While the short and stout Staffordshire Bull Terrier was originally bred for battle, today the breed would much rather snuggle than fight. Indeed, this one-time brawler is often dubbed a 'nanny dog' for his gentleness towards children. Still, the Staffy's pugnacious spirit is known to emerge with strange dogs. It's important to socialize your Staffordshire Bull Terrier with other dogs from an early age and always walk him on a leash.
Staffies are thick set and powerful, with broad chests and wide-set, muscular legs. They are loyal and loving with their family members, and enjoy meeting new people, especially those who are willing to play with them at length. As terriers, Staffies are tenacious diggers, and backyards should be secured or you'll find your on the wrong side of the fence.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers also go by Stafford and Staffy. They may also be called Bully, which is a nickname used for all of the bull terrier varieties.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a short, smooth coat that lays close to their skin. The coat colors are red, fawn, white, blue, black, and brindle, as well as any of those colors combined with white areas.
Average Height: 14-16 inches
Average Weight: 24-38 pounds
Breed Standard & History
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are short, muscular and strong, with a body that is greater in length than in height. Their sturdy build doesn't weigh them down in the slightest; Staffies are sprightly and agile. The Stafford's head is broad, set upon a thick, rather short neck. They are stalwart, trustworthy dogs who are devoted to their families. The fearless Staffy is game to join you on any new adventure.
As their name indicates, Staffies are related to American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and the Bull Terrier—all breeds who share common ancestry with bulldogs and terriers. Those two breeds combined to create fierce, strong, and tenacious contenders in dog fighting, a popular sport in Europe and America in the 19th century. The Stafford variety was so named because they were particularly popular among the coal miners of Staffordshire, England, who fought their dogs for entertainment when they weren't working. After dog fighting was banned and the sport moved underground, people began breeding bull terriers to enhance the amiable, people-loving traits that made these dogs easy to manage outside the ring. Today, Staffies are lovable, sweet-natured dogs who relish spending time with family and friends. An exceptionally aggressive Staffy is not representative of the breed, but rather of an irresponsible dog owner.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers arrived in the US in the late 1800s, where they were used to develop their bigger, taller cousin, the American Staffordshire Terrier. Staffies were popular companion pets for many years before they were finally recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1975.
AKC Breed Category
Staffords are enthusiastic and fun-loving dogs who relish setting off on adventures with their families. Don't get a Staffie if you relish alone time; this breed wants to tag along—from room to room or when you head out of the house. They are intelligent and usually attentive and responsive to commands from their family members, with the occasional bout of stubbornness.
Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers Good with Kids? Staffies are known as 'nanny dogs' in England because they are patient and loving with little ones. Having said that, never leave your Staffy alone with kids. They can knock over toddlers, and older children may not have the strength to manage a Staffy who gets overly rambunctious during playtime.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers Good with Other Pets? The Stafford's fighting spirit can emerge around other dogs, so they do best when they are the single dog of a household. Even well-socialized Staffies may become aggressive when passing strange dogs on the street, so leash walking is imperative. Because of their strong prey drive, the breed isn't an ideal housemate for cats or other small animals.
Staffies generally welcome people with wagging tails, but they are protective of their family members if they sense a threat.
Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers Good Guard Dogs? Staffies keep a close watch on their property and will alert their pack when people, dogs, cats, or squirrels approach. Despite their intimidating appearance, however, Staffords consider everyone a friend, including burglars. The upshot: they excel as watchdogs but not guard dogs.
Staffies are energetic dogs who will zip around the house and the yard, and try to engage you in play throughout the day.
- They are best suited to experienced dog owners who can set firm, consistent boundaries.
- Continuing education and patient reminders about manners are necessary for this independent-minded breed.
- Socialization is important from an early age in order to minimize aggression towards other dogs.
- Poor swimmer
- Your Staffy must be walked on-leash with a comfortable collar or harness because of possible aggression towards other dogs.
- They require a lot of daily exercise.
