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

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

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

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

Here’s why:

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

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

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

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

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

It is no bargain.

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

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

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

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

-Author unknown

But I cant find a BLUE puppy!

I see a lot of people new to the world of Staffords say that they are looking for a ‘blue’ and asking how to find one from a good breeder. Although I have addressed this topic several times in my blog the posts do tend to get lost over time so let me discuss this again. 

First of all – there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a color preference when looking for a pet. In Staffords we will often, mostly, see breeders who only own reds or only piebalds or only brindle/black brindle. Its normal to have preferences. 

Second, when seeking a new Stafford puppy no matter what color you are thinking about buying color and price should be the last part of the equation but its usually first thing we hear asked about. Again, normal – this is mainly due to not understanding genetics and responsible breeding. Usually, once a new buyer learns the differences in how different breeders operate they know better what to look for and what is a red flag to run from. 

I also understand that just like there are varying types of breeders, there also are varying types of buyers. Some just want to send money and get a puppy like an Amazon order. Tell the breeder what color, sex and price you are willing to pay and send your deposit – then receive your puppy. It is my very strong opinion this is a horrible way to buy an animal which will be living with you for hopefully up to 15+ years. 

So here is some more information – take it for what its worth – My opinions are based upon 16 years of helping with Stafford rescue, owning, breeding, studying the breed and mentoring others.  What I am about to say is just my understanding and my views based upon my personal experiences. Your mileage may vary. 

When looking for a Stafford look for a breeder whom you can trust, who will offer support and mentorship and who is not just simply paying their bills by making puppies. Its pretty easy to get around a slick website just with a phone call, but if you still aren’t sure ask them some questions or send an introductory email. There is a popular list of ten essential questions to ask but really – make a list of issues important to you and ask. You are interviewing the breeder as much as they are interviewing you. At least – there SHOULD be interviewing going on. If not and all you get is – send a deposit – IMO that’s a red flag folks. You may want to look at what health testing is being done. Possibly look at how they raise their own dogs. You might wish to see living conditions where their dogs live and where puppies are raised. Perhaps have a look at how involved they are in the Stafford community. Mostly – read the contracts you are required to sign. Are you okay with a strict contract or are you seeking a no strings attached sale? We are all okay with different agreements. Just be comfortable with your purchase.

The main thing to concern yourself about as far as wanting a blue Stafford is this – is the breeder producing blue on purpose? Are they putting two blue parents together knowing they will get blue puppies? Is the only color they produce blue? Is every single litter all blue or blue/white? What do their dogs look like? Do they look the same as the brindles or reds or piebalds you see on FB from breeders you think are responsible people? Do they look like Staffords? Are you being fed lines about how they are producing ‘leggier/sporty/champion pedigrees’ or any other marketing flash? Are they more concerned about selling puppies than they are about getting to know you and how their puppy will live?

Unlike when a breeder mates two reds or two black brindles, when two blues are put together this is purposeful dilute combination breeding. This is breeding for a specific market instead of breeding for the whole dog. Breeding should be done carefully with much attention focused on health, temperament, structure, type and more. It should NOT be only about the color! Breeding only red or black brindle or white is an entirely different conversation – and (except for all white) usually doesn’t have the health issues which continuously mating blue to blue only has.

Putting two dilute affected dogs together can only produce dilute affected dogs. What’s wrong with dilute to dilute you ask? Genetically, its rather complicated and can lead to many long term issues, but the easy answer is dilute to dilute is furthering the dilutions causing other problems to arise such as allergy problems, coat breakage, coat thinning, alopecia, blowing coat, lacking breed type, lacking pigment, losing eye/nose/pad color and when done often enough the lack of breed type extends to temperament as well. We (rescue around the world) have seen ‘Staffords’ from long lines of dilute to dilute who are not as stable in temperament as the Stafford has always been known for. This is not a good thing. We see yellow eyes, bad feet, fleshy muzzles, fear aggression, shyness and other problems which seem to appear more often in these blue to blue produced Staffords. I can’t explain this scientifically but I have observed it.

If a breeder is putting two brindles together and they get a blue puppy that’s completely different. If a breeder owns a blue bitch and puts her to a brindle/black brindle dog the responsible thing to do is coat color DNA testing (now that this tool is available) to make sure that dog is not a dilute carrier. A black brindle dog who is a carrier should ideally only be used on a bitch who is not a carrier, and vice versa. These combinations are not as much of a health risk as continuous blue to blue, in my opinion. I bred my brindle bitch to a brindle dog who was known to have produced a dilute in the past. This was prior to coat color DNA testing being available. Instead I, and my mentors, researched pedigrees and we went back 9 generations without finding evidence of a blue puppy. We felt safe. Guess what we got? Two blue puppies! It happens. I kept one and I sold one. He was sold on a no breeding contract. My blue bitch was only bred to non dilute carriers and only produced brindle and black brindle. She also has a very different coat from the non dilutes we own. Her coat breaks easily, gets bleached in the sun easily and she blows her coat something fierce twice a year! Currently she is so bald I have to use sunscreen on her. The coat will come back and it will look beautiful and dark again, but I mention this b/c it is different from her non dilute family members.

The argument put forth by the masses is that breeders purposefully breeding blue to blue to blue to blue are only in it for the money. Sure, I would agree, no doubt this is the case – however – many breeders who only breed red to red, black brindle to black brindle, piebald to piebald can essentially be guilty of this as well so that argument fails for me. For me its more a matter of preserving the breed in ALL aspects. There are bad breeders of all colors and types. I know of some horrific situations coming out of kennels of colors other than just blue from my time helping rescue and also what I have observed in the show world. There are some excellent very slick and shiny fancy salespeople out there. Do your homework. If you insist you ONLY want a blue Stafford puppy – thats fine too – let a reputable breeder help you locate one from another responsible breeder who just happened to get some blue ones in a litter of non dilute puppies. Same rules apply – be comfortable with what you buy.

