We are still on the road after the 2023 SBTCA National Specialty weekend in OKC but I wanted to make a quick blog post about Felix and his recognitions. I am being told there is some story twisting happening on FB which I am not on. Always a few in every hobby/sport who feel in order to be noticed they must put down others. Its a sad way to live but maybe that works for them.
Felix was the number one Staffordshire Bull Terrier in breed points from January 1, 2023 through May 28, 2023. He also has made the cut and/or been in the ribbons at every Specialty he has been entered in. He was awarded SBTCA Top 20 Stafford and also Peoples Choice winner this year. Felix is our 5th Stafford to be Crufts Qualified and several of ours have qualified multiple times – and Marina showed at Crufts. These are not ‘fake’ or ‘made up’ achievements, nor do these negate the achievements of others. These are simply facts.
We love going to the large shows and seeing the beautiful Staffords from all over this country and those who bring dogs over from other countries. Its usually a welcoming atmosphere even though there is some drama sometimes, usually the drama is caused by the same few people so its easy to spot and avoid. We want nothing to do with that side of showing dogs.
We are thrilled that we were present to see so many wonderful Staffords get recognized this past weekend. Congratulations to Mary and Vivian who now are number one Stafford in breed points. There also were many more who went without awards who were just as deserving. Safe travels home to all and we look forward to seeing you at the next Specialty shows.
When going to select your Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy, there are several very important questions to ask the breeder. These will help you determine if you have found a good and reputable person whom you are comfortable with. After discussing the following points with the seller, ask yourself, “Is this the right breeder for me?”
Regarding the Puppy’s Background:
Specifically, what health testing has been done on the parents and what are the results? (health testing should include Hips (either OFA or PennHip), OFA Elbows, OFA Patellas, OFA Thyroid, CERF, OFA Cardiac), DNA L2-HGA, DNA Hereditary Cataracts or proof of parents testing clear.
In this puppy’s pedigree, what is the incidence of hip dysplasia, heart defects, elbow/shoulder dysplasia, demodectic mange, thyroid dysfunction, seizures and allergies? (Genetic defects such as heart conditions, and diseases related to immune system dysfunction such as allergies or demodectic mange, are surfacing in alarming numbers. These problems are more evident now that more reputable breeders are openly discussing them and sharing their experiences in the hopes of reducing the occurrence of these defects. Seriously question the breeder about the appearance of any of these issues in the puppy’s ancestry.)
Are there any temperament problems in this puppy’s ancestry?
Have the sire and dam been temperament tested?
Do you offer Health/Temperament guarantees with your puppies?
Can you show me certificates proving that the sire and dam are OFA certified or PennHip evaluated? (this is important because it tells a lot about the dedication of the breeder to eliminate genetic problems in the breed), this info can also be verified for free at www.offa.org.
Will you provide me with the pedigree (at least 3 generations, and should be AKC or KC or reputable registry, not UKC), the puppy’s health record, and instructions on how to care for my new dog?
Regarding the Breeder:
How knowledgeable about Staffordshire Bull Terriers are you, and will you share that knowledge with me? (The breeder should be willing and able to answer most of your questions regarding medical care, feeding, diseases, training, what to expect as the puppy grows up, etc. If you have a question that the breeder cannot answer, he or she should have a network of sources available to get the answer for you.)
Does the breeder have more than one breed of breeding dogs?
Will you make yourself available to answer any concerns I may have at any time during the dog’s entire life?
Will you assist me if I cannot keep the dog? (Even with all the careful screening and education that breeders do, occasionally something happens where a purchaser must give up the dog. In the unlikely event that this should happen to you, the breeder should be willing to help place your dog in a suitable new home.)
What are the most important things you strive for in your breeding program? (this should be something to the effect of making the breed better) How much time do you spend planning litters and rearing the pups?
