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Breed Spotlight: American Staffordshire Terrier
01/28/16 at 11:54 AM | Published Under Dog Behavior
The American Staffordshire Terrier impresses with great strength for his size, a muscular frame, and agility that blends with gracefulness and awareness to his surroundings. Standing 17-19 inches at the shoulder, this medium-sized dog breed features a broad head, well-defined jaws, pronounced cheekbones, and dark, round eyes that are set apart.
Also referred to as Am Staffs, these people-oriented canines thrive when made part of the family and given a job to do. Highly trainable, good-natured and intelligent, they’re great with children and other pets.
These terriers are good house dogs since they’re typically fine when spending time alone. They’re also very clean with minimal shedding. The best way to groom your American Staffordshire Terrier is by using a short soft-bristle brush to bring out the best sheen in his coat. As is the case with most dog breeds, American Stafford Terriers need to be bathed, have nails trimmed and should have teeth brushed on a regular basis. Ears should be checked frequently for any debris that may build up and cause an infection.
Parents of American Staffordshire Terriers tend to describe their dogs as being keenly aware of their surroundings, “up for anything” and lovable “personality dogs.” If you’re considering an Am Staff as a new addition to your family, be sure to do your research to find an experienced AKC breeder. This is important since a responsibly bred Am Staff socialized from puppyhood and trained with a firm but loving touch will prove to be a loyal, trustworthy friend to the end.
Since these natural clowns often make training comical, it’s critical to maintain a training program that’s engaging and fun. The dog breed’s stubborn-streak means that training requires patience and a firm but kind hand.
With a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, this medium-sized dog breed displays some instances of mild hip dysplasia and certain types of cardiac disease. When you find an American Staffordshire Terrier breeder you believe is responsible, be sure to inquire if they screen for these conditions in their breeding stock. Instances of skin and coat allergies–which are attributed to immune system weaknesses–have also been found.
This breed has been afflicted with an inherited disease, Cerebellar Ataxia, which causes a progressive decline in muscle or voluntary coordination (ataxia). This neurological disease shows its initial signs generally between 3 to 5 years of age.
Affected dogs typically display a loss of balance, difficulty cornering and falling when shaking its head. A screening test has been developed to identify those dogs affected, as well as carriers of the gene that causes the disease. Good breeders utilize this genetic testing on their breeding stock to reduce the likelihood of disease in their puppies.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is well known for its playful antics. Be sure to stock up on hardy chew toys as well as dog toys that can be tossed, “ripped” and tugged for fun and playful physical stimulation!