Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a brave and tenacious bully breed that originated in the UK. Although these pups aren't very big, they pack a lot of strength (and love) into their little lowrider bodies. This stocky breed is sometimes mistaken for their cousin, the American Pit Bull Terrier, as they also have a characteristically large head and wrestler-type stance. Yet, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier—or Staffie—is smaller and more often found in the UK, its homeland.
Originally bred as a fighter for blood sport hundreds of years ago, the breed has since evolved into a family dog. Many people describe their Staffies as playful, loving, and a friend to all. Still, due to their powerful jaws and potential instincts for fighting, this breed should only be raised in the hands of experienced dog people. With the right human, a well-socialized Staffie will likely be the sweetest boy on the block.
Also Known As...
Staffie/Staffy. Stafford. Little Bullie. Pocket Pittie. Pit Bull (in America). "Staffordshire Bull Terriers are like if you took a Pit Bull and divided them by 10%." "Whoa, that's some top-notch dog math right there."
A few centuries ago in England, bull and bear baiting were, sadly, legal, and Bulldogs were forced to participate. But when England banned these bloodsports, the people who operated them switched to dogfighting, a much easier act to hide from the authorities. For these purposes, the Bulldogs were cross-bred with a now extinct terrier, resulting in a more agile and dexterous dog: the original Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
As dogfighting decreased, Staffies became family dogs. In 1974, the Staffie was recognized by the AKC. Today, the breed is often referred to as a great protection dog and wonderful companion for people of all ages.
28-38 pounds (male), 24-34 pounds (female).
Looking for a cuddle bug? Staffies are often described as a super-affectionate breed, as well as deeply devoted to their families. Their "Bully" status also makes them determined, loyal dogs. This trait makes Staffies excellent companions.
Still, because of their strength and tenacity, this breed should be well-socialized and trained. With the right leadership, training, and care, Staffies should be goofy, easy-going, and endlessly loving pup.
Intelligence / Trainability
These funny little lowriders are clever, intelligent, and often easy to train. Staffies have an innate desire to please their humans, meaning they respond quickly and always look for cues. Staying calm and positive will help this breed turn into their best selves.
Like other types of Bully breeds, the Staffie can be strong-willed. Due to typically high prey drives, unclear and inconsistent training can potentially lead to negative consequences. It's always advisable to socialize and train your Staffie from an early age.
Staffies have a reputation for being playful sweethearts, yes, but they should also be recognized for their impressive adaptability. Due to their laid-back natures, Staffies are often happy wherever they land. Still, like many other breeds, exercise is key to apartment living. Without daily walks and romps through the park, this higher-energy pup may become frustrated and destructive.
In suburban or rural environments, Staffies should continue to have an exercise and socialization routine. Yards need secure fencing, as this breed can turn mischievous when bored. Lastly, check housing regulations in your area before renting or buying. Unfortunately, some Bully breeds continue to be banned by local government or individual landlords.
Good For Families And Kids?
Absolutely! With the right training and socialization, Staffies are great with children and incredible family dogs. They're highly tolerant of handsy toddlers, love to romp around the yard with young kids, and will accompany an older child all around the neighborhood.
Introductions and interactions should remain calm and respectful, though, as is true for any dog.
This muscular dog usually stays healthy and active well into their senior years. Due to irresponsible breeding though, Staffies can develop hip or elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, eye disorders, and skin allergies. If buying from a breeder (and please consider adopting instead), make sure to screen for these genetic conditions.
Even though this breed is sometimes characterized as a couch potato, Staffies require daily exercise to stay physically and mentally fit. These dogs have remarkable endurance and love to accompany their humans on long walks, jogs, or hikes. Many Staffies also love playing fetch, which also burns off steam.
Friendly With... (Dogs? Strangers? Cats/OtherPets?)
Depends on the Staffie! With proper socialization, Staffies can be amiable and trustworthy around all animals. Although they're incredibly loyal to their people, they're also often friendly with strangers.
That said, it's not uncommon for Staffies to be reactive toward other dogs. And because of a somewhat high prey drive, they may not appreciate smaller animals as much as you do.
Coat & Grooming
Luckily, these stocky pups are also low maintenance. Due to their sleek short coats, Staffies need little more than a once-a-week brushing and occasional bath. Just make sure to regularly check and clean their ears, especially if they've been in the woods or other areas with ticks.
Toys Staffies Would Like Best
Staffordshire Bull Terriers love to play. Having an array of toys on hand at home is a necessity. Fetch Toys, Tug Toys, and highly-durable Super Chewer Toys a good place to start. Plush Toys that aren't built for strong jaws may be torn to pieces in mere minutes, but that can be enjoyable for Staffies, too...just be prepared to clean up a mess.
For a more extensive list, check out the following post: What Are The Best Toys For Pit Bulls?
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are muscular and energetic. In order to maintain optimal health, they need a diet with a protein content of at least 30%.
You may want to choose a protein source such as Salmon that is rich in the fatty acids DHA and EPA which help reduce inflammatory conditions such as skin allergies. Staffies that do not get enough Omega Fatty Acids from their diet may benefit from a fish oil supplement.
These delicious, vet-formulated chews are made with all-natural ingredients including Omega 3, 6, 9, and Vitamin E. They are designed to support immune health, provide relief from itchy allergic skin, and promote a healthy coat. ($19.99)
BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. Shih Tzus are known for hip dysplaysia, which causes joint pain. Full Spectrum Hemp Oil will help ease your pal's movements and get them up and playing again. ($17.99-22.99.)
This joint supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your Staffy with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed provides support for even the meatiest of Staffies! The combination ergonomic memory foam and gel foam relieves pressure points, and helps ease body aches caused by hip dysplasia, arthritis and other orthopedic issues. It offers the best therapeutic support for your Staffie. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Staffie Of Your Dreams
- Northwest Dog Project
- Pit Bull Rescue Central
- New York Bully Crew
- Detroit Pit Crew
- Angel City Pit Bulls
- Villalobos Rescue Center
- BADRAP Blocky Dog Rescue
- Adoptable Staffies on Petfinder
Notable Instagram Staffies
Dragon The Staffy @dragonthestaffy
Darren & Phillip @The_BlueBoys
Ramsey The Blue Staffy @bluestaffy
Blue The Staffy@babyblue_staffy
***Looking for a gift to blow your Staffie's mind? Spoil them with a Super Chewer BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 super-durable toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and 2 (!!!) meaty chews. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month.
Featured image via DragonTheStaffy/Instagram