American Staffordshire Terrier
|Country of origin||United States|
|Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
The American Staffordshire terrier also known as Amstaff is a medium-sized, short-coated American dog breed. In the early part of the twentieth century the breed gained social stature and was accepted by the American Kennel Club as the American Staffordshire Terrier in 1936. The name was changed to reflect difference from the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England.
Despite its name, the Staffordshire Terrier was first bred in the nineteenth century in Birmingham, West Midlands, rather than in the English county of Staffordshire where it was then later bred. The early ancestors of this breed came from England, where until the first part of the 19th century, the Bulldog was bred in England. Bulldogs pictured as late as 1870 resemble contemporary American Staffordshire Terriers to a greater degree than present-day Bulldogs. Some writers contend it was the White English Terrier, Fox Terrier, or the Black and Tan Terrier that was crossed with the Bulldog to develop the Staffordshire Terrier; all three breeds shared many traits, the greatest differences being in color, and spirit. The cross of Bulldog and Terrier was called by several names, including Bull-and-Terrier Dog, Pit Bull, or Half and Half. Later, it assumed the name of Staffordshire Bull Terrier in England. These dogs began to find their way into America as early as 1870, where they became known as the Pit Dog, then the American Bull Terrier, and still later as the Yankee Terrier.
In 1936, Amstaffs were accepted for registration in the American Kennel Club (AKC) Stud Book as Staffordshire Terriers, belonging to the terrier and molosser groups. The name of the breed was revised January 1, 1969 to American Staffordshire Terrier; breeders in the United States had developed a variety which was heavier in weight than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England. The name change was to distinguish them as separate breeds.
The breed's popularity began to decline in the United States following World War II.
According to the American Kennel Club "The Am Staff is a people-oriented dog that thrives when he is made part of the family and given a job to do. Although friendly, this breed is loyal to his family and will protect them from any threat."
The American Temperament Test Society conducts tests every year on thousands of dogs to determine the soundness of their temperament. These tests measure various aspects of temperament such as aggressiveness, friendliness, stability, as well as the dog’s protectiveness toward its owner. ATTS breed statistics show that American Staffordshire Terriers consistently score above average for all breeds tested. However, Schaffner notes in this book that "This, of course, must be taken with a grain of salt, as the numbers tested of each breed varied widely.
Duffy et al. (2008) investigated dog breed temperament via an online survey. They found that the breed group represented by American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull terriers had an above average level of aggression directed toward other dogs and a below average level of aggression toward humans. Also, as this was a voluntary study the authors admit that their results may be influenced by self-selection bias.
Health and well-being
The American Staffordshire Terrier should give the impression of great strength for his size, a well put-together dog, muscular, but agile and graceful, keenly alive to his surroundings. He should be stocky, not long-legged or racy in outline. Height and weight should be in proportion. A height of about 18 to 19 inches at shoulders for the male and 17 to 18 inches for the female is to be considered preferable.
American Staffordshire Terrier pups should not be bought weaned before they are 8–10 weeks old. Their life expectancy is generally 12 to 16 years with good care. Notable issues related to health and wellbeing include:
- Congenital heart disease
- Elbow dysplasia
- Hip dysplasia
- Luxating patella
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Cerebellar ataxia
Worldwide, the American Staffordshire Terrier has been subject to breed bans that target the Bull and Terrier family in response to well-publicized incidents involving pit bulls or similar dog breeds. This legislation ranges from outright bans on possession to restrictions and conditions of ownership. The appropriateness and effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in preventing dog-related fatalities and injuries is disputed. Many animal-related organizations oppose breed-specific legislation:
- The American Veterinary Medical Association supports dangerous animal legislation by state, county, or municipal governments provided that legislation does not refer to specific breeds or classes of animals.
- Canadian Veterinary Medical Association supports dangerous dog legislation provided that it does not refer to specific breeds.
- The Centers for Disease Control said that breed-specific approaches to the control of dog bites do not address the issue that many breeds are involved in the problem and that most of the factors contributing to dog bites are related to the level of responsibility exercised by dog owners. Furthermore, tethered dogs are more likely to bite than untethered dogs.
- Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association states that because of difficulties inherent in determining a dog’s breed with certainty, enforcement of breed-specific ordinances raises constitutional and practical issues.
- SPCA recognizes that dog bites are a serious public safety problem. Their interest in this issue relates directly to the goal of creating humane communities where people and animals enrich each other’s lives. However, the BC SPCA opposes breed banning as a strategy for achieving this goal. According to the SPCA, breed banning is a simplistic and ineffective solution to a multi-faceted problem.
Notable Staffordshire Terriers
- Pete the Pup, in several Our Gang films (later known as The Little Rascals) during the 1920s and 1930s.
- Sergeant Stubby was the most decorated dog in military history and the only dog to have been promoted during battle. He fought for 18 months in the trenches for France during World War I for 17 battles. Stubby warned his fellow soldiers of gas attacks, located wounded soldiers in No Man's Land, and listened for incoming artillery rounds. He was also responsible for the capture of a German spy at Argonne. After his time in the war, Stubby met US Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren G. Harding. He was awarded life memberships to the American Legion, the Red Cross, and the YMCA. Sergeant Stubby died on March 16, 1926.
- Jack Brutus, the official mascot of Company K, First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War.
- Bud, the first dog in the US to take a cross-country drive in 1903 with his owner Horatio Nelson Jackson and a bicycle mechanic, Sewall Crocker. “Bud soon became an enthusiast for motoring," Jackson bragged, especially after his masters put a pair of their goggles on him to keep the stinging, alkali dust out of his eyes.
- Tret, a parkouring dog from Ukraine.
Listed by year of publication
- Ormsby, Clifford & Alberta. The American Staffordshire Terrier, 1956
- Nicholas, Anna Katherine. Staffordshire Terriers: American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier, 1991, 256 pages; ISBN 0-86622-637-0
- Foster, Sarah. The American Staffordshire Terrier: Gamester and Guardian, 1998, 139 pages; ISBN 0-87605-003-8
- Linzy, Jan. American Staffordshire Terrier Champions, 1988-1995, 1998, 84 pages; ISBN 1-55893-054-X
- Linzy, Jan. American Staffordshire Terrier Champions, 1996-2001, 2002, 84 pages; ISBN 1-55893-102-3
- Janish, Joseph. American Staffordshire Terrier, 2003, 155 pages; ISBN 1-59378-248-9
- "FCI - Nomenclature des races". Fci.be. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- "American Staffordshire Terrier Page". Akc.org. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- Schaffner, Joan (2009) A lawyer's guide to dangerous dog issues. Chicago, American Bar Association. ISBN 9781604425529
- Duffy, D. et al. (2008) "Breed differences in canine aggression." Applied Animal Behaviour Science 114: 441-460.
- Historiainfinitus.com, Jack * Fredie Bartos Brutus profile
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to American Staffordshire Terrier.|
- American Staffordshire Terrier - History, Traits and Temperament, Health
- American Kennel Club - American Staffordshire Terrier information
- American Staffordshire Terrier Forum
- Staffordshire Terrier Club of America