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. 

So you think you want a Stafford?

Every morning I check my email and usually see a request or two for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy or re-home/rescue. Since I run The Stafford Knot and rescue pages I hear all the time how “I have had ‘staffy’ mixes, or I have had ‘pit bull dogs’ or some other story about how prepared they are and how familiar they are with Staffords. I bite my tongue sometimes but often I come right out and tell the people – no…no you didn’t own a Stafford ‘mix’ or a real APBT and even if you did you honestly have no idea what a purebred Stafford is like to live with.

Shelters will label all boxy headed bulldog looking mix breeds as ‘staffy mix’ because that will adopt our more easily than pit bull mix will. Therefore 1000’s of people think they own a ‘Staffordshire’ and will swear to the end of their lives that is true. Then they feel a purebred Stafford is the same as all of the mixed breeds out there. Again, not true. But you cannot convince these people. Temperament of a Stafford is so much busier than most APBT mixes. There are similarities, but once you have spent time with purebred Staffords you can just ‘feel’ or ‘see’ a difference… the nuances may be small but they are there.

This is not the breed for everyone.

I have told countless people after hearing what they are seeking to look at other breeds. Sometimes this is met with resentment, anger, arguments . . . and other times I am thanked for my honesty. I have seen Staffords in shelter pulls for rescue who were sold to the wrong families and released due to just being Staffords. I have had owner surrenders come in because ‘the dog cant stop moving, too energetic, too mouthy, hates my neighbors dog/cat, jumps on people/furniture/my head. . . . knocks the kids down, too pushy trying to be on the baby’……you name it, I have heard it. AND I could have told these people prior to the sale they weren’t a good match.

Now, don’t misunderstand what I am telling you….Staffords are AMAZING companions….just not for every person/home/family….in my opinion. There are other people who think anyone can own the breed. Since being tightly involved in Stafford rescue for 16 years now I know this not to be true. Same way as a sighthound or a northern breed may not be the right breeds for our home. Sure, we could manage one….but if we are honest we aren’t a good match for either.

Two years ago my good friend John posted to his FB wall his thoughts on the topic:

“New stafford owners should be made aware of a few things before they take the plunge. Staffords are not average dogs, they are other than average. If you think your Stafford is strong, it’s probably stronger than you think. It can probably run faster and jump higher than you think too. They should not be underestimated. They have a lot of energy. They love people and can’t be cool about it. They might dislike other animals and they can’t be cool about that either. They need human companionship. They need to be with you. They play rough. They might play with their teeth. They’re affectionate to a fault. They can be relentless. They’ll be the best dog you’ll ever have, but people need to understand them going in, and be ready for the ride.”

John is a wise man in more ways than I can count. Trust his words.

But I want a blue puppy…..

Staffords come in many colors and while many of us have personal preferences about the color of a future member of the family, Type – Temperament – Soundness should come before your preferred color.Black Brindle, Brindle, Red, Faun, Pied (white with red or brindle patches), solid white and blue are all accepted colors in the AKC Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Standard. Black and Tan (with or without white) and Liver are also genetically possible colors in the breed and in the USA they are considered a disqualification, other parts of the world they are undesirable.Merle is NOT a color in our breed genetics, if you see a merle stafford consider it a bully mix and not a purebred staffordIf you find a breeder breeding for any of the following, please consider their motives before purchasing a puppy from them

  • Breeding specifically for blue (dilute of black) and only blue or a non standard color
  • Breeding 2 blue staffords together
  • One color sold for more money than another color – a reputable breeder will sell all pups at the same price regardless of color or sex

Breeding dilute to dilute can not only cause a lack in breed type and temperament, but has also been shown to cause health issues with those puppies. If you really just love blue then go to a breeder who not only fully health tests and can prove results (L2-HGA, HC, PHPV, CERF, Cardiac, OFA Hip, Patella) has non dilute Staffords which carry one copy of the dilute coat color gene and occasionally produce dilute coated puppies.As breeders we can’t order up specific colors and markings when we plan a litter, though we can genetically know what combinations the parents are capable of producing. White socks or a black eye patch are all up to mother nature.Find a breeder who’s dogs you like, let them know you lifestyle and what you are looking to do with your new pet and let them pick the puppy that will fit that lifestyle, whatever color they happen to be…..


Thank you Jodie Berry for helping to write the above article which mirrors the sentiments of many reputable Stafford breeders everywhere. I have written on this topic extensively since we had a litter from two brindles which produced two blues. Now breeders have access to reliable DNA coat color testing so we no longer need to get surprises. Stop shopping for color and start looking for a breeder who can help guide and mentor you through the process of finding your next healthy, well bred puppy. Please heed the well meaning advice of those who have experience and are willing to share their knowledge with you. We have this breed close to our hearts and are seeking to preserve it and introduce people to the breed in ways which promote the well being of Staffordshire Bull terriers – not pay our bills off of them.

