Astounding Ways of Knowing Your Bull Terriers (Fast)
BUYING YOUR STAFFORDSHIRE BULL TERRIER PUPPY
Owners collecting their new puppy.
Introducing a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy into your life and family home is an emotional and rewarding experience, but it is an undertaking that must be approached with common sense, caution and planning. Before you commit to taking on a puppy, you should spend time researching the breed and making sure you can provide a good home for the new arrival. One of the most important considerations is whether a Stafford puppy would suit your home and lifestyle. A puppy needs kindness, human companionship, a place to sleep, regular meals and exercise. He will adapt to just about any form of accommo-dation.
You should also take into account some other aspects of owning a puppy, not least the level of security provided by your premises. Whether you live in a house with a garden, a flat, a maisonette, or even a country estate, it is important to ensure your puppy’s welfare. Puppies are naturally inquisitive and like nothing more than wriggling through a hole in a fence to find out what’s on the other side. Nor can they resist the challenge of an unknown cat or dog intruding into his territory.
The presence of other family pets in the home is an important factor. Staffords generally do not like other dogs outside the home environment, especially so if those dogs show any aggression towards them, but within the home a Stafford usually makes a good friend and companion for another dog, particularly if of the opposite sex. Also of course, provided no jealousy is allowed to arise, perhaps through favouritism or issues over food. Dogs and cats are natural enemies, and woe betide any cat intruding into your Stafford’s territory. But it’s usually a different matter when it comes to the family cat. After a ‘settling down period’, your cat and your Stafford will often become the firmest of friends.
At eight weeks it’s all so new.
Another consideration is how the puppy would fit physically into your own environment. One essential requirement is for an easily accessible area for the puppy’s toilet requirements. He will also need a separate place with suitable bedding for uninterrupted sleeping, and of course somewhere for feeding at mealtimes.
Dog and bitch puppies at seven weeks old.
Would a Staffordshire Bull Terrier fit into your lifestyle? There is more to keeping a dog healthy and happy than providing for his well-being in the home. What about exercise? As your puppy grows, he will need daily attention to keep healthy and fit, and when he is older he will need regular walks. When you and your family go away on holidays, or for long weekends, will you take your Stafford with you or arrange for him to be looked after in your absence? Have you considered the costs of feeding, vaccinations and veterinary care? All these questions should be addressed before making the commitment to buy a puppy. Only then can you proceed with confidence to select your new friend.
Before buying a puppy, you must decide whether you want a show-quality Stafford for exhibiting at dog shows or if you simply want a pet and companion. Tell the breeder of your prospective puppy at the outset, as this will help them help you make the right choice. From a well bred litter, it is reasonable to assume the purchase price will be reduced for a puppy that may have a slight fault which precludes that puppy from exhibiting at a dog show. A responsible breeder will be able to advise you on each puppy’s temperament and qualities.
DOG OR BITCH?
All Staffords, whether dogs or bitches, make very rewarding additions to your home. Strong and powerful, they will protect the whole family, in particular the young and the elderly. They are entirely devoted to their owners, and well bred dogs will demonstrate the reliability and soundness of temperament expected of the breed.
If a dog is selected as a show prospect, particularly if he turns out to be a good one, then you are in for exciting times! A well bred dog that is successful in the show ring will be much in demand among breeders who wish to use him for stud services with their bitches. But if he does not mature into a successful show dog, you must accept him as the family dog and pet for the rest of his life. For someone who simply wants a pet and companion, lack of success in the show ring is not a problem, as the dog will be exactly what was wanted in the first place. Whether show prospect or pet, the Stafford is a dog that you can be proud of.
It is entirely a matter of personal preference, of course, but a bitch puppy may be a wiser choice, especially for an inexperienced owner. Bitches in general can be more easily handled than a stronger and more boisterous dog, and often prove more biddable in the home environment. Tremendously faithful to her family, she will naturally guard all members of the household, demonstrating a loyalty that cannot be surpassed. A good show bitch will often excel in the show ring, even against the top male exhibits, and puppies from a successful bitch will be greatly in demand. For those who wish to compete in the show ring, one of the biggest advantages of choosing a bitch is that even if she does not excel as a show dog, she can be mated to a top stud dog to produce a potential show prospect that her owner could then campaign.
Bitches naturally come into season twice yearly for three weeks each time, and during these periods it is important to ensure that they are not able to mate accidentally. But this is a small inconvenience, compared with the advantages of owning a beautiful and loyal Stafford bitch.
