Monday, 2 May 2011
Although individual differences in personality exist, common traits exist throughout the Staffords. Due to its breeding, the modern dog is known for its character of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity. This, coupled with its affection for its friends, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, make it a foremost all-purpose dog. It has been said that "No breed is more loving with its family" It is the only breed to have the words 'totally reliable' in its breed standard. Furthermore, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is one of only two breeds from over 190 recognized by the UK Kennel Club to have a mention of the breed's suitability with children.
The breed is naturally muscular and may appear intimidating; however, because of their natural fondness for people, most Staffords are temperamentally ill-suited for guard or attack-dog training. Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppies are very easy to house train.
Press on bad behaviour
Since the UK Dangerous Dogs Act made it illegal to own breeds such as the pit bull terrier, the press have reported many cases of attacks by Staffordshire Bull Terriers or dogs described as a "Staffordshire bull terrier cross" on children, adults and family pets. The RSPCA fears that breeders are re-naming pit bulls as Staffordshire bull terriers to avoid prosecution. Also, the description "Staffordshire terrier cross" is frequently a euphemism for a dog such as the American Pit Bull Terrier. However, the Staffordshire bull terrier, like all dog breeds, is capable of dangerous behavior.
Several New South Wales state government reports analysing dog attacks have identified the Staffordshire bull terrier as the leading breed of dog responsible for biting humans (ahead of the Australian Cattle Dog, German Shepherd and Jack Russell Terrier) in that state. An earlier report in to breed specific legislation observed the likely reason for breeds most popular in Australia, such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers and their crosses, being represented as having a higher involvement in aggressive behaviour towards humans is due to sheer number of them in the community, and that it is still only a small percentage of animals within these breeds that cause issues.
Affinity with people
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are big-hearted and usually affectionate towards humans. They express their affection through jumping up, nuzzling, licking and pawing, and even when trained can still be 'fussy' with owners and others. Staffordshires are perhaps not suitable pets for those who prefer quiet, reserved dogs. Staffordshires are notably adaptable in terms of changing home or even owners, and unfortunately this can make them easy prey for dognappers.
RSPCA chief vet Mark Evans said: "Staffies have had a terrible press, but this is not of their own making - in fact they're wonderful dogs. If people think that Staffies have problems, they're looking at the wrong end of the dog lead! When well cared for and properly trained they can make brilliant companions. Our experience suggests that problems occur when bad owners exploit the Staffie's desire to please by training them to show aggression."
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is often subject to breed bans worldwide that target the Bull and Terrier family. However, Australia, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and New Zealand make clear a distinction between the American Pit Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier and thus are exempted from Breed Specific Legislation.
Before the 19th century, bloodsports such as bull baiting, bear baiting and cock fighting were common. Bulls brought to market were set upon by dogs as a way of tenderizing the meat and providing entertainment for the spectators; and dog fights with bears, bulls and other animals were often organized as entertainment for both royalty and commoners.
Early Bull and Terriers were not bred for the companion animals of today, but for the characteristic known as gameness, with the pitting of dogs against bear or bull testing this attribute along with the strength and skill of the dog. These early "proto-staffords" provided the ancestral foundation stock for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. This common ancestor was known as the "Bull and Terrier".
These bloodsports were officially eliminated in 1835 as Britain began to introduce animal welfare laws. Since dogfights were cheaper to organize and far easier to conceal from the law than bull or bear baits, bloodsport proponents turned to pitting their dogs against each other instead. Dog fighting was used as both a bloodsport (often involving gambling) and a way to continue to test the quality of their stock. For decades afterward, dog fighting clandestinely took place in pockets of working-class Britain and America. Dogs were released into a pit, and the last dog still fighting (or occasionally, the last dog surviving) was recognized as the winner. The quality of pluckiness or "gameness" was still highly prized, and dogs that gave up during a fight were reviled as "curs".
As time went on the modern breed evolved into one with a temperament suitable for a pet and companion. It gained respectability, becoming a dog worthy to show, and was accepted by The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom as the Staffordshire bull terrier in 1935. Examples of the breed currently found in the United States have no local fighting history, being descendants of the later show dogs who migrated over the Atlantic from the United Kingdom.
The breed attained recognition to The Kennel Club on 25 May 1935. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club was formed in June 1935, a couple of months after the breed was recognised by the kennel club. It is unusual for a breed to be recognised without a club in existence first, and even more unusual for there not to have been a breed standard in place. A standard was not drawn up until June 1935 at the Old Cross Guns, a Black country pub in Cradley Heath in the west Midlands. A group of 30 Stafford enthusiasts gathered there and devised the standard, as well as electing the club's first secretary, Joseph Dunn, a well known figure in the breed. Challenge certificates were awarded to the breed in 1938, and the first champions were Ch. Gentleman Jim (bred by Joseph Dunn) and Ch. lady Eve (owned by Joseph Dunn), both taking their titles in 1939.
Staffordshires were imported into the US during this time. Though very popular in the United Kingdom, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has not gained the same fame in the United States.
In the US many were imported by pit fighters and used in their breeding programs to produce the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. Many were imported by British nationals who brought their dogs with them or U.S. expatriates who fell in love with the breed in England and brought it home. The breed was recognized in the U.S. by the American Kennel Club in 1975.
Common health problems
As with any breed, irresponsible breeding can cause the spread of hereditary genetic flaws. Tests are performed to screen for these conditions.
Two of the conditions that can be detected by DNA testing are: L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria (L2HGA), a metabolic disorder resulting in behavioural changes and dementia-like symptoms; and Hereditary Cataracts (HC). This testing need only be done once. There are another two conditions which can be checked by way of an ocular examination throughout the life of a breeding stud or brood-bitch to minimize the transfer and spread of these conditions. The first is distichiasis (commonly known as “double eyelash”) where eyelashes are misdirected and begin to rub against the eye, particularly the cornea, causing ocular surface damage. The second is Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous (or PHPV) which is a condition whereby the blood supply to the ocular lens fails to regress and fibrovascular tissue forms causing hazy vision.
The breed is known to be at a higher risk from mastocytoma (mast cell tumours) than the general population of dogs.
Puppies should be wormed at two to three weeks and no later. There are simple, liquid forms of wormer that are easy to give at this early age. The pups will need to be wormed at least twice more before they go to their new homes at around eight weeks of age. Always weigh the puppies and follow the instructions exactly.
A puppy of the breed.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium-sized, stocky, and very muscular dog with athletic ability, with a similar appearance to the much larger American Staffordshire terrier and American pit bull terriers. They have a broad head, defined occipital muscles, a relatively short foreface, dark round eyes and a wide mouth with a clean scissor-like bite (the top incisors slightly overlap the bottom incisors). The ears are small. The cheek muscles are very pronounced. Their lips show no looseness, and they rarely drool. From above, the head loosely resembles a triangle. The head tapers down to a strong well-muscled neck and shoulders placed on squarely spaced forelimbs. They are tucked up in their loins and the last 1-2 ribs of their ribcage are usually visible. Their tail resembles an old fashioned pump handle. Their hind quarters are well-muscled and are what give the Staffy drive when baiting. They are colored brindle, black, red, fawn, blue, white, or any blending of these colors with white. White with any color over an eye is known as piebald or pied. Skewbald is white with fawn patches. Liver-colored and black and tan dogs sometimes occur but are rare. The coat is smooth and clings tightly to the body giving the dog a streamlined appearance.The dogs stand 36 to 42 cm (14 to 17 in) at the withers and weigh 14 to 18 kg (31 to 40 lb) for males; bitches are 11 to 15.4 kg (24 to 34 lb).