Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier may have a vicious past, but this muscular and compact breed is actually a softie when it comes to family. For those who know the Staffie, they also know the misperceptions about the breed. Of course, most of the “unflattering” perceptions is hardly the Staffie’s fault.

However, the breed has come a long way since their days of dogfighting. Now, the breed enjoys a more tame atmosphere as a companion.

And in the end, it’s not a fight that Staffordshire Terrier wants, rather; Love and loyalty.

So where does the breed come from and would the Staffie be a good fit for you family?

Here is what you need to know about the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

History

The Staffordshire is one four  “Bull” style breeds with recognition from the American Kennel Club. If they sound familiar and look similar to that of the Amstaff Terrier, that’s because both breeds are cut from the same cloth.

Much like the other terriers, the Staffie comes from a background that is both bloody and brutal. Furthermore, hitherto the 1830’s, bull baiting, bear baiting and cockfighting was legal form of entertainment and sport. In 1835, thankfully, England made the decision to clamp down on the various forms of bloodsport. No longer could men use their dogs to kill or to die trying against bigger beasts. Unfortunately,  some British breeders and dog owners didn’t receive that memo. In discreet form, owners, gamblers and breeders kept on their bloodsport ways holding dog against dog events underground. It was hard for government and law enforcement to break up this type of activity.

Sadly, it is probably true, even to this day, that certain degenerates use Bull type dogs to fight underground. Fortunately, not at the level it once was. 

James Hanks, a breeder out of Birmingham, England, the father of the breed, is the man historians believe to be responsible for the creation of the Staffie. Allegedly, he began creating the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the mid- 1800’s. However, the United Kennel Club believes that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s origins likely came in the latter 1700’s.

The breed would gain recognition from the Kennel Club of England in 1935. That year, would be the first time 60 female Staffies would appear at a dog show in Western-Central England. According to the American Kennel Club, the breed began to make its way into America at that time as well. Unlike England, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier would never become as popular as it was in England.

But good news would come for the breed. The two largest kennels in America would grant the Staffie recognition respectively in 1974 and 1975. First, the American Kennel Club and then the United Kennel Club.

Today, the breed still suffers the stigma of a vicious dog fighter. In many countries, there are either restrictions or all out bans on Staffordshire Bull Terrier ownership. However, the breed does enjoy a much more calm lifestyle than that of a dog fighting breed. As a companion, even popping up in show rings the way of life is changing for the breed. The American Kennel Club lists the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as the 82nd most popular breed in America.

History

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier may be muscular, with great bone structure, but the AKC lists the breed as medium size. Each sex of this breed can stand between 14 to 16 inches.

With regards to weight, a male should weigh between 28 to 38 pounds and a female between 24 to 34 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

From the very first days of their existence, this breed has been able to display a great deal of courage. That to go along with their equally matching strength. Some call them the “nannydog” that’ll look out for your kids. There is no denying, that the breed does have an affinity for children. In fact, the two will be similar to peers. A Staffordshire Bull Terrier will not put up with a threat against its family. It is often an inside joke, that they will let you take the TV, but leave their family alone. As a watchdog, they’ll bark whenever it is necessary. However, the breed prefers to remain quiet to vocal.

Reliable and trustworthy, you can count on the Staffordshire Bull Terrier having your back. At home, they are generally docile and calm. They are gentle with others and playful when the time arises. Their one trouble area may be other animals including male dogs. That’s when territory becomes a crux for the Staffie.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier can be a bit stubborn when they want to. They will obey a command, but it may take them time to do it. It’s not because they are dumb, they aren’t, quite the contrary. It is only that true terrier independent spirit at work. You’ll see that the breed can have a mind of its own and prefers mixing things up rather than keeping a routine

Outdoors, they love to investigate and sniff around. This can be trouble if you aren’t properly watching. They love to chase and fetch a ball. The breed certainly enjoys being the comedian and center of attention. Take them for a walk, rub their belly, and your Staffordshire Bull Terrier will love you forever. It’ll take a good romp to get them calm, but it won’t take much.

All in all, they are wonderful protectors with plenty of bravery. You won’t mess with this dog’s family and you don’t have to worry about them being vicious. That is, if proper socialization and training is put in play. 

Health

Like any breed, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is no different, in that, they have their problems, but are generally healthy. You can reduce the chances of a dog being unhealthy from day one, when you buy from a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder should be able to provide you with the proper clearances. In addition, you should schedule regular veterinarian visits to ensure your Staffie’s well-being.

If you can do that, with proper preventative care, there’s no reason to believe that you won’t get 12 to 14 years out of your Staffordshire.

The breed does encounter a condition of Demodectic Mange. This is a microscopic mite that feeds and infests off of the breed’s hair follicles. If you don’t treat this appropriately, the breed can suffer from lesions, irritation and dry skin.

