"A Positive Account of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier
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"A Positive Account of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Dogs
Breed Facts

Introduction

Staffordshire bull terriers remain very popular family pets despite their unwarranted bad press. There are far too many super examples of this gorgeous breed in rescue kennels, and the purpose of this little article is to raise the awareness of the many positive attributes the Stafford (or Staffie is he is affectionately known) can offer. The UK Kennel Club describes him as a kind breed with a well-known genuine love of children. He requires a moderate amount of exercise and is easy to groom.

Character

Any undeserved poor reputation has undoubtedly arisen from irresponsible owners who have experienced problems with the breed (mostly due to inadequate socialisation, training him to perform unnatural acts of aggression and careless breeding; often mating him to larger breeds to try to emulate the American Pitbull terrier- another beautiful but much maligned breed through no fault of his own).

He is a powerful breed despite his relatively small stature, and his ancestors are the Bulldog and terrier; hence his name. He retains the tenacious terrier trait, but is by and large a biddable dog who is highly responsive to kind methods of training via positive reinforcement. He is a loyal friend, and enjoys being part of the family (although caution must always be exercised with ANY dog and children).

Popularity

Staffies are at number 11 in the Kennel Club’s Top 20 Registered Breeds, but if unregistered dogs were to be included, this figure would undoubtedly be higher.

Breeding

With so many Staffies in rescue, think long and hard before breeding. Responsible breeders will only consider a mating if:-

  • The selected parentage will improve the breed.
  • That both the sire and dam are sound in health and temperament and that the necessary health tests have been undertaken. The Stafford should be tested for L-2-HGA (a metabolic condition which can result in behavioural changes and seizures), hereditary cataracts, persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous (PHPV) and posterior polar subscapular cataracts (PPSC).

Other vitally important considerations are whether the prospective breeder has sufficient time, money and knowledge to ensure that the dam and puppies are properly cared for; and that good homes are lined up before the mating.

Colouring

Brindle is the most common Staffie colour (it’s a dominant gene), and they also come in red, fawn, black and white. Blue colouring is also acceptable, but this is known as a “colour dilution”, and these dogs be at a greater risk from a condition called colour dilution alopecia. It is a very itchy and sore ailment which is most likely to occur whena blue puppy is bred from a long line of blue + blue parents. Two white parents may produce deaf puppies.

Staffie Ambassadors

Jock of the Bushveld is a true story, first published in 1907 by South African author SirJames Percy FitzPatrick. The book tells of the author’s travels with his loyal Staffordshire Bull Terrier companion, Jock, throughout the Bushveld region of the Transvaal (now the South African Republic). The book has inspired two movies; one with a sad ending in 1986, and one with a happier ending in 1995. There is a statue dedicated to Jock, which stands in front of the Barberton Town Hall in Mpumalanga.

Sallie the Staffie is a war heroine with an even earlier claim to fame. She was the regimental mascot for the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and was given to 1st Lt William R. Terry as a puppy. She grew up among the men of the regiment and followed the men on marches and to the battlefield. At the Battle of Gettysburg, Sallie was separated from the unit. Unable to find her way, she returned to the Union battle line at Oak Ridge, where she stood guard over the dead and comforted the wounded. Poor Sallie was shot and killed in the Battle at Hatchers Run, Virginia two years later in February 1865. She is remembered at the 11th Pennsylvania monument erected at Gettysburg, PA.

Much more latterly, a Staffordshire Bull Terrierhas been making the news and creating positive press with her police work. 18 Month old rescue Staffie “Stella” from Taunton was recruited by Gloucestershire Police as their new sniffer dog earlier this year. With help from her handler PC Claire Todd she passed her training course in just 4 weeks, and made her first find during a raid in Cheltenham when she sniffed out £200 in cash in a drawer full of pants!

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