Where does the Staffordshire Bull Terrier come from?
The history of this amazing bully breed traces back into a time when bullbaiting was hugely popular in England. Right up to 1835 (when blood sports were finally banned), people bet huge amounts of money on the outcomes of matches between dogs and Bulls. The breed of choice for these contests was the now extinct Old English Bulldog – a ferocious fighter, and the direct ancestor of today’s Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
In the early nineteenth century, breeders aimed to create a fighting dog that would be as ferocious in battle as the bulldog, but smaller and more agile. Whilst fierce in the fighting pit, this new dog was supposed to be gentle and friendly with humans. To achieve this, the traditional Bulldog was crossed with various terrier breeds. In the years to come, these breeders shaped their new dog into the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of today, who was first recognised as an autonomous breed in England in 1835.
In their overall appearance, Staffies are compact and stocky dogs, muscle-packed from muzzle to tail. They have broad heads with prominent cheekbones, rosebud ears and whip-like tails. Their beautiful short, tight coats can come in brindle, black, white, red, fawn, or blue. White markings are permissible.
Adult male Staffies can stand at between 36 and 41 cm high at the withers - and weigh between 13 and 17 kg, with females being slightly smaller. (That is between 14 and 16 inches and weighing between 29 and 37 pounds).
What is their temperament like?
Staffies are immensely very sweet and mild-mannered dogs who absolutely adore their people. Which is why they should be allowed a place in the house, so that they can participate in their owner’s lives. Forcing a Staffy to live outside in solitude will cause them emotional suffering.
Friendly towards all humans, strangers included, this breed is not prone to cause accidents – unlike its cousin, the American Pitbull Terrier. On the flipside, this makes the affectionate Staffy notoriously unreliable as guard dog. However, many people will associate its typical bully breed looks with the widely feared Pitbull – and make a wide berth around your house, rather than breaking into it. Staffordshire Bull Terriers also tend to get along well with other dogs, especially when living in the same household.
And whilst they are absolutely devoted to their loved ones in general, it is their immense love for children that makes these dogs so special. This loveable feature has earned them the nickname “nanny dog”.
How intelligent and trainable are Staffordshire Bull Terriers?
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are very intelligent and can learn house manners and new commands very quickly – if they put their minds to it, that is: Staffies tend to be stubborn and independent, unless motivated by something that they deem worth their while. For example treats, play or praise.
These strong-willed dogs need quite a bit of patience in their training, so best not to expect German Shepherd-levels of obedience and eagerness to please: Staffies are confident and happy to do their own thing – they do not feel the need to please you by performing lengthy obedience drills. But do not despair: Patience and persistence in training your Staffy will strengthen your relationship with this fun loving dog. After all, the goal is not to have your Staffy compete in the next sports tournament – but to enjoy their presence as a well-behaved canine companion.
Are Staffies healthy dogs?
Even though this sturdy Bully breed is fairly healthy in general, there are a few genetic problems that can arise, such as elbow- and hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and juvenile cataracts. Also, Staffies have a very sensitive skin, and are prone to allergies.
To maximize the chances of your Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy being as healthy as possible, you want to choose a breeder who tests their breeding stock for at least the most common conditions the Staffy is prone to. Also, feeding your dog a high-quality, grain-free diet can go a long way to keeping them as healthy as possible.
The average life span of the Staffy is between 12 and 14 years.
How much exercise does the Staffordshire Bull Terrier need?
This fun loving breed does not require lots of exercise, but they certainly do love to go out for walks and playtimes several times a day. However, 1 to 2 hours of exercise a day are quite sufficient for them. In general, Staffies are calm and laid-back housedogs who can be seen hanging out on the couch for hours at a time.
A good way to keep your Staffy busy is to provide it with a choice of different toys as well as safe chews, such as hide bones or dried pig ears. These forms of entertainment especially come in handy if you have to leave your dog for a few hours. You could try out different smart toys which are specifically designed to keep canines occupied – for example treat-dispensing balls, Kongs, or puzzle toys.
What are their grooming requirements?
In terms of brushing, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s very short, tight coat does not require much care: Brushing them once a week is more than enough. The best tools for this are rubber grooming mitts and soft natural bristle brushes. Of course, as for every dog breed, spring and autumn are shedding season. In these times, you might want to brush your dog at least once per day to keep its short hairs from getting onto your floors, on your furniture, and on your clothes. A monthly bath will keep your Staffy’s coat and skin healthy and clean – but as their skin is so sensitive, make sure to use an extra mild dog shampoo.