Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Common nicknamesStafford & Staffie
Foundation stockBlack and Tan Terrier
Old English Bulldog
Bull and Terrier
Weight Male 29–37 lb (13–17 kg)[1]
Female 24–34 lb (11–15 kg)[1]
Height 14–16 in (36–41 cm)[1]
Coat Smooth, short and close[1]
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.[1]
Life span Over 12 years[2]
Classification / standards
FCI Group Terriers, Section Bull type #76 standard
AKC Terrier standard
ANKC Terriers standard
CKC Terriers standard
KC (UK) Terrier standard
NZKC Terrier standard
UKC Terriers standard
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, also known as Staffie, is a breed of short-haired, small to medium sized dog that was developed in Staffordshire, England and northern parts of Birmingham. The breed first originated by crossing the Bulldog and Black and Tan Terrier, and evolved over time with the profusion of other breeds for refinement of purpose which, in mid-19th century Victorian England, was varmint control and dog fighting.[3] Founder of the Bull Terrier, James Hinks of Birmingham, England, had perfected the Staffie, a breed that "emerged as one of the most successful and enduring."[4] After the banning of blood sports and pit fighting in 1835, attitudes began to change and with it, an evolution in responsible breeding throughout the 20th century, continuing into the 21st century. After generations of sound breeding practices, the Staffie became a popular family pet and companion dog.

It wasn't until the 1930s that The Kennel Club (KC) in the UK recognized the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a breed. The Staffie's early association as a fighting dog was the biggest obstacle to overcome, but eventually earned breed recognition as "a wonderful family pet"[1] and was added to the breed registry. Staffies first arrived in North America in the 1880s but it wasn't until 1974 that the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a breed - not to be confused with the American Staffordshire Terrier which is a distinctively different and separate breed - and subject of breed bans that target the Bull and Terrier family of dogs. AKC considers Breed-specific legislation (BSL) "a slippery slope" stating that "any dog can be exploited and trained to be aggressive" and expressed concern because they believe "breed-specific bans ultimately punish responsible dog owners, while doing very little to actually punish irresponsible owners."[5]


The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a stocky, muscular and unusually strong, small to medium sized dog that stands 14 to 16 inches (36 to 41 cm) at the shoulder, the dogs weigh 29 to 37 pounds (13 to 17 kg) and the bitches 24 to 34 pounds (11 to 15 kg). It has a broad chest, strong shoulders, well boned wide set legs, a medium length tail that is carried low and a broad head with a short muzzle; its ears fold over at the tips and are not cropped.[1][2][6][7][8]

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s coat is short, stiff and close, it be can 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.[1][6][7]


The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is considered a loyal, devoted, tenacious and particularly affectionate breed of dog, it is one of the only dog breeds recommended by the Kennel Club as suitable to be around children. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a reputation for pugnaciousness; when challenged by other dogs it is generally known to not back away from a fight.[6][7][9]


The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is generally a healthy and robust dog breed, the Kennel Club mandates that all Staffordshire Bull Terriers used for breeding must have visual eye testing as well as DNA testing for hereditary cataracts and L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria, they also recommend DHA testing be conducted for primary hyperparathyroidism.[6][10]


Early 19th century Bull and Terrier.
First ever Staffordshire Bull Terrier show, Cradley Heath 1935.
Gentleman Jim sbt.jpg

There are two theories about the development of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.[11][12] The first and more widely held is that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, like the Bull Terrier, descends from the Bull and Terrier, a type of dog developed in United Kingdom in the early–19 century for the blood sports of dog fighting and rat baiting.[2][6][11] The crossbred Bull and Terrier was created by crossing the ferocious, thickly muscled Old English Bulldog with the agile, lithe, feisty Black and Tan Terrier.[2][6][11] The aggressive Old English Bulldog, which were bred for bear and bull baiting, was often also pitted against its own kind in organised dog fights, but it was found that lighter, faster dogs were better suited to dog fighting than the heavier Bulldog.[6][11] To produce a lighter, faster more agile dog which retained the courage and tenacity of the Bulldog, outcrosses from local terriers were tried, and ultimately found to be successful.[2][6][11]

The second less widely held theory, is that the Old English Bulldog was not crossed with any terriers, but that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is the direct descendant of the early Bulldog, selectively bred for smaller size and a more athletic build.[11][12] The evidence for this theory is the distinct similarity in appearance of the modern Staffordshire Bull Terrier with Old English Bulldogs in paintings from the period.[11][12]

The Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 outlawed bull and bear baiting as well as organised dog fighting.[6][11][13] The passing of this act effectively stopped all baiting of bulls and bears within the United Kingdom as both required large arenas and so were relatively easy for authorities to police, illegal dog fighting on the other hard remained prevalent for some time, as it was easier to conduct in basements and other concealed locations. It was the Protection of Animals Act 1911 that effectively ended organised dog fights within Britain.[11]

In the mid–19th century, James Hinks started crossing Bull and Terriers with English White Terriers to give a cleaner appearance with better legs and nicer head, later Dalmatian and Collie blood was added, these dogs became the Bull Terrier.[2][12]

Devotees of the original Bull and Terrier type, predominantly located in the Black Country, maintained the original bloodlines and appearance.[2][11][12] The name "Staffordshire Bull Terrier" did not appear until 1930 when it began to appear in advertisements for dogs of the type.[11] Throughout 1932 and 1933 attempts were made to gain Kennel Club recognition by pioneering breeder Joseph Dunn, in early 1935 the very first show was held on the blowing green of the Conservative Club at Cradley Heath, in May the Kennel Club approved the name "Staffordshire Bull Terrier" (the first name requested, "Original Bull Terrier", was rejected by the Kennel Club).[2][6][11] In June 1935 the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club was formed in a meeting at the Old Cross Guns pub in Cradley Heath, that same day the breed standards were approved, further shows were held that year.[11] Other pivotal pioneering breeders involved in the breed’s recognition were Joe Mallen and actor Tom Walls.[11] In the United States a Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club was organized by Steve Stone on Jan. 14, 1967. As many of the dogs were imported from Canada, New Zealand and other parts of the world.[14] In March, 5 1974 the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was recognized as a dog breed by the American Kennel Club.[15]

Modern breed[edit]

Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy.


