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Staffy

A complete breed guide for Staffordshire bull terrier dogs

LAST UPDATED 25 FEBRUARY 2022

This article is written by our veterinarian, Dr Teagan Lever, BVSc (Hons)

Don't be fooled by their tough exteriors, these muscly little livewires are more likely to lick you all over than do you any harm. The humble Staffordshire Bull Terrier (or Staffy) is one of Australia's favourite dog breeds, and as the owner of two Staffies myself I may be more than a little bit biased when I say this is for good reason!

Contents

1. Facts about the Staffy

2. Staffy History

3. Staffy Personality

4. Staffy Diet and Nutrition

5. Staffy Health Issues

6. Staffy Behaviour

7. Related Breeds

Further reading

Breed size: Place of origin: Other names:
Medium England Staffy, English Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Breed group: Energy level: Weight range:
Terrier High Female: 10.9 to 15.4kg, Male: 12.7 to 17.2kg
Life expectancy: Tendency to bark: Height range:
12 to 14 years Moderate 35.6 to 40.6cm at shoulder
Drool factor: Coat length: Colours:
Low Short Red, fawn, white, black, blue, or any shade of brindle. May have white markings.
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Social needs:
Moderate Low Staffies crave human contact and love to be part of the family.

What sort of coat does a Staffy have?

Staffies have a thin, short coat and are considered to be a low shedding breed. In terms of grooming, a brush once every few days and an occasional bath should be all your Staffy's coat needs.

Staffy coat colours include red, fawn, white, black, blue, or any shade of brindle. Any of these colours may have white markings.

Is a Staffy a good dog?

Staffies are highly active and social dogs. While this makes them a good pet for an active owner or family, if a Staffy's needs are not met, they may develop behaviour problems.

Because they have high energy levels, most Staffies are not well-suited to apartment living and benefit from having a yard to run around in. They also need moderate to intense daily exercise outside the home to release any pent-up energy!

Staffies are good with older kids and make excellent, affectionate playmates. They generally get along well with other dogs, although proper early socialisation is essential.

How long do Staffies live for?

On average, Staffies live between 12 - 14 years of age.

How big do Staffies grow?

Staffy females typically weigh between 10.9 - 15.4 kg while males weigh between 12.7 - 17.2 kg. The typical height of a Staffy is between 35.6 - 40.6 cm at the shoulder. Amercian Staffies or Staffy crosses may grow bigger than this.

How much does a Staffy cost?

A Staffy puppy may cost between $500 - 2000. On top of this, it's important to budget for veterinary bills, pet insurance, a good quality diet and regular flea and worming medication. Check out our New Puppy Shopping List for more information!

Do Staffies bark much?

Staffies are a vocal breed and may bark, cry or even scream at times! Training, socialisation and sufficient exercise will go a long way to curb excessive barking. Check out How to stop your dog barking for more information.

Staffies love being with their families and may bark when experiencing separation anxiety.

How do I know which Staffy breeder to choose?

While Staffies are a robust breed, it's important to choose a reputable breeder to decrease the risk of health or temperament problems down the line. For a full checklist of questions to ask when choosing a breeder, read our vet article How to Find a Good Breeder.

Staffy History

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier's lineage stretches back to the ancient Greek Molossian war dogs and Mastiffs of Europe, with its Bulldog predecessors used in England a few centuries ago for bull baiting, fighting and other blood sports. At the time it was commonly believed that teasing a bull with a dog prior to slaughter would improve the quality of the meat, however it seems many also found this to be a source of entertainment. Blood sports were outlawed in 1835 in England however illicit dog fighting continued, with the now out of work Bulldogs being bred with wiley Terrier types to create a powerful, fiesty fighting breed.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed as we know it today was developed by James Hinks of Birmingham England in the mid 19th Century. Over the next few hundred years the Staffy has come to be widely appreciated for its value as a loyal, courageous and sociable family pet rather than a formidable fighting machine. The Kennel Club of England first recognised the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed in 1935.

Staffy Personality

photo of a staffy near a baby

A common misconception of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is that they have an innate predisposition towards aggression. Rather the contrary, staffies have a supremely gentle and loving nature. Staffies love people and crave social interaction, whether it is with their beloved family members or complete strangers!

While the average Staffy may not actively seek out trouble, their fearless, couragenous nature and reluctance to stand down can result in agressive behaviour if they are challenged by other dogs. Socialisation of Staffy puppies during the peak socialisation window at around 8 to 16 weeks of age is essential.

Aside from spending every waking minute by their human's side, Staffies absolutely love to play. Without plenty of exercise and playtime to stimulate both their body and mind these dogs can rapidly find other, less desirable ways to fill their time such as destructive chewing, digging and escaping. Take a look at our tips for boredom busting.

