It is important to realize that Staffordshire Terriers are fighting dogs with a strong personality. Their main task is to protect their owners and territory from strangers. In most cases, these pets behave calmly and reservedly. However, if they decide to attack — it will definitely happen, and it will be hard to stop these dogs. Any stranger can walk past an American Staffordshire Terrier. On their intuitive level, these dogs can foresee intentions of people. If a fight started, a dog of this breed will fight till the end — until it wins. There is no other dog like an American Staffordshire Terrier in fights.
Meanwhile, these dogs love family members. They like active games and doing sports: you can take a Staffordshire Terrier with you when you go jogging or cycling. These dogs are safe for children if they have been brought up well. They will play and protect them from danger. However, it is important not to leave a child and a Staffordshire Terrier alone. It will be safer. Dogs of this breed get on well with other animals only if they have been growing up together. It is not recommended to get a new pet for families that already have an adult American Staffordshire Terrier.
The first thing you need to start working on is dog`s socialization. The earlier the puppy starts getting used to other animals, the better it is. You can take it outside right after quarantine is over: after it turns 3 months old. It is better for an American Staffordshire Terrier to see pets of small breeds or puppies of the same age. It is important that its first impressions from getting to know other animals are pleasant. These animals remember who offended them all life long. Meanwhile, the dog needs to get used to house rules. You need to explain your pet, what is allowed to be done, and what is not. If you let an American Staffordshire Terrier do whatever it wants, it will grow up into an aggressive and spoiled animal.
After working on dog`s socialization, start training it. Proper age for that is 4–5 months old. American Staffordshire Terriers are smart dogs. If you train them in a playful way, there will be no problems. The hardest period will be between 8 and 9 months. That is when dog`s puberty begins. Pets, especially males, start resisting everything that they do not like. If your dog disobeys, it is important not to show any aggression. It will only damage dog`s psyche and make it angry. Moderate seriousness and patience and key instruments in bringing up the breed. It is important for an American Staffordshire Terrier to learn the following commands: «no», «stay close», «go to your place», «come here», «walk», «sit down». If you do not manage to get on well with the dog, you can take it to a general course of training. However, it does not mean that you do not have to work with the dog anymore. The owner always needs to be with the pet. After the course of training, Terrier`s energy can be used in doing sports: agility, frisbee, canicross and weightpulling. In order to teach your dog how to guard, you have to take it to courses of patrol service.
American Staffordshire Terriers are accepted by people as aggressive animals, even if it is not true. It is important not to start conflicts when the dog is close by. It will provoke the pet to protect its owner, and it might attack a potential offender. It is better to stay quiet and go to another place.
You do not need to give your American Staffordshire Terrier a bath very often. Water washes off the protective skin layer and makes the skin dry. It is recommended to wash your dog fully twice a year, using a shampoo for shorthair breeds. If the pet got dirty with something during street walks, you can wipe it with wet wipes without flavorings. Trim dog`s claws once a month. It is better to get your Terrier used to this procedure starting from a young age. Check your pet`s eyes and ears every day and clean them when needed, using cotton pads soaked in a chamomile solution. You should clean your Terrier`s teeth once in 10 days, using a zoo-paste and a special brush.
It is recommended to feed American Staffordshire Terriers with natural food. These muscular dogs need a lot of proteins. Main ingredient of their diet has to be not greasy meat — chicken, beef and rabbit meat. Additionally, you can feed your dog with offals — liver, heart and kidneys; grains — buckwheat, wheat porridge, oatmeal and rice; fat free dairy products — cottage cheese, sour cream and milk; vegetables — beet, carrot, cucumbers and spinach. Once a week, a boiled egg and a boneless sea fish fillet can be given to the dog. From time to time, you can add dry food to your Terrier`s diet. It is important that is has to be of premium quality. However, it is crucial not to mix dry and natural food into one portion. A puppy under the age of 3 months needs to eat 5–6 times a day, under 6 months — 3 times a day; after 9 months — twice a day (in the morning and in the evening).
For comfortable life, American Staffordshire Terriers need physical exercises. You can take them to sport events for dogs. These pets can live both in a flat and in a private house. You need to walk them for 20–30 minutes twice a day. It will be safer to walk them in a muzzle.
Health and Illnesses
Hip dysplasia is a hereditary pathology that disrupts functioning of dog`s musculoskeletal system. It develops because of deformation of the acetabulum, which head of the femoral bone is located in. Because acetabulum becomes flat, the bone gets dislocated and starts rubbing against the joint, destroying its structure. The dog starts feeling pain while moving. It is impossible to cure dysplasia. However, if it is diagnosed in time, its development can be slowed down.
Abdominal bloating is a serious pathology that twists the stomach 180 or 360 degrees around its mesentery. Because of it, the stomach gets filled up with air and bloats: gas, fluids and food leftovers get accumulated in there. Because of the bloating, stomach dislocates inner organs. Spleen and pancreas get tied into a knot, stopping blood flow. The dog starts feeling pain, it stops eating and walking. This whole process can take up to 20 minutes and lead to pet`s death. That is why it is crucial to control diet of your Terrier: do not overfeed it, and do not walk the dog right after it ate. It is better to wait for 1,5–2 hours.
Spondylosis deformans is a chronic disorder that leads to development of bony spurs on dog`s vertebrae. They can occur either on one vertebra, or along the whole spine. They mostly develop in thoracic and lumbar regions. When spurs form between vertebrae, they affect their flexibility. The spine loses its elasticity. If spurs form close to a nerve, the dog will start feeling pain. Most often, dogs over 8 years old get affected by spondylosis deformans. The disorder can be cured by drugs and therapies.
Eye conditions: cataract and retinal atrophy. They are genetic pathology that might lead to loss of dog`s eyesight. Cataract, unlike retinal atrophy, can be cured.
Often, American Staffordshire Terriers suffer from skin allergies. It develops because of incorrect choice of shampoos or diet. If your pet`s skin has become red, and it started itching a lot, you should consult a vet.
History of the Breed
In 1835, English government forbade bull fights. Dog fights started becoming more and more popular. Bulldogs, crossbred with Bull Terriers, were the best option for such competitions. That is how first Staffordshire Terriers appeared. In 1870, British migrants brought them to the USA from different countries: Ireland, England and Scotland. Starting from 1880, American dog owners started calling the breed Pit Bull Terriers. By that time, dog fights were already forbidden. American and English breeders continued working on improving pets` fighting skills. However, there were people who were against making such skills better. They were working on dogs` appearance. As result, affectionate dogs looking like Pit Bull Terriers appeared. They were called Staffordshire Terriers.
In 1936, American Kennel Club recognized the breed. Because of it, dog owners divided into those who accepted American Pit Bulls, and into those who recognized only Staffordshire Terriers, considering Pit Bull Terriers a forbidden breed. In 1971, FCI registered Staffordshire Terriers officially. One year later, American Kennel Union renamed the breed to «American Staffordshire Terrier».