Staffordshire Bull Terrier Care

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier (often called the Staffy for short) is a medium-sized, muscular, friendly, athletic breed that's usually misunderstood. These dogs, like their Pit Bull cousins, are often considered vicious and aggressive--when in fact they're exceptionally affectionate (especially with kids), and are actually considered companion dogs. Overall Staffy care and maintenance won't take a ton of work, but will need to include a good bit of daily exercise and some early training and socialization.

Below you'll find plenty of details on how to look after a Staffy: puppy care and development, exercise needs, and general maintenance are covered--and the Diet and Food sections include both a Staffy weight guide and a Staffy food guide. Get all your needed Staffy puppy advice in the following sections!

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Development

As a medium-sized breed, Staffy growth stages typically span 17-19 months from birth to full maturity. Since the breed's lifespan averages 13 years, senior Staffies are dogs nine years of age or older.

Physical Development: Staffy puppies grow steadily in height and length for the first nine months or so, then those growth rates slow while the adolescent "fills out" with muscle and fat. And when do Staffies stop growing? These dogs normally reach their adult height and weight (an average of 15 inches and 35 pounds) at about 12 months of age.

Social Development: Pups reach adolescence at about six months, sexual maturity at about nine months, and full mental maturity by about 18 months.

For further details on Staffordshire Bull Terrier development, see the chart below.

(NOTE: Staffies can be highly destructive, frequent chewers, and may be aggressive towards other pets unless trained not to do so. To ensure proper behavior once they're mature, new Staffy owners need to begin obedience training and socialization as early in puppies' lives as possible, and continue with them until the dog is an adult.)

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Exercise Needs

Since these dogs are athletic, energetic, and well-muscled, Staffy exercise needs are extensive. Staffies will need a variety of activities that both condition them physically (walking, fetch) and stimulate them mentally (games, canine sports)--and some weight training exercises to tone that famous Staffy muscle will be great too. These dogs make great jogging and bicycling companions as well.

Specifically how much exercise does a Staffy need each day? Adults will need an hour of dedicated exercise per day at the least. You can start exercising your Staffy puppy when it's three months old by taking it on short walks, then you can lengthen the walks as the pup grows.

Precautions with Staffordshire Bull Terrier exercise:

  • Don't exercise puppies too hard before they're nine months old
  • A leash is required when exercising in public
  • Yards must be securely fenced to keep the dog from running off
  • Possible separation anxiety; exercises should be done together with people
  • Will overheat easily; don't exercise in sweltering temps
  • Prone to gastric torsion (bloat); no exercising for an hour before or after eating

Exercising your Staffy every day is a must. These dogs are energetic, strong, and enthusiastic, and without consistent activity they'll become anxious and bored--which means they'll turn incredibly destructive! Regular exercise will be great for both the dog's and your own peace of mind. The best exercise for Staffies:

  • Walking/Jogging/Bicycling: Two 20-minute walks (or 15-minute jogs or bike rides) per day is a good target
  • Fetch/Frisbee: Staffies love chasing a ball, stick, or Frisbee
  • Weight Pulling: Give your muscular Staffy a workout by attaching one end of a rope to a heavy object like a spare tire, and the other end to a harness for the dog
  • Canine Sports: Staffies can excel at agility trials, cart pulling, and other events
  • Tug-of-War: Excellent indoor activity; use a rope or old towel
  • Dog Park: Staffies can enjoy the company of other dogs--they must be properly socialized

When indoors, give your Staffy access to plenty of chew toys, as these will allow the dog to burn excess energy. It's also good to have a regular exercise schedule for the dog, such as walks, jogs, or bike rides in the morning and evening and playtime in the afternoon.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Maintenance

These dogs will need a moderate amount of overall maintenance. Staffordshire Bull Terrier shedding is light for most of the year, but heavier during the spring shedding season; drooling is a minor issue.

Staffies have short-haired, smooth coats that shed pretty minimally--except for the 2-3 week period in the spring when they lose their winter coats, and the Staffy shedding is more profuse. Owners only need to brush their Staffies weekly with a bristle brush or grooming glove to keep the shedding low, and hair cleanup--vacuuming the floors, and lint rollers on clothes and furniture--will only be necessary occasionally. (Brushing and cleanup will obviously be required more often during shedding season.)

And a Staffy might drool in anticipation of food, after drinking water, or when especially excited or nervous--but the drooling won't be heavy or frequent like that of a Saint Bernard or Bloodhound. If your Staffy is drooling excessively, it might be a sign of a medical issue, in which case a veterinarian's care is needed.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Diet

The Staffy diet plan will need to include animal proteins and healthy carbs, vitamins and minerals, and omega fatty acids--nutrients every dog needs to maintain its health in the long term. This means the best dog food for Staffies is premium dry kibble, as it contains balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier food portions: adults will need about 2½ cups of dry food per day, divided into two meals. (And since the breed is prone to bloat--an often-fatal condition that occurs when a dog's stomach fills with air when it "wolfs" its food--allow one hour between exercise and feeding, and vice versa.) Staffy puppies need a bit less: depending on age, about 1¾ cups per day, divided into three meals (not two) until the age of six months.

For more info, here's a Staffy puppy feeding guide:

*--Around this time, transition to adult food by mixing in adult formula with the puppy formula, in slowly increasing amounts with each meal, for one week.

Try if possible to stick to the above-listed portions. If constantly overfed (and under-exercised), these dogs will easily become overweight--and a fat Staffy dog will have numerous health problems and a potentially shortened lifespan. You can help control your Staffy's weight by having consistent feeding and exercise schedules, by not feeding the dog table scraps, and by not leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time.

If you're worried your Staffy is overweight, try this simple test: run a hand along the dog's side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time--which means less food and more exercise!

Living Environment

Contrary to what some might think, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is an inside dog. While they'll definitely need a good bit of outdoor exercise, these dogs will be much happier living inside with their human family members. Leaving a Staffy chained up outside is not recommended, because the dog will become poorly behaved and even aggressive. And for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, apartment living is a risky proposition. Though Staffies could probably adapt to confined living spaces, many apartments (and even city governments) forbid ownership of Bull Terrier breeds like the Staffy. Potential owners should check with their city offices to make sure owning a Staffy is legal in their municipalities.

Another consideration for owners of a Staffy: weather. Breed members will be okay in cold weather, but they overheat easily in hot temperatures. Overall, Staffies are best suited for life in mild or cool climates.