The Staffordshire Bull Terrier: a courageous, loving family companion


The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a fun-loving family friend that may be short in stature, but is large in personality and energy! These pups are full of rugged stubbornness and will require an active family to keep up with him. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier may also be referred to as a Staffy, Stafford, or Staffy Dog. If you think that your family is up for the challenge, then the Staffordshire Bull Terrier might just be the perfect furry family member for you!

Highlights:

This is a very social dog breed! They require a significant amount of time with their family members and would thrive if they were involved in most daily activities. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier should always be on a leash when walking in public. His friendliness towards his family members is quickly turned into aggression when around threatening strangers or territorial dogs. Socialization during puppyhood may reduce this aggression.

These pooches would be able to adapt to any environment. However, they would thrive in cooler temperatures and may require close observation during warm months.

Their energy is not always for fun and games. They will do their best to protect their family members from imminent threats or danger.

History:

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is closely related to various other dog breeds such as the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Bull Terrier. Their common ancestor is the first variety of Bulldog. These pooches were originally developed in 19th century, England. They were used as fighting dogs back then and were taught to use their natural aggressive side in the fight. The breed became popular in England. However, their popularity grew in 1835 when the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club began. These pups may have been fighting dogs in England, but once they were brought to America, they were given the lap dog lifestyle. They were admired for their loyalty, and they were treated with respect as a result. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America was formed in 1974, and they were welcomed into the American Kennel Club in 1975. They remain one of the most sought-after dog breeds in America, but they are now known as loving family companions rather than fighting dogs.

Appearance and Vital Stats:

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are one of the various types of dog breeds that are a member of the Terrier Dog Breed Group. Staffords are one of the smaller terrier dog breeds. They typically stand a little more than a foot tall when they are fully grown. Staffords will also weigh in between 25 pounds and 37 pounds depending on whether they are a healthy male or female. If Staffords are adequately cared for, then they will live up to 15 years old.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier will always have a smooth, short fur coat. Their hair tends to lay flat against their skin which means they may need a doggie coat if they live in a cold climate. These pups have a short muzzle which will likely cause them to have difficulty breathing in extreme heat. Their ears are widely set on a square-shaped head (typical for terrier breeds). A Stafford’s fur coat can be white, black, blue (gray), fawn, and red. The fur can also have a pattern such as brindle. Their tails are long, thin, and generally are the same color as the body.

Staffordshire bull terriers

Personality:

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not a shy dog breed! They are very enthusiastic and loving with their humans. They are known for being protective over their family members, but may not be protective of their turf. On the other hand, they are a very alert breed and will likely have no problem expressing his concern when a stranger approaches. Staffords are commonly described as stubborn, courageous, and tough little dogs. If a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is properly socialized and trained during puppyhood, then they will likely be playful and approachable as they age. Without early socialization or training, Staffords will probably be more cautious of others and will be less likely to welcome newcomers.

Apartment Living:

Staffordshire Bull Terriers that have been adequately trained and socialized may be equipped for apartment living. Their small to medium size is capable of living in a smaller space, such as an apartment or loft. However, Staffies are full of energy! This will require them to have daily access to the outdoors. Therefore, it is recommended that prospective Staffordshire Bull Terrier owners live somewhere with a backyard or dog park for their pup to play, exercise, and relieve themselves in. If a Stafford has not been adequately trained or if he is prone to barking and other loud noises then an apartment complex may be out of the question. You should also check with your landlord before bringing home a Staffy Dog. Some apartment buildings and landlords will not permit certain breeds to live on the premises.

Care:

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are known for many things, including their bad habit of digging! His digging habit can quickly get him into trouble if he were to create an escape out of the safety of his yard. To prevent this mishap from occurring, owners should reinforce their fences with concrete or chicken wire hidden under the surface of the ground. Owners of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier should not install an invisible shock fence. They may ignore the shock and leave the yard anyway, or, other threats may come into the yard, and the pup will be in danger then, as well.

If you live in a warm climate, then you should be aware that Staffords should not be left outside in the heat for hours on end. They are unable to breathe regularly in hot or humid weather as a result of their muzzle structure. Provide shade for him to relax under if you do not have ample tree shade. Any pools should be fenced to protect your pooch from falling in as Staffords cannot swim well.

Staffy

Puppyhood training and socialization are key factors to having a well-rounded, well-mannered Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Training should begin with the breeders, but the owners should continue it from the moment they bring their Stafford puppy home. Staffords require an owner that can be consistent and patient during training sessions. They are a stubborn breed that will attempt to run the household. The best training method for this dog breed is positive reinforcement. Staffords will not respond to punishment. Therefore, owners should reward good behavior, as well as properly executed tricks or commands. Housetraining is also crucial to start immediately. Your Stafford pup should be taught when it is time to go in his crate (best when you leave the house and at night) as well as going outside when he needs to relieve himself. His crate should be introduced as a positive space for him to go where he will be safe and secure when you are not around. Using the crate as a form of punishment is not recommended as it will encourage anxiety and depression when he is put in the crate for other reasons (when you leave or go to bed).

 

Feeding:

The most important aspect of feeding your Staffy is choosing a high-quality dog kibble. It will list a decent protein source as the first few ingredients. For example, salmon, turkey, chicken, beef, or lamb are all quality protein sources for Staffords. Staffordshire Bull Terriers also require a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. The right dog kibble for your Stafford will contain quality sources of these items and more! When choosing a dog kibble, you will need to choose one that was formulated for your dog’s particular age, size, and metabolism (activity level). For example, if you bring home an active Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy then you should choose a puppy kibble.

