Let’s discuss exaggeration in the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
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!
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
We receive emails and calls (sometimes even texts) almost daily from people looking to add a Stafford puppy to their home. There are days when I feel nobody really takes the time to read our website and it’s just an email to every breeder they can find asking if a puppy is for sale…..more on this later.
For now I want to compile a list of those breeders whom we feel we can recommend with a clear conscience to people looking. I assume they will all buy one from someplace so I may as well try to steer them to people whom I respect. My criteria to be on my list are not unreasonable and each breeder would not have to meet them all – criteria are the following:
• Following some sort of enrichment protocol with each puppy
• Be willing and able to prove basic health testing, whether by providing certificates or OFA link, not only a ‘clear by parentage’ statement.
• Be willing to remain in contact with buyers for support if needed
• Be willing to take back the puppy for any reason, at any age.
• Register the puppy with AKC prior to them leaving the breeders home
• Microchip and register the chip prior to the puppy leaving the breeders home.
• Not require showing/breeding/puppies back in contract
• Their dogs live in the home and not in kennel runs full time
I honestly do not feel this is unrealistic. Of course we do much more than this list but this is the basics I would ask of a breeder whom I were to recommend. I know this breed doesn’t have enough responsible breeders producing enough puppies for each person who wants to buy one. And I also know that this is why there are so many irresponsible breeders out there paying their bills off their dogs. Pumping out puppies to fill a demand is what happens. They are seeing a void and filling that void and it would cost them time and money to do things the way we do them. I get that. I also know I cannot control what other people do. Its not my business.
When it becomes my business is when we get them in shelters, rescue, rehome situations and when the Staffords are being used for creating mix breeds or sold to people who honestly have no clue about the breed. This is when we see trouble. Recently I saw a post on NextDoor from a person who was giving away their ‘Stafford’ they bought from a breeder I know well because they were never told that the dog could possibly mature to not like other animals. They took the Stafford to dog parks and on off lead walks all the time and one day it killed another dog. They were shocked. The fact a Stafford grew up and killed another dog does not shock me but what DOES is that they HAD NO CLUE this was possible.
Thus I am compiling a list of breeders whom I feel comfortable suggesting to those contacting me.
Some milestones that we as breeders reach are goals we have set for ourselves. When we reach these milestones there is celebration and a feeling of success. Other milestones are not a reason to celebrate and we all, eventually, will reach them.
One such event is the loss of the first dog of your breeding. You were there when the dog was born and you remember that day like it was yesterday. You recall holding that tiny helpless baby in your hands and marveling at his perfect form. You remember counting those adorable tiny toes and kissing that adorable tiny nose. Your heart swelled with love and you couldn’t even believe how much love you already had for these beautiful babies and their mother. Its your first litter and one you will never forget.
You remember the day he went home with his new owners, all smiles, and you knew he was going to have a new life where he could enjoy his new family and meet new dogs and go on new trips and adventures – and you hope that one day you get to see him again.
The day you learn one of those puppies (now a grown adult dog) has lost his life will stop your heart for a split second. You find you are holding you breath. You are at a loss for words and you know the pain that owner is going through is connected to your pain. You sometimes find it difficult to find the words to comfort the owner because you also need to hear those words. But you do it. You tell them how much the dog was loved and how you won’t ever forget him either.
You know this day will arrive but you never plan for it. Nothing you can do can prepare you for that news. That day was today. It was an accident. Not expected. I’ve been numb all day long. I looked through photos and I watched old videos (including the litter whelping videos – yes I videoed it!)
You look at the dogs mother, now 11 and gray, and you know she has no connection to her offspring once they leave her but you hug her just the same and you tell her you love her. When the tears begin to fall they fall for every dog you ever lost. Big ugly crocodile tears begin to fall and they dont stop for a while either. You have lost a lot of dogs and they all need these tears today. You need these tears today.
Run free CH Wavemaker Spincaster – and run free your two friends who lost their lives with you early this morning. I miss you already handsome Tackle.
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.
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.