The happy and confident Staffordshire Bull Terrier is hugely popular within their native land. Brave, easy-going and good-natured these dogs are easy to get on with. They are sometimes called ‘Nanny dogs’ thanks to the bonds they form with the children in their family. They are athletic and enjoy being outdoors; easily keeping up on a jog with their owner.
Sadly, Staffies are one of the most common breeds found in rehoming centres. This may be due to the recent demand for ‘designer dogs’ like Cavapoos and the fact that Staffies are harder to re-home in general. Studies have shown that Staffies take 23% longer to re-home than any other breed. Some owners surveyed reported they wouldn’t consider taking on a Staffie as they feel they have a negative reputation. Hopefully this article changes their mind!
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was developed within Staffordshire (England) in the 1800s. They were originally used for bull-baiting and in dog fights. Anecdotally, their owners bred them to remain relatively small so that they could safely intervene in dog fights if needed.
Despite the purpose they were bred for, they have always remained loyal and devoted to their owner. They are a naturally affectionate dog and many are sensitive, picking up on their owner’s feelings. Due to this, they have generally been kept as house pets rather than ‘outdoor dogs’.
A stocky and sturdy dog, the Staffie should be lean and well-muscled. They are relatively small, with adult dogs measuring between 33cm to 40cm at the withers and weighing from 11kg to 16kg.
They have a broad skull, powerful jaw and well-developed cheek muscles. Their almond shaped eyes are a deep brown and give them an alert expression.
The short coat of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier can be a range of colours and shades including brown, black, brindle and red.
First and foremost, a Staffie is kind. They have a heart of gold and aim to please their owners. As well as this, they are full of fun. Vibrant and confident, they tackle life head-on and never turn down a game or adventure.
Almost all Staffies have a constant desire to be around people and they can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for prolonged periods. Some individuals are sensitive to loud noises and may develop noise phobia; an issue that becomes especially difficult to deal with during fireworks season.
While some people see the Staffie as an ‘aggressive’ or ‘hostile’ dog, this is rarely the case. Most dogs are inherently good. Unfortunately, a small number of unscrupulous owners may take advantage of their dog’s loyalty and teach them to be aggressive. This perpetuates their bad reputation, which is rarely deserved.
Though they are a pedigree, most Staffies enjoy good health. However, there are a few health issues that owners should be aware of including:
Allergies (atopic skin disease): For some Staffie owners, their dog’s skin is a cause of constant concern. Those with allergies may react to triggers such as ingredients in their diet, parasites, pollen in the air and dust mites within the home. These allergens can trigger signs including pink skin, chronic itching and fur discolouration (due to saliva staining). Half the battle is discovering what your dog is reacting to and trying to eliminate it from their environment.
Demodectic Mange: This breed is prone infections with a parasite known as the Demodex mite. This is a small, cigar-shaped mite which is only visible under a microscope and can lead to bald and flaky skin. Unlike with other mange infestations, this type of mite doesn’t tend to cause excessive itching and is not especially contagious. Young puppies and those who are immune-suppressed are affected most often.
Hip Dysplasia: Some breed members will suffer from hip dysplasia and arthritis and the effects of this become more noticeable as they age. We can screen for this orthopaedic condition with X-rays. As well as daily joint supplements (such as Pooch & Mutt’s Daily Joint Care), most benefit from anti-inflammatories, pain relief and joint protective diets.
L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria: This is a rare genetic disease that causes signs including seizures and behavioural changes. There is a test available to screen breed members.
Some dogs can be headstrong and all benefit from an owner who is confident setting firm boundaries. They thrive on routine and their training should be consistent and lifelong. As with other dogs, Staffies respond best to positive training whereby we always reward with good behaviour with lots of praise and training treats.
One of the lowest maintenance breeds out there, the Staffie does not need much in the way of grooming. Brushing their coat once a week helps to minimise shedding and they should not be bathed more than once every month or two as this can dry out their skin. We should also aim to brush their teeth daily and to clean their ears out as needed (usually twice a month).
This is a breed that needs quite a lot of exercise and that enjoy being given the chance to keep fit. Their athletic build lends itself to an active lifestyle. If we do not provide them with enough exercise, they are likely to become bored at home. They may then ‘act out’ and develop nuisance behaviours. These behaviours can include barking, digging and furniture chewing.
A high protein diet is a good option for these muscular dogs. Most have hearty appetites and won’t need convincing to eat their meals each day. Those who suffer with allergic skin disease will typically benefit from fish oils, probiotics and a fish-based diet. Pooch & Mutts' Joint Care diet combines healthy Salmon with a whole host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
You'll find a handy feeding calculator on every product page here at Pooch & Mutt to help you identify how much of our health led recipes are right for the age, size and weight of your dog.