The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a small to medium breed that is suitable for families and doesn’t need lots of grooming.
Personality: A fun, loyal pooch that will thrive with good training and socialisation, and if it is accepted as one of the family and included in family activities. The Staffy has a soft spot for kids and makes a wonderful family pet.
Suitablity: Families with children; singles looking for a close companion.
Favourite activities: Spending time with the family will be high on the favourites list for this pooch, as well as regular outings and getting involved in agility, flyball and obedience.
Backyard requirements: The Staffy does not need lots of space at home because of its small size, but without regular exercise it will become destructive.
Watchdog qualities:The Staffy can always manage to scare off a stranger simply with a snarl and a stare, but this is an inherently friendly breed and is not aggressive towards strangers. It should never be bought to serve as a guard dog or be trained for that purpose.
Hereditary diseases: The Staffy can occasionally suffer from epilepsy and cataracts and some pups may be born with soft or cleft palates. All conditions are manageable with medication or surgery.
The smiling Staffy is a wonderful dog that has proven, over the years, to be one of the most loyal, doting canine companions any family could wish for. With a big heart, a big personality and a smile so large you’d think it could swallow you up, this happy-go-lucky breed will repay a good, caring family tenfold in love and affection.
With a history dating back to the bloody dog sport rings of the 1800s, the Staffy’s nature was unfairly tainted when, in those days, it was bred for dog fighting and bear-baiting to provide entertainment for blood-thirsty audiences. However, it was often said that as soon as the dogs left the fighting ring, their aggression would disappear and they would become calm and gentle, even watching over babies in the family. With those cruel days now far behind it, the Staffy has become one of the most popular of all dog breeds and is sought after by families wanting a fun, gentle pet for adults and kids alike.
Mad about kids
The Staffy got its name from Staffordshire in England, where, in the early 1900s, miners and iron workers began breeding the dogs for companionship and showing. The Staffy arrived in Australia in the 1950s and is today one of the most even-tempered breeds available. According to the experts, the Staffy is one of the best dogs to have around kids and seems to have a natural affinity for children. Breeders recommend early training and socialisation, as with all breeds, but warn the Staffy does not respond well to harsh training methods. Gentle, positive reinforcement and lots of patience is the way to go. The Staffy is known to be a highly intelligent dog and excels at obedience, flyball and agility.
Part of the pack
While the idea of owning a Staffy may seem a good one to some, keep in mind the advice of Staffy breeders who emphasise this is an inside dog and needs to be a part of the family rather than left outside to its own devices. The Staffy craves attention and love from its family and can become problematic if left on its own. Breeders say this can lead to destructive behaviour, separation anxiety, barking and depression.
Another reason to keep your Staffy inside is its thin coat, which makes this breed susceptible to heat and cold. Some refer to the Staffy as the ‘wash-and-wear’ dog because it is so easy to look after. Although fairly dense, the coat is short and easy to brush, however it can harbour fleas and ticks in the summer months so always check carefully for those nasty critters. This pooch’s thin coat makes it susceptible to extreme weather conditions; be especially vigilant on hot days and always ensure your Staffy has plenty of shade and cool water.
The Staffy is very popular with families because it is such a convenient dog in so many ways. It is a manageable size, does not come with grooming baggage and is fun for kids and adults alike. The only demand your Staffy will make of you is to get a regular outing each day. If your pooch is well socialised, off-leash parks are great fun for dogs to play with each other and get rid of pent-up energy. If your Staffy is not good around other dogs or people, make sure to give it a good walk on-leash each day. Unless your dog is well trained to stay by your side or come when called, never leave it off-leash near roads.
The Staffy’s growing popularity has brought with it the unwanted consequence of backyard breeding. To ensure you buy a healthy pup with the right temperament, always deal with reputable, registered breeders who have the breed’s best interests at heart.
If you’re unsure about your ability to handle a new pup, Staffies are very adaptable so there is also the option of re-homing an older dog. This means you get an already-trained and well-behaved adult without having to worry about all the work that comes with puppies.
The Staffy’s very wide head may give us the wonderful Staffy smile, but it can cause breathing problems for this pooch at the same time. The Staffy’s wide head has made the breed susceptible to breathing problems, which may be exacerbated in hot weather. Always watch that your pooch does not start showing symptoms of heat stress in summer, and if your Staffy does appear to be struggling to breathe in the heat, wash him down in cool water.
Care of the breed
Daily: A good daily walk is a must to keep your Staffy stimulated. Avoid exercising in the middle of the day in summer. Always ensure there is cool water available and feed an appropriate diet. In winter, make sure your pooch has enough shelter and is kept warm.
Weekly: A brush once a week will keep the coat shiny. Remember to check for ticks through summer. Monthly: Check ears and eyes and if nails need clipping. Bath once a month, if necessary.
Other: Gastrointestinal worming every three months for adults, more frequently for puppies, heartworming and vaccinations.
Read about the breed
- Guide to Owning a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, by Marion Lane. Available through www.amazon.com.au
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier, by Danny Gilmour. Ringpress, 1994
- The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, by John Gordon. Pelham Books, 1984
- www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/breeds/staffords.html great site with helpful information and fun links
- www.sbtcv.org.au/ home of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of Victoria
- www.staffordsoz.org.au/ the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Society of New South Wales. A great reference site with links to club members and information on owning a Stafford.