Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Another ideal staffy.jpg
Nicknames Staffy, Staff, SBT, Stafford, Staffy Bull, Nanny Dog, Staffy Dog [1]
Country of origin England
Weight Male 13 to 17 kg (29 to 37 lb)
Female 11 to 15.4 kg (24 to 34 lb)
Height Male 36 to 41 cm (14 to 16 in)
Coat Smooth, short and close
Colour Red, fawn, white, black or blue, or any one of these colours with white. Any shade of brindle or any shade of brindle with white
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier (informally: Staffie, Stafford, Staffy or Staff) is a medium-sized, short-coated breed of dog.[2] It is an English dog, the fifth most popular breed, and related to the bull terrier. Descended from bull baiting ancestors, it is muscular and loyal.



The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium-sized, stocky, and very muscular dog, with a similar appearance to the much larger American Staffordshire terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier, the latter of which has much longer legs and outweighs the Staffie Bull by approximately 14 kg (30 lbs.) It has a broad wedge shaped head (male considerably more so than female), defined occipital muscles, a relatively short fore-face, dark round eyes and a wide mouth with a clean scissor-like bite (the top incisors slightly overlap the bottom incisors). The ears are small. The cheek muscles are very pronounced. The lips show no looseness. The teeth form a scissors bite. The head tapers down to a strong well-muscled neck and shoulders placed on squarely spaced forelimbs. They are tucked up in their loins and the last 1-2 ribs of the rib-cage are usually visible. The tail resembles an old fashioned pump handle. The hind quarters are well-muscled and are what give the Stafford drive when baiting. They are coloured brindle, black, red, fawn, blue, white, or any blending of these colours with white. White with any other colour broken up over the body is known as pied. Liver-coloured, black and tan dogs can occur but are rare and it is advised not to breed from either as well as those with light eyes. The exception to the light eye rule are Blue staffies; all others should have dark brown eyes even if fawn coat. The coat is smooth and clings tightly to the body giving the dog a streamlined appearance.

The dogs stand 36 to 41 cm (14 to 16 in) at the withers and weigh 13 to 17 kg (29 to 37 lb) for males; females are 11 to 15.4 kg (24 to 34 lb).[3]


Although individual differences in personality exist, common traits exist throughout the Staffords. Due to its breeding, and history, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is known for its character of fearlessness and loyalty.[4] This, coupled with its affection for its friends, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, make it a foremost all-purpose dog.[5]

The breed is naturally muscular and may appear intimidating; however, because of their natural fondness for people, most Staffords are temperamentally ill-suited for guard or attack-dog training. Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppies are very easy to house train.[6]

Press on bad behaviour[edit]

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a stocky and very muscular dog.

Since the British Dangerous Dogs Act made it illegal to own breeds such as the pit bull terrier, the press have reported many cases of attacks by Staffordshire Bull Terriers or dogs described as a "Staffordshire bull terrier cross" on children, adults and family pets.[7][8][9][10][11][12] The RSPCA fears that breeders are renaming pit bull terriers as Staffordshire bull terriers to avoid prosecution.[13]

Several media, council and government reports in New South Wales (NSW) between 2002 and 2010 identified the Staffordshire bull terrier as the leading breed of dog responsible for biting humans (ahead of the Australian Cattle Dog, German Shepherd and Jack Russell Terrier) in that state of Australia.[14][15][16] However, this is likely due to the sheer number of them in the community, with only a small percentage of the breed causing an issue.[17] A 2012 report places the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier 19th when dog attacks are weighted by breed population in NSW.[18]

Affinity with people[edit]

A young white Staffie at home.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are friendly, enthusiastic and usually extremely affectionate[19] towards humans. They express their affection through jumping up, nuzzling, licking[20] and pawing, and even when trained can still be 'fussy' with owners and others. Staffordshires are perhaps not suitable pets for those who prefer more reserved dogs. Staffordshires are notably adaptable in terms of changing home or even owners, and unfortunately this can make them easy prey for dognappers.[21]

RSPCA chief vet Mark Evans said: "Staffies have had a terrible press, but this is not of their own making—in fact they're wonderful dogs. If people think that Staffies have problems, they're looking at the wrong end of the dog lead! When well cared for and properly trained they can make brilliant companions. Our experience suggests that problems occur when bad owners exploit the Staffie's desire to please by training them to show aggression."[22]

Breed-specific legislation[edit]

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is subject to breed-specific legislation in various countries, which ban members of the Bull and Terrier family.[23]


As time went on the modern Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed has become one with a temperament suitable for a pet and companion.

Before the 19th century, bloodsports such as bull baiting, bear baiting and cock fighting were common. Bulls brought to market were set upon by dogs as a way of tenderizing the meat and providing entertainment for the spectators; and dog fights with bears, bulls and other animals were often organised as entertainment for both royalty and commoners.

Early Bull and Terriers were not bred to resemble the companion animals of today, but for the characteristic known as gameness, with the pitting of dogs against bear or bull and exotic animals testing this attribute along with the strength and skill of the dog. Landrace working dogs crossbred with bulldogs provided the ancestral foundation stock for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. This ancestor is traditionally known as a "Bull Terrier", believed to be around 200 years old by the time of the early 21st century, and is rather a class of races than a particular breed.

