The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, commonly know as the Staffy, was first bred in the early 1900s in England as bull-bait. Hence the term bull terrier
Bull bating is a savage blood sport where a bull is tied to a stake in an arena. The bull only has a range of about 10m to move around in. The bull is then angered by having pepper blown in its face, or by having a dog bite it. After bear- and bull biting was outlawed in the UK in 1835, staffies were used in dog-fights, since dog fights were easier to keep “underground”. (In Jock of the Bushveld, Jock is used for dog-fighting by a gambler and trick into fighting a baboon)
The Staffie is related to the American Staffordshire bull terrier and American pit bull terrier, but are much smaller than its American relatives. After Pit bulls were banned in the UK, some breeders deceptively labled their pit bulls as staffies. This might have led to reports of staffies attacking people. Staffies are sometimes confused with pit bulls. However, many kennel clubs make a clear distinction between staffies and pitt bulls.
The Staffordshire bull terrier was accepted into the UK kennel club in 1935 and the American Kennel club in 1976
Staffies are small-medium sized dogs measuring about 36-41 cm in height. Females weigh about 11-5 kg and males can weigh up to 20kgs. They have short-haired coats and can be brown, brindle, black, red, white or a combination of white and another colour.
They are quite robust and a healthy breed, but like many other dog breeds they can develop hipdysplasia and cataracts. Staffies love to “tan” and excessive sun exposure can lead to melanomas especially on areas like the tummy where there is less hair.
Staffies are friendly, loyal, intelligent, hardy and persevering. Due to their amicable nature (and despite the original intent for their breed), they are not considered to make good guard dogs or attack dogs. They love people and make good family pets.
Personally I think Staffies have been quite popular in South Africa in the past thanks to Jock of the Bushveld and a Dunlop (tyres) TV commercial where a staffie (accompanied by the theme music from Chariots of Fire) runs through obstacles.
Related Site: Pretoria Staffy Club.
Picture: Bao H (flickr).
General source: Wikipedia
Before you consider buying a puppy, make sure that the breed will be suited to your family. Give some thought to adopting an older dog from a rescue organization (they do also have puppies). You could also find dogs in the classifieds where you can get a dog from its original owner before it has to go to a shelter. Dogs should be treated like family members and not like commodities.