Staffords and other Animals

The following page was written by a good friend and very smart woman, Beret Walsh, whom I respect a great deal. She put into words the very important topic of Staffords and how they interact with other animals so eloquently. Many of us find ourselves answering these questions daily. If you don’t know this breed but you think they would be the perfect addition for you PLEASE read this and know she is correct on every point she makes. (Shared with permission – please DO NOT copy and use without reaching out to Beret yourself. Play nice. )

Theatric Staffords

Staffordshire Bull Terriers & Other Dogs

First, one must understand that dog-dog sociability is a spectrum. Dogs can range from highly pro-social (love and enjoy interacting with every dog they meet) to truly dog-aggressive (wants to hurt every other dog they encounter) with a lot of space and nuance in between those two poles. Most well-socialized dogs will fall somewhere in the middle of the sociability spectrum around dog-tolerant to dog-selective, and their position on this spectrum will often shift away from the more social end as they continue to mature regardless of “how they were raised”. 


The above graphic is the property of K9 Activity Club and used with permission.

Dog sociability is epigenetic, meaning it has a genetic component that may be influenced by environmental factors. Early negative experiences with other dogs can impact a dog’s tolerance for others in the future. Likewise, a dog with a genetic predisposition toward intolerance for other dogs need not be influenced by experience for intolerance to arise.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed has origins in dog-on-dog combat. While the modern Stafford is no longer bred for such exploits, one cannot deny the foundation of the breed and how that history still may influence behavior today. For that reason, any responsible Stafford owner knows that the potential for conflict between dogs is always there and is well versed in body language, de-escalation, and management techniques should the need arise. Avoiding same-sex pairings can also help mitigate any issues that may arise.

Many people have the idea that breeders should specifically focus their efforts on eliminating the fire in the breed. As unsavory as their origins may be however, it also led to many wonderful qualities that make us love the breed today. Their tenacity, their versatility and above all, their bombproof nature with their humans in even the most volatile of situations. When the focus shifts from preservation to change, we risk losing the incredible virtues of the breed we hold most dear.

Most Staffordshire Bull Terriers will get on fine with trusted canine housemates and a close circle of friends, but may be far less accepting of a strange dog coming into their space. Typically however once there is hatred between dogs of any breed, there is no reconciliation to be had. Many take a “don’t start none, won’t be none” attitude and wouldn’t necessarily start a tiff, but also would not hesitate to step up to the plate and finish it if a challenge was presented.

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier not enjoying the company of other dogs is not incorrect or wrong, nor does their potential intolerance for certain other dogs have any bearing on their sociability with humans.   A responsible Stafford owner knows and accepts the propensity for spice inherent in their dog, and keeps them out of situations wherein conflict may arise to set them up for success. This is not a breed well-suited for dog parks or doggy day care. While there certainly are Staffords who can do just fine in that type of environment, the dedicated owner recognizes that there are far better opportunities for bonding and play than a thunderdome-style canine free-for-all. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier needs human companionship more than it needs to be friends with other dogs.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers & Cats

Many Staffordshire Bull Terriers live successfully with cats inside the house provided they are given clear ground rules (no chasing, no rough play, etc.), kept under supervision, and the cats have ample space to get away from the dog when needed. A cat running away can spark predatory drift in a dog, whose natural instinct is to chase and grab the small furry thing moving away from it. Outside of the house, cats are often no longer seen as off-limits family members and the situation can easily sour. 

For a dedicated and mindful owner, it is definitely possible to keep both Staffords and cats together in the house. However one must never forget the origins of the breed they own and always ensure the household is under their careful management.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers & Critters

As the name suggests, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a terrier, which is a type of dog originally used for catching and dispatching small critters and prey animals.

It is unreasonable to expect a Staffordshire Bull Terrier to live in harmony with rabbits, chickens, ferrets, etc. If a Stafford owner does keep small critters, they must be securely separated from the dogs. Never underestimate a Stafford’s ability to snatch up a mouse, a rabbit, or a chicken before you’ve even realized what’s going on. 

It is both normal and expected for a Stafford to grab and kill a small animal. And in fact, they can make for great critter infestations control around the yard, garage, and shed. There are also wonderful ways to harness this natural instinct in a controlled setting, such as the sport of Barn Hunt.

See original article here

Why you wait

Warning – this will trigger some!

I receive emails, calls and even some texts weekly from people who are wanting to buy a Stafford puppy who have no idea that good responsible breeders are not Amazon. We are not vending machines waiting for a stranger who probably doesn’t even really know this breed to order up a puppy. We are not in ‘business’. We aren’t running a breeding company. This is not how we pay our bills. This is a passion. We are dedicated to this breed. This has little to do with money or making sure every person gets to buy a puppy.

Stop texting “How much for a puppy” or “Any puppies available?”. Please just stop.

And for those who call and possibly might make amazing homes but you want that puppy yesterday . . . please do the simple math.

A bitch should reach two years old to have all her health testing completed and listed on the OFA website. Hopefully she passes all of these tests and is also a good representative of the breed mostly meeting the breed standard with few faults and no major faults. Thats a lot to ask for. Not all bitch’s will be suitable for breeding.

