The Staffordshire Bull Terrier originates from the region of Staffordshire, England in the 19th century and is genetically related to the Mastiff and the Bull Terrier. When bear- and bull-baiting were banned, people who’d made a living off that bloodsport started mixing the Elizabethan bear-baiting, bull-baiting mastiff type ‘Bulldogs’ with terriers to reduce their size. The goal was to get a smaller, more agile dog that would be fit for dogfighting instead of attacking larger animals. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a local version of the various fighting dogs that resulted, originating in the coal mining areas of Staffordshire, England. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, like all breeds, retains the traits its forebears were bred for – in this case, the trait referred to as “gameness”. “Gameness” is an eagerness to engage in fighting activities and willingness to continue despite injury or pain to the attacking dog. Originally no more than 16” at the shoulder, these Mastiff / ‘molosser’ descendants were classified as terriers by the British Kennel Club in 1935, partly to disguise their fighting history. The breed wasn’t recognized by the AKC until 1975. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is nowadays often much larger, thus losing the main difference that distinguished them from the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. The Staffordshire is a Pit Bull type breed.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier can be a difficult and challenging breed to own. They can be very affectionate with their families and may be friendly to most strangers, but they are often wary of certain people and this is often unforeseeable. Despite being bonded to their families, there are cases where they have been aggressive or attacked a family member. At times, they can display unpredictable behaviors such as hostility and fear. They are happy dogs with an enthusiastic nature. They can be very energetic, and can lack boundaries, by jumping up, over licking, or pawing people. They have a tendency to chew and enjoy playing with chew toys. They are not recommended for owners who would like an even tempered dog. The breed is known to be fearless and often will hurt themselves by doing things such as jumping through windows or breaking through fences. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier can do well with children, but extreme caution should be taken due to their breed history and strength. Despite the often cited myth that this dog was a “nanny dog”, there is no evidence in history that they were ever bred to do well with or “babysit” children. One of the largest Pit Bull advocacy groups, Bad Rap, recently retracted the “nanny dog” myth and does not recommend Pit Bull types breeds around children.
This canine can do well with other animals if raised with them, but it is advised never to leave a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with other pets unsupervised. Staffordshire Bull Terriers often can be aggressive with unfamiliar animals and have been known to attack animals such as cats, dogs, horses and other livestock. There have been instances where they have been aggressive suddenly with animals they were raised with. Caution and careful observation should always be taken when introducing them to unfamiliar animals. They are not suitable for off leash dogs parks.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier needs proper socialization and training at an early age. They are high energy and can be a challenge to manage. They require a firm and consistent owner. They are very strong and handlers need to be in control at all times. Even with proper training and socialization, they can be difficult to control, displaying unwanted behaviors, including spontaneous outbursts of aggression. Also, we are talking about socialization to humans here. No amount of socialization will make a Staffordshire Bull Terrier less unpredictably aggressive towards other animals.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers need regular vigorous daily exercise. They are active indoors and outdoors. Long daily walks and play time can be ideal. If they do not receive enough exercise, they can become bored and destructive. Due to their energy and stamina, they can make great jogging partners.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers have minimal grooming requirements. They are prone to medical issues such as eye issues, hip dysplasia, and mast cell tumors. Common behavioral issues include OCDs and rage syndrome. They weigh between 23-40 lbs and can live 11-13 years.
In the United Kingdom, where the breed originated, from June 2013 to February 2014 Staffordshire Bull Terriers and other Pit Bull breeds have maimed 13 people and killed 4.