Published in: Dog Articles
There are many reasons you may be reading this article. Maybe because you are bored, maybe you found it by accident and you thought you would have a look, in which case I hope you find it of interest... but this article is primarily aimed at the person considering embarking on a partnership with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier – a partnership that will fill your life with love and devotion.
It is from the past history of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier that the modern dog draws his characteristics of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity. These, coupled with his affection for his friends, and children in particular, his off-duty quietness, and trustworthy stability make him the foremost all-purpose dog.
As with every breed there are Staffs that do not meet the above criteria, but a well bred and raised Stafford is a joy to live with, and if you meet one be prepared to go away having made a lifelong friend.
I myself was first introduced to the wonderful world of this breed in the late 70s as a schoolgirl when, after lots of research, I was convinced that I had found my ideal dog. I have yet to be proven wrong.
As a breed they are addictive, but definitely not the breed of dog for everyone. So please think hard before embarking on the purchase of a Stafford of your own.
Size and weight
Height, at the withers is 14”-16” for both sexes.
The weights given in the standard are between 28-38lbs for dogs and 24-34lbs for bitches. But these are only guidelines, in practice today’s Staffs with modern feeding may weigh more than this.
Staffordshire bull terriers come in a variety of colours. Red, fawn, white, brindle, black, blue, any of these colours with white. There is also pure white. Colours not to be encouraged are Black and Tan or liver.
Life Expectancy and Health
The average life span is between 10-12 years although it is not unusual for Staffs to live to 15-16 years.
Staffs are generally a healthy breed. Be sure to buy from a breeder who health tests their dogs. Responsible breeders test their stock before they use them for breeding and only “clear” tested animals should be used. The parents of your pup should both be “clear” of two eye conditions PHPV and HC. The Kennel club registration form will also state whether the dam and sire have been tested. This does not mean your pup will definitely be clear of the condition but it does make it more likely he/she will be.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier's nature when understood correctly is recognised to be somewhat complex. However it is fairly termed honest because the dogs’ true nature is one that is positive and straightforward. The breed is intelligent. The Staff is occasionally described as stubborn when, in fact, when they know what is required of them there is no breed of dog that will try harder to meet your request.
To own a Stafford is to expect the unexpected, but the unexpected soon becomes the norm.
The Staffie is a medium sized, strongly built dog with a happy-go-lucky nature, who can adapt to a variety of households. He needs attention and will chew if not given enough mental and physical stimulation. Some Staffs can be intolerant of other animals but many live in harmony with other animals and dogs. But, remembering the breed’s history, common sense should be used when introducing them to other animals, both inside and outside the home.
Staffies are not guard dogs and will rarely bark at the door, an intruder is more likely to be treated as a long lost friend as they walk off with the family gems.
They do however have an inborn desire to protect their beloved family, even to the extent where fathers have been unable to chastise their own child in the presence of the family Stafford. A Staff does not need to be trained for this: his instinct will always lead him to protect the “weaker” members of his family.
The Staff has a short coat that rarely needs more than a quick wipe over with chamois leather, this will remove any loose hair and keep the coat gleaming. You need to check your dog's nails but these are normally kept short by exercise. Make it a routine to check your dog all over for any lumps and bumps or ticks. It is also a good idea to accustom your dog to having his teeth cleaned, and his ears inspected as part of your normal grooming practice.
Staffs are very strong for their size. They are just as likely to barge past your legs as walk round, and if allowed to pull on the lead you can soon find yourself being towed down the road. So be sensible. Do not let young children or those not strong enough to hold the lead walk your dogs alone. Sometimes a harness is more suitable than a collar.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers and People
SBTs love people, of that there is no question. They tend not to express this love by sitting at your feet staring adoringly into your eyes but by rather more physical means. They are prone to launching themselves at you, and with 40lb of dog coming at you, believe me you know you have been greeted.
Even when under enough control not to launch into orbit when you come home or guests arrive, you have to be prepared for the dog to nudge, paw, whine, anything in order to gain a pat. They adore people and human company is vital to their happiness. They are never happier than when sitting on your lap.