All I am saying here is STOP looking for your puppy and START looking for your breeder. 

Do dogs need fruit in a raw diet?

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

Thank you to Dana Scott for this information.

But I want a blue puppy…..

Staffords come in many colors and while many of us have personal preferences about the color of a future member of the family, Type – Temperament – Soundness should come before your preferred color.Black Brindle, Brindle, Red, Faun, Pied (white with red or brindle patches), solid white and blue are all accepted colors in the AKC Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Standard. Black and Tan (with or without white) and Liver are also genetically possible colors in the breed and in the USA they are considered a disqualification, other parts of the world they are undesirable.Merle is NOT a color in our breed genetics, if you see a merle stafford consider it a bully mix and not a purebred staffordIf you find a breeder breeding for any of the following, please consider their motives before purchasing a puppy from them

  • Breeding specifically for blue (dilute of black) and only blue or a non standard color
  • Breeding 2 blue staffords together
  • One color sold for more money than another color – a reputable breeder will sell all pups at the same price regardless of color or sex

Breeding dilute to dilute can not only cause a lack in breed type and temperament, but has also been shown to cause health issues with those puppies. If you really just love blue then go to a breeder who not only fully health tests and can prove results (L2-HGA, HC, PHPV, CERF, Cardiac, OFA Hip, Patella) has non dilute Staffords which carry one copy of the dilute coat color gene and occasionally produce dilute coated puppies.As breeders we can’t order up specific colors and markings when we plan a litter, though we can genetically know what combinations the parents are capable of producing. White socks or a black eye patch are all up to mother nature.Find a breeder who’s dogs you like, let them know you lifestyle and what you are looking to do with your new pet and let them pick the puppy that will fit that lifestyle, whatever color they happen to be…..


Thank you Jodie Berry for helping to write the above article which mirrors the sentiments of many reputable Stafford breeders everywhere. I have written on this topic extensively since we had a litter from two brindles which produced two blues. Now breeders have access to reliable DNA coat color testing so we no longer need to get surprises. Stop shopping for color and start looking for a breeder who can help guide and mentor you through the process of finding your next healthy, well bred puppy. Please heed the well meaning advice of those who have experience and are willing to share their knowledge with you. We have this breed close to our hearts and are seeking to preserve it and introduce people to the breed in ways which promote the well being of Staffordshire Bull terriers – not pay our bills off of them.

Are You Hoping to Buy a Stafford Puppy?

Ask yourself if a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is the right breed for you and your family.  Do you understand the true nature of the breed? Staffords are not the right breed for everyone, they can be strong willed.  You need to know, warts and all, what you are letting yourself in for.  Speak to experienced owners before you decide.

  • can you afford to have a dog, taking into account not only the initial cost of purchasing the dog, but also the on-going expenses such as food, veterinary fees and canine insurance?  
  • can you make a lifelong commitment to a dog?  Average life span of a Stafford is 12-16 years. 
  • is your home big enough to house a Stafford? Is your yard totally secure? 
  • do you have time to exercise a dog every day? Staffords can become very naughty and destructive if they get bored or feel they aren’t getting the time they deserve. They’re a very people orientated breed and love human company. 
  • how long will the dog be left at home alone? Staffords get lonely just like humans. 
  • will you find time to train, groom and generally care for a Stafford?  Staffords are a very clever breed but need lots of time and consistent training from puppyhood to adult to help them become well-adjusted and better behaved individuals. Positive training will give you and your Stafford much better success than punitive type training. 
  • will you be able to answer YES to these questions every day of the year?  Only you can answer that but please think hard before you make your mind up.


SBTCA members and breeders who show will know of shows where you can meet Staffords and their owners.  They may know planned litters from reputable breeders who fully health test and disclose the results.  They have first-hand experience with the breed so are a good source to answer questions about the breed’s health, temperament or anything  Stafford related.  Breed Clubs are found around the country so there should be one fairly local or at the least they offer websites and FB pages with helpful information.  They should be the ‘first port of call’ for anyone looking for a Stafford puppy.  

Buying a Stafford should not be done ‘on the cheap’ nor should it come from a bad breeder no matter how sorry you feel for the pups. By buying there you’re condemning more pups to the same fate.  If the breeders can’t sell they’ll think twice before breeding again.  By going to a responsible Staffordshire Bull Terrier breeder you stand the best chance of getting a dog that will enjoy a happy and healthy life.

Beware of ads selling pups in local papers and on various dog selling sites on the internet, there are no background checks so any dodgy dealer can advertise there.  Alarm bells should ring if the ad reads like this: 

  • rare blue – they are clearly not rare.  As blue is a genetic dilute in SBTs (it is really a washed out brindle) it is unwise to breed ‘blue’ to ‘blue’ as it affects the genetic diversity of the colors in the breed, can promote health risks and even changes in temperaments can occur. 
  • Red Nose, Long Legged, Irish – there is only one AKC registered Stafford and that is the ‘Staffordshire Bull Terrier’, the other colorful names are given to various cross breeds.
  • rare Merle – the Merle is not genetically possible in this breed nor has it ever ever been.  There is no option to have pups of this color registered.  So if you see a merle colored Stafford ask yourself how did they manage that? 
  • father sired 200 litters – this just means that the dog has been used a lot……..another sales pitch.  
  • X $ amount for one color, X $ amount for the ‘rare’ colored puppies in the same litter – a reputable breeder will sell all pups at the same price regardless of color or sex.  For a well reared DNA clear and clinically health tested Stafford puppy the average price is between $1800 – $3000. 
  • never buy a pup that is delivered without you going to visit first and seeing the litter in their home environment with their mother. 
  • don’t go for one that’s a bargain and/or dropped price because it is the last one left or the breeder has a holiday booked in a few days – that’s not the attitude of someone who cares about their puppies and where they go.  Could they have also cut corners with rearing the litter? In fact, most reputable breeders don’t allow pups to go home for Christmas and never as a surprise. 
  • remember if something doesn’t seem right don’t be fooled to rush in and buy! Always give yourself time to think about making the right decision – a reputable breeder will not push you into having one of their pups.  They will want to find out if you and their puppy will be well suited.

