Ten years ago, there were over 12,000 births, but last year, in 2013 there were less than 6,000 Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppies registered.
This is a reversal of what we are seeing in some of the brachycephalic breeds like pugs and french bulldogs.
And a reflection perhaps of the way these dogs have been exploited. We’ll take a look at that in a moment.
History and role of the breed
Bull terriers are descended from bulldogs used for bull baiting in the 18th and 19th century.
Despite this unpleasant history, these dogs gradually became popular as companions, and in the 1930s were finally recognised by the Kennel Club.
Although Staffies made the switch to respectability, and proved themselves worthy of recognition as a good tempered and friendly family pet, there remained a lingering association between the breed and dog fighting, that still persists today.
This is a great shame, as the Staffie has a lot going for him as a healthy and happy family pet.
Conformation and health
The Staffordshire bull terrier is a compact, muscular dog with well proportioned body, broad skull and strong jaws.
Although he doesn’t reach more than 16 inches or so at the shoulder, he can weigh around 35lbs and is powerful for his size.
Like most breeds, there are some conditions for which breeding stock should be tested, and for which DNA tests are now available, including some inherited eye conditions.
You can find more information about these on the Kennel Club’s website
Temperament and reputation
Bull terriers were originally bred for fighting, and there is no doubt that Staffies can be tough little dogs.
Unfortunately the breed have become quite popular amongst those that are only interested in turning this tough side of the Staffies nature into something sinister.
You only have to google “stafforshire bull terrier” to find news reports of dog attacks resulting from encounters of individuals of this breed.
You might be forgiven for thinking that these are dangerous dogs, unsuitable for life as a family pet. But things are not always what they seem, and the truth is somewhat different.
Staffies raised in normal family homes are in fact very friendly, and affectionate dogs.
Exploitation of the Staffie
Let’s be in no doubt. It is possible to make almost any dog of any breed into a snarling, aggressive, and dangerous animal, simply by isolating and abusing it.
It is the staffordshire bull terrier’s great misfortune that it has been misused in this way, by a minority of people.
This breed has become favoured and exploited by, small groups of people that enjoy watching dogs fight, or that wish to use dogs to protect their own illegal activities.
RSPCA vet mark Evans hit the nail on the head when he was quoted as saying
If people think that Staffies have problems, they’re looking at the wrong end of the dog lead!
The truth is, that a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, raised in a family environment, socialised and trained, is no more likely to attack a person than any other dog.
On the contrary, these little dogs are friendly, happy, good natured souls that generally enjoy human company.
Free from the kinds of conformational defects that blight so many other breeds, Staffordshire Bull Terriers can be a good choice for a family prepared to make a commitment to socialise, and train their dog thoroughly.
And to provide him with regular exercise.
His coat requires little attention, and he is a relatively healthy, active, and long lived dog that should provide his family and friends with many years of pleasure
Further links and information
- Staffordshire bull terrier club
- The Kennel Club Staffordshire Bull Terrier information page
- Staffordshire bull terrier rescue