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rec.pets.dogs: Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/staffords
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Last-modified: 28 Jan 1998

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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. 
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                        Staffordshire Bull Terriers

   Becky Taylor McGovern, December 7, 1994 (
   This article is Copyright 1995-1996 by Becky Taylor McGovern.
     * Updated April 1996 with new addresses; added Canadian club
Table of Contents

     * Introduction
     * AKC Breed Standard
     * History
     * Characteristics and Temperament
     * Care and Training
     * Medical Problems
     * Frequently Asked Questions
     * Resources
          + Books
          + Periodicals
          + Breed Welfare
          + Parent Club
          + Breeders

   The following is meant to introduce the uninitiated to the
   Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It isn't intended to be an in depth
   dissertation on breeding or training. Anyone wishing to pursue either
   topic should refer to the books and magazines listed under References
   in this FAQ.
AKC Breed Standard

   The Standard is the physical "blueprint" of the breed. It describes
   the physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed
   otherwise known as _type_. Some characteristics, such as size, coat
   quality, and movement, are based on the original (or current) function
   for the dog. Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye
   color; but taken together they set this breed apart from all others.
   The Standard describes an _ideal_ representive of the breed. No
   individual dog is perfect, but the Standard provides an ideal for the
   breeder to strive towards.
   Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the Standards
   at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards are not
   typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to the
   publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club
   for a copy of the Standard.

   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 Terriers arose and by 1900, they were
   easily distinguished. James Hinks' elegant white dogs, produced by
   crossing the old Pit Bull Terrier with the English White Terrier (and
   some say Pointer and Dalmatian), were recognized by the Kennel Club
   (England) 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 Staffordshire Bull Terrier fanciers and draw up a Breed
   Standard. In 1938, the first Championship Points were awarded in
   Birmingham. 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 SBT to be registered in the
   American Kennel Club Stud Book was the dog, an English Import,
   Champion Tinkinswood Imperial; the first American Champion was a bitch
   - the Australian import Northwark Becky Sharpe.
Characteristics and Temperament

   Although individual differences in personality exist, there are some
   things that you can expect to find in the personality of every
   Stafford. They are tough, courageous, tenacious, stubborn, curious,
   people-loving and comfort-loving, protective, intelligent, active,
   quick and agile. They are extremely "oral" youngsters and need a safe
   alternative to furniture, toys and clothing for their busy jaws.
   Staffords love to play tug-of-war and to roughhouse, but YOU must set
   the rules and YOU must be the boss. This is not a difficult task if
   you begin working with your Stafford when she is a puppy.
   Most Staffords, particularly bitches, make excellent watchdogs. Their
   alert, musclebound appearance is so striking that it's easy to forget
   that they are smaller than most American Pit Bull Terriers. As Steve
   Eltinge in the book, The Staffordshire Bull Terrier in America says,
   "When a Stafford shows its teeth in a snarl, it can be frightening."
   They look tough and can be a positive deterrent to thieves, but
   because of their natural fondness for people, most Staffords are
   temperamentally ill-suited for guard or attack-dog training." As with
   other members of the Bull and Terrier family, they can be the biggest
   people lovers in the world!
   A Staffordshire Bull Terrier desires, more than anything else, to be
   with her people. Most adore a car ride, going on hikes and walks,
   enjoying a romp up the beach, and cozying up (or on) to you when you
   settle down for an evening of TV or reading.
   Whatever the activity, "from the time it awakens in the morning until
   the quiet of night, a Stafford lives life to the fullest." (_The
   Staffordshire Bull Terrier_, by Steve Eltinge)
Care and Training

   Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a "natural" dog and generally robust.
   The short coat of this breed requires little grooming other than an
   occasional brushing and a bath. The downside of this drip dry coat is
   that Staffords are susceptible to fleas and ticks. The general
   remedies to discourage fleas and ticks are recommended, as well as a
   thorough going-over with a flea comb during the worse months of
   summer. Staffords covet human attention to the extent that I have seen
   several of them gather around their "person", waiting to be combed
   from head to tail for fleas! 
   Care of nails, ears, teeth and anal glands are the same as they would
   be for any other breed (beginning when young and attention on a
   regular basis).
   The Stafford is not a dog that tolerates weather extremes easily.
   Because of its short coat, it prefers plenty of shade and water on
   sweltering summer days (a child's wading pool has been a popular
   choice in the past; supervised of course). Its Bulldog ancestry and
   brachycephalic (short-headed or broad-headed) respiratory system can
   contribute to overheating. Watch carefully to be sure that your
   Stafford doesn't become overheated during intense play in the summer;
   if she appears to be wheezing or gasping for air, find the nearest
   source of cold water and soak her to lower her body temperature.
   Staffordshire Bull Terriers can boast a number of obedience degrees
   and are "quick studies," provided the trainer utilizes a positive,
   creative approach. Staffords are smart with a capital S. Young puppies
   enrolled in Kindergarten Puppy Training classes can begin to learn
   good habits and mix with other puppies. In addition to AKC obedience
   competition, Staffords have been successful Therapy Dogs, participated
   in Agility Competitions and even "gone to ground" with other terriers!
   Staffords are exuberant, impulsive, sometimes bull-headed ... and
   surprisingly sensitive. A trainer must learn to be persistent,
   patient, and firm. Rome wasn't built in a day and a great deal of
   ground may be lost in trying to adhere to the sort of inflexible
   techniques and rigid timeframe advocated by some training books.
   Excellent training suggestions are provided in some of the resource
   books listed in this FAQ, and in the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club,
   Inc.'s magazine, Staff Status, which includes a regular training
   column in each issue.
   Basic obedience training (at the very least) is a must for any Bull
   and Terrier. It helps to maintain control in unexpected situations.
   Because of their impulsive natures, the other cardinal rule of Bull
   and Terrier ownership is "always think ahead." An ounce of prevention
   is worth a pound of cure!
Medical Problems

   Although relatively problem-free, Staffordshire Bull Terriers
   sometimes exhibit hereditary problems and susceptibilies that can
   range in degree of seriousness from mild to life-threatening:
   Any brachycephalic (short- or broad-headed breed such as the Bulldog)
   may be prone to breathing problems because of foreshortening of the
   nasal passage. Cleft palate is sometimes found in puppies and such
   puppies are usually humanely destroyed; they cannot draw milk properly
   and if not abandoned by their dam, may starve. Some dogs are born with
   an elongated soft palate. If not extreme, it may not be noticeable or
   bothersome to the dog. However, extreme cases identifiable by
   respiratory distress and infection, stentorian breathing and
   difficulty in eating can be corrected surgically. This surgical
   procedure renders a dog ineligible to be shown in AKC-sanctioned
   conformation classes.
  Congenital Epilepsy
   Congenital epilepsy occurs at 3 to 5 years, and can result from
   trauma. Although little understood, once diagnosed, it can be
   controlled with medication.
  Juvenile Cataracts
   Although cataracts are considered an affliction of older dogs, some
   Stafford pups develop them. The condition should be diagnosed by an
   eye specialist.
Frequently Asked Questions

