Staffordshire Bull Terrier – what you need to know
In this post I wanted to talk about one of the oldest bull terrier breeds – Staffordshire Bull Terrier. There are definite similarities between it and the traditional English bull terrier, but there are also some interesting differences.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Personality
Staffordshire Bull Terrier and other pets
Walking your Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Grooming your Staffie
Staffordshire Bull Terrier – potential health issues
Staffordshire Bull Terrier is an old breed that came to be from people breeding bulldogs to Manchester terriers, and was originally used for bull fighting, bear fighting, during hunts and other entertainment activities involving animal violence. Just like with English bull terrier, the history of Staffordshire Bull Terrier is full of blood.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers were widely used in dog fighting, where the breed had obvious advantages due to its sheer physical strength, thick, sturdy body and strong jaws. Despite its strength and fighting zest, the breed had to non-aggressive towards people. A dog handler had to be able to pull two fighting dogs apart in the heat of the battle without risking losing a limb. Because of that, only the most patient and people-friendly dogs were bred, eventually sculpting the wonderful temperament of these dogs to what it is now.
Today, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a dog with level, calm temperament, friendly and non-aggressive towards people. In fact, lack of aggression towards people is one of the mandatory qualities for a Staffie according to the AKC standard. These dogs are not easily frightened, are rarely nervous and are generally full of confidence. In the hands of a devoted trainer, Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s greatest personality traits can truly shine. If you are an amateur dog lover, you can still raise a wonderful, well behaved dog, provided you take the time to invest in your dog.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a powerful dog, both in its physique and in the strength of its character. Even in the experienced hands of a dog trainer, Staffordshire Bull Terrier can sometimes be very stubborn. This is why it’s so important to take obedience training and socialization of your Staffie very seriously.
With any dog, socialization is of great importance. It is even more so with Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Your dog needs to meet, from the very early age, various types of people (men, women, children), so that nothing will phase it as the dog grows older. Of course, the same goes for other dogs (and cats too!) Your Staffie needs to be exposed to different kinds of situations, noises, smells, animals, people, so that he or she knows how to behave in such situations.
A pup that hasn’t been socialized from young age, may grow up to be a nervous, flighty and unpredictable dog. With a dog like Staffie, these traits of character may be not safe. Besides, it’s just so much nicer to own a dog that can accompany you through life in a calmly and confidently.
To socialize your pup, take them for long, entertaining walks from the time they are very young. Let your Staffie meet other dogs, people, sights and scenes, and teach them that the world around them is mostly safe and friendly. The more people and animals your puppy is exposed to, the better it will be adapted to the future life in our busy and exciting world.
Staffies are excellent family pets. They are very attached to their owners, to the point where it’s hard for them to be away from their family. Having said that, Staffies don’t tend to have high degrees of separation anxiety (they likely won’t destroy half of your house just because you spent a few hours away from them.) But they do prefer to be near their owners at all times if they can.
In this, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are different from other terriers that can be a bit more independent. Staffies are very people-oriented. They prefer to always keep their humans in their field of vision and strive to please their owners. A dog like this would be unhappy with an owner that doesn’t have time (or desire) to interact with their dog and spend active, quality time together on a daily basis.
Staffies are generally friendly enough to get along very well with the other pets that may be living in your home. This is particularly true if the Staffie has known those animals since puppyhood. But even if you are adopting a young adult or an adult Staffie, it is very possible that they will make friends with your cat or your other dog. Of course, in this case you will need to supervise your animals for a while to make sure they get along well and that there is no hostility.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium-sized dog that is normally quite OK with living in an average-sized apartment (although of course a house with a backyard is always preferred!) Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not good outside dogs! This is an indoor dog only. They are usually very attached to their owners and need to live with their family, not on a chain in the backyard. This dog should be a part of your family, or you shouldn’t adopt this breed.
A Staffie that’s kept outside will grow up to be an unhappy, frustrated, distrustful, bored and potentially dangerous dog. If you want a dog that will live outside on a chain, guard your property and terrify your neighbour, a Staffie is not a good choice! In fact, you shouldn’t get any dog at all if that’s how you imagine dog ownership.
A Staffordshire Bull Terrier normally has a medium amount of energy. They are not busy by any means and not highly energetic like some working breeds. They don’t need lots and lots to do to occupy them. A Staffie will love spending their time snuggling with you on the sofa for hours.