When you have found a litter consider these questions to ask the breeder before going to see them 

  • are the puppies American Kennel Club registered? You have no way of verifying if they are purebred if not
  • are both parents and pups tested/hereditarily clear for L2-HGA with available PROOF?  Don’t buy if untested
  • are both parents and pups tested/hereditarily clear for HC? Don’t buy if untested
  • are both parents and pups clinically tested for unaffected for PHPV/PPSC? Don’t buy if untested
  • will the litter be clinically eye screened for PHPV?  Don’t buy if untested
  • are the puppies micro-chipped?  Did the breeder register the microchip?
  • have they been wormed regularly? if infested they won’t thrive. 
  • what are the parent’s temperaments like? Stafford temperament should be reliable; not human aggressive nor timid/nervous or fearful.
  • has the litter been reared inside? – Pups should be socialized with all the hustle and bustle of family life, they get used to being handled from an early age. They should be raised inside the home, not in a barn or kennel building.
  • will they have a contract?  This is a legally binding document that you and the breeder sign if you both agree to the sale of the pup. Good breeders state that if you can’t keep the dog/bitch it MUST be returned to them  
  • does the breeder have all the paper work available to see? The breeder should show you the paper work and explain about health testing, the contract, endorsements placed and why when you visit
  • tell the breeder about yourself, if you’ve had a dog before, if you want a family pet or have showing or agility aspirations. It will give the breeder an idea of what you’re looking for in your pup i.e. a lively character would be more suited to an agility home where the quieter litter mate would be ideal for a young family. 

  • expect questions to be asked, it’s only natural that the right homes are being sought by the breeder, just like you want the right pup.

When you first meet the litter, you may be met by a rabble of over enthusiastic little characters with sharp teeth, fighting for attention and dangling off your clothes. Or they may have just been fed and are now a pile of sleepyheads that refuse to wake up. What you need to look out for: 

  • see them with their mother. If dad doesn’t live there, which is quite likely, ask for a photo and health information
  • plump pups with clean, shiny coats, free from dirt, dandruff, fleas and not patchy. 
  • If they’re awake then bright, clear, alert eyes. Pups may get ‘sleep’ in their eyes when they have just woken up but shouldn’t have any green discharge or weepy eyes. 
  • clean ears that don’t smell. Pups that have been kept in a clean environment shouldn’t suffer from dirty or infected ears.  
  • check there is no mess or wet underneath or down back legs as this could indicate runny stools and possibly underlying illness, disease or a case of worms.
  • is the bedding and play area clean with plenty of natural light?  Bedding should be changed regularly; pups shouldn’t be playing in yesterday’s mess. 

  • Pups won’t thrive if living in filth or with parasites.  If you buy from someone that would keep them like that you are condoning their actions; buying a pup from them will condemn more pups to be bred in those awful conditions and the bitch to be possibly used as a money making machine

When you pick your puppy up, he/she should leave the breeder with: 

  • signed American Kennel Club registration document 
  • a photo copy of the litter eye screening certificate. This will have all siblings and their results listed. 
  • micro-chip information. The pup may have the breeder’s details assigned and need to have your details added by the micro-chip company.  Many breeders ask for their details to be kept on the microchip database as an emergency back up.  
  • advice on vaccination protocols
  • information and dates when pup was wormed, wormer used and future worming dates
  • diet sheet with information on the food that has been fed, how much and how often. Some breeders send enough food for the first few days and it is advisable to keep to the diet the puppy is used to.  Any change in diet needs to be slowly to avoid an upset stomach. 

  • a reputable breeder will be happy to offer you any help and advice and will usually tell you they are there 24/7 if needed for the lifetime of the Stafford.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Health Information

L-2-HGA(L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria) in Staffordshire Bull Terriers affects the central nervous system, with clinical signs usually apparent between 6-12 months (although they can appear later). Symptoms include epileptic seizures, unsteady gait, tremors, muscle stiffness as a result of exercise or excitement and altered behaviour 

HC  (Hereditary Cataract) in Staffordshire Bull Terriers has been recognised as an inherited condition since the late 1970’s. Affected dogs develop cataracts in both eyes at an early age 

PHPV(Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous) It is a congenital condition (present at birth). This means that if a puppy is born with PHPV it can be detected by ophthalmic screening from 6 weeks of age 

PPSC (Posterior Polar Subcapsular Cataract) This type of cataract usually remains as a small, punctuate cataract and doesn’t usually lead to sight problems. It has been placed on schedule 3 of the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme because a number of Staffords that have been through the Scheme have been found to have this type of cataract. It cannot be detected through litter screening. The mode of inheritance is unknown and has a variable age of onset.  

Litters shouldALWAYSbe clinically eye screened prior to leaving home and it is imperative for new puppy buyers to be aware and make sure ALL DNA and clinicalhealth tests are in place for ALLof the above conditions.

