Pet of the week: The Staffordshire bull terrier

It's hard to imagine a more maligned breed than the SBT. Originally bred in the 17th century as working dogs, from the word go Staffies were used for fighting. Sadly, dog fighting still exists and is one of the reasons why so many of them are abandoned. To depict them as a vicious breed, however, couldn't be further from the truth...

Head strong

Check out that muscle! On a power-to-weight basis, the Stafford (as connoisseurs call them) is one of the strongest breeds, and can be a handful, capable of dragging their owners off-course if something grabs their attention. From the start, they will need to know who's boss.

Size matters

Yes, the pups may be cute, but think of the benefits of owning a fully-grown dog that is in need of re-homing. For a start, you'll save a fortune in slippers, as the dog will be past its chewing stage. For more information about giving a loving home to a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, visit gettoknowadog.co.uk.

Greetings!

Once settled in your home, Staffords are very family-friendly dogs. They can be enthusiastic with their affection, and are likely to bounce around like Tigger, so you should warn visitors and strangers that they just want to make friends. Some people are nervous around them, so be thoughtful as an owner.

Tough love

Because of their obvious strength, many people think Staffs are indestructible, but it's the younger ones that are set upon by bigger dogs for "entertainment". "Abuse is seen as part of a wider social issue, but dogs are often set on each other as a way of settling scores, particularly in urban areas," says Andy Robbins of the RSPCA.

Lung capacity

Regular exercise is a must for all dogs, but this doesn't mean they should be worn out. Staffords aren't built for speed, so they won't endlessly chase after balls. To find out more information about all aspects of the breed, and to find your nearest registered Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club, visit staffords.co.uk.

Well bred

If you must have a puppy, then make sure you buy from a reputable source. Veronica Brown of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Council says: "A lot of dogs are bred with no thought for the breed. When buying a puppy, always health-check the parents for genetic disorders, and if you are not happy, walk away".

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