Do you require a spay/neuter agreement on the puppies you sell? (This is a good requirement and you want the breeder to say “yes” unless you are an experienced breeder and you BOTH agree the Stafford shouldnt be intact) Will you ask me a lot of questions during an “interview” process? (All reputable breeders will have lots and lots of questions to ask you. This helps them determine if you are suited to Staffordshire Bull Terriers in general, and to their line of dogs specifically. They need to be certain that you have what it takes to care for one of their dogs for the next dozen or more years. Don’t be offended by these questions. Be happy that the breeder is doing all that he or she can to find a perfect match between dog and your family.)
Is your breeder experienced?
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE DEALING WITH AN EXPERIENCED, KNOWLEDGEABLE, AND REPUTABLE BREEDER? This question can best be answered by considering the conversation that takes place when you meet him or her. A good breeder will want to know things about you, will tell you things about himself, and will tell you things about the dogs in his or her kennel. Here is a guide to help you determine if you are dealing with a good breeder of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Regarding You, the Breeder Should Ask Questions Such As:
Who are the members of your household? What is your lifestyle?
What kind of home do you live in?
Do you have a fenced in yard?
What do you know about Staffordshire Bull Terrier?
Regarding Him or Herself, the Breeder Should:
Belong to, and be active in the National and Regional Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed clubs.
Show his/her dogs in conformation and/or agility, nosework, dock diving, barn hunt, obedience or other performance sports.
Actively help with rescue and/or public education for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Require a spay/neuter contract with each sold puppy unless you are an experienced breeder and you BOTH agree the Stafford is a good specimen for producing.
Offer a contract which guarantees health and freedom from genetic defects. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of owning an Staffordshire Bull Terrie. Discuss general health matters and breed defects found in Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Require you to return the dog if you cannot keep it for some unforeseen reason. Be available to help you at anytime during the dog’s entire life.
Regarding the Dogs in the Breeder’s Kennel, You Should:
Be invited to the breeder’s home to see the dogs if possible or at the very least offer a FaceTime ‘visit’ or meet at a show.
See happy, friendly, outgoing, tail wagging puppies.
Find a clean, safely fenced in, warm, nurturing area for the dogs.
Be referred to previous purchasers to ask them about their satisfaction.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?”
I found this online. What are your thoughts? I like the concept but I prefer to mentor not simply sell and release….I do not control anyone. I have only ever asked one buyer to allow me to breed and get puppies back only b/c I was at the end of a twenty year quest without a future due to unforeseen circumstances – one other buyer asked to breed and I said of course no strings only allow me to help mentor. I believe we need to release our control and egos in order to truly PROTECT and PRESERVE.
Ok friends, buckle up for some more Raw thoughts of the day.
Except this time, from a breeders perspective.
Many of you know I breed Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, I have along side my mother since 2011.
I bought my own foundation bitch after many years of showing and learning about the breed, when I was 15, from the INCOMPARABLE Sonya Urquhart of Marquee Wheatens.
She did what NO OTHER breeder would, she trusted me, she believed in me.
She did not use me, and she did not control me.
She allowed me to make my own decisions, she allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them.
She taught me to think and evaluate dogs, to use her as my advice and my guidance, not my controller.
EVERYONE is allowed to use my stud dogs, (assuming the bitches are healthy), even if I don’t like you. Your price is just higher.
EVERYONE is allowed to purchase a show puppy to add to their program or to start a program.
IF I TRUST YOU TO SELL YOU ONE, THEN I DONT NEED TO CONTROL YOU.
I don’t want ANY puppies back, I don’t want litters back, i don’t want you to wait 5 years to get started. You start the day you purchase that puppy.
My job is to preserve the breed, my job is to better the breed.
You aren’t doing that if you are controlling your new ambitious breeding families. You aren’t doing that if you won’t allow another program a way to expanded by adding one of your puppies.
The idea here is multiple minds are greater then one!
When i sell a intact show puppy, outright, my hopes are maybe they will find a dog or do a breeding I wouldn’t have thought of and it may produce greatness I can then breed to in the future or add back in my program one day.
With that being said,
I’m sure you’re wondering why I shared these particular photos of dogs?
They are dogs I no longer own, however, I bred them. They were purchased as additions to other programs. I have no co ownership, I have no litters back, I have ZERO control.