The breeder is most likely a member of the AKC Parent club for the breed – The Staffordshire Bull terrier Club of America. They will support you joining the club and help you meet other Stafford owners. They will include you in Stafford activities and invite you to join in them. They should also support and encourage you joining classes with your new Stafford and hopefully you will want to compete in activities such as nose work, barn hunt, obedience, agility, conformation, dock diving, FastCat, lure coursing or rally obedience. There is so much you can do with your Stafford to fully benefit from this versatile breed and join in the comradery the Stafford family has to offer in this county – and around the globe. 

Health Testing in Staffords

Let’s talk health testing.

Only 974 Staffordshire Bull Terriers are listed in the OFA health database. That may sound like a lot of dogs until you start thinking about how long the database has been around, how many Staffords are born each year (according to AKC they average just below 900 puppies registered annually) and how many people show and breed them. The OFA database includes all registries.

Don’t believe me? Check for yourself – then check how many are CHIC numbered as well – only 82 of those 974 if you want to know:

https://www.ofa.org/advanced-search?num=&registrar=&btnSearch=Begin+Search&namecontains=N&part=&namecontains=N&breed%5B%5D=SBT&variety%5B%5D=&sex=&country=&birthday_start_month=&birthday_start_year=&birthday_end_month=&birthday_end_year=&birthday=&rptdte_start_month=&rptdte_start_year=&rptdte_end_month=&rptdte_end_year=&rptdte=

I absolutely think we can do better. It’s not terribly expensive to do this testing, especially in light of how much some people charge for those untested puppies. I know of several breeders asking $3500 for puppies coming from un-health tested parents. Additionally their puppies aren’t even eye checked. Even if a breeder charges $1800 for a puppy and you factor in the cost of CHIC eligible testing the parents and the puppy eye checks we are only talking maybe $800 for each parent. Thats for the basics…..L2-HGA, HC, eyes, cardiac, hips, patella and hearts. We also check all of that plus thyroid, DM and Penn-hip most of ours that will be bred from and the performance dogs get at least L2-HGA, HC, puppy eyes, hips and hearts.

Why are Stafford breeders not testing? I can speculate either the money would take away from the income of breeding (a totally foreign concept to us since we tend to lose money on each litter) or they are hiding something, ignorant or don’t care. None of this is acceptable. Had every breeder tested for all DNA hereditary conditions and only bred non-carriers beginning back in 2005 when the DNA testing began we could have completely eliminated L2-HGA and HC from the breed in 2-3 generations. Read this again.

Now I am not saying to eliminate all carriers from breeding – our gene pool is too small for this . . . but had we tried it 14-15 years ago even for a couple generations there would be NO L-2- hydroxyglutaric aciduria or inheritable hereditary cataracts (also know as juvenile cataracts) in this breed.

For over ten years The Stafford Knot has been preaching to test all Staffords and also educating buyers about asking for proof of testing. This is STILL not happening today! What are we doing wrong? How are we not being effective? What sort of marketing is required to get the word out?

Some very well known breeders do not test their dogs. It’s true. Go to that link above and see for yourself. Health testing is only one component in breeding dogs. But it’s a great start. Temperament testing is another but this is subjective and has many influencing factors at play. Health testing, especially those which have DNA testing availability is black and white. Do not rely upon ‘clear by parentage’ for your answers either. LOOK IT UP! ASK FOR PROOF! These are members of your family which you are buying and taking home.

If you could guarantee a family member wouldn’t get a disease wouldn’t you do that?! Be smart. Do your homework. Educate yourself.

From Dr. Marty Greer – Please read!

Start reading and stop the madness:

I spent the weekend with my “peeps” – the veterinarians who practice Theriogenology – yup that is really a word. These are the veterinarians who bring your frozen semen back to life, who create the litter of your dreams, who safely and competently bring new life into the world. That is what we do, what we live to do professionally. Oh and most of us do this for fun, as our hobby, our passion as well. As if there are enough hours in the day.

So what is the madness? The spaying and neutering of all of our beloved pet dogs BEFORE they are sexually mature. 

One of our presenters today was the famous Emeritus Professor Dr. Benjamin Hart and his wife and fellow researcher and author, Dr. Lynn Hart. The Drs. Hart have been retrospectively collecting and analyzing data on the incidence of diseases in the dog and how they correlate with the dog’s reproductive status – in other words, is there a link between being spayed or neutered and their orthopedic and behavioral health as well as their incidence of cancer. They, along with our friend Dr. David Waters are showing the evidence that spaying or neutering particularly at an age before puberty, is an unhealthy life choice for our dogs. The same is not universally true for cats. 

The general and hopefully obvious consensus is that veterinarians went to veterinary school and into their careers because they love animals and to improve their health. What has happened is that the well-meaning plan of spaying and neutering our pets has not proven to be in the best interests of the same pets. None of us entered this career, after a minimum of 8 years of post-high school education and deeply in debt, to cause harm to our patients and their owners. But in reality, that is what has happened. 

I believe as a group, the Theriogenologists, both board-certified and those with a special interest in Theriogenology, are uniquely positioned to lead our non-Theriogenology colleagues back to the new truth, the new normal. 

Veterinarians are now seeing published research that shows the following – that pets spayed or neutered young, sometimes before puberty and sometimes before middle age are at increased risk of
1. Orthopedic problems
2. Behavior problems
3. Cancer
4. Obesity
5. Urinary incontinence
We will discuss each of these in more detail.

Veterinarians didn’t go to school to spay and neuter dogs so they could 
1. sell clients on repairing torn cruciates, pain medications, and joint protectants. 
2. Spend their days counseling clients on how to manage their fearful dogs.
3. Create new treatments for the assorted forms of cancer we see in these gonadectomized pets.
4. Counsel clients on increasing their pet’s exercise and managing their diet to manage their weight.
5. Help clients control their pet’s urinary accidents. 

