Faults and Serious Faults in the Stafford 

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 effect 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 standard was written as a way to describe this particular breed as a blueprint to follow to differentiate the Stafford from other terriers. 


  • “Non-conformity with heights to weights limits” – Our Standard calls for dogs 28-38lbs, bitches 24-34lbs with both dogs and bitches being 14” – 16” at withers. They should be balanced height to weight. BALANCE is the key word here. Get familiar with what 34lb bitches and 38lb dogs look and feel like. And remember a 14” dog is in Standard and is  balanced at 28lbs just as a 16” bitch is in Standard and balanced at 34lbs. 
  • Dark eye preferred but may bear some relation to coat color. Light eyes or pink eye rims to be considered a fault, except that where the coat surrounding the eye is white the eye rim may be pink.” This means we prefer a dark eye but in a red or brindle dog, for example, there can be some consideration for a lighter brown eye. We do not want to see yellow, gray or blue eyes at all no matter what coat color. 
  • A tail that is too long or badly curled is a fault.” This is self explanatory but to be taken into consideration as to the above paragraph regarding degree and affect upon health. Also, in the original point system the tail was valued at only 5 points. I’ve heard it said that if the Stafford has one thats half the points right there. 

Serious faults:

  • Pink (Dudley) nose to be considered a serious fault.” The Stafford nose needs to be black. Some argument of consideration could be made for the blue Stafford but even then we want the darkest possible pigmentation so that the nose appears black. 
  • Full drop or full prick to be considered a serious fault.” A small, thin leathered tight ear held back close to the head would be preferred and safest in its original function, however there is consideration for a half prick ear. This means half, not 3/4 and never full drop or full prick. Either of those not only would affect hazzard in its original fuunction, but also gives a foreign expression. As well this differentiates the breed from other terriers. 
  • The badly undershot or overshot bite is a serious fault.” The scissor bite is called for, and we want large well placed canines but as we also strive for a strong muzzle and underjaw, a slight under/over may not affect the original function – however – converging canines would affect the health and comfort of the Stafford. 

Again, it is worth repeating – please keep in mind the exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work when judging this breed. With only these few faults mentioned they should be easy to keep in mind. 

When rescue cant fix it

There is no shame to ask for help when it is truly needed.

I have known several breeders who have allowed their hobby to grow out of control. I don’t know if you would call this a hoarding situation, or if somehow keeping ‘just that one or two’ from each litter began to take over and soon the breeder found themselves with far too many dogs to properly care for…or if somehow it simply became habit. A bitch comes into season and they may think well let’s just try this and see what we get…or I miss having puppies around because they give me purpose…sometimes even a reason to get up in the mornings.

Whatever the reasons behind these situations may be, in my time in rescue (in particular Stafford rescue) I have seen breeders who needed help. Let me briefly describe the situations I have seen or known.

Several years back I received a call asking if we could please meet at a location about 3 hours away where the word was several Staffords needed actual rescuing from a hoarding situation. When we arrived we were led down an unkept driveway onto a property which looked to be almost abandoned…but it was not. There was a tiny mobile home surrounded by overgrown landscaping and garbage. We saw what appeared to be unused, long ago abandoned kennel panels in a field not far from the home. The roof panels were hanging in various stages of disrepair, grass, weeds and vines had taken over the kennels chain links and it seemed as though nothing would be inside. On the front porch of the home we saw crates and food bags and bins, cats, garbage, bikes, car parts, grills…just trash everywhere. It looked as though nothing was still living in this home or on this property.

Then a person came outside accompanied by a child holding a puppy. We were shown 8-12 Staffords led out to us on old tattered kennel leads. These dogs appeared to be experiencing new people, grass, and life outside a crate for the first time. Two more were seen in a small enclosure off one side of the home. All the dogs seems shell shocked, shy and filthy. It was impossible for us to get an actual count but the son of the ‘breeder’ was the person requesting help. His mother was unable to care for the dogs, yet continued breeding them. We requested all of them but sadly were only given eight. It was a start. These Stafford became known as The Georgia Eight and you can read the rest of this story in an article on The Stafford Knot website. (link will be added later). The bittersweet outcome was we found great homes for the 8 we took but sadly the breeder continued breeding with the ones she refused to give to us.

Another situation which was heartbreaking for me was the death of a close friend and breeder who had many Staffords when she became ill. We wanted to assist her by finding homes while she was still alive but were unable to do that so when she passed we did help her family find homes for many of them. This situation prompted me to write about the importance of knowing when to stop breeding and how to include a passage in our wills stating exactly what to do with any dogs living at the time of our deaths. Its a burden on our family and friends that can be avoided by prior planning. I place no blame upon my friend at all but now we know its best to plan ahead.