Owners should also be aware of how much kibble is being provided to their pooch. Staffordshire Bull Terriers should typically be given 1 cup to 1.5 cups of food twice each day. Exercise should never take place after feeding time.

Grooming:

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are relatively low-maintenance in the grooming department. Their coats will shed on an annual basis as the weather changes. Owners should consider brushing their Staffordshire Bull Terrier about once a week to help maintain their dead or loose hair. Staffords should occasionally be bathed to reduce dirt and odor. Their teeth should be brushed weekly. Two or three times a week (minimum) is highly recommended to lessen the amount of tartar and bacteria buildup. A Stafford’s nails should be kept trim. They may need to be cut once or twice a month depending on how fast they grow. The rule of thumb is if you can hear them on the floor then they are too long. Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed will keep their feet safe and healthy as well as keep your dog happy! A Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s ears should regularly be examined. If there is an odor or debris in the ear, then they should be cleaned with a fresh cotton ball and a veterinary recommended cleaner. If the ear is showing signs of infection, redness, or inflammation, then you should have them checked by a licensed veterinarian.

Exercise:

These pups require a lot of exercises each and every day. Proving adequate time for exercise and play will significantly reduce a Stafford’s need to destroy things, and it should also minimize the risk of separation anxiety. While some Staffords love the water and may appreciate a small pool to cool off in during warm months of the year, most Staffords cannot swim well. However, just because swimming is out of the question does not mean that other activities should be skipped. These pups would greatly benefit from walks (on leash), a game of fetch, Frisbee, jogging, or hiking. It is critical that Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not couch potatoes as they can be prone to unwanted weight gain that can lead to various health problems. Keeping your Stafford pooch active and his cardiovascular system in check will greatly benefit him and help him live a long, happy life.

Staffordshire bull terrier exercising

Health:

Staffordshire Bull Terriers tend to be healthy pups. However, they can also be prone to certain health problems that are unfortunate results of genetics, poor breeding tactics, or neglectful ownership. The most common health conditions that your pup may experience include:

  • Hip Dysplasia (genetic)
    Staffordshire Bull Terriers with canine hip dysplasia should not be used for breeding purposes as this is a genetic condition. Hip Dysplasia in dogs is a health problem in which the dog’s hip and thigh bones do not connect properly. Staffords with hip dysplasia will often experience limping, pain, arthritis, and may be hesitant to exercise thus causing unwanted weight gain.
  • Elbow Joint Dysplasia (genetic)
    Staffordshire Bull Terriers with Elbow/joint Dysplasia should not be used for breeding purposes as this is another genetic condition. This is a condition where the dog’s joints do not grow properly causing them to line up incorrectly, and therefore, they become lax. Staffords with this condition will often suffer from pain, arthritis, limping and may be hesitant to exercise thus causing unwanted weight gain.
  • Patellar Luxation
    This health problem is sometimes also referred to as a slip knee. This is a condition in which the patella, the femur, and the tibia do not form correctly causing them not to line up. Staffords with this condition should not be used for breeding purposes as it is believed to be a hereditary condition. However, this has yet to be proven.
  • Juvenile Cataracts (genetic)
    Staffordshire Bull Terriers may also suffer from this condition which is hereditary. Juvenile Cataracts are a condition in which the dog’s eye lens develops a cloudy film during their early years. Typically, Staffords with this condition will lose their sight completely by the age of three or four. These pups should not be used for breeding purposes as they can pass the disease on to their offspring.
  • L-2 Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria
    Staffordshire Bull Terriers can sometimes lack the enzyme required to break down L-2 Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria (L-2 HA). This causes L-2 HA to collect in the cerebrospinal fluid as well as the dog’s plasma. Staffords with this condition will then lack coordination, and begin to suffer from seizures and muscle tremors.
  • Skin Allergies
    Some Staffords may suffer from skin allergies. They are not hereditary nor do the dogs have to be born with the allergy. Many Staffords will not develop a skin allergy until later in life. These skin allergies can cause the pup to itch excessively, possibly cause sores to appear, and they may begin to lose their hair.
  • Demodectic Mange
    Staffordshire Bull Terriers that suffer from weak immune systems will likely also suffer from demodectic mange. Some cases result in red, scaly skin patches, or complete loss of fur on the dog’s head, legs, and neck. Most cases will appear during puppyhood and clear up on its own.

Similar breeds:

The American Bulldog

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a past descendant of the Bulldog which is why they share various physical features (head shape, shortened muzzle, etc.) However, the American Bulldog is much larger both in height and weight.

The American Bulldog

The Bull Terrier

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is similar in height and weight to the Bull Terrier. However, the Bull Terrier typically has a longer muzzle and pointed ears.

The Bull Terrier

The Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff is much larger than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. They are not very similar in appearance, but they are very similar in temperaments, loyalty, and are easy to groom.

The Bullmastiff

The Old English Bulldog

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Old English Bulldog are very similar in their temperament, grooming needs, and both have difficulty breathing in hot or humid weather. Both breeds are fantastic for families with children. However, the Old English Bulldog is a bulky dog in comparison to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is more slender.

The Old English Bulldog


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