Staffordshire Bull Terrier

One of Britain’s most popular dogs is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. What makes them such well-loved pets? Find out below! 

staffordshire bull terrier on sand

Height: 14-16 inches
Weight: male 13-17 kilos, female 11-15 kilos
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Take a look at the pros and cons of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier at a glance.

Pros:

  • Minimal grooming needs
  • Family-friendly pet
  • Suitable for apartment living
  • Low shedders

Cons:

  • Prone to weight gain
  • Not dog or cat friendly
  • Prone to separation anxiety
  • Not ideal for first-time owners

staffordshire bull terrier puppy walking on grass

Overview

Staffordshire Bull Terriers at one stage were referred to as ‘The Nanny Dog’ thanks to their gentle temperament around children. They are excellent guardians and playmates making them suitable for families across the country.

In 2019, Staffies were listed as the 11th most popular dog breed on Statista and remain a firm favourite of Britain.

Despite their popularity amongst dog enthusiasts, an aggressive reputation has followed the Staffie. Reported dog attacks in the news have been commonly linked to Staffies.

Yet despite this, it is in fact the Labrador, Britains most popular breed, that has the highest number of attacks.

Germany, the Bermuda Islands, and Switzerland have banned the Staffie. Other countries such as France, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland have instead placed restrictions on the breed.

In the UK, parliament did debate potentially adding the Staffie to a list of banned breeds after a viral petition, however, this was idea rejected.

Dog owners familiar with the Staffie’s roots will pay tribute by featuring the Stafford Knot on their dog’s collar. Traditionally, the collar or harness is leather featuring the emblem in brass.

The Stafford Knot is the symbol of Staffordshire and can be seen featured across the county.

The Blue Staffordshire Bull Terrier has seen its popularity rise. This coat colour is accepted under the breed standards but until recently, was relatively uncommon.

The blue Staffy has a slate-grey coat. Other colour combinations include red, fawn, white, and black. A Blue Staffy puppy may be slightly more expensive.

Related: Learn about the wonderful Newfoundland dog next.

staffordshire bull terrier running

History

Staffordshire Bull Terriers originate from Birmingham and the Black Country of Staffordshire during the 19th century.

Staffies descend from the cross-breeding of the Bull and Terrier, the Old English Terrier, and the Old English Bulldog. The breed is often confused with their cousins the American Staffordshire Terrier.

James Hinks, an Irish dog breeder, was responsible for the Staffies’ development in the mid-1800s.

They were bred for dog fighting and bull and bear baiting in Birmingham. Their smaller size made them more agile in the ring.

Yet it was their temperament that was praised. Staffies were known to have less aggressive tendencies towards humans. James Hink’s idea for the Staffie was to create a ‘Gentleman’s Companion’.

The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835 made dog fighting, bull and bear-baiting illegal. Dogfighting was increasingly difficult to stop. Unlike bull and bear-baiting which required arenas.

It wasn’t until the Protection of Animals Act 1911 that helped put an end to the blood sport.

Due to the Staffies links to dogfighting, the breed struggled to be recognized by the Kennel Club. In 1935 they finally received their KC recognition under the name Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

This happened after they were rejected for registration under the name Original Bull Terrier. Two months later the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club was formed.

Today, Staffies live a life that is far from their dogfighting roots.

They are one of the United Kingdom’s most popular breeds and were rated Britain’s favourite breed by ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Dogs in 2019. New Zealand, Australia, and France also have a large population of Staffies.

Personality

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Temperament:

Also known as ‘The Nanny Dog’, the Staffie is praised for its kind, playful, and caring personality around children.

That being said, there are plenty of horror stories surrounding the Staffie due to a lack of socialization and training. It is incredibly important the Staffie has a firm and responsible owner that can give the time and patience needed.

staffordshire bull terrier posing in a park at the sunset

Well-socialized dogs will be loving and friendly towards humans. They love nothing more than to be in their company. This breed is boisterous, bouncy, fun, and energetic, requiring an owner that can keep up with them!

If you decide to choose a Staffie as your forever friend, you will find a devoted and loyal companion.

Recommended: Cairn Terrier dogs are deeply intelligent, learning commands fairly quickly.

Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers Good with Strangers?

