Beginners Start Here / FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Everyone agrees that, in the right ownership, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a wonderful
At the Downlands Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club,
we firmly believe that
prospective owners should consider owning a Stafford with all the facts in their
possession, rather than let anyone make a mistake that both owner and pet end up regretting.
We have a responsibility to Dogs and owners worldwide to tell the whole truth.
Should anyone have any further questions or
queries, or ideas that they feel would improve this facility, or wish to offer
advice, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staffords are short-haired and so do not shed very much at all. Bear in mind, though, that a white dog's hairs will show up against a dark background whatever you do, so if this is likely to be an issue for you then go for a darker coloured dog. Conversely, if you have a nice white three piece suite and your favourite clothes are all white, then a lighter coloured - i.e. white - dog is the logical choice for you.
Staffords are a very intelligent dog and do try to please; however the more of them are kept together the more difficult training becomes, but a single puppy shouldn't be too much trouble at all. At all times keep your expectations "in the real world". It may take six months before your puppy is house-trained, so don't expect it to be clean overnight from the moment you get it home. It may be two or three years before you manage to break the habit of it chewing or nipping sleeves, you may wave goodbye to some of your furniture or clothes. Staffords are no worse and no better than other dogs when it comes to this. You may be lucky, and you may not.
We recommend the use of training clubs rather than slogging away on your own, however this doesn't suit all dogs. Patience - indeed sometimes superhuman amounts - and a lot of love are what is required. Don't scream and shout excessively, don't beat your dog. Besides it being cruelty to animals, you don't want to break its spirit. Opinion is divided upon even whether a smart tap on the backside is acceptable.
And finally, know this. If you ever even
think about kicking your Stafford, you aren't fit to keep one.
Staffords are fairly typical of dogs in general; so they will tend to chase
anything that moves. However, it is possible, that with firm training, that they can be discouraged.
There are Staffords that live quite happily with cats; there are also horror
stories about the same thing. Apply common sense and all should be
well. Don't, and risk tragedy.
Staffords are not prone to many inherent health problems, however there is a very slight incidence of hereditary cataracts in certain blood lines (this is currently being researched in the UK) and you should also check that it is PHPV (Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous) clear. If you don't intend to breed from your stock then this won't be an issue. If you do, or might, then the Dog Press will have details of testing sessions. At the time of writing (October 2003), the author paid £17.50 a week ago to have his puppy tested. (If anyone's interested, she was PHPV Clear and HC Unaffected).
Currently there is a lot being said and written
about L2-Hydroxy-glutaricaciduria (L2-HGA) - the so-called "Wobbly
Dog" syndrome. Despite its patronising and rather
"cute" sounding common name, this is a very distressing condition that
is still being researched. The dog is otherwise healthy and appears to be
in no pain, but its hindquarters do not seem to be under the control of its
central nervous system. Luckily, it seems that there are very few dogs who
have the full-blown manifestation of the disease, but early indications are that
as many as 15% of Staffords could be carrying it. A DNA test has been
developed, which should be used on the sire and dam prior to breeding.
Hopefully, in time, L2-HGA will be eradicated as carriers should be withdrawn
from breeding. Before buying a puppy, check that its parents are both
certified L2-HGA clear.
It is important not to exercise young puppies too much too soon as this
may cause luxating patellae (slipping knee-caps) - contrary to common belief,
and indeed, Kennel Club advice, Staffords do not need excessive exercise.
Again, be sensible, a Stafford will walk with you for miles at its own
comfortable pace with lots of stops for sniffing etc. No-one is advocating
tying your dog to a bicycle and pedalling ten miles at a fair pace. Yes,
it has been known. No, you shouldn't even consider it.
Staffords fight with other dogs?
Keeping two male Staffords is often not the greatest of ideas. There may be contests to establish which is the "Alpha Male" and these can be bloody and sometimes to the death. If you're keeping two dogs and have got away with it, then kudos to you. However most breeders do not recommend taking the chance.
People involved in organised dog fights in any
way, shape or form, are mindless, barbaric scum and unfit to keep dogs.
Dog fighting is illegal in the United Kingdom and anyone involved in this
so-called sport will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Staffords easy to handle?
Never put a choke chain on a Stafford, whether
for walking, or as some kind of permanent collar. Staffords and choke
chains do not mix. They have been known to choke themselves into
unconsciousness and indeed there are incidents of them hanging themselves.
Again, if you use a choke chain and have got away with it then you've been lucky
so far. Our advice remains: Don't risk it!
Many clubs have puppy co-ordinators. At the Downlands Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club there are three puppy co-ordinators. Gill Thomas is our Downlands Northern Region (North Hants, Surrey, Essex) puppy co-ordinator, Andy Land is our Downlands South West Region (Dorset, Wiltshire) puppy co-ordinator and Jamie Mace is our Downlands South East and Central (South Hants, Sussex) puppy co-ordinator. All can be contacted via our 'puppies' page.
It is also possible to obtain an older Stafford from the Rescue service - often these are dogs whose owners have been unable to cope and have needed to put it on the Rescue. There is often an advantage here as the dogs may be trained or house trained already.
Probably the best advice we can give is for anyone interested to contact their local club secretary, or Rescue and ask. You can get the numbers from The Kennel Club. There's also a link to a couple of Rescues on our links page.
Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, as a club we
are not really in a position to start passing judgement on individual breeders
and breeding. Although
there is a breed standard, different aspects appeal to different people, so it
all depends what you're looking for. If we were to start commenting on
this sort of thing then we would open ourselves up to all sorts of criticism -
not the least of which is the risk of being open to accusations of libel,
slander and malicious gossip. Quite apart from this, members of our
committee are almost without exception breeders and so could be accused of
There can be dramatic regional variations in price. We have heard
horror stories of them changing hands for as much as £1000, but also have heard of
puppy re-homings where a donation to Stafford Rescue is all that is asked. It's best to ask around locally.
As a rule of thumb, and at the time of writing (April 2003) we would reckon
that between £400 and £500 is probably what you'd pay.
A reputable breeder will ensure that you are
given a diet sheet telling you what to feed your Stafford. This diet will
vary depending on the age (and possibly sex) of the dog, and even from animal to
animal. We are in the process of compiling some sample diet sheets.
Each breed has its own set of specific colours....
bear this in mind - for instance, a black Border Terrier is called a 'blue', but a black
Stafford is black. A Brown Stafford is a 'Red'. A Grey-ish Stafford
is a 'Blue' (these are comparatively rarely seen).
You've read all the advice available and thought that it's still for you. You've contacted a breeder, selected a puppy, agreed the price, paid, got it home.....and it's all gone terribly wrong. You've tried really hard, but you're at your wits' end, and it's the puppy or you. What should you do?
Don't do any of the dreadful things you read about in papers, like throwing it out of the window on a motorway, or drowning it in a plastic bag in the local canal. There is never a need for this, and indeed the unfeeling, inhuman so-called people that commit these sorts of atrocities should have that sort of treatment meted out to them.
The first thing (and in the vast majority of cases the only thing you need to do) is to contact the breeder for advice. Most breeders will, in the last resort, take the puppy back (warning - the additional burden that this places upon the breeder of reintegrating the "prodigal puppy" into their home, and the extra care, feeding, and work taken in re-homing your "misfit" make it unlikely that you'll get your money back. This may seem harsh, but if you'd bought something from a shop and decided that it didn't fit in at home then you wouldn't get your money back then either. You've changed your mind, you have to cope with that). If you are singularly unlucky enough to find one of the infinitesimally small number that don't want to know (and as in all walks of life, there are "rogue traders" out there) then you should contact your local Stafford Rescue. Don't turn your puppy loose on the street, it's your error, you owe it to the puppy and indeed to yourself to act responsibly. There are links to Rescues all over the internet, or you could contact your local breed club secretary who may know who the local representative is. Bear in mind, again, that the chances are you will be asked for a donation to offset some of the cost incurred by these voluntary and very worthwhile organisations. Which, after all, is only reasonable as they are being expected to clear up the aftermath of a very unfortunate situation.
Apologies to the 99.999% of readers who would not dream of subjecting a living entity to any, or any variation on the "nightmare scenarios" above, and may have found the implications offensive. However, if one dog or bitch puppy is saved from a horrific end as a result of reading this, then we offer no apologies and will stand by what's written here.
How can I get into judging?
...and many more....