Next a responsible breeder will have been doing the needed research to locate the right stud for her and also have a back up stud chosen, just in case. This also involves travel to meet the dog in person if possible, studying his pedigree and offspring. Researching his health testing and hopefully performance or conformation records, agreeing to and signing a stud contract, paying the fees.

Then we wait. The bitch has to come into season which only happens about every 7-8 months or so. Next we test progesterone, draw blood daily for LH surge testing (if using frozen) where timing is essential. So now we are about 2 years plus maybe 6-8 months down the road and we wait about 2 more weeks for ovulation to occur. Now we try for a breeding – either naturally, AI or surgically. Each has its challenges and costs involved, plus time and travel.

Now more waiting. In about a month the breeder can opt to ultrasound to see if she conceived. Hopefully all goes well and in another month or so puppies will arrive. More challenges. If there is only 1-2 puppies, a cesarean may be required. Hopefully she can free whelp, its usually around 3am on a holiday when the world is closed. Hopefully no stuck puppies, hopefully no DOA puppies, hopefully no cleft palate or hairlip puppies, hopefully no deformation, and hopefully mama makes it alright too. Next you are awake for two weeks during the ‘please dear lord dont die’ phase. Also hopefully mama doesn’t produce too little milk or too much milk and develops mastitis. Meanwhile if you are counting its been over 3 years. . . . or so it seems.

Most reputable breeders do not let their pups leave until 8-12 weeks. Puppies need this time to learn all sorts of things which are discussed ad nauseum on other pages of this website. So if you call me for a puppy and it just so happens I just bred my girl – you are still going to be waiting around 4-5 months. AND what if you only want a girl and I only have one girl. Welp sorry – I breed to keep a girl. You cant have her. She is mine because of my decades of hard work and wanting that to continue. Sounds harsh but how would I provide more puppies if I sell you my only girl? What if you wanted a puppy for a future performance prospect and none have the temperament for sports? Do you see why you wait?

Find the breeder you want a relationship with and plan to wait. Or dont. Take your chances. Believe the marketing hype. You can certainly find breeders who exist only to populate the world with Stafford puppies. Thats not me. And don’t get me started on those asking me for a puppy and then whinging about how much money I ask for them. Re-read this blog post, and others, and add up the money we spend to create your health and temperament tested well bred puppy. I can assure you, when doing it right we are not making money. Again, this is not a business for us. Leave that to those flashy well marketed and advertised puppy makers with huge egos. I wont call them breeders. What they do is a business. It’s a puppy making business. What we do is not a business.

Also note, its none of our concern who you choose to buy your puppy from. I offer the information all over this website on how to find someone passionate and honest and who truly cares about the breed and the dogs in their care. But it is your responsibility to do your homework and decide for yourself. Do you want lifetime support? Do you want to see proof of health testing? Do you want to meet dogs in person? Do you want a relationship with your breeder and others who also trusted and bought from this breeder? Do you want mentoring about this breed you are about to welcome into your life for (hopefully) the next 16 years? Do you want a friend to support you to be a part of the Stafford community? Do you want someone with experience you can call at any time for any reason to ask questions, brag, share photos, talk with about anything Stafford?

If not, you can Paypal your money and get a puppy shipped to you. Puppy makers will do that for you. Good luck and I hope you don’t need me later to help you re-home your puppy.

End of lecture. If you got triggered look inside yourself to see why.

Is it flattery?

The phrase "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" originated from Oscar Wilde's famous quote, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness." The phrase has been used by many authors as early as the 18th century, but Colton's variation is the one English speakers still use today.
While flattery can influence a person's opinion, it is not always flattering.
In the world of commerce and intellectual property, such "flattery" can get you in serious trouble.

Oftentimes when a sincere person has the time and energy to put forth creative efforts, over time others may imitate those efforts. For over twenty years I have devoted my time, creativity and energy into all sorts of promotion and support for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. If you are familiar with this blog, then you also have read this website and you know all the projects I have involved myself with for this breed. Let me highlight just a tiny percentage of what I have accomplished for this wonderful breed below.

From my earliest days I did not wait for others but instead I created ways to raise awareness for Breed Specific Legislation, raised money selling anti-BSL bracelets and fought to change laws, attended hearings, written letters, made calls and helped those caught in the middle of such bad legislation.

I created forums and websites with educational material about Staffords.

I promoted health testing in the breed, including being involved with SBTCA getting blood draws needed to locate markers for L2-HGA and HC and shipped to UK.

I published books and magazines about the breed.

I ran Responsible Dog Ownership events. I taught inner city dog owners how to live in big cities responsibly with their dogs. I taught handling lessons on my property and other locations.

I was immediately involved with Stafford rescue not just raising money but actively pulling from shelters, visiting hoarder situations to pull dogs, fostering and transporting, as well as vetting new homes. Many claim to be ‘involved with rescue’ when they only raise money or talk about it but never get their hands dirty. This is also needed but don’t inflate your involvement while putting down others who get in there and do the hard parts.

I have served on just about every club committee, have created a committee (Sunshine),

I started SBT Mentor. Sadly, after ten years I closed it down due to lack of interest. I was having trouble finding people willing to mentor and new people to this breed didn’t think they needed mentors. Thanks in part to social media, they knew it all already.

I have helped rewrite our COE and By-Laws to clarify them and I served on the BOD.