However, like any dog, they do need a fair amount of exercise on a daily basis to maintain their physical, and equally important, their mental health. If you don’t have at least an hour a day to take your Staffie for a walk, preferably to a dog park where he or she can run wild for a bit, you might want to look for another breed, or maybe get a cat.
If you are an active person who enjoys hiking, biking and being outside in general, and are willing to share that time with your pup, a Staffie may be a great fit for you.
One thing to remember about Staffies is they do have short coats and need clothing for the winter time if you live somewhere cold. No one likes to be cold, and neither does your Staffie, even if they aer excited about being outside.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier isn’t a breed that will require too much grooming. As long as you comb their hair once a week and give them a bath from time to time, your pup will be just fine. You will also need to trim your Staffie’s nails (unless you like the constant clicking on the laminate! Seriously, their nails do need to be trimmed) and also wash their ears and make sure their eyes are clean. This breed is lower maintenance than a lot of other breeds due to their short coat and general cleanliness. (Although, like any other dog, they like to roll in the mud once in a while.)
Although Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a healthy breed in general, some Staffies may have health conditions, both acquired and inherited. It is important to keep a close eye on your pup’s health from the early age, so that you can notice if there is something wrong as soon as possible. Regular vet checkups are important as well, regardless of any symptoms you may or may not notice. A good vet will help you schedule your pup’s vaccinations and further visits and make sure they are developing well according to their age.
Patellar Luxation, or dislocation of a kneecap, is a condition that’s common for all bull terrier types, including Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This condition may happen in very young puppies, but generally you can notice the first signs in puppies around 4 months old. Depending on the severity of the condition and pain levels your Staffie may display more or less symptoms. Staffies whose patellar luxation progresses far enough may also develop secondary osteoarthritis. This is believed to be the main reason for limpness that is common for Staffies with patellar luxation. In most cases, patellar luxation will sooner or later require surgery.
Another common condition in Staffordshire Bull Terriers is Hip Dysplasia. Dogs’ hip joints bare the most stress compared to other joints, and in some breeds, hip joints are particularly prone to dislocation and degeneration. Osteoarthritis is a common secondary condition that develops according to the degree of severity of hip dysplasia.
As with patellar luxation, one of the tell-tale signs of hip dysplasia is characteristic limpness, in which the dog limps significantly for the first few steps, and then the joint returns to its normal position which reduces the limpness. As time goes by and the condition progresses, the dog’s motility range inadvertently narrows and some types of movement become too painful or impossible.
Hip dysplasia is usually diagnosed when the dog matures. For Staffies, it can be around one year of age. An X-ray can provide a definitive diagnosis.
Cataracts in Staffordshire Bull Terriers can be genetic and are one of the leading causes of blindness. The first signs of cataracts can develop as early as one year of age and further progress into the dog’s older age. There is currently no therapy for cataracts, but surgical treatments are available. Some cataracts progress fast while others develop slowly and don’t tend to cause too much inconvenience for the dog, especially at early stages.
L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria (L-2HGA)
L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria (L-2HGA) is a genetic neurometabolic condition related to increased levels of L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Acid in the dog’s plasma, urine and spinal fluid. The condition is usually diagnosed at 6 -12 months of age. Some of the symptoms include limping walk, tremors, epilepsy-type seizures and changes in the dog’s mood and behavior. Currently, there is no therapy or cure for this condition.
The health of your puppy should be one of your main concerns and the earlier you start thinking about that – the better. The main thing you can do to protect yourself from future heartache is to choose a breeder wisely, if you are adopting a puppy from a breeder. Conscientious breeders do their absolute best to test the health of the parents when they are planing a litter. This way they can ensure no grave genetic conditions are passed to the babies.
Not everyone out there is a conscientious breeder. Some value profits more than they value the ethics of breeding. Genetic testing and thorough planning of the litters is expensive. For some people, profits mean more than ethics, health and happiness of both people and animals. A sick puppy is a tragedy for the said animal and also for their future owners. It can bring years of heartache to the family.
You can save yourself from that and also avoid supporting bad breeders by doing your research and choosing a breeder that does all the necessary testing and health checks before they offer their puppies to the world.