Are You Hoping to Buy a Stafford Puppy?

Ask yourself if a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is the right breed for you and your family.  Do you understand the true nature of the breed? Staffords are not the right breed for everyone, they can be strong willed.  You need to know, warts and all, what you are letting yourself in for.  Speak to experienced owners before you decide.

  • can you afford to have a dog, taking into account not only the initial cost of purchasing the dog, but also the on-going expenses such as food, veterinary fees and canine insurance?  
  • can you make a lifelong commitment to a dog?  Average life span of a Stafford is 12-16 years. 
  • is your home big enough to house a Stafford? Is your yard totally secure? 
  • do you have time to exercise a dog every day? Staffords can become very naughty and destructive if they get bored or feel they aren’t getting the time they deserve. They’re a very people orientated breed and love human company. 
  • how long will the dog be left at home alone? Staffords get lonely just like humans. 
  • will you find time to train, groom and generally care for a Stafford?  Staffords are a very clever breed but need lots of time and consistent training from puppyhood to adult to help them become well-adjusted and better behaved individuals. Positive training will give you and your Stafford much better success than punitive type training. 
  • will you be able to answer YES to these questions every day of the year?  Only you can answer that but please think hard before you make your mind up.


SBTCA members and breeders who show will know of shows where you can meet Staffords and their owners.  They may know planned litters from reputable breeders who fully health test and disclose the results.  They have first-hand experience with the breed so are a good source to answer questions about the breed’s health, temperament or anything  Stafford related.  Breed Clubs are found around the country so there should be one fairly local or at the least they offer websites and FB pages with helpful information.  They should be the ‘first port of call’ for anyone looking for a Stafford puppy.  

Buying a Stafford should not be done ‘on the cheap’ nor should it come from a bad breeder no matter how sorry you feel for the pups. By buying there you’re condemning more pups to the same fate.  If the breeders can’t sell they’ll think twice before breeding again.  By going to a responsible Staffordshire Bull Terrier breeder you stand the best chance of getting a dog that will enjoy a happy and healthy life.

Beware of ads selling pups in local papers and on various dog selling sites on the internet, there are no background checks so any dodgy dealer can advertise there.  Alarm bells should ring if the ad reads like this: 

  • rare blue – they are clearly not rare.  As blue is a genetic dilute in SBTs (it is really a washed out brindle) it is unwise to breed ‘blue’ to ‘blue’ as it affects the genetic diversity of the colors in the breed, can promote health risks and even changes in temperaments can occur. 
  • Red Nose, Long Legged, Irish – there is only one AKC registered Stafford and that is the ‘Staffordshire Bull Terrier’, the other colorful names are given to various cross breeds.
  • rare Merle – the Merle is not genetically possible in this breed nor has it ever ever been.  There is no option to have pups of this color registered.  So if you see a merle colored Stafford ask yourself how did they manage that? 
  • father sired 200 litters – this just means that the dog has been used a lot……..another sales pitch.  
  • X $ amount for one color, X $ amount for the ‘rare’ colored puppies in the same litter – a reputable breeder will sell all pups at the same price regardless of color or sex.  For a well reared DNA clear and clinically health tested Stafford puppy the average price is between $1800 – $3000. 
  • never buy a pup that is delivered without you going to visit first and seeing the litter in their home environment with their mother. 
  • don’t go for one that’s a bargain and/or dropped price because it is the last one left or the breeder has a holiday booked in a few days – that’s not the attitude of someone who cares about their puppies and where they go.  Could they have also cut corners with rearing the litter? In fact, most reputable breeders don’t allow pups to go home for Christmas and never as a surprise. 
  • remember if something doesn’t seem right don’t be fooled to rush in and buy! Always give yourself time to think about making the right decision – a reputable breeder will not push you into having one of their pups.  They will want to find out if you and their puppy will be well suited.

When you have found a litter consider these questions to ask the breeder before going to see them 

  • are the puppies American Kennel Club registered? You have no way of verifying if they are purebred if not
  • are both parents and pups tested/hereditarily clear for L2-HGA with available PROOF?  Don’t buy if untested
  • are both parents and pups tested/hereditarily clear for HC? Don’t buy if untested
  • are both parents and pups clinically tested for unaffected for PHPV/PPSC? Don’t buy if untested
  • will the litter be clinically eye screened for PHPV?  Don’t buy if untested
  • are the puppies micro-chipped?  Did the breeder register the microchip?
  • have they been wormed regularly? if infested they won’t thrive. 
  • what are the parent’s temperaments like? Stafford temperament should be reliable; not human aggressive nor timid/nervous or fearful.
  • has the litter been reared inside? – Pups should be socialized with all the hustle and bustle of family life, they get used to being handled from an early age. They should be raised inside the home, not in a barn or kennel building.
  • will they have a contract?  This is a legally binding document that you and the breeder sign if you both agree to the sale of the pup. Good breeders state that if you can’t keep the dog/bitch it MUST be returned to them  
  • does the breeder have all the paper work available to see? The breeder should show you the paper work and explain about health testing, the contract, endorsements placed and why when you visit
  • tell the breeder about yourself, if you’ve had a dog before, if you want a family pet or have showing or agility aspirations. It will give the breeder an idea of what you’re looking for in your pup i.e. a lively character would be more suited to an agility home where the quieter litter mate would be ideal for a young family. 

