Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or ‘Staffies’ were originally bred as fighting dogs to compete in bull fighting and pit fighting with other dogs for people’s entertainment in the 19th Century.
The breed’s come a long way since that gory origin – as blood sports were outlawed from 1935 onwards they have become immensely popular as family pets thanks to their enthusiastic spirit and good nature around humans and particularly children. They’ve even been nicknamed ‘the nanny dog’ because of this.
Unfortunately, Staffs have had a lot of bad press for aggression, perhaps partly because of their fighting roots but also because the breed is frequently crossed with larger, stronger bull breeds where they’ve become a ‘status dog’ for individuals who use them to enhance a tough image.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier size and colours
Pedigree Staffordshire Bull Terriers are fairly small, but very stocky dogs of around 35cm tall. But due to their popularity non-pedigrees Staffies and cross-breeds come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Tall, long-legged dogs may be bred with something like an American Bulldog or a Labrador. ‘Teacup’ or miniature Staffies might be a Staffie crossed with Jack Russells and other smaller dogs.
There’s wide colour variation in Staffies, including black, tan, brindle, white, red and the very desirable ’blue’ – a flat grey coat colour. They can also be a mix of two, three or more of these colours in patches.
If you’re buying a Staffie pup, be cautious of merle coloured ones. The UK Kennel Club stopped recognising them for registration in 2010 because of health concerns about impaired hearing and vision passed down with the merle genes.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier temperament and characteristics
Staffies are usually a really solid family dog with deep affection for people, including children. They’re loyal and biddable when training, if not one of the most intelligent breeds!
It’s really important to remember that Staffies were originally bred to be gentle with their human handlers while fighting other dogs and even larger animals. That doesn’t mean they won’t be friendly to other dogs, but it does mean that positive socialisation with canine friends is absolutely vital for them, particularly as they’re strong and powerful for their size.
They can be extremely affectionate, to the point of it being a bit over the top and boisterous. But all is forgiven when you see that famous 'Staffie smile'.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier insurance
The average cost of pet insurance for Staffordshire Bull Terriers we insured in 2021 was £382.69. That’s less than the average cost for all breeds of £474.77.
It’s partly because they’re such popular dogs – unusual dog breeds are much more expensive to insure because there’s less information on whether they’re likely to need a lot of expensive vet treatment or not.
But the main reason that Staffies are relatively inexpensive to insure is because they’re a pretty healthy breed with less genetic conditions than most.
Staffie health conditions
Although Staffordshire Bull Terriers are pretty sturdy, there are a few health conditions to look out.
The most common health problem for Staffies is skin conditions. Despite having super short, sleek coats, Staffies can suffer from allergies.
Allergic skin conditions was the most common pet insurance claim we saw for Staffies in 2021, with the average claim costing £200.11. Skin problems can be hard to resolve which can mean having to make repeated claims throughout your Staffie’s life, so the actual cost of a chronic skin condition could be a lot higher over several months or ears.
Lifetime pet insurance can help with chronic conditions like this as there’s an annual vet fee limit that refreshes every year. That’s why all our policies are lifetime – we don’t want you to run out of cover while you still need it.
It’s less common, but Staffies can sometimes suffer from seizures. Seizure disorder was the fifth most common claim for Staffies in 2021.
It’s sometimes caused by a condition called L-2 HGA which can cause:
There’s no cure and the condition is managed with anti-seizure medication.
It’s a genetic condition and there’s now a test available for it. Ask your vet about testing for the L-2 HGA gene, especially if you’re considering breeding your Staffie. Dogs that carry the gene for the condition shouldn’t be bred from.
£15,000 a year vet fee cover with our Complete policy.
Frequently asked questions about Staffordshire Bull Terriers
Are Staffies dangerous?
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are no more dangerous than any other dog – in fact, they have a notoriously ‘soft’ temperament with people and should be fine with dogs and other animals too if they’ve had the right socialisation.
Are Staffordshire Bull Terriers a banned breed?
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not a banned breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act. Some people mistake them for Pit Bull Terriers, as they can look similar. Pit Bull Terriers are not a recognised breed in the UK – it’s a ‘type’ that describes dogs with certain traits.
In 2018 animal rights group PETA called for Staffordshire Bull Terriers to be added to the list of dogs banned by the Dangerous Dogs Act, claiming it would help protect the breed from abuse. Thankfully, this was rejected – it would have meant thousands of beloved family pets being seized and possibly destroyed through no fault of their own.
There’s a strange myth that Staffies have a ‘lockjaw’, meaning that they can sometimes bite hold of something and are then unable to release this grip.
It’s not true – lockjaw in Staffies doesn’t exist. But their jaws are very strong – so good luck getting that tennis ball back if they really want to keep hold of it…
What are the most popular names for Staffies?
Staffs are full of character – and so are the names our customers give them.
The most popular names for Staffordshire Bull Terriers are: