Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breeder Interview

The Dog Guide was able to interview Kristina Estlund who has been working with Staffordshire Bull Terriers for over 30 years. We hope you find this information useful in possibly choosing a Staffy as your next dog.

How did you decide that this was the breed for you?

We had American Staffordshire Terriers and had heard about the Staffordshire Bull Terriers, of course, because they are historically where the Amstaff descended from. I met a Stafford, one of the first bred here in the states, and that was it. I wanted one and have owned them since.

Can you tell us a bit about the history of your breed:

Authorities generally agree that the breed can be traced back to Mastiff-like dogs. The Staffy’s Mastiff-like ancestor, the old Bulldog when crossed with British terriers, produced the first "Bull and Terriers." Books published in the early 1800s that refer to "Bull and Terriers," "Pit Dogs," and "Fighting Dogs" confirm that the cross occurred then. The old-fashioned Bulldog was a fierce, courageous animal used in the sports of bear- and bull-baiting as early as the mid-sixteenth century. When these sports fell from public favor and were outlawed, their supporters turned to dog fighting and sought to create a sporting dog that, while retaining the legendary courage and ferocity of the Bulldog, would incorporate the greater agility of the terrier.

Could you tell us a little bit about the stages of life for this breed?

As pups, they are a handful! Stafford pups can range from big babies to destructive terrors. The key to raising a Stafford is to start training immediately, set boundaries and give them plenty to do (toys, training exercises), as well as socialize them as often as possible. They have very high energy levels! If you live with more than one, Stafford pups tend to gravitate towards the older dogs till they are about 6 months old. Then the light comes on and they defer to the owner, realizing that the human is the leader of the pack. Around 4 months of age Staffords begin to teethe. The results are incessant chewing (lots of toys, bones, etc.) to stimulate that dental growth. When they are finished teething (replenishing the pup teeth with the adult teeth) the chewing often continues as the head is still growing. They are also mouthy through this period, using the mouth for everything. A stern “no” and clamping down on the jaw to teach them to lick you will help.

Stafford pups should not be harshly reprimanded. They are eager to please and quick to learn. Calm and stern reprimand is all that is necessary. The Stafford is usually very keen to its owner’s disappointment.

The Stafford is quite easy to housebreak. The females are easier to adapt than the males, as boys tend to "forget." Patience and stern discipline are required as well as loving encouragement and praise.

The Stafford starts to come "into his own" around 2 years of age. It is a slow developing breed in body but not in mind. Keen, attentive, quick to learn and eager to please, the Stafford should be fully trained and “bombproof” by one year. In other words, owners have a responsibility to take advantage of all of the attributes of the Stafford to be the all-purpose breed that it has a reputation for being.

As adults they are predictable if you and your dog have a bond and you are intuitive to your dog’s needs and responses. They tend to live a healthy, dependable life until they get older when you notice the graying on the face and the slowing down.

Describe an average day living with your breed:

The Stafford wakes with pure joy in the morning. They are happy to be snuggled by you and greet the day! Staffords do not have bad days. They have the run of the house. They sleep in the bed, lounge on the couch and have freedom to go in and out of the house to see the morning and relieve themselves. Staffords are not kennel dogs nor outside dogs but constant companions. They eat in the morning and at night on schedule, play with each other throughout the day, rest, sun themselves (Staffords LOVE TO LAY OUT), have training exercises depending on what they are involved in-- conformation, obedience, or a pup in training with the basics being practiced. Later in the day they go on twenty minute walks throughout the neighborhood (the male actually pulls his owner on a skateboard throughout the streets of his neighborhood). On the nights they do not walk, a twenty-minute individual session of ball playing in the yard gives them that day’s "workout." A Stafford should never be overworked until he is at least one year of age. They need small low-level impact walks for the first year, as their bones and muscles are still developing and maturing. The Stafford can easily pull muscles during this period if workouts are too strenuous.

The Stafford is consistently described as a velcro dog; be it watching TV, gardening, house cleaning or working, Staffords follow their owners from room-to-room, in or outside, immediately staking their place in the environment closest to you. After their night time feeding they will play and generally enjoy their "life of luxury" leading up to bed time. Dogs like routine. Staffords knows their schedules. By 10pm you will find them in their bed, waiting for you to join them to rest up for the next day!

Choose a few words that best describe your breed:

Keen, quick to learn, eager to please, people-loving, compassionate, children-adoring, tolerant, confident, sensitive and a complete joy to experience each day.

What are 3 misconceptions about this breed?

What are 3 little known facts about this breed?

What should people who are interested in this breed know before they bring one of these dogs into their homes?

This is not a breed for everyone. It is no different from raising a child - they require a lot of time, effort, discipline and guidance for their entire lives. They are a complete responsibility and it is the owners job to protect them from any bad experiences or situations.

Is there anything interesting that the breeding community (for your breed) is collectively working on?

Keeping up the awareness of this breed and not letting Staffords become confused with breeds with bad press and negative associations.

Do you have any tips on how people can go about locating good, quality breeders? What questions or measures would you say to take to weed out a bad breeder?

Please visit either the AKC.org site or our parent club, SBTCA.com. Staffords should all be AKC registered from long-time breeders with experience and great pup-buyer relations. A Stafford breeder should be there with you every step of the way in learning, training and raising your Stafford. Breeders should acknowledge their responsibility for the dog for the entirety of its life. Ask for referrals!

Attend AKC events, talk to breeders. There are many different "Styles and colors" in Staffords. Take the time to become educated about the breed before buying a Stafford on a whim.
Responsible Stafford breeders will gladly show you evidence of all health testing (including L2-HGA and Hereditary Cataracts). Look for dogs who have tested clear or normal.
Take note of and question breeders who breed more than 2 litters a year, do not actively participate in AKC events, have non-AKC registered pups, or advertise on the internet. Not all internet breeders are bad, but please investigate those that are only available on the internet. A majority of US breeders do not have websites as they keep the profile low and buyers are forced to search them out based on educated interest.

Do you participate in any activities with your dogs (agility, obedience, earthdog, etc)?

Conformation only. But Staffords excel in all performance events (agility, flyball) and obedience, tracking, Draw Dog and therapy.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell the readers of the Dog Guide about your breed?

Like many other fanciers believe, Staffords are the greatest most reliable, loyal, loving companions in dogdom. I could not live without them. You have to meet them in person to capture the essence of truly a wonderful breed of dog.

The Stafford looks tough, and that can be a positive deterrent to thieves. But because of their natural fondness for people, most Stafford's are vulnerable to theft—they tend to protect people and not possessions. When left in an accessible place they will welcome the attentions of a friendly thief as happily as a friend. Be forewarned! As with other members of the Bull and Terrier family, they can be the biggest people lovers in the world.

Thanks to Kristina for the great interview! We encourage Dog Guide readers to visit the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Club of America for more information about this great breed.

scottie

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