Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Introduction | History & Health | Temperament & Personality | Breed Standard

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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Introduction

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, also known as the Bulldog Terrier, the Old Pit Bull Terrier, the Bull-and-Terrier, the Pit Dog, the Brindle Bull, the Patched Fighting Terrier, the Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Pit Dog, the "Staffy Bull" or simply the "Staffie," is a dog with an old history and a big reputation. It is known for is intelligence, trustworthiness, tenacity and tremendous courage. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is affectionate, steady and especially fond of children, earning its nickname the "Nanny Dog." However, without proper training and control, the Staffie can display aggression towards other dogs and animals. The Kennel Club (England) calls this its tendency to "get its retaliation in first." The Staffy Bull was accepted into the Stud Book of the American Kennel Club in 1974 and gained full acceptance into the Terrier Group the following year.
The mature Staffy Bull should be 14 to 16 inches at the withers. Males should weigh 28 to 38 pounds, with bitches ranging from 24 to 34 pounds. The overall appearance of this breed is one of smoothness and great strength for its somewhat small size. Its short coat can be red, fawn, white, black, blue or brindle, or any of these colors combined with white. Black-and-tan or liver colors are disqualifications under the American breed standard.

History & Health

History

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is an English breed that dates back many centuries, to a time when the bloodsports of bull-baiting and bear-baiting were popular in Britain. In 1835, those sports were outlawed and soon were replaced with dog fighting, which was better suited to a smaller, swifter animal. The old-style Bulldog – which was larger than today's variety – was crossed with small native black-and-tan terriers that resembled the Manchester Terrier, to create the early old-style "bull terrier" that we now know as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. By the 1930s, dogfighting had long been outlawed in England as well. However, enthusiasts of this so-called "sport" took it underground, where it still takes place both in Great Britain and America even today.
In the mid-1800s, James Hinks of Birmingham began a breeding program to create a slightly different variety of this early bull terrier. He crossed it with the now-extinct English White Terrier and got a sleeker animal that was predominantly white. He called this the Bull Terrier and began showing it under that name in the 1860s. Fanciers of the "original" old-style bull terrier (which ultimately was named the Staffy Bull) were frustrated that the name "Bull Terrier" had been given to the modified breed, but could do little about it. To make matters worse, the old-style bull terrier's reputation was still tainted by its dog-fighting history. To preserve a place for the old-style dog, Joseph Dunn formed a club to work with other enthusiasts towards recognition of the original bull terrier as a stand-alone breed. The Kennel Club recognized the breed, which was called the Staffordshire Bull Terrier to distinguish it from the white Bull Terrier, in 1935. By the end of the 20th century, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was consistently among the top ten most popular breeds recognized by the English Kennel Club – which is quite a testament to the Staffy Bull given its rather dubious beginnings.
Staffy Bulls came to the United States primarily after World War II, although experts believe that Bull-and-Terrier type dogs were in North America sometime in the 1800s. In America, those Bull-and-Terrier types were bred to be heavier and taller than their counterparts in England and developed into the American Staffordshire Terrier. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was admitted into the American Kennel Club's Stud Book in 1974 and officially joined the Terrier Group in 1975. It was recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1952. Despite its background as a pit-fighting dog, today's Staffy Bull is plucky, friendly and affectionate. It makes an excellent companion and is gaining popularity in the conformation, agility and obedience ring.

Health

The average life span of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is 12 to 14 years. Breed health concerns may include cataracts, congenital deafness, follicular dysplasia, pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism, cystine urolithiasis, cataracts, elbow and hip dysplasia, heart problems, hypothyroidism, L-2-hydroxuglutaric aciduria, patellar luxation and skin allergies.

Temperament & Personality

Personality

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier resembles other "tough" breeds like the American Staffordshire and Pit Bull Terrier, but these sturdy dogs look a lot tougher than they really are. The motto of many Stafford owners is, "He's a lover, not a fighter." Staffords would much rather romp around and play all day than grouse or fight or even stand around looking imposing. They have a zest for life and eat up new experiences with the zeal of a puppy. They love to be with people and they don't particularly care what the activity is: watching TV reading a book in the sun, waking, running, going for a ride in the car – the Stafford just wants to be with the people he loves. They also don't like to make their own choices about what to do, and therefore don't like being left alone, so Staffordshire Bull Terriers are best suited for active families where someone is always home with them. Despite their imposing look and tendency toward dog aggression, Staffords are actually very good with children. Toddlers are not recommended, but older kids who understand a dog's boundaries will find that a Stafford will gladly accept the role of best friend, playmate, and evening pillow during TV time.

Activity Requirements

Though Staffords are happy to lounge around all day if you let them, these dogs need plenty of good running exercise every day to maintain their health and muscle tone. They enjoy walks, hikes, jogs or simple games of catch in the backyard. Enrolling them in organized activities like agility or flyball keeps their minds as sharp as their bodies.
Staffords are adaptable to just about any living situation be it apartment or estate, city or country. No matter what his living arrangements, a commitment should be made to properly exercise a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Trainability

Staffords can be a handful to train. They are stubborn and willful and though they love you to pieces, don't particularly care about doing what they are told. Novice dog owners should consult with a professional trainer who understands the nuances of the Stafford personality. Experienced dog owners should be able to handle this breed just fine. They need confident leadership, a bit of firmness (they can handle the criticism), and 100% consistency. Some trainers recommend letting your Stafford run for a bit before conducting training sessions to help calm his mind and keep him focused.

Behavioral Traits

Staffordshire Bull Terriers have very strong jaws and they love to chew, especially as puppies. It is essential to the life of your furniture that you keep plenty of bones and chew toys around to satisfy your Stafford's urge to chew.
Dog aggression is very common in adult Staffords. If they think another dog is challenging them, they will not hesitate to engage. Socializing your puppy to understand canine manners can help, but it's best to keep your Stafford on a leash at all times, and at home his yard should be fenced. The leash and fence will also help keep your Stafford from taking off after birds, squirrels, rabbits and cats, which they love to chase.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
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.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Height at shoulder: 14 to 16 inches. Weight: Dogs, 28 to 38 pounds; bitches, 24 to 34 pounds, these heights being related to weights. Non-conformity with these limits is a fault. In proportion, the length of back, from withers to tail set, is equal to the distance from withers to ground.

Head
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. Mouth--A bite in which the outer side of the lower incisors touches the inner side of the upper incisors. The lips should be tight and clean. The badly undershot or overshot bite is a serious fault.

Neck, Topline, Body
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.

Forequarters
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.

Hindquarters
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.

Coat
Smooth, short and close to the skin, not to be trimmed or de-whiskered.

Color
Red, fawn, white, black or blue, or any of these colors with white. Any shade of brindle or any shade of brindle with white. Black-and-tan or liver color to be disqualified.

Gait
Free, powerful and agile with economy of effort. Legs moving parallel when viewed from front or rear. Discernible drive from hind legs.

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