Preservation breeder or busine$$ breeder? PART 2

Moving forward from my last post of the same title (  I want to share the experience of what can happen after all the time, research, planning, expense and love of producing that special litter goes in an unplanned direction. . . . from the viewpoint of a preservation breeder that is….because puppy farmers and prolific breeders and business breeders dont care enough to do any of this and for some stupid reason they can stick 2 dogs in a yard with no testing or plan and get ginormous litters of mediocre puppies.

So anyway… you find yourself on day 63 post ovulation (because you have done all progesterone and LH testing and a surgical AI implant you know the due date pretty well) and your bitch is not entering phase one. You head back to the repro vet (a 3 hour round trip drive) to check fetal heartbeats and run progesterone…progesterone is reaching that low point but not yet there and heartbeats seem okay…so home you go to wait. Nothing. Meanwhile every scenario runs through your mind as to what could be happening inside your bitchs’ womb. After what seems to be an eternity and still no signs of labor you and your vets (because you use several and have now called them all plus stud dog owner, friends, consulted FB groups, read all your books…) decide its time for a cesarean. Surgery is always scary and risky. Its not what you want to do.

Surgery goes well. You are in the room to assist and finally see your puppies. There are two as was expected. Both are boys as was not exactly what you were hoping for but thats fine. They are placed into the incubator to receive oxygen while you sit with your bitch as she recovers. That’s difficult to see. Ask anyone who has had anesthesia how it feels as you come out of it…not so great. As you look at the tiny boys your mind goes back to the first ultrasound where one of the little dots looked a bit off….kinda squished, not as round as the other. Then you recall the heartbeat check the other day when one had a slightly lower heart rate than the other. Something just is not quite right but the vet and the techs assure you they are both just fine….except its not. The boys are small. Tiny. 4 & 5 ounces. One takes a while to get the hang of suckling but you’ve seen this before and it could be the effects of moms anesthesia. The tiny 4oz boy looks a little less formed and a little ‘grayer’ in color…but again the veterinarian and all the techs are sure both are fine. They are each given fresh frozen plasma and tube fed a belly full of replacer and home you go…..

Once home you weigh them again b/c you just cannot believe how tiny they are and you see that the tech has made a mistake on the larger of the two boys which is what you suspected anyway. He is small but not tiny at 7.9oz. You decide on oxygen, FFP, ringers and sitting patiently in the whelping box (which you now wish was just a little bigger) trying to get the boys on mama for colostrum….the first night is a sleepless one for everyone as the attempts to keep the puppies alive through the night becomes a serious task. One boy seems strong enough but the other one….something is not right.  You call a good friend who has more experience and of course she comes over – arms laden with her emergency puppy supplies ready to assist you in any way you can to save these little lives.

You now tube feed, try liver water drops, Nutri-drops, more ringers, more FFP, more oxygen….you can tell one is fading but sometimes he perks up and suckles enough to get your hopes up…until he begins to rattle and grow weaker. At the 36 hour mark he is gone. An angel whom you barely knew but loved just as much as you love any of your dogs.

No time to grieve except a short burst of tears between the two of you because you still have a tiny life to concentrate on and you settle in for another sleepless night. You have one beautiful baby boy in your carefully planned litter that you now have spent almost $6000 to produce and you will do anything to make certain he thrives….and thrive he does!

Five days after he is born he has more than doubled his weight to an almost respectable 10.8oz! He is shiny, plump and content. Your bitch is finally settling in with regular calcium citrate, B Complex and DLPA (which by the way we are also taking along with ignatia because both aid with grief recovery). You are still sleeping next to the box but actual sleep is occurring and measured in 2-3 hour intervals! Deep breath and fingers still tightly crossed but you are now ok enough to name this little singleton. There is a little light at the end of the tunnel.

… be continued……

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 |

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.


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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

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… 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?”

Using Young Living Essential Oils when whelping

Therapeutic grade essential oils are an excellent natural support system for both new puppies and your bitch. Here are a few oils we have used.