The choice of dog or bitch is very much a matter of personal preference. A male dog, though often stronger and more assertive than a female, will not necessarily be dominant. A bitch, when roused or threatened, is more than capable of holding her own: a match, in fact, for any dog! Whether you want a show dog or a pet, doing your research and going about it in the right way will increase your chances of becoming the owner of a magnificent canine that you will always be proud of, and that will always give you far more love than you will ever be able to return.
Should you be looking for a guard dog, don’t consider a Stafford as you will be disappointed. The Stafford, though strong and fearless, would not be the dog for you. Any aggression in a true Stafford will be directed only towards other dogs and not towards persons. Should a burglar gain access to your premises, your Stafford, rather than going on the attack, would be more likely to lead him to your refrigerator. Such is the Stafford’s trust in people! If you want a guard dog, your best bet is to consider breeds trained for the purpose.
However, a true Stafford dog or bitch will not stand any nonsense from other dogs that try to bully them. Staffords in these circumstances are more than capable of showing what a big mistake the aggressor has made. This, of course, can get you into trouble with an irate owner who rarely blames his own dog, even when that dog is running loose and charges in on your Stafford. Always the Stafford is seen to be at fault, even if he is securely controlled on a lead. The message is clear: always keep your Stafford on a lead in public places where other dogs may be running around freely. It is not worth running even the slightest risk of any form of aggression between your Stafford and other dogs, resulting in injury or potentially fatal consequences. Any infringement of the provisions of the Dangerous Dogs Act may lead to tragedy and grief.
Dog and bitch puppies at play (five weeks old).
KENNEL CLUB REGISTRATION
Whether show prospect or pet, and whether dog or bitch, it is strongly advised that you buy a Kennel Club registered pedigree Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy. The consequences of purchasing unregistered puppies, or those registered by unofficial sources, could be dire. A puppy without official Kennel Club registration can never be entered for an officially recognized dog show. Furthermore, any puppies born from an unregistered sire or dam can never be registered as pedigree Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and would never be acknowledged to be of pedigree status. There is only one true pedigree Staffordshire Bull Terrier and that is a Kennel Club registered Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Why purchase a Stafford that is not Kennel Club registered when it is not difficult to obtain one that is? Do not fall into the trap of the ‘uncaring exploiting the uninformed’. Instead, take the trouble to learn all you can about the breed and then approach reputable breeders of true pedigree Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
FINDING A PUPPY
Having made up your mind that a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy is for you, the next step is to decide how you are going to go about it in order to accomplish exactly what you are looking for. Hopefully by this stage you will already have learned much about the breed. Always go to a reputable breeder, and avoid buying a puppy in haste or on impulse or for the wrong reasons.
There are officially recognized Staffordshire Bull Terrier Clubs in all areas of the country. Details can be obtained through the Kennel Club. The Secretary of your local club will be able to advise you on many areas, and point you in the direction of local dog shows. One of the best ways to learn about Staffords is to go along to as many dog shows as possible, to see for yourself the very best Stafford dogs and bitches and to talk with experienced owners. Such people may well be able to advise you of any pedigree Stafford litters available or expected. Often expected well bred litters are advertised in show catalogues, enabling you to make contact with the breeder at that show and look at their other dogs. Tempting though it may be, don’t make up your mind too soon; try to see as many dogs and bitches as possible to help you form your own opinion of exactly what it is you’re looking for. The Secretary of your local club will also be able to tell you about any Stafford training clubs in the area. You can go along to these and get a good, close look at the Staffords there. This can be a very good way to obtain a puppy for yourself, as at shows or training classes you may well find an experienced person who will help you.
Healthy, happy puppies at play.
Seek the advice of as many different Staffordshire Bull Terrier owners, judges and breeders as you can before you make up your mind. They will be at the shows and training clubs. The top breeders rarely advertise their puppies. These people breed with the purpose of furthering and improving their own stock, and will be looking for homes for the well bred puppies they will not be keeping for themselves. Obtaining your puppy from them is probably the best way to fulfil your requirements. You can contact them through your Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club, and at shows.
Another excellent way to obtain a Stafford puppy is through the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme.
Reproduced by kind permission of the Kennel Club
THE KENNEL CLUB ASSURED BREEDERS SCHEME
The aim of the Kennel Club Assured Breeders Scheme is to promote responsible breeding practices. There are twelve specific requirements that Kennel Club Assured Breeders must fulfil:
Ensure that all breeding stock is Kennel Club registered, and take all reasonable steps to ensure that the dogs are healthy and able to function normally (i.e. fit for function for life).
