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.

Are we truly preserving this breed?

We do not breed often. We do not show in conformation as often as we used to. We mainly travel to the bigger specialty shows to show to breeder judges and breed specialists when possible. We also never require a puppy we sell to be shown. If we sell a show prospect, we may encourage the dog to be shown after full review between 10 months and 2 years. We always offer to show the dog ourselves and we offer to pay the expenses as well as mentor and teach ring procedures and handling skills. We help find classes and shows if the owner is interested. It’s not in our contract as mandatory.

That all being said the rings today are filled with pet quality Staffords. Yes, I said it. Many are thinking it but nobody speaks out. We must be choosier if we wish to truly be preserving the breed as we like to say we are. An American CH title means much less than it once did. It means so much more if the title is earned mainly from the large specialty shows. It means even more if ALL points earned are from breeder judges and specialists. And it means even more than that to me personally if the title is also earned from the BBE class at specialties, against a lot of competition.

So often today breeders require new owners to show their new puppy to its title under contract. This means some owners have the added expenses of paying handlers if they are not interested (or lack confidence) in doing it themselves. Staffords are paraded around rings 2-4 days a week for months on end in order to fulfill these contracts. This also means that oftentimes these dogs lack the temperaments, structure and type which makes a true Stafford champion. Once the title has been earned….well awarded….as earned means its deserving…then these contracts require the dogs to be bred and puppies often going back to (or names added as breeder/owner) the breeders. And the cycle begins again . . .

How on earth do people NOT see how this is damaging the breed, not helping it?! How can they get on FB and watch a live video each week and see all the out of balance, soft toplines, low on leg, overweight, out of condition, roach, no breed type, terrified, timid, sad or out of control dogs being strung up and sculpted into position to win that ribbon? Seriously? How can you not see this is a farce? And now AKC judges see so many of this type they think it’s correct. You cant even have a conversation with many of them these days to help them see the error of their ways. You cant even offer them a copy of the SBTCA Illustrated Breed Standard or the TSK Illustrated Breed Standard because they think they know all there is to know about this breed! How insulting!

Many of us have worked hard over many years to educate, learn, teach, read, study about the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. We live with them. We get hands on 100’s of them. We travel great distances to see as many as we can. We study pedigrees, we do rescue, we understand correct temperament, we own libraries filled with books on the breed. We live and breathe Staffordshire Bull Terriers . . . and yet the arrogance of some judges (and handlers) sadly now shapes the future of this breed.

Sad. Pathetic. Shameful.

Nature of the Beast – Taken from SBTCA

The following is meant to introduce the uninitiated to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Because this link is more about the personality of the dog than it is an in-depth dissertation on breeding or training, anyone wishing to pursue either topic should refer to the books and magazines listed under the Club Bibliography Link In This Section (About The Stafford)

Characteristics & Temperament
Although individual differences in personality exist, there are some things that you can expect to find in the personality of every Stafford. They are tough, courageous, tenacious, stubborn, curious, people-loving and comfort-loving, protective, intelligent, active, quick and agile, and possess a strong “prey drive”.

They are extremely “oral” youngsters and need a safe alternative to furniture, toys and clothing for their busy jaws. Staffords love to play tug-of-war and to roughhouse, but YOU must set the rules and YOU must be the boss. This is not a difficult task if you begin working with your Stafford when she is a puppy.

Most adult Staffords, particularly bitches, make excellent watchdogs; but in general they are inclined to protect people and not property. Their alert, muscle bound appearance is so striking that it’s easy to forget that they are smaller than most American Pit Bull Terriers. As Steve Eltinge in the book, The Staffordshire Bull Terrier in America says, “When a Stafford shows its teeth in a snarl, it can be frightening. They look tough and can be a positive deterrent to thieves, but because of their natural fondness for people, most Staffords are temperamentally ill-suited for guard or attack-dog training.” As with other members of the Bull and Terrier family, they can be the biggest people lovers in the world!

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier desires, more than anything else, to be with her people. Most adore a car ride, going on hikes and walks, enjoying a romp up the beach, and cozying up (or on) to you when you settle down for an evening of TV or reading.

Whatever the activity, “From the time it awakens in the morning until the quiet of night, a Stafford lives life to the fullest.” (Linda Barker, writing in The Staffordshire Bull Terrier in America, by Steve Eltinge).

Care and Training
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a “natural” dog and generally robust. The short coat of this breed requires little grooming other than an occasional brushing and a bath. The downside of this drip dry coat is that Staffords are susceptible to fleas and ticks. The general remedies to discourage fleas and ticks are recommended, as well as a thorough going-over with a flea comb during the worse months of summer. Staffords covet human attention to the extent that I have seen several of them gather around their “person”, waiting to be combed from head to tail for fleas!

