Gladiators of the K9 world (by M. Kakula)
Many regard the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as one of the few true gladiators of the canine world. He is without a doubt a direct link to the 'good old bad days' when the Bull and Terrier was used in the so-called sport of dog fighting on regular basis. These dogs were the real gladiators of the pit. All of the Bull Terrier breeds were developed from these dogs, our Stafford probably being the most direct descendant of these gladiators. It is from these dogs that he draws his character, for their hot blood still runs in his veins. Well...
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a fearless dog. His courage is a heritage of the past, a characteristic once highly praised by the true enthusiasts of the breed. He is highly intelligent and very loyal to his loved ones, anyone who ever owned a Stafford would vouch for this. He has the sweetest disposition imaginable with people, with children in particular. He will always welcome a guest with a waging tail and he never gets tired of playing with the children. In fact, he is called 'the nanny dog' in his native country, England. A Stafford is higly intelligent and quite submissive to people. This makes him very safe around the children and stranges have nothing to fear, as long as they play their part right. His intelligence and his people-submissive nature make him very easy to train. He sometimes thinks he knows a 'better way' but he rearly protests to his masters command, for it gives him no pleasure to displease his master. He learns quickly and remembers well. If he does wrong, only mild verbal correction is needed. He understands very well when he's 'bad' and he will usually do all he can to make up for his mistake. A stafford must never be punished physicaly, he has a high tolerance of pain so it would have no effect, the mental damage to the Stafford on the other hand, would be much greater, for such action would certainly breake his heart. Raising the voice slightly is often sufficiant.
A Stafford will always appreciate the company of humans, not nearly so much the company of other dogs. He has an endless desire to 'battle it out' with other dogs, this being a heritage of his past. This should not be considered a fault, for it is his character. He can on the other hand, be thought to tolerate or even ignore other dogs. He should however never be let run freely among strange dogs, for even if he does not start a fight, he is unlikely to tolerate any kind of 'fuzz' from a rival. When provoked, he usually responds with briskness, and his memory is long. He is rather small, but he is big enough! '...when the going gets tough, the tough gets going...' He is powerful enough to severely damage a dog even twice his size, if not stopped in time. When this happens, the Stafford is most likely to take the blame, no matter who started it. Such incidents should be avoided at all times. For one, it puts the breed in a negative light in the eyes of the already ignorant public; second, this does not say anything about how "good" your dog is. Most Staffords get along well with dogs of opposite sex or dogs less dominant and with other pets, such as cats or parrots. There are of course exceptions...
Apart from his desire to fight, he has another big desire, namely food. A Stafford will eat until he pops. It is his responsible master’s duty to se to that his food-intake is in line with the amount of exercise he receives. If this is overlooked, your Stafford will quickly gain overweight. A fat Stafford is not a good representative of the breed. Actually, overweight is not beneficial to any dog. Everyone has his own idea of a well-muscled dog; unfortunately, lean muscle-mass is often mistaken for just body-mass, muscular for massive. Even if the Stafford enjoys the comfort of his master’s sofa, he enjoys his daily workout even more. He should be provided with his daily dose of hard workout, followed by his well-deserved rest, in order to have a happy dog. To see his master content with his work makes the Stafford truly happy, for all he wants is to please. He is after all a working dog first; the posing comes after that...
A Stafford sees every human as a potential friend and he is not very suspicious of strangers. Much like any reasonable human, he gives them the benefit of the doubt. This coupled with his small size does not make him the best of watchdogs. He can however tell friend from foe and he will, if raised that way, make his presence be felt, should the situation call for it. The following, taken from the story about a Stafford called Sam demonstrates this.
"...I thought of telephoning the police, but the man, apparently sensing this, sprang forward to hit or grab me - I´m not sure which. Like a flash, Sam sprang at him, badly tearing his face. Failing to get a hold, he seized the man’s leg when the man took a kick at him, pulling the man down and keeping him there. Fortunately, the door was still open, and a man passing by on the stairs heard my shout and came to my assistance, not that I wanted it by then. Sam continued to hold on to the man until I held him by the collar and said: All right, old man!...A police officer said he wished there were more dogs about whose motto was 'Action speaks louder than words' Rag and bone men have long since ceased bothering me..."
He is indeed more than just an alarm dog, as his ability to defend him self and his loved ones seems to be out of proportion for his size. The majority of Staffords can and will perform their duty. If you however have a need for a 'hardcore manstopper', may I suggest one of the larger breeds specifically bred for this purpose? For there is a handful of very capable manstopping breeds out there.
However, if looking for a tough and loyal companion, for sport or just as a friend, the Staffordshire bull terrier is the dog. In a Stafford, you will find the most faithful and truest friend in life. His devotion is unmatched. All he asks for is your attention, a warm place to sleep, to be treated kindly and fed properly. This is not a big request, for in return, you will receive his whole hearted unconditional love, given blindly, seeing no faults, never questioning no motives, asking for no reward. Hopefully, his master will appreciate his Stafford the more, but I will tell you, never nearly as much as the Stafford will appreciate his master.
Like the old man said,
"Once a Stafford - always a Stafford"