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The Breed type

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is medium-sized dog generally standing between 13-16in and weighing 25-38 lbs, short and muscular with a medium sized square head and short muzzle. Ears are normally rose or half-pricked. Eyes are round, of medium-size set forward. 

The Staffie loves to play work and give love back. It is a very good family dog, known for its affection, tolerance and protection of children. This helped the breed become known as the Nanny Dog for its excellent nature with children. 

The breed is generally very good with other animals, however as with every dog appropriate training in the form of good, early socialising is essential to avoid any potential for problems later. 

Puppies need to be stimulated particular in play and things to chew – otherwise they will chew something you might not want them to. They are very responsive to training at this young age and are intelligent enough to learn quickly through reward based training. 

Toys should be strong and well made and must not contain any small items – such as squeakies that the dog could swallow. 

Being robust, energetic, intelligent and fearless the dog may well find itself attempting things it is not capable of doing – jumping down from a high point, walking through glass, diving into scrub. So you need to be careful that you do not inadvertently allow your dog to injure themselves. 

Every member of the family needs to know how to handle the Staffie, and that means that the dog should only be in households where everymember of the family is able to be firm and confident in leading the dog correctly. Very small children while normally safe with a Staffie will not be able to correct a naughty dog. 

Training as with every dog is important, however with a Staffie if you do not set rules early on your dog may become difficult to handle and even stubborn! All responsible owners of any dog need to ensure their dogs are well trained to avoid problems later on.  

If you think a Staffie has a problem -you’re looking at the wrong end of the lead

There are several things to consider. First, as with any dog, irresponsible ownership will lead to problems. This can affect any breed. This leads directly to the second issue, the status of the dog among certain groups who wrongly consider the Staffie as an aggressive, fighting dog. This generation of owners have purchased puppies often from unscrupulous breeders and discarded them once they have lost interest. They purchased their puppy as a status symbol, part of a fad, an accessory to their macho image. They often do not train their dogs, or incite behaviour which is unacceptable for any dog. 

One of the most troubling issues is that many breeders of other types of dog, notably the American Pit Bull are passing their dogs off as Staffies. The two breeds are completely different but not too dissimilar in appearance. They may breed Staffies with mastiffs, pit bulls and other dog types to try and get around the Dangerous Dogs Act. 

Happy Staffie Rescue are committed to working hard to redress the imbalance that has seen many Staffies portrayed as nasty fighting dogs. We agree with the RSPCA who have recently launched a campaign to rehome Staffies because of the growing numbers coming into rescue centres across the country. The RSPCA rightly points out that the breed has had a bad press, not of their own making.

How do I tell the difference between a Staffie and something else
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is very similar in appearance to many bull breeds. The English Bull Terrier the traditional “Bully” is easily distinguished by its head, which viewed from the side looks like an upside down egg. The “Bully” also has distinctive small, triangle-shaped eyes. 

There are however several other breeds that can cause confusion. The fact that these dogs are often the cause of many so-called “Staffie” problems is that they are often similar in appearance to the Staffie, or the media in their ignorance simply show images of Staffies in place of the correct breed. Only recently a news report on television cited an increase in dog-fighting with American Pit Bull Terriers but showed images of Staffies. 

So how can you tell the difference from a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and its distant American cousins – the American Pit Bull and the American Staffordshire Terrier? This can be tricky to the untrained eye. The following basic information gives an idea of what you can look for. 

Breed                                                             Height            Weight
Staffordshire Bull Terrier                            13-16in           25-38lbs
American Pit Bull                                         18-22in           35-55lbs
American Staffordshire Terrier                  16-19in           40-67lbs 

From the information above you can see that the Staffie is shorter and broader. If all three dogs sat next to each other the Staffie would look short and squat when compared to the others. The American Pit Bull will be taller and leaner. The American Staffordshire Terrier will also be taller but generally much heavier. 

It should be noted that many people in America regard both the American Pit Bull and American Staffordshire Terrier as the same breed. 

The shape of the head is different between the three breeds, but again it is not always simple to see. 

The Staffie generally has more pronounced cheek muscle that the AmStaff or Pit Bull and the head is deeper through. This means the Staffie will have a wider face compared to the other two breeds. 

Bone structure
The front legs of both the Staffie and the AmStaff are more robust, while in the Pit Bull the hind legs are more pronounced for the extra driving power they have been breed for. 

In North American breeders and owners are prone to the awful practice of clipping the ears of their American Staffordshire’s and their Pit Bulls. This practice is not generally done on the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. However the practice is not common in the UK so the shape of the ears is difficult to discern between the three breeds.  

Further reading can be found by clicking on the links below


The Kennel Club


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