American Staffordshire Terrier

Table of Contents

The American Staffordshire Terrier, affectionately known as the Amstaff, is a breed distinguished by its robust and muscular build, exuding both strength and agility. Typically standing between 17 to 19 inches tall and weighing around 40 to 70 pounds, they possess a commanding presence with a broad head, pronounced cheek muscles, and a confident stance. Their short coat, which can come in a variety of colors, adds to their striking appearance while being relatively low maintenance.

Amstaffs are renowned for their loyalty and affectionate nature, particularly towards their families. They are known to be good with children when properly socialized. Intelligence and a keen desire to please make them highly trainable, but they thrive best under the guidance of an experienced owner who can provide consistent, positive reinforcement. Regular exercise is vital for this energetic breed, as it helps channel their vitality and maintain their mental well-being. Despite some misconceptions, with proper training and socialization from an early age, the American Staffordshire Terrier can be a well-mannered, devoted, and loving companion.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 16 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

American Staffordshire Terriers are best suited for active owners or families who can provide consistent training, regular exercise, and strong socialization. Their energetic nature makes them ideal for households that enjoy outdoor activities and can offer ample space for play and exercise.

Experienced dog owners are well-positioned to handle their need for firm yet positive training and can harness their intelligence and eagerness to learn. Amstaffs thrive in environments where they can be closely involved in family life, as they form strong bonds with their owners and seek regular interaction. They’re also a good fit for those who appreciate a loyal and affectionate canine companion and are willing to invest time in their training and care.

American Staffordshire Terrier Traits

Breed Characteristics

American Staffordshire Terriers, or Amstaffs, are known for their muscular build and agility, coupled with a confident demeanor. Intelligent and eager to please, they respond well to training and are highly adaptable. These dogs have a short, glossy coat and are notably affectionate and loyal, particularly towards their families. Despite their robust appearance, Amstaffs are playful and gentle, making them well-rounded companions.

For American Staffordshire Terriers, anticipate various characteristics rated on a scale from 1 star (minimal) to 5 stars (maximum). These traits, assessed by a range of pet experts including dog trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists, offer insights into the breed’s general nature. However, it’s crucial to remember that each American Staffordshire Terrier is unique, and not every dog will fit perfectly into these general descriptions.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a striking and robust breed, embodying a blend of strength, agility, and grace. Known for its muscular build and confident stance, this breed exhibits physical characteristics that are both distinctive and functional.

1. Ears
Set high, can be either cropped or uncropped.
2. Eyes
Round and set wide apart, reflecting alertness and intelligence.
3. Neck & Back
Well-defined neck leading to a strong, slightly sloping back.
4. Size
Stands about 17 to 19 inches at the shoulder.
5. Coat
 Short, stiff, and glossy, available in various colors and patterns.
6. Legs
Straight and strong, showcasing their capability for physical activity.
7. Tail
Short, not curled over the back, with a slight curve.
8. Weight
Typically weighs between 40 to 70 pounds.

American Staffordshire Terrier Temperament

The American Staffordshire Terrier exhibits a temperament marked by loyalty, courage, and a keen desire for human companionship. Known for their affectionate nature, they form strong bonds with their families and are often particularly good with children, provided they are socialized early. This breed is intelligent and eager to please, traits that make them highly responsive to training. Their willingness to learn and ability to pick up commands quickly can make training a rewarding experience.

Despite their tough exterior, Amstaffs are known for their gentle and friendly demeanor, especially towards people they know. They thrive on human interaction and are happiest when involved in family activities. Their social nature, however, does require careful management, especially around other dogs, as they can exhibit a strong-willed and sometimes dominant character.

Amstaffs possess a high energy level and require ample physical and mental stimulation to stay balanced and content. Without adequate exercise and engagement, they may develop undesirable behaviors. Consistent, firm, yet positive training methods work best with this breed, as they respond well to clear and fair leadership.

It’s also important to note that while they are naturally protective, Amstaffs are not inherently aggressive. Proper upbringing, training, and socialization from a young age are crucial in shaping a well-mannered and sociable dog. In the right hands, an American Staffordshire Terrier can be a loyal, affectionate, and well-behaved companion.