I helped create and edit an Illustrated Breed Standard and a Seminar and donated all the proceeds to rescue. My work is the base for the parent clubs book and seminar. I created The Stafford Knot, Inc 501(c)(3) and I run 3 online stores all with Stafford gear with proceeds donated to rescue I have imitators who mimic my work and put the money in their own pockets who could help by making small donations but instead put our work down in order to promote their own. My designs have been stolen and used worldwide!

I did all of the graphics, marketing, design, social media advertising, fund raising, trophy making (actually physically making them), did promotions, got sponsors, and I did much of the organization for one of the breeds largest National Specialties. You may not be aware that was me since another person takes credit for my hard work when at the time they were grateful and even said – “You could have done this show without me, but I could never have done it without you..”

I have traveled to get my hands on as many Staffords as possible while learning and studying because you never can learn too much about a breed. I photographed, listened, watched and learned from those with many more years experience than myself. Without them I would be lost because today people are not as open and willing to share knowledge. (That is one reason for this website and The Stafford Knot website).

All of this and then some just because I value, appreciate and honor this breed and its traditions and history. I didn’t do any of this for myself or to get a pat on the back. IDGAF whether or not you approve of what I have done and I certainly don’t need your approval to continue. So many others are desperate for that approval and praise. I did, and continue to do all of this for the breed.

I do not brag about my accomplishments or efforts, except perhaps in this blog. Not that it’s shameful to let others know what you do . . . if you are actually putting in the work. This, by the way, also includes talking about your failures and shortcomings and how you learn lessons with grace and dignity. It also includes being open to being wrong and listening to those who are also learning and doing. You don’t, however, get to opening publicly disparage others.

Peoples actions really do speak louder than their words. Actions, especially patterns of actions, show intent. A persons intent says everything. If you pay close attention you begin to stop listening to words and begin to find imitators actions amusing. If a persons intent is not pure, then they will fail at their actions. No matter what their words say, their intent will show through – if you are looking. Most people are not looking, only listening. If you truly are a legend, you don’t need to tell people you are a legend. And I am certainly NOT saying I am – but others who loudly boastfully claim to be just might not be if you watch them and stop listening to them. If they are either disparaging others, copying others or taking credit for others work then perhaps you may begin to wonder what the truth really is.

Is it flattery? I don’t feel that it is. I feel they may see others succeed and be well respected so they mimic in hopes to gain the same for themselves. But since it is not sincere then it fails. Start paying attention. Oscar Wilde was correct.

Looking for a Stafford?

Questions you should ask potential breeders.

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

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.


adapted from

SBTCA National weekend

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 and then again beginning in July. 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.

Revisiting interviews

Stafford Balance, Type and Movement

Let’s discuss balance, type and movement in the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a balanced blend of Bull plus Terrier but when we say we strive for an equal blend, are we picturing in our mind the original breeds used or modern day versions in this recipe?  Many people today are picturing the modern day version of the English/British Bulldog. This way of thinking is dangerous to the health and future of the Stafford. That type of animal was not intended as the athletic gladiator the Stafford was bred to be.

The original Bulldogs used to create the Stafford looked more like the athletic bodies of an American Bulldog, Boxer and similar breeds, without the exaggerations. This is not something that can be easily disputed as it is shown many times in book after book on the history of the Stafford. The original Bulldog used to create the Stafford didn’t resemble what we picture as a Bulldog of today. He was leggier, more athletic, less wrinkle, and in general a beautiful example of a gladiator. We can see why this breed was chosen, for he was portrayed to be powerful, courageous, tenacious and tough, but still a reliable guardian with an off duty quietness and affection for humans.

The other half of the ‘mix‘ is said to have been either a now extinct breed known then as the “White English Terrier” or the ‘Black and Tan Terrier.” It may have resembled the Manchester Terrier which is one reason we have a disqualification (highly undesirable in other countries) in our AKC Breed Standard for Black & Tan as this pattern can possibly overtake a breed and we love our color variations we have today.

Keep in mind they did not have access to DNA coat color testing when the standard was written.  You can find tan pointed Staffords in many patterns and colors actually – red with cream points, blue with tan points, black brindle with tan points under brindle pattern, piebald where the only points visible would be if a colored patch shows where a point might be. BUT one thing you will find in a tan point of any color is the tan color surrounding the anus of the animal. It’s a telltale sign the animal is affected with the tan point allele.

The first breed standard described a dog built much more like a modern American Pit Bull Terrier calling for an 18 inch dog to carry just 38 pounds (todays top end for weight). As time went on the show fraternity wished to further distance themselves from the underground world of dog fighters that still existed. Thus in 1948/49 the standard was changed to include the single most significant alteration to the breed’s makeup clearly defining the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a show dog, not a fighter. The top end of the height range was reduced by 2 inches (14” – 16”), yet the weights remained the same (24-34lbs bitches – 28-38lbs dogs), thus calling for a more compact dog of greater substance, no longer ideal for the pit. This change would mark the show Stafford’s official severance of its ties to the fighting world. 

The breed standard describes a dog which has a terrier attitude of course, although he is also unlike other terriers in many ways. His temperament is described as being bold, fearless and totally reliable. He shouldn’t spark off unless he feels he needs to but he also doesn’t shy away either. The reliable part of the description is that you can expect a true Stafford to be quietly in control, yet he also may respond as a terrier should if the need arises. In other words, he wont pick a fight, but he may just end one. Be aware of what you have and if his temperament is indeed reliable you should have control.  The Stafford should always be manageable.

