I grew up with a family dog. A poodle terrier mix of some kind that my Mom rescued before I was born. She was my first dog, but not MY first dog as an adult living on my own. My first dog was in fact a Staffy. Ruby has been a part of my life for over 10 years and I have learned a ton as a first time owner.
Is a Staffy a good first dog? As a whole a Staffy can be a good first dog if you are willing to commit to their training, exercise, and need for attention. The Staffy is not a low maintenance dog and as a first time owner you will need to learn all about the breed and their needs.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are one of my favourite breeds. They are such amazing dogs and with the proper care, attention, exercise, and training they can be outstanding. If a Staffy is your dog of choice and you’re a first time owner, I have some tips and things you need to know.
Before getting my Staffy I thought I knew it all and was 100% prepared. I quickly learned that I had a lot to learn. My time commitment to really giving my Staffy the care and attention she needed to be a model dog needed adjusting. This is not a breed that you can teach a few manners and walk on occasion. Staffies are a full time job in the beginning, and need consistency in their daily routine.
In this post I will go over some facts and tips you need to know before getting a Staffy. After this you will know if the Staffy is a good first dog for you and your family.
Are Staffies Intelligent?
On average Staffies are very intelligent. They have often been described as a very clever breed and very eager to please. This intelligence and eagerness makes the Staffordshire Bull Terrier easy to train and they can excel in advanced obedience and rally sports.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is very receptive to positive reinforcement training. If a Staffy is your first dog basic obedience training from an early age is a must. Despite Staffies being highly intelligent, they can also be stubborn.
Consistent and clear daily training will be required as a Staffy owner. These dogs have a strong prey drive, and are very active. Being able to manage your Staffy through obedience training is the best path to having a well behaved, even tempered, and all around great family dog.
Do Staffordshire Bull Terriers Need Lots Of Exercise?
As a general rule the Staffordshire Bull Terrier needs lots of exercise. Between 60-90 minutes of daily exercise for Staffies is recommended. The Staffy is a very active dog and will need walking, interactive play time with family, as well as mental stimulation on a daily basis.
My Staffy is now 10 years old, almost 11, and she still has energy to spare. We don’t go as hard or as long as we did when she was an older puppy and young adult, but she still needs her daily walk and games. Expect your Staffy to be full of energy well into their adult years.
Daily walks can be broken up throughout the day. Going for a 30 minute walk in the morning and the evening will be a good amount of physical exercise. Adding in games such as fetch, flirt poles, or my Staffy’s favorite game tug-of-war, will give them that interactive time they crave with their owners.
Mental stimulation is also a big part of the Staffordshire Bull Terriers exercise needs. Food puzzles such as Kongs or some Outward Hound games are great for feeding times. Daily obedience and trick training can also be great ways to burn off some Staffy energy as well as build on their behavior.
Staffies are notorious chewers. This can often be because of boredom. Chewing can help provide that extra mental stimulation between games and walks. Finding some good chew toys to keep them occupied and away from those new sneakers is a smart idea.
Are Staffies Good With Kids?
On average Staffies are very good with kids. The Staffy has earned the nickname of the Nanny Dog in some circles, and for good reason. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is renowned for being excellent with kids. They are very sweet, gentle, and affectionate towards people in general, but especially children.
My Staffy absolutely adores kids. Both in my immediate family and random kids in the neighborhood. She is very drawn to interacting with children and knows how to be very gentle and calm even when she is excited to meet a new little friend.
I have a couple very young nieces. One is walking and running age now and Ruby follows her everywhere she goes. She is glued to my niece, often to the point of exhaustion. I thought Staffies needed a lot of exercise until I met my niece.
I trust Ruby around my niece to the fullest. Knowing she would never snap or snarl at her even if my niece plays a little rough. That being said I always monitor their play time and interaction.
With any breed of dog you should be close by when playing with children. Accidents can happen, and rough and excited play can lead to bumps, fall, and scraps. Always keep an eye on dogs and children when they play together.
Are Staffies Cuddly Dogs?
Staffies as a whole are very cuddly dogs. Though they are small in stature, they are still very heavy and muscular dogs, yet this doesn’t stop them from trying to be lap dogs. Staffies love nothing more than being next to their owners. They are very affectionate and love to cuddle whenever given the chance.
Whether I am on the couch, working at my computer desk, or reading in bed, my Staffy is right there next to me. She is always needing to be touching me when I am not moving. Curled up next to, or on my leg. Sleeping on my feet under the desk, or curled up at my side in bed.
