This article was published in the Winter 1997 issue of the "Staff Status" magazine.
Why do we worship the bull and sacrifice the terrier
By Carolyn Stewart
I think that the old-timers such as Cockney Charlie Lloyd, Joe Dunn, H.N. Beilby, Joe Mallen, and J.T. Barnard would think we have lost our way. The men who formed the first Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club worked their dogs and showed them. They firmly and always held to the belief that a dog should look like it could do what it was bred to do. Since they had practical experience, they knew how a dog should be constructed in order to get the job done. They had this in mind when they wrote the first breed standard in 1935.
Although sixty-two years have passed, and a new breed standard has been adopted, there have been no significant changes that would effect the over all function of the dog other than the height to weight ratio. The original standard called for dogs to be 13 inches to 18 inches tall. However, the weight of 28 - 38 pounds in relation to height, still applies, and nonconformity with these limits is a fault. If we actually followed the current standard this weight would probably be all right for a show dog, but a bit on the heavy side for a fighting dog.
Since the abolition of dog fighting, Staffords have continued to grow in popularity to the public and dog fancy. Bill Boylan, one of the old-timers, felt that dog showing would be the death knell for the Stafford. He knew that there are always those breeders and show enthusiasts whom might be called "exaggerationists" who when told that a Stafford should have a wide skull, short and strong and muscular body, would breed and show a dog with an extremely wide skull, and short, low stationed, thick body.
Too many of the top winning show dogs enter the ring with a fault -- they do not conform to the standard. Both in the height to weight ratio and in appearance (they do not look like they could do the job they were bred to do).
Today, we are seeing show specimens that may be 16 inches in height, but are weighing 46 - 50 pounds or more. At that height to weight ratio, they would not have the agility or endurance of a fighting dog. I read a description of the Stafford that stated they should be envisioned as a tank in battle, with all the functions of a tank. A tank may be able to climb hills, crush objects by sheer weight, track through water, etc... But a tank is a ponderous piece of equipment, and compared to other equipment used in battle, is more difficult to maneuver. If the old-timers who actually fought their dogs felt that a tank like dog could win in the pit, they would have bred them that way -- they didn't. They wanted a dog that was quick on it's feet, able to spin on it's hindquarters, dodge teeth, lunge forward in an instant, and not run out of gas.
Why do we worship the Bull and sacrifice the Terrier? True strength and agility have always been the cornerstone of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. When we talk of strength we do not imply the strength of the old massive Bulldog, but rather the graceful balanced strength of the Bull and Terrier. When we talk of agility what we mean is power - the power of free and rapid motion.
Since dog fighting is no longer an appropriate lifestyle for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, his popularity as a loving and faithful companion continues to grow. When bred to the standard, today's Stafford is active and energetic. He loves to ride in the car, go hiking, jogging, back packing and delights in sharing in his families activities. Although gentle and sweet by nature he can and will protect his human family, if duty calls.
Thankfully, there are still some breeders who have managed to ignore the dictates of fashion and continue to breed Staffordshire Bull Terriers that are true to type. They are the real backbone of the breed for they have taken this pugilistic warrior and turned him into a wonderful modern athlete.
THE TYPE THAT WE PREFER
Active, agile and possessing a lot of stamina. A good balance of Bull and Terrier.
THE OTHER TYPE
Heavy, cloddy type of dog - more Bulldog than Bull and Terrier.