Hand over the puppy’s registration certificate at the time of sale, if available, or forward it to the new owner as soon as possible. Explain any endorsements that might pertain, and obtain written and signed confirmation from the new owner, at or before the date on which ownership is transferred, that the new owner is aware of the endorsement(s), regardless of whether or not the endorsed registration certificate is available.
Follow Kennel Club policy regarding the maximum number and frequency of litters.
Permanently identify breeding stock owned or offered at stud by DNA profile, microchip or tattoo. (NB: at some stage all breeding stock will need to be DNA profiled.)
Make use of Kennel Club health screening schemes, relevant to their breed, on all breeding stock owned or offered at stud. These schemes include DNA testing, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and inherited eye conditions. No mating must take place if the relevant test results indicate that it would be inadvisable in the sense that it is likely to produce health or welfare problems in the offspring and/or it is inadvisable in the context of a relevant breeding strategy. The current list of checks can be found at www.thekennelclub.org.uk/download/1100/abshealthregs.pdf.
Give written, breed-specific advice to puppy buyers in a Puppy Sales Wallet concerning (a) tendencies and potential traits in the breed; (b) socialisation, exercise and training; (c) feeding and worming programmes; and (d) grooming.
Inform the new owner in writing of any vaccinations that have been carried out.
Provide reasonable post-sales telephone advice and endeavour to deal in good faith with any issues that may arise.
Inform the new owner about the requirements and recommendations that apply to Kennel Club Assured Breeders, as well as drawing attention to the existence of the complaints procedure.
Draw up a contract of sale for each puppy sold and provide a copy in the Puppy Sales Wallet.
All dogs offered for breeding must be subject to the rules of the Assured Breeder Scheme.
Draw up a Contract of Stud Dog Service for each service performed and include details and results of all relevant health tests performed in accordance with the Assured Breeders Scheme.
For more information check the website, email [email protected], or call the Assured Breeders Scheme department directly on 020 7518 1015.
Potential owners should exercise extreme caution before responding to Stafford advertisements in local papers. Would you be making contact with a genuine Staffordshire Bull Terrier breeder? Or a person who has simply bred a litter to make money for themselves. Unfortunately such unscrupulous people have little regard for the welfare of the puppies once they have been sold. Would the puppies advertised as Staffords be the genuine article, or cross-bred non-registered dogs and bitches with Stafford blood somewhere in their backgrounds? Would you expect to get as good after-sales assistance as you would from a genuine breeder? Would you be getting a genuine Kennel Club registered pedigree puppy for your money?
Likewise, never buy a Staffordshire Bull Terrier (or what passes as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier) from a pet shop or puppy farm. The likelihood is that such puppies will be poorly bred and possibly unhealthy. They will almost certainly not have been weaned and socialized properly, and it is extremely doubtful that they will be Kennel Club registered as pedigree animals, regardless of any paperwork you may be offered.
Stay well away from any puppies described as ‘Pompy Staffords’, ‘Irish Staffords’, ‘King Staffords’ or ‘Original Staffords’ – in fact, avoid anything that is not a true Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Such dogs are generally cross-bred, with some Stafford blood in their background. They are not genuine Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Resist the temptation to purchase a Stafford that is advertised as being ‘rare’ and thus is being sold at an inflated price because it is ‘special’. There is no such thing as a ‘rare’ Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
A good example of a well bred Stafford puppy.
VISITING THE BREEDER
When you visit your selected breeder to see the litter of puppies, take the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Try to go with your family and any other persons who will be involved with looking after the new puppy. Unless you are experienced enough yourself, it would be helpful to take along someone who is well qualified to assess Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppies and advise you accordingly. Remember, it won’t be just you asking questions. Responsible breeders will want to be satisfied that you are the right person to have one of their puppies.
Puppies should not go to their new homes before they are at least eight weeks old. They must be allowed to spend sufficient time with their mother and to have had plenty of experience with human beings. The bitch will not only have fed and taken care of her puppies, but also have taught them what puppies need to know about acceptable behaviour and the language of dogs. A puppy taken away from his mother too early will not have learned to understand other dogs, and this may result in problems with socialization as he grows up.
Stafford puppies start the socializing process at about three weeks old, and the next two to three weeks are the critical period. During this time they will become fully aware of their mother and their litter mates, human beings and any other dogs or pets in the home. They will be attracted to just about anything they come across and will learn from it all and retain that information. They utilize all their senses, particularly that of smell, to adapt it to their environment. It is important to ensure that your puppy has been reared in an atmosphere of activity and noise, with plenty of human exposure, as he will benefit from such an upbringing for the rest of his life. A puppy that has spent his formative weeks in quiet surroundings with not much to stimulate his senses and insufficient human contact will lack confidence and the necessary skills to achieve a well balanced and active life.
