Staffordshire Bull Terrier - From Fast Fighting Dog to Family Companion

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The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium purebred with talents in various areas such as weight pulling, agility and obedience as well as being successful in several dog sports. While at one time it might have been bred to be a fighting dog that had speed and agility today it is more of family pet, known for being great with children. However it does face problems today with how it is perceived, often being seen as a pit bull type which causes fears of aggression.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier at A Glance
Name Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Other names English Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Nicknames Staffy, Staff, SBT, Stafford, Staffy Bull
Origin UK
Average size Medium
Average weight 30 to 40 pounds
Average height 17 to 19 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Short, smooth
Hypoallergenic No
Color White, black, red and blue
Popularity Somewhat popular – ranked 79th by the AKC
Intelligence Average to above average
Tolerance to heat Low – not good in warm or hot weather, take care it does not over heat
Tolerance to cold Good – can go out in cold weather just not very cold or extreme
Shedding Low to average – will be some hair around the home
Drooling Average – this is a breed that does have some drool and slobber
Obesity Fairly high – watch its food and exercise
Grooming/brushing Coat is easy to groom but needs brushing at least twice a week
Barking Rare – may bark now and then but not for no reason but does grunt and make a yodeling like noise!
Exercise needs Fairly active – will need a fair amount of exercise to be healthy
Trainability Moderate easy – some experience can help
Friendliness Very good – this is a social breed
Good first dog Low – really needs experienced owners
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Low – socialization is essential as is supervision
Good with other pets Very good with socialization
Good with strangers Excellent with socialization – very approachable
Good apartment dog Good – can adapt to apartment living with plenty of outings but better somewhere with more space and a yard
Handles alone time well Moderate – prefers not to be left alone for long periods
Health issues Fairly healthy breed - some issues can include joint dysplasia, eye problems, allergies and patellar luxation
Medical expenses $460 a year for pet insurance and basic health care only
Food expenses $140 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $215 a year for basic training, license, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $815 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,500
Rescue organizations Several including the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America
Biting Statistics None reported
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The Staffordshire Bull Terrier's Beginnings

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is from England and was bred in the 1800s. It is thought it was developed by crossing the Manchester Terrier and the Bulldog which eventually evolved into the Stafford. It is related to the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. It was developed to be a fighting dog at first in bull baiting, but one that was smaller and therefore faster. Blood sports like bull fighting, cock fighting and bear baiting were popular spectator sports in those days.

But it was also bred to be friendly and gentle when interacting with people. Its name comes from the place it was developed, Staffordshire. The bull baiting sport it was bred for though was banned eventually and the demand for the breed waned by quite a lot apart from when being used in illegal dog fights.

New Lease on Life

In the 1930s interest grew once more in the breed especially in the US. It was show more and in 1935 it was recognized by the English Kennel Club and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club was formed. What is unusual about this breed though was that it receieved recognition before the club and breed standard were even formed.

In the US the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of American was started in 1974. It was recognized by the AKC in 1975. As they began to breed their version a little larger some began to refer to them as American Staffordshire Bull Terriers. It is a family pet though is not suitable for any families, it is still a dominant dog today and needs experienced owners. It is currently ranked 79th most popular registered dog by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Stafford is a medium sized dog weighing 30 to 40 pounds and standing 17 to 19 inches tall. It has a strong, stocky and muscular body and a smooth and short coat that is close to the skin and comes in common colors of white, blue, red and black. It is similar in appearance to American Staffordshire Terrier and Pit Bull Terriers. It has straight front legs and muscled hind quarters. It dewclaws are removed in countries that still allow this to happen. Its tail is set low and is thick then thins out to the tip, it is often compared to an old pump handle.

It has a short and wide head that is wedge shaped and more pronounced in males than females. It has strong jaws, a black nose, eyes that are round and dark and small ears that can be half pricked or rose. Its neck is also string looking and muscular.

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The Inner Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Temperament

The Staffy when well bred and raised is a brave, smart, loyal and affectionate dog. It has a lot of energy and loves to play and be active. It will want to be a part of the family and all its activities and needs companionship, this is not a dog that can be left alone for long periods, or left outside in the yard. It is alert and can be a good watchdog who will bark to let you know of any intruders, and it can also act in your defense. However being so bold and strong willed and with its dog aggression issues this is not a dog for new owners, it needs someone with experience and someone who is firm and able to stay in control.

Sometimes prospective owners are drawn to it because it looks tough and they are perhaps thinking of having some kind of guard dog. In fact while it may have a fighting history, today this is a sensitive dog, loving, joyful and devoted to its family. Staffys should not growl or snarl, they should not be shy or aggressive towards people. This is a sign of having a dog from a poorly bred line and one that has not been properly socialized or trained.

This is a tenacious, stubborn dog who loves to be around its people. It is not a big barker but you will still hear it around as it does snort, grunt, snuffle and yodel – yes that does read yodel! It throws itself wholeheartedly into everything it does and usually has a great sense of humor. It often will show its affection and enthusiasm for you with lots of licking, nuzzling , jumping and pawing. Some of that can be trained to control it, but it is a naturally expressive dog.

Living with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier

What will training look like?

If you have experience with stubborn dogs then training will be moderately easy, it is very capable of learning but it can be impulsive, easily distracted and very strong willed. Any trainer of this breed needs to be even more strong willed, consistent and in control, stick to the rules, and ready to deal with those times when the Staffy tests them. Use positive techniques like rewards, treats, encouragement and praise. Keep the training practices regular, interesting and short if you need to. You can always reach out for support and use a professional trainer or school. The benefit of using a training school is you are also getting in socialization time but since this is not a breed that is great around other dogs this is something to think carefully about. Early socialization is essential, introduce it to other pets, animals, people, locations and situations so that it knows how to properly react to them.