The physical descriptions in the breed standard are there to distinguish him from other terriers. He is described as being ‘wide’ which means he is wide for a terrier, as many terriers are not wide. He has a distinct stop, unlike many other terriers which have little to no stop, but not completely vertical. As well, he will not have the short upper arm many terriers have. His upper arm (humerus) will be equal length to his scapula. These points of the standard are to differentiate him from other terriers, not to ask for the widest, deepest, most distinct, etc.

“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.”

The Stafford is an efficient athlete. Everything about him should reflect this. There are to be no exaggerations in his make-up.  Excess would inhibit the breed’s original function as well as its health.

He needs enough bone, enough muscle, and enough substance to support his powerful, athletic endeavors,  but not an excess of any of these features.  He will need strength and vigor, allied with speed and suppleness.  The Stafford should have stamina in abundance. He should feel hard to the touch, never soft.

The cloddy, heavy-boned, over muscled dog may look impressive but he’ll lack the speed, agility and stamina of the athlete. The racy, light-boned dog may be agile and athletic, but will lack strength and resilience. The one in the middle will get the job done. Efficiency is the key concept as the Stafford should be the best pound for pound athlete. Combat athlete specifically. Balance of strength and agility (Bull and Terrier) is repeated over and over in the standard. Not a body builder. Not a heavyweight fighter (where the ratio of strength is out of proportion to agility). Explosively quick, with immense strength and very long lasting athleticism. A balanced Stafford should be able to go all day. When the strength starts to get in the way of agility and stamina it’s too much. When the speed and agility sacrifice strength and impact it has gone too far. Fortunately the standard has an objective measure for that illusive ideal balance which is 16” and 38 pounds. – Alan Mitchell

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier gait is described as “Free, powerful and agile with economy of effort. Legs moving parallel when viewed from front or rear. Discernible drive from hind legs.” 

For Stafford movement there is no waste. This means legs moving straight from shoulder to toes with no paddling, hackney, nor stilted or kicking the rear feet up. The pendulum moves in a straight line, but there is of course much more forward travel from the shoulder, and the pasturns bend unlike the “typical” long-leg terrier movement.  He wastes no energy getting from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. The Stafford’s movement is clean and fairly simple.  He should be able to easily gait without being run. The Breed Standard only says “discernible” drive from the rear. That’s at a fairly slow pace. It moves from discernible to powerful as the speed increases. Legs again moving in straight planes, with good width in proportion to the rear structure. When gaiting at a good clip there will be some converging to maintain a good center of balance. This is much more efficient that the literal interpretation some have that the Stafford’s legs move at the same width as they fall when standing. Maybe at a very slow pace, but not for long once you speed up. They shouldn’t track close, but they don’t have a true parallel movement as a Bulldog or Frenchie might because a Staffords ribs hold their front legs out making it difficult for them to converge much if any. He should never have any looseness of shoulder or elbow, nor should he have flat feet. His point of withers should never drop below his backline, nor show wrinkle behind.

The Stafford should be clean and free of wrinkle or lippiness. His lively and keen expression comes partly from his famous ‘smile’ and partly from his medium sized, dark eye (preferably dark, but can be in relation to coat color yet never yellow, gray or too light) which tends to show  his delightful personality. He is constantly aware of his surroundings, he is playful and energetic, and also sometimes a bit naughty or mouthy. His tail will be a giveaway of his mood usually so you dont want to see a tucked tail indicating uncertainty. He has no problem moving around a show ring and should be happy to do so with his ‘person’ by his side. 

The Stafford is not a brachycephalic breed. The ideal muzzle length can be described as 1/3 muzzle to 2/3 skull and approximately 1/2 the depth of the skull. Muzzle from tip of nose to base of stop should measure no less than 1/2 from stop to occipital bone. The ideal muzzle angle is a little less than parallel to the angle of the skull –  slightly converging planes. His skull should be broad & deep through and nearly the same width as depth. The size & shape of the nose & nostril affect appearance and breathing ability. The Stafford should ideally have large open nostrils. 

When judging the Staffordshire Bull Terrier one of the first questions that comes to mind is “How do I determine which parts of the standard are more important than others?” As mentioned, the Stafford was RE-established as a show dog in 1949. However, the basic answer to this question is the same as it is with most all other breeds: Always give priority considering the original function of the breed. As unsavory as it may be, those elements most important to the historic function as a fighting dog should not be forgotten.  In fact, they are to be given the greatest attention. Breed Type – that most elusive concept that is yet so obvious when you see it! If you show your dog, or are involved in the world of dog breeding, you will often hear the phrase ‘typey’. You will read critiques telling you that a particular specimen has type in abundance. This topic generates hot debate and has been written about since people began crafting breed standards. 

“Type is a very difficult term to define –chapters in books have been devoted to the subject without a truly clear resolution.” Richard Beauchamp, in his book, Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type, asserts that “Knowing what was originally intended for our breeds is critical,” and that “If we pay respect to nothing else, it should at least be to what the creators of the breed intended.” He argues that following this principle will help avoid exaggeration, stating that breeders, “…seem in constant danger of believing that if a characteristic is called for at all, then the more of it a dog has the better!” We see this in the Stafford ring every weekend. Again, because its worth repeating – the Stafford should show no exaggeration at all. 

