We received this article in the early 1980's from Lillian Rant. She said it
was one of her favorites. It was written by a friend of hers, Fred
Fred Phillips was raised in the Black Country of England and was acquainted
with many of the old-timers and contemporaries of the breed. He had
very strong opinions on breed type. We happen to agree with him.
The origin of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier have
never been told. Although books were
written in the 1930's none have ever given any description of the dogs
and bitches from which present dogs have originated. I know that a great
deal of controversy will start when I say that in my opinion there is very
little Bulldog in the make-up of the Stafford. The only thing that, I think,
compares to the Bulldog is it's courage. The Old Bulldogs were more like
a Stafford than the present-day Bulldog, but it would be a nightmare
to today's Stafford breeder if his
Staffords looked anything like a Bulldog.
The Stafford's head should be tight without wrinkle
over both skull and foreface. He must be
devoid of any sign of lippiness. A lippy dog, if fought, would
risk losing half his face in the first few seconds of any serious encounter.
The essential thing is that the dog's appearance should convey his
ability to do his rightful work, even if he doesn't have to fight and
is bred only for show. The Bulldog's
mouth is undesirable for a Stafford and the
prized flews of the Bulldog are well and truly out with the Stafford.
The dish and down face, and the head
without a stop, should also be avoided.
The White English Terrier, now extinct, had all the
similarities of the Stafford, other than
showing great strength and power for size. The head was
as clean-cut as the Stafford, but not strong enough and not deep
enough to fit a well-balanced Stafford.
The head resembled a wedge, whereas that of
the Stafford resembles a half-brick. The skull and foreface of the
English were parallel to each other,
thus avoiding either dish or down face, and the stop
should be deep, since it determines the size and shape of the eye, which
should be round with a shallow stop. The foreign eye shapes appear and
destroy the typical expression. Ears were small and rosed - if they
were large they were cropped. The neck
of an English was longer than the Stafford,
without the power. The old-timers wanted a neck of reasonable length
and great strength and demanded a crest of neck. This permitted a wide
range of vision without presenting a vulnerable target, and gave the Stafford
the regal stance.
The front of the Stafford is of great importance.
The legs must be set in line with, and
squarely underneath, the shoulders, with the rounded brisket lying
snugly between them. They should be straight to the pasterns, with the
feet turning out a little, to enable the dog to brace himself and
resist being thrown, or bowled over by
another dog, as a wrestler makes a stand. The
structural efficiency was most important with two evenly matched Staffords.
Many judges judge a Stafford from the front. They admire the great
breadth of chest and shoulders and large head, without determining whether
this is in balance with the rest of the dog, and many broad-fronted dogs
have what is known as a Bulldog front with no breadth of rib-cage, and
no indentation behind the shoulders into
the ribs. The Stafford should be nothing
like the Bulldog, whose shoulders appear to be just tacked on with the
body slung between them.
Breeders today are trying to breed dogs like our terrier
ancestors, not like the Bulldog which they are supposed
to have come from. The faults which are now so noticeable have come from the
Bulldog, not the White English Terrier, and I
state that the topline should be level, another terrier attribute that is
totally unlike the Bulldog, who has a pronounced
dip behind the shoulders with roach back and stern higher than the shoulder.
We do not want the straight stifle and hock of the Bulldog. When the Stafford is
seen from behind, the hind legs must be in a
straight line from the hip to foot, again the shape of the Terrier with the bone
strength, and without the cowhocks, which are such
a feature of the Bulldog.
The Stafford is, or should be, a strongly built compact
dog, and the ones which are termed very square are the ideal
type. The rib-cage should extend for a good two thirds of the body, with a very
short space between the last rib and the hind
quarters. This correct conformation gives that characteristic devil-may-care
gait that is so different from other terriers,
which have narrow shoulders and rib-cage, and slightly longer back, making their
movement like an articulated truck. Hence all that desired compactness is lost.
The Stafford should strike one as jaunty and
extremely light on its feet, despite his strong build. He should never appear to
be ponderous, or to give the impression of
heaviness, which is found in the Bulldog cloddy type of dogs. Terriers, which
we can assume to be part of our ancestry and were similar in build, are the
Manchester Terrier and White English Terrier. The
main difference is the coulour. Liver and black and tan were not to be
encouraged. A black Bulldog is never seen, as the
Bulldog standard bars the colour black. Therefore if the Stafford came from
the White English Terrier and the Bulldog, how did the black Staffords
originate? After looking back at what was supposed
to be our main ancestors, one can only assume that other breeds had to be
applied. Having examined the origin of the breed,
one moves to the characteristics, and it is from the past history of the Staffordshire
Bull Terrier that the modern dog inherits his character of indomitable courage
and high intelligence, his great affection for his
friends - children in particular - his quietness, and his trustworthy stability,
which makes him the foremost all-purpose dog.
The Stafford is not indiscriminately aggressive with other
dogs, but if challenged usually responds with eager briskness
and his memory is long. If he is attacked by a dog of another breed he will
harbour a dislike for all members of that breed,
in or out of the show ring.