How to Care for a American Staffordshire Terrier

Caring for an American Staffordshire Terrier involves a dedicated approach to meeting their physical, mental, and emotional needs. As a breed known for its energy and intelligence, these dogs thrive on regular exercise, consistent training, and close bonding with their family. Ensuring a nutritious diet, maintaining their short coat, and staying on top of health check-ups are essential.

Providing a loving, engaged environment where they can be an active part of family life is key to their well-being. With the right care, Amstaffs make loyal and affectionate companions. The detailed analysis related to the American Staffordshire Terrier according to the Pawstray team is discussed below: 

Grooming an American Staffordshire Terrier is a manageable task that plays a crucial role in their overall health and well-being. Here’s an in-depth guide:

Coat Care:
  • Regular brushing, about once a week, is vital. Use a firm bristle brush to remove loose hair and distribute skin oils, which keeps their short coat glossy and healthy.
  • They shed moderately, so during shedding seasons, you may need to brush them more frequently.
  • Bathe your Amstaff every 2 to 3 months or as needed. Over-bathing can strip their coat of natural oils, so it’s important not to do it too frequently.
  • Use a dog-specific shampoo to protect their skin’s pH balance and rinse thoroughly to avoid irritation.
Nail Care:
  • Trim their nails regularly, as long nails can cause discomfort and lead to problems walking or running. If you hear their nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim.
  • If you’re unsure about doing it yourself, a vet or professional groomer can assist.
Ear Care:
  • Check their ears weekly for dirt, wax, or signs of infection. Clean them gently using a cotton ball and an ear-cleaning solution recommended by your vet.
  • Avoid inserting anything deep into the ear canal.
Dental Hygiene:
  • Brush their teeth several times a week to prevent tartar build-up and gum disease. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs.
  • Dental chews and regular professional cleanings can also help maintain oral health.
Skin Care:
  • While grooming, inspect their skin for any signs of irritation, redness, or allergies.
  • Regular grooming sessions are opportunities to check for bumps, parasites, or other skin issues.

Consistent grooming not only keeps your American Staffordshire Terrier looking good but also provides an opportunity to check for any health issues that may need attention. It also serves as bonding time, strengthening the relationship between you and your dog.

Training an American Staffordshire Terrier involves a blend of firmness, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Here’s a detailed approach to effectively train this breed:

Start Early and Socialize: Begin training your Amstaff puppy as soon as they come home. Early socialization with various people, pets, and environments is crucial in shaping a confident, well-adjusted adult dog. This helps in reducing tendencies towards fear or aggression in unfamiliar situations.

Positive Reinforcement Works Best: Use treats, praise, and play to reward good behavior. Amstaffs are known for their eagerness to please and respond well to positive reinforcement, which not only makes training more effective but also strengthens the bond between you and your dog.

Consistency is Crucial: Maintain consistency in commands, rules, and expectations. Amstaffs benefit from a structured routine and clear guidelines, which helps in minimizing confusion and enhancing the training process.

Focus on Basic Obedience: Teach basic obedience commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, ‘heel’, and ‘down’. Given their intelligence, Amstaffs are usually quick learners, but they also require mental stimulation to keep them engaged.

Leash Training: Given their strength and energy, leash training is essential. Teach them to walk beside you without pulling, using a firm yet gentle approach. This is crucial for their safety and the comfort of your walks together.

Address Behavioral Issues Promptly: If you notice any signs of problematic behavior like excessive barking, digging, or chewing, address these issues early. Understanding the cause, such as boredom or separation anxiety, can help in finding the right solution.

Regular Training Sessions: Conduct regular, short training sessions to maintain their attention span and interest. This also helps in reinforcing learned behaviors and introducing new challenges.

Involve in Advanced Training and Activities: Consider involving your Amstaff in advanced training or dog sports like agility, obedience competitions, or tracking, which provide excellent mental and physical exercise.

Avoid Harsh Disciplinary Methods: Harsh corrections or punishment can damage your relationship with your Amstaff and potentially lead to behavioral issues. Always opt for a patient, understanding, and positive approach.

