Spotlight on the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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Kennel Club Breed Standards

Staffordshire Bull TerrierAppearance

The Staffordshire should have a smooth coat, be well balanced and have immense strength for its size. It should appear muscular be highly active and agile.


Full of courage and tenacity, they are also expected to be highly intelligent and should be recognized for being affectionate especially with children.


The Staffordshire should be bold, fearless and totally reliable.

Head and Skull

The head is sort and deep with a broad skull. Cheek muscles should appear pronounced and a distinct stop should be evident, the foreface is short and the nose black.


Dark eyes are preferred but may bear some relation to coat colour. Round, of medium size, and set to look straight ahead. Eye rims dark.


Rose or half pricked, not large or heavy. Full, drop or pricked ears are highly undesirable.


Lips tight and clean. Jaws strong, teeth large, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.


Short and muscular, clean in its outline but gradually widening towards shoulders.


Legs are straight and well boned, they are set rather wide apart, showing no weakness at the pasterns, from which point feet turn out a little. Shoulders well laid back with no looseness at elbow.


Close-coupled, with level topline, wide front, deep brisket, well sprung ribs; muscular and well defined.


Well muscled, hocks well let down with stifles well bent. Legs parallel when viewed from behind.


Well padded, strong and of medium size. Nails black in solid coloured dogs.


Medium length, low-set, tapering to a point and carried rather low. Should not curl much.


Free, powerful and agile with economy of effort. Legs moving parallel when viewed from front or rear. Discernible drive from hindlegs.


Smooth, short and close.


Red, fawn, white, black or blue, or any one of these colours with white. Any shade of brindle or any shade of brindle with white. Black and tan or liver colour highly undesirable.


Desirable height at withers 36-41 cms (14 to 16 ins), these heights being related to the weights. Weight: dogs: 13-17 kgs (28-38 lbs); bitches 11-15.4 kgs.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.

In order to ensure a dog is likely to meet these stipulations, the breeder should be registered with the kennel Club and the puppies registered independently. If this is not the case then the stipulations cannot be guaranteed. That aside it is important to ensure the breed is one which may or may not suit a particular family environment. With this in mind we will now look at each of the breeds as a whole and their requirements to live a full and balanced life.

Jo’s Breed Overview

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is becoming recognised as an aggressive dog more and more in today’s society, many people are even calling for it to be added to the list of banned breeds. This poses a real contrast to years gone by when the breed was widely known for its gentle and affectionate temperament in particular with children. There are even quotes that they were called the ‘nanny dog’ because of their positive association with toddlers.

It must be recognised that the breed were originally bred for dog fighting and this was the focus, human attacks are not what they are bred to do! If breeding is to blame it is human intervention creating this problem as irresponsible individuals look to create more and more vicious and reactive animals.

Despite the aggression focus for this dogs breeding, they also possess many positive qualities, they have a wealth of intelligence, they are fearless and extremely loyal. It has been said that no breed shows more affection and attention towards its family than the staffie. Puppies are easy to house train and providing they have well managed socialisation and a leadership role is present for guidance they cope well with family life. They are prone to negative energy and get highly stressed when handled incorrectly or when an effective communication pathway is absent between them and their owners. They have a real fondness for people and despite their intimidating appearance they would rather avoid confrontation than antagonise it.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier PlayThe boisterous behaviour they are known for such as, jumping up, licking and nuzzling are all ways of expressing affection this can be tricky for inexperienced dog owners to manage and so again they are not recommended for first time owners. Likewise, owners preferring the quiet life are probably not suited to staffie ownership!

The staffies desire to please is easily exploited by some individuals who focus on bringing out their aggression, it is likely that the dogs that commit attacks to people have had some form of negative training focusing on bringing out and rewarding an aggressive reaction. It is sadly not uncommon to see individuals hanging their staffies from trees by their mouths to encourage their aggressive response!

For the correct management a confident firm handler is required. They can have a stubborn streak and be quite headstrong, effective socialisation at an early age is a must and all challenge responses even in play should be avoided. Vocalisation is common and this can be a real negative in their character to avoid it becoming a problem the dog needs to be trained when to stop. They may also be quite demanding and persistently attempt to elicit attention. This is draining and time consuming. They require strict routine and structure and a firm exercise plan, these dogs have plenty of energy and would not suit a household with little time to provide this care.

A common characteristic is that they may remain within their puppy like behaviour throughout their lives, this can become irritating and difficult to manage for individuals not prepared for this.

Life is never dull with a staffie in the house, but the down side of their need for human contact could result in destructive behaviour patterns when left alone. While their behaviour can be difficult to manage, they are generally a healthy breed requiring little or no veterinary care in their lives and in contrast to the Doberman the average cost of their ownership is much lower.

While insurance again is a must the monthly figure is more like £5-£10/ month. They are really easy to feed and so therefore cost in the region of £30/ month. The purchase price is variable anything from £100- £250 to buy, but the rescue centres are full of staffies so many can be picked up for a donation. Vaccination and worming fees are the same as the Doberman although weight wise they will require less worming tablets each time. This also equates to medications prescribed, the smaller the dog= the less they need!

Staffie PuppyDue to the difficulty in identifying true Staffordshire Bull Terriers against the cross’s and those with pitbull genetics, it has been impossible to find a reliable source for the logging of their attacks. That said there is a huge amount of media publicity available stating dog attacks requiring hospital treatment by Staffies. It may be this breed is becoming more prolific for aggressive tendencies as a result of individuals breeding for aggressive purposes but also we have to question the human individuals managing these dogs.

Why would such an amazing breed go from having a loving and respected relationship with humans and children to now being one of the breeds lining up for consideration on the banned dogs list. This fact is truly shocking and given our dogs do not have the ability to make such changes themselves, yet again the responsibility falls on the human counterpart.

Author: Jo Croft

Canine Behaviour Practitioner - VN MCFBA GODT

2 Responses to "Spotlight on the Staffordshire Bull Terrier"

  1. Asta Posted on June 7, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    Hey Jo,
    Where did you find this photo?
    This photo is of my dog “T-bone” ….. From a blog I started about 10 years ago when we moved to Perth, Australia.

    • Jo Croft Posted on June 8, 2015 at 6:38 am

      Hiya Asta
      Thanks for getting in touch. I was looking for a classic example of a Staffordshire bull terrier – it’s a beautiful picture.

      Are you happy for me to continue using it? If so, I would love to add T-bones name and a few words about him and a link to your site. Likewise I am happy to remove it if you prefer. He looks like a lovely dog.

      Just let me know what you would like me to do.

      Best wishes

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