- They have strong jaws and they like to chew—chewable dog toys are a must if you don't want them to gnaw at the furniture.
- Restricted or banned in some towns and cities.
- Staffies are prone to overheating.
- Prone to the common terrier trait of digging.
Staffies are people dogs who want to be with their families at all times, if possible. They'll follow you around the house as you go about your daily routine. With their short coats and light shedding, they don't leave fur on every piece of furniture. Be sure to decide in advance if you want your Staffie to snuggle on the couch or bed with you because they will stake their claim unless you set clear boundaries.
Staffies are sensitive to the heat and the cold, so outside living is not appropriate for this breed. They benefit from having a yard to run around in, but they should not be left alone outside for too long because they get bored easily and become destructive. The yard should be securely enclosed because Staffies are diggers and have a strong prey drive. If they can, they'll find their way out to set off after small animals in the area.
Staffies are energetic and need a moderate-to-high amount of exercise each day. A few long walks and a vigorous game of catch in the backyard will suffice.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers have the stamina for spirited play sessions and long walks, after which they'll be looking for the softest spot to lay down for a good rest.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Staffies make good companions for short jogs of a mile or two when the weather is pleasant. The breed is prone to overheating in the heat, and is sensitive to the cold.
- Hiking Miles: Hiking with a Staffy may be challenging because the chipmunks, squirrels, and other wildlife are hard for them to resist. But if your Staffy has outstanding leash manners, you can take him out for a five-mile hike in comfortable weather.
Generally, this breed requires about 1¾ to 2¼ cups of good quality dry dog food each day, over the course of two feedings. This will vary, however, based upon your Staffy's activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Staffy.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers do not adjust well to alone time. When left to their own devices, it isn't long before they start digging outside, or chewing furniture inside. Staffies can be left alone in the house for an hour or two, but it's best if they are crate trained; a dog den of their own with their favorite dog toys helps them feel secure.
Health and Grooming
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier's smooth coat is low maintenance. Brushing once or twice a week will control shedding, and a bath once every month or two will keep them clean. Staffies don't have a strong 'doggy' odor. Gently wash your dog's ears once a week with a vet-approved cleanser to remove dirt that can cause infections, and trim his nails once a month to avoid painful cracking.
Common Health Issues
Though generally healthy, Staffordshire Bull Terriers may present the following health concerns:
- Canine hip and elbow dysplasia
- Hereditary juvenile cataracts
- Skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis and demodectic mange
- Osteochondritis dissecans, a joint disorder
- Gastric torsion
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Staffordshire Bull Terrier by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are smart and learn quickly—though they may decide they've got better things to do. This independent, strong-willed breed needs consistent training that is patient and loving, yet firm.
With gentle, confident handling, most Staffies excel in advanced obedience and agility training and dog sports. As terriers, Staffies are natural hunters of small animals and can be trained for Earthdog trials. You know your Staffy best, so if he ever shows signs of aggression toward other dogs, it's best to keep training to the back yard or on leash.
Sporting Dog Training
Staffies are not natural upland hunting dogs.
No. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not heavy shedders, but they do shed year round and slightly more during seasonal shedding twice per year. As a result, you'll have pet dander in your home, which is the cause of most pet related allergies. Frequent brushing and vacuuming can help manage pet dander, but won't control it completely.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a variety of Pit Bull, which means they are subject to dog breed bans, restrictions, and muzzle requirements in some local communities around the US. Breed Specific Laws (BSLs) are highly controversial and in recent years several states chose to ban the passage of such legislation. Before you decide to adopt or buy a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, be sure to call your local animal control office to find out whether they're banned or restricted in your community.
While there's YouTube evidence that some Staffies can swim, this breed is a notoriously bad swimmer. Their heavy heads and dense, muscular bodies make it difficult for them to stay afloat. In general, Staffies should keep to the wading end of the pool and if they do go into the deep end, should be watched closely; keep swimming sessions should brief.