The Ultimate Guide on Staffordshire Terrier- Everything You Need to Know
The Staffordshire terrier is a strong, loyal, and intelligent dog. They are also considered a medium-sized pitbull breed. Although pitbulls are considered aggressive, the Staffordshire terrier is quite friendly. This dog makes a great household companion and gets along with people well. They are easy to train and socialize with. Beneath its tough-looking exterior, the Staffordshire terrier is an exceptionally loyal and loving dog.
Below is everything you need to know about the Staffordshire terrier.
The Staffordshire bull terrier originated in Great Britain. It was a crossbreed of the bulldog and different terriers. Bulldogs were used for their aggressive personality and athletic body in dog fighting and bull baiting. Therefore, in a bid to produce an even more powerful and fierce fighter, dog breeders crossbred the Staffordshire bull terrier.
However, when the two sports were outlawed, dog owners and breeders started to market the bull terrier as a homestead dog. Unfortunately, due to the fearsome reputation of the breed, most people were hesitant. Besides, they initially seemed like strange dogs to keep at home.
In 1930, a breeder named Joseph Dunn started lobbying for the Staffordshire bull terrier to be recognized in the United Kennel. It was accepted in 1935, and the breed-specific legislation was approved.
However, the American Kennel Club refused to recognize the Staffordshire bull terriers that had entered the US in the late 1800s. Instead, in 1972, the club renamed the American dog to American Staffordshire terrier. In 1974, it was recognized as the Staffordshire bull terrier.
Physical Features: American Staffordshire Terrier vs Staffordshire Bull Terrier
While the American bull terrier and Staffordshire bull Terrier resemble each other closely, they have a few differences. The America Staffordshire terrier, also commonly referred to as the American pit bull terrier or American Staffy, is much bigger. It weighs 45-70 pounds with a height of 13”-16”. On the other hand, the Staffordshire bull terrier weighs 24-40 pounds with a height of 13”-16”.
These medium-sized dogs have a compact, stocky and muscular body structure. They are quite strong, agile, energetic, and curious. They have a powerful jaw, strong head, and neck.
Their coat is short, soft, and smooth. The Staffordshire terrier comes in different colors ranging from fawn black, tan, red, and blue. They have white markings on different body parts, including the neck, chest, and sometimes on the head. Their eyes are alert and bright.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier Temperament
Staffordshire terriers are tenacious and courageous but friendly, affectionate, reliable, and loyal. The Staffordshire bull terrier is referred to as a “nanny dog’ as it is good with kids. It can spend an entire day playing and cuddling with kids; however, if it can play rough, you do not want to leave it with a little one unattended until it is well-socialized.
It is quite intelligent, which makes it easy to train. However, if not provided with adequate brain stimulation and consistent training, the pit bull terriers can become a bit cheeky and quickly pick up bad behavior.
Although they are friendly with people, they can be quite competitive with other dogs leading to hostile behavior. As such, they do well as the only dog in a household.
Life Expectancy and Growth Cycle
Staffordshire terriers are relatively healthy breeds with few health issues. They have an average life expectancy of 12-14 years. With proper nutrition and exercise, some exceed the life expectancy by a few years.
Staffordshire bull terrier and American Staffordshire terrier puppies undergo numerous growth and development stages in their first year. As soon as they can walk at around 1-2 months, they start playing and engaging with the environment. Their muscles and bones continue to grow until they reach adulthood.
A staffy is considered fully grown at 12 months when it reaches an adult height and weight range. However, some puppies take up to 18 months to reach the adult size. As such, Staffordshire terriers are fully grown by the age of two.
These pups teethe between the age of 4-9 months. At around 6-9 months, their heads begin to spread. Spreading, also known as splitting, is a growth process in terrier breeds where their heads spread out from being small and narrow to wide and big. The jawbone also develops further as the head becomes bigger.
How to Care for Staffordshire Terriers
Contrary to what you may assume, Staffordshire terriers do not require too much space. As such, they can live in most homes, including apartments. They are highly adaptable as long as you provide them with the essentials – a comfortable and cozy bed, some mental stimulation toys, and a toilet area.
They do not like to be left alone for too long as they truly enjoy human company. As such, they may suffer separation anxiety when left alone. Therefore, hire a nanny or leave them at a reputable daycare center if you will be away for extended periods. When leaving them alone for a few hours, ensure to provide several toys to keep them busy or have someone occasionally check on them.
Staffies are easy to take care of. They are low maintenance with minimal grooming needs. Although they shed throughout the year, the amount they shed is minimal. However, they still require regular brushing to remove dead hair.
Every one or two weeks is sufficient for grooming, depending on how much hair your pup sheds. Use a rubber glove or brush. Since the hair is short, it does not require trimming or combing.
Since the weekly brushing gets rid of dead hair and dirt, the Staffordshire terrier can get away with just one bath per month. Use shampoo to clean the dog’s coat and follow up with conditioner. If your dog has sensitive skin, use hypoallergenic or medicated shampoo.
Incorporate nail clipping and ear cleaning as part of their bathing regimen. Apply paw balm to their paw pads weekly as they are susceptible to cracking. You can treat your Staffordshire terrier to a professional grooming session every few months.
