The Misunderstood Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a popular breed in Britain with thousands of them up and down the country. Sadly, one of the most common breeds of dog that are found in rescue is the staffie because these dogs are being overbred and kept for the wrong reasons. The staffie is commonly seen as a status dog and portrayed by the media in a negative light. For staffie lovers such as myself, it is not only heartbreaking seeing all these unwanted dogs in rescue, but also just as sad to hear the negative comments people make about the breed. Staffies make great pets and it’s sad that they are so misunderstood. Examples of common misconceptions that are made are as follows;

All staffies are dangerous. Any staffie can turn at any minute.

False! ANY breed of dog brought up the wrong way can be dangerous. It is vital to socialise your dog from a young age so it gets used to new scenarios such as car journeys, strangers, children and other dogs. They are actually a sensitive breed and like any dog should be treated with kindness. Staffies, unfortunately, are popular and can end up in the wrong hands meaning some may have fear aggression, but this certainly isn’t a trait of the breed. They also have lots of negative media coverage which gives them a bad reputation as a breed, however, it isn’t fair to tar all staffies or bull breeds with the same brush as they are generally a loving breed who are eager to please!

Staffies are untrainable and ruthless.

False! Staffies are actually very intelligent dogs who are just as capable as any other breed to learn commands and are very keen to please their handler. You get out what you put in for any breed.

All staffies fight with other dogs.

False! We regularly get in very sociable staffies in that love to play with our other dogs.


Staffies are hyper and destructive.

Staffies are energetic dogs when young. They love to run and play, however other breeds such as Border Collies are very active. Any dog can be destructive if not trained correctly or if it is bored. Training and stimulation is the key to a happy dog!


Staffies have a locking jaw

False! This is quite a common belief, however, staffies jaws do not lock. Staffies do, however, have strong muscles around their jaw and they are pretty determined which could be where this myth has come from. They were bred to have strong jaws to hold on to bulls when bull baiting.

Staffies cannot be trusted around children

Again, all individual dogs are different. Some staffies are great with kids, whilst others are better in a home without them, but this could be said about any breed. Staffies are known as nanny dogs because they are known to be good around kids. Please remember that no young child should be left unattended with any dog.

Staffies are a banned breed

False! It is legal to own a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in England. There four breeds that are listed on the Dangerous Dogs Act which are the Pit Bull, Japanese Tosa, Brazilian Fila and the Dogo Argentino.

Sadly we live in a disposable society, where some people feel as though a dog’s life isn’t important and can be thrown away. Dogs are surrendered to rescue for reasons such as people who want to get rid of their older dog to get a puppy, or they get fed up with their puppy and do not realise how much work and expense is involved with keeping and bringing up a young dog. As staffies are so overbred, it is relatively easy to buy a pup, however, a lot of these young dogs end up in the wrong hands.  Due to their tough look and desire to please, this once loved nanny dog is falling into the wrong hands leaving thousands of them being abused and abandoned.

So how can you help the staffie plight? Here are a few suggestions;

1)      Spread the word! Tell people that staffies aren’t a bad breed. The main problem is people are not educated well enough as the media uses scaremongering techniques to cause a stir. Share this article and help educate more people.

2)      Neuter your dog! We have a high volume of calls every day from people wanting to get rid of their dog and a lot of them we have to turn away. A lot of rescues won’t take staffies in because there are so many out there and they can be difficult to home. There are too many dogs in the world already – please don’t add to the population.

3)      Keep your dog’s microchip details up to date. If your dog gets out from the garden, bolts after a squirrel on a walk or charges out the front door, s/he could end up in the pound. Your dog will only have seven days to be claimed and if a rescue does not take it after that, they will be euthanised. Microchipping is now compulsory.

4)      Thinking of getting a dog? Rescue a staffie! Talk to your local rescue to help you find your new companion.


Find out what volunteering for an animal rescue is like. 

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Got a Staffie? Tell me about them in the comments below!

35 thoughts on “The Misunderstood Staffordshire Bull Terrier”

  1. I have rescue staffie we got when she was 6 she had not been neutered that was all fixed by the shelter they were reluctant for me to have her because of my cats .
    ..but we have overcome all problems we have a calm happy house
    She can be off with other dogs so we avoid when we can ..daisy is a huge lap dog loves cuddles and sleeping on my bed .she has changed my life and I love her to bits…..