House training should be easy with a Stafford but some it is a little harder, you should consider using crate training as part of that. Crates are a safe place dogs can nap in when you are not home, but it is not somewhere it should be left all day. As part of its training you should train it to walk on a leash as it can be pretty strong and will try to pull you. It needs to be on a leash to prevent it chasing after things and to keep in controlled if another dog is seen.

How active is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier?

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The Staff is a fairly active dog so it will need a fair amount of exercise as well as opportunities for mental stimulation. While it can adapt to apartment living if it gets what it needs, it does best in a larger home with a yard. As well as two to three half hour at least brisk long walks, it should have some play time an a chance to run off leash. Take care in dog parks, make sure it is well socialized, trained and that you are close by to supervise as it does not always deal well with other dogs.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier needs lots of interaction from you, it does not like being left to get on with things. When bored it can really act out. Make sure the yard is well fenced and secure and be prepared that it likes to dig so it might be a good idea to let it have an area where it is allowed to do so. Watch it in weather that is warm or cold, it does not deal with either well. Also do not let it unsupervised near water as it cannot swim. Also be warned that its jaws can get through toys and destroy them very quickly so have plenty of replacements to rotate through.

Caring for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Grooming needs

The Stafford is low to average in terms of shedding amount so some clean up will be needed. It is an easy coat to brush though so do so a couple of times a week and that will help keep it clean and healthy and help with loose hair. It can have seasonal heavier blow outs so be prepared for clumps of hair during those times. Only bathe it when it needs it as it can dry out its skin, thankfully it is not a dog that has a strong odor so it will not need more frequent cleaning unless it gets itself especially dirty. If you want to get the coat gleaming you can give it a rub down with a chamois or piece of towel.

Other needs will include clipping its nails when they get too long, if you are not familiar with the nerves and vessels in their nails have a groomer do this for you. You also need to brush its teeth two to three times a week and check its ears once a week for infection and give them a wipe clean. Do not insert anything into its ears.

Feeding Time

This breed tends to need 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of a good quality dry dog food each day, split into at least two meals a day. Make sure it does not eat or drink a large amount right after a lot of exercise. How much it needs exactly will depend on its size, metabolism, activity, size and health. It can be prone to gaining weight so make sure you monitor what it eats and how much, and that it gets enough exercise each day.

How is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier with children and other animals?

A socialized and well bred SBT is very good with children. It loves to play with them, is energetic with them and as well as making great best friends getting into mischief together, it is also very affectionate towards them, patient and gentle. It should not be left unsupervised with young children because its play can lead to them getting knocked over but not because it is a danger with them. Make sure you teach children how to touch and play with dogs safely and in a nice way.

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With other pets and animals in the home when it has been raised and socialized it is friendly and accepting of them. With strange animals it might spot when out in the yard or going for a walk it is likely to give chase and bark at them. It is capable of hurting or even killing them. With other dogs though things are not so smooth. If socialized and kept in check by a firm owner it can live with other dogs if it has been raised with them. But with strange dogs it can be aggressive, especially with dogs of the same sex. It will challenge them and do the dominance thing. This is why it is not always a good idea to let it off its leash in areas where there will be other strange dogs.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

It has a life span of 12 to 14 years and is generally a health dog but can suffer from certain issues which include joint dysplasia, eye problems, patellar luxation, skin allergies, demodectic mange, L-2 Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria, gas problems and mastocytoma.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of dog attacks against people over the last 34 years in Canada and the US, the Staffy is not mentioned specifically at all. There are reports in the UK though and this breed is known to attack other dogs when it is not bred and raised correctly. It is very important that this dog is socialized and trained. It is also essential you are sure this is a breed you have the experience to raise. Can you be firm, in control, exercise it and give it the attention it needs? Any dog can snap or become aggressive given certain situations or conditions but being bred from a good line and in a suitable home and raised well can lower the risks.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Staffy puppy will cost about $1500, this is one of the more expensive dog breeds to get. This would be a pet quality dog from a trustworthy breeder. A top breeder of show quality dogs will ask for a lot more money, well into the several thousands. At rescues or shelters there is a chance you can get one for something less around $50 to $400, but it is more likely to be an adult rather than a puppy. Avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills, ads online or in papers and pet stores. They do not breed with care and tend to treat their animals very poorly.

Initial costs once you have a puppy will be for medical tests and concerns as well as some items it will need. A crate, collar and leash, food bowls, carrier and such will be needed and that will be about $200. Medical needs like blood tests, deworming, an exam, shots, micro chipping and spaying or neutering will cost about $300 a year.

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Medical yearly costs will include pet insurance and basic care only like shots, check ups and flea prevention and start at $460. Food which covers a good quality dry dog food and treats come to $140 a year or more. Other needs like toys, license, basic training and other miscellaneous costs come to about $215 a year. This gives a starting yearly total of $815.

Names

Looking for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

  • Male and Female Staffordshire Bull Terrier Names
  • The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a muscular, powerful and confident dog with a lot of willfulness and boldness. It needs owners who can handle it both in terms of ensuring it gets the exercise, stimulation, socialization and training it needs and in terms of how stubborn it can be. Because it has the look of a small Pit Bull Terrier you may run into problems with public perception and there can be issues around insurance and landlords.

    This dog can be aggressive if not handled properly and can be very destructive if you are not able to give it a lot of attention, not just in terms of training and activity but in terms of physical affection too. It is not a guard dog and it should not be left alone in the yard all the time. It could be an amazing family dog and very affectionate addition to the home as long as you are realistic about your own experience.

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