Staffordshire Bull Terrier
November 17, 2020
AZ Animals Staff
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Facts
- Common Name
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Known for their loyalty to their family!
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Physical Characteristics
- Skin Type
- 14 years
- 17kg (38lbs)
This post about Staffordshire bull terriers may contain affiliate links to our partners. Purchasing through these helps us further the A-Z Animals mission to help us educate about the world’s species so we can all better care for them.
Looking for a doggie that isn’t too big, is hypoallergenic, and is devoted to its humans? A Staffordshire bull terrier may be the perfect match! Known as “SBT”s or “staffies” among dog enthusiasts, Staffordshire bull terriers are stocky, energetic, fond of affection and don’t require extensive grooming. According to the American Kennel Club, Staffordshire bull terriers are the 80th most popular breed out of 196, the 10th most popular dog in Australia, and the most popular terrier in South Africa.
Descendants of ferocious, pit bull fighting stock, staffies have muscular bodies and gobs of energy. But over centuries, aggressiveness has been bred out of them. These days, most SBTs are goofy bundles of energetic joy who are fantastic with kids.
Widely regarded as an excellent dog for active families, a staffy may be the perfect addition to your home. But before welcoming one into the fold, it’s important to familiarize yourself with a few critical facts to ensure it’s a good fit.
Owning a Staffordshire Bull Terrier: 3 Pros and Cons
Staffordshire bull terriers adore humans and make excellent therapy dogs. Anyone who needs a loving companion can’t go wrong with a staffy. Plus, SBTs have keen “emotional barometers” and “mothering instincts.”
Staffordshire bull terriers easily overheat and detest weather extremes. If you live in a hot, humid region, strongly consider another breed.
SBTs take instruction well. Basic obedience training goes a long way with individuals of the breed. And on the competition circuit, they are amazing at agility and fly-ball matches.
If another dog attacks a staffy, their “pit bull breed” instinct may kick in, and they won’t back down.
Staffordshire bull terriers are kind pals who want nothing more in life than to be around their humans, whether in a tiny one-bedroom apartment or a 40-room mansion. So long as you love them, they’ll love you right back, 10-fold.
Staffordshire bull terriers are athletic and need lots of vigorous exercise. They need to play to stay happy and healthy. If you can’t frolic with them frequently, consider another breed. Gardeners beware: due to their terrier roots, some staffies like to dig!
Staffordshire Bull Terrier History and Evolution
Staffordshire bull terriers are descendants of the now-extinct Old English bulldog and Old English terrier. Some kennel clubs call the two “lost breeds” old-fashioned bulldogs and old-fashioned terriers and refer to early cross-bred generations as “bull and terriers.” Because of their lineage, SBTs fall into the pit bull category.
In medieval England and Europe, Old English bulldogs competed in blood sports, like bull- and bear-baiting, which gave way to dogfighting in the 18th century. The matches were gnarly and inhumane and were ultimately outlawed in 1835.
Around that time, English breeders turned their attention to creating family-friendly pit bulls, and that’s how Staffordshire bull terriers came into existence. Breeder James Hinks of Birmingham, England, is credited for “perfecting” the breed in the mid-19th century. In short order, the staffy became beloved as a “working-class dog.”
The first staffy came to the United States in the 1880s. At that point, North American breeders used the SBT to develop an off-shoot breed, the American Staffordshire terrier — known as the AmStaff — which is heavier and taller.
In 1935, the first SBT standards club convened in the United Kingdom, and the Kennel Club of England accepted the breed. Today, the British Isles are home to approximately 15 different Staffordshire bull terrier clubs. On this side of the Atlantic, in 1975, the American Kennel Club first green-lit SBTs as its 120th recognized and register-able breed.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Size and Weight
The Staffordshire bull terrier is a small- to medium-sized, short-haired dog with an average height of 14 to 16 inches for both males and females. Weight-wise, males tip the scales between 28 and 38 pounds, females between 24 and 34 pounds. SBT puppies are born teeny, but females weigh between 9 and 14 pounds and males between 10 and 15 pounds after three months. Staffies reach their adult sizes between 12 and 18 months.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Common Health Issues
Some breeds are riddled with inherent health problems, but staffies are relatively robust and hearty. SBTs’ most common ailments are L2HGA, skin allergies, and cataracts, all of which can be screened for genetically. Some Staffordshire bull terriers suffer from hip dysplasia and patellar luxation — a painful knee joint condition — but these problems aren’t as widespread among the SBT population compared to other breeds.
