Staffordshire Bull Terrier
(AKC Terrier Group)
Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a powerful and muscular dog, very strong for his size, yet agile, with a broad head and very strong jaws. The muzzle is short and the cheek muscles distinct. The stop is clearly defined. The eyes are round and preferably dark, but might have a color related to the coat color. Light eyes or pink eyelids are a fault, except that dogs whose coat is white surrounding the eyes might have pink eye rims. The nose is black. The teeth should form a scissors bite. The ears are either rose or half-pricked. The neck is short and muscular. The topline is level. The chest is broad with well-sprung ribs, and the front legs are set rather far apart. Rear dewclaws, if any, are generally removed, and front dewclaw removal is optional. The coat is smooth, short, and close to the skin, and show dogs should not be trimmed or de-whiskered. Approved colors are red, fawn, white, black, blue, or any shade of brindle. These may be solid colors or combined with white. Black and tan or liver-colored dogs may not compete in AKC conformation shows, though they may participate in other events.


The origins of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier can be traced from early Mastiff-like dogs, through the early Bulldog, to "Bull and Terrier" crosses in the British Isles. The ancestors of today's Staffordshire Bull Terrier participated in bull and bear baiting, dog fighting, ratting, and badger hunting. By 1850, two distinct branches of the Bull and Terrier breeds were in evidence. One branch became today's dapper, roman-nosed Bull Terrier, and the other became the Stafford. In 1935, fanciers met in England to form a Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed club and write a standard. Today's Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a very popular family pet and show dog in the British Isles, South Africa, and Australia, as well as in the United States. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1974.

Key Facts:



Extremely courageous. Intelligent and sometimes willful. Tenacious, impulsive, and agile. Very devoted to his family and so good with children that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is known in England as "The Nanny Dog." A high pain threshold allows the Stafford to tolerate inadvertently rough handling from children better than many other breeds. As with all breeds, children should always be supervised with dogs and trained how to treat them properly. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier needs lots of human companionship to thrive. They need to be with their people. Do not leave this breed alone a lot or expect them to exercise themselves. They prefer to interact with their humans for exercise. An unattended, bored Stafford might find ways to entertain himself that the owner will not appreciate.

Generally friendly with strangers and therefore not suitable as guardians of property, Staffords will not hesitate to protect family members if necessary. Ancestors of today's Staffordshire Bull Terriers (and most other dogs from pit-fighting heritage) were specifically bred to be non-aggressive with people, because early owners needed to be able to handle them safely even in the midst of a dogfight. Dogs who were aggressive to people were culled, leaving only dogs to breed who were highly tolerant of people. So aggression to people is rare.

Many Staffords do best in a one-dog family; however, owners who want two dogs should pair one male and one female for best results. In multi-dog households, always separate the dogs when leaving them without human supervision Adults of this breed tend to be very combative with other dogs outside the family, especially if the other dog challenges them. This is true even if the dog has been well socialized and was friendly with other dogs when young. Do not allow adult Staffords off leash or even on a loose leash unless safe to do so. Staffords also tend to have a strong prey drive that prompts them to chase and catch small animals, so be very careful with smaller pets. Some dogs that are raised with other pets in the household can be good with them.

Sensitive to criticism and open to being disciplined, Staffords require firm handling and consistent, patient, positive training. Novice owners who are willing to learn to be in charge and to deal responsibly with dog aggression issues in the breed can do well with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.