Staffordshire Bull Terrier
These muscular, former fighting dogs are now recognised as sweet and social family pets and are one of the most common Terriers in the UK.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Profile
Despite its violent past, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has grown to become a much adored family pet across the globe, with particular popularity in its it native home, the UK. There is some debate around the origins of the Staffy, with two versions supported by The Kennel Club, however both stories start in the area of the UK from which the breed gets its name, Stafford, a small town in the Black Country located in the English Midlands.
The first and most popular theory, is that the Stafford Bull Terrier is a descendant of a now extinct breed called the bull and terrier, which itself was developed for by crossing the large and muscular Old English Bulldog with the smaller, more agile yet feisty Black and Tan Terrier. During the 18th century The Old English Bulldog was selectively bred for bull and bear baiting, and often the Bulldogs were matched against each other in dog fights. The large and muscular frame of the Old English Bulldog was seen as too slow and cumbersome by the organisers, and so the dog was crossbred with the lighter, yet fearless, Black and Tan Terrier to create of more dynamic fighting dog for their bloodsports, which were unfortunately very popular in Britain during the 1800’s.
The second Staffordshire Bull Terrier theory poses that the breed was not crossbred with Terriers whatsoever, and is merely the outcome of years of selective breeding with traditional Bulldogs, with breeders selecting smaller dogs with slighter, more athletic builds.
Whatever the specific origin of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, it was James Hinks who developed the breed into the famous dog we know today. Hinks was looking to change the Bull and Terrier dog into a more socially acceptable companion dog with softer features than its predecessors. To do this, he bred the Bull and Terrier with the Collie breed, giving the Stafford Bull Terrier its rather unusual head shape we see today. In 1835, the gruesome practice of blood sports was officially outlawed in the UK, though underground event still occurred in poorer areas of UK cities. The fighting history of the breed led to difficulties in getting the Staffordshire Bull Terrier officially recognised by The Kennel Club, however in 1935 a successful attempt was made to recognise the breed and help introduce stricter controls on breeding which have helped the dogs become one of the most popular companion dogs in the UK.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a medium to small sized dog with a short coat that comes in a variety of colours, most commonly they are seen in red, fawn, white, black or blue (or any of these colours in combination).
Behaviour & Personality
- The notoriety that follows Staffies is undeserved, as when they are given the right training and socialisation, these dogs can be extremely affectionate family dogs
- Courageous and intelligent dogs who are ager to please, and an ideal breed to train for first time dog owners, but be sure they’re well trained from a young age
- Ensure this breed introduced calmly and safely to new members of the household, be that kids or new pets. Proper introductions will prevent any aggressive behaviour, as Staffordshire Bull Terriers can be protective of their family pack
- Staffies have short, close-lying fur which means its extremely easy to maintain their coat and keep it looking healthy and shiny
- Comb their coat at least once a week with horsehair mitt or regular, good quality bristle brush to remove any dead hairs
- Bathe Staffordshire Bull Terriers no more than once every 6-8 weeks to allow the natural oils to moisturise the skin. Too often, and Staffies can get irritated and dry skin that is prone dermatological infections
Exercise and Training
- As is evident from their build, Staffies are athletic dogs needing a minimum of 1 hour of daily rigorous exercise, be that running, playing fetch or long walks.
- This breed is highly intelligent so its a great idea to incorporate games and problem solving activities to remove any boredom they may have. Lack of exercise and mental stimulation in Staffies can lead to destructive behaviour
- Training from a young age is a must to prevent any bad habits or aggressive behaviour. Socialising the Staffordshire Bull Terrier from a young age is key to ensuring remain happy and secure dogs.
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers are generally healthy, athletic dogs that live between 12- 14 years typically when given a diet to suit the breed
- Cataracts is a common hereditary disease for Staffies but this can be screened for with a DNA test
- The breed is also susceptible to a metabolic condition which again can be screened for with the L2HGA DNA test
- As with many athletic breeds, Staffordshire Bull Terriers can have dysplasia issues in their hips and elbows so make sure you get yours form a responsible breeder to avoid these traits