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Everything you need to know about Staffordshire Bull Terriers

Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Sarah Elliott
1st Dec 2023
Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or “Staffies”, are strong, curious and full of energy. They're great for active, experienced owners. These dogs love being around people and show a lot of affection to their families. Because they love company, being alone too long can stress them out so it’s good for someone to usually be at home with them.

Breed history

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a rich history where its roots can be traced back to the early 19th century in the Staffordshire area of England. The breed is a cross between a Bulldog and a Terrier. They’re also called "Staffies" or "Staffys" as a shorter, cuter nickname.
At first, people bred Staffordshire Bull Terriers for an awful “sport” called bull-baiting, where dogs faced bulls in a small space. Luckily bull-baiting was stopped around 1850 for being cruel, and people gave these dogs helpful jobs like catching rats. During World War II, Staffordshire Bull Terriers became mascots for the American military. They were even on posters that encouraged people to join the army and became symbols of bravery and loyalty.
Later, responsible breeders focused on making Staffordshire Bull Terriers loyal and loving dogs so they could become family pets. In 1935, the Kennel Club in the United Kingdom officially recognized Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and set rules about how these dogs should look and behave.


Staffordshire Bull Terriers are medium-sized dogs with strong muscles. Their stance is well-balanced where their legs are squarely under their body. They have a broad head, small ears that fold backward and a strong jaw that makes them look like they’re smiling. Their eyes are dark, round and intense. Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a short, smooth coat that sits close to their body. Their tails are usually short and low. The coats for these dogs come in lots of different colours from grey to red to black.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier colours

Staffordshire Bull Terriers come in a lot of different colours, because they can be almost any colour or pattern that Bulldogs or Terriers can be.
  • Brindle
  • Red
  • Fawn
  • Black
  • Grey-blue
Staffordshire Bull Terriers can also be tricolour where they can be any combination of these colours and often have white markings on their chest and feet.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier temperament

The typical Staffordshire Bull Terrier temperament is affectionate, loyal, and smart. They can learn new skills fast with the right training. You might find they like to test their boundaries so consistent training and reinforcement is important. They love people and having company but can be shy and reserved at first around new people. Staffies need lots of training and socialisation which makes them better for experienced owners. This breed isn’t ideal as a first pet.

How much exercise does a Staffordshire Bull Terrier need?

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are energetic dogs and need around 1 hour of exercise each day. This can include walks, playtime, or running around in a secure area. Keeping them mentally stimulated with toys and activities is just as important as physical exercise.

How to groom a Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are pretty low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Their short, smooth coat doesn't require much fuss. A good brushing once a week with a grooming mitt or a soft brush will help keep their coat shiny and remove any loose hair. Regular dental care, like brushing their teeth, is important to keep their pearly whites in good shape. Carefully check their ears, give them a wipe if needed, and keep their nails trimmed.

Common Staffordshire Bull Terrier health problems

Joint issues

Staffordshire Bull Terriers can get hip and elbow dysplasia. These can be debilitating conditions where the joints lose proper alignment and become unstable. This can lead to a series of issues over time including pain, swelling, stiffness and arthritis.

Knee problems

Staffies and other smaller breeds can have a luxating patella. This is when the knee cap doesn’t stay in its groove and can pop out to the side. It usually isn’t painful when this happens but can cause problems with walking. Like other breeds, Staffordshire Bull Terriers can also develop cruciate disease where the ligament that holds the bones together at the knee joint gets torn or ruptured, making things unstable. These knee problems may need corrective surgery. 

Skin conditions

Like any breed, Staffordshire Bull Terriers can get allergies which might show up as problems with their skin. Allergies can happen because of certain foods or things in the environment like pollen. To handle allergies, it's good to keep an eye on what your dog eats, their surroundings, and ask a vet for advice. Staffies are more likely to be affected by demodectic mange at a young age. This is caused by a mite in the skin. They can also be prone to a skin mass called a mast cell tumour which needs to be removed with surgery. Always get any new skin lumps and bumps checked by a vet.

Eye conditions

Cataracts are a common condition in dogs. Cataracts make the lens cloud over and reduce vision. In Staffordshire Bull Terriers, this can be hereditary. Regular eye examinations by a vet can help catch and address cataracts early.

Metabolic conditions

Staffordshire Bull Terriers can inherit a metabolic disorder called L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria (L2HGA). This is where L2HG acid collects in the nervous system and leads to problems with movement, coordination, and other neurological issues. There’s no cure for genetic disorders like L2HGA so genetic testing, screening and early detection is important to prevent it from passing on to puppies.

Joint issues

Staffordshire Bull Terriers can get hip and elbow dysplasia. These can be debilitating conditions where the joints lose proper alignment and become unstable. This can lead to a series of issues over time including pain, swelling, stiffness and arthritis.

Frequently asked questions about Staffordshire Bull Terriers

Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers dangerous?

Staffordshire Bull Terriers aren't naturally dangerous. Any dog, no matter the breed, can be dangerous if they aren't trained well, aren't socialised well, or are treated badly. They were originally bred for fighting, but with good breeding and training, Staffordshire Bull Terriers have become friendly and loyal.

How long do Staffordshire Bull Terriers live?

The typical Staffordshire Bull Terriers lifespan is 10 to 16 years. How long they live can depend on things like their genes, how healthy they are, what they eat, how much they exercise, and how well they're taken care of. With lots of love, activity, a good diet and regular vet visits, they can have a long and happy life.

Do Staffordshire Bull Terriers shed?

Staffordshire Bull Terriers shed a little but not that much. You might not even notice it! Plus, regular brushing helps keep their coat nice and reduces shedding.

Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers banned in the UK?

Nope, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not banned in the UK. The breed isn’t listed in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers banned?

No, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not banned in the UK under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA). However, legislation varies between countries. For example, they are a restricted dog breed in Ireland.Always check breed-specific legislation (BSL) in your country or area to check what rules exist for Staffordshire Bull Terriers. But you should always be a responsible dog owner, no matter the breed you own, by making sure your dog is well-trained and socialised safely.

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