Care of nails, ears, teeth and anal glands are the same as they would be for any other breed (beginning when young and attention on a regular basis).

The Stafford is not a dog that tolerates weather extremes easily. Because of its short coat, it prefers plenty of shade and water on sweltering summer days (a child’s wading pool has been a popular choice in the past; supervised of course). Its Bulldog ancestry and brachycephalic (short-headed or broad-headed) respiratory system can contribute to overheating. Watch carefully to be sure that your Stafford doesn’t become overheated during intense play in the summer; if she appears to be wheezing or gasping for air, find the nearest source of cool – not ice cold – water and soak her to lower her body temperature.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers can boast a number of obedience and dogsport degrees and are “quick studies,” provided the trainer utilizes a positive, creative approach. Staffords are smart with a capital S. Young puppies enrolled in Kindergarten Puppy Training classes can begin to learn good habits and mix with other puppies. In addition to AKC obedience competition, Staffords have been successful Therapy Dogs, Canine Good Citizens, participated in Agility and Flyball Competitions and even “gone to ground” with other terriers!

Staffords are exuberant, impulsive, sometimes bull-headed … and surprisingly sensitive. A trainer must learn to be persistent, patient, and firm. Rome wasn’t built in a day and a great deal of ground may be lost in trying to adhere to the sort of inflexible techniques and rigid time frame advocated by some training books. Basic obedience training (at the very least) is a must for any Bull and Terrier. It helps to maintain control in unexpected situations. Because of their impulsive natures, the other cardinal rule of Bull and Terrier ownership is “always think ahead.” An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! When it comes to strange – and especially aggressive – dogs, few Staffords are complete pacifists. Most will not back down if they are attacked or menaced, and some just don’t get along with strange dogs, period. This is a physically and mentally tenacious breed; be prepared!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between the American Staffordshire Terrier, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, and an American Pit Bull Terrier?

Some eight or nine varieties of dogs come within the general classification of Bull Breeds. Although all lay claim to the Bulldog as a common ancestor, there are physical differences that make each distinct from the other:

A) Size – The American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff) is a much larger, leggier dog – sometimes almost twice the size of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier! The Bull Terrier standard does not include size restrictions and dogs from 35 to 100 pounds have been seen. However, the breed generally weighs in between 40 and 55 pounds, making it larger then the Stafford. Pit Bull Terriers also range widely in size. Many of today’s UKC-registered APBTs are on the smaller side; others, dually registered as American Staffordshire Terriers with the AKC are larger and heavier.

B) Ears – Although it may have natural or cropped ears, the American Staffordshire Terrier is usually exhibited in the United States with cropped ears, as are some Pit Bull Terriers. The ears of the Bull Terrier are naturally erect. Erect (or prick) ears are a serious fault in Staffords, whose ears should be “rose” (like those of an English Bulldog) or half-pricked.

C) Head – The heads of American Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Bull Terriers are similar, although the cheek muscles on most Staffords seem to be more pronounced, and the head deeper through. The head of the Bull Terrier is entirely different. When viewed in profile, it resembles an egg turned on its side and is much longer than that of the Stafford. The cheeks of a Bull Terrier are not pronounced.

D) Temperament – All Bull and Terrier breeds have a natural love of people, although that love often does not extend to other members of the canine kingdom outside of the family circle. Many adult AmStaffs project a more serious demeanor; Bull Terriers have a unique and extremely well-developed sense of humor; Staffords may possess the strongest “prey drive” and the superior ability to focus; they are also an “emotional barometer” par excellence, very sensitive to psychic atmosphere in the home. But remember that every individual is different and each of these dogs shares a common ancestry.

How are Staffordshire Bull Terriers with children?
The Stafford is known by the affectionate nickname, “The Children’s Nursemaid” or “The Nanny Dog.” Their tolerance of, and affection for, children is well known. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s a wise idea of put the puppy and child together without supervision. Children should learn to respect the dog and neither should indulge in play that is too rough. Some Staffords – even the males – have a “mothering instinct” and will stick right by the little ones, whether they are puppies or kids. A Stafford, “tough” and not as quick to react to pain or discomfort, is likely to make allowance for the attentions of toddler, finding a refuge only when things become too overwhelming.

Can I keep a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in an Apartment? How much exercise will she require?
Staffords can make a home with you anywhere; they are happy as long as they are with you. They are an athletic dog, however, and need more exercise than most dogs. Bursting with energy, they need vigorous exercise every day! A long, brisk walk on leash (or harness – a useful alternative for some) will give you both a workout. Staffords love the heady freedom of being allowed off lead for a run, hike or romp and it’s delightful to watch them. Of course, it’s a good idea to make sure that they’ll come back when you call them, first.

