Staffordshire Bull Terriers are small dogs that come in six coat varieties: fawn, solid red, blue, black, white, or brindle. The coat is short, smooth, and close lying, and there may be white markings. The eyes are medium, round, and dark, and the ears are half-pricked or rose. These dogs have low-hanging, tapered tails and dark noses. Staffordshire Bull Terriers measure 14 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 24 to 38 pounds.
Gentle, loving, and kind with family and friends, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are fiercely protective and are typically fearless around other dogs.
Intelligent, obedient, and affectionate dogs, Staffordshire Bull Terriers make excellent companion animals for families with children. They are trustworthy and sweet-tempered dogs and have a great sense of humor that makes them a lot of fun to have around the house. These dogs do have a tendency to chew, however, and they need a constant supply of chew toys to keep their powerful jaws off furniture, shoes, and other items.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is generally considered a "pit bull" in the United States. Although the breed is exempted from national breed bans in Britain, New Zealand, and Australia, the dogs are included in most bans and laws aimed at "pit bulls" in America.
Gentle, loving, and kind with family and friends, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are fiercely protective and are typically fearless around other dogs. These dogs have a strong need for human companionship and do best in families with children. In fact, the breed is known as the "nanny dog" in England due to its benevolent and protective way with children.
These dogs offer a great mix of toughness, playfulness, and friendliness. They have a superior sense of humor and love to goof around. Although these dogs have a surplus of energy, they are not typically hyperactive and easily adapt to mellow situations; they even do very well living in small apartments. They can be rambunctious, though, and should be supervised around small children and animals.
The Staffordshire Bull's exercise needs are modest, but this does not mean the breed can be left indoors all the time. Daily walks on a leash and a safe area to run and play are essential. It's very important to keep these dogs on a leash or inside a securely fenced yard when outdoors; the breed is determined and fearless and may get into trouble if allowed to wander.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are prone to certain health conditions that can negatively affect length or quality of life. Some of these disorders are manageable with medication and professional care, while others are disabling or potentially fatal. Purchasing or adopting a Staffordshire puppy from a reputable source is one way of helping to ensure a healthy dog.
Common health problems in the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, and juvenile cataracts. Also, the breed is known to suffer from a higher than normal rate of allergies, some of which may cause intense itching and lead to skin infections. L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria, a fatal metabolic disorder that causes seizures, lack of coordination, tremors, and developmental problems, is also of concern. Additionally, these dogs are sensitive to temperature extremes and are vulnerable to hypothermia and heat exhaustion.
Routine veterinary care, daily exercise, canine vaccinations, and a well-balanced diet help Staffordshire Bull Terriers live a full life of 12 to 14 years.
Challenging to train, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a tendency to be stubborn, determined, and sensitive. This is not the breed for inexperienced pet owners. Patience, consistency, and firmness are all very important when working with these dogs. Harshness, verbal or physical punishment, or being too relaxed during training sessions will quickly result in a worsening of behavior.
These dogs are major chewers and need lots of chew toys and physical activity to wear out their jaws and keep their teeth of furniture and shoes. Training should focus on minimizing inappropriate chewing, teaching these dogs not to pull on a leash, and establishing general household rules.
Socialization should begin early in life to help these dogs grow into calm, tolerant, and confident adults. Because Staffordshire Bull Terriers don't get along very well with other dogs, trips to the dog park are not a good idea. Instead, walks around town on a leash and visits to neighbors' homes will help them become accustomed to a variety of sights, smells, sounds, and people.
With modest grooming needs, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a perfect fit for busy families. These dogs need their coat brushed every few days to keep shedding under control, but that is the extent of their grooming needs. During shedding season, or if hair accumulation becomes a problem, more frequent brushing may be necessary.
This breed also doesn't require much bathing; every three or four months is usually sufficient, unless something sticky, stinky, or harmful gets on the coat. A gentle canine shampoo will clean the coat without drying the skin. A thorough rinsing is essential to prevent skin irritation.
The nails need clipping every couple of weeks, and the teeth should be brushed daily with a canine toothbrush and toothpaste. Like all dogs, Staffordshire Bull Terriers should have their ears examined every week for signs of wax accumulation or ear infection. Any concerning symptoms, such as pain, odor, redness, swelling, or discharge, should be reported to a veterinarian right away.
The beginnings of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier date back hundreds of years, to the 15th century or earlier. During this time, bulldogs were primarily used for bullbaiting, which is when a bulldog harasses a bull to tenderize its meat and entertain the public.
Later, during the late 1700s and early 1800s, dogfighters wanted to combine the power of the larger bulldog breeds with the speed of smaller terriers. By crossing breeds of bulldogs and terriers, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was born. These new dogs were a hit with coal miners and other working men in Staffordshire, England, which is where the breed gets its name.
In the late 1800s, the breed made its way to the United States, where it was used to produce the larger American Staffordshire Terrier. Today, these dogs are loved around the world and are kept primarily as companion animals by families. They are also found in the show, agility, and obedience rings.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in 1975.