  • expect questions to be asked, it’s only natural that the right homes are being sought by the breeder, just like you want the right pup.

When you first meet the litter, you may be met by a rabble of over enthusiastic little characters with sharp teeth, fighting for attention and dangling off your clothes. Or they may have just been fed and are now a pile of sleepyheads that refuse to wake up. What you need to look out for: 

  • see them with their mother. If dad doesn’t live there, which is quite likely, ask for a photo and health information
  • plump pups with clean, shiny coats, free from dirt, dandruff, fleas and not patchy. 
  • If they’re awake then bright, clear, alert eyes. Pups may get ‘sleep’ in their eyes when they have just woken up but shouldn’t have any green discharge or weepy eyes. 
  • clean ears that don’t smell. Pups that have been kept in a clean environment shouldn’t suffer from dirty or infected ears.  
  • check there is no mess or wet underneath or down back legs as this could indicate runny stools and possibly underlying illness, disease or a case of worms.
  • is the bedding and play area clean with plenty of natural light?  Bedding should be changed regularly; pups shouldn’t be playing in yesterday’s mess. 

  • Pups won’t thrive if living in filth or with parasites.  If you buy from someone that would keep them like that you are condoning their actions; buying a pup from them will condemn more pups to be bred in those awful conditions and the bitch to be possibly used as a money making machine

When you pick your puppy up, he/she should leave the breeder with: 

  • signed American Kennel Club registration document 
  • a photo copy of the litter eye screening certificate. This will have all siblings and their results listed. 
  • micro-chip information. The pup may have the breeder’s details assigned and need to have your details added by the micro-chip company.  Many breeders ask for their details to be kept on the microchip database as an emergency back up.  
  • advice on vaccination protocols
  • information and dates when pup was wormed, wormer used and future worming dates
  • diet sheet with information on the food that has been fed, how much and how often. Some breeders send enough food for the first few days and it is advisable to keep to the diet the puppy is used to.  Any change in diet needs to be slowly to avoid an upset stomach. 

  • a reputable breeder will be happy to offer you any help and advice and will usually tell you they are there 24/7 if needed for the lifetime of the Stafford.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Health Information

L-2-HGA(L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria) in Staffordshire Bull Terriers affects the central nervous system, with clinical signs usually apparent between 6-12 months (although they can appear later). Symptoms include epileptic seizures, unsteady gait, tremors, muscle stiffness as a result of exercise or excitement and altered behaviour 

HC  (Hereditary Cataract) in Staffordshire Bull Terriers has been recognised as an inherited condition since the late 1970’s. Affected dogs develop cataracts in both eyes at an early age 

PHPV(Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous) It is a congenital condition (present at birth). This means that if a puppy is born with PHPV it can be detected by ophthalmic screening from 6 weeks of age 

PPSC (Posterior Polar Subcapsular Cataract) This type of cataract usually remains as a small, punctuate cataract and doesn’t usually lead to sight problems. It has been placed on schedule 3 of the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme because a number of Staffords that have been through the Scheme have been found to have this type of cataract. It cannot be detected through litter screening. The mode of inheritance is unknown and has a variable age of onset.  

Litters shouldALWAYSbe clinically eye screened prior to leaving home and it is imperative for new puppy buyers to be aware and make sure ALL DNA and clinicalhealth tests are in place for ALLof the above conditions.

The breeder is most likely a member of the AKC Parent club for the breed – The Staffordshire Bull terrier Club of America. They will support you joining the club and help you meet other Stafford owners. They will include you in Stafford activities and invite you to join in them. They should also support and encourage you joining classes with your new Stafford and hopefully you will want to compete in activities such as nose work, barn hunt, obedience, agility, conformation, dock diving, FastCat, lure coursing or rally obedience. There is so much you can do with your Stafford to fully benefit from this versatile breed and join in the comradery the Stafford family has to offer in this county – and around the globe. 

AKC CH Title – what does it mean today?

I used to love showing my dogs in conformation. In the beginning I went to the dog show just for fun and to spend time with my pet. I attended handling classes every week for many years. I went to handling seminars. I watched professional handlers and picked up tips. I went to UK and AU and watched how people there presented their Staffords I helped friends in other breeds to gain more experience. I showed to any judge without caring what they normally preferred because I was working on honing my own skills. My first show win I was told by other exhibitors that I won because I simply out handled them. It’s true. My dog was a pet. That is the point of this blog entry.

