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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Other names: Nanny dog, Staffie, Bull terrier du Staffordshire

Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Puppy

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a compact, muscular, medium-sized dog. Used as a fighting dog in the past, he has preserved a fearless temperament that endows him with remarkable courage. Often mistaken for his close cousin, the Amstaff, the Kennel Club Staffie possesses several traits that make the breed unique in its own right and is not subject to the 1999 law addressing so-called ‘dangerous’ dogs.

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Key facts about the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

  • Life expectancy : Between 12 and 14 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Short
  • Price : Between £470 and £965

Physical characteristics of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Adult size

Female dog Between 14 and 16 in
Male dog Between 14 and 16 in

Weight

Female dog Between 24 and 33 lb
Male dog Between 26 and 37 lb

Coat colour

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier can have a red, fawn, white, black or blue coat. All coats can contain white patching. The coat can also be brindle (in any shade), with or without white. Black and tan or brown coats are not admissible by official standards. 

Do note that the blue Staffie is particularly sought after.

Type of coat

The coat is short.

The coat is smooth and close-lying.

Eye colour

The eyes should preferably be a dark colour.

Description

He appears as proportionately built, giving the impression of immense strength given his size. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is muscular, molossian-type dog- active, nimble, brave and tenacious. The head is short, deep, with a wide skull. The masseters are very pronounced; the stop is well-defined. The muzzle is short, and the nose should alway be black. The eyes are round and medium-sized, they are set in a straight manner, casting the gaze directly ahead. The ears can be semi-upright or rose-shaped: they should neither be large nor heavy. The frame is compact, with the upper part following a straight line, a deep and low-reaching chest, and barrel-shaped ribs. The limbs are perfectly straight; the hind feet are slightly crooked. The tail, of medium size, is carried low: large at its base, it tapers down towards the tip without curling over, and is shaped in the same form as a water pump handle.

Temperament

Affectionate

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The Staffie, as he is commonly known, is very gentle and affectionate towards his family. He is extremely devoted to his owners and enjoys spending time with children in particular (which must of course be supervised).

Playful

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Lively and tenacious, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier loves to play but can sometimes have trouble reining his excitement in. Playtime must therefore be supervised and initiated by the owners only, so as not to get overwhelmed by this little fireball’s overflowing energy.

Calm

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Particularly fearless and animate, tranquility is not part of the Staffie’s natural predispositions. In addition to being quite beefy, he is a real live wire that requires much attention and time to unlock his full potential.

Intelligent

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If professionally bred, the Staffie is quite even-tempered by nature and can be rather docile despite his somewhat stubborn side- the latter actually being proof of his intelligence. It is often those dogs that can snake their way out of a command that are the smartest. 

Indeed, the intelligence of a dog should not only be gauged through his propensity to learn, but rather his capacity to reflect, adapt, react and take initiative. In these terms, this small bull-type dog certainly is remarkable.

Hunter

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This dog was by no means originally conceived for hunting, even if the most unscrupulous of owners used this ancient fighting dog for poaching, most notably at a time when dog fights were banned. 

Some hunters do equip themselves with a Staffordshire’s presence during hunting expeditions, but this remains a marginal occurence in the hunting milieu.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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Very open towards humans, the Staffie almost never shies away from contact, even with a stranger. Playful, friendly and excitable, he loves to interact with everyone.

Independent

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The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a very gentle, even-tempered dog. He admires his master unconditionally, and would love nothing more than to spend all of his days in the latter’s arms. In this sense, he is by no means a reserved dog- sooner clingy, in fact.

Behaviour of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Tolerates solitude

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This dog’s devotion to his owner makes him very sensitive to solitude. He does not like being isolated or excluded from his family and the owners’ absences are often a source of a lot of anxiety for him. 

This is why the Staffie pup must start being exposed to his owners’ departures as early as possible, and in a gradual and positive manner (by integrating occupational toys, snacks, bones to gnaw on, etc.).

Easy to train / obedience

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This dog can prove to be obedient if he has been trained in a precocious, firm, positive and coherent manner. It goes without saying that brutality can in no shape or form be part of this process, as a show of violence on the handler’s side will only serve to stimulate this former fighting dog’s aggressivity, and could possibly traumatise him. 

