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Staffordshire Bull Terriers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Staffordshire Bull Terrier temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Staffordshire Bull Terrier dog breed

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is rugged, energetic, and impulsive. "Why walk when you can run and play games?" is his motto.

He requires rigorous exercise as an outlet for his energy and to maintain his splendid muscle tone.

The people-oriented Stafford craves companionship and wants to be with you all the time. With proper socialization, he is friendly with everyone, yet makes a sensible watchdog.

Most Staffordshire Bull Terriers will live peacefully with the dogs and cats in their own family. But many Staffords are more than willing to fight if challenged. Before bringing a Staffordshire Bull Terrier into a multi-pet household, you should honestly evaluate your other pets. If you already have a dominant dog, a Stafford is not a good choice for you. Staffords should be closely supervised around strange dogs – make sure the other dogs are not challenging yours.

Stubborn and sometimes headstrong, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is inclined to test for position in the family pecking order. Confident leadership and obedience training are musts.

Provide the strongest chew toys you can find to keep his powerful jaws busy and as an alternative to furniture.

The athletic Stafford can scale a six-foot fence, and when inclined, he can dig his way under.

This "buff little dude" is a stable, confident dog who needs supervision and control from an owner who can match his intelligence.

If you want a dog who...

  • Looks like a small Pit Bull – compact, muscular, and powerful
  • Looks imposing and stands firmly on the ground with boldness and confidence, so makes an effective deterrent, but is usually friendly with people
  • Is energetic and high-spirited and thrives on vigorous athletic activities
  • Has a sleek easy-groom coat that comes in many colors

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • Legal liabilities (public perception, future breed bans, insurance problems, increased chance of lawsuits)
  • High energy level
  • Destructiveness when bored
  • Potential aggression toward other animals
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier may not be right for you.


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Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament  is less predictable than the inheritance of physical  traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

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dog icon"Respect Training for Puppies"  and "Teach Your Dog 100 English Words"  are free step by step guides to teaching your pup to be calm and well-behaved.

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More traits and characteristics of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

If I was considering a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Potential animal aggression. With thorough socialization, most Staffords will live and let live, but should still be supervised around other animals.
  2. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are active go-getters who need regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored, which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing. Staffords have powerful jaws and can make a shambles of your house and yard.
  3. Spillover from the Pit Bull reputation. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are an entirely different breed, but many people will lump all of these similar-looking dogs together as potentially dangerous. Thus, Staffordshire Bulls may be targeted for "banning" in certain areas, or refusal of homeowner insurance policies. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a fighting heritage should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.
  4. The strong temperament. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are capable of learning a great deal, but they are not pushovers to raise and train. Many are willful and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    In other words, you must teach your Stafford to respect you. A dog who respects you will do what you say and will stop what he's doing when you tell him "No." Follow my free online training programs.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know. Click here to read for free.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.

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