Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breeders, Breed Clubs and Rescue
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a dog designed to fight; he was bred in the 18th and 19th centuries by crossing terriers with Bulldogs to produce an agile and immensely powerful dog. He would be pitted (the fight arenas were called ‘pits’) against bulls, bears or an equally matched dog, and the most successful Staffordshire Bull Terriers could earn their owners a lot of money.
There is a report of a dogfight at the Westminster Pit in 1823 where two dogs fought for an hour and fifty minutes, the winning owner taking 40 guineas home. Bull and bear baiting became illegal in 1835, but dog-fighting continued throughout the rest of the century and it was not until 1911 that dog fighting became illegal.
Although they were extremely vicious when fighting, Staffordshire Bull Terriers were (and are) superb family dogs and any sign of poor temperament in the home meant that they were disposed of; so although he can be argumentative with other dogs he is an exceptional family dog and the Breed Standard describes him as “highly intelligent and affectionate, especially with children”.
It is his great misfortune to be confused with the Pit Bull Terrier, a dog which bears a superficial resemblance to him, but has nothing in the way of the kindly, eager to please Staffie expression.
Surprisingly, the Staffordshire Bull Terrieris not reliable as a guard dog; he has been so carefully bred to be reliable with people that it is not in his nature to warn them off. However, he has an unfairly earned reputation of being aggressive, so unwelcome visitors tend to be deterred by his presence. This has led to him being singled out in many countries where Breed Specific Legislation is being or has been introduced against dangerous dogs; there is some particularly draconian legislation in the pipeline in some Canadian Provinces where prohibited breeds can be seized and used for laboratory experimentation. A totally reliable breed unless they are ill-treated, they need their friends to stand up for them.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a very popular dog in the show ring – the Staffordshire was recognised the The Kennel Club in 1935 – though he retains every ounce of his powerful muscularity and has certainly not become effete. He comes in almost all colours, solid or with white or any shade of brindle, but black and tan and liver are highly undesirable. This could be because a famous fighting dog, Bridget, was mismated to a black and tan street dog and the subsequent progeny were all cowards, and it is said “nearly ruined the fighting dogs of London”.
A delightful dog in the house, but caution needs to be exercised when he meets dogs unknown to him.
Rescue and Rehoming
If you need to rehome your own dog, first contact the breeder to see what support she can offer. If that doesn’t resolve your problem then contact one of the Rescue organisations or a Breed Club.