While not the most low maintenance of breeds, Staffies make excellent companions and family dogs when their needs are met. Their preference for play and tendency to be food motivated makes these dogs good candidates for positive behavioural training techniques.

Very Strong Toys for a Staffy

With strong jaws and a tendency towards being heavy duty chewers, these are our top picks for Staffy toys! We recommend supervising your Staffy with any new toy and removing toys when they become small enough to be a choking hazard.

Kong Wobbler

Fill the Kong Wobbler with your Staffy's kibble or some favourite treats to keep them occupied and out of mischief.

Tasty Bone

These nylon bones come in a range of delectable flavour and withstand hours of intense Staffy chewing. Go large or mega for maximum durability.

KONG Extreme Black

Made from the most durable KONG rubber, the KONG Extreme can be filled with treats, paste, kibble or even frozen stock to prolong play time. Choose XL or XXL for power chewers.

Tuffy Toys

While they may not last forever or withstand true power chewers, Tuffy Toys are your best bet if you want to give your Staffy a soft toy to snuggle.

Can't decide? Why not let us choose for you with the Curious Box? Each Curious Box contains a selection of two to three engaging toys ( and treats!) Even better, the theme changes every 6 weeks, making it the perfect way to keep your pet's supply of toys and treats fresh, fun, and varied!

Staffy Diet and Nutrition

Staffy Puppies

Your Staffy pup will benefit from a premium diet that has undergone digestibility testing and is high in protein to support healthy muscle development.

Want to learn more about caring for your new Staffy puppy? Check out our other articles:

  • New Puppy Guide
  • What is the best puppy food?
  • 10 Frequently Asked Puppy Questions
  • Common Mistakes Puppy Owners Make
  • Best food for Staffy Puppies

    These are our Vet Squad's top picks for Staffy pups to ensure healthy growth and support skin health from a young age.

    Advance Medium Puppy

    Australian made, high quality puppy food designed to support healthy growth and development.

    Royal Canin Puppy Medium

    Very high quality diet tailored for the needs of medium breed puppies. High in fish oil which is a natural source of omega fatty acids to support healthy skin, a shiny coat and optimal brain development.

    Eukanuba Puppy Medium Breed

    A complete and balanced puppy food suitable for all breeds which is rich in nutrients to promote healthy digestion, skin and coat health as well as brain development.

    Ziwi Peak Wet Dog Food Tripe And Lamb

    This all life stages formula is made using over 40% tripe, helping to provide digestive support for your Staffy puppy.



    Staffies don't have any specific nutritional requirements, however bearing in mind their tendency for allergic skin disease I'd recommend a diet high in omega fatty acids to support healthy skin barrier function. As Staffies are a medium sized breed, a medium or all breed formula is your best option.

    Best Food for Adult Staffies

    The premium diets below are very high in omega 3 fatty acids, to help support your Staffy's skin from the inside out.

    Advance Adult Terriers Ocean Fish

    Designed specifically for Terrier breeds, contains increased levels of omega 3 fatty acids from Salmon to support skin health.

    Royal Canin Medium Adult

    Very high quality diet formulated to meet the high energy needs of medium breed dogs. Rich in fish oil which is a natural source of omega fatty acids to support healthy skin and a shiny coat.

    Open Farm Catch of the Season Whitefish

    Based on sustainably sourced whitefish, this single-protein formula is high in omega 3s - perfect if your staffy suffers from skin issues. Open Farm employs humane conditions and sustainable fishing to promote a healthy dog and planet!

    Ziwi Peak Venison

    This venison recipe is a single and novel protein, which is very useful for dogs prone to allergies and those that require an elimination diet to find the source of their allergy trigger.

    Staffy Health Issues

    As with any pure breed dog, Staffordshire Bull Terriers can be predisposed to certain health conditions. Don't let this list alarm you as a predisposition to a condition definitely doesn't mean it is guaranteed to occur. Most Staffies will go their whole lives without developing any of these problems however it does pay to be informed so you know what to look out for!


    Skin problems

    Most vets will agree that Staffies do seem to be more prone to development of skin problems, particularly demodectic mange in puppies and allergic skin disease in all age groups.

    Demodectic mange

    Demodectic mange is a condition where the mite Demodex canis, which can be a normal inhabitant of the canine skin in low numbers, overgrows causing hairloss and secondary skin infection. Demodectic mange is easily diagnosed by a veterinarian using a skin scrape in house. If the mites are present your vet will be able to see them wriggling around under a microscope! Treatment involves medication to kill the mites, alongside treatment of any concurrent bacterial or yeast skin infections with medicated shampoos or antibiotics. Simparica and Bravecto chews are both effective against Demodex mites so are a great choice for flea and tick prevention for Staffies from 8 weeks of age and up provided they meet the recommended weight guidelines.