Are Staffords a noisy breed?
Staffords, in general, are not mindless and persistent barkers. They may bark or “talk” while playing (you will be amazed by the range of arggling, yodeling, grunting, moaning and monkey noises, etc.!), or to alert you of a visitor. However, they are “quick studies” and if you have another dog in residence and THAT dog is a barker, your Stafford will probably pick it up.

They have such a nice, short coat. Do they shed?
In a word: “Yes!” . . . at least once a year. But because Staffords have a “hair” coat, rather than a multi-layer “fur” coat, they produce less dander and the shedding is minimal compared to what you may expect from a Golden Retriever or German Shepherd Dog. The close, short, glossy, “teflon” coat loses dirt easily, dries almost instantly, and does not absorb odor. Staffords are truly “wash and wear!”

What About Keeping a Stafford Outside?
Staffords are not temperamentally or physically suited to spending long periods of time out-of-doors. They need to be with their family and should be house dogs. Given the opportunity, they will convince you that they belong in the bed at night and will be most comfortable on the couch or in the car . . . wherever you may be. If you are not comfortable with this kind of intense camaraderie, do NOT buy a Stafford. Stafford-owners-to-be should have a fenced yard where their pet can play in safety. Remember that Staffords are terriers and can dig like the dickens. They can turn your garden or their yard into a minefield and have been known to go under or over a fence. Secure the bottom of the fence with an “L” of chicken wire. If your dog is the climbing type, a very tall fence or a “shelf” around the top will discourage him. To thwart thieves or those who might tease your Stafford, do not leave him out in the yard for long periods; supervise his outside time and take the opportunity to play with him. Remember that Staffords can overheat if they over-exert themselves on a hot day; conversely, their short coat offers little warmth in the winter months when they stop moving. IMPORTANT: Invisible fencing systems are not an appropriate alternative for Bull and Terrier breeds. The Stafford’s high pain threshold means that — if sufficiently provoked — he may cross the boundary with minimal discomfort. Once out, he must brave the boundary’s shock to re-enter the yard. Invisible fencing does not prevent strange dogs from invading his yard and harassing him . . . a potentially dangerous situation.

Do they like to swim?
Staffords can be divided into three categories when it comes to water — 1) They will do anything to avoid it, 2) They like to wade and wallow, 3) They enjoy full-body immersion and will swim, dive, and retrieve. BUT no matter which approach your Stafford may take to water, NO STAFFORD is really very seaworthy or buoyant. The percentage of body mass that is made up of muscle practically guarantees that they must work very hard to stay afloat. Therefore, a Stafford should NEVER be left alone near a filled swimming pool. More than one of these guys has paid with his life after falling in, struggling to remain afloat, and then tiring and sinking before anyone noticed.

Can I keep a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with another dog or with a cat?
Staffords, like members of any other breed, are individuals. While some may live peacefully with other animals, some will not. Puppies brought up with cats and other dogs generally do well. If bringing an older Staffordshire Bull Terrier into your home, first introduce the dogs away from the house in a neutral area. It should be easier to bring a Stafford into your home than bringing a strange dog into the home of a Stafford. Encounters should be supervised and the dogs observed to determine how a hierarchy develops.

Should I consider a male or a female?
Both will offer much love and affection. Females tend to be better watchdogs; males tend to be larger. If you already have a dog in your home, your choice is simpler: If you have a male, buy a Stafford female. If you have a female, buy a Stafford male. This combination is the best, especially in a two-Stafford household. People sometimes ask about the wisdom of bringing two Stafford puppies home at the same time and most would advise against it. Each puppy deserves individual attention and is less likely to get it as a “twin.” Puppies are a lot of work! With two puppies to keep each other company, the temptation is often to let them amuse each other. Sometimes your pups will decide to bond with each other and place you second on the totem pole. You don’t want that! No matter which sex you select, spay or neuter if you have decided not to breed or exhibit your Stafford.

I have a busy schedule and when I’m home I like to work undisturbed.
By all means, DO NOT BUY A STAFFORD! These dogs crave attention, companionship, and are tireless love sponges. This can annoy those who are used to a dog that amuses itself, is content to sit in its basket, prefers the companionship of another dog, or will settle for a quick occasional pat. Ignoring a Stafford or shutting it away from you will only make your pet an unhappy, frustrated nuisance.

I’m looking for a guard dog . . . will a Stafford fill the bill?
Staffords were not developed as watchdogs. Clare Lee, writing in The Pet Owner’s Guide to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier notes that, “he rarely barks, greets all your visitors and may well let them walk off with the family silver.” If you desire a dog that will be suspicious of all comers and actively repel them, then choose one of the working breeds designed for that purpose. Staffords may guard a car and will most definitely protect family members – especially the weaker members – but they rarely ‘guard’ the home.

