The REAL Staffie

The UK Kennel Club describes

the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as:

      "Bold, fearless and totally reliable."

            "Highly intelligent and affectionate,
             especially with children..."

  Did you know?...

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is the ONLY breed described by the Kennel Club as "totally reliablein its Breed Standard.

There are 190 breeds recognised by the UK Kennel Club yet only two have a specific mention of the breed's suitability with children...
....One of these is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.


Why we LOVE Staffies!

"Bold, fearless and Totally reliable" is how the UK Kennel club Breed Standard describes this wonderful little dog. 

It is the Stafford's unusual history which makes him such an incredibly special creature (see below).

Despite originally being bred as a fighting dog, the Stafford evolved to become an excellent companion dog - extremely sociable, fun-loving and happy. Affectionate, loving and tactile in the extreme, a Stafford is never more comfortable than when he is on your lap or having a cuddle. Do not expect your Stafford to make a good guard dog - most staffies would open the door to a burglar and offer a free doggie facial if they could!  

Staffords simply adore people! They dote on their families and will want to be wherever you are, doing whatever you are doing.  They are NOT suitable for living outside, being kept in isolation or being left alone for hours and hours.  This is a dog which thrives on human company - and will really suffer without it.

The Stafford is particularly good around children, earning himself the nickname 'The Nanny Dog'. Being so tolerant and accepting of youngsters, Staffies will often form a special bond with the littler members of your family. Though Staffords are generally very fond of youngsters, it should be remembered that no dog (of any breed) should ever be left unsupervised with a child. Children are children and animals are animals: YOU must be the responsible one and ensure that both are behaving safely and appropriately at all times.

Active, intelligent and extremely sensitive little dogs, Staffies need both mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy. Clever and inquisitive, they need regular opportunities to engage with the world around them - with all its sights and smells. While Staffords thrive on strenuous exercise, they do not need hours and hours of walking.  Short sessions of high intensity exercise (ball chasing, jogging etc) will keep them happy and in good shape.

While Staffords often mellow into steady, calm and dependable dogs by adulthood (3+), any excuse to get excited and many elderly Staffords will turn into giddy puppies again - this little dog was born to have FUN

A considerable number of staffies will retain their puppy-like characters well into their pensionable years!

Often bouncy and boisterous in their youth, Staffies are essentially big dogs in very compact little bodies- think "mini-bulldozers" and you're on the right lines. Staffords (like all terriers) can have strong characters, often accompanied by an impulsive, fun-loving, hedonistic streak.  A firm but fair, calm and consistent leader, who means what they say, is a must for this breed. Like any terrier, they will gladly take charge if you allow it!   

Staffies are generally obedient dogs, who are desperate to please, though you do sometimes have to ask two or three times before they hear you!  Training classes are highly recommended - to teach self control, to help you bond and to reinforce your position as leader.  Expect your Stafford to be top of any training class - this dog is a real teacher's pet and will do anything to impress you! Note that Staffords do not respond well to harsh punishments - they are highly sensitive souls and may shut down if training is aversive.  Utterly devoted to their humans, Staffords will work hard to please, especially if food is involved!  They simply HATE to be ignored and crave attention so lavish praise, treats and attention for the good, and use theatrical silent treatment for the bad. 

Staffords are often described as 'velcro' dogs: most will insist on following you everywhere - even to the loo. Get used to a wet nose bumping into the backs of your calves as you move about the house.  Physical contact is a must for most Staffies, so you may find your one sitting quietly on your foot if your lap is unavailable.  

Staffords are prone to suffering from separation anxiety if they are not used to being on their own, so care should be taken to build confidence in being left and to create positive associations, whilst gradually increasing time spent apart from owners.

The History of Staffords

It is likely that the modern day Stafford originated from the 'Bull and Terrier' of the 19th Century, a dog which emerged from the crossing of the old Bulldog and a terrier.

With immense strength, agility and skill, "pit dogs" possessed a high threshold for pain and a bold, determined character making them perfectly suited to baiting bears, and later, other dogs.

At the same time however, this was a dog with an unrivalled soundness and reliability of temperament towards his master - however cruelly he was treated...

Look closely at pictures of early pit fights, and you will see handlers standing right beside the action wearing no protection whatsoever - so confident were they of their dogs' safety around humans that they handled injured dogs with bare arms and tended their wounds without fear. It is said that some badly injured dogs were reportedly transported home in a pram along with the baby!

Willing to fight to the death to just please his master, it was the Stafford's unique temperament - full of love and trust for its humans - which ensured the survival and popularity of the breed long after dog fighting was outlawed.

Historically, the Stafford has been the companion and constant friend of the working classes - particularly in the Black Country area - and it was the working man, which ensured the breed's survival into the 21st century. With his terrier roots, the Stafford was a keen ratter and was often put to work hunting badgers or rats during the day, earning his keep for his master while providing entertainment for others. Away from the pit, the Stafford proved himself to be a docile yet highly intelligent companion. At night, after the pit fights, the Stafford would return home with his master, to sleep in the bed of his children in the one-room home they shared. It is here that the Stafford's natural affinity with children is thought to have originated.

Now the 3rd most popular breed of dog in the UK, the Stafford's public image has suffered greatly of late at the hands of irresponsible owners and a hostile press, but his temperament remains as sound and reliable now as it has ever been.

Staffies and other Animals...

Staffies can and do exist peacefully with other animals in the home.  Many Staffords live in multi-dog households and get on brilliantly with the other animals in the house. Some even live with cats or chickens, although due to their terrier roots, not all Staffords are safe around small furries.

If Staffords are socialised carefully and regularly from a young age and given lots of positive experiences with other dogs, the overwhelming majority will grow up to be friendly, well socialised adults who are good with other dogs.

It must always be remembered however that the Stafford's origins predispose some- though by no means all - to be reactive towards other dogs (to varying degrees).  This is particularly true of those that have been poorly socialised or attacked by others during puppyhood.

Generally speaking, the breed's history and its bold, fearless nature, means the Stafford is no pushover with other dogs. Though the breed is not quick to pick a fight, Staffies will stand their ground if challenged.  For this reason, it is sometimes recommended that Staffords are separated from other dogs when unsupervised.  A responsible Stafford owner will also exercise caution when allowing off lead exercise in public areas, especially if there is potential for conflict with other dogs in the vicinity.

Whilst many Staffords enjoy the company of other dogs, there will always be some who just do not like other dogs and will need to be the only dog in the home.

It is important to note that reactivity towards other dogs is totally unrelated to aggression towards humans - there is no evidence to suggest that one leads to the other. 

Want to learn more about the real staffordshire bull terrier?

Recommended Reading: 

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier: An Owner's Guide:  
Alison Smith
Staffordshire Bull Terrier: Best of Breed:
Alec Waters