I have always been a big fan of the four Bull & Terrier breeds from a young age and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has always been one of my favourites. The British dogs that went on to be used in the creation of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier were also the dogs that played a part in the creation of the other three Bull and Terrier breeds. We owe a lot to the early fanciers who did a great job in preserving the working dogs they had.
I was lucky enough to have been brought up around a few nice ones but unfortunately, it seems that the good ones seem to be harder to find this day and age. The breed still remains one of the most popular breeds in the UK however, the quality of the dogs has definitely been on the decline for a little while now for a variety of reasons. A lot of the more serious folk left the breed behind when the American dogs arrived to the British and Irish shores. By the time that dog fanciers realised that the Staff was going down the drain, the majority of the good lines were now extremely scarce.
We are left with what we have today, but asides from people moving onto other breeds. The show fraternity have also played their part and have not helped the breeds downfall with some of their decisions. I am not a big fan of Kennel clubs or dog shows as I believe that breeding any breed solely based on looks will eventually ruin every breed.
The original Staffordshire Bull Terrier standard from 1935 when the breed was first recognised by the Kennel Club, was heavily influenced by fanciers who understood the breed and its long sporting history. They created a standard that paid homage to the breed and had the best interests of the breed at heart.
In the original standard, staffs could have a height between 15-18 inches tts, which I believe was a good average height for most staffs of the time. In the 1948 standard, the height was reduced to 14-16 inches tts but the weight remained the same 24lbs-38lbs. Some will think this is a minor change, but this makes the dogs a lot shorter, stockier and less mobile. This is just one minor change of many that has been done to the original Staff standard over the years, other changes include certain structure points, coat colour and even nose colour. All of these minor changes reduce the gene pool more and more.
It’s these kinds of changes to breed standards that with time have begun to ruin many dog breeds and explains why so many breeds today are in complete disarray. It’s totally unnatural and completely goes against Mother Nature, to breed an animal to match such a small restricted criteria solely based on its looks. These changes are purely made for aesthetic reasons and little to no care are given to the dogs health and overall balance.
Luckily, there is a few breeders out there who continue to perceiver in producing functional staffs that are capable of doing a variety of sporting activities. I see that more and more owners are using theirs in a variety of athletic sports with great success. I’ve always been of the opinion that any work or exercise is better than no work or exercise. I hope and have my fingers crossed that in 20-30-40 years from now, the staff isn’t as bad as many other breeds who are a shadow of their former selves.