He is very enthusiastic and keen on pleasing his owner, especially when the training process involves games. These sessions help consolidate the Staffie’s discipline on the one hand, while it also serves to strengthen the master-dog bond on the other.

Barking

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The Staffordshire Bull Terrier can indeed be quite ‘yappy’, especially when he feels he is not getting as much attention from his owners as he deserves. You should by no means give into his whims, or he might develop an excessive habit of communicating in this way.

Tendency to run away

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There is no reason why this beefy and dynamic dog would flee the family nest if all of his needs are being met, physical exercise included. Only when not walked enough outside, or not sufficiently physically stimulated, will the Staffie bring himself to running away. 

A Stafford’s escape would be symptomatic of some gross shortcoming in how he is being handled, since it is almost unimaginable for him to leave his family’s side on account of how attached he is to them.

Destructive

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Since the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is not at all comfortable with the idea of solitude, and is incredibly energetic, he is indeed prone to destructive behaviour, especially during his owners’ absences. 

He is not one to stay still or snooze away for hours on end. Indeed, if he hasn’t had sufficient amounts of exercise and/or has not been positively habituated towards spending time alone, this will result in damage. 

Moreover, since this little dog’s jaw is very powerful, the damage can be quite extensive and not just limited to the occasional slipper or cushion. Furniture may also easily become a target.

Greedy / Gluttony

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Quite the glutton, you must be careful what you feed your Staffordshire Bull Terrier, since overfeeding or spoiling the dog with snacks can quickly result in excess weight which is absolutely intolerable for this little, compact and naturally muscular dog.

Guard dog

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He can be a good watchdog but you should never stimulate his aggressive side. If he has no particular inborn penchant towards guarding, you should not try to tease the guardian out of him. 

Do note that pressuring and training your dog into becoming a guard dog is forbidden by law: the dog either readily possesses this trait and shows a natural predisposition for this function, or he doesn’t, and you will have to be ready to accept that.

First dog

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There are no bad dogs: there are only bad masters. This is why the Staffie cannot be recommended to everyone. A lax handling and mediocre socialisation of this dog will only serve to exacerbate his already dented reputation. 

Fighting dogs and guard dogs are often mistakenly considered to be vicious. It would therefore be futile to place the Staffie in irresponsible or overly lenient hands, which would only further taint his bad reputation.

Lifestyle

Staffordshire Bull Terrier in a flat

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This fighting and companion dog has quickly evolved into the perfect family dog. He can adapt to many lifestyles, which makes him capable of living inside, be it in a house or a flat. 

However, the latter environment will only be possible if he is walked several times a day so as to expend his physical, mental and social energies, as well as to stimulate his sense of smell. 

This is the absolutely non-negotiable condition that will render life in the city tolerable, for both the dog and the owner. Otherwise, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with pent up stores of energy which will cause a lot of damage (both to your possessions and ears!). 

The latter will usually be the case for all dogs locked up in their gardens, suffering of a lack of proper walks.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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Very dynamic without necessarily being hyperactive, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier requires daily walks during which he can run in total freedom, as long as the given environment is secure. 

He can also take up the regular practice of several canine sports such as agility or flyball, which will provide him with a framework and means to expend his large stores of energy. This little dog loves to jump, which is why he takes great pleasure in the above-mentioned disciplines.

Travelling / easy to transport

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Travelling with this medium-sized dog remains fairly simple, if you don’t count the occasional wary look people may throw him. This dog which, if Kennel Club-certified, is officially exempt from the law addressing ‘dangerous’ dogs, is somewhat (undeservingly) branded with ‘the scarlet letter’ on account of his physical appearance. 

Staffies that lack papers become subject to the ‘category 1’ law, which imposes heavy restrictions you must take into account, such as limited transport (public transport, public spaces) and the requirement to muzzle and keep him on a leash on all publicly accessible streets- measures that are often unjustified and discriminatory.

Compatibility

Staffordshire Bull Terrier and cats

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It is preferable to have had the Stafford grow up with a cat to stand a chance at peaceful cohabitation. Otherwise, the relationship might be difficult, even if exceptions do of course exist.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier and dogs

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His fighting dog past is so obsolete that a properly socialised pup can evolve into a ‘peer-friendly dog’. Nevertheless, when provoked, he is likely to react… and that will require a swift intervention, since his grasp has remained incredibly powerful and entails terrible consequences. 

