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.
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.
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.
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.