Spaying and neutering our dogs became a “thing” in the 1970s. Before that, anesthesia was dangerous. Owners didn’t have much money to spend on pets. Pets were still just dogs and cats, many of whom lived in the backyard or roamed the neighborhood. Population control was not a concern. 

In the 40 plus years that have elapsed since the 1970s, pets have moved into the bedroom and in many cases, into the bed. They have become companions, family members and in many cases substitute children. The Millennials are using them as trial-run kids – if they can keep a plant and a pet alive, they may dabble in having children of their own. The Boomers like them to keep their home buzzing after they become empty nesters or widows and widowers. Children are learning responsible pet care and about the loss of a loved one when cultivating pet care skills. Society is concerned about the pet population issues and humane care of animals. Euthanasia is no longer an option when there is a population problem. 

However, some of the changes in how society views euthanasia of homeless pets has lead to a lower standard of acceptable pet behavior. In past years, pets with behavior problems including aggression toward humans was not tolerated. If a dog or cat showed aggression toward humans of any age, they were not placed in homes, foster or forever homes. Now, we are making excuses for badly behaved dogs and cats – biting, scratching, and other forms of aggression are not only tolerated but embraced. We assume it is the result of poor socialization, stress, transport, or genetics. Additionally, we are seeing increasing numbers of dogs and in some cases cats, that suffer fearfulness, home destructive patterns, separation anxiety, noise sensitivity, and other previously poorly tolerated activities and behavior. Until this tide is stopped, the single best field for newly minted debt-ridden new veterinary graduates is clearly behavior medicine. Not only is there a surplus of animals in serious need of behavior modification and behavior-modifying drugs, the explosion of opportunities to practice tele-veterinary medicine will allow this group to practice from the comfort of their own homes and offices. They will be able to earn a handsome and well-deserved living while avoiding the costs and tribulations of managing their familial duties. 

Unfortunately, despite mounting evidence in the peer-reviewed veterinary literature that spaying and neutering is causing harmful medical and behavioral conditions, many veterinarians are continuing to promote spaying and neutering every dog in their sites, at younger and younger ages. Yes, spaying and neutering young animals is an easier procedure. Yes, this helps with population control. Yes, our clients have become accustomed to having no responsibility for managing their pet’s sexual behaviors and activities. 

I went to vet school to save lives. To create new and eagerly anticipated lives. 

Many of my colleagues are slow to adapt to and adopt the new thoughts illustrated by the work of Dr. Benjamin and Lynn Hart, Iris Reichler, and Dr. David Waters among others. They don’t want to critically evaluate the literature. They don’t want to believe what it being published. They don’t want to learn to spay and neuter later in life or learn to do ovary-sparing spays and vasectomies, allowing our pets to remain hormonally intact while rendering them incapable of reproduction. 

I can and will tell you we know the newly published information is true. We have seen this reality for the 38 years we have been in practice working with many clients who don’t wish to spay or neuter their dogs for the many reasons they put forth. These clients who want to retain their pets hormones should not be brow-beaten and belittled by the veterinary industry and their families who have been led astray by the animal rights extremists. 

We have watched 3 generations of pet owners and many more generations of pets pass through our doors. We have seen fewer than 10 dogs who have died OF mammary cancer, ovarian and uterine, and testicular cancer. We have seen untold numbers die acutely of spleen cancer (hemangiosarcoma). We have seen many die of painful and debilitating bone cancer. We have seen far too many die lingering deaths from lymph node cancer. All of these are hard to diagnose and impossible to cure. On the other hand, breast cancer is easily diagnosed, even by clients with their bare hands. Treatment is straight-forward surgical excision of the affected tissues. 

In addition to behavior issues, dogs and cats with serious medical problems, some short-term and other long-term, are not only accepted and corrected but used as fund-raising opportunities for themselves as well as a number of other pets processed by the same organization. Bleeding-heart stories are common – not only pets that are already owned by an individual but pets that are homeless and transient. 

In some cases, the pets are left to suffer through long-standing and serious, painful and/or debilitating diseases only to be held out as a poster-child for fund-raising organization masquerading as a “rescue” group. Organizations such as HSUS and ASPCA share heart-wrenching photos, pretending the conditions shown are the norm, not the exception. This literally robs kind-hearted souls of their hard-earned money. Tragically, most of the funds from these organizations is funneled back into fund-raising efforts leaving only a tiny percentage going to the local hard-working organizations who genuinely do great work for abandoned and stray pets. 

The following links to publications that are important and available to read on our website are:
https://www.smallanimalclinic.com/…/spay-and-neuter-controv…

Summary: Read and educate yourself on this life-changing and important procedure BEFORE you spay or neuter your dog or cat. Don’t rely only on your veterinarian as they may have a bias to spaying or neutering early as it is easier on them. Do what is the right thing to improve your pet’s longevity and quality of life. We can arrange a telemedicine consultation if that helps with your decision, based on your pet’s breed and lifestyle. 

Contact us at vv@k9stork.com for more information.

What goes into the cost of a puppy from a responsible breeder?

Once you choose to get a dog from a breeder, it’s helpful to arm yourself with facts so you understand the cost of raising a litter of responsibly bred puppies.

The price varies from program to program, but paying more money for a puppy that comes from a thorough and ethical breeding program can help save costs down the line. Additionally, it’s important to support reputable breeders in order to weed out puppy mills, scams, and irresponsible programs. Not only will you ensure the health and safety of your own puppy, you’ll be supporting an ethical program that truly cares about the well-being of their dogs.

The expenses can add up quickly for a reputable breeder — the average cost of a responsibly bred litter is nearly $16,000. That number can fluctuate, but being a responsible breeder takes a great deal of money, energy, and time. Many breeders begin by traveling to AKC events where the quality of their dogs is ascertained; this process can range anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000. 

