The Staffordshire bull terrier is one of the most commonly seen dog breeds in the UK, and our tenth most popular dog breed overall.
The breed really began to gain traction across the UK and grow in popularity during the 1990’s and the first decade of the millennium – and a lot of this popularity is attributed by many to the introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991, a highly controversial act of parliament that outlawed the ownership of certain types of dogs including the pit bull terrier.
When ownership of the pit bull terrier became illegal in the UK, owners of dogs of that breed and other pit bull enthusiasts were left seeking out alternative options for a dog breed that possessed all of the desirable and positive traits of that breed, but that was still permitted to own as a pet.
Enter the Staffordshire bull terrier – another long-established bull terrier breed that is stocky, strong and business-like in appearance, with an outgoing, loving nature and highly trustworthy temperament.
In many areas of the UK, the noble Staffy is by far the most popular dog of choice, and they are popular in general all over the country – although the breed has actually fallen in popularity a little this year, losing their previous ninth place ranking to the German shepherd.
In this article, we will look at the Staffordshire bull terrier in more detail, and explain why they are so popular – and consider if their popularity has peaked and they’re now starting to lose traction too. Read on to learn more.
The Staffordshire bull terrier is a medium-sized dog breed that falls within The Kennel Club’s terrier grouping, and the breed’s name originates from the original yet rather unsavoury purpose that the breed was designed for during the 19th century – bull baiting.
Even when bull baiting was thankfully outlawed back in 1835, the Staffy remained highly popular thanks to their tenacity, versatility, and kind, biddable natures – they made for excellent pets and companions as well as having a strong, sturdy appearance that can be highly effective at making anyone who might be up to no good think again.
That said, the breed’s slightly daunting appearance belies their true temperaments – they are fun loving, entertaining dogs that love to play, and they are very gentle and personable with both adults and children, as well as other dogs.
The Staffordshire bull terrier has a huge number of positive attributes that all combine to make them a versatile and sound choice of pet for people from all walks of life.
They are medium sized, tending to be stocky rather than tall, which means that they can live comfortably in homes of all sizes, even smaller apartments. They have a very short single-layered coat that is very low maintenance, and they’re not particularly heavy shedders either.
They tend to be lively and playful when out on walks, but their exercise requirements aren’t likely to leave you struggling to keep up, and one or two varied, energetic walks each day are perfectly sufficient for most dogs of the breed.
Th Staffy’s distinctive appearance often makes them popular as watch dogs, to serve as a deterrent to intruders – but they are not massively territorial, and don’t really make good guard dogs – they’d rather see if a potential burglar has a treat for them in their bag of swag than trying to chew their leg off!
Whilst they can be quite boisterous, and their strength means that if they get carried away when playing they might knock down a smaller dog or a child, they have very kind, gentle natures, and are usually keen to make friends with strangers.
One of the Staffy’s nicknames is “the nanny dog,” because of the special relationship that dogs of the breed build up with children. They are kind, tolerant and laid back, and can be very gentle with shy or nervous people too. They often form strong bonds with family children, and will often actively seek out young people to play and say hello to.
The Staffordshire bull terrier slipped down a step in the popularity rankings in 2018, falling from ninth place overall to tenth. However, this involved swapping places with the previously tenth-placed German shepherd, which is another enduringly popular breed in the UK that has never really gone out of fashion.
A little bit of variance over time within the usual members of the top ten dog breeds by popularity is to be expected, and doesn’t necessarily indicate a major change in the breed’s popularity, as may be the case if an up-and-coming breed overtook them in the rankings instead.
The number of Staffys offered for sale in the UK has remained consistently high for many years now – and the breed doesn’t look likely to drop off the top ten list entirely any time soon.
Pedigree Staffordshire bull terriers with Kennel Club registration tend to change hands for figures in the region of around £729, whilst non-pedigree or unregistered dogs cost significantly less, averaging just £398.
This puts the cost of buying a Staffy well within the reach of most families, and the cost of providing for their upkeep and all of their needs is not usually highly onerous either.