Staffordshire bull terriers, or "Staffies," are popular companion animals. The are medium-sized, easy to groom and are not as prone to several of the health problems of other purebred dogs, such as progressive retinal atrophy and hypoglycaemia. However, the breed was originally bred for bull baiting, rat trapping and dog fighting. They are one of the many breeds used for "pit bulls."
According to the Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds, the Staffordshire bull terrier loves human company more than the company of dogs. Because of this need for human attention, they will do anything a human tells them to do, even if the human trains the Staffie to attack. A Staffie is not born to be an attack dog; he must be trained. Also, good-natured Staffies will see the best in any human and may even jump into a stranger's car or walk into a stranger's home just to be friendly. These dogs become better behaved when they are inside the home with their people and not left outside on a chain.
According to the book, Training Secrets for Bully Breeds, Staffies will usually not start a fight with another dog. However, they will finish a fight. Staffies are prone to stare unblinkingly at another dog. This stare may be interpreted as a direct challenge, which initiates a fight. Some Staffies are very submissive as puppies and young dogs, but by the age of four or five suddenly become aggressive to strange dogs. It is not recommended for Staffies to be let loose in dog parks or be left unsupervised with another dog.
Staffies need to be active. They are not a breed to lounge about on the couch all day. They need at least one brisk half-hour walk each day, plus periods of play in a fenced yard. It is best to use a chest harness on the breed rather than a neck collar for the leash, as they may pull so hard they will damage their throats but will still pull despite the pain. A harness can keep them from being injured. Staffies have been successfully trained in agility, flyball, weight-pulling contests and movie roles. Staffies are highly intelligent and will find something to do like digging, chewing or roaming if they are not kept sufficiently exercised and entertained.
- ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs, Sheldon L. Gerstenfeld, VMD, 1999
- Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds, D. Caroline Colie, PhD, 2005
- Training Secrets for Bully Breeds, Bow Tie Press, 2004