Following that, stud services can cost up to $1,500 if breeders don’t have a stud of their own. This can also involve travel, overnight stay in hotels, gas, meals, driving, flying, or semen collection. Collectively, this entire process can add up to $4,500. Factor in that many breeders are taking time off of work to travel to a stud or take their bitch to the vet, and those lost wages can max out at $1,200.

A great deal of maintenance is required to make sure the mother of the puppies is comfortable and in good health. OFA and CERF certifications for health can cost around $430 for each prospective dam that will produce puppies. Getting several progesterone tests done is essential as well so the breeder can pinpoint the accuracy of their timing for conception — these tests average out around $400. 

Regular health checks are required for the bitch as well, in addition to a Brucellosis test. Brucellosis is a disease that can affect all kinds of dogs and livestock — it can even be transferred from dogs to humans. Signs of the disease are late term abortion, still births, and conception failures. It cannot be overstated how important it is to test both dogs, male and female, for this disease before beginning to breed them. This test, along with a health check, can cost anywhere from $80 to $175. 

If implantation or insemination is needed after collecting sperm, this can cost up to $1,000. An ultrasound will be needed soon after all these steps are taken to check in on the status of the pregnancy, which can max out at around $150.

Considering all goes well with the first attempt at breeding, implantation, or insemination, the total cost of breeding before the litter even arrives averages out at nearly $10,500.

In anticipation for the puppies’ arrival, a breeder will have to accumulate all the necessary supplies — including things like a heat mat, siphon bulb, clamps, heat milk, and a whelping box. The cost of this kind of preparation averages out at about $150 as well. 

Throughout the pregnancy, breeders invest in extra food, prenatal vitamins, and x-rays to confirm the pregnancy — all of which average out at around $250. The actual cost of birthing can get up to $3,000 depending on whether or not there are complications or if a c-section has to be done. 

Once the puppies arrive, AKC litter registrations are $25 initially and then $2 per puppy. Premium food for the nursing mom and weaned puppies who are starting on solid food will cost nearly $600. Essential vet visits for the puppies can add up quickly as well — worming puppies costs around $250 when you factor in stool samples and medication. Shots for Parvo, distemper, and a regular vet visit will land around $400 depending on how many puppies are in the litter. 

Additionally, puppy care packages with food, collars, and toys for new owners to take home can land around $160.

Other costs include emergency vet visits, missing work to deliver the puppies, replacing puppy toys and towels, home destruction, utility costs for added laundry and heating, communication with new buyers, and the 24/7 job of looking after a dam and her puppies — all of this can accumulate to nearly $1,600. 

Ultimately, the total cost of responsibly breeding a litter of puppies can range anywhere from $7,700 to $23,900. Although it’s an expensive and time consuming undertaking, the energy and thoughtfulness reputable breeders put into their puppies is the foundation of what will be a better world for dogs.

It’s important to note that a high price tag does not always equate to a responsibly bred puppy — scammers, puppy mills, and backyard breeders come in all kinds of sizes and prices. This is why it’s key to make sure you’re connecting with a good source and communicate at length with your potential breeder. At the end of the day, investing a little more money into your puppy now could save you both in the future — and you’ll be supporting a breeder that pours a great deal of money, energy, time, and love into each puppy that comes out of their program.

Article courtesy of good dog.com

Looking for a Stafford?

I have noticed an increase in people reaching out for help after buying a puppy and realizing they might not have gotten exactly what they were hoping for. There is a real need for more education on this breed. A number of ‘pop up’ breeders are literally cashing in on the upsurge of popularity in Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

In an effort to educate we are working on marketing ideas to try to reach people BEFORE they purchase a Stafford puppy so we can make sure they are well equipped with all the information they need to make a good purchase from a breeder who will support and mentor them, a breeder who is involved in more than ‘making puppies’, a breeder who does (and can prove) all breed appropriate health testing, a breeder who will take back a dog they have produced for any reason at any time, a breeder who is involved in breed rescue, a breeder who is well educated on the breed – an honest preservation breeder.

You deserve to bring home a puppy who has been enriched and raised in a loving home environment for the first 8-12 weeks of its life. You deserve the correct temperament. You deserve a happy and healthy, well adjusted puppy. A Stafford puppy should be confident, eager to learn and energetic. Whether or not your breeder feeds raw, naturally rears or not – they should be a well respected active member of the Stafford community. Help us help you!

The new marketing campaign will be designed to target regular people looking for a puppy so they have this information in hand! Tell us what you search for when looking online – tell us what you expect to find – tell us your thoughts on what you are finding when searching. Send an email to wavemakerstaffords @gmail.com with the subject: Stafford Search Study so that we can put together a helpful education campaign.

Nature of the Beast – Taken from SBTCA

The following is meant to introduce the uninitiated to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Because this link is more about the personality of the dog than it is an in-depth dissertation on breeding or training, anyone wishing to pursue either topic should refer to the books and magazines listed under the Club Bibliography Link In This Section (About The Stafford)

Characteristics & Temperament
Although individual differences in personality exist, there are some things that you can expect to find in the personality of every Stafford. They are tough, courageous, tenacious, stubborn, curious, people-loving and comfort-loving, protective, intelligent, active, quick and agile, and possess a strong “prey drive”.

They are extremely “oral” youngsters and need a safe alternative to furniture, toys and clothing for their busy jaws. Staffords love to play tug-of-war and to roughhouse, but YOU must set the rules and YOU must be the boss. This is not a difficult task if you begin working with your Stafford when she is a puppy.

