Exaggeration

Let’s discuss exaggeration in the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

General Appearance

KC: Smooth coated, well balanced, of great strength for his size. Muscular, active and agile.

AKC adds: “The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a smooth coated dog.

It should be of great strength for its size and, although muscular, should be active and agile.”

It’s not vague. It’s pretty clear! Do not put forward a Stafford with bunchy muscles, wrinkles, overloaded shoulders, short necks, short muzzles, flat feet or heads the size of a blimp!

We are not looking for a heavyweight – we are not looking for a racy specimen – we are looking for the ONE IN THE MIDDLE! And for good reason! In fact for MANY GOOD REASONS! When we balance capacity with efficiency we are more likely to find a specimen with good healthy stamina, strength and agility. We will find BALANCE!

There is a movement across the world to put restrictions on producing breeds with health issues such as short muzzles. In some cases these dogs suffer from breathing difficulties such as overlong soft palate, tracheal deformities, stenotic nares and other structural and health related issues coming from exaggeration in structure. . The Stafford DOES NOT want to be added to the list of brachycephalic breeds. We want a muzzle that is no shorter than one third the length of the skull (look from the top or profile and measure). I recently learned that many people are misinterpreting the 1/3 to 2/3 ratio when it is written like that. It is not one to three or two to three. It is ONE THIRD to TWO THIRDS. One third muzzle length to two thirds skull length and don’t forget about the muzzle depth should be approximately one half the total head depth. (measure from underjaw/neck to occiput/topskull).

Additionally, so very many people misinterpret the breeds responsible for our blended breed. The name says it all – Staffordshire (where they originated in UK) Bull (the now extinct bulldog which as far as we can tell resembled a leggy American Bull dog type) Terrier (from the now extinct English White Terrier which resembled todays Manchester). So a balanced Stafford is NOT like an English Bulldog mixed with a Terrier. Stop putting forth these cloddy heavy wrinkled stubby overloaded dogs!

Crib and Rosa by Abraham Cooper
These two are what the Bulldogs which make up the Stafford looked like
English White Terrier

Look for a clean head, no wasted effort/energy when moving, no wrinkles anywhere (none on head, face, shoulders, tails, legs – no wrinkles!). I’m tired of seeing these huge headed sloppy bulldogs being put forward when there are clean examples presented.

Stop being impressed by exaggeration!

Showsight Magazine Interview

Wavemaker Staffords | Jim & Lynn Caswell

Purebred Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breeders

BY JIM & LYNN CASWELL OCTOBER 5, 2022

Wavemaker Staffords | Jim & Lynn Caswell
Interview with Jim & Lynn Caswell, Breeders of Wavemaker Staffords

Where do we live? How many years in dogs? How many years as breeders?

Living in South Florida makes it a long drive to travel to shows, but we have an RV which does make it a lot easier. I grew up with purebred dogs and, for many early years, my father and step-father were both involved in AKC Conformation and Field events. For about half my adult life I have been involved in Performance and Conformation. I am coming up on twenty years in Staffordshire Bull Terriers and close to 13 years as a breeder of this breed.

What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?

Our kennel affix is Wavemaker Staffords. Right now, we are lucky to live with four generations. We have four at home and are looking forward to adding another, possibly next year.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier - CH Wavemaker La La Love You CHIC
‘Derby’ of the Wavemaker Staffords

Which breeders have provided the greatest influence on our decision to breed dogs?

I have been influenced most by several UK and Australian breeders who have mentored me over the years. I have also been influenced by longtime breeders in other breeds. We can all learn from one another. I am very lucky to have a widespread support group in Staffords and also in many other breeds.

Can we talk a bit about our foundation dogs? How have they influenced our breeding program?

It was in approximately our eighth year of Stafford ownership when we felt that we knew enough to feel confident to produce a litter. Our foundation bitch has the perfect Staffordshire Bull Terrier temperament. When you read the Standard’s paragraph on temperament, it describes her. This is very important to us.

She also possesses terrific movement, and in her day, a wonderful topline and nearly perfect bite. She turns 14 in September and is still quite active, and she is still in charge in the home. This breed has a long life expectancy (15-17 years), which is one of the reasons we chose to live with Staffords.

What about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped? How are they raised?

All of our dogs live in our home as pets, and our puppies are whelped and raised in the home as well. We do not breed often, but when we do, we utilize several enrichment protocols and methods of socialization and positive training.

We are so lucky to now have many options to give the puppies the very best start in life that we can offer to them. Usually by Week 10-12, they leave us extremely confident and ready to fit into the lifestyle of their new owners. Each litter is different, and as such, the puppies have differing needs. We are both at home to apply whatever methods of raising them suits each puppy best.

Do we have a “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do we make our decisions?

