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American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier




The American Staffordshire Terrier's ancestor, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was developed in England and brought to the United States in the mid-19th century to compete in the fighting pits. "Cockney" Charlie Lloyd is credited with bringing over "Pilot," "Paddy" and other dogs who figured in the formation of the American strain. Breeders increased the size and height of the British version, and ears were cropped to accentuate the more massive head and to prevent them from being ripped in a fight. Over the years, this dog has been labeled with a variety of  names: Bull-and-Terrier, Half-and-Half, Pit Dog, Pit Bull Terrier, American Bull Terrier and even Yankee Terrier. While some of their brethren were sentenced to life in the pits, other more fortunate American Staffordshire Terriers guarded the frontier families and homesteads.

In 1900, dog-fighting was generally outlawed in America, and a group of fanciers, who were opposed to any association with the crime, wanted to promote other characteristics of the breed. The American Staffordshire Terrier served its country during WWI, with "Stubby" becoming the most decorated war dog and earning the rank of sergeant. It was important to the new breed image to avoid breed names associated with the pits. Breeder Joe Dunn headed the movement to bring together a club, which resulted in the name (and the breed) Staffordshire Terrier being recognized by AKC in 1936. The word American was added, in 1972, to differentiate from AKC's newly recognized Staffordshire Bull Terrier. A modest demand for AmS-taffs exists in America, but they are rarely seen in Canada.
During the breed's early years of AKC competition, an engaging group of kids entertained American children. These "Little Rascals," (or "Our Gang") had a constant pal in "Pete," their black-eyed Staff, also claimed as a Pit Bull.
Even at the nadir of dog-fighting, the hostility was toward other dogs, not to people. This dog was specifically chosen for his acceptance of being grasped or restrained by his handler, even during the frenzy of a fight.
The modern version of the breed is affectionate and reliable with people and, in fact, the high tolerance which served them well in the blood sport gives them unusual patience with children. They barely notice an infant chewing on their ear or a toddler playing "horsie." An occasional bump with a crutch or wheelchair is taken with good humor, making them good companions for the handicapped. Despite this amiability with humans, some Staffs retain their terrierlike pugnacity toward other animals, and owners must be capable of maintaining control.
Their coat requires only a couple swipes with the brush to stay neat. The breed has an uncanny ability to discern between friend and foe. All these qualities, plus their robust good health, make them a good choice whether on farms or in apartments.

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