Let us tell you what the American Staffordshire Terrier (or Pit Bull) dog breed is really like. Most are not the monsters portrayed on the news. So forget everything you’ve heard on tv and learn the truth.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is an American breed which was bred from old bulldog and old terrier dog breeds. As you may know, bulldogs were originally used in bull baiting and dog fighting. And terriers were bred for their tenacity on the hunt. This may sound like a bad combination, and it can be if the Pit Bull dog breed is trained improperly. But an American Staffordshire Terrier raised in a loving non-violent home and provided with proper socialization with other dogs can make a fantastic pet. They are generally very social with people, get along well with children, and can even be friendly towards strangers.
However, due to the bulldog breeding, the American Staffordshire Terrier may not be good with other pets. If you are considering getting an American Staffordshire Terrier, be sure to utilize proper socialization techniques around as many people and as many pets as possible. If adopting an older dog, ease into the socialization. You don’t want to jump into taking your dog to the dog park only to find out that he is very aggressive towards dogs. Avoid using any negative reinforcement when it comes to being around other dogs. Make sure that the Pit Bull’s experience with other dogs is a very positive experience.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is similar to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The American Staffordshire Terrier is the American version while the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is the English version. Both are very similar in looks but the American Staffordshire Terrier tends to be a bit bulkier. The American Staffordshire Terrier stands about 17 to 19 inches tall, as according to the American Kennel Club (AKC) standards, and should weigh between 57 and 67 pounds. He can be recognized by his broad head and muscular jaw and cheek bones. His ears are set high and if uncropped, they are short and pricked forward. If cropped, the ears are short and pointed. The American Staffordshire Terrier has dark round eyes. He has a muscular build but is rather agile and graceful in movement.
The coat of an American Staffordshire Terrier is short and smooth and requires very little grooming. He can be a solid color or a solid color with white. Per the AKC standards, he should not be more than 80% white. While very little grooming is required, the American Staffordshire Terrier needs daily exercise. A moderate walk or active play is best.
As compared to other terrier breeds, the American Staffordshire Terrier is relatively easy to train. This is because he is more of a people pleaser and can have a strong devotion to his owner. However, he can be a bit stubborn at times. The use of primarily positive reinforcement will get the best out of this breed.
Like most purebred dogs, the American Staffordshire Terrier is prone to a few genetic health issues. Hip dysplasia is probably the most common (as it is with most big dog breeds). However, he is also prone to Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Cerebellar Ataxia. Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an eye disease where the retina slowly deteriorates. This disease could eventually lead to blindness. Cerebellar Ataxia is a neural disease that affects the dog’s coordination.
So as you can see, the American Staffordshire Terrier, or Pit Bull, is really a good dog. He loves people, trains well, and only requires basic daily exercise. He is not a backyard dog to be ignored. The more he is allowed to be a loving companion to his family, the better his temperament will likely be. Most of the Pit Bulls you hear about on TV were either backyard dogs with little social interaction, abused dogs, and/or dogs used in pit fighting.
(Author’s note – As a former employer of an animal shelter, I can attest that we had less trouble with stray Pit Bull dog breeds trying to bite and attack than we did with other dog breeds. In my two year history at the animal shelter, we never even had a Pit Bull dog breed impounded by the police for biting a person. We had a number of Pit Bulls dog breeds confiscated by the police from people who had been using them for dog fighting. Most of those dogs were so loving and eager for human interaction. Some were scared and some barked in warning, but none were vicious. In fact, we learned that most of the dogs confiscated weren’t even used for fighting. They were sadly used as bait and had the scars to prove it. In fact, most Pit Bull dogs don’t make the cut for being an actual fighter.)