The Stafford should be a balanced animal from nose to tip of tail. Nothing should be exaggerated or out of proportion. His head size should be in proportion to his body, not over or undersized but keep in mind that the original point system called for 25 points to asses the Stafford head. In the country of origin, UK, at the end of the written Breed Standard for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier it is stated: 

“Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its eect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.”

This is a good reminder to not only look for the balanced Stafford, remember its origin, but also to balance your judging when in the ring with the breed. The AKC Breed Standard for the Stafford lists only three ‘faults’ and only three ‘serious faults’. Fault judging is to be avoided but these six points should be kept in mind when you find yourself faced with similar virtuous examples in your ring from which to select from.

The clean outline of the athletic Stafford is distinctive and a delight to see.

He is indeed a breed like no other. 

Lynn Caswell (Wavemaker Staffords, The Stafford Knot, Inc. 501(c)(3))

Excerpts from – The Stafford Knot, Jason Nicolai, Lorelei Craig, Alan Mitchell and Melanie Sinclair

A Stafford By Any Other Name

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.

–Jason Nicolai (Homebrewed Staffords)

(written for SBTCA, submitted to AKC Gazette, republished here and on TSK with permission)

Introduction To The Staffordshire Bull Terrier

By: Alan Mitchell (Hoplite)

The Western Staffordshire Bull Terrier Society

General Appearance—-Smooth coated, well balanced, of great strength for his size. Muscular, active and agile.

The Staff is an athlete. Everything about him should mark him as such. There should be no exaggeration in his make-up. He needs enough bone/substance; enough muscle; enough strength of limb etc; but not too much of any of these features. He will need strength and vigour, allied to speed and suppleness, with endurance and stamina in abundance. The cloddy, heavy boned, over muscled dog may look impressive but he’ll lack the speed, agility and stamina of the athlete. The lightboned, racy dog will lack strength and power. The one in the middle will get the job done.

Characteristics —Traditionally of indomitable courage and tenacity. Highly intelligent and affectionate, especially with children.

The Staff’s temperament is legendary. His intelligence and willingness to please is taken for granted by his friends and is a source of astonishment to others. He is a pleasure to have around. He loves human company and thrives on it; seems to know just how to behave with the big ones, the small ones, the old ones, the loved ones, the neglected ones. He’ll make you feel special, “read the paper for you”. He knows he’s your best friend. He knows you need him. Not renowned as a guard of property but attack his friends at your peril, especially his small friends. Should not be used/trained as a guard/attack dog. You may have trouble calling him off.

Temperament—Bold, fearless and totally reliable.

But he’s all dog. He’ll play for hours. Take him to the field and his sporting instincts will surface. He loves a romp; he’ll hunt with the best of dogs. And though his past might suggest an aggressive and vicious spirit, this is not the case. He owns the ground he stands on and is never craven. Just socialize him as a puppy with other dogs/pets/animals and he’ll never be a threat to any. Maybe, it’s a confidence born of his past. He has nothing to prove .He knows he’s top dog.

Head and skull —Short, deep through with broad skull. Very pronounced cheek muscles, distinct stop, short foreface and black nose.

The Staff’s head should have a skull/muzzle ratio of 2:1. So the foreface/muzzle is short in relation to the rest of the head, shorter in this respect than most terriers’. The stop, the step down from the top of the skull to the top of the muzzle is quite marked. Not as deep as in other breeds with this type (Bracycephalic) of headpiece eg; Boxer, Bullmastiff. But it is definite and will affect the setting and shape of the eyes and overall expression. The Staff’s skull should be balanced for equal width and depth and be well padded with muscle, with well-developed cheek ”bumps”. These are the muscles which close the jaw and enable your Stafford to grip with power and endurance. His foreface, muzzle and jaw, should be equally balanced for width and depth and continue the strength of his head as a whole. A foreface which falls off below his eyes makes for a ”foxy” head. But too much bone will make him coarse and take away from the quality of the head. Enough is the key word. His nose is black. His nostrils wide/open. He’ll need to breathe through them at times so little, pinched nostrils will not suffice. Remember, he’s an athlete so all his parts will have to function well.

Eyes — Dark preferred but may bear some relation to coat colour. Round, of medium size and set to look straight ahead. Eye rims dark.

To complete the expression the darker the eye the better in any colour of dog and the light coloured eye in the dark coated dog are not clever. If the stop is correct, the eye size and shape should be as well. If the stop is shallow, eye shape will be almond and the expression will suffer. If the stop is exaggerated, the eyes will be overly large and prominent, again moving from the correct expression. Eye rims should be dark but will bear a relationship to coat colour and pigmentation. The colour, whether of the eye or rim, is a cosmetic feature and has no effect on function. Should be judged as such.

Ears —Rose or half pricked, not large or heavy. Full, drop or pricked ears highly undesirable.

The Staffords’ ears should be quite small and light. Pulled forward the tip should not extend beyond the corner of the eye. They are preferably rose shaped and fold back close to the back of the skull. Remember his past. Big, heavy, untidy (badly carried) ears present an easy grip for his opponent and packed with tiny blood vessels bleed profusely. (Ever wonder why ears were cropped?)