These bloodsports were officially eliminated in 1835 as Britain began to introduce animal welfare laws. Since dogfights were cheaper to organise and far easier to conceal from the law than bull or bear baits, bloodsport proponents turned to pitting their dogs against each other instead. Dog fighting was used as both a bloodsport (often involving gambling) and a way to continue to test the quality of their stock. For decades afterward, dog fighting clandestinely took place in pockets of Britain and America. Dogs were released into a pit, and the last dog still fighting (or occasionally, the last dog surviving) was recognised as the winner. The quality of pluckiness or "gameness" was still highly prized, and dogs that gave up during a fight were reviled as "curs." Despite being trained to be aggressive towards fellow dogs, they had to be of good temperament with people as the handler would have to bring the dog back to scratch for each round.[citation needed]

As time went on the modern breed has become one with a temperament suitable for a pet and companion. It gained respectability, becoming a dog worthy to show, and was accepted by The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom as the Staffordshire bull terrier in 1935.[5] Examples of the breed currently found in the United States have no local fighting history, being descendants of the later show dogs who migrated over the Atlantic from the United Kingdom.[citation needed]


A puppy of the breed.


The breed attained recognition by the Kennel Club on 25 May 1935. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club was formed in June 1935, one month after the breed was recognised by the Kennel Club. It is unusual for a breed to be recognised without a club in existence first, and even more unusual for there not to have been a breed standard in place. A standard was not drawn up until June 1935 at the Old Cross Guns, a Black Country pub in Cradley Heath in the West Midlands. A group of 30 Stafford enthusiasts gathered there and devised the standard, as well as electing the club's first secretary, Joseph Dunn, a well-known figure connected with the breed. Challenge certificates were awarded to the breed in 1938, and the first champions were Ch. Gentleman Jim (bred by Joseph Dunn) and Ch. Lady Eve (owned by Joseph Dunn), both taking titles in 1939. During the 1980s owners started to breed from old British lines also importing Staffordshire Bull Terriers from Ireland which they believed to be truer to the original of the pre showing days. These dogs are often referred to as Irish Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Media reports often refer to this as a cover name for breeders to sell pitbulls illegally.[24]

The breed was recognised in the U.S. by the American Kennel Club in 1975.[25]


Staffordshire Bull Terriers are known to suffer from Hereditary Cataracts (HC) and L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria (L2HGA)—a metabolic disorder resulting in behavioural changes and dementia-like symptoms—both of which are detectable via DNA tests.[26]

Distichiasis (commonly known as “double eyelash”) and Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous (or PHPV)—a condition whereby the blood supply to the ocular lens fails to regress and fibrovascular tissue forms causing hazy vision—both of which are checked by way of an ocular examination throughout the life of a breeding stud or brood-bitch to minimise the transfer and spread of these conditions.

The breed is known to be at a higher risk from mastocytoma (mast cell tumours) than the general population of dogs.[27]

A UK Kennel Club survey puts the median lifespan at 12.75 years.[28] UK vet clinic data puts the median at 10.7 years.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Staffies campaign launched by Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home". BBC News. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "Breed Information Centre – Staffordshire Bull Terrier". The Kennel Club. Retrieved 13 Nov 2014. 
  3. ^ "Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Standard". The Kennel Club. September 2000. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Nicholas, Anna Katherine (2001). Staffordshire Bull Terriers. TFH Publications. p. 30. ISBN 0-7938-2335-8. 
  5. ^ a b American Kennel Club. "AKC Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed History". Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  6. ^ "Breed Standard – Staffordshire Bull Terrier – Terrier". NZKC. Retrieved 13 Nov 2014. 
  7. ^ "Attack on baby in Wales". BBC News. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "Dog killed in Limavady". BBC News. 18 June 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  9. ^ "16yr old girl attacked in Preston". BBC News. 13 February 2007. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "4yr old girl attacked in Dorset". BBC News. 28 September 2006. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  11. ^ "11yr old boy attacked in Belfast". BBC News. 25 September 2002. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  12. ^ "Girl, 14, mauled to death by 'aggressive and out of control' dogs in Wigan". 26 March 2013. Retrieved 26 Mar 2013. 
  13. ^ Maurice Chittenden (8 February 2009) Sleeping baby Jaden Mack mauled to death by family terriers, The Sunday Times
  14. ^ Block, Sally (25 January 2010). "Terrier terror: list reveals Jack Russell attacks". ABC Online. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  15. ^ Bissett, Kelvin (15 January 2007). "Most dangerous dogs in NSW". Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  16. ^ Dog attack incidents Retrieved 2010-4-25
  18. ^ Council Reports of Dog Attacks in NSW Retrieved 2013-10-25
  19. ^ American Staffordshire Terrier, Meet the Breeds, American Kennel Club (AKC)
  20. ^ "'Soft' Staffies sent to dog home". BBC News. 18 January 2005. 
  21. ^ Lee, Clare (1 January 1998). The Pet Owner's Guide to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Ringpress Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-86054-082-0. 
  22. ^ "K9 Magazine Article". Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  23. ^ Campbell, Dana (July–August 2009). "Pit Bull Bans: The State of Breed–Specific Legislation". GP-Solo (American Bar Association) 26 (5). Retrieved July 30, 2009. 
  24. ^ (Staffordshire Bull Terriers..Tracy Libby..2007..Interpet Publishing)
  25. ^ "American Kennel Club – Staffordshire Bull Terrier". Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  26. ^ "Currently Available DNA Tests". Retrieved 25 December 2008. 
  27. ^ "Percentage of deaths due to cancer suffered by dogs of different breeds compared with the percentage of the breed in the survey population (adapted from Michell, 1999)". Retrieved 25 December 2008. [dead link]
  28. ^ "Individual Breed Results for Purebred Dog Health Survey". 
  29. ^ o’Neill, D. G.; Church, D. B.; McGreevy, P. D.; Thomson, P. C.; Brodbelt, D. C. (2013). "Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England". The Veterinary Journal. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.09.020.  edit

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