Staffordshire Bull Terriers have been branded as ‘devil dogs’ – and with their fierce looks, broad build and strong jaws, they sometimes attract the wrong kind of owners.
The ex-fighting dogs can be used as a badge of honour by owners who want to evoke fear in others.
It’s not hard to stereotype these dogs, but do they deserve this bad boy reputation?
Painted as aggressive and vicious, Staffies are the most common breed to be abandoned or surrendered for rehoming.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, the UK’s largest pet rescue and re-homing shelter, says up to 80 per cent of the dogs under their care are Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
It is the same story at the Stoke-on-Trent’s City Dogs’ Home, where three quarters of the dogs needing “forever homes” are Staffies or Staffie types.
Manager at City Dogs’ Home, Vickie Phillips said: “People abandon their dogs for loads of reasons.
“The most common is moving into rented homes where they cannot take dogs, which makes it hard for the owners to surrender their pets.
“Staffies have been given a bad name and the business-like appearance of a Staff doesn’t help the reputation of the breed.”
Bill Lambert from the Kennel Club said Staffies are one of the only breeds it (the Kennel Club) recommends as being suitable around children and they are not naturally aggressive.
He said: “The fact is that they’re a dog that doesn’t deserve the image it’s been given. Any dog can be trained to be a bad dog, just as they can trained to be a good dog.”
StaffsLive spoke to young Staffordshire Bull Terrier owners across the North Staffs area about why they were attracted to this breed despite the brutal reputation the dogs hold.
Kurt Jones, 22, of Salisbury Avenue, Hanley said: “They’re the best breed I’ve ever been around. I’ve never met an aggressive or angry Staffie, my five-year-old Bob is the most fun- loving, caring and loyal dog.
“I also have a bitch Staff called Sadie who has a lovely and sweet nature, nothing like the stereotypes given to the Staffie breed.
“None of my dogs have ever been aggressive towards people or another dog and can be trusted to walk off the lead in dog parks.
“The only reason Staffs are a dangerous dog are if they’re raised by dangerous people for fighting and are bred to be aggressive, but that’s the same with any breed, they are what we make them.”
21-year-old Danielle Moore from Meir said: “I just love them, they’re such beautiful dogs, I’d never be able to own another that isn’t a Staff.”
Russell Gregory, of Hartshill, said: “Personally I think they are one of the most loyal and loving breeds in my experience.
“It’s a Catch 22 issue because of what they were originally bred for, therefore the wrong sort of people traditionally own them to have them as a macho prestige type dog.
“They’re capable of doing damage but they’re highly intelligent and quite mischievous – they have the nickname of the “nanny” dog because they are trusted with small children which proves that they’re not dangerous unless you raise them to be.”