Yes, the Staffie adores human attention, always drawing a smile from those nearby. This canine may have been used for dogfighting in the past, but they aren’t a guarding breed.

Whilst some may be naturally protective over their family, they don’t possess natural watchdog or guard skills.

Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers Good with Children?

Yes, Staffies are known to be fantastic with children of all ages. In the past, their gentle and tolerant personality, earnt them the title of ‘The Nanny Dog’.

Thanks to their energetic side, children will find an excellent playmate in this pooch. A Staffy isn’t very large in size which reduces the chance of accidental injuries during play.

Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers Ok with Other Dogs?

No, the Staffy isn’t known to be very dog or cat friendly. Whilst Staffie puppies can be raised to live with both dogs and cats, they aren’t very sociable with others outdoors.

To overcome this, a lot of socialization will be needed starting as early as possible. Some Staffies simply can’t live with other animals and need a single pet household.

Exercise

Each day, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier will need one hour of exercise. Interactive games such as long-distance fetch is a great way to vigorously exercise your pet.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier average weight is between 13-17 kilos. This breed is prone to gaining weight so it is important their daily exercise needs are being met.

Some Staffies aren’t very heat tolerant. In the Summer, they must be walked during the cooler periods of the day. If they can’t reduce their body temperature through panting, heatstroke could develop.

This can be fatal. Make sure they always have access to fresh water in the hotter months.

Please do not allow your Staffy to swim during the hot seasons.

These canines are unable to swim due to their head and body shape. Whilst some Staffies have shown they can defy the odds, most are notorious for being bad at swimming.

staffordshire bull terrier with playing with ball on the beach

Recommended next: Dalmatian dogs are energetic and lively and need a lot of exercise. But do they make good pets?

Health

Below are the breed-related health conditions of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier:

  • Hip Dysplasia- The hip joint develops poorly causing pain, swelling and inflammation. It can affect one or both sides of the hip. Over time arthritis will occur.
  • L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria- Dogs affected by L-2-HGA begin showing symptoms from as early as 6 months. It is a recessive condition affecting the central nervous system. Symptoms include muscle stiffness, seizures, and ataxia.
  • Elbow Dysplasia- Lameness will occur in the forelimbs due to poor joint development. This condition can affect both front legs causing a dog to limp. Arthritis will follow.
  • Patella Luxation- The kneecap will dislocate out of position for a few seconds before relocating back into place. Affected dogs may skip a beat in their step or run on three legs before suddenly returning to normal.

Intelligence & Training

The Staffy dog breed is eager to please its owner which is a huge bonus for training. However, their strong prey drive and occasional Terrier Temperament can cause diversions.

It is important owners have the time, patience, and consistency to allow the Staffie to blossom into a well-natured companion.

staffordshire bull terrier yawning in a field

It is best to focus on rewards as opposed to discipline. Harsh training methods could see the Staffie withdraw from their training. Instead, correct every single good behaviour with a treat such as food or affection.

Discipline bad behaviour with a firm ‘No’, time-outs, and by simply ignoring them.

Socialization is particularly important. Bad press has followed the Staffie around for years with some countries restricting and even banning the breed.

Ensure a Staffy is introduced to a variety of new places, people, and animals consistently during their early years. Group puppy classes are also a great help.

Recommended: The Skye Terrier is one of the UK’s most endangered native breeds. Learn about their personality traits, health issues, exercise requirements, and more in our guide!

Grooming

Staffies are relatively low maintenance on the grooming side. A weekly brush with a grooming glove or bristle brush helps to keep them smooth and looking their best.

Staffies don’t shed much fur due to their very short fur however, this doesn’t make them hypoallergenic.

Ideally, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier should be washed 4 times a year. Their natural oils look after their coat during this time. As their fur is short, debris won’t stick well.

black staffordshire bull terrier

Frequent washing can strip the coat’s natural oils whilst also drying out the skin. It is important products don’t affect their PH balance as this could cause skin allergies.

Their coat can be left to air dry. Nails will need a monthly trim to prevent overgrowth.

Ears will need to be checked and cleaned to prevent debris build-up within the canal. Teeth should be brushed a minimum of 3 times a week although vets recommend this is done daily.

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