The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United Kingdom, Australia, France and New Zealand.[9][16][17][18] In 2019, ITV’s Britain's favourite dogs declared the Staffordshire Bull Terrier to be the most popular dog breed in Britain.[19]

Due in part to its popularity, Staffordshire Bull Terriers have experienced negative impacts from over-breeding. In 2013, the breed accounted for more than a third of the dogs passing through shelters such as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. They are often associated with chav culture, and tend to attract the negativity associated with it.[9]

Breed-specific legislation[edit]

A number of federal and municipal governments around the world have placed restrictions on the ownership of Staffordshire Bull Terriers. In the United States they are classified as pit bull types[20] whereas in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, they are not restricted by any breed-specific legislation.[9]

In 2018 PETA lobbied the British Parliament to have the Staffordshire Bull Terrier added to the list of dog breeds covered by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 but the idea was rejected by parliament, the RSPCA, the Kennel Club, Dogs Trust, Blue Cross and the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home all objected to the proposed ban.[21]

"Irish" Staffordshire Bull Terrier[edit]

In the United Kingdom, American Pit Bull Terriers are sometimes advertised as "Irish" Staffordshire Bull Terriers in an attempt to circumvent the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.[22] The appearance of the Irish Staffordshire, which is not recognised by any kennel club or breed registry, is attributed by the RSPCA to be contributing "to a rise in incidents of dog fighting". The editor of Dogs Today magazine described the breed as "complete fiction".[22]

Notable animals[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h The Kennel Club, "Staffordshire Bull Terrier: breed standard",, retrieved 17 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h The Kennel Club, "Staffordshire Bull Terrier: description",, retrieved 17 March 2019.
  3. ^ "James Hinks". Google Books. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Staffordshire Bull Terrier Dog Breed Information". American Kennel Club. 6 November 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  5. ^ Relations, AKC Government (1 February 2018). "Why Breed Bans Affect You – American Kennel Club". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Dr Bruce Fogle, The encyclopedia of the dog, New York: DK Publishing, 2009, ISBN 978-0-7566-6004-8.
  7. ^ a b c Derek Hall, The ultimate guide to dog breeds: a useful means of identifying the dog breeds of the world and how to care for them, Buntingford: Regency House Publishing Ltd., 2016, ISBN 978-0-7858-3441-0.
  8. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, "Staffordshire bull terrier",, retrieved 18 March 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d Lauren Potts, "Staffordshire bull terriers: A question of class?",, published 24 January 2015.
  10. ^ The Kennel Club, "Staffordshire Bull Terrier: health information",, retrieved 19 March 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n James Beaufoy, Staffordshire Bull Terriers: a practical guide for owners and breeders, Ramsbury, Wiltshire: The Crowood Press Ltd., 2016, ISBN 9781785000973.
  12. ^ a b c d e David Hancock, Sporting terriers: their form, their function and their future, Ramsbury, Wiltshire: The Crowood Press Ltd., 2009, ISBN 978-0-7566-6004-8.
  13. ^ Michael Worboys, Julie-Marie Strange & Neil Pemberton, The invention of the modern dog: breed and blood in Victorian Britain, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018, ISBN 9781421426587.
  14. ^ "A Breed That Came Up the Hard Way". 19 September 1971. Retrieved 16 May 2019 – via
  15. ^ Fletcher, Walter R. (18 August 1974). "Staffordshire Bull Terrier to Become A.K.C.'s 121 st Registered Breed Oct. 1". Retrieved 16 May 2019 – via
  16. ^, "Here’s a list of the most popular dog breeds in Australia in 2017",, published 2 February 2017.
  17. ^ Société Centrale Canine, "Le chien de race en 2018 : Bousculades dans le Top 20 du LOF",, published 12 February 2019.
  18. ^ The New Zealand Herald, "The most popular dogs in New Zealand",, published 22 May 2017.
  19. ^ Katie Avis-Riordan, "TV show Britain's Favourite Dogs names our top 100 most beloved dog breeds",, retrieved 17 March 2019.
  20. ^ ASPCA, "Breed-Specific Legislation",, retrieved 19 March 2019.
  21. ^ Stuart Winter, "Staffie ban: Britain’s much loved terrier will NOT be outlawed, says minister",, published 18 July 2018.
  22. ^ a b Daniel Foggo and Adam Lusher, "Trade in 'Irish' pit bulls flouts dog law",, published 2 June 2002. (Archived 3 August 2018).
  23. ^ Sir Percy FitzPatrick, Jock of the Bushveld, London: Longmans & Co., 1907.
  24. ^ Georgia Diebelius, "Dog rescued from streets becomes one of UK’s first police Staffies",, published 19 November 2018.

External links[edit]