Many years ago when I was preparing to bring home my Staffy I couldn’t contain my excitement. I mentioned this to family, friends, neighbors, and basically anyone that engaged me in conversation. What I found was a mixed reaction from many people. Some of which claimed Staffies had a bad reputation and cautioned me about getting one.
Why do Staffies have a bad reputation? As a whole the bad reputation Staffies can often get is largely due to poor ownership, lack of training, exercise, and proper care. Not the dog themselves. Pair this with sensationalized media stories that jump at the chance of painting a Staffy in a bad light.
It is unfortunate but Staffies can attract the wrong type of owners sometimes. As a result these loving, gentle and playful dogs can develop problems with aggression, specifically towards other dogs.
The strong stocky build of the Staffy will sometimes attract owners that are wanting to look tough. Showing off a tough looking dog to add to their own appearance. Others will get a Staffy not knowing the exercise, training, and care needs that are required. In both cases this is a recipe for a Staffy getting a bad reputation as a breed.
In this post I will go over some of the common myths about Staffies, as well as some of the facts everyone should know. The Staffy should never get a bad reputation. One of the best ways to combat this is to know about the breed. Showcasing these dogs for the wonderful breed that they are. Let’s dig in.
Do Staffies Have A Bad Reputation?
The bad reputation of the Staffy has improved significantly over the years through more public education and responsible ownership. Unfortunately some municipalities, cities, states, provinces, and countries do restrict the ownership of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
This bad reputation can also carry over into apartment rentals, condo boards, and homeowners associations. Depending on the landlord or strata, a Staffy may be restricted. This is simply because of the undeserved bad reputation that can follow the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
In places like Ontario Canada the Staffordshire Bull Terrier currently falls under the current breed specific legislation (BSL) restricting ownership in the province. Many other countries around the world have various bans and restrictions in place as well.
In my opinion these breed specific restrictions are not effective. They punish an entire breed based on looks and build rather than behavior and temperament. These types of bans and restrictions only further stigmas and the bad reputation of dogs like the Staffy. Which are unwarranted, prejudice, and not backed by the majority of canine experts.
Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers An Aggressive Breed?
As a whole the Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not an aggressive breed. When well socialized, trained and properly cared for the Staffy is a loving, gentle, and friendly breed of dog. Many that claim Staffies are bad or vicious dogs are basing these claims on isolated incidents or widespread misinformation.
The Staffy is a high spirit, tenacious, and strong dog for their size. When not given the proper training, exercise, or socialization there is always a possibility for bad interactions, typically with other dogs.
Though the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is generally friendly with other dogs they will rarely back down when challenged. A well balanced Staffy is not looking for trouble. However when other dogs try to assert themselves too strongly, or outright instigate a fight, the Staffy will defend itself more often than not.
Like any breed of dog, proper socialization skills, training, and exercise are needed to keep a dog well balanced and non reactive. Because the Staffy is a strong dog proper attention must be paid to these 3 areas.
Do Staffies Lock Their Jaws?
Staffies do not have locking jaws. In fact there is no breed of dog that can lock their jaws. Yes certain dogs have very strong jaws that can exert a tremendous amount of pressure, but lock jaw is not what is occurring.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier does have a rather strong bite force. It is far from the most powerful bite force in the dog kingdom however. Dogs like the Kangal, American Bandogge, and Presa Canario have far stronger bites. The Staffy doesn’t even place in the top 10 when it comes to bite force.
Why Do Staffies Hate Other Dogs?
Staffies don’t hate other dogs and can get along quite well with most dogs. The Staffy is a friendly, energetic, and loving dog that when well socialized can have many playmates. Early socialization, proper exercise, and monitored play time is a must for any dog to become well balanced and friendly with others.
Though the Staffy is a very sweet and playful dog, as mentioned before, when challenged they are unlikely to back down. The Staffy will defend themselves when conflict is initiated by another dog. Staffies are rarely looking for a fight, but they will engage when threatened.
Are Staffies Fighting Dogs?
In the early years of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier they were in fact fighting dogs. Used in the brutal blood sports such as pit fighting and bull baiting in 19th century England. Those days are thankfully well behind us and since then the Staffy has become primarily a family companion.
Through years of responsible breeding Staffies have had that fighter mentality bred out of their lines. Focusing on the more positive aspects of the breed such as their love for family, their tenacious energy, and their clever minds.
Is a Staffy a Pitbull?
As a breed the Staffy is not a Pitbull, as in the American Pitbull Terrier. Staffies are however classified as a “Pitbull type” breed along with the American Staffy, American Bully, and in some cases the American Bulldog.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a recognized breed by many organizations such as the AKC. They have a distinct set of qualities that differentiate themselves from other breeds, and are not referred to as Pitbulls within these circles.
When it comes to government restrictions however the Staffordshire Bull Terrier will fall under the “Pitbull bans” in many cases. This is due to their appearance, and shared lineage with the “bull and terrier” breeds used in the early days of pit fighting and bull baiting.
I myself don’t fuss too much over labels. People often use the term Pitbull as a pejorative, but I prefer to shine a much more positive light on these types of dogs. Including the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Are Staffies Good For First Time Owners?
Staffies can be great dogs for first time owners. There is however a much higher standard of training, exercise and socialization that must occur. First time owners must be dedicated to fully understanding the temperament, needs, and personality of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
I myself was a first time owner when I got my Staffy. As a result I dedicated myself to learning all that I could. On top of learning about the breed thoroughly I had to dedicate a large amount of time to my Staffy’s socialization, training, and exercise needs right from day one.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are wonderful dogs. They will be one of the most loving family companions a family could ever have, but they do require a fair amount of work. They are very energetic and clever. Lots of exercise and mental stimulation is required.
Socialization is another key to raising a well balanced Staffy. Spending time with other dogs, people, and exploring as many places, sounds, and smells as possible. If a person is willing to put in the work they will be rewarded with one of the best dogs you could imagine.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has suffered in the past from a bad reputation. This remains true to some degree even today. As a result, Staffy owners have to work extra hard to ensure they raise and care for their Staffies to show the world how amazing these dogs really are.
The Staffy is not an inherently bad, vicious or aggressive dog. Like any breed, bad behaviors can develop from lack of socialization, training, and exercise. By default the Staffy is a friendly, loving and gentle breed of dog. Owners of these dogs unfortunately are held to a high standard because of the unwarranted bad reputation the Staffy can hold.
Raise your Staffy right. Give them all the care and attention they need to develop into the well balanced and wonderful dogs they can all be. In doing this you will help remove the stigma and prejudice that can surround their name. Be an ambassador for the breed, and show the world the Staffy deserves only the best reputation.
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