   _What's the difference between an (American) Staffordshire Terrier and
   a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, (English) Bull Terrier or Pit Bull
     Some eight or nine varieties of dogs come within the general
     classification of Bull Breeds. Although all lay claim to the
     Bulldog as a common ancestor, there are physical differences that
     make each distinct from the other:
     * Size - The American Staffordshire Terrier is a much larger,
       leggier dog - often twice the size of a Staffordshire Bull
       Terrier! The Bull Terrier standard does not include size
       restrictions and dogs from 35 to 100 pounds have been seen.
       However, the breed generally weighs in between 40 and 55 pounds,
       making it larger then the Stafford. Pit Bull Terriers also range
       widely in size; the early breeders preferred a smaller dog the
       size of a Stafford and today the American Pit Bull Terriers which
       are registered and exhibited seem to run on the smaller side.
       Others, dually registered as American Staffordshire Terriers with
       the AKC (Pit Bull with UKC) are larger.
     * Ears - The American Staffordshire Terrier is exhibited in the
       United States with cropped ears, as are some Pit Bull Terriers.
       The ears of the Bull Terrier are naturally erect and supposed to
       be thin and erect. Erect(or prick) ears are a serious fault in
       Staffords, whose ears should be "rose" (like those of an English
       Bulldog) or half-pricked.
     * Head - The heads of American Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bulls and
       Staffordshire Bull Terriers are similar, although the cheek
       muscles on most Staffords seem to be more pronounced, and the head
       deeper through. The head of the Bull Terrier is entirely
       different. When viewed in profile, it resembles an egg turned on
       its side and is much longer than that of the Stafford. The cheeks
       of a Bull Terrier are not pronounced.
   _How are Staffordshire Bull Terriers with children?_
     In England, the Stafford is known by the affectionate nickname,
     "The Children's Nursemaid" or "The Nanny Dog." Their tolerance of,
     and affection for, children is well known. That doesn't mean,
     however, that it's a wise idea of put the puppy and child together
     without supervision. Children should learn to respect the dog and
     neither should indulge in play that is too rough. Some Staffords -
     even the males - have a "mothering instinct" and will stick right
     by the little ones, whether they are puppies or kids. A Stafford,
     "tough" and not as quick to react to pain or discomfort, is likely
     to make allowance for the attentions of toddler, finding a refuge
     only when things become too overwhelming.
   _Can I keep a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in an Apartment? How much
   exercise will she require?_
     Staffords can make a home with you anywhere; they are happy as long
     as they are with you. They are an athletic dog, however, and need
     more exercise than most dogs. Bursting with energy, they need
     vigorous exercise every day! A long, brisk walk on leash (or
     harness - a useful alternative for some) will give you both a
     workout. Staffords love the heady freedom of being allowed offlead
     for a run, hike or romp and it's delightful to watch them. Of
     course, it's a good idea to make sure that they'll come back when
     you call them, first.
   _Are Staffords a noisy breed?_
     Staffords, in general, are not noisy dogs. They may bark or "talk"
     while playing, or to alert you of a visitor. However, they are
     "quick studies" and if you have another dog in residence and THAT
     dog is a barker, your Stafford will probably pick it up.
   _Can I keep a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with another dog or with a
     Staffords, like members of any other breed, are individuals. While
     some may live peacefully with other animals, some will not. Puppies
     brought up with cats and other dogs generally do well. If bringing
     an older Staffordshire Bull Terrier into your home, first introduce
     the dogs away from the house in a neutral area. It should be easier
     to bring a Stafford into your home than bringing a strange dog into
     the home of a Stafford. Encounters should be supervised and the
     dogs observed to determine how a heirarchy develops.
   _Should I consider a male or a female?_
     Both will offer much love and affection. Females tend to be better
     watchdogs; males tend to be larger. No matter which sex you select,
     spay or neuter if you have decided not to breed or exhibit your
   _What sorts of toys are safe to give my Stafford?_
     There are no such things as "indestructible dog toys" for Bull and
     Terrier breeds. But some have tried these: Bowling balls or big
     Nylabones. Anything else might be chewed up, swallowed or destroyed
     in short order.

   Eltinge, Steve, _The Staffordshire Bull Terrier in America_,
   Multi-Image Presentations, 1482 E. Valley Road, Santa Barbara, CA
   93108, 1986.
   Fleig, Dieter, _Staffordshire Bull Terrier_. Denlinger's Publishers
   Gilmour, Danny, _The Complete Staffordshire Bull Terrier_. Ringpress,
   Gordon, John F., _The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Owner's Encylopedia_,
   Pelham Books Ltd., 1977.
   Gordon, John F., _The Staffordshire Bull Terrier_, Pelham Books Ltd.,
   Gordon, John F., _Staffordshire Bull Terriers_, W& G Foyle Ltd., 1964.
   Gordon, John F., _The Staffordshire Bull Terrier_, Arco Publishing Co.
   Morley, W. N., _This is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier_, TFH Pub.,
   1982. The first part of the TFH version was published simultaneously
   in England by David & Charles (Publishers) Limited, Brunel House,
   Newton Abbott, Devon, England.
   Nicholas, Anna Katherine, _Staffordshire Bull Terriers_, TFH Pub.,
   Nicholas, Anna Katherine, _The Staffordshire Terriers_, TFH Pub.,
   Pounds, V.H. & Rant, Lilian V., _Staffordshire Bull Terriers: An
   Owner's Companion_. The Crowood Press, 1993.
   Staff Status, The Magazine of The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club,
   Inc. Available as a benefit of membership in the national breed club.
  Breed Welfare
   _Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue_
   Tony George, National Rescue Chairman
   60-36 68th Street
   Maspeth, NY 11378
  The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club, Inc (US)
   Linda Barker, Secretary
   7914 Pelleaux Road
   Knoxfille, TN 37938
  The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of Canada
   Squibs Mercier, Honorary Life Vice President
   Staffordshire Arms
   972 Connaught Avenue
   Ottawa, Ontario K2B 5M9
   The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club, Inc. (US) maintains listings of
   breeders throughout the United States. For assistance, contact:
   Judy Keller
          1956 Beachwood Drive, Freeland, WA 98249
    Staffordshire Bull Terrier FAQ
    Becky Taylor McGovern,
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