We look at puppies to evaluate them at around 8 weeks old, but aside from obvious faults or DQs, we do not know for certain at that age which will be that “show ring rock star.” I mean, we may have an idea from the moment they are born, but that’s hopeful thinking mostly, isn’t it?

We sell them all as pets first on a limited registration and then we may re-evaluate them at around six months to two years. If the owner wishes to show, and we feel the dog is worthy, then we discuss whether to change to a full registration.

We prefer ACTIVE companion homes so that the focus is on quality of life with a well-loved and spoiled pet, and we support and encourage participation in AKC performance events as long as it’s for fun and not the main reason for purchasing one of our dogs. Also, we encourage people to stop looking for a puppy—look for a BREEDER. Make a personal connection with a breeder whom you feel shares your top criteria, and then wait for a puppy from them.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier - CH MACH2 Wavemaker Atlantica
‘Schooner’ of the Wavemaker Staffords

How do we choose the homes for our puppies? Is puppy placement important to us as breeders?

We have an intensive interview process which may begin years before a litter is even planned. Our buyers become family in most cases. We look for owners who are like-minded. We are very transparent on our website about what our protocols are, and those coming to us for puppies are already familiar with them. I believe if you put out there what your goals and wishes are, it clears the air upfront as to what you expect in a new owner. This has worked for us very well in selling puppies and also in placing rescues. Placement is of utmost importance to us.

Can we share our thoughts on how our breed is currently presented in the show ring?

With great pleasure, I can proudly say that Staffordshire Bull Terriers are mostly owner- or breeder-handled. They are a working man’s breed and, as such, we aren’t so fancy. We are just regular people who love our Terriers and traditions, and we have a good respect for the Stafford’s history.

If you come to a Specialty, especially one judged by a breeder-judge, you will be in for a treat. Most of us will use traditional show equipment, and the judges have very breed-specific methods for selecting their favorites on the day. You will see lots of support and hear cheers from the crowd. As a breed, you may see different styles in the ring, but you won’t miss seeing that infectious Stafford smile!

Staffordshire Bull Terrier - CH MACH2 Wavemaker Atlantica
‘Smithy’ of the Wavemaker Staffords

Are there any health-related concerns within our breed? Any special nutritional needs?

You ask about health concerns in the breed. Yes, Staffordshire Bull Terriers should all be DNA tested for L2-HGA (L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria), which is a recessively inherited metabolic disorder. The disorder causes high levels of L2HGA which, in turn, result in neuromuscular symptoms such as seizures starting a young age.

Additionally, they should be DNA tested for HC (Hereditary Cataracts). We also test for Hip Dysplasia via PennHip, Cardiac, Patella, PHPV (as puppies prior to leaving us), Elbow Dysplasia (because our club CHIC requires it), and Thyroid and annual eye testing in any breeding dogs. I would also be aware of possible stenotic nares and overlong, soft palates in the breed. As for dentition issues in Staffords, be aware of converging canines being somewhat problematic.

Nutritionally speaking, we feed a complete, balanced, raw diet that is supplemented with macro and micro nutrients, minerals, pro- and prebiotics, and vitamins. Just as we try to avoid non-organic processed foods ourselves, we try to feed our dogs a species-appropriate diet which meets their individual needs as much as possible.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier ‘Hazel’
‘Hazel’ of the Wavemaker Staffords

In our opinion, is our breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?

It is my opinion that in the last 10-15 years or so, Staffordshire Bull Terriers have improved in condition and are healthier, fitter, and overall, better exemplify breed type. More people seem to be striving to produce fit for function, and taking pride in the history and traditions of this breed. Staffords are showing more balance and less exaggeration than in years past, but we still have a ways to go. Remember, the name explains what the breed should exemplify—Bull AND Terrier.

Is our breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our breed?

Staffordshire Bull Terriers make fantastic family pets for experienced dog owners. They can be boisterous, mischievous, mouthy, and busy, but they do have an “off” switch. Staffords love their people and tend to be like velcro. They are quite strong, so caution must be taken around young children and anyone not prepared to hold their ground when a Stafford comes barreling at you from the top of the furniture when excited.

This is NOT a dog park breed! You must know what you have and always take the high road when keeping your Staffords out of any situation which may not suit them. Not all Staffords will get along with other animals. This is just part of the breed. As well, Staffords are super-willing to learn and are quite easy to train using positive methods. Corrective methods will shut them down quickly and this is one reason we get them into rescue.

People don’t understand that they look tough but are quite soft and get their feeling hurt if you raise your voice—and heaven forbid a hand is raised. Staffords tend to use their mouths as hands and this can be misinterpreted sometimes, but they usually grow out of this phase. They are funny and make us laugh every day. Staffords are terrific companions.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier 'Marina'
‘Marina’ of the Wavemaker Staffords

Do we feel that our breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?