The most common Staffordshire bull terrier health problems are:
- Skin allergies
- Hip dysplasia
- Patellar luxation
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Temperament
Clever, brave, energetic, and loyal are the adjectives most used to describe Staffordshire bull terriers. If it’s not too hot, they can play tirelessly. According to Steve Eltinge, an SBT expert and author, “As early as three to four weeks of age, a staffy puppy will often prefer human companionship to that of [its biological] mother.”
Staffies are smart and reliable. Writer Dieter Fleig describes the breed as “a sort of everybody’s man Friday.” And, much to the delight of their owners, SBTs aren’t big barkers. But if another dog in the house likes to howl, staffies will mimic their buddies and “talk back.” Also, SBTs let out yelps of joy when playing.
But it’s important to remember that Staffordshire bull terriers were initially bred to battle other dogs. Though that instinct has significantly eroded over hundreds of years, they can still be aggressive with other dogs if not properly trained. Moreover, because of their lineage, SBTs also have a strong “prey drive” and will often chase small rodents that cross their path — but it’s not a pervasive issue. The overwhelming majority of staffies ultimately bond with other family pets and find friends at the dog park.
How to Take Care of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier
What must new staffy owners know about caring for the breed? What diseases and health issues do SBTs most-frequently face? What’s their optimal diet, and do they need special training?
SBT’s Food and Diet
Staffies aren’t picky eaters, and they’re not prone to ailments that require modified diets. However, since they can have skin allergies, foods with Omega-3 fatty acids best support their dermatological functions. Also, SBTs gain weight easily. So beware of foods that are packed with filler. Instead, choose higher-quality options with lots of protein.
Staffies Need Meat
Some vegetarians and vegans insist on feeding their dogs all-plant diets, which isn’t the best for Staffordshire bull terriers — or any dogs for that matter. Indeed, dogs aren’t obligate carnivores like cats — who can’t live without meat — but canines are facultative carnivores, meaning they mostly eat meat. Sure, in a pinch, dogs can survive for days on just plants, grains, and fruits. But by no means is it optimal, and canine individuals on flora-restricted diets may have more health problems and die sooner.
SBT Maintenance and Grooming
Staffordshire bull terriers have sleek and short coats of hair. As such, they don’t require as much grooming as fussier breeds, like poodles, bichon frise, and puli dogs. However, SBTs do well with once-a-week brushings and the occasional bath.
As is the case with all dogs, regular maintenance of ears and teeth keeps them in top shape. Moreover, humans who care for Staffordshires should trim their nails monthly; long ones cause the breed a lot of pain.
Due to their short, drip-dry coats, SBTs are susceptible to fleas and ticks. To keep your energetic fur ball pest-free, frequently use a flea comb in warmer months.
How much do Staffordshire bull terriers shed? Since they sport short coats, not a lot. You may occasionally find some hairs lying around the house, which can easily be vacuumed up, but that’s about it.
For people with allergies, staffies are great because they don’t collect much dust and dirt, and they’re not very odor-absorbent.
Staffies are highly energetic, and puppy training school does wonders for their socialization skills. When they’re taught how to control their abundance of enthusiasm, Staffordshire bull terriers are incredible additions to households of all sizes.
With proper training, female Staffordshire bull terriers make excellent watchdogs, but not guard dogs. Staffies excel at protecting people but fall short when it comes to defending property.
In terms of marking off their territory, Staffordshire bull terriers have high pain thresholds and regularly cross electric fences. It’s best to invest in a high backyard fence instead.
