Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Stafford) Dog Breed information and care

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Staffordshire Bullterrier portrait
Staffordshire Bullterrier Portrait

The Staffordshire bull terrier, also called the Stafford, Staffy, or Staffie, is a medium-sized dog of somewhat short stature with a muscular, athletic body ideal for its original purpose of dog-fighting. Contrary to its tough appearance, the Stafford is a gentle, loyal, and highly affectionate dog breed and recognized by the American Kennel Club in the 1970s. Praised for its nanny-like instincts, the Stafford gets along remarkably well with children when properly trained and socialized. However, because of this breed's strong prey drive and dog-fighting ancestry, use caution around other pets.

Breed Overview

  • Group: Terrier
  • Height: 14 to 16 inches at the shoulder
  • Weight: 24 to 38 pounds
  • Coat and Color: Short, smooth coat in red, fawn, white, black, blue or brindle (any shade). All colors may be with or without white.
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Characteristics of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Affection LevelHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh
Energy LevelMedium
Tendency to BarkMedium
Amount of SheddingMedium
Staffordshire Bullterrier Portrait

History of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The Staffordshire bull terrier was developed in England during the 19th century for dog fighting. In order to create a faster and more compact dog breed, bulldogs were crossed with small terriers, most likely Manchester terriers and similar breeds. At the time, bulldogs were large, fierce, and intrepid, much different than today's bulldog.

Before landing on its current name, Staffords have been called bull-and-terrier dogs, bulldog terriers, and old pit bull terriers. Once dog fighting was made illegal during the early 20th century, Staffords became more widely recognized and loyal and affectionate companion dogs.

short-coated white, black, and brown dog lying on floor
short-coated white, black, and brown dog lying on floor

The Staffordshire bull terrier was brought to the U.S. towards the end of the 19th century but was not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1974.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Care

The short, smooth coat of the Stafford requires little more than routine grooming. This breed tends to shed at a low to moderate rate, though shedding does increase seasonally. Keep the nails neatly trimmed for healthy, comfortable feet.

As with any dog breed, proper training is a must for the Staffy. This is a very intelligent dog breed that can be stubborn, following its own will if permitted. Therefore, obedience training is essential in order to manage your dog and provide structure. Socialization is just as important, so your dog will be comfortable in all kinds of situations.

The Stafford is an athletic dog breed with plenty of energy, so routine exercise is essential. Be careful not to overdo it in warmer weather, as the breed is typically sensitive to heat. Staffords will especially benefit from dog sports that challenge them mentally and physically. A securely fenced yard is a good play area, but be aware that the Stafford is a terrier and will dig an escape tunnel if able. You may wish to reinforce the bottom of fences.

woman wearing white shirt sitting near sleeping puppy
woman wearing white shirt sitting near sleeping puppy

Staffordshire bull terriers should never be walked off-leash as they can be aggressive with unknown dogs and will chase any small animals they consider to be prey. They are unlikely to do well at free-run dog parks. These strong dogs will need training to avoid pulling on the leash.

Overall, Staffordshire bull terriers have friendly, gentle dispositions and make lovely companions for many types of households. If raised together, well-trained, and closely supervised, they may even learn to get along with other animals beautifully, but some of these dogs will be best suited for a one-pet household.

anonymous woman walking a dog
Anonymous Woman Walking A Dog

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to develop hereditary conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

  • Hip dysplasia: A condition that occurs when the dog's hip socket forms abnormally and causes pain or joint problems.
  • Patellar luxation: An issue that occurs when the dog's kneecap dislocates from its proper position.
  • Allergies and other skin issues: Skin issues can occur from allergic reactions to pollen, dangers, plants, insects, food, and medication.
staffordshire bull terriers as pets illustration
Staffordshire Bull Terriers As Pets Illustration

Diet and Nutrition

The Staffordshire bull terrier should be fed two meals a day of dry dog food, each of up to 1 cup of food. A dog's individual needs will be determined by age, activity level, and health conditions. It's best not to exercise your dog for an hour after eating in order to help reduce the risk of bloating and stomach torsion.

What's the most energetic dog breed
  • Minimal grooming

  • Loyal, kind, and protective of children

  • Affectionate and playful

  • Need a lot of exercise but are also sensitive to heat

  • May be aggressive toward other animals and may need to be in a one-pet household

  • Have a tendency to chew and dig, especially as puppies

black and white border collie mix
black and white border collie mix

Where to Adopt or Buy a Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire bull terriers may be available at local shelters or with rescue groups. Check with breed-specific rescue groups to see if they have information on Staffies in your area.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you are active, patient, and ready to provide plenty of one-on-one affection to your dog, the Staffy could be the dog breed for you. However, it's important to do more research before you decide to get one of your own. Talk to veterinarians and pet professionals, Staffy owners, responsible breeders, and bully breed rescue groups to learn all you can.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, look into these to compare the pros and cons.