Staffordshire Bull Terrier

England’s “Staffy” is Big-Hearted

One look at the Staffordshire bull terrier and you might be intimidated by its strong, powerful presence. With its brawny stance and almost larger-than-life jaws, the dog may give you the wrong first impression.

Take another look: Beneath the athletic build is a big-hearted pooch eager to bestow endless licks of affection and what he hopes is neverending lap time. This dog is a serious nuzzler and has become a popular choice of families in England and America.

Staffordshire bull terrier

The Staffordshire bull terrier shares a common ancestor with the bull terrier, the American bull terrier and the American Staffordshire terrier: an old English breed called the bull and terrier, which was bred specifically to hunt, bait game and participate in dog fighting.

During England’s early 1700s, bull and terrier dogs took place in “bull baiting,” during which bulls were isolated in a ring and tied to an iron stake which limited their movement so that the dogs could easily attack it. This blood sport was created to both entertain onlookers and tenderize the meat prior to being butchered.

By 1835, England introduced animal welfare laws and bull baiting came to a halt. At this time, however, fighting amongst dogs became a new sporting event and the bull and terrier—with its muscular build and aggressive temperament—became a powerhouse in the ring.

During the 19th century, the dog’s ancestral lineage included the bulldog, which was bred with a small English-type terrier breed to create the modern-day Staffordshire bull terrier.

More than one hundred years later, the Staffordshire bull terrier faced scrutiny as a potentially dangerous dog due to its breeding background. However, breeders have taken strides to develop a dog with a temperament suitable for human companionship—and become a family companion in all ways possible.

Some characteristics the Staffordshire bull terrier gained through its genetic makeup: courage, intelligence and perseverance.

Despite their ancestor’s dog-fighting history, the Staffordshire bull terrier is not known to make a good guard dog. After years of careful breeding, the dog has an affectionate disposition toward people and is not typically aggressive. It should be noted that any dog is capable of dangerous behavior, though, and as such obedience training is recommended.

The Staffordshire bull terrier displays a great deal of fondness around people, often nuzzling with its nose, giving paw and plenty of licks. The breed can be clingy with its owners and enjoys a lot of attention and playtime.

Staffordshire bull terrier

The Staffordshire bull terrier is a medium-sized dog, weighing on average between 25 and 40 pounds.

Well-known for its stocky, muscular build, the breed has a broad head and a short “face,” with pronounced cheekbones, a wide mouth and somewhat small, floppy ears.

The Staffordshire bull terrier can be one of several colors: brindled, blue, white, black, red, fawn or a combination of these colors mixed with white. The fur coat itself is smooth and very short.

Staffordshire bull terrier

While these medical conditions are generally uncommon they are known to occur in the breed. Your Staffordshire bull terrier will not necessarily develop any of the conditions listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.

  • Cataracts are an opacity of the lens of the eye and may cause blindness if not treated surgically. Symptoms can include discoloring of the pupil, and treatment may include surgery to remove the cataract.
  • Distichiasis occurs when eyelashes grow in the wrong spot and cause an eye irritation even to the point of scarred corneas. Treatment options your veterinarian can offer include manual removal, electrolysis, electrocautery, cryotherapy and surgery.
  • Hydroxyglutaric aciduria (L2HGA) is a metabolic disorder that results in seizures, behavioral changes and dementia-like symptoms around six months of age and sometimes later. A DNA test is now available to help detect the condition.
  • Mast cell tumors are the second-most common type of cancer diagnosed in dogs. Staffordshire bull terriers are known to be at a higher risk of mast cell cancer than most dog breeds. These tumors typically present themselves as lumps under the skin, or as unusual-looking skin tags that can change in appearance. If not treated—usually through surgical removal of the affected tissue—the cancer can spread to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, which is deadly. While one of the most common cancers in dogs, mast cell tumors can be successfully removed with a lower chance of recurrence if diagnosed and treated in time.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.