So as you can see if you want a quiet, reserved, dog then the Staff is not for you. Around children and the elderly adult Staffs seem to know instinctively that they need to curb their enthusiasm and they willingly exercise restraint.
Pups of course need to be taught their manners gently yet consistently.
Like all breeds Staffs need to be socialised with people, places, animals, vehicles etc.
And it is important to get them used to a variety of surroundings and environments.
A good puppy socialization class is a perfect starting point for your pup.
Dog or Bitch
There is little to choose between the sexes. Males are physically stronger than bitches but there is no difference in temperament. It is never wise to keep a male Staff with another male of any breed, and it is inadvisable to keep two male Staffs in the same household, even if one of them is castrated. Bitches can be slightly gentler but remember the breed is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier regardless of sex.
Staffords are not generally good with other dogs and they do not need them for company. It is your company and attention that they need. One of the most common reasons for two Staffords falling out in any household is jealousy. If you decide two are for you, I would advise you to take advice from your pup’s breeder and other Stafford people first.
SBT’s are energetic dogs. They are capable of a great deal of exercise, although they are extremely adaptable. But to take on a dog such as a Staff you must be prepared once you dog is adult to put in the time for at least 2 x 40 minutes walks a day including if possible some off lead time chasing a ball.
What you need to know before purchasing
This is a good point at which to mention the many breed clubs for Staffordshire Bull Terriers. They will always be happy to help and guide you through the minefield of finding a well bred Staff from a reputable breeder.
A good starting point is to pop along to dog shows and talk to people who already own the breed, Stafford owners and breeders are always eager to talk to people interested in entering into the wonderful world of Stafford ownership, and they will take the time to explain what its like to have a SBT in your home and heart, and point you in the right direction.
Before you buy a Stafford ensure that you research the breed thoroughly, there are many Staffs that end up in rescue, sometimes due to a wrong choice being made as to the suitability of the breed for a particular lifestyle or personality.
The Staff is not a dog suitable for kennelling and prefers the comfort of the fireside or sofa to a kennel or cage. You must remember that the cute pup you bring home will soon be a strong and boisterous youngster. Make rules to start your partnership and do not allow the puppy to do something you would not wish the adult to do.
Consistency is the key to training. Having any dog is a commitment and a lot of extra work for any family, so consider this before you take the step and purchase a pup of any breed let alone a Stafford.
Choosing a Rescue
If you decide a puppy is not for you, for whatever reason, then will you please consider a rescue? Stafford rescues are run by people who have a desire to see all Staffords in loving permanent homes – your local breed club can advise you of a rescue near to you.
The rescue will wish to do a home check and ask you some questions. They attempt to match the right dog with the right home and will consider the temperament and background of the individual dog against that of the potential home. In most cases the rescue dog will be neutered or spayed before coming to you. The red Stafford “Jas” pictured in his PAT dog coat is a rescue dog, and now a much loved family member.
The Versatile SBT
Staffs are living all over the World as pets in the homes of single people, couples, families, young and old alike. There are no barriers to ownership of a Staff as long as they are loved and properly cared for as a valued member of the family. Some Staffs enter the show world; some enter the world of agility or flyball. There are a few who do obedience, and one I am aware of who is a working search and rescue dog in Austria. There are also Stafford’s who are PAT dogs. So you can see the breed is as versatile as it is varied but, if you choose a Stafford, please make sure you are worthy of the breed. The Stafford is truly a breed apart, and is truly deserving of the devotion it inspires in its many admirers.
An interesting and informative article which will be of great help to those wishing to understand this superb breed.
Great article Kazz, very informative.
Thank you to everyone who proof read this article, adn those who let me use their fantastic pictures and/or offered advice. I appreciate it very very much.
Job well done Kazz, great article.
Very interesting thank you Kazz, I know a little more about Staffs now.
Very well done Kazz
Makes brilliant reading Kazz well done !!
You have covered just about everything Kazz, and covered it well.
Very well done Kazz, I really enjoyed reading it. You've got the Stafford off to a tee.