Most adult Staffords, particularly bitches, make excellent watchdogs; but in general they are inclined to protect people and not property. Their alert, muscle bound appearance is so striking that it’s easy to forget that they are smaller than most American Pit Bull Terriers. As Steve Eltinge in the book, The Staffordshire Bull Terrier in America says, “When a Stafford shows its teeth in a snarl, it can be frightening. They look tough and can be a positive deterrent to thieves, but because of their natural fondness for people, most Staffords are temperamentally ill-suited for guard or attack-dog training.” As with other members of the Bull and Terrier family, they can be the biggest people lovers in the world!

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier desires, more than anything else, to be with her people. Most adore a car ride, going on hikes and walks, enjoying a romp up the beach, and cozying up (or on) to you when you settle down for an evening of TV or reading.

Whatever the activity, “From the time it awakens in the morning until the quiet of night, a Stafford lives life to the fullest.” (Linda Barker, writing in The Staffordshire Bull Terrier in America, by Steve Eltinge).

Care and Training
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a “natural” dog and generally robust. The short coat of this breed requires little grooming other than an occasional brushing and a bath. The downside of this drip dry coat is that Staffords are susceptible to fleas and ticks. The general remedies to discourage fleas and ticks are recommended, as well as a thorough going-over with a flea comb during the worse months of summer. Staffords covet human attention to the extent that I have seen several of them gather around their “person”, waiting to be combed from head to tail for fleas!

Care of nails, ears, teeth and anal glands are the same as they would be for any other breed (beginning when young and attention on a regular basis).

The Stafford is not a dog that tolerates weather extremes easily. Because of its short coat, it prefers plenty of shade and water on sweltering summer days (a child’s wading pool has been a popular choice in the past; supervised of course). Its Bulldog ancestry and brachycephalic (short-headed or broad-headed) respiratory system can contribute to overheating. Watch carefully to be sure that your Stafford doesn’t become overheated during intense play in the summer; if she appears to be wheezing or gasping for air, find the nearest source of cool – not ice cold – water and soak her to lower her body temperature.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers can boast a number of obedience and dogsport degrees and are “quick studies,” provided the trainer utilizes a positive, creative approach. Staffords are smart with a capital S. Young puppies enrolled in Kindergarten Puppy Training classes can begin to learn good habits and mix with other puppies. In addition to AKC obedience competition, Staffords have been successful Therapy Dogs, Canine Good Citizens, participated in Agility and Flyball Competitions and even “gone to ground” with other terriers!

Staffords are exuberant, impulsive, sometimes bull-headed … and surprisingly sensitive. A trainer must learn to be persistent, patient, and firm. Rome wasn’t built in a day and a great deal of ground may be lost in trying to adhere to the sort of inflexible techniques and rigid time frame advocated by some training books. Basic obedience training (at the very least) is a must for any Bull and Terrier. It helps to maintain control in unexpected situations. Because of their impulsive natures, the other cardinal rule of Bull and Terrier ownership is “always think ahead.” An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! When it comes to strange – and especially aggressive – dogs, few Staffords are complete pacifists. Most will not back down if they are attacked or menaced, and some just don’t get along with strange dogs, period. This is a physically and mentally tenacious breed; be prepared!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between the American Staffordshire Terrier, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, and an American Pit Bull Terrier?

Some eight or nine varieties of dogs come within the general classification of Bull Breeds. Although all lay claim to the Bulldog as a common ancestor, there are physical differences that make each distinct from the other:

A) Size – The American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff) is a much larger, leggier dog – sometimes almost twice the size of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier! The Bull Terrier standard does not include size restrictions and dogs from 35 to 100 pounds have been seen. However, the breed generally weighs in between 40 and 55 pounds, making it larger then the Stafford. Pit Bull Terriers also range widely in size. Many of today’s UKC-registered APBTs are on the smaller side; others, dually registered as American Staffordshire Terriers with the AKC are larger and heavier.

B) Ears – Although it may have natural or cropped ears, the American Staffordshire Terrier is usually exhibited in the United States with cropped ears, as are some Pit Bull Terriers. The ears of the Bull Terrier are naturally erect. Erect (or prick) ears are a serious fault in Staffords, whose ears should be “rose” (like those of an English Bulldog) or half-pricked.

C) Head – The heads of American Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Bull Terriers are similar, although the cheek muscles on most Staffords seem to be more pronounced, and the head deeper through. The head of the Bull Terrier is entirely different. When viewed in profile, it resembles an egg turned on its side and is much longer than that of the Stafford. The cheeks of a Bull Terrier are not pronounced.

D) Temperament – All Bull and Terrier breeds have a natural love of people, although that love often does not extend to other members of the canine kingdom outside of the family circle. Many adult AmStaffs project a more serious demeanor; Bull Terriers have a unique and extremely well-developed sense of humor; Staffords may possess the strongest “prey drive” and the superior ability to focus; they are also an “emotional barometer” par excellence, very sensitive to psychic atmosphere in the home. But remember that every individual is different and each of these dogs shares a common ancestry.

How are Staffordshire Bull Terriers with children?
The Stafford is known by the affectionate nickname, “The Children’s Nursemaid” or “The Nanny Dog.” Their tolerance of, and affection for, children is well known. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s a wise idea of put the puppy and child together without supervision. Children should learn to respect the dog and neither should indulge in play that is too rough. Some Staffords – even the males – have a “mothering instinct” and will stick right by the little ones, whether they are puppies or kids. A Stafford, “tough” and not as quick to react to pain or discomfort, is likely to make allowance for the attentions of toddler, finding a refuge only when things become too overwhelming.

Can I keep a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in an Apartment? How much exercise will she require?
Staffords can make a home with you anywhere; they are happy as long as they are with you. They are an athletic dog, however, and need more exercise than most dogs. Bursting with energy, they need vigorous exercise every day! A long, brisk walk on leash (or harness – a useful alternative for some) will give you both a workout. Staffords love the heady freedom of being allowed off lead for a run, hike or romp and it’s delightful to watch them. Of course, it’s a good idea to make sure that they’ll come back when you call them, first.