Understand and Respect Their Nature: Recognize the breed’s characteristics – their strength, prey drive, and independence. Tailor your training to accommodate these traits while promoting discipline and good behavior.

Patience and Persistence: Remember that training is an ongoing process. Be patient and persistent, and celebrate the small victories along the way.

With the right training approach, American Staffordshire Terriers can be well-behaved, loyal, and affectionate companions, showcasing the best of their breed’s characteristics.

Ensuring a balanced diet and proper nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of an American Staffordshire Terrier. Here’s how to approach their dietary needs:

Choose High-Quality Dog Food: Select a high-quality dog food appropriate for their age, size, and energy level. Look for products with meat as the first ingredient, as Amstaffs require a protein-rich diet to maintain their muscular build.

Understand Portion Sizes: Monitor portion sizes carefully. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, especially if their exercise routine is reduced for any reason. Follow the feeding guidelines on the dog food package and adjust as needed based on your dog’s activity level and weight.

Maintain a Feeding Schedule: Establish a regular feeding schedule, typically twice a day for adults and more frequently for puppies. Consistent feeding times help regulate their digestion and energy levels.

Provide Fresh Water: Ensure they always have access to fresh, clean water, especially after exercise and during hot weather.

Monitor Weight and Adjust Diet Accordingly: Regularly check your Amstaff’s weight and adjust their food intake as necessary. Sudden weight gain or loss should be addressed with your vet.

Consider Life Stage and Health Needs: Puppies, adults, and senior dogs have different nutritional requirements. Likewise, dogs with health issues like allergies or joint problems may need specific diets.

Incorporate Healthy Treats: Use treats for training and bonding but in moderation. Choose healthy treat options and avoid those high in fat or calories.

Avoid Toxic Foods: Keep toxic foods such as chocolate, grapes, onions, garlic, and foods containing xylitol out of reach.

Consult Your Veterinarian: If you have concerns about your dog’s diet or if they have special dietary needs, consult your veterinarian. They can provide guidance and may recommend supplements if necessary.

Be Mindful of Allergies: Some Amstaffs can develop allergies to certain food ingredients. Watch for signs of allergies like itchy skin or digestive upset, and consult with your vet for dietary adjustments.

By providing a balanced diet tailored to their specific needs, you can help your American Staffordshire Terrier maintain optimal health, energy, and overall well-being. Regular vet check-ups are also crucial to monitor their health and address any dietary concerns.

Exercising an American Staffordshire Terrier is crucial for maintaining their physical health and mental well-being, given their energetic and muscular nature. Here’s an in-depth look at how to effectively exercise this breed:

Daily Exercise Needs: Amstaffs require substantial daily exercise. Aim for at least one hour of physical activity each day, which can include brisk walking, jogging, and playtime. They have high energy levels and stamina, so they benefit from both endurance activities and short bursts of high-intensity exercise.

Variety in Activities: Incorporate a variety of activities to keep their exercise routine engaging. This can include structured walks, games like fetch or tug-of-war, and agility training. Amstaffs are athletic and often excel in canine sports, which can be a great way to provide both physical and mental stimulation.

Mental Stimulation: Alongside physical exercise, mental stimulation is key. Interactive games, training sessions, and puzzle toys can keep their minds active and prevent boredom. Training new commands or tricks during exercise sessions can be particularly rewarding and stimulating for them.

Socialization through Exercise: Use exercise time as an opportunity for socialization. Introducing your Amstaff to different environments, people, and other dogs in a controlled manner helps in developing their social skills. However, always be mindful and attentive during interactions with other dogs.

Adapt to Your Dog’s Age and Health: Tailor the type and intensity of exercise to your dog’s age, health, and fitness level. Puppies, adults, and senior dogs have different exercise requirements. Adjust activities as your dog ages or if they have any health concerns.

Safe Environments for Exercise: Ensure they exercise in safe, enclosed areas, especially if they are off-leash. Due to their strong prey drive, a secure environment is essential to prevent them from chasing after small animals.