    Staffy Skin Allergies

    Allergic skin disease such as atopic dermatitis and contact allergies do seem to be more common in staffies. Atopic dermatitis is a sort of generalised allergy caused by items in the environment such as pollen, dustmites or grasses. It usually results in itching, hairloss and red, inflamed skin. Often affected dogs may lick their paws excessively and have recurrent ear infections. Contact allergies can cause similar symptoms in dogs however the reaction is limited to areas where the dog has come into direct contact with the allergen (usually plants). Diagnosis of allergic skin disease in dogs can take some time as the underlying cause needs to be discovered, usually through a process of elimination. Management involves reducing or eliminating the allergen from the environment if possible, alongside potentially desensitisation and medication, dietary changes and topical therapies to manage symptoms.

    Eye problems

    Staffies may also be at risk of some eye problems, including hereditary cataracts and distichiasis (extra eyelashes).

    Hereditary cataracts usally begin to develop in the first weeks to months of life, maturing to completely obscure vision at around 2 to 3 years of age. Removal of hereditary cataracts by a veterinary opthalmologist is possible but costly. Prevention is much more desirable, there is now genetic testing available to ensure that carriers of this gene are not used for breeding.

    Distichiasis is a condition where extra hairs grow in the eyelash area. These extra eyelashes may rub on the surface of the eye causing irritation and redness to the eye, excessive tear production and corneal ulcers. Treatment involves surgical removal of the offending hairs as well as management of any concurrent irritation. In some cases hair may regrow so a number of procedures could be required to permanently treat this condition.

    Other Staffy health problems

    As a breed, Staffies do seem to be more prone to the development of Mast cell tumours than other dogs. These tumours can appear anywhere on the body and are readily diagnosed by your vet by taking a small sample of cells with a needle and sending it to the lab or looking at it in house. Early treatment by complete surgical removal is important here as mast cell tumours can and do eventually spread throughout the body making treatment much more difficult.

    Top health and supplement recommendations for Staffies

    Regular, effective flea treatment is essential to keep itchiness at bay. Even the bite of a single flea can trigger the itch cycle in allergic dogs. Over the counter supplements containing omega oils have been shown to effectively support and nourish skin barrier function.

    Bravecto

    Bravecto delivers safe, effective, long lasting protection against ticks and fleas while also controlling the mites which cause demodectic mange.

    Simparica

    Simparica provides reliable monthly flea and tick protection and also controls the mites which cause demodective mange.

    Omega Oil

    A natural omega oil supplement for dogs containing a blend of natural oils including cod liver oil, flaxseed oil and sunflower to support skin, joint and digestive health.

    Megaderm

    An essential fatty acid supplement designed to support skin health and help manage itchy or inflamed skin.

    Staffy Behaviour Problems

    Due to their intensely social and active nature, Staffies can develop some behavioural problems such as separation anxiety, destructive chewing, digging and escaping if they are left to become bored or lonely. This makes environmental and social enrichment especially important for this breed.

    In order to keep your Staffy happy, be sure to set aside some time every day for an activity you can enjoy together such as a walk, run , game of fetch or trip to the dog park. Keep plenty of durable dog toys on hand so that your staffy has an appropriate outlet for any chewing urges and consider giving them treat dispensing or interactive toy to keep them busy while you are out during the day. For anxious Staffies, you may also find that using a Thundershirt or Adaptil Diffuser, Collar or Spray can be useful for stressful situations such as travel , storms and fireworks.

    American Staffordshire Terrier

    The Amercian Staffordshire Terrier ('Am Staff') was bred from Pit Bull Terrier roots, and shares many of the energetic traits of the English Staffy. They are a medium to large sized, muscular dog.

    Bulldog

    People-orientated and friendly, The Bulldog is a medium sized dog. They have only moderate exercise requirements and can be well-suited to apartment living. Due to their brachycephalic featues, Bulldogs are at risk of heat stroke and do best in temperate climates.

    Bull Terrier

    Bull Terriers come in two sizes, standard and miniature. They are a muscular, stocky dog with high exercise requirements. Due to the Bull Terrier's strong, fearless nature, early socialisation and training is very important for this breed.

    Further Reading

    How to Help Your Dog with Storm Phobia

    How to Choose a Dog Breed That's Right For You

    Premium Pet Food: Is It Worth It?

    How to Stop Your Dog From Inappropriate Chewing

    Dealing With Separation Anxiety in Dogs

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