“I don’t want a show dog, I just want a pet.”

“I don’t want a show dog, I just want a pet.”

This is one of the most pervasive sentiments that puppy buyers, especially families, express when they’re looking for a dog. What they really mean, of course, is that they don’t want a show BREEDER – don’t want to pay the high price they think show breeders charge, don’t want to go through the often-invasive interview process, and think that they’re getting a better deal or a real bargain because they can get a Lab for $300 or a Shepherd for
$150.

I want you to change your mind. I want you to not only realize the benefits of buying a show-bred dog, I want you to INSIST on a show-bred dog. And I want you to realize that the cheap dog is really the one that’s the rip-off. And then I want you to go be obnoxious and, when your workmate says she’s getting a puppy because her neighbor, who raises them, will give her one for free, or when your brother-in-law announces that they’re buying a goldendoodle for the kids, I want you to launch yourself into their solar plexus and steal their wallets and their car keys.

Here’s why:

If I ask you why you want a Maltese, or a Lab, or a Leonberger, or a Cardigan, I would bet you’re not going to talk about how much you like their color. You’re going to tell me things about personality, ability (to perform a specific task), relationships with other animals or humans, size, coat,
temperament, and so on. You’ll describe playing ball, or how affectionate you’ve heard that they are, or how well they get along with kids.

The things you will be looking for aren’t the things that describe just “dog”; they’ll be the things that make this particular breed unique and unlike other breeds.

That’s where people have made the right initial decision – they’ve taken the time and made the effort to understand that there are differences between breeds and that they should get one that at least comes close to matching their picture of what they want a dog to be.

Their next step, tragically, is that they go out and find a dog of that breed for as little money and with as much ease as possible.

You need to realize that when you do this, you’re going to the used car dealership, WATCHING them pry the “Audi” plate off a new car, observing them as they use Bondo to stick it on a ’98 Corolla, and then writing them a check and feeling smug that you got an Audi for so little.

It is no bargain.

Those things that distinguish the breed you want from the generic world of “dog” are only there because somebody worked really hard to get them there. And as soon as that work ceases, the dog, no matter how purebred, begins to revert to the generic. That doesn’t mean you won’t get a good dog – the magic and the blessing of dogs is that they are so hard to mess up, in their good souls and minds, that even the most hideously bred one can still be a great dog – but it will not be a good Shepherd, or good Puli, or a good Cardigan. You will not get the specialized abilities, tendencies, or talents of the breed.

If you don’t NEED those special abilities or the predictability of a particular breed, you should not be buying a dog at all. You should go rescue one. That way you’re saving a life and not putting money in pockets where it does not belong.

If you want a purebred and you know that a rescue is not going to fit the bill, the absolute WORST thing you can do is assume that a name equals anything. They really are nothing more than name plates on cars. What matters is whether the engineering and design and service department back up the name plate, so you have some expectation that you’re walking away with more than a label.

Keeping a group of dogs looking and acting like their breed is hard, HARD work. If you do not get the impression that the breeder you’re considering is working that hard, is that dedicated to the breed, is struggling to produce dogs that are more than a breed name, you are getting no bargain; you are only getting ripped off.

-Author unknown

Just be decent

Anytime your name appears on a list that someone took the time to calculate and post and its some sort of recognition or achievement – be proud! It’s exciting to see your hard work be recognized no matter how or what the criteria were for that recognition. You went out and did something and got recognized in a positive manner by somebody out there and it got shared with the world. Go you! I know I am proud of you! Congratulations!

Sadly, social media allows for all the negative Nancy’s to freely post their unkind comments on the sharing of the list for whatever negative reasons negative people have for being negative. Thats simply who they are. It’s their nature. They are not able to scroll on by quietly, muttering their nasty negative comments to themselves or their housemates. . . . they just can’t. In fact some are such party poopers they even take the time to seek out anytime the list is posted just to be able to announce why that achievement is unimportant. They feel the world needs to have this information. They deem it insignificant badly calculated, therefore the whole world of social media must be told of this fact.

Who knows why these type of people act like this. What other people do is their business. It reflects badly upon those who mock these achievements, not those on these celebratory lists . . . no matter how they are calculated, no matter where they are published, no matter how unimportant some people think them to be.

To all who see their name on a list for recognition of an achievement of any type – WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO! You went out and did a thing! Be happy! Be proud. You are amazing. Thank you for doing something and its fantastic you were recognized!

Also – your actions are noticed by a lot of people. We see you there. Keep on being you and doing your thing. 🥇🏆

But I cant find a BLUE puppy!

I see a lot of people new to the world of Staffords say that they are looking for a ‘blue’ and asking how to find one from a good breeder. Although I have addressed this topic several times in my blog the posts do tend to get lost over time so let me discuss this again. 

