Staffordshire Bull Terrier Profile: More Than Just Muscles

Published February 10, 2022
Staffordshire bull terrier wearing scarf and giving his paw to his owner

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the Staffordshire Bull Terrier due to their association with dog fighting. However, it's critical to get to know the breed prior to forming any opinion. Despite their history of fighting, this is one of the most gentle, affectionate breeds you will meet.

Origin and History

The ancestors of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier were bred in the early 19th century to be quick, agile, highly game dogs. They were used for blood sports such as bullbaiting and dog fighting, though today they are equally gentle and adore their family. They are thought to be a cross between the ancestors of the Manchester Terrier and the Bulldog.

The first Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club was created in England in the mid-1800s. In 1974, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America was founded, and shortly thereafter, In 1975, the American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the breed. The first to be registered with the AKC was Tinkinswood Imperial.

Breed Characteristics

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has gained a bad reputation due to improper breeding and utilization in fighting rings. It's important to understand this isn't due to the breed's aggression, but rather due to their environment and how they are raised. A Staffordshire Bull Terrier that is raised appropriately becomes a loving, affectionate member of the family.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Card

Appearance

The coat of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is short, silky, and close to the skin. It comes in red, fawn, white, black, or blue, as well as brindle and brindle with white, and any of these colors with white.

The Staffordshire is a medium-sized, muscular breed with pronounced cheek muscles. Staffordshire Bull Terriers range in height from 14 to 16 inches at the shoulder, with males being somewhat taller. Stafford males weigh 28 to 38 pounds and females weigh 24 to 34 pounds.

Temperament

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, known as a stafford or staffy for short, is an outgoing breed that loves everyone. They're energetic and always appear to be overly happy. They're also known for their curiosity combined with a stubborn streak. Because they do tend to love everyone, they don't make the best guard dogs. They will alert you if someone is on your property, but they're more likely to lick them than attack.

That being said, their temperament is determined by several factors, including socialization and genetics. Meeting the parents is particularly important with this breed as, unfortunately, many are still bred for the fighting ring. If you can't meet both parents, at least meet one of them to get a feel for what type of environment they come from. Meeting each puppy individually will also aid you in choosing the best dog for your family.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers need early socialization when they are young. This involves exposure to a variety of people, sights, noises, and experiences, which should continue throughout their life, to help them grow into a well-rounded adult dog.

Staffordshire bull terrier sitting on field

Training

As with any dog, training should begin the moment you get your puppy home. They learn quickly, but they do have a bit of a stubborn streak. Patient, positive training methods are necessary in addition to being consistent. This breed will quickly shut down if they are scolded or punished in any way.

Not only will harshness cause them to withdraw, but it could permanently damage the bond you share with your dog. Providing them with plenty of exercise prior to training sessions will help them pay attention to commands you are giving.

Exercise Requirements

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier requires about two hours of exercise each day to remain happy and healthy. You could go for walks, engage in playtime, or even head to the dog park if your pup is well-socialized.

Staffords aren't brachycephalic, but still have short snouts that make it difficult for them to stay outdoors for long periods of time in hot weather. Not that they want to stay outside, anyway; they're more of a "where you go, they go" type of dog.

Staffordshire bull tilting his head

Some staffy dogs do enjoy playing in the water. Grabbing a child-sized pool for them to play in is ideal. Don't get upset if they don't like it. Some staffy dogs aren't huge fans of the water. Although many do love the water, they aren't good swimmers, so if you take them somewhere with deeper water, don't forget the life jacket.

Health

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they might develop certain health issues. It's crucial to be aware of these if you're thinking about bringing a staffy home.

Find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your dog's parents if you're buying a puppy. Health clearances demonstrate that a dog has been checked for certain ailments, such as hip dysplasia.

The following are ailments that may affect Staffordshire Bull Terriers:

  • Canine hip dysplasia: This is a painful joint and skeletal disorder that tends to affect certain large breeds and active dogs.
  • Cataracts: This eye condition generally affects senior dogs and can damage their vision.
  • Gastric torsion: Also known as bloat, this ailment affects deep-chested dogs and can be fatal if not treated quickly.

Lifespan

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years.

Grooming

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier's coat sheds once per year. Shedding is minimal throughout the remainder of the year. When brushed, dirt and debris come out easily. Your dog should be brushed at least once per week to remove dead fur and maintain their cleanliness. Bathe as needed. This breed doesn't tend to have any odor when healthy.

Brush your Staffordshire Bull Terrier's teeth two to three times per week. However, if your dog will tolerate it, daily brushing is recommended. Trim their nails as needed and check their ears weekly for debris or inflammation.

Fun Facts About the Breed

While some people focus on the negatives of this breed, it's important to reflect upon these fun facts:

  • The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a bully breed, but is not the same as a "pit bull."
  • They have a stronger bond with their owner than most other breeds.
  • They're nicknamed the "nanny dog" due to their adoration for children.

Purchasing or Adopting a Staffordshire Bull Terrier

If you're looking for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy, a good place to start is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America. The club has a breeder directory available as well as helpful tips on how to find responsible breeders with quality dogs. The AKC PuppyFinder page also has a breeder search. Expect to pay around $1,500 to $2,500, although higher-end show dogs from champion lines can cost as much as $6,500.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Puppy Running

Rescue Organizations

If you're searching for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and aren't set on a puppy or purebred dog, begin your search using the directories of PetFinder and Save-a-Rescue. You can also take a look at these breed-specific rescue organizations:

  • Fresno Bully Rescue: A nonprofit organization dedicated to locating and rehoming bully breeds in addition to educating the public to alter the general perception of these breeds.
  • New York Bully Crew: A rescue organization locating and rescuing bully breeds from kill shelters and finding their forever homes.
  • Recycle-a-Bull: An educational rescue organization finding forever homes for unwanted bully breeds.

Is this the Breed for You?

If you're searching for a guard dog, this isn't the breed for you. Although they're known for fighting in the ring, their natural demeanor involves fighting only when absolutely necessary. They adore strangers and are more likely to attack with love than fierceness. If you are searching for a loving, overly affectionate, excited dog for yourself and your family, this breed may be for you.

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier Profile: More Than Just Muscles