I want to see these dogs and new owners achieve great things and flourish.
They don’t need me to do that for them.
These dogs are owned by New breeders, Veteran Breeders, breeders looking for a new addition, and many other reasons inbetween.
Something I want to make loud and clear:
I make no decisions for them. Ever.
IF I want to breed a bitch/dog my way, I keep it.
IF I want to show a puppy my way, I KEEP IT.
IF I want to do anything with a show quality animal my way, I keep it. Me, myself and I.
If the dogs we keep work well with our family we keep them forever, if they grow to need more then my home can give them I place them.
On TWO occasions I have “co owned ” bitches I wanted to breed/show etc. One went well, one went horribly. So I no longer do it, ever.
Put your egos aside, and give someone the opportunity to grow or start.
Stop controlling people and using them.
If a successful breeder hadn’t taken a chance on me at 15, let me do things MY WAY, with a pick of the litter bitch, no big crazy contract requiring whole litters or 73 puppies back, etc etc I would not be where I am today.
Every so often, you hear people ask why some insist on calling Staffordshire Bull Terriers “Staffords,” avoiding the use of those other alternative short names for the breed. Most of the time you never get a serious answer, other than personal opinion: “That’s just the way it has always been!” And then it turns into an argument of semantics. However, there are actually a variety of reasons why “Stafford” was, and continues to be, the diehard go-to name for so many serious enthusiasts of the breed.
The oldest and simplest line of reasoning actually predates the dogs by about 500 years: Early people of Staffordshire, England carried the family name “Stafford.” Was the land named after them or were they named after the land? Who knows, but in the very early days (15th century), if you were a “Stafford” by name you were from, or of, the County of Staffordshire. The County Town (county seat) of Staffordshire is Stafford, and sometimes the entire county of Staffordshire is just referred to as “Stafford.” Items from the County of Staffordshire, like the region’s famous pottery, are often referred to by shortened common names, such as “Stafford pottery,” as opposed to the full “Staffordshire pottery,” which is what you will find printed on each piece. The Staffordshire Knot which appears on everything from the county seal to pub signs, family crests to hat pins, is commonly called the Stafford Knot. Some say the knot is named after Lady Joan de Stafford (“of Stafford” – Staffordshire) who used it in her family seal. There is at least a 600-year history of the term “Stafford” being the simple, abbreviated term for anything from or of Staffordshire County. This is one of the deep-rooted reasons some people still insist that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is the “Stafford” and not the “Staffy” nor the “Staffy Bull.” Had it been “Lady Joan de Staffy” who brought her family crest to the land in the 15th century, perhaps history might direct the use of alternative nomenclature today.
There’s another reason that many people in the breed prefer the term Stafford. In the United States the most popular breed the “pit bull.” Wait a minute — no it isn’t. Not by any registry kept on this planet, at least. However, any mix of dog with a slightly blocky head, short coat and muscles that ends up in a shelter is called a “pit bull” in this country. Most of them have American Pit Bull Terrier in them somewhere, but the most commonly seen dog has become more of a style of cur dog, as my granddad who raised American Pit Bull Terriers would say, than a breed. No matter what they have been mixed with over the years, though, it’s always the pit bull part that becomes their identity. The shelters are full of them. The classifieds are full of them, and the internet is full of them, particularly when they bite something or someone. Now, let’s jump the pond.
In 1991 Britain’s Dangerous Dog Act banned pit bulls and effectively eliminated them from that country. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, of course, was not a part of the ban. Still, the breed ended up facing a similar issue in Great Britain that we have with the American Pit Bull Terrier here. Take six to 10 generations of mostly Stafford, mixed with the occasional neighbor’s Jack Russell, throw in a small Lab-mix here or there, and what happens when they end up on the street, in the shelter, or on the news for biting someone? It’s one of those blocky-headed, short-haired muscly dogs you see everywhere – it’s a “Staffy.” The term has become a catch-all for any backyard dog that looks mostly like a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or a mix thereof, just like “pit bull” is used in the United States.