The situation which has prompted this blog entry this morning is a long time breeder who has been quite prolific over many many years whose family came to rescue years ago requesting assistance placing all of their dogs as the breeder was very ill. Rescue agreed and was able to find homes for what they assumed were all the Staffords living in their kennels at the time (approx a dozen or more Staffords). Rescue used volunteers and resources of their own to do this difficult project, relying upon the word of the breeders son that they were all gone except a couple oldies which they kept as pets. Sadly, honesty has escaped some folks and later we discovered all rescue had done was assist this breeder and her family in getting rid of dogs they had no need for. It seems they were less than honest and instead of needing this help due to illness, they were simply changing directions. This breeder and her family are currently breeding what they refer to as ‘a new strain of miniature Staffords’.

When kind hearted volunteers who have a passion for a pure breed of any type come together 24/7 making themselves and their finances available to assist those truly in need find themselves in a situation where they have been taken advantage of there are several things that occur. Sometimes these individuals say enough is enough and give up assisting with rescue. Others, continue on but hold that hardened chip of suspicion with each call for help. That chip, over time, festers and grows into resentment which is not good for anyone, including the innocent dogs needing help. And then there are those like myself – I have no fear of naming names. If I come across a dishonest person asking me to utilize my own free time, money, resources and asking others to trust me to join me in helping someone and their Stafford – and then I find myself betrayed – I have no problem with name and shame.

Ask me – I am happy to tell you what I know to be true. I will not slander, nor use hearsay – but if I truly was involved in a situation and I know it to be true –  I will speak out.

When I say I am happy to assist you in locating an honest breeder and you come to me and say I am buying a puppy from ‘so-n-so’ and I know that this person is not a reliable, reputable breeder – I will say so.

Just ask me.

“Send in the Clowns” (reposting from The Dog Press)


 If you show dogs, judge or breed dogs, you may agree that the dog sport has turned into a political circus and this well-known fancier is right but…

September 7, 2017 | TheDogPress.com

Carol Hawke, Guest Columnist

As someone who wrote for the dog sport for well over two decades, I realize that what I am going to put into words is a virtual epitaph.

The sport of showing dogs, I mean breeder/exhibitor conformation, is dead. The grave marker has not been inscribed because no one has so far defined the cause of death. Multiple forces, both greedy and ignorant, combined to murder the victim formerly known as “the Sport of Dogs.” Among them, the politically correct pressure cooker, AKC’s creation of its current judging pool, whom I refer to with sorrow as “the clowns.” Add to the plot the lure of greed essential to commercialize dog shows and voila!

Prior to the year 2000, the dog sport was composed primarily of old guard breeders and judges who held a mutual tug of war over integrity within the sport through their individual breed efforts. They kept the essential checks and balances within the system that allowed it to function in good health. It wasn’t perfect by any means but at least it worked. Good (standard correct) dogs were bred, good (standard correct) dogs were recognized (won) and the sport thrived in those decades prior to 2000.

There was no incentive to win beyond a championship and the adventurous potential for breed, group and BIS rankings. Nobody in that old guard ever went to a dog show to be featured on television, get a check or win a new car. We all ventured to see if our idea of the breed standard matched up to the best eye of the best judges in this country.

That was the incentive and a win was the reward. The chintzy ribbon never did matter, it was the recognition by the experts. Today, it is an oddity when any breeder wins with a good dog on their own. The old guard is mostly dead or sitting around watching from the sidelines if they haven’t grown entirely disenchanted and moved on.

The only way a good (standard correct) dog can win in this era is if:

  1. The breeder comprehends the standard and breeds to it

  2. The standard is understood foundationally by the club members and is used to properly educate, not simply influence or confuse incoming judges

  3. The judge actually has an eye for a dog

  4. The judge is sufficiently honest to use that eye for a dog

  5. The judges in the above category are approved and promoted both in house (AKC) and in the sport (by clubs) through regular assignments

  6. The breeder can get the best dogs into the ring and finish them without a handler

There is no incentive for AKC to choose ethical and competent judges as long as breeders are willing to hire handlers instead of showing their own dogs.

The only way integrity can be maintained in the sport is if that alphabetical short list above is rigorously adhered to. Clearly, it is not. In fact, that short list does not exist in practice at this point in time. The old guard judges as a generation – are – with a few notable exceptions, dead or retired.

The era of competency in American dog shows also died. The only thing remaining was to “send in the clowns,” so AKC did just that. For the most part, this is your modern judging field. The clowns, overall, do not realize they are clowns but the few judges with an eye for a dog do and so do the remaining breeders of integrity.

What you actually have is a ‘handler show.’ Every AKC dog show from the most inconsequential 300 dog entry to Westminster is a handler show. Buy your ticket, get your popcorn, hoist your drink and let the handlers great and small, duke it out.

