Staffordshire Bull Terriers

The Staffordshire Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier as it is probably more commonly known, is an English breed, originally bred for fighting.  One look at the short, squat body, thick neck and massive jaws and it’s difficult to imagine them being useful for anything else.

They are very popular pets.  Those not familiar with them are nearly always apprehensive around Staffys, mainly due to their appearance.  Quite often whilst walking our large male dog, people, especially if walking their own dog, will cross the street to avoid us.  If only they knew.

Staffys are the ideal pet dog.  They are medium sized and short haired.  They are extremely friendly animals and love children.  They can be a little boisterous if not taught from an early age, so care needs to be taken with very young children.

 Staffys rarely bark but, at times, when excited, they will sometimes throw their heads back and emit a noise that sounds halfway between a bark and a howl.  It’s quite amusing; almost like they are talking to you.

Although fearsome in appearance they do not make very good guard dogs.  As an example, a family member owned a Staffy and asked me if I could feed and walk him whilst his family was away on holiday.  That first night, I was late arriving at their house.  I let myself into their backyard and was immediately concerned that their dog had not come racing over to me for a belly rub like he normally did.  I moved around the corner of the house, worried now that he had had escaped somehow (although this didn’t seem right either; if he ever did escape the confines of the rear yard, he would never go any further than the front driveway).

Staffordshire Bull TerrierCredit: Steven Pike

I moved towards the back door.  As I neared the dog’s kennel, I saw him peeking at me from behind it.  I could just see his face peering at me.  It was then that he realised that it was a friend not foe and he came scuttling towards me and immediately flipped over onto his back, expecting me to rub his belly.  He was then his usual happy self.

My dog is not quite so shy, although he too is a terrible guard dog.  I will give another example, as I think it shows the true nature of these dogs.

I arrived home in the early afternoon one day and, as I lifted the roller door, I saw a tennis ball roll onto the back lawn.  It had come from the rear of the house.  Immediately following the ball was the dog, tail wagging and all excited.  He saw me and did one of those howl/bark things.  The he shot back around to the back of the house. 

I knew something was wrong then as he would normally head straight over to me and whine and beg until I patted him.  I ran around to the rear of the house and saw two men jumping the back fence into the neighbour’s yard.  I saw them run into the neighbour’s front yard and run off.  My house had been broken into.  Instead of latching onto their legs, our dog had decided it was more fun to play ball with them.  Some guard dog.

I later found out that the two would be thieves had jumped the side fence into my rear yard.  It is quite likely the dog would not have heard them until they had walked around the side of the house.  (He’s a bit hard of hearing).   I would have loved to have seen their faces when they first saw our dog staring at them.  I can just imagine him running at them – before stopping dead and rolling over.  He was probably annoying them in the end, that’s why they tried to distract him with the tennis ball.

Staffys are easy to care for.  Their short hair means low maintenance.  They like the water, so bathing is not a problem, although I guess this will depend on the individual dog. 

They love going for walks and will soon let you know if they have had enough, usually by slowing right down or stopping altogether and looking up at you.  Staffys hate the hot weather and prefer to lie around in the shade.  They feel the cold too and adapt well to the doggy coat things you can buy.

On the negative side, they are prone to putting on weight, so you have to watch their diet a bit.  Not being fussy eaters, they will scoff anything offered.  Some dogs are susceptible to a skin disease a little like eczema.  It’s not serious, but can be an irritation to them.

Staffys also have a strange habit of lying in the sun on their backs.  They have such broad backs, that it makes the perfect platform.  The only trouble is they have very little hair underneath so sunburn might be an issue. 

They also tend to make funny little snorting and snuffling sounds at times.

If you have a Staffy from a young age, then introduce it to others dogs and it will socialise quite well.  If, however, your dog is used to being alone with people, then it may not welcome the company of another dog.

Our dog was with us for about 4 years and we ended up adopting a little fluffy white thing, about a third of the size or our Staffy.  They bonded quite well but it became obvious that the little dog was wearing the pants in the relationship.  I went outside one morning to find the little fella lording it up in the Staffys large kennel whilst the pathetic Staffy was jammed into a kennel far too small to be comfortable.  I didn’t say they were very clever.

If you are looking for an extremely loyal, easy to care for and affectionate dog, then you could do a lot worse than a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.  Don’t let their appearance (which does grow on you) put you off.  Another plus is you will have the local park or exercise area to yourself when those people not in the know see you coming with the big, meat headed Staffy with spiked collar on the end of his lead.  Let them think he’s mean and nasty with a bad temper.  Their not likely to jump your fence and break into your house then.