed

American Staffordshire Terrier (with cropped ears)American Staffordshire Terrier (with cropped ears)

In America, English people who emigrated during the 1800's could not bear to leave their beloved pets behind. So the forerunners of the American Staffordshire Terriers we know today arrived in America and, as many originated from the coal pits of England, they first became known as American Pit Bull Terriers. Under this name, they were first recognized by the United Kennel Club in America in 1899.

American Staffordshire Terrier 1987American Staffordshire Terrier 1987

As the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was not recognized by the Kennel Club (UK) or the American Kennel Club at that time, the Americans began developing their Staffords as a larger and more graceful breed than their English counterpart, still distinguished by their cropped ears in countries where ear cropping is allowed. At first he was recognized by the United Kennel Club where he was known as a Pit Bull Terrier. In 1936 this breed was first recognized as the Staffordshire Terrier by the American Kennel Club who changed its name in 1972 to the American Staffordshire Terrier.

History of the American Staffordshire Terrier in Australia

Ka-Hanahou Lei O Makana (imp USA)Ka-Hanahou Lei O Makana (imp USA)

After almost a decade involved with Staffordshire Bull Terriers, in 1984 Bob and Ruth Murdoch decided to introduce the American Staffords into Australia. Because of quarantine complications from mainland USA at that time, the easiest route was through Hawaii. This foundation pair were a bitch Rockisland's Ho O Moa (imp USA) and a dog, Ka-Hanahou Lei O Makana (imp USA).

Ka-Hanahou's Rojo's Sam (imp USA)Ka-Hanahou's Rojo's Sam (imp USA)

From January 1st 1987 the breed was finally ANKC recognized. The dog became a Terrier Group winner, quickly putting the American Staffordshire Terrier on the map here. The Murdochs then bred Champions under the 'Amstaff' prefix. Later they imported a second dog, Ka-Hanahou's Rojo's Sam (imp USA) who unfortunately was lost to snake bite.

Comparison between the Staffordshire Bull and American Staffordshire Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier American Staffordshire Terrier
General Appearance Muscular and agile with great strength for its size Muscular and agile with great strength for its size but graceful without being long legged or racy
Size Desirable height at withers 36-41 cms (14 to 16 ins), these heights being related to the weights. Weight: dogs: 13-17 kgs (28-38 lbs); bitches 11-15.4 kgs. Bearing in mind the height and weight should be in proportion, the height for dogs is around 46 - 48 cms (18 - 19 inches) at the shoulder with bitches 43 - 46 cm (17 - 18 inches)
Colour Any of the following colours either whole or mixed with white: red, fawn, white, black or blue or of the brindle colours. Black and tan or liver highly undesirable. Any solid, patched or parti-colour is permissible. However all white or more than 80% white or black and tan or liver not to be encouraged.
Staffordshire Bull TerrierStaffordshire Bull Terrier American Staffordshire TerrierAmerican Staffordshire Terrier
Head Short through and deep through with broad skull, very pronounced cheek muscles and distinct stop. The nose is black but the foreface should be short. Medium length and deep through with broad skull, very pronounced cheek muscles and distinct stop. The nose is black but the foreface should be of medium length and fall away under the eyes.
Eyes Dark and round, of medium size and set to look straight ahead. Dark and round, set low in skull and far apart
Ears Rose-shaped or semi-erect but not large Small, rose-shaped or semi-erect
Mouth Lips tight, perfect scissors bite Lips tight, perfect scissors bite
Neck Rather short, muscular with no dewlap Medium length, heavy and slightly arched with no dewlap
Staffordshire Bull TerrierStaffordshire Bull Terrier Am Staffordshire TerrierAm Staffordshire Terrier
Forequarters Forelegs straight, set wide apart with upright pasterns, but front feet may turn out a little (for balance). Forelegs straight, large with round bone, with upright pasterns. The forelegs are set wide apart (to allow chest development).
Topline Level Sloping slightly from withers to rump with a gentle short slope at rump to base of tail.
Body Balanced, well sprung ribs with chest deep and wide Fairly short, well sprung ribs with chest deep and broad
Hindquarters Well muscled with a good turn of stifle and short hocks that neither turn in nor out Well muscled  with a good turn of stifle and short hocks that neither turn in nor out
Feet Medium sized with well arched toes Medium sized, well padded feet with black nails in solid coloured dogs
Tail Medium length, set low and tapering to a point and carried low. The tail's shape and carriage may be likened to an old fashioned pump handle. Short compared with the size of the dog, set low and tapering to a point. The tail should be fairly straight and never curled or carried over the back.
Staffordshire Bull TerrierStaffordshire Bull Terrier American Staffordshire TerrierAmerican Staffordshire Terrier
Gait Free, with discernible power derived from its hindquarters. With economy of effort, the legs should be parallel when viewed from the front or rear. Springy without roll or pace.
Coat Smooth, short and close. Short, close and glossy feels stiff to touch.

References and Further Reading

[1] Noel Newham, "The Staffordshire Bull Terrier in Australia" in the "The British Terrier Club of NSW Diamond Jubilee Handbook 1907 - 1967" published by Hi-Line Press Page 129

[2] Marion Forester ''The Stafford in New Zealand'' in the New Zealand Kennel Gazette published by the New Zealand Kennel Club Ltd Porira NZ Vol 23 No 2 March 1983 Pages 68 - 76.

[3] Jeanette Bruce, "The Staffordshire in Australia" National Dog Newspaper Editor Frances Sefton, Windsor NSW June 1975 Pages 8 - 9.

[4] Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald, 'The Book of the Dog' Published by Nicholson & Watson, London 1948 Part 11 'Staffordshire Bull Terrier' by Phil Drabble, Page 667

See also our DVD 'Terriers Then & Now' contains more about the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier


top