Staffordshire terriers tend to gain weight fast. So, you need to provide them with a healthy diet that provides enough energy for their muscular, athletic bodies, but not too much that it accumulates fat. Pay attention to your dog’s energy needs depending on its size, age, and activity level to establish the recommended daily calorie intake.
These dog breeds require a high protein and healthy fats diet. Keep the diet low in carbohydrates and preferable grain-free. They can eat dog foods produced for pitbulls and bull terriers. Watch out for allergies and eliminate ingredients that cause them.
Staffies have a sensitive digestive system that is susceptible to bloating. Add a mix of fiber and space out meals to allow ample time for digestion. Talk to your vet about giving your terrier supplements and which ones would be right. For instance, calcium supplements can boost bone and joint strength, while omega fatty acids improve coat health.
Adults staffies do well with two meals a day, one in the morning and the other in the evening. That amounts to 1.5-2.5 cups of food spread out throughout the day in most cases. On the other hand, newborns should feed on demand while breastfeeding.
Staffordshire bull terrier and American Staffordshire terrier puppies require more regular feeding intervals as they tend to move around and play a lot, using up their energy.
Due to their high energy levels and athletic bodies, Staffordshire terriers require regular exercise – at least one hour each day or 90 minutes whenever possible. Otherwise, they can be aggressive and destructive. Dog experts recommend a combination of running, walking, and playing for this dog.
Adult Staffordshire terriers can keep up with high-intensity runs. However, avoid running in hot weather as your dog may suffer from heatstroke. Also, avoid running on concrete surfaces to prevent joint injuries for both you and your dog. Provide lots of opportunities for agility training such as obstacle games and strength training such as tug of war.
Beware that they can be aggressive towards other dogs, especially guard dogs, pitbulls, and other terrier breeds such as the Labrador retriever, American bully, great dane, American bulldog, and Yankee terrier. When taking them for a walk or a run, ensure they have a leash on and keep them close to you. However, with proper training, this issue may not arise.
Exercise needs are slightly different for Staffordshire terrier puppies. While you need to stick with a daily exercise schedule, most exercise should be done from home through play and walks around the house or in the garden. Do not over-exercise puppies as it can cause injuries to the developing bones and joints. The right amount of exercise for puppies is five minutes every month since birth.
Similarly, senior Staffordshire terriers have unique exercise needs. As they grow older, they become less energetic and may develop mobility and other health issues. Therefore, keep the pace and intensity of exercise at low to moderate levels.
Generally, Staffordshire terriers are not good swimmers. Their large chests, big head, and small legs make it difficult to stay afloat. So, water activities should be avoided.
Incorporate numerous brain stimulation activities into their play or supplementary exercises after physical exercise. Brain-stimulating games for Staffordshire terriers include trick training, advanced obedience training, sniff and search games, and food puzzles.
Consider enrolling your dog in the Staffordshire terrier club for playdates or competition with other terriers.
Since they are quite intelligent, Staffordshire terriers are easy to train. They take instructions with ease. However, they can try to push the boundaries making training challenging. Be patient with them and train consistently.
They respond best to short and fun training sessions with lots of positive reinforcement. Well-socialized and trained Staffordshire terriers are such a joy to have around.
Where to Get a Staffordshire Terrier
You can bring a Staffordshire terrier home from a breeder at eight weeks of age and above. All their senses are fully developed at this age, and they are fully weaned. Therefore, you can feed the terrier puppy with puppy dog food and train it. However, if you want to buy an adult Staffordshire terrier, the best option is to adopt from rescue kennels.
If you care about the dog’s health condition, buying from a reputable dog breeder is the best option. Ask for the health records, history of vaccination, and heredity. On the other hand, while adopting from a rescue center is a noble and cheaper option, you will not be able to always ascertain the dog’s current health condition.
Generally, Staffordshire terriers are healthy dogs. However, they are prone to certain diseases, mostly due to predisposing genetic conditions. These health issues range from eye problems, joint and bone problems, cancer, and allergies.
Obesity is one of the most common dog health issues in Staffordshire terriers as they gain weight easily. If not prevented or reversed, obesity can cause many other diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
A majority of eye problems in staffies are passed down genetically. For example, cataracts are the most common cause of blindness in older Staffords, distichiasis, which causes hair to grow inside the eyelids, and poorly-developed eyeballs.
Several musculoskeletal problems are also reported in Staffordshire terriers. The most common is hip dysplasia, which causes the femoral bone head to not attach properly to the hip joint. It can cause immobility and arthritis.
Staffordshire puppies are also prone to osteochondritis, while patellar luxation is common across all ages.
Other common diseases in Staffordshire terriers include:
- Dental decay and abnormalities
- Respiratory distress disorder
- Compulsive tail chasing
- Kidney stones
- Cushing’s disease
- Bacterial and viral infections
Keep up with your Staffordshire terrier’s vaccination schedule. Also, have your terrier spayed or neutered between the ages of 4-9 months to promote optimal dog health.
Staffordshire terrier’s reputation of being aggressive is unfounded. They are not a dangerous breed whatsoever. With proper training, they are a perfect household companion dog. They are quite adaptable, and you do not need a big house or a garden area to keep one.
They are confident, friendly, and good around people, including children of all ages. They are low maintenance in grooming, vet care, and diet. As such, they are a great choice for first-time dog owners.