Staffordshire Bull Terrier dogs are brave and loyal companions. Their small, compact bodies hold strong personalities that are loving and devoted to their families. Today we’ll look at the breed traits of the Staffie, and find out whether their history as a working or guarding dog influences their ability to be a treasured lap dog for families. We’ll show you how to find happy, healthy Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppies, and raise and care for them to become friendly adult dogs.
Known affectionately as the ‘Staffy’ or ‘Staffie’, this gorgeous little dog has unfortunately been the subject of a lot of bad press over the past few years. But they are intelligent and active dogs that are easy to train. A purebred Staffie can be a gorgeous show dog, or a pampered family pet.
What were Staffies bred for – Staffie history explained
The English Staffy is descended from bulldogs used for bull baiting in the 18th and 19th century. Bull baiting, bear baiting etc were made illegal in1835 and some of those involved turned to dog fighting instead, with bets being laid on the outcome of fights.
Despite this unpleasant history, these dogs gradually became popular as companions, and in the 1930s were finally recognised by the UK 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.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Temperament
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.
So are Staffordshire Terriers an aggressive breed?
Staffies raised in normal family homes are in fact very friendly, and affectionate dogs.
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.
Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers good family dogs
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.
The downside of Staffies as pets is that their terrier instincts sometimes cause problems with other animal members of the family.
Getting a Staffy and a cat to get along can be tricky, and if you have a resident family cat or small rodent pets you might want to consider a different breed. Or commit to very careful supervision.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Size
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.
What is the difference between a Pit bull and a Staffy?
There is a superficial similarity between the American Pit bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Both are broad chested stocky dogs with broad heads and straight muzzles and a very short easy care coat.
The Pit bull is however a much bigger and more powerful dog, about double the size of an average Staffie, and comes in a much wider range of colors.
These are two distinct breeds and only the Staffy is recognized by the AKC
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Health
Staffies are normally healthy dogs.
Although 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.
They can also suffer from a hereditary metabolic disorder known as L-2HGA. This can cause seizures, as well as problems moving and behavioral issues.
You can reduce the chances of your Staffy having these problems by getting your puppy from health tested parents.
Both parents should have an eye test from less than a year ago, and be tested as DNA clear for L-2HGA.
There are currently some reports that some Staffies have overly shortened muzzles and that this predisposes them to overheating. This is something to bear in mind when researching breeders (see below)
How Long Do Staffies Live?
The average healthy Staffordshire Bull Terrier lifespan will be around 12 to 14 years.
Do Staffies shed? – Grooming and care
A Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a wonderfully easy to manage coat. An occasional once over with a short haired bristle brush is all that’s usually required.
Like most dogs, Staffies do shed and may shed quite heavily for a short period once or twice a year.
Do Staffies need lots of exercise?
Staffies have plenty of energy and need a moderate amount of exercise.
A brisk 30 minute walk or ball game, morning and evening, will be adequate for most Staffies.
Most will be happy to accompany you on longer walks but bear in mind that some Staffies have a tendency to overheat in warm weather
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breeders
When you are looking for a puppy, finding a good breeder is incredibly important.
The right breeder will be open and honest with you. They will be very familiar with their breed of dog and their requirements. Both parents will be health tested.
The Mommy dog will obviously be a cherished member of the family, and will greet you with a wagging tail and friendly demeanor.
Because of the potential for temperament issues with Staffys you should make sure to meet both parents. The father will probably live elsewhere, so you might need to travel to see him.
But this is the best way to give your pup a good chance of being friendly.
Your breeder will be happy to answer any and all of your questions. They will also ask a lot of questions about you, because they will care where their puppies are going.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Puppies
When you have found the right Staffordshire Bull Terrier breeder then it’s time to wait for your puppy.
Most good breeders have a waiting list, and you may have to put your name down several months before your Staffie puppies litter is even conceived.
Although it might be tempting to go and pick up another puppy rather than wait, remember the importance of temperament and health.
A few months now is a fair price to exchange for years of happiness.
And speaking of price… How much do Staffordshire Bull Terriers cost?
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Price
The cost of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy varies depending upon where you live, and who your breeder is.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier price in the USA ranges widely from $1,500 – $2,500.
In the UK you can expect to pay £600 to £1,000 for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier pup.
Remember that the cheapest Staffy puppy is not necessarily the best one. Breeding puppies costs a lot of money if you do it right, and a puppy from the right breeder will probably have a higher price tag.
Remember that compared to the cost of a dog over his lifetime, the cost of the puppy is actually relatively small.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue
Another great way to get a Staffordshire Terrier is from a rescue society.
Very sadly due to their bad reputation and the nature of some of their owners, these lovely little dogs often end up in need of a new home.
Should I Get A Staffordshire Bull Terrier?
Free from the most serious 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.
Do you have a Staffy? Why not let us know all about him in the comments section below!
References and resources
Abramson C et al. 2008 L‐2‐Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria in Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Packer et al. 2015 Impact of Facial Conformation on Canine Health: Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome. PlosOne
This guide to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has been revised and updated for 2018