This is particularly true amongst those who have experience working with shelters and rescues. The term has even caught on in the United States. I was watching one of those dog rehab shows on TV the other day. It was supposed to feature a Staffordshire Bull Terrier on the episode, but when I tuned in, it ended up being a small pit bull that they kept calling a “Staffy.” Because of the generalizations and how loosely the term “Staffy” is thrown about, you will often find conformation breeders in the UK have a preference for the more traditional term “Stafford,” which tends to remove their dogs from the image that comes to mind of the typical backyard or shelter dog. Whether or not a person thinks it’s pretentious to distance themselves from the common vision of a backyard pet or shelter dog by using the term traditionally passed down in conformation circles for fancy purebred Staffordshire Bull Terriers, well, that’s up to the individual.
The third reason I want to share for why the term Stafford is preferable is perhaps the least enthralling, but it’s the most important one to some people, for reasons that can’t be explained through history or sociolinguistics. At its core, it’s rather simple: Their mentor told them the breed is to be called “Stafford.” Out of respect for their mentors, and for that reason alone, they carry the name Stafford with honor.
Recently I have been hearing about some Stafford enthusiasts who are more concerned with making sure their egos are fed and their opinions are heard than they are about preserving, protecting and promoting this breed in unison with others. I am not on FB so thankfully I get to skip a lot of the drama there. FB is just an information gathering tool and a distraction therefore I have no need for that in my life – but people do from time to time send me screenshots. There are two long time Stafford breeders who often enjoy disparaging others for their own satisfaction. One has openly described other peoples dogs as “skinny black rats” and the other person referred to them as “crawling black spiders”.
What purpose does this serve the breed? How does this bring us together as a strong Stafford community? It does not. In fact, it only serves to make these people look foolish and immature. You do not have to like what I like but there is never a need to publicly criticize and belittle based upon your own opinion. To both of these Stafford folks – when or if I want to hear your opinion of my dogs I will pay an entry fee. Until then as long as you keep opening your mouth, more of the world will learn who you truly are. Carry on.
When I, along with other breeder judges, were asked to briefly speak on The State of the Stafford for an upcoming Zoom meeting. I originally wanted to discuss what has changed visually, structurally, temperamentally and health-wise. After some thought I figured others would be addressing their thoughts on this topic in that manner so I began to think more about the state of the Stafford community instead.
Many years ago when I first became a part of the Stafford world I was excited to join a community of like minded individuals. As many new people to the breed will do, I wanted to learn as much as possible and I put in the time and work to do just that. I became quickly immersed in SBTCA and I joined committees, I started a company dedicated to the breed, I volunteered for MTB booths, RDO days – I built websites, published a magazine, edited books and I wrote articles, designed graphics and sold merchandise to help rescue. I am not alone in my efforts. There are others doing what I was doing across the world, but it felt as though I was alone. There just did not exist a lot of organization.
It is naive to think that any group of individuals will agree on everything, but it’s mature to hope that they could work together despite having differing opinions and interpretations of the Standard. We do not have to live with, breed or even judge the same way to still be a strong supportive community to help grow the breed in positive directions. If we learn to control our ‘terrier tenacity’ we are far more likely to be successful. The saying “United we stand, divided we fall” comes to mind in this case. We need to support one another, create a community and work together. And this goes for support in mentoring new people, support in physically helping other Stafford owners and breeders, support financially for rescue or show fundraising when possible or even in emergency situations. Offering a little bit of your time to help is far more important than simply serving on a committee or making champions.
There are many many Stafford people doing exactly what I was doing but we were not united or organized yet. For a few years it seemed there was a group of enthusiasts working together to help unite the breed, promote the breed and preserve the breed. We had some good ideas and lofty goals to bring the Stafford community together and to improve the dogs in this country. It was not only about winning shows and selling puppies (all nice things) – but it was also a united push to get updated information out to the public, to judges, to breed enthusiasts, to improve health decisions, to help each other evaluate litters, to get more owners to join the club, etc.
