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The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or 'Staffy' as it is affectionately known amongst those who love them and live with them, has soared in popularity as a breed over the recent years. Fun and sometimes boisterous, the media and misguided people often portray or see them as aggressive dogs. In reality, this could not be further from the truth as with the correct breeding, handling and training these medium sized dogs will develop a big personality and like nothing more than a warm lap and a person whom they can devote themselves to.
It is generally accepted that Staffordshire Bull Terriers were bred in the 19th century from crossing a Bulldog with a terrier type to create a dog which was used for dog fighting and bull baiting, both popular sporting entertainments at the time. By around 1835, animal fighting was made illegal; however, they still took place in secret in poorer areas where this type of dog grew in popularity. The dogs bore the short end of the stick with this activity with thousands of them were cast out after losing a fight or died in the ring.
In the 1930's the Kennel Club recognised the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a breed, with the breed standards developed by a group of local Midlands enthusiasts later the same year. While the heritage of the Staffy is one of fighting other dogs and animals, this noble dog was recognised for its malleable personality traits as it would also have to be able to be handled by its owners and judges.
Average height to withers: Males between 14-16 inches with females from 13-15 inches.
Average weight: 11kg-17kg for males with females between 10kg-16kg.
Stocky, muscular and athletic, this dog has great strength for its size and is surprisingly agile. The head should be broad and deep with a short fore face and a black nose. The round eyes are generally dark but can also be lighter in relation to the colour of the coat and the ears are usually half pricked up. The stocky and short neck generally widens out towards the shoulders and to a smooth level body, tapering to a thin pointed tail which is carried quite low. The coat is short and smooth and can be a multitude of colours including red, fawn, white, black or blue, or any of these colours combined with white and/or brindle.
Having something of an image problem at times, the general misconception about the temperament of this dog is that they are aggressive animals. The reality is that, while some misguided people do buy this type of dog as a 'status symbol' or to attain a 'tough' image, they can make great family pets when bought up, handled and trained with the patience and understanding needed by any dog to mould it into a family pet.
Given the chance these dogs can be just that - a great family dog. They have boundless energy and enthusiasm wrapped up in a relatively small package and need to be given boundaries and direction to ensure that they know how to behave around people and other animals, especially as they can have a tendency to be a little antisocial around other animals - not surprising given their heritage. They are natural risk takers displaying little fear, for example when confronted with another aggressive dog. Despite this, they do have gentle nature and are exceptionally loyal, especially to one person. They will also learn to obey commands relatively quickly but be warned - they can have a stubborn streak and can choose to ignore them if they want! They are also powerful chewers and will resort to this is left along for prolonged periods, are bored or distressed.
Ultimately, the Staffy owner must be able to display patience and commit the time to raising a rounded animal, especially if it is to live as part of the family with other animals in it.
The average life span of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is between 10-12 years. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has the constitution of the proverbial Ox and while they can be affected by some common ailments which other breeds may be more prone to such as Cataracts, they are generally a very healthy dog. Due to the short hair of their coat, they can experience distress during the extremes of colder temperatures so care must be taken to ensure that they are not exposed for too long if this effects the. Some are prone to skin allergies and dermatitis, especially under their stomachs and in folds of skin causing the dog to chew, like and bite the area. This will simply serve to irritate it more and may cause thickening of the skin and generalised damage to the area. Veterinary advice should be sought in these cases.
With its short coat, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier requires minimal grooming for maintenance purposes. The coat will shed increasingly depending on the season. As an energetic dog, the Staffy will require a bare minimum of an hour's walk a day, but will happily do more.