american staffordshire terrier
(aka: American Pit Bull Terrier)
American Staffordshire Terrier Description
The height of the American Staffordshire Terrier is around 17-19 inches, and these dogs weigh in at around 40-75 pounds. The close, short, smooth coat is pretty easy to look after, and the coloring of these dogs can vary and include blue, fawn, brindle, red, and white with patches of color. The American Staffordshire Terrier has an athletic, robust, yet compact build, and an alert expression. Ears can be either cropped or uncropped, naturally folding over the head.
Confident, laid back, and easygoing, the American Staffordshire Terrier is a dog that makes a very loyal and devoted companion. Unfortunately, this breed has developed a reputation - not always justified - for having an appetite for destruction and aggression, although much of this has been down to poor breeding. These dogs are actually largely very easy going and good natured, although they are best for those with some experience of dog ownership. The American Staffordshire Terrier will get on well with older more considerate children. However, it is important to remember that they were bred to be aggressive towards other dogs and therefore should be supervised when with other canines. These dogs may also be aggressive towards other pets, such as cats, rabbits, and rodents.
When it comes to strangers the attitude and reaction of the American Staffordshire Terrier can vary. Some can be very friendly and tactile with strangers whereas others may be reserved and protective when strangers are around. Amstaffs have a very trusting and amiable disposition, but can be stubborn and over confident in some cases, although an experienced owner that knows how to be assertive yet positive should get a positive response. These dogs can be very determined and tough, but also very intelligent and devoted.
The American Staffordshire Terrier does shed some hair, but is not a very heavy shedder. His short, sleek coat is easy to look after, and needs only occasional brushing. A rub down with a damp cloth will keep the coat looking clean and glossy. Bathing or dry shampooing should be used only when necessary.
The American Staffordshire Terrier originated in the 19th century in the Staffordshire region of England as a mixing of the bulldog and other terrier breeds. In this breeding process, the American version became the larger and more muscular version of the bulldog terrier.
Once dog fighting was banned in the United States in the early 1900s, two versions of the American Staffordshire Terrier emerged - one for show and one for fighting. The fighting one is now considered to be the American Pit Bull Terrier, while the American Staffordshire Terrier is considered the gentler show version.
The most important thing to realize about the American Staffordshire Terrier is that it bases its world on the idea of a pack order. This means that it believes that someone is going to be the leader of its life, whether that distinction is theirs or it is their owners, this is the result of training. Making sure the American Staffordshire Terrier is trained early to know that you are the authority can be a challenging task for any owner. But if you're someone that doesn't like to assert authority, it will be especially tricky, if not impossible to control this sort of breed.
You will need to constantly remind the American Staffordshire Terrier that they are not the ones in charge and that you are. This will take consistent discipline and commands to help monitor their progress along the way. Many owners find that some assistance in an obedience class setting can help them get this training started, but since the dog will be in your care for most of the time, you need to be willing and able to keep up the lessons.
While the American Staffordshire Terrier doesn't necessarily need to be attended to at every moment, this is a breed that likes to interact with its master. This might include tasks in which they can do something that will please you - i.e. fetching and pulling on a chew toy. You want to give this dog a lot of praise when you are training it, so that it knows it is pleasing you. This is the best way to approach training with this particular breed as negative training can often cause the dog to become upset or even defensive. However, if the American Staffordshire Terrier does do something it's not supposed to, you will need to be firm to assert your authority and ensure that the action does not happen again.
Though they have a reputation for being guard dogs, some of their skills will have to come from you. For example, the American Staffordshire Terrier will not naturally bark at the door or at strangers, so you may need to teach them to do this, if this is a behavior you want encouraged.
You will also need to realize that even if you aren't overtly trying to tell your American Staffordshire Terrier something, they can often pick up on subtle cues in your behavior. For example, if you're not firm in your training, they will not be consistent in their resulting behaviors.
A American Staffordshire Terrier that is not trained well will often bark excessively, become aggressive and overly dominant, as well as have troubles with urinating.
House training is of particular concern with this intelligent breed. If their owner is not firm about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, you can create a situation in which the dog is urinating or defecating all over the house. It will help you to be firm with the dog right from the beginning in terms of what you expect for house training. You may also want to take classes in obedience training in this area prior to your dog's arrival in your home.
In most cases, the American Staffordshire Terrier is a hardy breed that doesn't suffer from a lot of Health Problems, but there are some concerns that do come up with some dogs:
hip dysplasia - A common disorder in canines, this degenerative disease causes the hip joint to become damaged, causing pain and problems with mobility. Symptoms occur over a long period of time and can manifest in symptoms such as slower movement and problems getting up and down. Treatment options will vary, but include exercises, pain medications, and even surgery.
Congenital Heart disease - Some American Staffordshire Terrier dogs are born with this condition and symptoms and treatments vary. Many dogs have no problems at all, while others will require monitoring and medications to make sure the heart is working properly.
Cataracts - Caused by genetic factors, these Cataracts can cause blindness and vision disturbances. Treatments are available for severe cases and require surgery to remove the Cataracts.
Hives - Since the coat of the American Staffordshire Terrier is so short, the skin is often exposed to the elements and the outside environment. This often creates a situation in which the skin can become irritated more easily by insects or heat, even stress, causing hives or small welts in the skin.