A string of eye diseases such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy, where the cone rod suffers degenration over time, resulting in blindness has been found to occur in this breed.

Distichiasis is also a problem the breed may battle. Excess of hair inside the eyelids that grow and cause agitation. Moreover, this problem can evolve into scratching of the ulcer as well and hinders the vision.

Cataracts is common for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Typically, older Staffies will experience this cloudiness of the crystalline lens that results in blindness. In fact, Cataracts is the most cause for blindness in this breed.

A malformation of the hip joint, Hip Dysplasia, which can take a toll on your dog’s comfort level and present pain has been seen to occur in this breed. In fact, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals ranks the breed 66th worst out of over 100 breeds on their survey. The OFA reports a 15.9% dysplastic rating out of 754 evaluations putting them in the company of the Black and Tan Coonhound and English Setter.

Abnormal growth inside the elbow, or Elbow Dysplasia, can cause lameness, discomfort and other issues down the road. This is a problem for the breed and the OFA ranks them 18th worst with a 17.8% out of 315 evaluations. 

Patella Luxation is a low occurrence for the breed but is possible. This is when the kneecap slips out of place causing your Staffordshire Bull Terrier to wobble, favor one side of the leg or experience a great deal of pain.

The breed also suffers from Hemangiosarcoma, a bleeding disorder, typically forming in the spleen and causing internal bleeding. Obviously this can be dangerous and if your Staffie isn’t acting right, it is best to go see a doctor. 

Other issues the breed may experience; Mast cell tumor, Cushings Disease, and Brachycephalic Syndrome.

Care

The first thing about a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is that they need proper socialization and training. Do not let a dog of this magnitude to run all over you. You need to let them know who is in charge. That’s why it is better that people with prior experience to own a Staffie. Additionally, this will help you bring your dog around others including strangers and male dogs. Supervision around other dogs, especially males is a must. Although the breed loves children, they are bulky and strong, and may play too rough at times. It’s best to watch those encounters as well.

As a brachycephallic breed it is always wise to keep your Staffordshire Bull Terrier out of extreme heat and cold. The cold is more because of their short coats, but because the breed has a short nose and soft palate, it causes breathing issues in certain elements.

The Staffie does have a strong prey drive. It is important to keep them on a leash or surround them with a fence. A squirrel, a cat, or any other small critter is appealing to the Staffordshire and they may run off in chase.

They aren’t the most suitable for apartments unless you can provide them with enough exercise to keep them from boredom. A Staffie without adequate mental or physical stimulation can lead to destructive habits.

It is important to remain on top of their teeth. This breed does have a problem with their teeth and tartar buildup. Brush often. Trim their nails routinely to protect from overgrowth and splits. Bathe as you dem necessary and check their ears for any kind of bacterial infections.

Feeding

Your Staffordshire Bull Terrier should do fine on a high quality or premium formula. Meat as the first ingredient. A healthy balance of fruits and vegetables always helps. If you do have more questions about specifics, you should always consult a veterinarian.

How much your Staffordshire eats will depend on their activity range, age, and metabolism. Most owners seem happy with feeding 1.5 to 2.25 cups of top quality dry kibble. 

As always, you should provide your Staffordshire Bull Terrier with fresh drinking water.

Coat

A luxury of owning a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is that their coats are rather easy to maintain. A weekly brush will help get rid of dead hair and keep their coats looking prim and proper. They are a seasonal shedder, which typically results in heavier shedding around spring and fall.

The bread does have a short, smooth coat with hair that lies close to the body.

According to the American Kennel Club, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has 14 acceptable coat color options and no acceptable markings: White and red, white and fawn, white , white and brindle, red, red and white, fawn and white, fawn, brindle and white, brindle, blue and white, blue, black and white, black.

Fun Staffordshire Bull Terrier Facts

  • The Staffie has been the mascot for the Army regiment in Staffordshire, England since 1892.
  • According to Petcare Fact, Germany, Puerto Rico and Portugal do not allow ownership of the Staffie. Other countries like France, may carry certain restrictions against the breed.
  • The breed is said to obey commands 50 percent of the time making them the 94th most intelligent on Stanley Coren’s “Intelligence of Dogs” list.
  • The AKC claims that the breed’s foundation stock comprises of a Mastiff type dog with a crossing of native English terriers.

Closing Words

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a wonderful breed. They are protective, reliable and loyal to their family. They have a comical and sweet side to them that makes you forget all about their dark and vicious past.

Things seem to be changing for the breed as more truth gets out about this breed. Rightfully so. The stigma against them is unfair. The Staffordshire  may have a gruesome past, but it is the future that looks bright for this breed moving forward.