American Staffordshire Terrier
The Amstaff shares its origin with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and situates himself somewhere between the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier on the genealogical tree.
Contrary to its bad reputation, the Amstaff is good-natured and is very sweet with children. It has to be underlined that even at the "glory" days of dog-fighting, the hostility was oriented towards other dogs, never to people. On the contrary, this breed was specifically bred for its acceptance of being handled by its owner even during the heat of the fight. They were selected for their willingness and ability to achieve goals imposed by their masters. Indeed, still today Amstaffs are known as "pleasers" and not as maulers.
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The American Staffordshire Terrier :
Gamester and Guardian
(Howell's Best of Breed Library)
by Sarah Foster
American Staffordshire Terriers (KW Dog)
by Anna K. Nicholas
American Pit Bull Terriers/American Staffordshire Terriers:
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Bull and Terrier Breeds.
Breeds descending from ancient Bull-and-Terrier crosses.
The first dogs to arrive in the States with the English immigrants in the mid-19th century were the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Blue Paul Terrier, a now extinct breed. The latter were legendary dogs of which was said that they were selected and bred by the Scottish pirate Paul Jones. They were almost all of a blue-grey color.
They were bigger than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier with 50 cm of height and 24 kg of weight and like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier were imported for use in organized dog-fighting. Charlie Lloyd is credited with importing "Paddy" and "Pilot" from England around 1880, two Staffordshire Bull Terrier with incomparable fighting spirit who figured in the formation of the American strain.
Soon, selective breeding was undertaken to increase the size and weight of the British version.The head and chest were also increased. The ears were cropped to accentuate this more massive head and to prevent them from being ripped during the fights.
In 1900, dog-fighting was generally outlawed in America and a group of fanciers wanted to promote other characteristics of the breed. The American Staffordshire served its country during WWI, and one Amstaff named "Stubby" became the most decorated war dog earning the rank of sergeant.
3 months old female puppy
By 1936 these dogs were recognized by the AKC as a separate breed, but under the breed name Staffordshire Terrier. The prefix "American" was added in 1972 to differentiate the breed from the newly recognized Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
The Amstaff is an intelligent and loyal companion dog. Like with all former fighting dog breeds the high tolerance displayed during fights has turned into loving patience displayed with his human family and playmates. Their courage is legendary and they are excellent guardian dogs combining the strength and power of the Bulldog with the agility of the Terrier. The terrier like pugnacity towards other animals demands an owner capable of maintaining control. A consistent education and loving environment are essential.
10 weeks old Amstaff puppy 'Bill' from Belgium
Photo by Ula Kapala
The American Staffordshire Terrier is a muscular and stocky dog, conferring the impression of tremendous power for its size. He measures 17 to 19 inch. (43 - 48 cm) and weighs up to 50 Lbs (18 - 23 kg).
Due to its huge popularity, the breed soon spread all over the country.
Although today's Amstaff is considered a different breed from the Pit Bull it was first registered in 1898 by the United Kennel Club as "American Pit Bull Terrier", abandoning the various local denominations varying from "pit bull", "American pit bull", "Yankee terrier", "half-and half", "pit bulldog" and "blue paul" which where commonly used at that time to designate these dogs.
The Amstaff differs from the Pit Bull in the following points:
1. color. There is no preference scale or order of priority for the colors, but brindle is the most diffused. Not desirable are black & tan (hereditary of the ancient black & tan terrier), liver color (transmitted by the ancient pit bulls) and white (if more than 80%).
2. bone structure: the robustness and structure of the bones of the front legs is more important in the Amstaff, while the drive (pushing power) and agility in the hind legs is more emphasized in the Pit Bull.