First of all – there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a color preference when looking for a pet. In Staffords we will often, mostly, see breeders who only own reds or only piebalds or only brindle/black brindle. Its normal to have preferences. 

Second, when seeking a new Stafford puppy no matter what color you are thinking about buying color and price should be the last part of the equation but its usually first thing we hear asked about. Again, normal – this is mainly due to not understanding genetics and responsible breeding. Usually, once a new buyer learns the differences in how different breeders operate they know better what to look for and what is a red flag to run from. 

I also understand that just like there are varying types of breeders, there also are varying types of buyers. Some just want to send money and get a puppy like an Amazon order. Tell the breeder what color, sex and price you are willing to pay and send your deposit – then receive your puppy. It is my very strong opinion this is a horrible way to buy an animal which will be living with you for hopefully up to 15+ years. 

So here is some more information – take it for what its worth – My opinions are based upon 16 years of helping with Stafford rescue, owning, breeding, studying the breed and mentoring others.  What I am about to say is just my understanding and my views based upon my personal experiences. Your mileage may vary. 

When looking for a Stafford look for a breeder whom you can trust, who will offer support and mentorship and who is not just simply paying their bills by making puppies. Its pretty easy to get around a slick website just with a phone call, but if you still aren’t sure ask them some questions or send an introductory email. There is a popular list of ten essential questions to ask but really – make a list of issues important to you and ask. You are interviewing the breeder as much as they are interviewing you. At least – there SHOULD be interviewing going on. If not and all you get is – send a deposit – IMO that’s a red flag folks. You may want to look at what health testing is being done. Possibly look at how they raise their own dogs. You might wish to see living conditions where their dogs live and where puppies are raised. Perhaps have a look at how involved they are in the Stafford community. Mostly – read the contracts you are required to sign. Are you okay with a strict contract or are you seeking a no strings attached sale? We are all okay with different agreements. Just be comfortable with your purchase.

The main thing to concern yourself about as far as wanting a blue Stafford is this – is the breeder producing blue on purpose? Are they putting two blue parents together knowing they will get blue puppies? Is the only color they produce blue? Is every single litter all blue or blue/white? What do their dogs look like? Do they look the same as the brindles or reds or piebalds you see on FB from breeders you think are responsible people? Do they look like Staffords? Are you being fed lines about how they are producing ‘leggier/sporty/champion pedigrees’ or any other marketing flash? Are they more concerned about selling puppies than they are about getting to know you and how their puppy will live?

Unlike when a breeder mates two reds or two black brindles, when two blues are put together this is purposeful dilute combination breeding. This is breeding for a specific market instead of breeding for the whole dog. Breeding should be done carefully with much attention focused on health, temperament, structure, type and more. It should NOT be only about the color! Breeding only red or black brindle or white is an entirely different conversation – and (except for all white) usually doesn’t have the health issues which continuously mating blue to blue only has.

Putting two dilute affected dogs together can only produce dilute affected dogs. What’s wrong with dilute to dilute you ask? Genetically, its rather complicated and can lead to many long term issues, but the easy answer is dilute to dilute is furthering the dilutions causing other problems to arise such as allergy problems, coat breakage, coat thinning, alopecia, blowing coat, lacking breed type, lacking pigment, losing eye/nose/pad color and when done often enough the lack of breed type extends to temperament as well. We (rescue around the world) have seen ‘Staffords’ from long lines of dilute to dilute who are not as stable in temperament as the Stafford has always been known for. This is not a good thing. We see yellow eyes, bad feet, fleshy muzzles, fear aggression, shyness and other problems which seem to appear more often in these blue to blue produced Staffords. I can’t explain this scientifically but I have observed it.

If a breeder is putting two brindles together and they get a blue puppy that’s completely different. If a breeder owns a blue bitch and puts her to a brindle/black brindle dog the responsible thing to do is coat color DNA testing (now that this tool is available) to make sure that dog is not a dilute carrier. A black brindle dog who is a carrier should ideally only be used on a bitch who is not a carrier, and vice versa. These combinations are not as much of a health risk as continuous blue to blue, in my opinion. I bred my brindle bitch to a brindle dog who was known to have produced a dilute in the past. This was prior to coat color DNA testing being available. Instead I, and my mentors, researched pedigrees and we went back 9 generations without finding evidence of a blue puppy. We felt safe. Guess what we got? Two blue puppies! It happens. I kept one and I sold one. He was sold on a no breeding contract. My blue bitch was only bred to non dilute carriers and only produced brindle and black brindle. She also has a very different coat from the non dilutes we own. Her coat breaks easily, gets bleached in the sun easily and she blows her coat something fierce twice a year! Currently she is so bald I have to use sunscreen on her. The coat will come back and it will look beautiful and dark again, but I mention this b/c it is different from her non dilute family members.

