Staffordshire bull terrier, aka Staffie
Staffies are medium, muscular dogs with smooth, short coats. They are 14 to 16 inches tall for males and 13 to 15 inches for females. They weigh 24 to 38 pounds for males and 24 to 34 pounds for females. They live an average of 10 to 16 years, and common colors include red, fawn, white, black, blue and brindle.
Staffies were developed to bait bulls in the Elizabethan era and weighed closer to 100 pounds. The smaller dog that was later bred was said to be a desire from miners to have a smaller dog, whereas other reasons included a smaller, faster, stronger dog for fighting. These courageous and intelligent dogs were bred in 19th-century Staffordshire, England by crossing a Bulldog with a terrier. The bull terrier was recognized by the Kennel Club in England, but the Staffordshire was not recognized, because of its fighting reputation. After dog fighting was outlawed and the breed’s temperament evolved, it was accepted in 1935. The dogs allegedly made their way to the United States in the late 1800s and were accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1975.
The temperament has evolved to one of a companion pet, show dog and competitor in obedience and agility trials. Some terriers are also trained to work in rescue.
Staffies are obedient, intelligent, highly affectionate and fond of people, especially children. They are stable, reliable all-purpose dogs not known to be good swimmers. They require firm but gentle training and need to be socialized. Every member of the family must act as a pack leader to keep the dog from becoming destructive or stubborn.
This video shows the bond one Staffie has with his family through the view of the children:
Staffies need daily exercise. They do well in apartments or homes without a yard as long as they are given the opportunity to exercise every day. They should be kept on a leash whenever outside, because of their fearlessness to explore and their fast speed.
Staffies have short, smooth coats that do not require much more than a quick brushing once a week and bathing when necessary. Regular grooming, as with any dog, is also required: Check and clean the teeth and ears, clip the nails as needed, and pay special attention to the eyes.
Common Health Problems
There are a few health concerns tied to the Staffie. Eye problems, hip dysplasia, tumors and gas problems are common. Other health concerns would be those common for any breed of dog. If you are obtaining a Staffie from a breeder, ask for the certification of the eye test (one should have been done).
Certain types of terriers have been included in breed-specific legislation (BSL). Some countries and U.S. states have banned these pit bulls from being owned, bred or sold. Some people believe the American Pit Bull Terrier is best representative of the original bullbaiting dogs in England, but they are also commonly associated by the media with dangerous and deadly attacks. Staffordshire bull terriers also get lumped into this category, so you should consider legislation in your area if you intend to own one of these dogs.
Some breeds are also banned from airlines, so travel options may be limited. Airlines change their policies periodically, as demonstrated by United Airlines’ recent retraction of their BSL policy, so check the restrictions before you book your travel. Keep in mind that even though your airline may allow the terrier breed or mixed breeds, you might be required to use a specific type of crate.
This video compilation offers a view into the obstacles that face these dogs and their owners, and includes some seriously cute pictures:
Is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier the Right Dog for You?
Staffies are muscular, solid yet affectionate dogs that can live in apartments as long as they are provided daily exercise. They love children and are highly intelligent. They need firm and consistent training.
For families, it is important that every member of the household be involved in the training and be seen as a pack leader to the dog. This breed requires little grooming but may be disallowed or illegal in some areas. Check your local laws for regulations.
If you are able to spend the time training and exercising your dog, you’ll be rewarded with affection and loyalty.
Adopt, Don’t Buy
If you consider getting a Staffie for your next pet, check adoption resources first. Even purebred animals can end up in shelters. Try Pets Adviser’s adoption center. Also, read our two-part pit bull primer.
- ASPCA: Breed-specific legislation
- American Humane Association: Breed-specific legislation
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America: Health issues
Photo: Nico Nelson/Flickr