While the trend toward larger-than-Standard dogs may not constitute a menace to the Breed's future, the trend toward larger-than-Standard bitches may very well portend trouble, particularly when some of the larger bitches tend to be "doggy."
Apparently some judges and fanciers seem to believe that the bitch should be a mirror image of her masculine counterpart whereas the bitch should be strikingly different. If one must look between a bitch's hind legs to determine her gender, a problem or a problem-in-the-making exists. Nap Cairns was fond of quoting a friend who would say, "A bitch should have a head like a lady and a behind like a cook."
Shortly before I got into the Breed, in the days when no more than two or three bitches per year became English Champions, large doggy bitches suddenly became the fashion in England's show-ring. The year after two such bitches became Champions, they were bred to larger-than-Standard dogs, probably in hopes of producing " extra substance and a tad more." Both bitches died in whelp. The effects resonated within the Stafford community and almost immediately the judging of bitches reverted to the former practice of putting up feminine bitches.
The bitch should be identifiable as such from a distance, and she should be not only feminine but strikingly feminine in make, shape, and appearance. She need not be fifteen and a half inches to produce Staffords of correct size and substance. (How many times have you seen photos of a 6'4" 290-lb. defensive tackle hugging his 5'2" 110 lb. Mom?) I believe that her muscle mass is infinitely less important than her temperament, her balance, and her pelvic structure, for who would wish "Caesarian-only" litters or, worse, death during whelping?
This is not an argument against large bitches, for they - large feminine but bitches - have always been an important part of the Breed. Many years ago I had the great good fortune of arranging the importation of Margot of Rossisle from Rachel Swindells and had the further good fortune of having Billie Rant go partners with me on the venture. A winner of two Reserve CC's in England, Margot was bang up to size and while not at all doggy might have been a little more refined. (Size and refinement, however, are hard to come by in the same package.) We were able to obtain Margot only because I had previously visited her home in Shropshire, England, through the good offices of Colin Smith, and because Margot lived with Rachael's several other Staffords with whom she tended to be quarrelsome, which eventually wore on the nerves.
Billie and I could hardly believe our good fortune. To get a bitch of that quality and championship breeding, one who had already proven herself through an excellent litter, was unprecedented at the time. However, the planned mating between Margo and Bandits Firestreak Red Rover (Brutus) did not pan out, so we bred her to Billie's Tinkinswood Imperial (Fred), a genuine heavyweight. While the results fulfilled our headiest expectations, we felt greatly relieved that no complications ensued. We realized that under the circumstances the risk had to be taken, so we took it. But inviting disaster too often ensures that catastrophe will eventually happen. No matter what the owners of stud dogs claim, the future of the Breed resides in its bitches. A good stud dog is a treasure, true enough, but a good brood bitch is beyond price!
If we care about the Breed -- what it has been, what it is, and what it may become -- most serious Stafford folk recognize that we must take conscious measures both in the ring and outside it to ensure the continuation of within-Standard genuinely feminine Staffordshire Bull Terrier bitches.
No one can see the future or guarantee that continuing to mate generation after generation of large doggy bitches to larger-than-Standard dogs constitutes a sure-fire formula for ruination.
But is it a reasonable risk?