The Stafforshire Bull Terrier (Staff, Stafford, Staffy, Staffie) is a dog that receives a fair amount of bad press which is why i wanted to make it one of the first breeds i cover. Despite its bad press, you might be surprised to hear that it is actually one of the most popular dog breeds!
The Stafforshire Bull Terrier is considered to be a medium sized dog. They usually reach between 15 and 17 inches in height and weigh approximately 15kg (females weigh less than males). They are very muscular and considering their small size, they are very strong and powerful. One of their most recognizable features is their “blocky” head which is short and deep with a broad skull and very distinctive jaws (which i think makes them look as though they are always smiling). Their eyes should be round and dark in colour. Their ears are fairly small and should be either half pricked or rose. The tail is thicker at the base and should not curl much. They have smooth short coats which come in a variety of colours.
This is an english breed, developed in the nineteenth century (so it is really quite a new breed) in the region of Staffordshire. It was developed by crossing bulldogs with various terrier breeds. The purpose of this breed was initially to be used in the sport of bull baiting. As the interest in the sport decreased, so did the popularity of the breed. However in the twentieth century it became popular once more particularly in the United States. In 1935 the breed returned to the show ring.
Generally this is a fairly healthy breed however they are prone to cataracts. Parents should be screened for HC & PHPV (both eye complaints). Hip dysplasia is something that is seen occasionally in the breed. As with all bully breeds, my research suggests that the staffie can be prone to gas problems.
Even with their short coats, the staffordshire bull terriers do shed a fair amount of hair and if you like your capets, furniture and clothing to be “spic and span”, you might not want a staffie. They really only require occasionally grooming, but you may find yourself giving him a brush once or twice a week to help remove the loose hair.
The Stafforshire bull terrier is said to be “extremely courageous and obedient, affectionate with a sense of humour”. This is a breed that is always considered to be very people friendly. Here i would like to point out that they were never bred to be aggressive towards humans, but other animals (although that does not mean that they cannot get on with other animals). They have a fantastic reputation with children and were once considered to be the “nanny dogs” due to their patience and tolerance. However, because they are a strong breed and often very bouncy (if they are young at least) they may be a little too much for very young children. In these cases a cross breed could be more appropriate. Due to their love of being around people, separation anxiety can sometimes be an issue, but with correct training and a lot of patience this problem should be easily avoided or solved.
It is surprising just how well they are able to perform at agility and competitive obedience and the breed competes at the highest level in the UK. Due to their keeness to please humans, they are considered to be moderately easy to train when compared to other breeds. These dogs rarely bark for no reason, and so they are said to make good watch dogs, barking to alert their owner that someone is at the door for example. Their bulky, bully breed appearance can also be a deterrence for intruders without actually needing to be threatening. That being said, i want to stress that you do not bring one of these dogs into your life for the sole purpose of it looking intimidating, dogs are not accessories to make us look good (or bad), but they are a family member to be loved.
The key to owning this breed successfully is to socialize them well and establish yourself as the “pack leader”. Providing they see you as being in control and not the other way around, you shouldn’t have a problem with these highly trainable and affectionate dogs.
This is a highly energetic breed and they need a minimum of two walks a day, preferably including one long walk or a jog. That being said, they can do well living in an apartment or a house with a small yard, providing they get out for exercise a couple of times a day.
These dogs tend to live between around 10 and 16 years.
Buying a Stafforshire Bull Terrier:
If you are going to buy a puppy, you can expect to pay anything from £300 to around £800. This seems to depend on the person selling, whether they are KC registered, already chipped and also on their coloration (blues seem to be more expensive). As with any breed, you must make sure you go to a reputable breeder, ask to see the parents and their living space and ask to see their vet details and vaccination cards (a good breeder will have had them checked by a vet).
Rehoming from a rescue centre is always an option, i can almost guarantee that you will find a staffie or a staffie cross at your nearest rescue centre. This is something definitely worth while, particularly if you want to skip the puppy stage. From what i have noticed the majority of dogs that need rehoming tend to be around one or two years old. There are so many out there needing homes that if you are looking to bring a staffie into your life, then rehoming is an option worth looking at. The downside is that their background and history is often unknown, and they will often require a great deal of training.