Why do members love the Staffordshire Bull Terrier?

Let’s make it quite clear - the Stafford is not for everyone, even though today everyone seems to think that it is the breed for them. So let’s have a look a the down-side;

  • Can be very aggressive towards other dogs.

  • Can be very demanding upon their family for attention.

  • They have been known to take over a household, including selecting their own sleeping arrangements - read ‘your bed is their bed!’

  • The Stafford is a people dog. They hate being alone and may fret for their family.

  • Have been known to destroy gardens!!

Of the above the first point is a real concern. The Stafford is not the dog for the kids to play ball with in the park. Instead, (like all dogs) they should always should be kept on lead when in a public place. The problem with the Stafford is that he loves playing games. If in a game of rough and tumble with an dog and things do get a bit rough, the Stafford may decide to play serious. Then you have a REAL problem.

If you are keen gardener. Fine, you can train your Stafford - but be warned, your garden will come off second best until your training has achieved its goal!

These a some of the considerations that you must take seriously before you venture into the world of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The upside we are talking about, in my extremely biased opinion, is the foremost dog! The Stafford is a robust, trusting, loyal, intelligent dog ideally suited to the family, single person, town, apartment, farm, etc, etc. The dog is happy just being with you. He gives you everything that a dog can give.

This wonderful, noble and intelligent breed should always be referred to by its name, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or Stafford. Never, never Staffy!

What is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier

There are many authorities over the years to write a history of this sensational breed. I do not for one moment suggest that I am one of those authorities, instead, what you are about to read on the breed is sourced from others. Hopefully, there will be enough information to satisfy a curiosity, if not some more internet surfing, or see if you can track down some good book. Suggested authors are a John F Gordon, Vic Pounds and Mike Homan book.

Origins of the breed
(Source: SBT Lines & Families, etc HN Bielby BSc, 1953)

Dog-fighting, as distinct from bull-baiting, began in the early 17th century when royal patronage was withdrawn from baiting, and for the ensuring period of 100 years the only dogs used for fighting were the bulldogs of the period which were gradually decreased in size from 90 pounds and over to around 50 pounds.

About the year 1800, an attempt was made to improve the fighting dog by increasing his dash and agility, without in any way sacrificing his courage and tenacity; this was accomplished by crossing the bulldog with the smooth-coated "old English terrier", now extinct, which was an active dog, quick in its movements, and with all the instincts of the terrier to kill. This cross had the desired effect and from 1800 until 1835, when dog-fighting was made illegal, this bull and terrier cross gradually replaced the bulldog as a fighter.

These dogs were somewhat variable in size and build, as some owners preferred the lighter and more terrier-like animals, while others pinned their faith to those approximately more closely to their bulldog ancestor, but in general, they were smaller than the bulldog, weighing perhaps from 30 to 40 pounds, and the muzzle was lengthened.

Round about 1850 the Staffordshire (or as it was called then, the ‘Bull and Terrier’) was bred with the White English Terrier, and possibly other breeds (such as the Dalmatian), from which by selection the Bull Terrier (white) was evolved. About the turn of the 20th century, breeders decided to produce a coloured dog shaped like a "white", so they crossed the latter back to its ancestor, the Staffordshire, and by selection for the type required, succeeded in perfecting the coloured Bull Terrier.

After the Act prohibiting fighting was passed in 1835 dog fighting declined, though it still continued to a lesser degree until a much later date; and in certain districts - notably South Staffordshire (the Black Country) - the breed was extensively bred among the local miners, chain-makers and iron-workers; and generally acquired the name of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, under which title it was accepted for registration with the Kennel Club in 1935.

Characteristics and Temperament Every pure-breed dog has a ‘Breed Standard’. Within that Standard there is reference to what are the characteristics and temperament of the dog. The following is that of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and some expert comment.

Characteristics: Traditionally of indomitable courage and tenacity. Highly intelligent and affectionate, especially with children.

Temperament: Bold, fearless and totally reliable.

H N Bielby writes: “Generally speaking, the Stafford is not indiscriminately aggressive towards other dogs, but, if challenged, usually responds with cheerful alacrity. His memory is long and, if he has once been insulted by a member of any other breed, he will harbour a dislike for all members of that breed; if he encounters a member of that breed in the show-ring, he must be expected to express his disapproval of it in a characteristic manner and this is NOT a reaction to be penalised as long as his handler is in full control of him. It must be remembered that dogs that are quiet and peaceable when loose are often much less so when on leads. Staffords differ widely in their reactions; some will bark and growl at a dog which has annoyed them, others wait quietly, often appearing to be half-asleep, and when the other dog gets too close, will 'go in' in traditionally style, taking owners and victims completely by surprise. For this reason, sensible experienced exhibitors of Staffords will not allow their dog - or bitches, anywhere near other exhibits unless they are quite certain that they can do so safely.

It must here be strongly emphasised that Staffords are the most friendly and tractable of dogs where humans are concerned and with children, they are unsurpassed for their good nature; it is only when challenged by an adversary should they show their traditional toughness.”

A W A Cairns (Constones) wrote in 1982 to the Southern Counties journal "The Stafford": "It now seems that Temperament is being equated with Aggression. The UK Southern Counties Club motto is "Nemo me impugn lacessit" - no one provokes me with impugnity, although I prefer another Latin tag which means "Slow in anger, resolute in action". Both mean that a Stafford is not an aggressor.

I have always properly taken the greatest care to see my Staffords have been well behaved in the show-ring and as a judge, expect such behaviour even remonstrating to handlers who cannot control their exhibits. A good Stafford is not a lunatic so why should they be permitted to behave like one in the ring, or anywhere else for that matter? Whilst a judge should penalise heavily any signs of shyness or nervousness he should not permit uncontrolled aggression."

What is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and

why do the Members of this Club love them?

by Winton McColl (Victoria)

Many Thanks to the SBT Club of Victoria for allowing us to use this article

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