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"You don't have an agility breed!"

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier in Agility

When I started in agility with Donna, my Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a lot of people told me ''You don't have an agility breed!'' I asked these people to explain to me the definition of an agility breed. Nobody could tell me except they mentioned the breeds you could find on the agility courses. So, if you can't find a certain breed on the agility courses they can't perform in agility, right?

Lets have a look at the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in general:

General Appearance

Well balanced, compact, exceptionally strong and muscular. Active and agile.

This sounds as a dog to me who won't suffer from agility injuries often. Because the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is built agile he can use his power and muscle and can be very fast.

Temperament

Bold and fearless. Totally reliable.

When you have a fearless dog he will be a pleasure to work with. Try to imagine a dog with fear and than persuade him to walk over a dogwalk. I'm not saying it won't work in the end, it will work, but you will have a hard time.

When you want to work with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier it does not matter when or how. He will be always there for you even in the middle of the night. They never have a ''off day.''

Characteristics

Highly intelligent and affectionate.

What more can you wish for? A highly intelligent dog to work with! I do believe in my own experience I also need the affectionate part of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier even more. In their affection for their handler they all want to do it right, they want to please. So all you need is a good relationship with your dog.

Black Bonney.

So now we have found a perfect dog to compete in agility, right? Yes and no.

YES!!! For all of the above.

And now the NO part. As we all know the Staffordshire Bull Terrier can be very stubborn, after all it is a Terrier. As a handler you have to handle the dog with respect and sometimes be very patient. They are highly intelligent but when you are as a handler very uncertain, you cannot expect your dog to understand you. So you also have to be very patient with yourself. You have to learn in agility how to handle your dog and grow together to be a team. This cannot be done in six months, it will take years. In my personal opinion it is not the dog that is not suitable for agility but some handlers who are not suitable for agility. Not that they are bad dog owners but they are making a real mess of their handling and they will never learn. These are often the people who say: "My dog is not suitable for agility!" It all comes down on the handler. In my belief, every well built dog is suitable for agility including the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, if you give yourself and your dog a fair chance.

I gave Donna and myself that chance and look at her now. This year she will compete again in the ''TOPCLASS'' agility ranking. She belongs to the top 10 dogs in Holland and it is hard competition believe me. When only the first 10 dogs who finish get points but 15 or 17 dogs run ''Excellent courses'' with no faults or time faults and the difference between number 1 and number 17 is less than 1 second you can imagine how hard the competition really is.

I will always own a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the next one will also compete in agility. Can I accomplish the same with this dog? I can't answer this question. If not, I will also love this dog to pieces. It is not the performance I love but the breed, which is versatile. Find yourself an agility class and an instructor who knows the breed, or wants to get to know the breed, and have a ball. Agility is fun!

Henny Frans
Agility instructor

Frans & the Wild Bunch - #11205096
Teaser (blueACD), Joy (redACD), Trouble (blueACD) & Donna (Steffie)

The Wild Bunch!


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