  2. My family have always had staffers. Our last one – Nel – was my baby, she never ever went on a lead, she went to the paper shop every day for our paper, she played football with all the our friends on the field (although she did pop the ball several times!), she played dead when you told her, she knew lots of tricks! every morning she had tea and toast…. she was 14 when she died, that was 17yrs ago and I miss her every day!

  3. Riley Alexandria McCabe

    Mine is a 5yo girl named Skye <3 I can't imagine life without her. She's great with kids and people in general but was unfortunately attacked when she was a year old which has left her with a little fear of other dogs – in other words, she has to smell first or she gets snappy. Otherwise she's an amazing companion and friend, always happy to see me, always there for a cuddle and always knows when I don't feel myself. As I have mental health issues, she's sort of become my unofficial therapy dog!

  4. Thank you for a beautiful piece about a wonderful breed. I have had two Staffies now from rescue. One came from Battersea Dogs Home in 2004 aged about 3 or 4, he was a staffy vizla cross who had a bad start but was a wonderful dog without any of the problems Battersea claimed he had, he sadly passed away from liver cancer in 2013. I then got another one, a little 8 week old puppy born at a veterinary office in Woking where he was left probably because he was the runt. He’s a lovely little dog who has his own fan club around where I live and has won a lot of people over to the breed, because I have made sure to socialise him and raise him with love, he also loves rampaging around playing with my Akita cross who is about 26kilo heavier than his slight 20kilo. It’s heartbreaking to see so many of these gorgeous dogs passed over at rescue centres.

  5. I’ve had my baby ( staffie) just over a year got her at 4 months she’s the most loving stupied dog I’ve ever had .she so good with my kids especially my boy who has add . I wouldn’t be with out her now x

  6. I have 2 7 month old staffies, they are brother and sister and they are the most amazing dogs ever and their best friends are cats!!! they are in no way nasty as they are well socialised with other animals and humans it’s about how you bring up dogs not their breed. When horrible people are band from bringing up dogs that’s when there will be no nasty dogs from any breed

  7. We have a rescue Staffie and he is the sweetest, most affectionate and loyal dog ever. He can be rather excitable but is never aggressive. He just hates being alone so we can’t leave him. This is why Staffies suffer in kennels too. They are people dogs. #staffierescue #adoptastaffie

  8. I have to agree wholeheartedly with this article. I have a Staffie, and she’s the most intelligent, caring dog I’ve ever had. She has the most beautiful soul. She was bought up with a very sick parent who spent all day in bed, often in pain, and another who’d come home and play with her. I believe this has made her fairly unique and sensitive to people who are ill. My niece (aged 5) loves her to bits, and she’s very good with children, though I’d never leave any child unattended with any dog. My girl is now 13 1/2 years old……going on 13 months. She’s still very playful and loves meeting new people. 7 years ago, I got a cat, and the dog and cat get on very well, I often find them cuddled up together. Introducing the cat into the home was very easy. Staffies are wonderful dogs if bought up correctly. Even staffies who’ve had a bad start in life can easily be re-trained. They’re very intelligent and learn quickly, even when considered old. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

  9. Hi I have two rescue staffies, both are sweet, softies with no problems or aggression what so ever, I love them to bits and now would never choose another breed,

  10. Please see and share my staffies Facebook page that he has with his best friend Duck. Gromit and Duck Gromit is a well known ambassador for the staffy breed seen worldwide.

  11. We have three Staffies and three staffy/springer crosses. Two of the Staffies have been the subjects of bestselling books which I hope have helped to redress the balance of opinion about these wonderful dogs. Sheba was terribly abused and used as a bait dog by dog fighters before being thrown on a rubbish tip and left to die, a living skeleton. We saved her and ten years later she’s still with us, safe and happy. Sasha was abandoned in a gutter at 5/6 weeks old. We adopted her and despite suffering hypothermia before being rescued, two broken legs in the first year of her life, skin allergies and serious epilepsy, she is the happiest and most loving dog imaginable. My book of her life has been a bestseller here and in Australia and won an international award for Best Nonfiction Book 2016. Again, I hope people who read the book are able to realise what wonderful and loving dogs these are. All our dogs are people friendly and well behaved and give us nothing but unconditional love and are a joy to live with. The three crosses came from the same litter and are inseparable best friends. All were brought up with young children, now teenagers and we love them all as integral members of the family. Good training, good treatment and common sense are sure ways of ensuring a staffy or any dog will reward the owner with nothing but pleasure and they are a delight to be with and make us laugh and smile every day with their exuberance and love of life.

