The American Staffordshire terrier, affectionately known as the Staffy, was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1936. Staffies are sometimes referred to as pit bulls, although the latter is more of a type than a breed. In England, a similar breed is known as the Staffordshire bull terrier. Dogs showing in AKC-recognized conformation classes must adhere closely to the standard. Since they represent ideal breeding stock, they aren't spayed or neutered.
If your first impression of an American Staffordshire terrier is that of power, muscularity and strength, the dog adheres to that part of the breed standard. The standards also calls for grace and agility in a somewhat stocky, short-backed canine. The dog's head is exceptionally large, with strong, well-defined cheeks and ears high on the skull. The breed's history as a fighting dog and large game hunter is reflected in the well-defined jaws with obvious biting strength in the lower jaw.
Height and Weight
Male Staffies should stand between 18 and 19 inches tall at the shoulders, with females slightly shorter at 17 to 18 inches. At maturity, males weigh between 50 and 70 pounds, with females in the 45- to 60-pound range. The Staffy's weight should always be proportionate to his height. The American Staffordshire terrier is heavier than his English counterpart, the Staffordshire bull terrier.
Coat and Colors
The Staffy's short coat should appear glossy and smooth. While the standard allows any coat color or combination of shades, the dog shouldn't be solid white or exceed 80 percent of white coloration. Liver-colored or black-and-tan Staffies aren't encouraged, so avoid breeding dogs of those hues.
The breed standard describes the perfect dog, and breeders strive to attain that perfection. While most dogs fall short of the standard, certain imperfections are considered more serious than others. For the Staffy, those include a long or improperly carried tail, light-colored eyes, a mouth with an underbite or overbite and a nose lacking pigmentation.
In addition to AKC conformation classes, dogs registered with the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America Inc. can qualify to show in the organization's annual Moonlight World Champion Challenge. This event is open to dogs receiving championship status from the AKC, Canadian Kennel Club or the Federation Cynologique Internationale. The winning dogs are considered the greatest Staffy champions in the world.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.