Mouth —Lips tight and clean. Jaws strong, teeth large with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

Heavy, loose lips have no functional value and, again, present a grip for an opponent and a possible point of injury for the dog himself. Lippy dogs in action, trying to get a quick grip, often fang themselves. Ever seen a lippy lurcher? And they have to get mouth on, a grip, in a split second! Lippiness makes for a coarseness in the foreface. Jaws, as mentioned under HEAD CLAUSE should be strong. Look for fill below the eyes and width in the muzzle. Fault a heavy and prominent lower jaw, often making for an undershot mouth. Fault a weak, receding under jaw often accompanying an overshot mouth. Look for balance in strength between top and bottom jaws. And do not confuse a jaw fault with untidy dentition. Teeth should meet in a scissor bite. The scissor bite is important for all carnivores. This is the nip which the animal uses to cut through the skin/hide of its prey; this is the nip with which the bitch opens the sack to release the newborn pup. The incisors are precision instruments, the close scissor bite their means of operation. The canines are the striking/gripping/catching tools. They puncture and hold. The molars are the crushing tools. They break-up and grind the food for swallowing. So that all these teeth can exert maximum pressure they must be set square to the jaws; they must be in line to support each other. Teeth, which are not set square or in line, will sustain more damage in normal wear and tear and would have sustained massive damage in the dog pit. Ask anyone with working terriers about the importance of good mouths. Look for big, strong, well-placed teeth in your Stafford.

Neck —Muscular, rather short, clean in outline gradually widening towards shoulders.

Compared to humans who balance their heads above their shoulders, dogs carry their heads in front of their shoulders. This construction requires a strong neck, stronger in relation to the weight of the headpiece. Nature provides them with a strong neck.

Dogs, as carnivores/preyanimals, hunt and catch their food. When they strike their prey, they strike downwards, hit with the head/foreface/upper canines and grip by closing the under-jaw. The strength of the strike comes from the muscular neck which delivers the hammer blow. The dog kills by shaking its prey and crushing with molars. Too short/stuffy a neck means the dog must shake with its whole forequarters to get the job done. Too long/elegant a neck is weak. So look for a rather short neck; I take this to mean of moderate length. I think that length from nose-tip to occiput could be a guide to a proper neck length. (If you’ve ever had the misfortune to witness a fight between two dogs, you’ll know that the shaker did most damage. And you’ll know that getting the opponents off the floor and stopping the shaking was the key to the separation.) The power for any head action comes from the dog’s neck.

Forequarters —Legs straight and wellboned, set rather wide apart, showing no weakness at the pasterns, from which feet turn out a little. Shoulders well laid back with no looseness at the elbow.

The front legs/forequarters carry the whole front, the heaviest part, of the dog so they need to be wellpositioned, continuing the line from the shoulder to the feet, providing the optimum base of support. Not outside the body of the dog and not too close below the body. The body of the dog is tied to the shoulder blades by the big muscle groups of the neck, shoulders and chest. It isn’t propped, it is slung. Well laid-back shoulder blades allow for a longer attachment, make it easier for these muscles to carry the weight and provide a smooth meeting of the neck and upper back, the cervical and thoracic vertebrae. Upright shoulders make for a stuffy neck and a dip behind the withers. Length in the shoulder blade and upper-arm allows for longer, more athletic muscle as opposed to the short, bunchy, heavier muscle which short limbs tend to carry. The heavy muscled dog may look awesome but the athlete will get the job done with less puffing and panting. The pastern, the main joint above the front feet, equivalent to your wrist, needs to have a little give. With the other joints of the front limb it will cushion the impact when the foot hits the ground loaded with the weight of the dog. So, while this joint should be strong and able, it should break the line of the leg. Staffords’ feet turn out slightly from pastern to sole. There are those who say that this was to give the dog a broader/more stable base of support in the pit, making it more difficult for his opponent to unbalance him. I think it’s just a little peculiarity of the breed. Refer to “wide front” in next points.

Body —Close coupled, with level topline, wide front, deep brisket, well-sprung ribs; muscular and well defined.

The coupling for the majority of folk is taken to mean the loin or the part of the back from the last rib to the hip joint. Close coupled, therefore, means short in the loin. A short loin is a strong loin but lacks the flexibility of a longer loin. This flexibility was vital to a dog in the pit. It permitted him to turn with speed and power and it transferred the pushing/wrestling drive from the big muscles of the hips and thighs to the business end. So how short is long or how long is short? As with the neck, stuffiness here is a fault. This flexibility in loin is a virtue in the brood bitch .She needs to be able to get round with ease to perform her matronly duties. The older, “less delicately reared” would say, It’s a poor bitch can’t lick her own arse!

The level topline, so much a feature of posed dogs, so often lost on the move. Topline, again, is taken as the back from behind the withers to the top of the croup. We consider level to mean like a tabletop. But the spine of a dog, that structure which determines the line of his back is not level to this degree. It may be level for the length of the thoracic spine, the ribcage, but it will rise slightly over the lumbar spine, the loin. The spine for the length of the loin is the only bone, hard tissue, in that part of the body. A slight rise, as in a humpback bridge would seem to make sense here and strengthen this part of the assembly. So while we don’t want camels, we do need to be as suspicious of the absolutely level topline as we are of the not so level one. Look at other working breeds, agile and athletic ones, and maybe we won’t be just as hung up on this particular clause.