Weather Considerations: Be mindful of weather conditions. Amstaffs can be sensitive to extreme heat, so avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest parts of the day and provide plenty of water to keep them hydrated.

Rest and Recovery: Include rest periods during exercise routines and ensure they have a comfortable space to relax and recover afterward. Despite their energy, they also need time to rest and should not be over-exercised.

Regular, structured exercise is key to the well-being of an American Staffordshire Terrier. It helps in keeping them physically fit, mentally stimulated, and can significantly improve their overall quality of life. By investing time in a well-planned exercise regime, you ensure a healthy, happy, and well-behaved Amstaff companion.

The ideal environment for an American Staffordshire Terrier is one that caters to their physical and emotional needs, balancing their high energy levels with the need for companionship and mental stimulation. Here’s an in-depth look at the perfect setting for an Amstaff:

Space for Exercise: Amstaffs are energetic and thrive in environments where they have ample space to move around. A home with a securely fenced yard is ideal, providing them with a safe area to play and exercise. However, they can adapt to apartment living as long as their exercise needs are sufficiently met through regular walks and active playtime.

Engaging Atmosphere: An environment that offers various forms of mental stimulation is crucial. This includes access to toys that challenge them mentally, such as puzzle toys, and opportunities for interactive play and training. Amstaffs enjoy learning new tricks and participating in activities that engage their minds.

Consistent Routine: They benefit from a structured routine with consistent times for exercise, feeding, and rest. A predictable environment helps them feel secure and aids in their training and behavior.

Family Integration: Amstaffs are known for their strong bond with their families and do best in homes where they are included as integral members of the household. They thrive on human interaction and should not be left isolated for extended periods.

Socialization Opportunities: Regular socialization is important for their well-being. Exposure to different people, pets, and environments helps in developing a well-rounded, sociable dog. However, interactions should be monitored, especially with other dogs, due to their strong-willed nature.

Safe and Comfortable Indoors: Inside the home, they need a comfortable, quiet space to rest and relax. Ensure they have a cozy bed or designated area where they can retreat and feel safe.

Climate Considerations: Amstaffs can be sensitive to extreme temperatures, particularly heat. Ensure they have access to shade and water when outside, and avoid excessive exercise in hot weather.

Access to Veterinary Care: Proximity to veterinary services is important for their health maintenance. Regular check-ups, vaccinations, and access to emergency care are essential.

Creating an environment that meets these criteria ensures that an American Staffordshire Terrier can lead a balanced, healthy, and happy life. It’s about providing them with the right mix of physical activity, mental challenges, and family interaction to cater to their energetic and affectionate nature.

American Staffordshire Terrier Health

The American Staffordshire Terrier, often affectionately referred to as the AmStaff, is a robust and muscular breed known for its strength and agility. However, like all dog breeds, they are susceptible to certain health issues. Here’s a detailed look at the health aspects of the American Staffordshire Terrier:

1. Genetic Predispositions

  • Heart Diseases: AmStaffs can be prone to heart conditions such as congenital heart defects and cardiomyopathy.
  • Hip Dysplasia: A common issue in many dog breeds, hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that can lead to arthritis and pain.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia but affects the elbow joints.
  • Skin Allergies: They may experience skin allergies, which can cause itching and discomfort.
  • Hereditary Cataracts: This breed can be predisposed to developing cataracts at an early age.

2. Common Health Concerns

  • Obesity: Due to their muscular build, AmStaffs need regular exercise to prevent obesity.
  • Dental Issues: Regular dental care is essential to prevent periodontal diseases.
  • Hypothyroidism: This breed may be at risk for hypothyroidism, which can affect metabolism.

3. Nutrition and Diet

  • AmStaffs require a balanced diet rich in nutrients. High-quality dog food appropriate for their age (puppy, adult, senior) is recommended.
  • They can be prone to food allergies, so monitoring their diet for any adverse reactions is important.

4. Exercise and Activity Levels

  • They are an energetic breed needing regular exercise to maintain physical and mental health.
  • Activities like walking, running, and agility training are beneficial.

