Everything You Need to Know About Staffies
Staffordshire Bull Terriers, commonly known as Staffies, are one of the most popular dog breeds in Australia. A properly raised and trained Staffy is a fiercely loyal companion, and a gentle family pet. Indeed, the bond a Staffy can form with their chosen humans is nigh unbreakable.
That being said, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a tough-looking animal, and can be intimidating at first glance. This appearance and the challenges involved in raising a Staffy have caused the breed to gain an unwelcome reputation.
Our goal today is to help clear up what a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is, as well as their temperament and behaviours. Let’s get cracking!
Staffies are wide dogs with a back that is slightly longer than they are tall. This results in a low centre of gravity and the stance of a fighter. Their eyes are bright and expressive, set widely in a squared-off head. A wide chest and neck taper down to a narrow waist and thick legs. Staffies generally stand at around 16–19 inches tall and weigh around 30–40 lbs.
They’re officially a medium sized breed, but they have the power and athleticism to match nearly any other dog. They carry a lot of weight in such a short body, and nearly all of that weight is pure muscle. But because they’re smaller than other dogs of the same weight class, they’re surprisingly agile on their feet.
Staffy tails are of average length and hang low to the ground. Their coat comes in short and sleek, with many Staffordshire Bull Terriers appearing almost shiny. Staffies come in a variety of colours–the most common being brindle. Other types, like the Blue Staffy, are relatively rare and can command a price tag to match.
Staffy temperament and personality
This is where we get to our first challenge. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are known back in England as a nanny dog, a companion and guardian for children. The breed has earned this reputation with their sweet disposition and loyalty.
It’s true that Staffies were originally a bull baiting dog, but modern incarnations are far removed from the origins of the breed in the 16th century. The biggest trait that remains, apart from their physical appearance, is their bravery. A Staffy will stay by your side through thick and thin, and will gladly go along for nearly any adventure.
A modern Staffy is a caring, loving, gentle, and all-around good-natured dog that you can count on to guard your family. They’re highly social and love spending time with the whole family. This is evidenced by the breed’s popularity and the continued demand for Staffies, even among families with young children.
Living with a Staffy
They are highly intelligent dogs that gain a lot out of training. However, most Staffies will also need ample distractions as they can get destructive when bored. This intelligence and need for activity, coupled with the breed’s high energy level, add up to a lot of dog to deal with.
Key takeaways here are to devote lots of time to training, buy the most durable dog toys you can possibly get, and be sure to tire them out with long walks.
They are, overall, people-oriented dogs and want to be with their humans all the time, so you’ll have to watch out for separation anxiety.
Early socialisation is going to be critical to ensure that your Staffy is well-adjusted. A well-socialised Staffy gets along with nearly anyone or any other pet – but with some caveats. A Staffy puppy you’re taking home may not deal well with an existing dog in the house. The Staffy’s natural tendency is to challenge the dominant animal, so if your older dog has that type of personality, it may be difficult to get them to coexist.
A Word of Caution
Staffies are unfortunately a breed that is predisposed to dog aggression – a serious issue to address, if it does manifest in your dog. Their bravery also means that, once challenged, they will simply not back down and will defend themselves immediately. So, if your Staffy does develop dog aggression, you must consider whether you are prepared to leash and muzzle your dog in situations where it could interact with other dogs.
We don’t believe that dog aggression in Staffies is as common as in other similar breeds, but it is something that you must consider before getting one.
Staffies are easy to care for, thanks to their short coats. A once-a-week brushing session will minimise shedding, and will give you time to check for other aspects of your dog’s health. Most Staffies will do fine with a bath once a month or once every other month, unless they’ve gotten very dirty outdoors. Many Staffies develop allergies and sensitive skin, so it’s best to space out baths as much as possible. Regular tooth brushing is always recommended.
Rest assured, once you are able to meet a Staffy’s various needs, you’ll have an excellent companion – not just affectionate, but reliable and brave. Sadly, the stigma of the fighting dog remains, so you will likely have to explain to strangers that your sweet dog, despite their appearance, has no ill intentions toward any person. They’re a favourite breed for good reason, and for many owners, the rewards of owning one far outweigh any of the challenges.