American Staffordshire Terrier Care

The American Staffordshire Terrier: muscular, athletic, loyal, and incredibly affectionate and enthusiastic. The Am-Staff, as the breed is often called, shares many commonalities with the American Pit Bull Terrier--and like its Pit Bull cousin, the Am-Staff unfortunately has dog fighting in its history, which tends to give the breed a reputation of being overly aggressive. As many a responsible owner will tell you, though, a properly trained and socialized Am-Staff is an absolute joy. Overall American Staffordshire Terrier care and maintenance will take a moderate amount of work, and will need to include plenty of daily exercise along with lots of training and socialization.

Below you'll find plenty of details on caring for an Am-Staff: puppy care and development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more are covered here. Consider this your definitive American Staffordshire Terrier guide--and read on!

American Staffordshire Terrier Breed Development

Am-Staff puppy development from birth to full maturity typically spans 16-18 months. Physically, these puppies grow rapidly for the first 7-8 months, then those growth rates slow somewhat while the adolescent Am-Staff "fills out" by gaining a great deal of muscle mass (and some fat); an Am-Staff is usually at or near its full adult size by 14-16 months of age. Socially, Am-Staff puppies develop fairly steadily: they enter adolescence at 5-6 months; sexual maturity comes at 10-11 months; full mental maturity is reached by 18 months, though some will retain their puppylike behavior for an additional year or more. For specific milestones in puppy development, reference the chart below:

American Staffordshire Terrier Exercise Needs

The Am-Staff is an incredibly muscular and athletic breed, so plenty of daily exercise is an absolute requirement for these dogs. And since they're both strong and limber, they'll need activities that maintain both that fearsome AmStaff muscle and their overall athleticism. The typical adult Am-Staff, depending on its age and overall activity level, will need 60-90 minutes of exercise per day. You can begin exercising an Am-Staff puppy at three months of age by taking it on short (15-minute) leashed walks, then increasing the walks' duration as the puppy grows.

There are, however, some important precautions that must be taken when exercising your Am-Staff. First, puppies younger than nine months old shouldn't participate in activities that include a lot of jumping and running, as doing so can injure their still-developing bones and joints. And regardless of its age, an Am-Staff will need to be leashed when in public. Because of these dogs' tendency for aggression, they can pose a threat to humans and other animals (particularly other dogs), so they'll need to be closely supervised and controlled when in public places like parks or city streets. Am-Staffs also are not very tolerant of weather extremes, so it's best not to exercise these dogs in very hot or cold temperatures.

Safeguards aside, it's incredibly important to give an Am-Staff some exercise every single day. A bored or restless Am-Staff will be extremely difficult to handle: it'll bark, turn disobedient (and possibly aggressive), and will become unbelievably destructive, chewing valuables to shreds. So daily activity will save the dog's peace of mind--and your own as well. Here are a few suggestions for Am-Staff exercise:

  • Walking: Two 20-minute walks per day is a good target
  • Fetch/Frisbee: An Am-Staff will chase thrown objects for hours
  • Hide-and-Seek: Great indoor activity; give the dog a treat when it finds you
  • Weight Pulling: Attach a rope to a heavy object like a spare tire, and the rope to a harness for the dog
  • Obedience/Agility Trials: Am-Staffs compete well in these and other canine sports


When indoors, it's good to give your Am-Staff access to one or more balls to let the dog release any pent-up energy. These dogs are known to be frequent chewers, so having a chew-toy or three lying around will be ideal. It's also recommended that you establish a consistent daily exercise schedule for your Am-Staff, such as walks after breakfast and dinner and a play period in the afternoon.

American Staffordshire Terrier Maintenance

Maintenance for these dogs in terms of shedding and drooling is moderate overall. American Staffordshire Terrier shedding is light for most of the year, but heavier during shedding season; Am-Staffs drool some, but it's not a frequent problem.

Am-Staffs have short, smooth, close-lying coats that shed a little bit year-round. Once (and sometimes twice) per year, they "blow" their coats and the shedding is heavier, but not overwhelmingly so. Owners say brushing Am-Staffs once a week (and more frequently during shedding season) minimizes the shedding issue pretty well; even so, if an Am-Staff is present in your household you'll need to vacuum the floors and use lint rollers on clothes and furniture from time to time.

And Am-Staffs often drool in anticipation of food or when they get excited, but not constantly like a Bloodhound or Saint Bernard. Still, owners say having a rag or towel handy for cleaning up slobber might be good. And if your Am-Staff is drooling excessively or constantly, it may be a sign of a medical issue, in which case veterinary care is recommended.

American Staffordshire Terrier Diet

American Staffy diet and nutrition are super-important in maintaining these dogs' health, happiness, and longevity. As strong, athletic animals, Am-Staffs will need a diet that's high in animal proteins and carbohydrates--and a grain-free diet is recommended, as many of these dogs have allergies to wheat, corn, barley, and other grains.

But what American Staffordshire Terrier diet is best? Commercial food or fresh? The debate over these food types has continued for decades. Many breed experts believe feeding an Am-Staff a diet of fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, eggs, and other prepared foods is best for the dog--and while that may technically be correct, a majority of Am-Staff owners find such a diet for their dogs to be too expensive and time-consuming. The most popular choice, then, is premium grain-free dry food. The dry food will need to be high-quality because premium foods contain the necessary proteins and carbs that cheap dog foods simply don't have; grain-free formulas are also easier to find in premium foods than in cheap ones. Some owners also say they like to mix in a bit of fresh meat or vegetables with the dry food to make it more appealing to the dog.  

And how much of this premium Am-Staff diet should you feed the dog? And how often? The typical adult Am-Staff--and the amount may vary depending on the dog's age and activity level--will need about 2½ cups of premium dry food per day, divided into two meals. Puppies, again depending on their age, will need a bit less: 1½ cups per day, divided into three meals until the pup is six months old. And it's best to feed your young Am-Staff a grain-free puppy formula until it's nine months old, then you can transition to adult food by mixing the two together. Regardless of age, it's recommended that you establish a consistent feeding schedule so your Am-Staff gets used to eating at the same time every day. For more detailed info, consult the Am-Staff feeding guide below:

*--Around this time, begin mixing a bit of adult food in with the puppy food. Over the course of a week, mix in more adult food with each meal until the Am-Staff is eating it entirely.

It's best to try and follow the guidelines listed above; while the portions may seem small, they're ample enough for your Am-Staff. Obesity is not a very common problem with these dogs, but an overfed (and under-exercised) Am-Staff may become overweight and will have breathing, joint, and digestive issues, not to mention a shorter lifespan. You can control an Am-Staff's weight in several ways: by having consistent feeding and exercise schedules; no feeding it table scraps; and no "free-feeding," which is leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time so it can eat anytime it wants.

If you're worried your Am-Staff is overweight, give the dog this simple Ribs Test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Decrease the Am-Staff's daily food consumption by one-fourth, and add an extra walk or play period to its daily exercise schedule.

Living Environment

In reality, the Am-Staff is both an inside and outside breed. These dogs will prefer living inside with the human family members they love so much--but they'll also require plenty of outdoor exercise on a daily basis. And for the American Staffordshire Terrier, apartment living isn't recommended. Not only are these dogs too active for small living quarters, but many places have rules against owning breeds like the Am-Staff or the Pit Bull. Some insurance companies even refuse coverage for households that own this breed. It's recommended that owners check their insurance policies and their local pet ordinances to see if such stipulations are in place.

In regards to climate: Am-Staffs do best in moderate weather, so owners are advised not to take them out in either sweltering heat or freezing cold.

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