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The Staffordshire Terrier: Canine Victim of Stereotyping

Giving 120 percent 100 percent of the time, Staffordshire Terriers make for the most affectionate and loyal companions. They were bred for entertainment, to be the kind of competitor once found in Roman coliseums. This unfortunate origin has stereotyped Staffordshire Terriers as uncontrollably aggressive, turning easily in an instant.  It would do well to remember that human beings had to think of the sports first before the dogs could be trained to participate in them. Bred to have the body of a beast, Staffordshire Terriers are true examples of how appearances can be deceiving.

Bear-baiting & Pits

The original Staffordshire terrier was physically very similar and closely related to the giant Mastiff. Weighing in at around 120 pounds, their giant jaws and bodies were designed for bull and bear-baiting in Elizabethan England. The nineteenth century saw the development dog fights and of smaller breeds, built to be more agile in the pits. Dropping close to 100 pounds in size, the modern Staffordshire Bull Terrier or Pitt Bull was formed. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, dog fighting became an illegal and highly punishable sport. Consequently, the Staffordshire breed began to grow taller and heavier in size, forming the American Staffordshire Terrier.

Body of a Beast

No matter its size, the Staffordshire Terrier is always the bodybuilder breed, packing lots of muscle in a tiny body. All Staffordshire Terriers are recognized by having a broad and strong body from head to foot. Smooth and easy to maintain, their short coats are found in a variety of colors ranging from red, brown, white, black, blue and brindle striped shades. These dogs pack enough stamina to keep up with their muscle tone and need plenty of daily exercise in the form of a walk or jog. Originally bred to take down cattle with their mouths, Staffordshire Terriers need chew toys, strong ones without plastic parts that may be swallowed during demolition. Other than the accidentally swallowed toy part, these dogs have relatively few health problems and a life expectancy falling anywhere between 10 and 16 years.

 

Beauty in the Beast

Energetic extroverts, Staffordshire Terriers approach everything with all they have to give, including play and affection. Their natural fearlessness easily leads them into stupidity. For example, these dogs are not good swimmers, but they will not hesitate to jump off a dock into deep water. Their fearlessness allows Staffordshire Terriers to be exceptionally loyal companions. Great with children and non-threatening toward strangers, Staffordshire Terriers usually only challenge and are aggressive toward other dogs when raised without proper direction at home.

The Real Killer

Despite the negative stereotype, these dogs are not born killers. Puppies raised in a good home and mistakenly sold into dog fighting were often destroyed at the hands of their owners for refusing to fight. Dogs in the pits were trained to fight, not to kill. Just about any canine will only fight if they feel their life is threatened. Untrained Pit Bulls or any other dog would happily lie down before fighting back in the pits. This is why beautiful Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers were mostly destroyed by their owners rather than by other dogs throughout the duration of dog fighting. The bottom line is that improper ownership and handling are the real killers, not the canines who were often put to death for not fighting on their owner’s behalf.

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