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All About Staffordshire Bull Terriers

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium-sized, muscular breed of English origin showing great strength for its size. They should be active and agile, up for anything, trustworthy and enthusiastically loving with humans, with a quietness off duty. The Stafford is not a dog park breed, and some may eventually decide they do not enjoy the company of other animals. The Stafford should have an exuberant affection and empathy for humans big and small, with an unmatched zest for life that makes fanciers worldwide love the breed like no other.

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"New Stafford owners should be made aware of a few things before they take the plunge.  Staffords are not average dogs, they are other than average.  If you think your Stafford is strong, it’s probably stronger than you think. It can probably run faster and jump higher than you think too.  They should not be underestimated.  They have a lot of energy.  They love people and can’t be cool about it.  They might dislike other animals and they can’t be cool about that either. They need human companionship.  They need to be with you.  They play rough.   They might play with their teeth.  They’re affectionate to a fault.  They can be relentless.   They’ll be the best dog you’ll ever have, but people need to understand them going in, and be ready for the ride."

- John Cocchiola

AKC Breed Standard

Read the full AKC breed standard here.

Size

 Height at shoulder - 14 to 16 inches. Weight - Dogs, 28 to 38 pounds; bitches, 24 to 34 pounds, these heights being related to weights. Non-conformity with these limits is a fault. In proportion, the length of back, from withers to tail set, is equal to the distance from withers to ground. 

General Appearance

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a smooth-coated dog. It should be of great strength for its size and, although muscular, should be active and agile. 

Temperament

 From the past history of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the modern dog draws its character of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity. This, coupled with its affection for its friends, and children in particular, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, makes it a foremost all-purpose dog. 

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The above images have been borrowed from the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Heritage Centre.

Breed History

The following has been borrowed from the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America. Find the SBTCA's page about the breed's origins here.

Although there has been some discussion through the years about the origin of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, authorities generally agree that the breed can be traced back to the Mastiff-like dogs through the old Bulldog which, when crossed with British terriers, produced the first “Bull and Terriers.” Books published in the early 1800s which refer to “Bull and Terriers,” “Pit Dogs”, and “Fighting Dogs” confirm that the cross existed at that time.

The old-fashioned Bulldog was a fierce, courageous animal used in the sports of bear- and bull-baiting as early as the mid-sixteenth century. When these sports fell from public favor and were outlawed, their supporters turned to dog fighting and sought to create a sporting dog that, while retaining the legendary courage and ferocity of the Bulldog, would incorporate the greater agility of the terrier.

Terriers thought to have been used in the cross are the Manchester Terrier and the now-extinct English White Terrier. In addition, crosses with various of the old working terriers were made. 

Because of the attentions of different groups of English fanciers, two distinct types of Bull and Terrier arose and, by 1900, they were easily distinguished. James Hinks’s elegant white dogs, produced by crossing the predecessor of the modern Bulldog with the English White Terrier (and some say Pointer and Dalmatian) were recognized by the Kennel Club (UK) and the American Kennel Club at the turn of the century. This “White Cavalier” is known today as the Bull Terrier

The other Bull and Terrier — the Stafford, which was owned by the common man — was not as easily “legitimized.” Fanciers of the “working class dog” met in England in 1935 to form a club for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier fanciers and draw up a Breed Standard.

In 1938, the first Championship points were awarded in Birmingham. The first two members of their sex to claim championships in England were the bitch, Lady Eve (far left) and the dog, Gentleman Jim (near left) in 1939.

The first Staffordshire Bull Terriers brought to the United States lived their lives out simply as companions; it was not until 1975 that The American Kennel Club recognized the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a registerable breed that could be shown outside of the Miscellaneous Classes. The first Stafford to be registered in the American Kennel Club Stud Book was the English import, Ch. Tinkinswood Imperial. The first U.S. champion was a bitch, the Australian import, Northwark Becky Sharpe.

The Stafford is a well-kept secret: smart, healthy, rough and tumble, comfort-loving, and a family pet and chum without equal when properly trained and socialized. One of the best known terriers in The British Isles (where at least 15 Stafford clubs exist), it is also one of the ten most popular dogs in Australia and the most popular terrier in South Africa. In the U.S., it is often mistaken for its cousin, the American Pit Bull Terrier, which has established a greater foothold there.

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