Staffy having a rest with tongue out

The Staffy Breed Profile -
Meet The Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Vital Stats

Dog breed group

Terrier

Height

35 to 45 cm

Weight

14 to 24 kg

Life span

12 to 14 years

If you’re looking for a funny, extroverted pup that loves being around people, then the Staffy might be the right choice.

The Staffordshire bull terrier is a sturdy, active dog with a heart of gold. In today’s article, our experts reviewed the breed so you can make the best choice for your family. Here’s what you need to know!


The Staffy Guide

Staffordshire Bull Terrier, 9 months old


Staffy temperament and personality

Staffy child and people friendliness 

Staffy dog-friendliness 

Exercise needs

Staffy intelligence and trainability

Staffy grooming

Staffy health issues

Apartment friendly

While similar, the American and the English Staffordshire bull terriers are two different breeds. Check out the FAQs below for a thorough explanation of their differences. Today is all about the Staffy, which is short for the English Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Staffy Temperament & Personality 5/5

This breed is loyal, courageous and friendly. Staffies are very well-tempered and don’t get scared easily. They have a very stable character and are in general very patient with kids.

There’s a stigma around Staffordshire Bull Terriers labelling as an aggressive breed, but this cannot be further from reality. In fact, the American kennel club breed standard specifically mentions

"[Staffordshire bull terriers are] sweet-natured, family-oriented dogs with a reputation for being patient with kids" – Staffordshire bull terrier, breed standard, AKC [2].

Back in their bull-fighting days, these dogs were bred to enjoy downtime with their families, and this is a trait that continues in modern-day Staffies. This breed thoroughly enjoys cuddling for hours after a long day of play!

This is a sweet, playful dog, but because of its active nature and fighting past, they need socializing and consistent exercise. For you, this means dedicating time and effort to slowly introducing new experiences to your dog in a positive way. The goal of socialization is building on the natural confidence of your dog while teaching them canine manners. If left to their own devices, Staffies can develop competitiveness towards other dogs. Avoid guarding issues by exposing them to new situations from the start.

On the other hand, Staffies are also known for their fun-loving nature. This breed is one of the goofballs of the canine world, and enjoy making their owners laugh. Because of their smarts, they quickly understand to make ‘jokes’ and aren’t afraid of ridicule. If you’d love a dog to play, snuggle and workout with, this breed might be the one. We’re giving Staffies 5 out of 5 in this category.

Staffy Child & People Friendliness 5/5

Like other pit bull-type dogs, Staffies are remarkably friendly. If you have young kiddos, the English Staffordshire terrier might be an especially good option, since they’re known for being great with children. The American kennel club mentions the Staffordshire bull terrier has "a special feel for kids".

As play companions, this breed is perfect for kids of all ages. English Staffies are on the smaller side of medium, so they won’t tower over children. Plus, they thoroughly enjoy taking naps with their younger friends. These dogs understand kids can be grabby and are relatively tolerant of a few tugs here and there. However, it’s important to teach kids to be gentle with the dog regardless of how patient they are. If not, your Staffy will ‘correct’ the rough handling with a small nip, which can scare kids even if it won’t hurt them. Avoid any issues by correcting harsh behaviours in kids as soon as they appear.

Of course, like with most dog breeds, Staffies need to have an adult or responsible older teen as their main handler. As we’ve already mentioned, this is a good-natured breed. However, they need a consistent play and training schedule to be on their best behaviour. Burdening young kids with that responsibility is irresponsible and will probably end with the dog’s needs not being met.

When it comes to strangers, this breed loves to mingle. They are a great pup if you want to enjoy dog-friendly gatherings, go to the park or host at home. Once they are socialized and trust you, Staffies will rarely bark. If they do, you should probably check what’s going on.

Given the sweet nature and patience of this breed, we’re giving Staffies 5 out of 5 in this category.

Staffy Dog-Friendliness 4/5

The Staffordshire bull terrier was initially bred to display aggressiveness towards other animals, including bulls and dogs. These traits were eventually discouraged in the early eighteenth century, but in recent decades irresponsible breeders started reinforcing aggressiveness in pitbull-type breeds to sell pups as fighting dogs. This has led many people to consider Staffies are aggressive, particularly against other dogs.

