Traditionally bred for the purpose of dog fighting, the original AmStaff was developed in county Staffordshire as the result of crossing between the Bulldog and various terriers. Once the sport of dog fighting was finally dispensed with in the United States in 1900, the AmStaff became a popular companion dog, used as an efficient ratter and for fearlessly hunting wild boar and bears. Serving in WWI as a messenger dog that would accompany the sentries to locate wounded soldiers, the breed features prominently in American military history. The AmStaff was officially separated into two strains - the show strain, which became known as the American Staffordshire, and the non-show strain, labelled the American Pit Bull Terrier. Officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1936.
Combining the traits of its forebears, the AmStaff is a compact and stocky dog, characterised by a strong jaw, powerful body and muscular legs, low-set eyes, a disproportionately short tail and high-set, pointed ears. The breed appears in solid or parti-colour, with all variations permissible, usually with patches or patterning on the stiff coat. The American Staffordshire Terrier has experienced global breed-bans and restrictions in recent years, with conditions being placed on ownership.
The common conception of the AmStaff is that of a vicious and unpredictable breed, possessing an inherent fighting instinct. Although the original AmStaff boasted these traits - being a frequenter of the fighting pits - such has been bred out of the breed for the purpose of establishing a more balanced and docile companion dog. The breed is said to be compatible with and devoted to children, whilst typically responding badly to other dogs, especially those of the same gender. Determined, intelligent and territorial, the AmStaff requires firm leadership and obedience training from an early age. On average, a healthy American Staffordshire Terrier weighs 25-30 kg, with a life expectancy of 10-15 years when cared for accordingly.
Despite being typically resilient, the AmStaff is susceptible to a variety of inherited disorders, including congenital heart disease and heart murmurs, luxating patella, thyroid disease and juvenile cataracts. As with most breeds, hip and elbow dysplasia is also common.