Complete Guide To The Staffordshire Bull Terrier: Care, Exercise, Feeding and More

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a rough and tumble reputation, but today’s dogs are far removed from their fighting days. Socialized and trained, they’re outgoing, family-friendly dogs with charming personalities and the patience of saints.

“Staffys” and Pit Bull Terriers are fairly synonymous with each other. The average person would look at one of these and say it’s a short, squat Pit Bull and never know its real name. Either way, I love these dogs. I’ve had 30 years of experience with dogs of this breed (as well as any other “Pit Bull”), and 99% of them have been loving and friendly. I have two mixed-breed dogs at home that are 50% Staffordshire and they are the sweetest, smartest, and cuddliest dogs I own.

In my veterinary practice, they come in as purebreds and mixes quite frequently as they are very popular. I have a lot of experience with this breed and want to share some of that knowledge here with you.

How Big Do Staffordshire Bull Terriers Get?

Male14-16″ at the shoulder28-38 lbs
Female14-16″ at the shoulder24-34 lbs

What Do Staffordshire Bull Terriers Look Like?

Their short dense coats come in a wide array of AKC-recognized colors including (but not limited to):

BlackWhiteBlack and White
BlueBlue and WhiteBrindle
Brindle and WhiteFawnRed

Despite their wide head, their ears are small and vary from Rose to half-pricked. Dark eyes are preferable but may reflect variations in coat color. Kept natural, their mid-length tails are slightly curved, tapering to a thin point.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are less recognizable than their larger cousin, the American Staffordshire Terrier. Depending on their color and confirmation, they’re often mistaken for the Bull Terrier or American Bulldog.

What Is The Personality of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier?

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are affectionate but fearless. Bold, they’ll follow their beloved family on adventures big and small. Intelligent and reliable, their even temperament and remarkable patience make them surprisingly good companions and able protectors for children.

Superior breeding has largely tempered their instinct to fight but supervision, as with all dogs, supervision remains a must around kids and other pets. Eager to please, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier will become a devoted, fun-loving friend with early socialization and training. Regular exercise channels their strength and energy in a positive way — they’re excellent running partners and love to chase balls in the park.

What Are The Grooming Needs of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier?

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a low-maintenance coat that’s naturally lustrous with minimal care. Weekly bushings with a soft brush or horsehair mitt whisk away dirt and help control shedding. An occasional bath controls doggy odor, keeping their skin clean and coat vibrant.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has thick nails, so cutting them can be a challenge. If they overgrow, they can become brittle and split when clipped, causing bleeding, pain and aversion to nail care. Routine trimming care every few weeks is a safer and more comfortable alternative — grinding tools leave no rough edges.

How Much Exercise Does A Staffordshire Bull Terrier Need?

These are higher energy dogs than most so you’ll need to make sure you have time in your life to properly exercise them. A vigorous 30-45 minute walk at the minimum every day will help burn off some of that energy but they will also need other sources of fun.

Playing ball, hiking, dog park visits, and other more organized activities such as agility and advanced obedience are all things that can tire your Staffordshire Bull Terrier out both mentally and physically.

One caveat – I’m not a big fan of tug of war games. With a dog that has the kind of powerful jaws as this one does, you’re encouraging an activity that can be unhealthy. For one, you’re counter-programming your dog to any attempts to get him/her to let something go when you want them to. Secondly, a dog that puts that kind of pressure and torsion on their neck while playing can cause some degenerative disc disease to develop in the cervical vertebrae.

What Kind Of Dog Food Is Best for Staffordshire Bull Terriers?

Personally I believe that most foods are fine for most dogs. Some dogs may not do well on some foods. However, as a rule I don’t blanket-prohibit any dietary ingredient from any breed at this time.

Best Puppy Food For Staffordshire Bull Terriers:

Best Adult Food For Staffordshire Bull Terriers:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

These dogs are big chewers and you’ll need to find some ways for them to exercise their jaws without hurting themselves. There are a lot of great options when it comes to “indestructible” toys and chews. Make sure to try several options out to see what your dog likes and what it won’t destroy in 30 seconds.

