I have lived with my Staffordshire Bull Terrier for over 10 years now. Staffies are one of the most amazing breeds on the planet. Brave, clever, loyal, and all around goofballs are just a few words you could use to describe the Staffy. As a potential owner with kids you may have a few questions.
Are Staffies good with kids? As a whole Staffies are good with kids. They are one of the most affectionate, loyal and loving breeds of dogs when it comes to children. The well trained and socialized Staffy is a gentle playmate and guardian with kids of all ages.
In the years I have had my Staffy I have always been amazed at her affinity towards children. Not just family members and close friends, but children she meets out on walks and at the parks. My Staffy adores children and this is not special to her as an individual dog.
Ask any Staffy owner and they will tell you that this breed is amazing with kids of all ages. If you are considering bringing a Staffy into your home with kids there are few things to know to help you decide if the Staffy is right for you. Let’s dig in.
Staffies Rank High On Temperament Tests
Staffies can often be portrayed as aggressive or unstable dogs. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Staffies have a very reliable, friendly and stable temperament that makes them excellent companion animals and neighbors.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier ranks very high on temperament testing. The American Temperament Testing Society has created a breakdown of almost all breeds and how they score across various testing situations.
“The ATTS Temperament Test focuses on and measures different aspects of temperament such as stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness as well as the dog’s instinct for protectiveness towards its handler and/or self-preservation in the face of a threat.”American Temperament Testing Society
Staffies score amazingly well in these tests with a 90.9%. To put that in perspective Staffies score better than Poodles, Golden Retrievers, Collies and Cocker Spaniels. Among many others. Staffies are one of the highest rated dog breeds in this testing system.
When it comes to having kids around your Staffy you can feel safe knowing they have a reliable temperament. Things like unprovoked aggression, panic, or avoidance are rare in this breed making them great with children.
Staffies Love Their Owners
Staffies absolutely love their owners. The strong loyalty a Staffy has for the family is unquestionable. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a very people oriented dog and forms very intense bonds with their owner.
My Staffy is always keeping an eye on me when at home. Whether that is from the couch or at my feet, she is always ready to interact with me. This eagerness to be at your side and please makes Staffies incredibly easy to train under the right guidance.
This love extends to the little humans in the family unit just as much if not moreso. Children are able to train and control a Staffies behavior just as well as an adult when shown how. Staffies want to please and obey the kids in the family just as much as the adults.
Are Staffies Considered Nanny Dogs?
The term Nanny dog has been attributed to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier for many years. Though the exact date this term came into use is questioned, the nickname has stuck regardless. And deservedly so.
Staffies are loving, affectionate, and gentle caregivers when it comes to children. This nickname of the “Nanny Dog” can be seen by anyone who has watched a Staffy with small children and even babies.
The sweet nature of the Staffy has earned them this nickname, and ranked them as one of the best family dogs with children.
Staffies Love To Have Fun With Children
The playful nature of the Staffy makes them amazing playmates with children. There is nothing my Staffy enjoys more than playing with my 3 year old niece. She will do tricks, play hide and seek, and fetch essentially anything she throws.
When visiting my niece my Staffy is glued to her for most of the visit. She will follow her from room to room and be near her always. This is very common behavior of all Staffies and not just mine. The attentive and playful behavior is very well suited for games with the kids.
Why Are Staffies So Affectionate?
Responsible breeding practices of Staffies has been one of the main contributors to why Staffies are so affectionate. There is however a long history of human friendly behavior that was highly valued in the early barbaric days of pit fighting. Some of the best qualities we know of Staffies today come from this era.
In the early 1800’s when Bull-baiting sports were outlawed in England, pit fighting between dogs became more prominent. The cruel sport of dog fighting was much easier to hide from authorities and became a disgusting form of entertainment and gambling for many people.
Owners of these early dog fighting Staffies would often need to enter the pits and handle their dogs in close proximity. Stopping a fight and being close to the dogs meant any form of human aggression was not to be tolerated.
Through selective breeding gamblers and pit fighter owners developed the bull and terrier breeds to be extremely human friendly. These dogs were bred to show no human reactivity and when they did often they were culled.
As a result the bull and terrier breeds, including the Staffy became very loving, loyal, and trustworthy dogs when it came to humans. Despite the horrific treatment and being subjected to these awful bloodsports.
Many owners of these pit fighting dogs were regular working families looking to make a little extra money on the side. These dogs were often family dogs kept in the home with children and had to be just as reliable with them as their handlers.
Staffies Are Very Gentle Dogs
Watching my Staffy interact with various people and children is always amazing to watch. She can play a little rough and tumble with an adult when encouraged. Whether that’s putting in a full effort during a game of tug, or play chasing in the yard.
When it comes to children however my Staffy totally switches gears. Even during games of tug she will not give her full effort and be very willing to drop her rope or toy for the child. She knows the intensity level with kids has to be turned down, and this was not with any additional training from me.
I have to admit my Staffy to this day still has a bad habit of jumping up on people when she gets excited. Not always, but it does happen when she is really pumped to see someone. She will never do this to children though. My Staffy knows to be gentle around children and has never jumped up on one, even when she was bursting with excited energy.
Staffies are incredibly gentle dogs when interacting with children. My Staffy is no exception or one off case. Ask any Staffy owner and they will confirm that Staffies behave and interact with children, especially small children much differently.
Would A Staffy Protect Its Owner?
As a general rule a Staffy will protect its owner when they perceive a legitimate threat. The loyal nature of the Staffy and their devotion to their family makes them exceptional guardians. When a Staffy fears a family member is in danger they will not hesitate to protect them.
Even though Staffies are generally friendly towards all people, they form a particularly strong bond with family. Early socialization to show your Staffy the variety of different human interactions will prevent any over protective or misconceptions of potential threats.
Are Staffies Good With Children Outside The Family?
Staffies as a whole are good with children outside of the family. The Staffy is generally a very friendly dog with all people, adults and children alike. It is important however to socialize Staffies early with other children. Because of their protective nature, kids’ rough housing can be perceived as a threat to their family members.
Start socializing your Staffy from the day you bring them home. Have other children over to meet your dog, play with your dog, and have your dog around when children play with each other. This will allow your Staffy to recognize play versus danger to a family member.
Even if you don’t have children of your own, expose your Staffy to other children. When I got my Staffy 10 years ago we would always walk past a playground on our daily walk. I wanted her to see kids at play. Running, screaming, jumping, and all the things kids do.
This early socialization helped my Staffy understand that little humans act a little wild and crazy. Nothing to fear or be wary of. As a result she is incredibly reliable around children outside the family unit, and is eager to meet any child that wants to say hello.
Staffies Should Be Monitored With Children
As reliable, loving, and trustworthy a Staffy can be with children, it is important to always monitor interactions. This goes for any breed of dog, including the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Accidents can happen, play can get too rough, and reactions may occur when not properly supervised.
Any dog can harm a child. Whether intentionally or by accident, protecting your child from possible injury is a top priority. Monitoring play time can also prevent your dog from facing injury as well. Kids can sometimes be too rough with animals, and even the most patient of dogs can react when being hurt.
Supervision of interactions between children and dogs should always happen. Teaching both the kids and the dog how to properly play, be gentle, and avoid over excited behavior that leads to someone getting knocked over.
Bringing a Staffy into a home with children is a great addition to a family. Staffies are so good with kids it will make your heart melt. The natural sweet natured Staffy thrives around their little humans and will be friends for life with your children.
The Staffy is a gentle protector, loyal friend, and patient nanny dog to any family with kids. Provide your dog with the proper training and socialization from an early age and your household will have a truly amazing four legged family member for many years to come.