“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

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. 

Do dogs need fruit in a raw diet?

I hear some raw feeders say dogs only need meat protein, organ and bone and no veggie or fruit in their diets. I used to be one of those thinkers….now after taking the course in raw nutrition I understand it further. Dogs DO need the fruits and vegetables. They use them not as a ‘food’ per se but think of it like this – the fruits aren’t in the diet to feed your dog. They’re there to feed his commensal bacteria. Those commensal bacteria eat the polyphenols in the berries then poop out short chain fatty acids that talk to your dog’s brain which will control a large part of his immune system, fight free radicals and cancer and strengthen his intestinal lining. So – when the dogs are free feeding on our blueberry bushes each August I let them.

Thank you to Dana Scott for this information.

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.