Not a lot of words dedicated to this first section of the Breed Standard are there? We touched on some of this in our 1st Blog entry about Breed Type.
Smooth coated – at first glance one may think that all Staffords are smooth coated, however, get your hands on some and you will notice a wide range of coat types, textures & thicknesses. The coat should feel hard to the touch, not silky. It should be short and lay flat against the skin – without the use of additives! Many people use coat dressings in the show ring to help their exhibits coat appear to feel correct. You can usually feel this and when you do you should wonder why the handler felt the need to add something to the dogs coat. We noticed on our pied bitch that her white hair is much finer and softer than that on her black brindle patches. She also has a very fine covering on her underside and neck. Our black brindle dogs seem to have a more correct texture and amount of hair. Not sure what this means and it could very well have more to do with genetics and general health, but we felt it was worth mentioning. Its not difficult to determine this part of the Standard.
Great strength for its size. The Stafford is a medium sized dog and people are always amazed when we tell them how much they weigh. They are like concrete blocks and manage to hurl themselves at unusual angles, sometimes appearing to hover mid-air before gracefully, or sometimes not so much, reaching the ground and bouncing back off again. Their appearance should be that of an athlete or a gladiator. They should be quite active indeed – sometimes too active for many people. Many Staffords always need a job or they can and will get into trouble. They always appear to be very busy with some sort of project or racing around as though they were late for a very important meeting. This brings us to the agile part of this paragraph. A Stafford should be very agile and able to twist, sit, lie, move and in general simply ‘be’ nimble – both physically AND mentally!
They make amazing athletes when kept in good condition. They are willing to do anything you ask of them, for the most part. Staffords excel in sports such as agility, coursing, weight pull, frisbee and more! Mentally they are agile working as tracking, search & rescue, service, obedience, rally and therapy dogs.
This brings us to the fitness discussion. Many things are being debated online these days as far as how to interpret correct fitness in the Stafford. In order for a Stafford to be active & agile, both mentally and physically, they must be in proper fit shape. What is fit? It is defined in so many ways our heads are spinning. To us, it means that the dog is kept on a regular daily maintenance program which includes all sorts of activities in order to keep the dog from becoming bored and to keep their bodies in toned and healthy condition. Alternating biking, weight pulling, carting, carpet or slat milling, long off lead walks, trail walking, flirt pole, spring pull, ball fetch, Jolly ball, hilling, swimming and much more will keep your Stafford in good fit condition. They are intelligent animals and need the mental stimulation of good long walks. They also very much enjoy being with you during the daily workouts. Don’t just put them on an electric treadmill and call it a day. Not only is that lazy, it’s no fun for your dog. Running around in the yard isn’t a good workout either – it’s fine for playtime – but make a routine you can live with and ENJOY YOUR STAFFORDS!
Many faults can be hidden by keeping an extra couple of pounds on a Stafford and this is done on a regular basis in the ring. When a Stafford has minimal body fat structural faults cannot be hidden. In addition to that, their bodies are in better condition as a heavy dog can have heart problems and breathing problems. There are some who insist that they can ‘feel’ fitness through those extra pounds – however – we have to ask – why keep them at weights which hide faults and not just keep them healthy to begin with. Its not as though the faults will go away. When you breed the animal the faults are still there.
On the other hand, many virtues lie hidden beneath all that extra weight. I’d bet many of the dogs being shown today would benefit from some extra exercise and fewer trips to the food bowl!
General Appearance & Fitness in the Stafford
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.