To start with a common prejudice (and believe me, we did get these comments); what makes a nice little family take some 'Pitbull' into their home?
Well, a step at a time, so other may benefit from our experience:
- In the Netherlands Pitbulls and Pitbull-type dogs were prohibited by law until quite recently. This was regulated by the Regeling Agressieve Dieren (RAD) in which a number of specific breeds were admitted, provided they have a valid and recognized pedigree. This included the Amstaff. It was therefore very, very important never to buy an Amstaff without a pedigree (for the law that would not be an Amstaff). Luckely the law was abolished June 2008, and replaced by legislation punishing the deed, not the breed. A good thing, but caution in once choice is still needed, and in the explosion of non-pedigree litters that can be expected in the aftermath, looking for a dog with pedigree may be wise. So inform yourself, and realize that cheap deals are not an option here. Of course it needs to be added that Pitbulls have a glorious history in the USA. Although this law is now abandoned, we still feel strong about making a well considered choice
- Amstaffs are not scared easily, and can endure pain very well. It is ironic that these characteristics are why they are feared, while it is precisely what makes them such reliable dogs. They react very calmly and balanced to whatever happens in their environment, and can handle any situation both physically and mentally
- They are really easy dogs in the house. Inside they generally are very calm
- Amstaffs are great with kids. They really love all kids and if necessary will give their lives to protect them (and no, that does not imply agressive behaviour)
- If a Pitbull was good enough for Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson (and not for G.W. Bush), and also for General George Patton, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, Thomas Edison, Madonna, Brad Pitt, Alicia Silverstone, Jamie Foxx, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Michael J. Fox, Jan Michael Vincent, Jack Dempsey, Bernadette Peters, Linda Blair, Mel Brooks, Ann Bancroft, Pink and TV dog behavioural specialist Cesar Millan, than surely an Amstaff will do fine for us!
- It is the person behind the dog, not the dog, that constitutes the real danger. Luckily our legislator has come to this conclusion as well
On the site of the breed association ASTCH there is a lot of additional information on the American Staffordshire Terrier. We fully recommend the guide that is available with information, and an overview of known, reliable breeders (we're to small and new to get ourselves in there). A good way to get to know the breed a little better is visit a dog show, or even better, one of the events of the ASTCH:
These are good ocassions to see a lot of these dogs together, talk to owners about their experiences and get an impression of the various breeders. The ASTCH site provides more information on these events.