Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.
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The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a smooth-coated dog. It should be of great strength for its size and, although muscular, should be active and agile.
Short, deep through, broad skull, very pronounced cheek muscles, distinct stop, short foreface, black nose. Pink (Dudley) nose to be considered a serious fault. Eyes – Dark preferable, but may bear some relation to coat color. Round, of medium size, and set to look straight ahead. Light eyes or pink eye rims to be considered a fault, except that where the coat surrounding the eye is white the eye rim may be pink. Ears – Rose or half-pricked and not large. Full drop or full prick to be considered a serious fault.
The neck is muscular, rather short, clean in outline and gradually widening toward the shoulders. The body is close coupled, with a level topline, wide front, deep brisket and well sprung ribs being rather light in the loins. The tail is undocked, of medium length, low set, tapering to a point and carried rather low. It should not curl much and may be likened to an old-fashioned pump handle. A tail that is too long or badly curled is a fault.
Legs straight and well boned, set rather far apart, without looseness at the shoulders and showing no weakness at the pasterns, from which point the feet turn out a little. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed. The feet should be well padded, strong and of medium size.
Smooth, short and close to the skin, not to be trimmed or de-whiskered.
The hindquarters should be well muscled, hocks let down with stifles well bent. Legs should be parallel when viewed from behind. Dewclaws, if any, on the hind legs are generally removed. Feet as in front.
About the Staffordshire Bull Terrier
At 14 to 16 inches, Staffies do not stand particularly tall. But, weighing anywhere between 24 to 38 pounds, Staffies pour a gallon of dog into a quart-size container. These are rock-solid, muscular terriers. The head is short and broad, with pronounced cheek muscles, and the tight-fitting coat comes in several colors.
Staffies still resemble the pugnacious brawlers who once ruled England’s fighting pits. But today’s responsible breeders are producing sweet-natured, family-oriented Staffies with a reputation for being patient with kids. These are true-blue loyal companions, but the old fighting instinct still lurks within—making it vital that Staffie pups be socialized with other dogs to learn good canine manners.
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The Staffordshire Bull Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
It doesn’t take much work to keep a Staffordshire Bull Terrier looking handsome. Occasional baths and weekly brushings with a horsehair mitt or hound glove to pull away dead hairs will keep him in beautiful condition. His nails should be trimmed at least monthly. Avoid letting them grow out too long, as overly long nails can be quite painful for him. Clean the ears regularly to remove excess wax and debris, which can cause an ear infection. Your breeder and your veterinarian can suggest a good routine and cleaning materials and will show you how to do it without damaging his inner ear.
The Stafford requires regular exercise to stay mentally and physically fit. This exercise can be chasing a ball tossed across the backyard, running alongside a biking or jogging owner, or just a nice, long hike through the woods. Although a Stafford in good physical condition can keep up with an athletic owner, they usually settle right in when they come back in the house after a good exercise session. The breed can be heat intolerant and should never be overworked in warm or humid weather.
The Stafford is intelligent, learns easily, responds quickly, is calmly protective, and can be a loving and fun companion. They have an ardent desire to please and easily comply with the requests of their owners. However, remember that they were originally bred to fight other dogs, and most have retained a strong prey drive. They must be trained to control their temperament traits to truly become a perfect pet. It is imperative that from the beginning a Stafford puppy have clear and consistent training. They should not only learn the rules, but also accept that they must always follow them.
Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as elbow and hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and eye anomalies including hereditary juvenile cataracts, persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous (PHPV), and posterior polar subcapsular cataracts (PPSC). SBTs can develop several forms of skin allergies, some of which may be genetic. The DNA test for L-2-HGA, a metabolic condition, allows breeders to identify carriers and avoid producing affected offspring. Be an informed owner, and discuss any health questions or concerns with your dog’s breeder and your veterinarian.
Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:
- L2HGA DNA Test
- Hereditary Cataracts DNA Test
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
The story of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a relatively brief one in the grand scheme of canine history, but it can be confused by the several different names hung on the breed at various times. The Bull-and-Terrier, the Patched Fighting Terrier, the Staffordshire Pit-dog, and the Brindle Bull are a few of the Staffie’s historical aliases.
Staffies are among the AKC terriers, such as the Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier, classified as “bull types.” All have a similar backstory. A few centuries ago, in the days when betting on the outcome of dog-oriented blood sports was all the rage in England, gamblers bred ferocious dogs to excel in these ghastly affairs. The granddaddy of these breeds was the Bulldog, created for the horrifying spectacle of bull-baiting.
Blood sports were outlawed in 1835, but pit-dog wagering continued as an underground activity. In these illicit pits, usually housed in a cellar, away from the prying eyes of the law, dogs would either do battle against one another, gladiator-style, or would be set against a sack full of rats. Gamblers took Bulldogs, unemployed after bull-baiting went by the boards, and crossed them with quick, feisty terriers. The results were fighting dogs with the punishing jaws of a Bulldog and the fiery spirit of a terrier.
From among the profusion of breeds created in this way, most now extinct, the Staffie, perfected by one James Hinks, of Birmingham, England, in the mid-19th century, emerged as one of the most successful and enduring. The breed name that finally came to these burly, broad-skulled terriers is a nod to the county of Staffordshire, where the breed was especially popular.
After the Staffie arrived in North America in the 1880s, breeders developed a taller, heavier offshoot, the American Staffordshire Terrier, or AmStaff. Since then, more than a hundred years of responsible breeding has transformed both breeds from brawlers to trustworthy family companions.