A sensible breeder will not allow prospective new owners to view a litter of puppies at too early an age. This can cause the bitch distress, with possibly tragic consequences should she instinctively react to protect her young. From the age of four weeks onwards the puppies will be much more aware of their surroundings and will be running around busily. At this stage the bitch will be much more open to the attentions of strangers.
Puppies ready for their new families.
A new owner beginning to bond with her puppy at four weeks.
The purchase of a puppy at eight weeks of age is always something of a gamble, as no one can be sure how an individual puppy will mature. The odds of obtaining a sound and healthy dog can, however, be substantially reduced in favour of the purchaser by following the advice given above. Responsible breeders will also help you with your selection, without taking advantage of your inexperience. Do, however, beware of any false claims that may be introduced into the proceedings.
Before going to look at a litter of puppies, it is sensible to discuss and agree the financial arrangements for a potential purchase. A deposit is often required, and it needs to be ascertained whether this is returnable if a sale does not materialize.
During your first visit, take the opportunity to observe the circumstances and conditions in which the puppies have been raised. You need to be satisfied that all is well and the puppies are thriving in their environment. If you have any doubts, then either proceed with caution or approach another breeder. Always ask to see the pedigree of the puppies, and find out if they are, or will be, registered with the Kennel Club. There should be no problems with these matters if you have approached a responsible breeder.
The puppies should be confident and ready for their first visitors at around four or five weeks.
A litter content with their dam.
Whether you are looking for a pet or a dog with show prospects, the intention should be exactly the same: to obtain a clearly healthy and ‘typical’ Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy. Always ask to see all the puppies in a litter as this will give the best chance to see them running about and playing together. It also allows comparisons to be made. (Do not be deterred if there is only a single puppy, providing it is strong and healthy. Single puppies can often become stars of the showing world when they mature.) Ask to see the bitch, and, if possible, the sire also. The mother may naturally be showing some signs of debilitation brought about by the raising and feeding of her litter, but she should otherwise be healthy and strong. Seeing the sire may be more difficult, especially if he does not live at the same premises. If that is the case, ask to see photographs of him. Check that all the puppies have been properly wormed. All puppies have worms and it is most important that they have all received the correct treatment.
Look for a friendly and active puppy. One that readily comes to you will be well worth taking a closer look at. This applies whether you are looking for a pet and companion or a show Stafford. Make sure the puppy you choose is strong and healthy, and is not shy and reserved. It is particularly well worth while spending some time with the most friendly, active and lively puppies in the litter. Take note of the temperament of the mother. This, together with her response to people, will give an indication of how well the litter has been brought up and socialized.
When examining your chosen puppy, take note of any constructional faults you may find. Look for sound and blocky substance, with the definite ‘chunky’ feel of solid construction. From the side he should give the impression that he is standing in an imaginary square, and there should be no suggestion of an overlong appearance. The limbs should be well boned and substantially structured, and the feet should be neatly formed without any splaying of the toes. The front legs should be well boned, and there should be adequate width between them. The elbows should be well tucked in at the sides, with no tendency to protrude outwards.
Typical young dog pup at five weeks.
A seven-week-old dog puppy.
Examine the tail by running your fingers along its length. It should be straight from root to tip. There should be no evidence of curling and it should be free of bumpy gristle formation.
Gently open the mouth and examine the baby teeth. A badly undershot bite will not improve as the puppy matures. Examine the lower jaw for any indication of thrusting outward as this could well indicate the development of an undershot bite formation. The lower incisor teeth should not be crowded together but spaced apart in a straight line across the front of the mouth.
At this stage the foreface should be short. Both skull and muzzle should be blocky, deeply formed and powerful. The eyes should be well spaced apart in a broad skull. In a narrow skull the eyes will be closer together. Ears are difficult to assess properly in a puppy. It is only as the head grows that the final shape and development of the ears will be revealed. Avoid ears that are erect, and carefully consider semi-erect ears in a young puppy, especially if you are intending to show the puppy.
A seven-week-old bitch puppy.
Lastly, ask if you can watch the puppy running around freely. Although he will be immature, you can learn a lot from watching him move. It may also indicate potential conformation problems. Most importantly, it will allow you to see how well the puppy conforms to the characteristics and temperament of a true Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
When you have completed your examination of the litter, and chosen your new puppy, the next step is to finalize the arrangements with the breeder and agree a time for the puppy to be collected. The most exciting aspect of the whole business is about to commence: bringing your new puppy home for the first time.