Understanding Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
At Holidays 4 Dogs we care for every type of dog you could imagine. Because we recognise that every dog is an individual, we match our clients very carefully to a suitable carer who will meet the needs of both you, and your dog. This article will discuss Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Often misunderstood, these dogs can make lovable pets. We discuss their characteristics and suitability as pets, in addition to their reputation as ‘status dogs’.
The ancestors of the Staffordshire bull terrier (SBT) included bulldogs and terriers. This produced a dog with a heavy skull, but good agility – required traits for dog fighting activities. They were popular with miners and steelworkers in the Midlands and the Black Country.
Thankfully, the humane act of 1835, prohibited the activity of dog fighting. By 1935 the Kennel Club registered the breed officially and they entered the world of dog shows. They were registered as Staffordshire bull terriers to separate them from the English bull terrier.
However, the popularity of these dogs as fighting dogs has re-emerged in recent decades. The concern over illegal street dog fighting is often fuelled by high profile reports in the media linking them to youth gangs and violent behaviour.
But what does this really say about Staffordshire bull terriers?
Sadly, bull breeds like SBT’s have become associated with street gangs and illegal activity. As a result, in 2009, the Metropolitan Police Force set up a dedicated ‘Status Dog Unit’ to tackle rising numbers of incidents surrounding their ownership. But is this fair on the dog in question?
Dangerous Dogs Act.
The Dangerous Dogs Act names four breeds illegal to own in the UK – the Pit Bull, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro.
The list does not include Staffordshire bull terriers. However, in 2018, activists called for these dogs to be added to the banned breed register. Animal welfare charities including the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA rejected this proposal. Finally, in April this year, (2023) the UK Government rejected proposals for the Staffordshire bull terrier to be added to the list of banned breeds.
Indeed, most welfare organisations in the UK are against breed-specific legislation in the first place. Many people want to see this replaced with higher sanctions for dog owners themselves.
What do breed clubs have to say about the Staffordshire bull terrier?
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Council U.K. state these dogs were bred not just for their fighting drive, but for their ability to be good companions.
Similarly, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club UK describes the dog as, “people orientated”. These dogs love human company and like to be with their owners all the time.
Sometimes, Staffordshire bull terriers are referred to as, “nanny dogs”. This is because they are reputed to be particularly gentle with children.
‘Deed not Breed’.
Unfortunately, however, they can sometimes have a tendency to be reactive towards other dogs if they feel challenged. Arguably, this could equally apply to many other breeds. If socialised properly, there is no reason why they can’t get along with other animals. Deed not Breed Ltd, a not-for-profit company set up to oppose breed specific legislation, argue that ;-
“no breed of dog is inherently more dangerous than any other”.
Unfortunately ‘Staffies’, as they are affectionately known, have earned a bad reputation simply by the human company they keep. The dogs are often subject to mistreatment and abuse by their owners.
In 2010, the R.S.P.C.A. reported a rise in dogs being treated for stab wounds and injuries associated with dog fighting, at their Harmsworth Memorial Hospital in London. The likelihood is, these dogs are subject to more suffering and cruelty, possibly more than other breed.
In 2011 Battersea Dogs home reported on the vast numbers of unwanted ‘staffies’ coming through their doors. Over 40% of new arrivals were Staffordshire bull terriers and staff appealed for homes to come foreword for this much maligned breed.
As Battersea staff point out, these sociable and sensitive dogs are the type who struggle most with isolated kennel life.
Many of our Holidays4Dogs carers have experience of Staffordshire bull terriers and similar breeds. They realise that Staffordshire bull terriers, under normal circumstances, can be one of the most affectionate and loyal breeds to own.
As Battersea Dogs Home point out, due to their sociable nature, these dogs fare less well in traditional boarding kennels and thrive much better being looked after by knowledgeable dedicated carers, such as those found at Holidays 4 Dogs.
Staffordshire bull terriers are certainly an energetic breed, possibly not suited to first time dog’s owners. However, a well socialised ‘Staffie’ can make for a lively and loyal family companion.
They are intelligent and agile and many compete at the highest level in agility and obedience. They do require good socialisation and training because they sometimes ‘bristle’ with strange dogs; although this is not unique to the breed and is certainly not true of all Staffordshire bull terriers.
Understanding the needs and nuances of every breed is something Holidays 4 Dogs, as a prestigious home boarding company, makes it their business to know.
Holidays4Dogs treat every dog as an individual and do not discriminate on breed type alone. However, our carers express to us the breeds they are happy to accept, some love larger breeds including guard breeds others prefer smaller breeds. We will only offer you a carer that is comfortable with your dog’s breed type.
(N.B. Please be aware there is sometimes difficulty finding carers who will accept mature (1 year +) entire (un-neutered) male guard breeds specifically Rottweilers and Staffordshire bull terriers and American bull dogs – but we will try our best! Holidays4Dogs does not accept Pit Bull type breeds, or those registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act).