15400495_10210072554824872_5679641428998263011_nHaving had Staffordshire Bull Terriers for 7 months now, it always confused me when people did not respond with the usual “aw cute” response to me saying what breed of dog I had just adopted. Instead, the instinctive response seemed to be “aren’t they vicious, like Pitbulls?” – Oh boy, isn’t that a shame? That level of naivety I mean. I don’t blame it, I just wish more people were well equipped with the accurate knowledge prior to judgment. So right here, right now, I will attempt to summarize and clear some of the misconceptions regarding staffies  that has lent itself to the unfortunate reputation these gorgeous dogs have to put up with.

What’s in a name

You first need to understand what Bully Breeds are in order to understand Staffies and their history seeing as though they are regarded as Bullies. You might also be surprised to learn that some of the world’s most beloved dogs are considered bullies. From large-and-in-charge boxers to small and stout Boston terriers, there are a variety of dogs that fall under the category of “bully breeds.”

The term Bully Breed can and does invoke a certain sense of terror and intimidation, so it comes as no surprise to me that many people believe this breed to be a great danger to society. However, the term actually has nothing to do with the dog’s temperament or aggression/behaviour and just about everything to do with their origin and history.

An Unfair rep to a loveable pet

No matter how I try, I can’t sugarcoat it – Staffies were originally bred for baiting and fighting. Up until the early 1800s it was commonplace for breeds of dog (the Old English Bull Dog/Boxers) to bait bulls before they were sold for meat, it was thought that the act of being attacked terrified the bull so much, the hormones it released in fear tenderised its meat. In fact, I learned that in some places, it was illegal to sell bull meat that hadn’t been baited and many a butcher was fined for doing so.

However, in 1835 the Cruelty to Animals Act was passed and bloodsports such as bull and bear baiting were thankfully outlawed. However, dog fighting boomed – large bull-baiting arenas weren’t needed anymore and of course, dog fighting ‘pits’ were much smaller and far easier to conceal from authorities. Dog fighting generated a lot of money, for both breeders of the dogs and those who gambled on the outcome of the fight – so as the ban on bull baiting came into force, dog fighting became even more popular. A new dog was needed to keep this spectacle going – a more manageable dog suited for the pit. By mixing bull dogs and terriers the ‘Bull and Terrier’ was produced – these were early descendants of the modern day Staffy.

Over the past 5 months, I have read some horrific statistics that affected me to such a point that I felt I needed to(in my own little way) do something to try and help change attitudes towards the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The statistics told me that Staffies and Staffy crosses made up to 80{7b66f5b8f9cce5198cdc7f2d96338c3c9bbce7bf1ebd58c7794d60da2dc43006} of all dogs in shelters and rescue centres in the United Kingdom and South Africa – and that thousands, every year were put to sleep over and above any other breed. This saddened me to the core.Why have we allowed it to happen? We all know that unscrupulous people use Staffies as status symbols, train them to fight and cause all sorts of pain and abuse. But personal experience tells me that these dogs are kind, loyal, soft and adoring, and with the knowledge that they are one of only two breeds that the SPCA  recommends for families with children, I mean that speaks volumes.

 

The Breed today…

Today’s Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a far cry from where it started. Becoming officially recognised as a breed by the Kennel Club in 1935, it is an awesome looking animal. Short and stocky with powerful features and most certainly, in the right hands, is extremely affectionate, loyal and intelligent. They are the fifth most popular breed in the UK and have earned the nickname ‘The Nanny Dog’ for loyalty to their ‘people’ and gentleness with children.

In a recent study of dogs it was found that the most aggressive dog was in fact the Dachshund. The Staffy didn’t reach the top ten list of aggressive dogs at all! In the wrong hands, all dogs can be aggressive. If a dog is treated badly; if its needs aren’t fulfilled, if undesirable behavior is encouraged, that dog will likely be unpredictable around people and other animals. If a dog’s breed characteristics aren’t catered for properly and understood, then it doesn’t matter if it’s a chihuahua or a Great Dane, it is being set up to fail.

So…what is it really like to live with a Staffordshire bull Terrier?14516473_10209399047267604_2799067263518751629_n

 

It is a rollercoaster. It’s exhilarating, fun, exhausting and at the end of every day…all you want to do is wake up and do it ALL over again. Sure there have been days when I wonder what made me do it (with reference to the messy house, but show me any dog that IS neat) For the most part though, which is every day and all day, I can’t help but feel incredibly lucky to be the mom of two AMAZING, healthy and loving fur kids. Having Staffies has proven to be no different to a Jack Russel or a Pug. The only visible difference has been strength and size…but apart from that, they are genuine, loyal and loving dogs. I cannot emphasize this enough. The love that they bring and share is beyond anything I expected to experience upon first bringing them home. Take it from a person who had her reservations regarding the breed. There is NOTHING scary, vicious or intimidating about them.