It does not matter at all how many years you have owned, shown or bred Staffords. It does not matter how long you have been a judge, how many champions you have produced (or bought) but what matters is how you can do something positive for the Stafford community to actually – preserve, promote, protect the breed. We are all busy and we all have other important events happening in our lives, but when we decided to join the Stafford community I feel we should devote a little of our time to helping the breed together.
We all share the same passion. There is no ‘conflict of interest’ when people of all opinions share this passion and work together instead of beating each other down. It is the same interest – The preservation of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Instead of dividing we must come together as community members. We must partially remove ourselves from individualism and place that emotional energy squarely on promoting this breed together. You do not have to like everything about the dogs I live with and you do not have to like everything about my judging or breeding decisions. I don’t have to like yours either – but we DO have to be supportive of the commonality, of the community, of the breed. We need to respect our differences and our sameness alike. We need to be kind and respectful to one another for the future of this breed. We need to set an example for people coming into the breed, for people in other breeds and for the general public.
The State of the Stafford should include the State of the Stafford Enthusiasts. Take advantage of every bit of information you can find. Listen to, ask questions of and talk with Stafford owners and breeders of all types. Everyone has something to offer. Everyone!
Every book, magazine, piece of artwork, and kennel has something valuable but we must be willing to drop our egos and look for and accept all of this as a collection of like minded groups of people with passion for the breed. I am not being naive in saying this as I am well aware of parts of the Stafford world which on the surface appears not to have anything but destruction to offer. We all know at least someone in Staffords who has been a constant thorn, troublemaker, disingenuous person – BUT there is value in there someplace. In saying that, there does also exist ‘negative value’ – thats still value. Negative value offers us the opportunity of learning from the decisions and mistakes of others (and our own mistakes as well). Be willing to recognize negative value and be a reason to choose positive value. Look for virtues. You can influence others in this way. I know because I have seen this firsthand! Your positive hard work and dedication can and will influence others. Not all, but some. Some are lost for sure, but the future of this wonderful addictive breed needs all of us to do our best to set aside a few minutes a week to support the breed and its enthusiasts.
I have finally learned that it is far more important to find value rather than simply judge and dismiss. So in closing my take on The State of the Stafford is – we MUST join as a community if we are to move forward as a breed. It’s not just the car, it’s the driver! It works best if we work together – which in my opinion also means working with other bull breeds.
Temperament: From the past history of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the modern dog draws its
character of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity. This, coupled with its affection
for its friends, and children in particular, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, makes it
a foremost all-purpose dog.
Nothing in this written breed standard states that a Stafford should get along with other animals. Yet, lately people request one who will get along with other dogs. That first sentence even begins with ‘from the past history’ which describes a time of blood sport. At no time in the history of this breed were they a pack dog. The ‘trustworthy stability’ is meant as totally reliable with people, not other animals. Where is the confusion? It is up to us, as breed preservationists, to educate people on the expected temperament. A Stafford should be reliable also in the sense that they shouldn’t start a fight, but when properly or directly challenged, or when play is escalated, a fight may occur. This should be the expected norm.
Owners should be aware, observant and prepared. Never put your Stafford in a position where they may need to resort to that behavior. This means, no off lead places where you do not know for a fact all other off lead animals involved are neutral and have known calming temperaments and owners using a watchful, responsible eye. This also means, in crowded places especially, no flexible leashes. Use a strong buckle collar and a 6′ lead so that you have control of your own dog. Be on the lookout for unexpected challenges you may encounter. Teach your Stafford to ignore other dogs and know a ‘leave it’ command. Be aware if your Stafford IS playing with other animals to watch for play escalation or over excitement. Stop it when you see it and remove your Stafford from the environment.
Play may get loud, and this is fine, just watch and understand body language so things do not get out of control. Loud wild play is normal. Should a situation get out of control do NOT put your hands in between to try to stop a fight. There are plenty of other internet sources you can learn how to break up dogs fights so I wont go there – just be aware that a Stafford should not be expected to get along with all other animals, just as you may not like all other humans.
If you breed, rescue or otherwise sell or place Staffords into homes you must educate new owners about this part of a Stafford temperament and know its acceptable, correct and expected.