However, A properly socialized Staffordshire bull terrier will showcase its natural tendencies: being a mild-tempered, patient dog that enjoys having four-legged playmates to jump around with. Staffies do great in multi-dog households, and if they meet young, can be best friends with other pets like cats and birds.

If you don’t provide consistent socialization at a young age, your Staffy might develop undesirable behaviours towards dogs and other pets. In general, this looks like an relentless, brave dog, that won’t back off from a challenge. The issue with non-socialized dogs is that they have a hard time letting their owners handle confrontational situations, and also don’t have a good grasp on what constitutes aggression from other dogs. In turn, this can eventually turn into mouthiness, defensive behaviour and even aggression.

Providing a controlled environment where your Staffy pup can learn to understand physical cues and get their energy out is the best way to enjoy the true Staffy personality.

PRO TIP: Set up a consistent routine and schedule daily socialization time with your new pup. This will make the process easier.

Considering you need to offer structured playtime and socialization to guarantee appropriate dog friendliness, we’re taking off 4 stars.

Exercise Needs 5/5

Given its bull-fighting ancestors and muscular composition, it’s not a surprise the Staffy needs consistent exercise to be happy. This is an active dog that will thoroughly enjoy hour-long walks and some extra-active playtime whenever you can spare a few minutes. In general, you’re looking at 45 minutes of daily exercise time in the form of walks, jogs or intense play.

If you want a dog to go with you on bike rides, this might not be a good option. While they can be very athletic, Staffies are stocky and have relatively short legs. This can make it difficult for them to keep up the pace with fitness cycling, particularly if you want to strap your dog to the bike. Bringing a Staffy with you on a bike ride is possible but you’d have to go at a slower pace.

Like other active breeds, Staffordshire bull terriers crave the movement. If you keep them at home without enough exercise, they can develop behavioural issues like excessive barking, separation anxiety and in some cases, aggression. Remember this is a terrier, so they will cause mischief if bored!

If you’ll be leaving your dog at home for more than an hour every day, toys are a great option. Try to find something your dog really enjoys, since not all pups will like the same type of toys. Of course, remember Staffies come from mastiff-type dogs, so they have strong jaws. Get sturdy, well-made toys that won’t fall apart in a couple of days and your dog will enjoy hours of fun.

Given this dog needs a lot of activity to be happy, we’re giving them 5 out of 5 stars in this category.

Staffy Intelligence & Trainability 4/5

This is a smart pup. We’ve already mentioned its bullfighting past, so it’s no surprise they’re clever and can quickly find ways to solve problems. Of course, their brains also means they need some convincing, especially in the first few weeks of training a brand new puppy.

In general, your Staffordshire bull terrier will understand what you’re asking after a couple of times. Staffies tend to enjoy following their owner’s wishes, but they are also prone to doing things their way. This can make essential training a bit difficult for novel owners.

However, this breed is easy to train if you approach the process with patience and an open mind. Choose what commands you need your dog to perform exactly as told -like recall- and be more flexible with the rest. Training a Staffy can be a lot of fun, given they love to give their own spin to the tricks you’re trying to teach. Since training sessions need to be consistent throughout their life, keep an open mind and enjoy the process!

Because these dogs can be hard to train for new owners, we’re taking off 1 star.

Staffy Grooming 5/5

Staffordshire bull terriers have dense short coats that lie very close to the skin. Because of their texture, this breed doesn’t need any hair trimming. In general, upkeep is very easy with this breed. You’ll only have to brush them once a week to get rid of excess hair, and that’s it.

In contrast, you’ll need to be more mindful of their ears: their rose or half-pricked ears need some gentle cleaning once a month, and you need to make sure there’s no humidity left in there. This breed can be prone to ear infections when damp, so prevention is key.

Other than that, you’ll only have to keep their nails trimmed and teeth clean, but that’s general dog upkeep with any breed you choose.

Since this is an easy-to-care-for dog, we’re giving the breed 5 out of 5 stars.

Staffy Health Issues 4/5

Overall, this is a healthy breed. There are some genetic issues like with all other dogs, but nothing too prevalent.

Interestingly, Staffies are prone to hereditary cataracts, but in Australia, there is no record of them [3]. This could mean Australian Staffies have a larger genetic pool than populations in other countries.