5. Regular Veterinary Check-ups

  • Regular vet visits are crucial for early detection and management of any health issues.
  • Vaccinations and preventive treatments for parasites are important.

6. Mental Health and Behavior

  • AmStaffs are known for their loyalty and affection. They thrive on human interaction and can suffer from separation anxiety.
  • Proper socialization and training from a young age are vital to ensure they are well-adjusted.

7. Lifespan and Aging

  • The average lifespan of an American Staffordshire Terrier is around 12-16 years.
  • As they age, they may face age-related issues like joint stiffness, vision loss, and decreased energy levels.

8. Breeding and Genetic Testing

  • Responsible breeding practices, including genetic testing for common hereditary conditions, are important.
  • Prospective owners should seek reputable breeders who conduct health screenings.

9. Special Care for Seniors

  • Senior AmStaffs may require special diets, more frequent veterinary visits, and adjustments in exercise routines.

Owning an American Staffordshire Terrier requires a commitment to their health and well-being. Proper diet, regular exercise, and routine veterinary care are essential to ensure they lead healthy, happy life. Being aware of their specific health concerns allows for early intervention and better management of potential issues.

American Staffordshire Terrier History

Comparing the American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff) with other breeds involves considering various aspects like temperament, physical characteristics, health concerns, and suitability for different lifestyles. Here’s a comparison of the AmStaff with some similar breeds:

1. American Staffordshire Terrier vs. Pit Bull Terrier

  • Temperament: Both breeds are known for their loyalty and affection towards their families. However, AmStaffs are often considered to be more even-tempered.
  • Appearance: AmStaffs are generally stockier and more muscular than Pit Bulls.
  • Health: Both breeds share similar health concerns, including hip dysplasia and heart conditions.
  • Regulations: Pit Bulls are more commonly affected by breed-specific legislation (BSL) compared to AmStaffs.

2. American Staffordshire Terrier vs. American Bulldog

  • Size: American Bulldogs are typically larger and more powerful than AmStaffs.
  • Energy Levels: AmStaffs are usually more active and require more exercise.
  • Health: American Bulldogs may have a higher propensity for certain conditions like hip dysplasia.
  • Family Compatibility: Both breeds are good with families but require socialization and training.

3. American Staffordshire Terrier vs. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

  • Size: Staffordshire Bull Terriers are smaller and more compact.
  • Temperament: Both breeds are known for their courage and strength, but Staffies are often more playful and sociable.
  • Exercise Needs: AmStaffs generally require more exercise compared to Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
  • Popularity: Staffordshire Bull Terriers are more popular in the UK, while AmStaffs are more common in the USA.

4. American Staffordshire Terrier vs. Boxer

  • Energy Levels: Boxers are known for their high energy and playful nature.
  • Health Issues: Boxers are prone to certain cancers and heart conditions not as prevalent in AmStaffs.
  • Temperament: Both breeds are known for being good with children, but Boxers are typically more exuberant.
  • Training: Both require consistent training but Boxers may be more challenging for first-time owners.

5. American Staffordshire Terrier vs. Labrador Retriever

  • Temperament: Labradors are known for their friendly and outgoing nature, while AmStaffs are more protective.
  • Exercise Needs: Both breeds require regular exercise, but Labradors may have a slightly higher energy level.
  • Family Compatibility: Both are excellent family pets with proper training and socialization.
  • Health: Labradors are prone to obesity and joint issues, similar to AmStaffs.

Considerations for Prospective Owners

  • Lifestyle Fit: AmStaffs need active lifestyles and enjoy being part of family activities.
  • Training and Socialization: Early and consistent training is crucial for managing their strong personalities.
  • Legal and Social Perception: Awareness of breed-specific legislation and managing breed stigma is important.
  • Healthcare Commitment: Preparing for potential breed-specific health issues with regular veterinary care.

When comparing the American Staffordshire Terrier to other breeds, it’s important to consider not only physical traits and health concerns but also temperament, energy levels, and the compatibility with your lifestyle. Each breed has its unique qualities, and the best choice depends on what aligns best with your personal circumstances and preferences.