The argument put forth by the masses is that breeders purposefully breeding blue to blue to blue to blue are only in it for the money. Sure, I would agree, no doubt this is the case – however – many breeders who only breed red to red, black brindle to black brindle, piebald to piebald can essentially be guilty of this as well so that argument fails for me. For me its more a matter of preserving the breed in ALL aspects. There are bad breeders of all colors and types. I know of some horrific situations coming out of kennels of colors other than just blue from my time helping rescue and also what I have observed in the show world. There are some excellent very slick and shiny fancy salespeople out there. Do your homework. If you insist you ONLY want a blue Stafford puppy – thats fine too – let a reputable breeder help you locate one from another responsible breeder who just happened to get some blue ones in a litter of non dilute puppies. Same rules apply – be comfortable with what you buy.

All I am saying here is STOP looking for your puppy and START looking for your breeder. 

Looking for a Stafford puppy?

We receive emails and calls (sometimes even texts) almost daily from people looking to add a Stafford puppy to their home. There are days when I feel nobody really takes the time to read our website and it’s just an email to every breeder they can find asking if a puppy is for sale…..more on this later.

For now I want to compile a list of those breeders whom we feel we can recommend with a clear conscience to people looking. I assume they will all buy one from someplace so I may as well try to steer them to people whom I respect. My criteria to be on my list are not unreasonable and each breeder would not have to meet them all – criteria are the following:

• Following some sort of enrichment protocol with each puppy

• Be willing and able to prove basic health testing, whether by providing certificates or OFA link, not only a ‘clear by parentage’ statement.

• Be willing to remain in contact with buyers for support if needed

• Be willing to take back the puppy for any reason, at any age.

• Register the puppy with AKC prior to them leaving the breeders home

• Microchip and register the chip prior to the puppy leaving the breeders home.

• Not require showing/breeding/puppies back in contract

• Their dogs live in the home and not in kennel runs full time

• Mentor!

I honestly do not feel this is unrealistic. Of course we do much more than this list but this is the basics I would ask of a breeder whom I were to recommend. I know this breed doesn’t have enough responsible breeders producing enough puppies for each person who wants to buy one. And I also know that this is why there are so many irresponsible breeders out there paying their bills off their dogs. Pumping out puppies to fill a demand is what happens. They are seeing a void and filling that void and it would cost them time and money to do things the way we do them. I get that. I also know I cannot control what other people do. Its not my business.

When it becomes my business is when we get them in shelters, rescue, rehome situations and when the Staffords are being used for creating mix breeds or sold to people who honestly have no clue about the breed. This is when we see trouble. Recently I saw a post on NextDoor from a person who was giving away their ‘Stafford’ they bought from a breeder I know well because they were never told that the dog could possibly mature to not like other animals. They took the Stafford to dog parks and on off lead walks all the time and one day it killed another dog. They were shocked. The fact a Stafford grew up and killed another dog does not shock me but what DOES is that they HAD NO CLUE this was possible.

Thus I am compiling a list of breeders whom I feel comfortable suggesting to those contacting me.

Heartbreak

Some milestones that we as breeders reach are goals we have set for ourselves. When we reach these milestones there is celebration and a feeling of success. Other milestones are not a reason to celebrate and we all, eventually, will reach them.

One such event is the loss of the first dog of your breeding. You were there when the dog was born and you remember that day like it was yesterday. You recall holding that tiny helpless baby in your hands and marveling at his perfect form. You remember counting those adorable tiny toes and kissing that adorable tiny nose. Your heart swelled with love and you couldn’t even believe how much love you already had for these beautiful babies and their mother. Its your first litter and one you will never forget.

You remember the day he went home with his new owners, all smiles, and you knew he was going to have a new life where he could enjoy his new family and meet new dogs and go on new trips and adventures – and you hope that one day you get to see him again.

The day you learn one of those puppies (now a grown adult dog) has lost his life will stop your heart for a split second. You find you are holding you breath. You are at a loss for words and you know the pain that owner is going through is connected to your pain. You sometimes find it difficult to find the words to comfort the owner because you also need to hear those words. But you do it. You tell them how much the dog was loved and how you won’t ever forget him either.

You know this day will arrive but you never plan for it. Nothing you can do can prepare you for that news. That day was today. It was an accident. Not expected. I’ve been numb all day long. I looked through photos and I watched old videos (including the litter whelping videos – yes I videoed it!)

You look at the dogs mother, now 11 and gray, and you know she has no connection to her offspring once they leave her but you hug her just the same and you tell her you love her. When the tears begin to fall they fall for every dog you ever lost. Big ugly crocodile tears begin to fall and they dont stop for a while either. You have lost a lot of dogs and they all need these tears today. You need these tears today.

Run free CH Wavemaker Spincaster – and run free your two friends who lost their lives with you early this morning. I miss you already handsome Tackle.