American Staffordshire Terriers are stocky, muscular bull-type terriers standing 17 to 19 inches (43 - 48 cm) at the shoulder. The head is broad, the jaws well defined, the cheekbones pronounced, and the dark, round eyes are set wide apart. Their movement is agile and graceful, with a springy gait that advertises the breed’s innate confidence. The stiff, glossy coat comes in many colors and patterns. American Staffordshire Terriers are keenly aware of their surroundings, game for anything, and lovable “personality dogs” around the house. They like mental and physical challenges and they are highly trainable.
For the bull-type terrier breeds, the common component in their makeup was the Bulldog. (The Bulldog of 200 years ago was a vastly different, more ferocious creature than the lovable “sourmugs” of today.) The breed experts have an argument about the preexisting terrier breeds reside in the American Staffordshire Terrier's genetic background. Some suggest that such extinct breeds as the White English Terrier and Black-and-Tan Terrier were part of the genetic mix that led to the creation of the Staffordshire Terrier, forerunner of the American Staffordshire Terrier.
Years ago in Great Britain, several dog breeds were created to excel in blood sports. They were expected to fight one another, or they were turned loose in packs against a staked bear or bull, with spectators betting on the grisly outcome. Such revolting pastimes have long since been outlawed. These sad spectacles did, however, leave us a happy legacy: many of today’s most loved breeds such as the Bulldog, the Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier among them—got their start as fighting and baiting dogs of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Whatever the American Staffordshire Terrier true genetic composition might be, we are certain that working-class Brits with an interest in blood sports combined the stocky build and punishing jaws of old-style Bulldogs with the innate courage and “gameness” of terriers to create bull-type terrier breeds.
By the mid-1800s, Staffordshire Terriers had arrived in America. U.S. breeders developed a Staffordshire Terrier that was larger than the English version. Eventually, the AKC recognized the two types as separate breeds: the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier.
The American Staffordshire Terrier of today is a more a family dog than his pit-fighting ancestors and has long been a great American favorite. This is suggested by the breed’s many sightings : In 1903, an American Staffordshire Terrier named Bud was along for the ride on America’s first cross-country auto trip (the subject of the Ken Burns documentary “Horatio’s Drive”); Petey, in the old “Our Gang” film comedies of the 1930s, was an American Staffordshire Terrier, as is Tige, the dog in the Buster Brown Shoes logo; and America’s most decorated American war dog was an AmStaff named Sgt. Stubby, a K-9 of World War I who counted three U.S. presidents among his admirers.
FCI-Standard N° 286
AMERICAN STAFFORDSHIRE TERRIER
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE OFFICIAL VALID
FCI-CLASSIFICATION: Group 3 Terriers.
Section 3 Bull type Terriers.
Without working trial.
GENERAL APPEARANCE: The 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. His courage is
HEAD: Medium length, deep through.
Nose: Definitely black.
Muzzle: Medium length, rounded on upper side to fall away abruptly
below the eyes.
Lips: Close and even; no looseness.
Jaws/Teeth: Well defined. Under jaw strong and to have biting
power. Upper teeth to meet tightly outside lower teeth in front.
Cheeks: Very pronounced cheek muscles.
EYES: Dark, round, low down in skull, set far apart. No pink
EARS: Set high. Cropped or uncropped, the latter preferred.
Uncropped ears should be short and held rose or half prick. Full
drop to be penalized.
NECK: Heavy, slightly arched, tapering from shoulders to back of
skull. No looseness of skin. Medium length.
Topline : Back fairly short. Slight sloping from withers to rump with
gentle short slope at rump to base of tail.
Loins: Slightly tucked.
Chest: Deep and broad. Well sprung ribs; close together, deep in
TAIL: Short in comparison to size, low set, tapering to fine point;
not curled or carried over back. Not docked.
FOREQUARTERS: Front legs straight, with large bones. Set rather
wide apart to permit chest development.
Shoulders: Strong and muscular, with blades wide and sloping.
Forefeet: Of moderate size, well arched and compact.
HINDQUARTERS: Well muscled.
Hocks: Let down, turning neither in nor out.
Hind feet: Of moderate size, well arched and compact.
GAIT / MOVEMENT: Springy but without roll or pace.
Hair: Short, close, stiff to the touch, glossy.
Colour: Any colour, solid, particolour, or patched is permissible; but
more than 80% white, black and tan, and liver not to be encouraged.
SIZE: Height and weight should be in proportion. A height of about
eighteen to nineteen inches (46 - 48 cm) at the shoulder for the male
and seventeen to eighteen inches (43 - 46 cm) for the female to be
FAULTS : Any departure from the foregoing points should be
considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be
regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect
upon the health and welfare of the dog.
• Dudley nose.
• Undershot or overshot mouth.
• Light eyes.
• Pink eyelids.
• Tail too long or badly carried.
• Aggressive or overly shy dogs.
• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully
descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation, should be used for breeding.