Staffies get overheated easily, but they also love to play! Daily romping is essential for SBTs happiness and health. People who live sedentary lives and cherish alone time should consider another breed because staffies love to be around their people. They love going for car rides, tagging along on hikes, or spending loads of time in the yard or inside playing fetch. And when you’re not romping around together, a staffy will cuddle up close.
During the summer months, or if you live in a year-round hot and humid climate, invest in a plastic kiddie pool for your staffy. They’ll need to take a dip every few minutes when playing outside under the sweltering sun. But don’t leave them alone while they’re in the pool. It may be shallow, but staffies are notoriously bad swimmers because of their stocky builds. So, like you would a child, keep an eye on them when wading in water!
Experts strongly advise basic obedience training for a Staffordshire bull terrier when it’s a puppy. Moreover, staffy puppies are orally stimulated. To save your furniture, shower the young ones with lots of chew toys. They love boomer balls, nylabones, and large Kongs.
What about SBT puppies and other family pets? Do they assimilate quickly? The answer largely depends on the age of the puppy in question and their personality. Some Staffordshire bull terriers immediately take to new four-pawed friends, while others see them as competition for their humans’ attention.
Generally speaking, though, it’s easier to bring a staffy puppy into a home with another dog than to bring another dog into a staffy’s home.
If you want two Staffordshire bull terriers, it’s best to get one male and one female. Plus, you shouldn’t bring them home at the same time. By doing so, you risk them bonding with each other and ignoring you — which can lead to unsolvable disciplinary problems down the road. So space them out by a couple of years.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Children
Dubbed “the children’s nursemaid” and “the nanny dog,” staffies are notoriously great with — and protective of — babies and little kids. They’re also extremely attached to their adult humans. During cold weather, Staffordshire bull terriers love to cuddle up, and if there’s a child around, staffies usually pick them as snuggle mates.
Brave and loyal, SBTs are also very protective of their human infants and toddlers and will not back down if they sense a threat. However, staffies aren’t biters — but they do snarl to keep unwanted parties at bay!
Dogs Similar to Staffordshire Bull Terriers
- American Pit Bull Terriers: Though remarkably similar to Staffordshire terriers, they have a great size range. Learn More.
- American Staffordshire Terrier: The closest relative to staffies, AmStaffs have a lot in common with their British cousins but are bigger and leggier. American Staffordshires are also a bit more serious than SBTs. Learn More.
- Bull Terriers: Bull terriers are typically larger than Staffordshire bull terriers. Learn More.
- Bulldogs: While similar to staffies, bulldogs aren’t as smart, they’re red and brown instead of black, and they shed more. Learn More.
- American Bulldogs: Another similar breed to SBTs, American bulldogs have slightly different head and ear shapes. Plus, they’re a bit more “clownish” than staffies. Learn More.
Popular Names For Staffordshire Bull Terriers
What should you name your new SBT doggie? Popular names for Staffordshire bull terriers include:
- Jock (after the staffy in the famous book Jock of the Bushveld)
Staffordshire Bull Terrier FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How much do Staffordshire bull terriers cost to own?
Purebred Staffordshire bull terriers can cost anywhere between $800-$2,500. Adopting one will run you about $300. Staffies don’t have many grooming needs, so their monthly maintenance costs amount to food and toys. However, SBTs need basic obedience training when young, so factor that into your budget!
Are Staffordshire bull terriers good with kids?
Staffordshire bull terriers are courageous, curious, and people-loving. They’re especially great with children, but it’s important to socialize them properly from an early age. Also, don’t forget to teach kids how to lovingly interact with and respect pets!
How long do Staffordshire bull terriers live?
Staffordshire bull terriers usually live between 12 and 14 years.
What climates are best for staffies?
Because of their stocky physiques, Staffordshire bull terriers overheat easily and aren’t fond of weather extremes. If you live in a hot area, you may want to look at another breed.
- American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/staffordshire-bull-terrier/
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America, Available here: https://sbtca.com/health/
- Dogs First, Available here: https://dogsfirst.ie/raw-faq/what-do-dogs-eat/
- , Available here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/36951/36951-h/36951-h.htm