Even if your American Staffordshire terrier is a lovable lug, finding homeowners' or renter's insurance covering him could take some work. Because of some bad canine apples, many insurance companies no longer provide liability coverage for certain breeds. Don't despair -- if your dog's record is clean, you'll find insurance.
American Staffordshire Terriers
The American Staffordshire terrier, along with the American pit bull terrier and a handful of other breeds and mixes, generally get lumped under the term "pit bull." They American Staffordshire terrier isn't a pit bull but it comes from common bloodlines. Large and powerful, Staffies weigh about 75 pounds at maturity. Although good with people when raised correctly, they can be dog-aggressive and aren't good with cats or other small pets. Their ancestors were used for dog fighting. The American Kennel Club started registering the Staffy back in 1936.
Fatal Human Bite Report
In 2000, the Center for Disease Control released a report on the breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998. That report indicated that pit-bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were responsible for half of the fatal attacks on people in that period. The report did not distinguish between American Staffordshire terriers and American pit bull terriers, though. Many insurance companies cite this CDC report regarding blacklisted breeds.
Insurance companies are in the business of risk management. They want to avoid insuring known risks, such as aggressive breeds of dogs. While you probably know several nippy chihuahuas, the truth is that 5-pound dogs don't inflict the same amount of damage as large breeds do when they do bite. According to the insurance company Insweb.com, the breeds most commonly excluded from homeowners' policies include the Staffy, the pit bull, the Rottweiler, the chow chow, the presa Canario, the Akita, the Doberman pinscher and wolf hybrids.
If you're thinking of adding a staffy to your life, call your insurance agent and find out how this type of dog will affect your policy. It's possible that as long as the dog has no bite history, your insurer will cover him, although you might pay a premium for owning this breed. If the insurer won't cover a Staffy, you basically have two options. Go without coverage for dog bites, meaning you are unprotected in case of a lawsuit in the event of an incident, or find an insurance company that will cover your dog. You could be faced with this issue even if you already have a Staffy, in case your insurance company changes it policy or you relocate to a place not in your current insurer's coverage area.
If your insurer won't cover your dog, seek out an insurance company offering special canine liability policies. In order to qualify for these policies, you must provide evidence that you're a responsible dog owner and your Staffy is a good dog. You might need to provide current veterinary records, proof of a fenced-in yard of a specific height and other information. If your dog passed obedience school or other training courses, let the insurer know. Depending on the policy, you might not be covered if your dog attacks a fellow canine.
Insurers might require information such as veterinary records or a statement from your vet before they'll insure or continue insuring your Staffy. Making your dog insurable, as well as a good representative of his breed, is your responsibility. Besides undertaking basic obedience training, make sure your Staffy is well-socialized with people and other dogs. Have your dog spayed or neutered. Always supervise kids around your dog, even if he's "good with children." Don't let him run loose.
- Forbes: 11 Riskiest Dog Breeds for Homeowners and Renters
- Insweb: Home Insurance Exclusions -- 10 Things Home Insurance Won’t Cover
- Association of Pet Dog Trainers: Breed Specific Homeowner's Insurance
- Insurance Journal: F.I.D.O.’s Dog Bite Liability Insurance Fills Coverage Gap
- MSPCA: Homeowner’s Insurance Policies for Owners of "High Risk" Breeds
- Vetstreet: American Staffordshire Terrier / American Pit Bull Terrier
- Vetstreet: The History of the American Staffordshire Terrier / American Pit Bull Terrier
- U.S. Center for Disease Control: Breeds of Dogs Involved in Fatal Human Attacks in the United States Between 1979 and 1998
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.