Widefront. Not sure why. I believe that the Stafford with his bulldog ancestry would always have been a wider fronted dog than other terriers.

They, with their earth dog ancestry, would have needed to be quite narrow to get to ground and follow their vocation. So I tend to think that this clause may have been a comparative one. I’ve heard it said that the Stafford needed this wide front to give him stability in the pit. A lot of the time in the pit, at least one and often both front feet are off the floor. And if he needs width the dog can place his feet to get it. It’s been said that the space between the front feet, the brisket and the ground should be a square. So in a 16-inch dog, whose brisket comes to his elbow, the width between the inside of his elbows should be 8 inches. (Withers to elbow = elbow to floor.) I certainly would not be happy with a wider front than this and as a choice would prefer the shape between the legs to be slightly rectangular with the short end on the floor.

Deep brisket. The brisket should be no deeper than the point of the elbow.

The dog does not need any more depth. Look at all the working/hound breeds. Indeed more than this is an exaggeration and an impediment. It, quite simply, is extra weight for the dog to carry. It will take away from his ability to perform.

Well-sprung ribs. I was always led to believe that spring of rib referred to the way in which the rib connected to the spine and their capacity for expansion. Ribs were required to spring to the side before they curved down to form the chest wall. This gave the dog the room he needed across his back and gave ample curvature to the ribs as they reached to the sternum. The front ribs, flatter than those behind, gave room for the elbows to be tucked under the shoulders with room to move freely below the dog. The rear ribs have more curve. There is a temptation to admire Staffords with massively barreled ribcages and great depth of brisket in the belief that this provides more room for heart and lungs, so increases stamina and endurance. But it isn’t the size of these organs but their efficiency which is important and bulky bodies are only more weight for the dog to carry. The Stafford should, like all performance dogs be well ribbed back. This is where the room and protection for his vital organs is found. So we are looking for dogs whose ribcage is carried back below, before the tuck-up begins. His forechest should be evident and fill the space between and in front of his shoulder joints but not overly so. We don’t want pigeon chests.

Hindquarters —Well muscled, hocks well let down with stifles well bent. Legs parallel when viewed from behind.

Wellmuscled. This is where the propulsive power comes from. Staffords should have strong, powerful thighs. Not just for movement but in his earlier existence he had to drive his adversary back, to unbalance him and to bully him. Like it or not it was a vital feature.

Hocks well let down. The hock joint, your ankle, should, in the Stafford, be close to the ground, to his pads and toes. This, quite simply, gives stability to his hind limb in all its actions.

Stifles well bent. Equivalent to your knee. In a comfortably freestanding dog the stifle joint should be sufficiently bent to place the hind foot just behind a vertical line from hip to tip of toes. Easy to pose a dog thus. So try to find him off duty. (Having moved a dog in the show ring he should be allowed to come to a comfortable stop unaided, unposed. Then you’ll see the bend of stifle.) The ability of the stifle, and indeed hock, joints to open and close is an essential element to movement. This is how the dog uses his legs to drive and reach, to change the length of the limb to clear the ground and swing through its movement. See under MOVEMENT CLAUSE.

Legs parallel when viewed from behind. Hocks, from joints to feet should be parallel. Again, beware the posed dog. Well-constructed Staffords should stand four square without any assistance.

Feet —Well padded, strong and of medium size. Nails black in solid coloured dogs.

Well padded. Thick, spongy pads are a requisite for comfortable, hardwearing feet. Splayed feet with thin pads have short duration and break down easily. Get a shoe with a good sole.

Strong. There should be a natural clenching in the joints of the dog’s toes which makes for compact feet. Feet will be sized in proportion to the size of the dog, to the bone in the dog. Small feet on a heavy-boned leg are as wrong as big feet on a lightly boned specimen. Look for balance.

Nails black in solid coloured dogs. Easy but cosmetic.

Tail —Medium length, lowset, tapering to a point and carried rather low. Should not curl much and may be likened to an old-fashioned pump handle.

Medium length. Should reach the hock.

Lowset. Origin is just off the level of the topline.

Tapering to a point. Easy. All tails are thus.

Carried rather low. Stafford tails should curve from origin to hang down.

Should not curl much and may be likened to an old-fashioned pumphandle. For the younger generation, who never took the bucket to the pump, the handle hung down and flicked back at the bottom. The Stafford at ease carried his tail in this position, even on the move. Alerted, he lifted it in response to an excitement/threat which might require an answer. But he did not carry his tail erect. The gay tails, seen so often today, can be an indication of a fault in construction/movement, a shallow pelvis and stilted rear action.

Gait and movement —

Free, powerful and agile with economy of effort. Legs parallel when viewed from front or rear. Discernible drive from hind legs.

The first clause is easy. He should flow across the ground. The second is more problematic. A moving dog, of any breed, will not move with legs parallel. It was a rough guide. Old-timers (even older old-timers) used say that terriers should move like a train. Most terrier breeds are relatively narrow-chested so convergence to a centre line may be difficult to spot and they may appear to move parallel, like a train. But this is simply not true. Efficient and balanced movement requires that the feet converge to minimize any lateral displacement and keep the centre of gravity of the dog above and within the base of support or as close as possible to this.