Are Staffords a noisy breed?
Staffords, in general, are not mindless and persistent barkers. They may bark or “talk” while playing (you will be amazed by the range of arggling, yodeling, grunting, moaning and monkey noises, etc.!), or to alert you of a visitor. However, they are “quick studies” and if you have another dog in residence and THAT dog is a barker, your Stafford will probably pick it up.

They have such a nice, short coat. Do they shed?
In a word: “Yes!” . . . at least once a year. But because Staffords have a “hair” coat, rather than a multi-layer “fur” coat, they produce less dander and the shedding is minimal compared to what you may expect from a Golden Retriever or German Shepherd Dog. The close, short, glossy, “teflon” coat loses dirt easily, dries almost instantly, and does not absorb odor. Staffords are truly “wash and wear!”

What About Keeping a Stafford Outside?
Staffords are not temperamentally or physically suited to spending long periods of time out-of-doors. They need to be with their family and should be house dogs. Given the opportunity, they will convince you that they belong in the bed at night and will be most comfortable on the couch or in the car . . . wherever you may be. If you are not comfortable with this kind of intense camaraderie, do NOT buy a Stafford. Stafford-owners-to-be should have a fenced yard where their pet can play in safety. Remember that Staffords are terriers and can dig like the dickens. They can turn your garden or their yard into a minefield and have been known to go under or over a fence. Secure the bottom of the fence with an “L” of chicken wire. If your dog is the climbing type, a very tall fence or a “shelf” around the top will discourage him. To thwart thieves or those who might tease your Stafford, do not leave him out in the yard for long periods; supervise his outside time and take the opportunity to play with him. Remember that Staffords can overheat if they over-exert themselves on a hot day; conversely, their short coat offers little warmth in the winter months when they stop moving. IMPORTANT: Invisible fencing systems are not an appropriate alternative for Bull and Terrier breeds. The Stafford’s high pain threshold means that — if sufficiently provoked — he may cross the boundary with minimal discomfort. Once out, he must brave the boundary’s shock to re-enter the yard. Invisible fencing does not prevent strange dogs from invading his yard and harassing him . . . a potentially dangerous situation.

Do they like to swim?
Staffords can be divided into three categories when it comes to water — 1) They will do anything to avoid it, 2) They like to wade and wallow, 3) They enjoy full-body immersion and will swim, dive, and retrieve. BUT no matter which approach your Stafford may take to water, NO STAFFORD is really very seaworthy or buoyant. The percentage of body mass that is made up of muscle practically guarantees that they must work very hard to stay afloat. Therefore, a Stafford should NEVER be left alone near a filled swimming pool. More than one of these guys has paid with his life after falling in, struggling to remain afloat, and then tiring and sinking before anyone noticed.

Can I keep a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with another dog or with a cat?
Staffords, like members of any other breed, are individuals. While some may live peacefully with other animals, some will not. Puppies brought up with cats and other dogs generally do well. If bringing an older Staffordshire Bull Terrier into your home, first introduce the dogs away from the house in a neutral area. It should be easier to bring a Stafford into your home than bringing a strange dog into the home of a Stafford. Encounters should be supervised and the dogs observed to determine how a hierarchy develops.

Should I consider a male or a female?
Both will offer much love and affection. Females tend to be better watchdogs; males tend to be larger. If you already have a dog in your home, your choice is simpler: If you have a male, buy a Stafford female. If you have a female, buy a Stafford male. This combination is the best, especially in a two-Stafford household. People sometimes ask about the wisdom of bringing two Stafford puppies home at the same time and most would advise against it. Each puppy deserves individual attention and is less likely to get it as a “twin.” Puppies are a lot of work! With two puppies to keep each other company, the temptation is often to let them amuse each other. Sometimes your pups will decide to bond with each other and place you second on the totem pole. You don’t want that! No matter which sex you select, spay or neuter if you have decided not to breed or exhibit your Stafford.

I have a busy schedule and when I’m home I like to work undisturbed.
By all means, DO NOT BUY A STAFFORD! These dogs crave attention, companionship, and are tireless love sponges. This can annoy those who are used to a dog that amuses itself, is content to sit in its basket, prefers the companionship of another dog, or will settle for a quick occasional pat. Ignoring a Stafford or shutting it away from you will only make your pet an unhappy, frustrated nuisance.

I’m looking for a guard dog . . . will a Stafford fill the bill?
Staffords were not developed as watchdogs. Clare Lee, writing in The Pet Owner’s Guide to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier notes that, “he rarely barks, greets all your visitors and may well let them walk off with the family silver.” If you desire a dog that will be suspicious of all comers and actively repel them, then choose one of the working breeds designed for that purpose. Staffords may guard a car and will most definitely protect family members – especially the weaker members – but they rarely ‘guard’ the home.

What sorts of toys are safe to give my Stafford?
There are no such things as “indestructible dog toys” for Bull and Terrier breeds. But some have tried these: Boomer Balls, Wolf-sized Nylabones, large-sized Kongs, or some of the Puzzle Cubes. Anything else might be chewed up, swallowed or destroyed in short order.

SO . . . DO YOU STILL THINK YOU’D LIKE A STAFFORDSHIRE BULL TERRIER?
It is recommended that you read as much as you can, go to local dog local shows in your area where you can see them, and contact one of the breeders listed in the SBTCA Breeders Directory to ask questions and arrange to see dogs. And above all, be sure that everyone in your household wants this energetic and loving addition. A Stafford could easily be dependent upon you for the next 16 years!