Moreover, the cohabitation of two dogs of the same sex remains an oftentimes risky affair. It is therefore important to choose two dogs whose characters are compatible to ensure a peaceful communication. 

A consistent, diligent and precocious socialisation (as soon as in the dog’s first months) is needed for the Staffie to develop and reinforce his ‘canine code of conduct’.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier and children

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This dog generally gets along very well with children, but beware of his occasionally rough manner, which could inadvertently upset some children. 

Some rules of conduct (valid for all dogs) will have to be implemented and above all else respected by the children for the cohabitation to remain agreable. 
Some examples may include:

  • Do not bother the dog when he is sleeping in his basket
  • Do not tug at the dog’s ears, tail, or climb on top of him
  • Always ask a parent’s permission to play with the dog
  • Learn to read the dog’s warning signs

Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the elderly

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This dynamic dog clearly isn’t compatible with the everyday reality of likely sedentary, older people. Though he does require available owners, the Staffie also needs them to be as active and fit as him.

Price

The price of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier varies depending on its origins, age, and sex. You have to count an average of £1000  for dogs registered at the Kennel Club. 

With regards to the monthly budget required, it amounts to an average of £30 per month- quality nutrition and basic yearly maintenance included.

Grooming

The maintenance of this dog’s very short coat is not complicated in the least, and only requires a weekly brush to stay pristine. These brushes also serve as a way to monitor any potential skin issues, which short and smooth-haired dogs often experience. 

His eyes and ears must be closely monitored and cared for as well, to avoid any risk of infection.

Hair loss

The Nanny dog experiences very moderate hair loss. As is the case of most dogs, he goes through two moulting seasons a year (in the autumn and spring), during which brushes will have to be more frequent than usual so as to eliminate residual dead hairs.

Nutrition of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

A keen eater, it is not difficult to satisfy this former fighting dog, which enjoys quality kibbles just as much as homemade food prepared by his owner. 

During the period of growth, his joints will have to be spared and he will have to receive a nutrient-rich diet, preferably approved and supervised by a vet. 

The nutrition of choice will have to be rich in calcium and proteins, in order to meet his significant energetic requirements. 

A meal a day will suffice, ideally in the evenings, to encourage better digestion. For obvious, health-related reasons, self-service is not an option, and the Staffie will also have to remain fairly still an hour before and after meals to avoid any risk of gastric torsion.

Health of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Life expectancy

Life expectancy is 13 years on average.

Strong / robust

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This little, beefy and compact dog is solid and robust but remains vulnerable on account of his thin coat, which does not make him particularly resilient to bad weather.

Withstand heat

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Like most dogs, the Staffie constitutes no exception to the rule- he is not particularly keen on hot weather. In the summer, and during heat waves especially, walks must be scheduled in the early mornings and late evenings, which will allow this fireball to fully relieve his stores of energy without risking a heat stroke.

Withstand cold

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He is particularly sensitive to the cold on account of his thin coat. It is not advised to leave the dog outside at low temperatures.

Tendency to put on weight

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Make sure to provide this dog with a balanced diet and plenty of exercise, which the Stafford needs to avoid obesity.

Common illnesses

  • Hereditary cataracts 
  • L-2-HGA or L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria (neuro-metabolic disorder)
  • Colour Dilution Alopecia
  • Black hair follicular dysplasia 
  • Deafness
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia

Good to know

With regards to classifications, only the Staffordshire Bull Terriers lacking Kennel Club papers are assigned the Category 1 group, established by the January 1999 law that addresses so-called ‘dangerous’ dog. It is therefore of utmost importance to only resort to professional breeds when considering the adoption of a Staffordshire Bull Terriers, which will be the only ones capable of ensuring a ‘pure blood’ certificate that will render the dog exempt for the above-mentioned, unjust category.

Origins and history

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was born in the 19th century from a cross between the Bulldog and several different Terriers (White Terrier, Manchester Terrier). Developed in Staffordshire, England, the Staffie was originally used in bull fights. Very widespread in the States since the inter-war period, he has since gained some appreciation throughout Europe. The breed was officially recognised in 1935.

Names

Good names for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier: Clark, Gretta, Muffin, Shadow

Find out more dog name ideas here