Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Breed: Staffordshire Bull Terrier Temperament: loving and boisterous Cost: from $500 Lifespan: average 12 years Maintenance: low Recommended for: families with older children (from age seven upwards)
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
$500+ for a puppy.
Around $12/week to feed.
A single, short-coated breed. Sheds little hair and fortnightly bathing is generally adequate.
A popular choice as a family pet, staffies are strong, enthusiastic dogs and may bump over smaller children. Ideally suited around children over eight.
Occasionally aggressive towards other dogs.
They are a little bundle of energy and enjoy a daily walk (20 minutes is ideal). Once they reach maturity, most are also happy lounge lizards.
Its popularity has made the breed readily available.
Need obedience training early as they can be quite head strong. Easily house-trained.
One of the most popular dogs owned.
Males can be aggressive towards other males. Have be known to bite humans, though far less responsible for attacks than is reported.
HEALTH & LIFESPAN:
Average 12 years. Skin allergies, sunburn and less occasionally hip problems can occur.
Not known barkers. Do however ‘talk’ and can growl.
Staffords are suited to families with children aged over seven years. Good watchdogs.
Fourth most popular breed.
Personality plus. Always happy to see you.
The public’s perceptions of the breed.
Staffords are the smallest of the bull terrier breeds. Stafford is a breed that has many supporters and perhaps just as many detractors. Descendant from a line of terriers bred to tussle with bulls prior to the beast’s slaughter (hence bull terrier) this plucky breed, though no longer used for such tough endeavours, still displays those fearless and determined qualities.
Often held responsible for many of the unpleasant attacks reported on humans and other animals, the Stafford can polarise public opinion. When spoken of, people will generally fall into one of two camps, those strongly for the breed and those strongly against. Stafford owners will talk of how, when exercising their dog in the park, other dog owners will scream at them to put their dog back on the leash, or of people literally crossing the road so as to avoid walking past their pooch.
But visit that family at home and you’re likely to be met by a boisterous though very affectionate human-orientated dog who is happy to see you, loves nothing more than playing with the kids and will roll over if given the slightest opportunity for a tummy rub.
In cases of reported attacks, there is often little distinction made between the bull terrier breeds, such as the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Pit-Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier and the Stafford. Perhaps because of its comparative high numbers and poor recognition by the public, the Stafford wears much of the blame for reported attacks that may have been perpetrated by any member of the bull terrier breeds. Burke’s Backyard does not support the keeping of the American Staffordshire Terrier. They are far too dangerous to have as pets.
Terrier breeds are generally bold and inquisitive (to the point of often ignoring their owner’s calls) and fearless though friendly towards humans, often getting on better with humans than other animals. There is no doubt that Staffords are the safest and friendliest of the bull terrier breeds. However, there are still those individuals who can be aggressive towards other animals and sometimes to people. It is important that any breeder can satisfy you that the puppy you are interested in, and its parents, have a stable temperament. Males in particular can be very dominant. Bitches are less domineering and both desexed males and females can be more placid. Puppies should be regularly exposed to the full gamut of situations that they are likely to encounter as older dogs. Regular, supervised contact with other dogs, children and any other family pet, along with early obedience training will help ensure that the dog grows into a well socialised animal. Obedience training is imperative to ensure that the owner feels they will have control over their dog in any situation. A Stafford well versed in the commands ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ is an animal that knows its place and can be confidently managed.
Staffords are regularly the fourth most popular breed in Australia, behind German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, according to the numbers of puppies bred each year. A proportion of any dog breed will show aggression towards humans and other animals and unfortunately those more popular breeds can attract the notice of less than scrupulous individuals who are out to make a quick buck. They will have little regard for producing puppies with good temperament and health and can unfortunately increase the proportion of unstable dogs within a breed. The German Shepherd Dog League of N.S.W recognised this very problem in its breed and has set up a tough accreditation program for its breeders. There isn’t such a program amongst Stafford owners, however there are very good breeders who are mindful of producing dogs with stable temperaments.
Therefore it is up to prospective owners to make sure they do their research first. Seek out reputable breeders who come highly recommended by the breed associations, but also speak with others outside of these interest groups, such as owners and veterinarians (vets who have to deal with breeder’s dogs get to know pretty quickly what their temperaments are like). Ask to see the puppy’s parents and ask plenty of questions. Remember that a champion dog or bitch in the show ring doesn’t necessarily mean it has a temperament suited to family life.
Stafford could well be described as a ‘keg on legs’. Well muscled hindquarters are balanced with large shoulders, a solid, broad head and a short, strong muzzle. Coat colours include brindle, red, fawn, white, black or blue, the colour may be solid or appear with white markings. Staffords stand 35-40cm tall, about the same height as a Cocker Spaniel. Compared with other bull terrier types, Staffords are smaller and more compact, although large males can still weigh up to 20kg. The single coat is smooth and close lying to the skin.
There are two particular health concerns. Many bitches require a caesarean section when giving birth due to their conformation. With hips narrower than their shoulders, bitches have trouble giving birth as puppies become lodged in the birth canal. Breeders report that up to 50 per cent of births are by caesarean section. Skin allergies are also observed in the breed, leading to hot spots and inflamed patches. Although not common, there are increased concerns that hip dysplasia, causing pain in the hind legs, and eye problems are becoming more apparent in the breed. Many of these conditions can be screened by the breeders. Ask the breeder if they run eye and hip checks on the breeding stock. If breeders were to select bitches with wider measurements between the hip-bones and thus encourage a greater percentage of natural births, they would be doing the breed a great service. This practice is not common.
Staffords are very low maintenance. They shed little hair and require only minimal grooming. Bathing isn’t an absolute necessity every week, it just depends on how grimy the dog may get. Outdoor dogs may need a wash every week or two. A regular wipe over the coat with a damp cloth may be all that’s required for the indoors dog. Those dogs prone to skin allergies may require more diligent grooming with an appropriate medicated wash.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are suited to families, although are best for families with children at least eight years of age. The dog’s enthusiastic nature and strong build can make it a little too much to handle around small kids. Owners must be prepared to commence educating their dog from the minute it gets home. This will help ensure the animal is well accustomed to life in the community.
We filmed this segment in Sydney with Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breeder Annabel Wolf. Annabel can be contacted on (02) 4575 3802.
VIC Staffordshire Bull Terrier Society of NSW
Phone:(02) 4578 2036
Secretary: Mrs Susan Scotttolrach
Email: @bigpond.com Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of Victoria
Secretary: Mrs Linda Szirer
Phone: (03) 5422 1161 WA SA
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of WA
Secretary: Julie Neill
Phone: (08) 9246 3608
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of SA Inc
Secretary: Jayne Griffin
Phone: (08) 8532 5197
Phone: (08) 8523 4497