Not to be confused with its colonial cousin, the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is slightly shorter but just as heavily muscles and solid. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Stafford for short, is fun-loving and playful and though this breed will not look for a fight, it will not back down if challenged. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was originally bred for dog fighting and ratting in the pits but found itself somewhat unemployed when the cruel practices were banned in England. Though always loyal and protective of its people, early breeding programs helped add more gentle qualities to this tenacious breed. Today, this loveable breed is an excellent companion for the family with high energy and a personality ready to have fun.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier arose from the Old English Bulldog and the ancestor of the Manchester Terrier for blood sporting in 19th century England. Urban areas lacked the space to display bull and bear baiting; thus, larger Bull breeds were crossed with smaller Terrier breeds to produce a smaller, faster pit fighting dog for ratting and dog fighting in the pits. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, like its name indicates, was developed in Staffordshire for this purpose and shares a close cousinly connection with the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who is slightly larger. Eventually, the cruel blood sport of pit fighting was banned in England and while some breeders continued clandestine dog fighting operations, fanciers worked to breed more gentle traits into the tenacious Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The selective breeding program was successful in developing a breed standard that maintained the tenacious, high energy and loyalty of the breed yet introduced the traits of being docile and gentle. So sweet and so protective of its people, this breed is nicknamed “The Nanny Dog.” However gentle, for both the safety of the children and the dog, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier should never double as a babysitter. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier left its native land for the Americas where it too became a popular pit fighter. The desire for a large dog in the Americas resulted in the American Staffie, which is considered a separate breed by the American Kennel Club. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in 1974, and this breed continues to show well and is a wonderful family companion.
Muscular and powerful are the first noticeable characteristics of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. For all its bulk and short stature, this breed is highly agile and full of energy. The head of a Stafford is short and broad with very pronounced cheek muscles and a short foreface. The nose is black and eyes are dark, round, and medium-sized. The Stafford’s ears are medium-sized and stand half erect. The lips on a Stafford are tight and cover a bite where the outer side of the lower incisors touches the inner side of the upper incisors. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s forelegs are straight and set far apart with feet that turn out a little. The feet are of medium-size and thickly padded. The hind legs are heavily muscled with well-bent stifles and set parallel to each other. The rear feet match the front and convey strength and agility. The Staffordshire’s tail is straight, undocked, and set low. The coat on a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is smooth, short, and the skin is close-fitting. While a range of colors is seen, dual colors always use white as the secondary color, even with brindle.
Caring for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s coat is low maintenance. The short, glossy coat just needs a quick once a week brushing. Brushing your Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s coat will also help keep him clean of dirt and debris though his coat prevents most dirt from adhering to it. The smooth, short coat also means the hair will not absorb unpleasant odors and this dog is a clean, odor-free breed. When brushing the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, you should check and clean his ears of debris and wax buildup to prevent ear infections. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s nails grow fast so toenail clipping should be done regularly and regular teeth cleaning will help reduce the amount of bacteria and potential for gum and tooth disease. The Staffordshire is a very active dog that needs time to run around and play. However, be careful with rough play, especially when they are younger as they do have an increased risk of tibial fractures. A yard or dog park to run around in will keep this breed from bouncing off your furniture inside, though the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is very docile while indoors. If given enough time to exercise, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier will do well in an apartment and with urban living. To a Stafford, it doesn’t matter where he lives but that he’s with his people. As a people dog, this breed must have a lot of attention and doesn’t do well left alone or outside. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier will tolerate cold slightly better than it will heat and may overheat from exhaustive exercising on hot summer days. Be sure to always provide fresh, clean water for your Stafford. When it comes to feeding your Staffordshire Bull Terrier, this high energy dog needs 1.5 to 2.25 cups of food divided into two meals daily. The amount of food you feed your Stafford will depend on his activity level, age, and metabolism. Keep an eye on your Stafford’s nutritional needs and weight to prevent over or under feeding him.