Staffordshire bull terriers also have a metabolic disorder, L2-HGA. According to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Heritage Centre in the UK, this hereditary condition affects dogs in different ways but in general, they show behavioural changes -like dementia and anxiety- as well as neurological issues like seizures and ataxia. While the disease is rare, the numbers of affected dogs in the UK are rising [4]. Veterinarians know this is a recessive condition, meaning two carrier parents need to breed for puppies to have it.

If you have questions about your future puppy’s health, talk to your breeder. A responsible breeder will test all their dogs to avoid passing on conditions like L2-HGA. Currently, there’s a DNA test available to screen for this disease, so ask your breeder to show the parent’s results.

We’re giving Staffies 4 out of 5 stars in this category.

Apartment Friendly 3/5

While the Staffy is a relatively small dog, they aren’t ideal for apartment living. This is an active breed and it needs consistent exercise to be happy. However, if you lead an active lifestyle yourself, apartment living is possible. In this case, you’ll have to provide at least 1 hour of daily mild exercise, and one or two shorter intense sessions per week.

Keep in mind Staffies love being around their family, so they aren’t a good choice if you want to leave them by themselves on hour on end without supervision.

Because of these issues, we’re giving this breed 3 out of 5 in this category.


Thinking About Adopting A Staffy Puppy?

Staffy puppy

So, do you think this is the right breed for you? Then it’s time to find yourself a Staffy of your own. Since this is a popular breed in Australia, finding a Staffy pup from a reputable breeder will probably be easy.

To choose the right breeder, getting in touch with your local Staffy club is a good place to start. These associations will help you make the final decision in regards to the breed, and also have updated lists of registered breeders. They might know of someone with an upcoming litter!

Here are some local Staffy clubs you could check out:


Rescuing A Staffy

Two rescue Staffordshire Bull Terriers waiting to be rescued

Giving a second chance to a pup is always great, but even more rewarding if it’s a Staffy. This breed is one of the dogs most frequently found in pounds. Because this breed has such specific exercise and training needs, and the changing laws regarding pit bull-type dogs, Staffies are one of the most abandoned dogs in Australia [5].

If you want to rescue a Staffy, visiting your local RSPCA is a good place to start. There are also breed-specific rescues that always have pups waiting for a forever home. Here are a few you can check:


Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly, loyal pup with a heart of gold, then the Staffordshire bull terrier might be the right choice. For those willing to add the long walks and extra cuddle time to their routine, this active, well-tempered pup is the perfect companion.

FAQ

Is the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier the same as the English Staffordshire Bull Terrier?

Short answer: no.

The English Staffy is a different breed than the American Staffy. In fact, the American kennel clubs registers the English Staffy as Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American variety as the American Staffordshire bull terrier.

Of course, these two dogs can look pretty similar, especially considering the American version actually comes from the English breed. Plus, there has been some crossbreeding in recent years. However, the American Staffy is slightly larger than its English counterpart. On the other hand, the American version has also been crossed with other pit bull-type dogs in America, so that breed can have a jaw that looks squarer.

What colours can Staffies be?

According to the official American kennel club breed standard, Staffordshire bull terriers can be red, fawn, white, black or blue; or any of the colours with white.

Red Staffies are a reddish-brown colour, while a blue Staffy will have a greyish-blue coat. Brindled Staffies are also possible, as well as brindle and white. Black-and-tan pups aren’t common since the official breed standard disqualifies the colour.


References
  1. Modern dog magazine. Difference between American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier. https://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/whats-difference-between-american-staffordshire-terrier-and-staffordshire-bull-terrier
  2. American kennel club. Staffordshire bull terrier breed standard. https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/staffordshire-bull-terrier/
  3. Greencross vets. Is a Staffordshire bull terrier right for your family? https://www.greencrossvets.com.au/is-a-staffordshire-bull-terrier-right-for-your-family/
  4. Staffordshire Bull Terrier Heritage Centre. L-2-HGA Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria. http://www.thestaffordshirebullterrier.co.uk/Breed%20pictures_files/l2hga.htm
  5. Staffies and kelpies leading the turnover at the RSPCA. https://the-riotact.com/staffies-and-kelpies-leading-the-turnover-at-the-rspca/10253
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Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is a dog lover & anthropologist. She enjoys writing content that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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