How Long Do Staffordshire Bull Terriers Live?

12-15 years based on information provided by the AKC

What Health Concerns Do Staffordshire Bull Terriers Have?

Make sure the Breeder (if you go through one) screens their stud dogs for L-2-hydroxyglutaricacidemia (L-2-HGA), a devastating neurological disorder that has been recently seen in this breed in increasing numbers. There is a genetic test available, and a registry for it exists at the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

Also there is a great database to see which diseases that OFA screens for (called the Canine Health Information Center or CHIC) and how often certain breeds are identified as having them. If you look at their site, they will bring up cataracts as something that the Staffy Bull ranks high for but it’s an incidence of less than 2% of all evaluations. I don’t consider that a health risk.

What the breed did have larger numbers for (greater than 10% of the dogs screened testive positive) were:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia

Your breeder’s parent dogs should have tested excellent for those conditions prior to breeding and they should be able to show proof of that. You can also search the database of the OFA to see if there’s a public record of that testing (reputable breeders would be there). All you need is the OFA registration number of both parent dogs to do the search.

However, know that these kinds of dysplasia can “skip” a generation at times and affect your dog even though the parents tested fine. That’s just the (bad) luck of it. Same thing for elbow dysplasia.

Where Can I Find a Staffordshire Bull Terrier?

****Please note – I know this still sounds silly, but make sure that this breed is okay to live in your area. There are still “breed restrictions” in some parts of the country due to misinformed individuals. It would be horrible to acquire

Breed Directory From the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America

AKC Puppy Page

Looking for a Rescue? Try SBTCA Rescue

Where Can I Find More Info About Staffordshire Bull Terriers?

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America

Find A Regional Club

AKC Breed Page

Interesting Facts About Staffordshire Bull Terriers

There’s significant confusion about bull-type dogs. Here are a few facts to set things straight and endear you to this wonderful breed.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers Are Just One Type of “Pit” Bull

All so-called bull breeds are thought to have a common ancestor — the bull dog. The term “pit bull” is just a generic way of describing a variety of former pit fighting breeds, including mastiffs and bull terriers, tracing back to the ancient Molossian war dogs of Greece.

Centuries ago, breeders profited from producing ruthless animals. But as blood sports fell out of favor, development techniques changed and breeds diverged with the goal of creating the courageous, family-friendly herding dog we know today.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier joined the English Kennel Club in 1935 and was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1974 as its 120th breed. The American Bull Terrier, selectively bred from Staffordshire stock in the 1800s, was recognized by the AKC in 1936 as a distinct dog.

They Really Are Terriers

The AKC classifies dogs by group based on their heritage and function. So while it’s hard to imagine Staffordshire Bull Terriers in the same class as Dorothy’s Toto from the The Wizard of Oz, they are members of the terrier class and share similar traits.

• They’re Popular

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier lags in popularity in the US and Canada, in part because of late recognition by their kennel clubs. But they’ve been among the UK’s ten most popular dogs for the last century and currently rank 3rd in Australia.

The Nanny Dog

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are so tender with children that they’re known as “nanny dogs” in their home nation of Great Britain. Lovers, not fighters, they’re gentle but firm protectors with kid-sized appetites for fun. Staffordshires may not, however, be as agreeable with other dogs, especially if they see them as threats to their people or property.

Reverse Psychology

Different breeds have distinct personalities, so training them requires somewhat different approaches. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are intelligent, but they play by simple rules — like kids, they learn anything faster if you make it fun. Obedience training with consistent reinforcement is essential for any large, powerful dog — they need a strong leader — but Staffordshires are more likely to engage if sessions are lighthearted.

Celebrity Endorsements

It didn’t take Hollywood long to embrace the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. A-list celebrity owners include chef and talk show host Rachel Ray, actors Kevin Bacon and Jon Bernthal, actresses Jessica Alba and Kaley Cuoco, country superstar Miranda Lambert, “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Milan and bad boys Danny Trejo and Vin Diesel.