Shawn is a Wisconsin-based writer with over 30 years of being a pet parent.
Meet the AmStaff/Chocolate Lab Mix
If you’re thinking about getting an American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff) mix, I think an AmStaff/Chocolate Labrador Retriever mix is one of the best choices. That said, there are several aspects of this mixed breed that you must understand before owning one, and if you don’t do your research, you could end up with a bad match.
This article provides a complete description of our AmStaff/Chocolate Lab mixed dog, Dakota, whom we have owned for many years.
The Day We Brought Dakota Home
About two years ago, on a warm, sunny spring Saturday, my wife and I decided to stop by the local pet shop because we were thinking of getting a fish or a bird. We arrived at the shop, and—behold—a local breeder had several puppies for sale. My wife and I had discussed buying a dog, but we always ended with the same conclusion: We didn’t want the hassle of caring for one right now.
Regardless, my wife migrated over to the puppies and eventually stepped inside the little wire-fenced perimeter to play with them. She called me over to look at them with her.
Our New Puppy
As I approached, I saw five little puppies running around, biting each other, peeing on the floor, and just having a great time. I didn’t think much of it at first, but as we both stayed and played with the puppies, we began to ask the breeder questions about caring for one, the cost to buy one, what breed they were, and so on.
I didn’t pay much attention or take our questions seriously at first, since they were asked more out of curiosity, but as we continued to play with the puppies and ask questions, our curiosity grew to commitment.
Two hours later, we walked out of the pet shop with a brand new puppy, a crate, dog food, a collar, a leash, a few squeaky toys, and $500 less in our bank account. There we were with our first real dog as a married couple. We had only been married for about two years at that point.
We found out that our puppy, Dakota, was a mix of a Chocolate Labrador Retriever and an American Staffordshire Terrier, and we had no idea what we were in for!
More About This Mixed Breed
Dakota has the body of a Chocolate Labrador and a head like an AmStaff. He is about 80 pounds and has a muscular build. From a distance, he looks like he could be a ferocious guard dog, but in reality, he’s scared of his own shadow.
Class, Characteristics, and Temperament
As we learned how to care for this little guy, I learned that his breed falls into the class of bully breeds, which are associated with Boxers, Pit Bulls, and Bulldogs. These breeds traditionally have a bad reputation; however, they are very loyal and loving dogs. I also learned that, since he is half-Labrador, he has high energy and needs exercise.
This mixed breed has given us an energetic, loyal, loving dog. Dakota was a shy puppy for about the first day, and then all hell broke loose and his little personality started to show.
- The AmStaff side of him comes out when I wrestle with him, as he is solid muscle and loves to play rough. We taught him a command of “enough” for when he becomes too rough.
- The Lab side of him comes out every day when he wants to spend all day outside running around. I take him on long runs with me; otherwise, he can become bored and destructive.
- He’s not a very good watchdog because he rarely barks; this is a trait of the AmStaff. He also would probably invite a burglar inside and give them a full tour of our home.
A Great Family Dog
AmStaff/Labs are great family dogs; Dakota loves other dogs and people. When our son was 10 months old, he would crawl on Dakota, pull his ears, poke his head, and pull his tail, and all Dakota would do was either get up and move or look at me as if pleading with me to step in and save him.
At night when Dakota is tired, he’ll curl up right on top of my feet and fall asleep until I go to bed. We taught him to stay off the furniture and our bed after he had slept with us for awhile; having an 80-pound, solid-muscle dog on your bed does tend to make sleeping at night challenging.
Training and Discipline
This type of mixed breed needs lots of instruction as a puppy; without training, the AmStaff side will attempt to take control as the pack leader, which is bad. We signed Dakota up for some puppy classes for him to learn basic commands and proper training techniques.
Early Training Is Essential
Teaching Dakota commands from an early age has saved us headaches, and it makes others feel at ease around him because we have control. Plus, the Lab side of him loves mental exertion; it really stimulates him and wears him down much quicker than regular exercise.
In fact, I can spend 15 minutes a day stimulating his mind with commands and training, and it will equate to almost an hour of physical exercise before he starts to get tired!
Swift, Non-Threatening Discipline
Discipline with AmStaff/Labs must be carried out swiftly and in a non-threatening manner. Dakota has growled at me twice, and both times were because he had another dog’s toy in his mouth and wanted to play. He was disciplined right away so there was no question in his mind about what he did wrong.
This is done by placing him in his crate for a few minutes and telling him a stern “uh-uh” instead of "no," since that word becomes like white noise to dogs.
Is This Dog Right for You?
I strongly believe that the American Staffordshire Terrier mixed with the Chocolate Labrador Retriever provides a well-rounded type of dog. However, they are not for everyone, and if you're not active outdoors, then I would suggest another breed. The Lab side loves being outdoors, and the AmStaff side loves a good roughhousing every now and then.
If that sounds like a good match for you and your family, then the next time you are looking for a great, energetic, loving, loyal, intelligent dog, make sure you check out the AmStaff/Chocolate Lab mix.
© 2012 Shawn Yeager
Iryna Komazova on November 25, 2016:
Very useful article! Thank you!
We also have a lot of great Staffy pics and interesting information in addition to high quality Staffy equipment.
Welcome to visit our site www.pitbull-dog-breed-store.co.uk.
jerseyhulagirl on January 03, 2013:
Thank you for the great info! My family just adopted a 5+ month old AmStaff-mix today from our local animal shelter. Not sure what the mix is yet, but I'm hoping that our vet can help us out. We had a Rhodesian Ridgeback for over 9 years until kidney disease forced us to put her down. She was a very energetic, loyal, intelligent, protective dog...and we are looking forward to having a great relationship with our AmStaff!
Shawn Yeager (author) from Wisconsin on July 19, 2012:
Thank you for your comments and for reading my article!
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on July 17, 2012:
We owned a Staffie named Molly and she was everything you mention: loyal, energetic and lovable. They are dominant dogs, though, so training is a must. The photos of Dakota are adorable! Thanks for a great review on this mixed breed dog.
Linda from Texas on July 09, 2012:
I too have a staffordshire/ pitbull girl. They are the most loyal dogs ever, loving and protective.
Please check out my story, its called Silly Pets.
Howard Young from California on July 03, 2012:
"Now if I could only figure out how to lift the lid" ...
Sheila from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State on July 03, 2012:
Oh my goodness - I love this Hub! My most favorite and loyal dog ever was Keze, a female Am/Staff black lab mix. She was so energetic until she turned 2 years old then she mellowed down and was an awesome family pet. I miss her so much. Thank you for the great memories.