Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a short-coated, medium-sized dog that originated from England. It is one of the most popular breed in mainland United States, and belongs to several breeds collectively known as pit bulls. The esteem and stance of this breed might be very intimidating due to its mass and muscular physique, but you will be surprised that this intimidating appearance hides a very affectionate pooch. In fact, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier might be one of the most loyal dog breeds you will ever own.  You will be surprised that this muscular dog has a soft spot, and we will share why.

Breed Characteristics

Health and GroomingHighest
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsAbove Average

Dog Breed Group:Terrier
Height: 14 to 16 inches at the shoulder (Male) / 13 to 16 inches at the shoulder (Female)
Weight:28 to 37 pounds (Male) / 23 to 34 pounds (Female)
Life Span: 10 to 12 Years

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is commonly confused with its larger relatives, the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. The breed showcases distinct physical characteristics such as small ears, pronounced cheek muscles, and lips that do not present looseness. Its short coat that is smooth and fits snug to the body give the Staffordshire Bull Terrier a streamlined and «macho» appearance, which is one of the primary reasons why it was bred to appear as such.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are extremely affectionate, active, friendly, and enthusiastic towards humans. They love to express themselves through nuzzling, licking, pawing, and jumping. Despite their guard dog appearance, they make fair to poor watchdogs. They are noted to be very adaptable in terms of change in both environment and pet parent, and this trait makes them very easy to be dognapped. A properly trained Staffordshire Bull Terrier can be a wonderful companion, and they can be trained for obedience as well as for security and yields favorable results through persistence and dedication.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is constantly included in the most popular breeds in the United States. However, it is not for the mainstream audience, and is more of an acquired taste because most pet parents, especially first-timers, prefer a dog that looks cutesy and adorable, which is not completely the case for this very muscular type of dog. You will be surprised that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is one of the few dogs that presents an extremely strong affinity with its pet parents.

Main Highlights
  • The Staffordshire Bull Terrier comes with a lot of nicknames, such as Nanny Dog, SBT, Staffy Bull, Staffy, and Staffy Dog.
  • Currently, it is one of the most popular breeds in the United States, and has been consistently growing popularity as the masses know more about the breed.
  • In general, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier comes with a lot coat color varieties of red, white, black, blue, brindle, or combination with white.
  • The key characteristics of this breed are affectionate and adaptable.
  • The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was originally bred for bloodsports, but as animal welfare and awareness became prominent, it became one of the more popular breeds by bachelors and gym buffs because of its compact yet macho appearance.
  • Due to its very strong affinity with humans, it is the most recommended medium-sized dog for new pet parents that would like to have a “dog that acts like a toy dog but looks like a guard dog”.
  • Due to the short coat, grooming this dog is a breeze.
  • They make terrible guard dogs by default due to their very warm and affectionate demeanor, but can be trained.
  • With an average life span of ten to twelve years, the breed has several health issues but is a generally healthy dog breed.
Breed History

Despite its rather violent origin as a breed created to engage in various bloodsports such as dog fights and bull baiting, the modern Staffordshire Bull Terrier are quite far from the earlier breed prototype. The breed was recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1935, but only in the year 1975 when the breed was officially recognized in the United States.


The male Staffordshire Bull Terriers are slightly bigger and heavier than their female counterparts are. The male stands 14 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder, while the female stands 13 to 16 inches at the shoulder. Males weigh from 28 to 37 pounds, and the females weigh 23 to 34. There is only one breed standard and size for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Personality and Character

Enthusiasm and affection are two factors where the Staffordshire Bull Terrier shines. It does not require too much space and exercise, and thrives well in apartment or condominium living as well as suburban and countryside living. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are very adaptable, and can catch up with semi-active to active pet parents.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a solid frame for a medium-sized body. It is recommended for families with children because of its patient and loving demeanor, although younger children may still need some supervision.

Health and Potential Problems

A generally healthy dog breed, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier can ace its life expectancy without too much complications. However, it still has several breed-specific health issues. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is prone to hereditary cataracts, as well as L2HGA and other metabolic disorders. but like any other breeds, they are still prone to several health issues that can be acquired through lifestyle and other predisposing factors.