These dogs live to cuddle. One of the best qualities of Staffies is this cuddly affection they display. You always feel loved when a Staffy is around.
Can Staffies Be Left Alone During The Day?
As a general rule Staffies can be left alone during the day. This is however not their ideal situation. Staffies are very people oriented and love to be close to their owners. Some can suffer from separation anxiety, but a balanced Staffy can be left alone for up to 8 hours as adults.
Preparing your Staffy from an early age to be able to spend time alone will be vital. Things like crate training, desensitization training, and exercise will all play a key role in preventing separation anxiety from becoming an issue.
I have written in depth about Staffies being left alone and some of the 10 best tips you can follow to ensure a happy dog when you are gone.
Do Staffordshire Bull Terriers Bark A Lot?
On average the Staffordshire Bull Terrier doesn’t bark a lot. This can vary from dog to dog and variables such as exercise, boredom, training, and general disposition can affect how much they bark. Typically a well exercise Staffy with plenty of mental stimulation and training is quiet.
My Staffordshire Bull Terrier never barks unless given the command to speak. Or sometimes when I am playing with her on the bed and hiding under the covers. Otherwise I have never heard her bark at the door, another dog, a stranger, or at anything in general. She has always been a very quiet dog when it comes to barking.
Are Staffies Good With Other Dogs?
As a whole Staffies are generally friendly with other dogs. They can get along great with other well mannered dogs very well. Staffies are however prone to not backing down if challenged. They are not always looking for trouble, but they certainly are not ones to back down either.
Dog parks can be a risky place to bring a Staffy unless you are 100% confident you can step in before any altercation happens. My Staffy is able to go to dog parks because she will often ignore pesky or challenging dogs at first. This gives me ample time to remove her from that situation when needed.
Male dogs, especially intact males can be more prone to reactive behavior towards other dogs. Early socialization of your Staffy is absolutely critical to have them be comfortable and well mannered around other dogs.
Would A Staffy Protect Its Owner?
As a general rule a Staffy would protect its owner if they feel they are in danger. Staffies are known to be very loving and gentle towards all people. Strangers and family alike. Yet when a Staffy senses a potential threat to its owner they will protect them to the fullest extent.
Staffies are not a human aggressive dog at all. In fact they make pretty terrible guard dogs because of this kind and affectionate nature. For a Staffy to show aggression towards a human they would have to feel a threat is present to their family or themselves. Otherwise people aggression is very uncharacteristic of a Staffy.
Do Staffies Need Grooming?
Staffies do need grooming, but are a very low maintenance breed. The short coat of the Staffy makes trips to the groomer almost non-existent. Staffies don’t need haircuts ever, and a good weekly brushing to remove hair, dirt, and allergens is all that is needed.
Staffies will need a bath about every 8-10 weeks. It is important that you don’t overbath your Staffy as this can lead to dry and irritated skin. Staffies have very sensitive skin and are prone to skin problems, so bathing too often can lead to skin issues.
I cover the grooming and bathing needs of Staffies in another detailed post. Here you will find some amazing tips for keeping your Staffy looking, feeling, and smelling fantastic.
What Health Problems Do Staffies Have?
As a whole Staffies are generally very healthy dogs, but they are prone to certain health problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia, and skin conditions like atopy. Reputable breeders will screen for most genetic issues, but all breeds of dogs are prone to certain health problems.
Some of the more rare, and highly screened health problems include Juvenile Cataracts and L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria. These are more likely to be present in Staffies than other breeds, and breeders screen heavily for these issues. Be sure to get health certifications from a breeder before adopting a Staffy.
If you would like to learn in more detail about health problems Staffies can have I suggest checking out my more recent post.
Now that we have covered 10 things about the Staffordshire Bull Terrier all first time owners should know, it’s time to wrap this post up. Staffies are a commitment. If you have never owned a dog before be prepared to put in the work.
What you will need to focus on most when getting a Staffy as your first dog is training and exercise. These two things will be the most time consuming, and vital part of raising a well behaved dog. Staffies are high energy and can become unruly when the proper leadership is not in place.
When you have a well trained, socialized, and exercised Staffy you will have one of the best dogs a person could ask for. I love my Staffy more than words can describe. Putting in the work with her from day one has been a joy, even when things seemed tough and frustrating.
This breed is excellent as a family companion. Very low maintenance to keep groomed. Reliable around other people and kids. Loving, gentle, kind and cuddly when home on the couch, and tenacious, brave, and clever when they are ready to go.
Is a Staffy a good first dog? If you are willing to be a great owner, then heck yeah Staffies are great first dogs.