Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Breed At A Glance


Fearless, obedient, and affectionate, great with children

Life Expectancy
11-15 years

Average Height
14-16 inches

Average Weight
Males 28-38 lbs; Females 24-34 lbs

Coat Color
Varies widely

Coat Length/Texture
Smooth, short and lays close to the skin

Shedding Propensity
Consistent year round

Also known as Staff, Stafford, Staffy, Staffie, English Staffordshire Bull Terrier

General Temperament

The courageous and loving Staffordshire Bull Terrier handles every aspect of it’s life with passion. An extremely obedient and loyal breed, they will fiercely defend their owners even if it results in injury to themselves. This should not be mistaken as unprovoked aggression towards humans, however; they are actually quite people-friendly and most enjoy making new human friends.

Staffies are particularly gentle and patient with children, and have even been described as “nanny dogs.” Other dogs and animals that they are raised with will be well-tolerated, but it may be difficult to introduce a new pet into the home once the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is full-grown. They will rarely instigate a fight with another dog, but are certainly up to the challenge if provoked. Their tenacity in such situations can result in severe injury to both dogs. Even a well-trained Staffordshire has a strong prey drive and will give chase to all sorts of cats and wildlife if given the chance. This can present obvious problems, such as the dog running into traffic, and it is therefore very important to keep the Staffordshire on a leash when on walks.

Effectively training a Staffordshire Bull Terrier requires strength and consistency from an experienced owner who can establish dominance over the dog from the very beginning, although this breed should never been treated harshly and training should never be heavy-handed. If socialization and obedience training are started early in the dog’s life, the Staffie can excel in agility and obedience trials and can even be effective therapy dogs. They have tremendous stamina and require plenty of exercise, including daily walks.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are well-known escape artists and have been known to dig under, climb over, or even barrel through fencing. If the dog is to be left unattended for any length of time in a fenced area, be sure the enclosure is extremely well-secured. Given that they are seemingly impervious to pain, “invisible” fences are generally not sufficient for this breed. Staffordshire puppies are incessant chewers, and their strong jaws can tear apart vinyl toys easily, even those that are advertised as “indestructible.” Provide plenty of strong toys and rawhides, but be sure to monitor them to be sure the dog does not swallow anything that might harm them.

Although the Staffordshire Bull Terrier can be satisfied living outdoors, they have a very low tolerance for extreme heat and should not be left outside in hot climates or summer without sufficient shade, or possibly even an electric fan. They have similar problems with colder temperatures and extra steps should be taken during the winter months. The Staffordshire’s muscular body lacks buoyancy and therefore most individuals cannot swim. Extreme care should be taken when this dog is around pools or bodies of water.

Breed History

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was created as a cross between the early larger versions of the Bulldog, which was used in the sport of bull baiting, and a small native Terrier local to the Staffordshire area of England. This produced a smaller fighting dog, weighing between 30 and 45 lbs. Although offshoots of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier were given recognition by the English Kennel Club as early as the late 1800’s, it was 1935 before this breed received the same honor, primarily due to it’s fighting history. After the breed was introduced to the United States during the 1880’s, it was bred to be taller and heavier than it’s English counterpart, eventually becoming the breed known as the American Bull Terrier.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was given full breed recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1975.

Body Structure and Composition

Squarely-proportioned and muscular, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier exudes stout agility. The broad skull is topped by rose-shaped or partially pricked ears and flanked by rather muscular cheeks. The jaw should not be undershot, but they do have a unique bite in which the lower incisors rest inside of the upper incisors. The neck, like the body, is thick and muscular. The medium-length tail is fairly straight, never curled or docked, and carried low. The forelegs are well-boned and straight, and the hind legs well-muscled and parallel when viewed from behind. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a free and powerful gait.

Medical Information

As this breed is bold and fearless, the most prevalent medical problem for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is injury. Jumping off of balconies, scuffles with wildlife and being hit by cars are all common occurrences reported by Staffordshire owners. This breed is known to have a very high tolerance for pain, and most individuals will rarely show any significant signs of injury or illness unless the discomfort is extreme.

This does not mean that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is free from the hereditary ailments that plague other breeds. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia are particular problems for this breed. These conditions occur when the head of the bone no longer fits comfortably into the cup provided by the joint socket, resulting in lameness and arthritis. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) provides certification of breeding stock to help prevent the spread of these diseases, among others.

Juvenile cataracts can also be a problem for a small percentage of Staffordshire Bull Terriers. This condition causes opacity on the lens of one or both eyes, leading to blindness by as early as age three. In order to show signs of this hereditary disease, a puppy must receive copies of the affected gene from both parents, but they can still be a carrier if only one gene is present. DNA testing is available to determine the presence of this disease in breeding stock, and individuals who test positive should not be bred (certainly not to other positive individuals).

The gene for a metabolic disorder known as L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria (L-2-HGA) has been shown via DNA test in approximately 15% of all tested Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Affected dogs lack the ability to break down L-2-hydroxyglutaric acid, causing the compound to build up in the dog’s cerebrospinal fluid and plasma. Symptom of this disease include lack of coordination, tremors, personality disorders, poor learning abilities, and seizures, and since there is no cure, most affected dogs will need to be euthanized at an early age. Inheritability is like that of juvenile cataracts, and similarly, a DNA test can detect the gene’s presence in breeding stock.

Like many other breeds, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is sometimes prone to skin allergies and mange. Be sure to provide preventative medicine throughout the year to minimize insect infestations. Otherwise, the coat of the Staffie is easy to maintain; simply brush occasionally and/or rub them down with a clean cloth or chamois.

Anecdotal Information

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has been the unfortunate subject of breed bans in several areas of the world, largely due to this dog being branded as a “pit bull.” The breed was banned in Ontario in 2005, and the German government attempted to ban the dog across the European Union in 2000, but the ban was blocked by members of the British Kennel Club.

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