We have a growing number of serious breeders whom I would consider to be preservation breeders. We do work together and many of us are now also breeder-judges. I can see this getting stronger each year and I am hopeful this trend will help to improve the breed further. Sadly, they are also growing in popularity and there are some breeders who do not look for a balanced Bull AND Terrier, but instead go one way or the other.

The Breed Standard does refer to Staffordshire Bull Terrier as “a foremost all-purpose dog,” so many of us put titles on both ends. My involvement in performance in this breed has shown me that the popularity and success in sports has led to breeders breeding for sport only and losing breed type almost completely. On the other hand, there are also those who believe the breed to be “heavyweight athletes” and seem to produce more bulk, heavier bone, wrinkle, and overly muscled, courser dogs that are not balanced.

Extremes on either side of this pendulum (when purposely produced) mean moving further away from the balanced Stafford and the Breed Standard. I have heard it said this way: “There is only one type of Stafford, a balanced one.

For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with our breed?

You asked me to describe the most amusing thing I have experienced with Staffords and I would say to you, “Isn’t that describing every moment of every day with a Stafford?

https://showsightmagazine.com/wavemaker-staffords-jim-lynn-caswell/


Judging the Stafford

I have recently been approved to judge my beloved breed, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It’s not something I dreamt of doing, it just happened organically as part of the process – owning, showing, performance, running The Stafford Knot, breeding, rescue . . . now judging. I completed my provisional assignments in short order, easily passing observations and applied for full status. I feel, along with the work I have done for TSK, its part of giving back to a breed.

Additionally, I felt compelled to join others who have been in the breed in trying to show by example what judging was supposed to be about….. or what i thought it was about anyway. I grew up in the dog world and rather naively thought conformation was a way to select the most correct animals who most fit the written breed standards for breeding in order to maintain or better the future of each breed.

The Staffords name says everything – bull and terrier. The bull (https://thestaffordknot.com/the-original-recipe-bulldog-plus-terrier-equals-stafford/) meaning the old time bulldogs of the past who more resembled American Bulldogs, leggy, sporty and agile rather than the British Bulldog of today. Some folks seem not to know this bit of important fact.

Another fact I have discovered is most folks do not understand basic canine structure. They dont understand how the skeleton interacts with the muscles and tendons and how all of this put together makes a dog balanced when its made right. (https://thestaffordknot.com/canine-structure-and-compensations/)There is really no excuse not to know these details as there are numerous books, videos and study groups on this topic! Once you see poor structure you cant miss it in any breed. To ignore these basics is equivalent to burying your head in the sand and moving forward just for the ribbon or the puppy sales or your ego. (https://thestaffordknot.com/the-ostrich-syndrome/)

In Staffords we will see slipping hocks, cathedral fronts, short upper arm, toeing in, upright shoulder, lack of under jaw, wrinkle, short muzzle, lippiness, incorrect croup angle, short sternum and many more ‘faults’ which shouldn’t be ignored. I’m not saying to throw out these dogs what I am saying is learn to see these ‘faults’ and understand them. As an example, understand how a short upper arm can affect shoulder blade placement, front movement and even how the neck appears from profile.

The Stafford should not appear bulky, heavy, coarse, overdone, bunchy or squatty (as I was told by one judge). I see far too many of these heavy types in the hands of professional handlers and they are often rewarded because so many judges do not understand what the breed standard is asking for. Do not be fooled or impressed by that huge head or those bulging muscles. The Stafford is not a heavyweight. He is a middle weight. He is active. He is agile. He is bold. The Stafford is a balanced breed. (https://thestaffordknot.com/on-balance/)

(https://thestaffordknot.com/more-on-balance-and-movement/)

I hope that I am a good judge. I feel I have a good eye and I have spent twenty years immersed in study of this breed. I hope that I can make thoughtful selections given what is brought into my ring. I am hopeful people who know me will understand the breed well and will bring me balanced Staffords.

Breed Standings

What a terrific surprise for us at the first AKC All-Breed event held at the spectacular World Equestrian Center – Felix sweeps the Ocala weekend adding another 45 points!

The Shops at TSK

https://thestaffordknot.com/shop/

If you haven’t yet been to The Stafford Knot website to read 100’s of articles, watch Breeder Education Series videos, read our past publications, purchase a book or to see loads of photos of Staffords of the past – check it out but ALSO please follow the link above to shop for Staffordshire Bull Terrier merchandise and support Stafford rescue! 

MCKC

Fantastic news – Felix wins BISS at Montgomery County Kennel Club under Judge Jason Nicolai (Homebrewed Staffords) and makes the cut in the Breeder Showcase group AND the Terrier Group! Video can be found on AKC TV under the Events tab, scroll to Montgomery County Kennel Club.

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

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

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

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

Here’s why:

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

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

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

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

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

It is no bargain.

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

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

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

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

-Author unknown

Just be decent

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

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

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

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

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