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The Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Before the nineteenth 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 tenderising 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 for the handsome visual specimen of today, rather they were bred for the characteristic known as gameness. The pitting of dogs against bear or bull tested the gameness, strength and skill of the dog. These early "proto-staffords" provided the ancestral foundation stock for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier with the exception of the American Staffordshire Terrier.
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 one against another instead. Dog fighting was used as both a bloodsport (often involving gambling) and as an effort to continue to test the quality of their stock. For decades afterwards, dog fighting clandestinely took place in pockets of working-class Britain and America. Dogs were released in 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". As an important aside, fighting dogs were often handled in the pit during fights, by both their owners and the judge, so were bred to be as trustworthy with humans as they were aggressive towards other dogs.
It is this nefarious history that gives the Staffordshire his celebrated temperament, as in the words of the American Kennel Club: "from the past history of the Staffordshire Terrier, the modern dog draws its character of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity. This, coupled with its affection for its friends, and children in particular, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, makes it a foremost all-purpose dog."
The breed attained UK Kennel Club recognition on 25 May 1935. Much of the groundwork to attain this status can be attributed to Joseph Dunn and Joe Mallan. Dunn and Mallan invited friends to a Staffordshire fanciers meeting at the Cross Guns Hotel, Cradley Heath, South Staffordshire (a hotel owned and managed by Mallan). About fifty breeders met at the hotel and formed the Original Staffordshire Terrier Club. The name was shortly changed to Staffordshire Terrier Club due to the Bull Terrier Club objecting the use of the word 'original'. Staffordshires were imported into the US during this time. Since that time the breed has grown to be one of the most popular breeds of dogs with a large representation at the Crufts Dog Show.
In the US many were imported by pit fighters and used in their breeding programs to produce the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. Many were imported by British nationals who brought their dogs with them or U.S. expatriates who fell in love with the breed in England and brought it home. Eventually through the campaign of many people the Staffordshire was recognised in the U.S. in 1976. He has a loyal following.
Terriers are generally bold, inquisitive and fearless. The Staffie is renowned for its reliability as a family dog, with special emphasis on their reliability with children. The breed thrives in the family environment, being a suitably compact size for close family living. They can be protective of their family, especially those with small children, and it is for this reason that they make an excellent family guardian and watch dog.
As a result of their dog fighting heritage, one of the problems noticed in this breed is a tendency of aggression towards other dogs. It must be understood that even a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with "good" temperament may fight when challenged by another dog and should therefore be adequately controlled in public places. Staffordshire Bull Terrier owners have a certain obligation to society (as could be said of all dog owners), and should always ensure that their dogs are correctly and adequately housed and not allowed to roam freely in public and in the vicinity of unfamiliar dogs. It is always good advice to avoid allowing your Staffordshire to make eye to eye contact with strange dogs, as this is normally seen as a challenge.
It is important that any breeder can satisfy you that the puppy you are interested in, and its parents, have a stable temperament.
Avoiding aggression can also be aided by proper socialisation and training of the puppy. Puppies should be regularly exposed to the full gamut of situations that they are likely to encounter as older dogs. Regular, supervised contact with other dogs, children and any other family pet, along with early obedience training will help ensure that the dog grows into a well-socialised animal.
Obedience training is imperative to ensure that the owner feels they will have control over their dog in any situation.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a stocky, muscular dog with great strength and athletic ability.
They have a broad head, defined occipital muscles, a relatively short foreface, half prick ears, dark round eyes and a wide mouth with a clean scissor-like bite. The ears are small and either rose or half-prick. The cheek muscles are usually pronounced. Their lips show no looseness, and they rarely drool.
The head tapers down to a strong well muscled neck and shoulders placed on squarely spaced forelimbs. Their rib cage is well sprung and is topped by a level top line. They are tucked up in their loins and the last rib of their cage should be visible. Their tail is carried like an old fashioned pump handle and should be neither too long nor too short. Their hind quarters are well muscled and are the drive in the Staffordshire's gait, being well let down in the hock.
They may be coloured black, brindle, red, blue, white, or any blending of these colours with white. White with any colour over an eye is known as piebald or pied. Skewbald is white with red patches. Liver-coloured and black and tan dogs sometimes occur but these are considered an unacceptable colour for the show ring or any reputable breeding program. The coat is smooth and short.
Desirable height at withers 36-41 cms (14 to 16 ins), these heights being related to the weights. Weight: dogs: 13-17 kgs (28-38 lbs); bitches 11-15.4 kgs. The jaw type has about 220 to 255 pounds of force (0.98 to 1.13 kN).
As with many breeds with show determined characteristics, the 'Staffordshire' can suffer from several health problems including cataracts and breathing problems.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium-sized, short-coated, old-time breed of dog, originally bred for killing rodents. In the early part of the twentieth century they gained respectability and were accepted into the The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It is an English breed of dog and should not be confused with the Bull Terrier.

 

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Staffordshire Bull Breed Standard Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Standard