The American Staffordshire Terrier is not a new breed. Although it gained American Kennel Club registration and recognition in 1936, it has been developed
since the early 1800’s as a result of crosses between the bulldogs of that time and game terriers. One of the early and very famous AKC registered Staffs was Pete the Pup, (real name Lucenay’s Peter), dog star of the original Our Gang comedies of the 1930’s.
Although the early ancestors of this breed came from England, the development of the American Staffordshire Terrier is the story of a truly American breed. This type of dog was instrumental in the success of farmers and settlers who developed this country. They were used for general farm work, hunting wild pigs, bears, and other large game, guarding the homestead, and general companionship.
A number of the early ancestors were also developed for the “sport” of dog fighting. The extraordinary vitality of this breed is a direct result of breeding for successful fighting dogs. This now illegal activity is, unfortunately, more often cited as the early purpose of the dogs rather than the general farm work.
Although ancestors of the American Staffordshire were fighting dogs, the selective breeding since the 1930’s has been away from the fighting heritage. The American Staffordshire Terrier of today is a companion and showdog, rather than a gladiator. Although more rarely used on the farm now, the talents that made him a good all purpose dog are still to be found in the breed.
Strong, athletic, intelligent and driven to please, the Am Staff can excel at just about anything asked of it, including, but not limited to agility, conformation showing, carting, packing, therapy work, search & rescue and weight pull competition.
The Am Staff can be strong willed, exuberant and impulsive while remaining quite sensitive. Training is most successful when kept fun and diverse. The owner must attain pack leader status at an early age and not let this diminish as the puppy matures. Another imperative step to raising a well-adjusted Am Staff is to heavily socialize puppies and young adults with lots of other dogs. This should always be done in controlled environments with dogs of known temperaments.
Dog aggression is something that can develop in even well-socialized dogs. Aggression towards humans in this breed in non-threatening situations should never be seen. They love children, although they may play too exuberantly for small children. Keep in mind children and dogs of any breed should never be left alone together.