  • Stress Away : This was invaluable to calm any anxiety, both for mama and breeder.  Stress Away is a blend of Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood, Ocatea, Lavender and Vanilla, which is not an essential oil but an essence.  Just a swipe to the back of the neck and inside the wrists did the trick for humans and a drop or so in diffuser for the bitch.
  • Joy: This was diffused throughout pregnancy and beyond, as well as a drop over the heart.  A wonderful blend that not only promotes bonding, but love and an open heart as well.  Contained in this blend is Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Rosewood, Lemon, Mandarin, Jasmine, Roman Chamomile, Palmarosa, and Rose.
  • Helichrysum: This single oil was invaluable on the cesarean section incision to heal tissue trauma and stop minor bleeding.  A few drops directly on the incision from day one not only expedited healing but also relieved pain. You can continue with this for a week if needed.
  • Frankincense: I placed a drop in the palm of my hand and rubbed this on my newborn puppies feet within hours of birth as an immunity booster.  This oil affects emotional balance, the immune system, the nervous system and the skin.  This oil can also be used on the incision if cesarean is needed for healing.
  • Lavender: Well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, again can be used on incision if cesarean is needed.
  • Peppermint: If the bitch is vomiting a drop or two of this in diffuser can alleviate the nausea.
  • Cistus: Helps to contract and strengthen the uterus.  This works well regardless of method of delivery.  Apply 1 to 2 drops on the lower abdomen once per day for 5-10 days after delivery.
  • Myrrh: This can be applied directly on the puppies umbilical cords, just a drop, for about 3-4 days to promote healing.
  • Deep Relief: Often during a C-section the body reacts to the anesthesia by shaking uncontrollably, which can be a common side effect.  Anyone that has experienced this knows the toll that it can take on your muscles.  Deep Relief is a roll on blend containing Peppermint, Lemon, Idaho Balsam Fir, Clove, Copaiba, Wintergreen, Helichrysum, Vetiver, and Palo Santo.  Just a little of this rolled in your hands then massaged on your bitchs’ back will ease her muscles.
  • Fennel: This is to increase milk production. You can use it two different ways, directly to the teat (well avoiding the nipple area) or two drops under the tongue. Can put the drops in a teaspoon of honey and allow your bitch to lick.  I have noticed an increase in milk supply within hours of application.  Word of caution, you should never use Fennel for more than 5 consecutive days.
  • Melrose: If you experience milk duct clogs/mastitis in your bitch you can put a drop or two where you feel the clog and then apply a warm compress to drive the oil in.  You can repeat as often as needed.  Melrose is a blend containing Rosemary, Melaleuca, Clove, and Niaouli.
  • Geranium: Occasionally you may find once the umbilical cord falls off, there may be minor bleeding in the area.  A drop of Geranium will safely stop any bleeding.

Our Favorite Five EO’s to use for Mastitis Care:

1. Tea Tree 

Also known as melaleuca, tea tree oil is one of the best-known antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal oils that exist in the world. It helps to fight the disease-causing bacteria causing the mastitis. It should be applied topically on the infected area, undiluted, or diluted with a cooling oil like coconut oil if you wish.

2. Lavender 

Calming, relaxing and soothing in nature, lavender oil is also highly antibacterial and has cleansing properties that will help get rid of the infection quickly. It can be used in the same way as tea tree oil.

3. Oregano 

Highly antibacterial, oregano oil has been researched and found to be more potent than many popular antibiotics prescribed by doctors today. Dilute one drop of oregano oil  in 1 tsp of raw honey and allow the dam to lick it off your finger or a spoon, or feed to her in a vegetable capsule 1 – 2 times a day.

4. Basil

Another cooling essential oil that can help draw out the heat and infection. I applied 2 – 3 drops of basil oil diluted in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and massaged it firmly into the infected lump.

5. Frankincense

A highly spiritual and grounding essential oil, frankincense can help de-stress and relieve tension in dams who are undergoing anxiety, mental strain or general stress. Frankincense can be applied to the infected teat.

*Please note: Be sure to wash off the areas where you have used the oils prior to allowing puppies to nurse!


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.