What sorts of toys are safe to give my Stafford?
There are no such things as “indestructible dog toys” for Bull and Terrier breeds. But some have tried these: Boomer Balls, Wolf-sized Nylabones, large-sized Kongs, or some of the Puzzle Cubes. Anything else might be chewed up, swallowed or destroyed in short order.

SO . . . DO YOU STILL THINK YOU’D LIKE A STAFFORDSHIRE BULL TERRIER?
It is recommended that you read as much as you can, go to local dog local shows in your area where you can see them, and contact one of the breeders listed in the SBTCA Breeders Directory to ask questions and arrange to see dogs. And above all, be sure that everyone in your household wants this energetic and loving addition. A Stafford could easily be dependent upon you for the next 16 years!

Puppy Culture – Leashwork 1

This is a video showing the first steps to teaching leash walking in heel position. The puppies are 9.5 weeks old. I am about a week behind where I normally wish to be at this age but we have been very busy with work thankfully so catching up as I can. This is a Puppy Culture technique from the workbook Chapters 8-9-10. Thank you to Jodie B. for the idea of using the long cream cheese spoon trick instead of treats. It works much more easily for me too. All the puppies did so well.

Sure, there’s a lot to criticize here – handler error –  but instead focus on what’s being done correctly and effectively and see how each puppy is focusing a little more with each distraction. We didn’t video the first session without a collar and using an adult dog in heel position and having the puppy follow along. This 2nd session used a collar first, then the leash but notice I haven’t yet picked it up. That comes tomorrow. Keeping each training session very short – watching each puppy to see how his attention span is to determine the length. Always using positive only in my voice inflection and tone, plus loads of praise and the clicker . . . . .  and of course yummy cream cheese which is something they only get for the more difficult of training sessions.

 

My Movie 1 from L Caswell on Vimeo.

Waiting for a puppy?

So here you are waiting for a puppy from the breeder you have developed a relationship with after a lengthy search. You both have agreed that your expectations and theirs are a good match. You have passed the breeders detailed interviews, home checks, reference checks and enjoyed many lengthy conversations over the last few months or years possibly. Now what?

Now is the time for you, and your family, to continue the education you began when you first researched the breed you were seeking. Does your breeder offer mentoring and education materials? If so take advantage of these! I cannot stress enough that NOW is the time to immerse yourselves in any and all education materials offered to you.

Now is also the time to be proactive – reach out to your breeder and talk about questions, concerns you may have. Now is the time for all adults to speak to the breeder. Now is the time to discuss your childrens puppy experience. If they have none or only a little – educate your children now! Do NOT wait to bring a puppy home to teach your kids the correct and safe way to interact with puppies and adult dogs. Now is also not the time for bravado and machismo to take over. Your kids do not know everything you think they know. Explain to them the importance of being safe, gentle and kind to dogs. No screaming, sudden wild movements, no loud noises, no jerking, poking, pulling. Sit down to hold puppies. Be gentle with puppies. Teach your kids to be patient. A little good parenting now will pay off later. Your breeder is more concerned about the puppies experiences than your kids, trust me on that.

For our new owners, we have this incredibly detailed website chock full of articles, blog posts, book lists, puppy raising protocols, nutritional and natural rearing  information, essential oils,  health, exercise  and training advice and more! Read about Breed Specific Legislation and Breed Bans. They exist and are very real. We give everyone a copy of the suggested exercise schedule written by Puppy Culture. We also upload 100’s of files pertaining to the breed, the litter, health testing documents, history and advice for our buyers to print, download and read on a FB group they have the link to. We have The Stafford Knot , rescue fund raiser pages and SBT Mentor websites and FB pages. These are excellent places to learn more about the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. We post a book list we suggest new owners to read from. We make suggestions on safe breed appropriate toys and warnings about those that can be ingested causing obstructions or broken teeth. We are here to answer any and all questions for the life of your dog so please – take advantage of this!

We suggest they join other groups on FB as well. Examples of these groups include a debates page where you can follow along with many topics pertaining to the breed from fellow owners in America. There is a page for Stafford Rescue and Re-homing which all SBT owners need to participate in. We need help with transport, breed ID and foster care. There are fun pages such as Stafford Ink where you can show off your SBT related tattoos.

Do it! Now. Now, before you take home a puppy.

We ask that all buyers purchase and watch Puppy Culture – you can live stream so its super convenient to watch anytime you have free time. You will want to follow along each week with your puppies PC experiences and by watching the videos it will make more sense to you and make it easy to continue when you bring home your new puppy. We ask buyers to go online and read past issues of The Stafford Knot online magazine to see photos and read about the history of this breed. The more you know now, the easier it will be later. I cannot repeat this advice strongly or often enough.

Never. Stop. Learning.

http://www.thestaffordknot.com

http://www.sbtmentor.com

https://issuu.com/thestaffordknot