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American Staffordshire Terrier

Tags: terrier, High energy level, Protective guardian, Challenging for first-time owners

Okay, I know what you're thinking: "Pit Bull." True, my ancient ancestors were pretty fearsome bull-baiting dogs, back in England right up through the early 19th century. Then some savvy sportsmen crossed the bulldog with the gaming terrier. The result was a strong, agile dog with longer legs than your typical bulldog -- and a mug you've just got to love. The AKC named me the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, on this side of the pond, in 1936. Before then, back in England, I was the Bull-and-Terrier Dog, Half-and-Half, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and yes, the Pit Dog. But we get a bad rap. Sure, I can be aggressive if trained to be. So can most any dog -- of any size -- and my muscular 24- to 34-pound body (with jaw muscles to match) can do a lot of harm. The point is, I'm eminently trainable. Loyal, too.

Rave review

  • Affectionate, loyal family friend
  • Agile and active
  • Confident and self-assured
  • Courageous canine
  • Even-tempered, good-natured
  • Intelligent and ready to learn

Report card

  • Independent thinker
  • Novice owners might be challenged with this breed
  • Perfect protector, willing watchdog
  • Playful pal
  • Pleased to please
  • Ready to romp
  • Spirited
  • Socialization and training must start early
  • Strong-willed
  • Sweet disposition
  • Takes to training
  • Wary of strangers

What to expect

Are you willing to become a public relations person for a much-misunderstood, maligned and widely feared breed? To devote the time -- maybe even a lifetime -- to my training with firm, gentle discipline? To help me get the exercise I need? To understand that if I'm left alone too long, things might be shredded? How do you feel about wrestling with dogs? And hugging? OK? Great! We're going to get along fine.

Watch for

Possible deafness, umbilical cord hernia.

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