  12. I own 2 staffies unfortunately both have fear aggression due to being owned by idiots but I have 2 favourite breeds the staffie and the border collie . I am a volunteer for a rescue so us rescuers keep the ones that are unhomable but we have some lovely staffies in as well

    1. It’s a shame that they didn’t have a loving home from the start, but I am pleased they have you now. It’s frustrating to see so many get overlooked in rescue, isn’t it Julie?

  13. My staffy is the best dog I have ever had. He is now an elderly gent, but he has never let me down. He loves dogs and loves people, despite having a bad start in his life. You cannot get a better dog, especially if you treat them right. They are loyal, loving, friendly and very intelligent. Never underestimate a STB, they make the best pets.

  14. I have a Staffie x Akita. She’s a lovely girl. She had a bad start in life, hit with a rolling pin, taken from mum too early, not chipped vaccinated or chipped! She had many challenging problems, and no manners, normally taught by mum. She now has lots of love, ongoing training, learning her manners, she would jump up all the time, still ongoing positive training. I will never give up on her and never abandon her. She’s family. My other dogs love her too. And help with her training. She had the sweetest nature. And can be a diva. But she loves children, and is a treasure. People give up too easily with these wonderful Staffies..

  15. I rescues a staffie @13 weeks old, malnourished,sold four times and kept in a cupboard under the stairs. Yes she took time to assure for her to trust us. She learned to live with 2 cats and a family. A friend a nanny she was both . That was 17.5 years ago. Sadly she dies in November leaving a massive hole in our lives. You don’t know what true love is until you have loved a staffie. I’mean not yet ready for another one yet, but have just taken up looking after staffie for people whilst on holidays and emergency situations just to have the love back in the house. I will definitely be adopting again. Can’t imagine a life without a staffie in my life. Keep up the good work all for these lovely dogs. Xxx

    1. I agree too with all of you. I adopted a 6yr old from Washington and now she’s still
      my girl still at almost 14 yrs old this July . She’s still hyper as can be and always seems to be hungry even though I just fed her. She very needy and whines so much like she’s trying to talk cause she always wants my attention. She loves to follow me all over the house even though her old legs are not as strong as they used to be. She’s so smart that even a baby gate didn’t even hold her back…. she so smart she figured how to lift the peddle with her jaws to open up the gate?. She has the freedom after that to roam the house. She easily adapted to the rules of the house when I brought her home even though my toy poodle at first wasn’t happy about her at first . Now they are buddies always looking for each other and even sleeping in the same dog bed. She is such a clown and loves to meet people and other dogs too. However , some people are still afraid to approach her . She does still get too excited and this leads to her panting forever. Boy does she burp and fart. But I love her so much I’m glad I adopted her…. no regrets. I’m just sad she’s getting older ?.

  16. I have two rescue staffys . My female is 4 we got her at 11mth shed been badly abused by her owners and as such has been left nervous of men she doesnt know. And my male is 2 we got him at 4mth old . Hed been dumped by his owners because he was born totally deaf .
    They both love my.pug and the 2 cats .
    Staffys are so misunderstood and demonised . It is unfair they are a very smart very loyal and extremely loving breed . Mine just want to sit on my knee giving kisses .

  17. My staffy is nearly 10 years old and has been like a baby his whole life. He comes to me for cuddles several times a day, hates to be left alone even if it’s for half hour, is friendly to absolutely everyone and every dog. He has never been aggressive in his life. I really don’t like how just anyone can get a staffy without any regulations or requirements of care. I wish they all could only go to loving homes where someone is home with them all the time and where they could sleep snuggled up like the puppies they think they are lol, and hate when I hear someone saying they have or are getting a staffy to keep outside. I printed out information listing all of reasons why they should not be left outside and need to be part of the family, and distributed in the letterboxes of the people I knew had staffys in my area. None of them cared and didn’t change anything. I wish we could own them all so they all got the love they deserve.

