Is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier the right dog for you? Are you seeking a small to medium-sized dog with a short, sleek, easy-care coat? Looking for a companion par excellence whose greatest desire is to live life at your side? Perhaps you have read Jock of the Bushveldt, or have seen one of these canine dynamos performing in the agility ring at a local dog show. Maybe you've encountered a Stafford while out walking and wondered about how he could be playing so tirelessly with his owner and then stop and stand calmly, tail wagging, to accept the enthusiastic caresses of a toddler. The breed’s patience and gentle ways with children are legendary.
At first the Staffordshire Bull Terrier seems like a contradiction: he looks so tough, yet his approach to the human race is so loving and all-encompassing; "As early as three to four weeks of age," says Stafford enthusiast and author Steve Eltinge, "a Stafford puppy will often prefer human companionship to that of his mother."
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier standard speaks of the indomitable courage, high intelligence and tenacity that are the legacy of the breed's history. These virtues, combined with a love of people and a reliable and stable nature, make the Stafford an extremely versatile companion. Author Dieter Fleig describes the breed as "a sort of everybody's Man Friday."
A good Stafford is never shy or reclusive and, conversely, should not be snarling and mouthy around people. The latter is not "game," but unstable, and probably improperly socialized. Be aware, however, that the Stafford was originally bred to fight other dogs and that many still retain an antipathy toward strange dogs. Many Staffords also possess a strong "prey drive," i.e., a desire to chase, catch and kill rodents and small mammals. That said, it must be added that a great many Staffords live in harmony with other household pets, having grown up with them in a properly supervised household.
Look for a friendly puppy or adult bursting with health and vitality. His keen, piercing and intelligent eyes should suggest complete awareness and even the possibility that he is reading your mind! In older dogs, the stance should be indicative of readiness: poised and up on the toes. Breed scribe John Gordon describes the aura of a temperamentally correct Stafford as, "vibratory in energetic outline." Staffords of any age display a level of energy and a bounty of enthusiasm unequaled in the canine world.
The Stafford is often described as "a buff little dude” by admirers, but perhaps the words of an old cigarette advertising campaign best describe the appearance of the typical Stafford: "So round . . . so firm . . . so fully packed!"
Please check out the NATURE OF THE BEAST article to learn more about the mannerisms, abilities, and inclinations that make the Stafford unique in the world of dogs.