  • Mastocytoma — The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is well-known to have an increased risk and prevalence for mastocytoma or mast cell tumors. These tumors can be benign, but there are also cases where the tumors become malignant.
  • L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria (L2HGA) — L2HGA is a distinct metabolic problem that has a higher incidence rate with Staffordshire Bull Terriers. It involves a metabolic disturbance that is accompanied with dementia-like symptoms. L2HGA can be detected through DNA testing.
  • Dental Caries — Staffordshire Bull Terriers is a dog breed that possesses a well-structured teeth and oral cavity. However, it has a mannerism of overindulgence, and it loves to nibble and eat. It is very important to keep the teeth and gums clean to keep them healthy and minimize the accumulation of microorganisms that accelerate tooth decay and even oral infection.
  • Eye and Ear Problems — Staffordshire Bull Terriers are prone to hereditary cataracts, and it is very important for such eye and other ear problems to be observed and addressed at the soonest possible time. Aside from cataracts, seasonal and community acquired infections can be contracted. Signs of infected eyes and ears include a brownish to dark brown discharge that emits a foul smell. For eye infections that can be prevented, the prevention and management is quite easy and manageable, as it only involves frequent but not too frequent eye and ear cleaning. If the infection is already present, the veterinarian will prescribe eye and ear drops to help soothe the pain and accelerate the healing process.
  • Bad Breath — This is another health concern that usually affects Staffordshire Bull Terriers that have teeth and gum problems. However, it can also be a sign of digestive and renal concerns. Your veterinarian will determine the main cause of the bad breath, and will prescribe oral medications that will help alleviate the smell. Furthermore, other more comprehensive tests may be done if it is coming somewhere that is not around the oral cavity.
  • Bloat — We already know that this active dog breed loves to eat, and this habit increases its risk to develop bloat which can become a serious digestive problem. Make sure that your Staffordshire Bull Terrier already had an ample half to one full hour of rest after eating to significantly reduce the risks of developing bloat. You can also allow your dog to engage into exercise, about an hour before the feeding schedule.
Care Features

Thanks to its short and no-fuss coat, care instructions for the breed is like a walk in the park. Just make sure that the coat is vigorously brushed and massaged at least once daily and you’re all set. Pet parents must make sure that the paws, ears, and oral cavity receive careful attention.

Feeding Schedule

For Staffordshire Bull Terrier Puppies – Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppies and young adults should be fed at the minimum frequency of three to four times daily in equally divided meals. Because they are in the growing stage, they require considerably more nutrients and sustained nutrition compared to adult Staffordshire Bull Terriers. This is also the growing period where the muscle formation and development is critical, so you really have to make sure that the fur babies are well, but not overfed. Puppies that are fed only once or twice a day are prone to develop hypoglycemia or low glucose levels.

For Adult Staffordshire Bull Terrier – An adult Staffordshire Bull Terrier can consume up to two and a half-cups of dog food per day, which can be divided into two to three meals. Keep your dog in good shape by measuring his food before feeding him, instead of just leaving some dry food until he consumes all of it. These dogs have a high tendency to overindulge as we have pointed out earlier, so the control should come from you and not from them. For pet parents that are unsure if their fur baby is overweight or not, you can run your fingers along the spine down to his ribs. You should be able to feel the ribs without being too visible. If you cannot feel its ribs without applying a little bit of pressure, then your dog needs some dieting and more exercise.

Remember that an adult dog’s dietary requirement depends on its age, size, build, activity level, and metabolism. Staffordshire Bull Terriers may look bulky, but their food requirements are not the same. It will completely depend on the calorie requirement which will be based on its day to day activities.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier comes with numerous coat color varieties such as red, white, black, blue, brindle, or any combination with white. Coming with only one size and coat type, which is short, the grooming requirements of this breed is very easy to maintain. Regular and vigorous brushing, as well as oral and ear cleaning is essential for this fur baby.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a relatively healthy breed. It has a very favorable affinity with humans, particularly young children. In fact, its nickname Nanny Dog is what it does best, being a nanny to its younger human companions. It has an excellent temperament, far better compared to other dog breeds that you usually find in homes. Its muscular frame can catch up with the quirkiness and active pet parents and their youngsters, and they will happily play with them. Another factor why the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is beloved by small families is because it does not shed heavily, thanks to its short, close to the skin coat. This significantly decreases the chances to induce allergies. As a pet parent, just be mindful of the excessive licking and moderate drooling, which is common with pit bull varieties. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is very easy to housebreak, and their impressive adaptability is where it shines. If you are the type of pet parent that travels a lot frequently changes home address due to personal preferences, the breed can catch up with such changes. As with other dogs, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is moderately compatible. They can tolerate yappy and nosy dogs as part of the family, but try not to pair them with naturally aggressive breeds.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier might be a popular breed, but many families are intimidated by how it looks. Looks can really be deceiving, and with a muscular dog that can capture hearts of both the young and the old, considering this breed can be one of the best decisions you can have as a budding pet parent.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.