As time went on I became a lot pickier what I would walk into the ring with. I first stopped showing other peoples dogs if I didn’t think it could win BOB. Then I decided not to show dogs I had bred unless I felt they were worthy of a Specialty win under a Stafford breeder judge. I know where my dogs meet or fall from meeting our breed standard. I see all the nuances. I feel no need to ‘hide’ or ‘cover up’ faults I am not keen on just to win a ribbon or fake congratulations from other fanciers. It’s not important.

I feel strongly that unless you can dissect and see these faults and virtues in minute detail in your own dogs then you honestly have no business breeding. The exception is if you are working with mentors and you are learning still and if this is the case then you MUST have an open mind. You must be willing to see the issues pointed out to you, research those for yourself, determine whether or not they do exist and then work to change these faults in the future. None of that is done in a show ring.

In the show ring the best you can do is to understand how to present your exhibit to a judge who hopefully knows and understands the breed and how it relates to the written standard – and is willing to actually JUDGE to that standard. Most of the time the judge has 2 minutes to do that and many of them aren’t willing or able too. It seems it is easier for them to go with what they think is ‘safe’ and assume the professional handlers must have the best ones – right? That was in sarcasm font by the way.

There are times when a handler has a good dog. Sometimes it could be the best dog in the show ring. Many times it is not. There are other breeders like myself who only present their very best. Its not often these dogs are rewarded on a consistent basis. Oftentimes they are overlooked for handlers dogs. Handlers have a lot of skills. They get to practice 4-5 days a week all year long. They are skilled at showing statues and generic movement and flashy handling – ever see them hold the end of a long lead by two fingers while the dog stands perfectly still at the end of it? Looks so pretty doesn’t it. But…..how does that meet that dogs standard? Maybe it does. Maybe not. Maybe it’s just pretty.

Many of us serious Stafford breeders are growing weary of wasting our time, energy, education, and money on bringing good dogs into the ring. I personally have attended shows and looked around seeing a couple very competitive dogs and (wrongly as it turns out) thinking – that’s my competition – and more than that – that’s a dog to follow and he could be a good prospect to keep up my high standards in my breeding plans…..but most judges won’t find these superior dogs. They seem blinded by flash.

Why are entries down? Why are breeds going downhill? Why are poor temperaments rewarded? Why is fat and soft rewarded over fitness and strength? Lazy judges and political games. Thats why. Never mind the general lack of knowledge of canine structure. never mind the serious disinterest in learning breed type. Never mind not understanding good powerful effortless movement. What is the point of showing our best dogs? We already know what we have. We don’t need a stranger who lacks this knowledge to know what we already know.

I show because I am expected to show. Puppy buyers expect me to only breed from Champions. Champion titles in America mean nothing. NOW in sharp contrast – making a champion from ONLY showing in HUGE classes under only other breeder judges means a LOT and this is what we do. HUGE difference to beat 100 dogs under breeder judges and a handler dragging a dog show to show to show barely beating 5 dogs a weekend to title. Think about that.

AKC is a joke. There I said it. Most of us understand why I would say this too. What will it take for AKC to also see this and GREATLY improve their judge education and requirements? I suggest ongoing requirements of judges to continue to meet breeders and visit kennels and talk with breeders and find out the nuances. Most judges simply do not care and I have even been told condescending opinions by judges such as – “You don’t get where I am without knowing the breed” when I look at the dogs they selected and shake my head….walking away wondering what on earth they DO know.

Worse than that recently I overheard judges talking about how Stafford specialties bring over judges from UK and AU and how in their opinions this makes the Stafford breeders snobby. Worse than being called snobby (who cares, more sarcasm font) they went on to then say how these overseas judges don’t know anything at all and how they are terrible at judging. Why do they pick up feet? What are they doing with the coat? What are they doing with their hands on the head and muzzle and shoulders and rears? Why would they kneel down to watch movement? Why do they need to watch the entire down and back? Why are they making funny noises or dangling keys or dropping a ball? OH do you mean why do they ACTUALLY judge the dogs to the written breed standard? Is this the question?

I heard one judge say how breeder judges don’t even know movement or structure and only award heads and friends. 😂 Okay, so to you all breed judges who only award friends and handlers (don’t forget many judges were also once handlers) that’s different why??? Soo you mean for me to believe that a breeder judge from UK who has lived with Staffords for their entire lives, many of their parents also lived with Staffords, they see Staffords daily in the street, at ringcraft and at shows where the entries can get into the 100’s at times – you mean to tell me those people don’t know this breed? Seriously? Sorry – I simply cannot stop laughing except its not funny.