There should be a new ribbon category at every AKC dog show, “Best Clown in Show,” for the judge that sends the most longtime breeders out of the ring without points while putting up the most handlers – that includes the handler wannabe’s or weekend warriors who don’t even groom or train their entries drag them in and win anyway.

Special recognition should be given for the clowns that put up lame dogs or those with obvious DQ’s because a familiar face drug it into their ring. Every show today, from the most inconsequential 300 dog entry to Specialties, is an incentive show. What incentive will bring the most handlers to that show? That seems to be the primary objective of every dog show committee. Not breeder/exhibitors, handlers. Every detail of the show is geared for handlers.

I began breeding and exhibiting (again) five years ago. In those five years it has taken to acquire breeding stock and recreate a bloodline, I have discovered it doesn’t do a lick of good to breed quality dogs that fit the breed standard. The new generation judges cannot find them. I mean they could find them if I paid a handler to show the dogs to them. However, that defeats the purpose of showing dogs. I expect the judges to have studied their standards and mentored with old timer’s long enough to actually recognize good dogs.

I expect judges to have an eye for a dog and not require the help of a handler to enable them to find breed type and reward soundness.

AKC, I place the blame squarely on your shoulders. You committed sport suicide by courting breeders and puppy millers simultaneously and not putting people in charge of the judging pool that actually knew what they were doing. Your field reps were nearly all former handlers…what did you think they were gonna do? They had buddies and they had enemies but what they usually didn’t possess was objectivity.

The AKC Board deserves to take the deepest impact, however, because they made the final calls. The exploitation of the sport through commercialization was the product of greed and it took away the moral incentive to show dogs. Gone is that precious integrity factor that made it all worthwhile. Each of you in charge and influence; from AKC to member clubs to the magazines deserve equal blame for killing this sport.

It takes courage to admit the truth in order to change the course of this game back into a sport for the future. It all depends on who is at the helm and whether anybody left actually cares enough to admit this is a pathetic game nobody really admires anymore. Just so you remember or perhaps need to hear it for the first time; showing dogs is about choosing the breeding stock that best fits the breed standard!

Today’s breed standards express modern trending instead of breed foundation and purpose.

The clubs don’t care because the members would rather win than breed to the standard anyway.

Handlers are the only consistent way of winning at AKC dog shows today.

The illusive eye for a dog has been exchanged for an eye for familiar faces.

Dog shows are now a politically charged game, not a sport. So go ahead, “send in the clowns!” because that is all you’ve got left in this circus.

1708 http://www.thedogpress.com/Columns/send-in-the-clowns-1709ch.asp

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SBT Mentor & TSK Books

If you live under a rock or dont have a FB or IG account you may not know about some very exciting new projects we have been working on for Stafford owners, breeders, lovers – The Stafford Knot has produced a set of new books which are selling wonderfully all over the world! The proceeds from the books go into the TSK rescue funds just like everything else we do with The Stafford Knot, Inc. 501(c)(3). If you are interested in these books please visit  www.thestaffordknot.com.

Speaking of The Stafford Knot – we recently moved our website to a new host and redesigned the entire site.

Continue reading “SBT Mentor & TSK Books”

Not ‘just a breeder’

I’m taking a break before continuing with my rant about breeding responsibilities because I felt it important to talk about who I am….really who I AM. Yes, it is true – I have bred a few litters of dogs over the last 14 years of SBT ownership – but thats only a tiny part of who I really am. I have a friend I have known more than 12 years who always introduces me to new people like this “This is my friend Lynn, she is a dog breeder” and this is why it really bugs me. Continue reading “Not ‘just a breeder’”

It’s only a paint job!

Every time a post against blue Staffords is made a lot of people see them and yes this is the intent….however…what people are not realizing is that all these posts, posters and comments can be very hurtful to people also – there are people on FB who did their very best to find a good breeder with well bred Staffords and they may have ended up getting a blue puppy – sometimes it was from a breeder who might like the color and sells them just the same as a breeder who likes reds and only breeds those….other times, like in our case, thats just the color which happened to be made available in a litter from two brindles and was a good match for the family buying the puppy . . . it doesn’t matter – all the buyers wanted was a healthy well bred Stafford from what they thought to be a responsible breeder…..in their eyes they are being made to feel wrong in their decision making, or ostracized for owning a blue or even worse made to feel like they were foolish and made poor choices. Actually, that’s not entirely true – as this family has common sense and realizes the fools are the ones running their mouths . . .  but anyway back to my story . . . . Continue reading “It’s only a paint job!”

Is it bragging or educating?

A person whom I admire in another breed recently got me thinking about what I, and others, often find frustrating about showing dogs. You hear it every weekend:

What the hell is that judge thinking? That dog isnt correct….that dog has disqualifying faults….that judge only puts up faces….that dog is heavily campaigned so what do you expect…When did that breed change into that mess….and so on. Continue reading “Is it bragging or educating?”