Otherwise the dog will roll to each side with each step, a waste of effort, inefficient and cumbersome. So look for this convergence in the line of the leg from shoulder to foot, from hip to foot. It will be easier to see at faster pace. Judges should require dogs to move at a fast trot.

Discernible drive from the rear legs. Viewed from the rear, the only measure of drive we have is in the pads of the feet. Moving away and really pushing/driving off his rear feet the dog will show us his pads. From the side we look for the dog to leave his foot well behind him when he drives and to close the space underneath when he reaches forward. His rear foot should replace his front foot just as it lifts to reach forward. It should not set down two inches behind. Your dog moves by moving/swinging his limbs at the joints of origin ie; the shoulders and hips. To clear the ground with each stride he shortens these limbs by slightly closing the joints; in his rear the stifle and hock joints and in his front the shoulder and pastern joints His feet should be picked up enough to clear the ground. His topline should hold its shape and flow forward without any bounce or up-down movement. Doing this he will cover the ground with ease and economy. These are the indications of sound movement. These are what we should look for and reward. Possible aberrations. If he is showing pads but moving off-line, crabbing, he is trying to match good drive behind to poor reach in front. If he seems to be prancing at the front, may be he is attempting to compensate/synchronise poor front movement with good rear movement. If he is snatching and running at the back, may be he is trying to catch up, to match poor drive at the back to good reach at the front. The other possible problem area for movement could be the result of breeders breeding for even shorter backs. Remember the ”close coupled” clause. It is easy to focus so much on any particular attribute that we exaggerate it to faulty proportions. So consider the possibility of a back so short that it leaves no room for drive and reach below. Then we need to straighten the stifle and stilt the movement to get any balance/coordination. (I suggest you take a look at the Smooth Fox Terriers. But don’t mention my name.) And, take heed, this can be done. We get short stuffy dogs, which move and show smartly for clever handlers, but do not move well, as in efficiently and effectively.

Your dog will move in the ring at a trot. This gait means that the front left leg and the rear right leg move together, then the front right and the rear left. But they do not move simultaneously. The front foot moves just a split second before the rear. This precise timing is programmed by nature in every well-coordinated dog. It enables the dog to move smoothly without tripping over his own feet. All dogs, like all humans, are not necessarily well coordinated. Some are clumsy, awkward. Left foot doesn’t know what the right foot is doing. Used to be referred to as neuro-motor morons. You know the dancer who was always stood on your toes!

Coat —

Smooth, short and close.

Coat texture should be soft and velvety, a little bit longer and more profuse in dogs kenneled outside but smooth and close to the body.

Easy to care. Good food, exercise and a warm bed. Only needs an occasional bath and the sponge down when he’s been in the ”sheugh”.

Colour—Red, fawn, white, black or blue, or any of these colours with white. Any shade of brindle or any shade of brindle with white. Black and tan or liver colour highly undesirable.

No such thing as a good horse being a bad colour. This is a matter for personal taste and colour in a Stafford is purely cosmetic/aesthetic. The dominant colour in the breed is brindle; the black brindle is now predominant though there are still quality dogs of all colours albeit with much smaller gene pools. The tiger brindle carries the genes for the full colour spectrum, others tend to breed colour predictably. Breeding reds/pieds/fawns constantly will dilute coat colour and if at the same time strong pigmentation is retained, black hairs will appear in the coat to produce a grizzle or smut. The black and tan is the extreme of this. So an occasional cross to a brindle is needed to prevent the appearance of these undesirables. I have a notion that liver is really a weakness in colour and that black/tan is so dominant, that were it allowed, it would quickly swamp the breed. But check this stuff out!

Size—Desirable height at withers 35.5 – 40.5cms (14-16ins), these heights being related to weights.

Weight: Dogs: 12.7 – 17kgs (28-38lbs);

Bitches: 11-15.4kgs (24-34lbs).

This should be straightforward stuff but causes a lot of division amongst enthusiasts. We need to remember that the standard is a guide, so none of these heights or weights are cut-off points. We will get quality dogs outside these marks and we should be always willing to appreciate and reward quality. The folks who drew up the standard were describing what, in their opinion, was the ideal Stafford. I can only say that “Virtus in medio stat”. The ideal is in the middle and to keep it there we have to use dogs on either side of it, in this case above and below. If we use the ideal as the top limit then we will breed down; if we use it as the bottom-line then we will breed up. And we have a breed which could quiet easily split into two types, a terrier type and a bulldog type.

We need to always look for the bull and terrier type.

Faults —Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

This is the pit for the faultfinding specialists; the dentists, the chiropodists, the optometrists etc. We need to be able to look at the whole dog and see his virtues. We should view all dogs from a distance, assess them against the standard and judge them as examples of their breeds before we move close enough to get caught up in the details and cosmetics. I do recall reading a statement by the late Raymond Oppenheimer, of Bull Terrier fame, about one of his breed. He said something to the effect,” He was as full of faults as hell of fire but the best Bull Terrier I’ve ever seen.” We need to be appreciative in our judging, not mean and smallminded. The standard is a guideline open to interpretation, not etched in stone. To have digested it and memorized it word for word, but be unable to apply it sensibly, is to have wasted time and will make no contribution to the future of any breed. If we can’t identify the virtues what will we build on? The quality of present Staffords is the stepping-stone to the future.

Note —Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

If your number concept is weak you may have to use your fingers.