Newest Review: ... personalities. What I wasn't prepared for was the reaction of other people when I told them I was planning to get a Staffie pup. T... more
Man's (or woman's) best friend.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Member Name: Ladyboosh
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Advantages: A robust, loving companion for life.
Disadvantages: Be prepared for some misguided prejudice against the breed.
I never considered owning a dog of my own. We had a Springer spaniel as children because my sister nagged our parents into submission, and although I was fond of him and occasionally took him for a walk in the park, I never felt the need to have a dog as an adult. My daughter, however, had other ideas and from the moment she could make herself understood she begged us for a puppy. For her sixteenth birthday, we surprised her with a tiny Jack Russell puppy. The whole family quickly became smitten with this cheeky chappy, and after a while I couldn't imagine what I did with my time before we had Milo. When I gave up my part time job last year I decided that Milo needed a playmate. We deliberated for a long time about whether getting a puppy was the right thing to do. I was worried that it would put Milo's nose out of joint, or that he wouldn't tolerate another dog. I was keen to adopt a rescue dog but my husband and the kids wanted a puppy that they could all get involved in caring for. Eventually we agreed that a female puppy would be the best option but we needed to choose a breed with a similar energy to Milo's, one that could keep up with him and match his tenacious personality. I knew a few people with Staffies and a few friends in America who worked with pitbulls so I researched the breed and found lots of conflicting advice. All the information suggested that Staffies adore their humans and are excellent with children but many sources advised that some are not tolerant of other dogs, so I began to talk to people who owned these dogs and met as many of them as I could and I was reassured that, in the right hands, Staffies make great family pets. I also fell in love with their smiling faces and affectionate personalities. What I wasn't prepared for was the reaction of other people when I told them I was planning to get a Staffie pup. The overiding response was "what on earth do you want to do that for?"
Now, I'm pretty stubborn once I have my mind set on something so I began to search in earnest for the perfect puppy to join our pack. After a few false starts I spotted an ad for a Staffie pup and it leapt out at me. There was no cute picture to catch my eye but something just seemed right. I emailed a response immediately and waited all day until finally I got a call from the owner who had been inundated with replies to his ad but was seemingly picky about who got their hands on his puppy! He seemed satisfied that I knew what to expect from the breed but confessed that another person had promised to get back to him before he had spoken to me so he wanted to give them first refusal. After a nerve wracking wait he finally called back and said that they had called back but had wanted the pup for their eighteen year old son and he had not been happy with that scenario so, if we were still interested, we could come and visit her.
She was just four weeks old and little more than a black and white ball of fluff but I knew from that first visit that she was the one for me. Both her parents were family pets and had lovely temperaments and seeing them all interact was very special. After that we visited Dotty, as the owners had nicknamed her, every few weeks and they sent pictures in between so we could see how she was getting on. By the time she was ready to leave her parents, Elsie, as we had decided to call her, was paper trained, weaned and had been vaccinated and had grown into a pretty little lady with her mums small frame and her dads black and white/brindle colouring.
Once she got over her initial nervousness at being in unfamiliar surroundings, Elsie quickly found her feet and was delighted to find Milo in the garden playing with his toys. She approached him respectfully and backed off when he warned her not to take his toy but after an hour or so they were playing tug of war with a rope and later that evening Elsie climbed into Milos bed and lay beside him. We could not have asked for a better outcome. She is fearless and loves to be the centre of attention while he is unbelievably tolerant but will not let her get away with too much!
I, on the other hand, find it easy to overlook her less desirable puppy behaviour because she is so sweet and loyal. The biggest problem is her chewing. Most puppies love to chew things but Elsie will chew seemingly inedible things like garden brooms, keys, mobile phones and tissues, in fact nothing is safe and the family have quickly learned to hide any possessions they value for fear of their total destruction.
Luckily Elsie is a greedy piggy and training her has been relatively easy with the help of tasty treats. She is almost a year old now and incredibly strong. She can pick up half a tree without breaking a sweat and outrun Milo with it in her jaws, in fact she once swept me off my feet when she ran into the back of my legs and literally "bowled me over". It's like being hit by a bulldozer, she has no concept of her own strength, but she hates it if I disapprove of something naughty she has done and will sulk under the table until I give her a cuddle. My husband is away from home often with his job and she assumes the role of our protector in his absence, standing guard at the window in case of uninvited guests, and at night she curls up at the foot of my bed, watching me sleep. Then when I wake up she will express her joy by licking me mercilessly.
We were careful to socialise her with as many other dogs as possible from the time she was fully vaccinated but I do find that some people are reluctant to let their dogs play when they see a Staffie. Unfortunately, this breed is still seen by many as agressive due to media hysteria and their history of being used for fighting. Sadly, this barbaric practise still goes on but Staffies remain loyal to their humans, even when they are being subjected to terrible cruelty. A recent case in America saw the police entering a property where three people had been murdered and discovering seventy Pitbulls which had been used for fighting. Some had been bait, whilst others had long standing injuries from past fights. All were underfed and neglected but not one of them showed any agressive behaviour towards the police officers and became positively affectionate towards the veterinary staff who tended their wounds. Thankfully, a rescue charity came forward to offer them shelter and they are positive that they will all be suitable for rehoming. I can see why some people are wary of bull breeds but in most cases these dogs are sweet and loving family pets. Now that people are begining to realise Elsie will not hurt their dogs they are warming to her but I am still very cautious when out in public, especially around children in case she was to jump up and hurt someone accidentally, and I never let her approach a dog if that dog is on a lead but this is just common sense with any dog really.
So, owning a Staffie has been a positive experience overall. Yes she is stubborn, she will take a mile if you offer her an inch and she is capable of creating a truly unholy, face-meltingly awful stink when you least expect it, but I wouldn't have her any other way. :)
Summary: Love love love my Staffie!