American Staffordshire Terriers are known for their courage, intelligence, and love of people. They are affectionate with family members and can be good with children when raised properly. However, they may be reserved with strangers and protective of their family.

They are an active breed that requires regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. Daily walks, play sessions, and mental stimulation (like training exercises) are important.

This can vary. While many AmStaffs can live peacefully with other dogs and cats, especially if raised with them, some may have strong instincts to chase smaller animals. Proper socialization and training are crucial.

Their short coat is easy to maintain. Regular brushing (once a week) and occasional baths are sufficient. However, they may need more frequent brushing during shedding seasons.

They are intelligent and generally eager to please, which can make training easier. However, they can be strong-willed, so consistent, positive reinforcement training methods work best.

It depends on the owner. They can be a good fit for first-time owners who are committed to training, socialization, and who understand the breed’s needs and characteristics.

American Staffordshire Terriers are often confused with Pit Bulls, but they are distinct breeds. The term “Pit Bull” is typically used to describe a category of dogs that includes several breeds, such as the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and sometimes the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. While American Staffordshire Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers share a common ancestry and have similar physical characteristics, they have been bred separately for different traits and are recognized as separate breeds by major kennel clubs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes the American Staffordshire Terrier as a distinct breed, but it does not recognize the American Pit Bull Terrier.

American Staffordshire Terriers are often crossed with other breeds, resulting in a variety of popular mixes. Each mix inherits traits from both parent breeds, leading to unique combinations in appearance, temperament, and health. Some of the most popular American Staffordshire Terrier mixes include:

  1. Labrastaff (American Staffordshire Terrier x Labrador Retriever): Known for their friendly and energetic nature, combining the loyalty of the AmStaff with the affable temperament of the Labrador.

  2. AmStaffy (American Staffordshire Terrier x Staffordshire Bull Terrier): A mix that often results in a slightly smaller dog than the purebred AmStaff, known for their strength, intelligence, and affectionate nature.

  3. American Bully (American Staffordshire Terrier x Bulldog Breeds): This mix tends to produce a stocky, muscular dog, often with the AmStaff’s energy and the Bulldog’s laid-back disposition.

  4. Pitador (American Staffordshire Terrier x Pit Bull Terrier): This mix combines similar breeds, often resulting in a dog with a strong physique, high energy, and a loyal temperament.

  5. Boxerstaff (American Staffordshire Terrier x Boxer): These dogs are typically energetic, playful, and loyal, inheriting the Boxer’s playful nature and the AmStaff’s strength.

  6. AmStaffshire (American Staffordshire Terrier x American Bulldog): A mix that usually results in a large, powerful dog with a protective nature and strong loyalty to their family.

Each of these mixes will have individual variations depending on which traits they inherit from each parent. As with any mixed breed, their characteristics can be less predictable than those of purebreds. For those considering adopting a mix, it’s important to look at the traits of both parent breeds to get an idea of what to expect.


American Staffordshire Terriers, like any dog breed, are not inherently dangerous. The perception of them as dangerous often stems from media portrayal and the unfortunate association with illegal dog fighting. However, their behavior, like that of any breed, is largely influenced by upbringing, training, and socialization.

AmStaffs are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature. They are strong and can be willful, which means they require consistent, positive training and early socialization. When properly trained and socialized from a young age, they can be very friendly, well-behaved, and safe around people, including children.

The key to ensuring that an American Staffordshire Terrier, or any dog, is not dangerous lies in responsible ownership. This includes providing proper training, socialization, care, and setting boundaries. It’s also important for owners to understand and respect the breed’s characteristics and needs.

In summary, American Staffordshire Terriers are not inherently dangerous, and with responsible ownership, they can be loving and loyal companions.

Top Takeaways

American Staffordshire Terriers are affectionate and loyal, thriving with regular exercise and firm, positive training. Prone to certain health issues like hip dysplasia, they require attentive care and a balanced diet. With their strong personalities, early socialization is key, making them well-suited for experienced owners.

Top American Staffordshire Terrier Names

These are the top American Staffordshire Terrier names as chosen by Pawstray pet parents!

Female Names


Ginger Adam









Male Names











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