  18. I got a blue Staffordshire bull terrier she 4 months old and she is a great puppy she is learning she go outside and got to the bathroom she cuddles she not mean at all she is the greatest puppy my first time owning a blue Staffordshire bull terrier puppy

  19. I would like to THANK the EVIL Human(s) who DUMPED Our Beloved Baby Boy from a MOVING CAR on 31/12/2012. Whilst I shall be eternally grateful for his subsequent care in Council Kennels, it breaks my heart to think of him being CAGED for almost 2 months(!) prior to rehoming…
    The first I saw of him was his Beautiful, Sad Face looking out at me from the Local Newspaper. As a family, we visited the aforementioned Kennels to meet him. To say we fell in Love at First Sight would be an understatement! We were ALL SMITTEN! We arranged a date to collect him; however I later received a call informing me somebody else had come forward; his alleged previous Owner(!!) who said he’d lost his Staffie and had seen his photo in the same Local Newspaper. The Council Staff felt obliged to give this ROTTER some time to collect ‘his’ Dog; however he failed to show. What aggrieved me most of all is the fact Our Baby Boy’s rehoming was delayed by another week(!); this resulting in him being caged for almost 2 months… God forgive whoever did this; however I shall be forever grateful for the Precious Gift of such a Beautiful Staffie; a BEAUTIFUL Baby – who’s PURELY WORSHIPPED (NO LESS than he deserves!); PAMPERED to BITS & ADORES his adopted Family…

  20. Hi
    My beautiful baby is a blue girl staffi… she is my world ❤️ I can’t have children due to multiple health issues and so my star has become my fur baby. We are inseparable and she is my shadow and best friend. She never goes on a lead, she asks my permission to walk further ahead or run off once in the park, and as you said… she is so eager to please! This was the first thing I noticed about her and whilst playing she will always keep an eye on me and if I laugh she does it all the more! She loves to bury in my bed, comes everywhere in the car with me and loves to hang out of the window and ppl always laugh at her. I may sound silly saying this but she’s very humanistic (if that’s a word), a lot of ppl have said that too and it’s like she understands English language. As we walk I will say “this way” or “slow down”, anything really and she listens and does it x she loves to play with bricks and licks them like they are bars of chocolate. And you are very correct about them been sensitive despite there tough exterior x I have never raised my voice at her, never mind hit her which I DO NOT agree with, and if I merely speak in a disappointed tone like “oh star, you made a right mess” (as she does with her food which she loves, she puts her head down. She’s also very good at playing on my emotions and a right little actress, she makes this sad face when I’m cooking thinking that she’s going to miss out and until the food is served she will lay pulling that face. I love all the little noises they make too and she often gives me attitude and huffs at me… I tell her, “now then lady, less of the attitude” then she makes the pig like grunt answering back. I will be devestated when anything happens to her.
    I love your article, it’s really very precise x

  21. Carlotta Carnacina

    Hi! I just adopted from the Central Coast RSPCA a beautiful baby boy (he’s 10 weeks old) … should be Staffy x Kelpie (can’t really see the Kelpie though!) . Now : everyone is up in arms: I always had dogs , rescue dogs but never one who raises so much attention! I have kids , another dog and a cat : a lot of people seem to believe this little sweet rascal will be a menace to them all. Beside the usual Staffy stereotypical (negative) comments , there it comes the “He looks like a Pitbull … oh my goodness … give him away! They are illegal… etc etc”
    Now: this little dude is such a smart, affectionate adorable puppy… but maybe all this talks did put a thought in my mind : I have done a DNA test on him (which will come back in a few weeks) and I have taken up professional training sessions (while all my other dogs have always been successfully trained by my own self) . I cannot hide the fact that I am a bit more worried now than I was with other breeds and x breeds . I have had German Shepherds, Kelpies and all sort of mixed ones … never had a “bad dog” in all my life . I grew up believing it all depends by the environment they the dogs live in . Now I am thinking about finding a home for this gorgeous boy which would be more suitable for him than mine … all of this out of the general impression I receive when introducing my new bub ?

  22. I just got a rescue staffie last week. Was a bit concerned as she seemed to want to chase one of my cats (but completely ignored the other one). I’ve soon come to realise that its because my tortie cat, Lily sometimes runs when she sees the dog and the dog thinks this is a game. It’s not predatory chasing, its more a bouncy, light hearted chase. She is a lovely little dog, loves food and cuddles and rolling about in the grass. I was sure the myths I’d heard about the breed were all nonsense, but you know how mud sticks. She’s just like any other dogs I’ve had.

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