The Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium sized, short coated, muscular dog that was developed in England, specificly Staffordshire, and further evolved in Ireland.
The Irish Staffordshire is renowned for its reliability as a family dog. They are extremely loving dogs, being loyal and devoted to people, with special emphasis on their reliability with children. The breed thrives in the family environment, being a suitably compact size for close family living. For these reasons, they are sometimes referred to as "nanny dogs". The Irish Staffordshire Bull Terriers are known to have great strength for their size. Great trustworthy and character stability even when confronted with pain. They should also be active and agile. As a result of their dog fighting heritage, one of the problems noticed in this breed is a tendency of aggression towards other dogs.
The Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a member of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed, or in other words: the Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a type of SBT and not a solitarily aknowledged on it's own merits accepted breed. Similar to the South-African Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a more profound exagerated show version of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. In it's place of origin the breed is the 5th most popular dog, and it is the only breed to have the words 'totally reliable' in its breed standard. Furthermore, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is one of only two breeds from over 190 recognized by the UK Kennel Club to have a mention of the breed's suitability with children.
Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier History
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier first came into existence in or around the seventeenth century. Before the nineteenth century, bloodsports such as bull baiting, bear baiting and cock fighting were common. Bulls bought to market were set upon by dogs as a way of tenderizing the meat and providing entertainment for the spectators. Among both royalty and commoners dog fights with bears, bulls and other animals were often organized as entertainment. Early Bull and Terriers were not bred for the handsome visual specimen of today, rather they were bred for the characteristic known as gameness. The pitting of dogs against bear or bull tested the gameness, strength and skill of the dog. These dogs were renowned for their courage and tenacity and despite their ferocity in the pit were excellent human companions and good with children. Fighting dogs were often handled in the pit during fights, by both their owners and the judge, so were bred to be as trustworthy with humans as they were aggressive towards other dogs. In fact it was not unknown for an injured original Staffordshire Bull Terrier (or more precisely Bull and Terrier) to be transported home in a pram with the baby!
These dogs were not only fought for entertainment but provided a working man with valuable extra income when worked against badgers or as ratters.
With the introduction of the "Cruelty to Animals Act 1835", baiting sports and dog fighting became unlawful and a group of men in the Staffordshire area endeavored to preserve their breed by introducing them to the show world. This was however not the case in Ireland. Strict Irish Kennel Club rules governed the Teastas Mor (certificate of gameness). It was considered that the discipline ensured contests between terrier and badger were fair. In the past, to become an Irish Kennel Club terrier champion, it was necessary for a terrier to be in possession of a Teastas Mor. These continued until the kennel ceased to license trials in 1968. Until 1966 the working terriers of Ireland had to acquire a Teastas Misneac or Teastas Mor (major trial) certificate before they could gain their champion status. In the trials the terriers had to drag or take hold of the badger for a set time, terriers that had shown no signs of holding or pulling, the judges who were uncertain that a particular terrier failed would check the terriers mouth and incisors to see if they had any evidence of badger hair in their mouth.
In the US many original Bull and Terriers and (Irish) Staffordshire Bull Terriers were imported and used in breeding programs to produce the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. Many were imported by British nationals who brought their dogs with them or U.S. expatriates who fell in love with the breed in England and brought it home. More important than this show happening, there are still breeders cherishing the Staffordshire Bull Terrier's breed's athletic capabilities, stamina and reliability and enthusiastically focus on them in their breeding program. These breeders often prefer the Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier lines, because of their superior scores on these criteria.
The Stafford has become a popular pet retaining the attributes gained from generations of fighting dogs bred for courage, tenacity and most important: total reliability and affinity with people and in particular children.
Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier Appearance
Body: Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a compact and muscular body, with a straight back and short loins. Compared to an average Staffordshire Bull Terrier, an Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier is less exaggerated in build and more functional, a dog more capable of performing it's original working task. Often Irish Staffordshire Bull Terriers are somewhat bigger as compared to an average Staffordshire Bull Terrier, this however is not always the case! In general one could say that the Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier displays a relatively less heavy build as compared to an average Staffordshire Bull Terrier, see for instance our article on height-weight ratio's. The tail is mediocre long, low set and is carried low. Its broad front has a deep front chest and well vaulted ribs. The elbows should not be loose. The straight legs have strong bones. They are quite far apart. The strong and mediocre sized feet are slightly rotated to the outside. The muscular neck is short and dry.
Head: the head is short and deep, with a broad skull, a visible stop and visible highly developed jawmuscles. The lips are tightly connected. The breed exist with both partly folded and partly upright ears, which may not be too long or too heavy. The eyes are round and medium in size. Irish Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a sturdy and complete scissorbite, a minimal underbite or minimal pincer bite are also accepted due to the retainment of a strong(er) bite .
Height at Withers: the preferenced height is between 40.5 to 52 centimeters. However it's more important, to have a good relationship between height and weight.
Weight: according to the ratio between height and weight, preferably for dogs it's between 12 to 20 kg and bitches are between 10.9 to 18.0 kg.
Coat: short (some Irish lines are renowned for their rougher somewhat longer and rich coat), smooth, dense and closed coat that lays close to the skin.
Colors: Staffordshires occur in black, red, brindle, blue and any kind of fawn, with or without white. All quantities of white are allowed, a small chest spot to a white dog. Black and tan and liver color are unwanted colors.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Temperament
Character: the Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier, also known as the Irish Stafford, is a solid, intelligent, affectionate and reasonably obedient dog. He has a cheerful and positive attitude in life, and has a lot of confidence. They are very brave and hard on themselves. In general, these are active and playful dogs, in their enthusiasm they can be a bit inquisitive. They are alert to what is happening around them and let their voices be heard if they decide something is not right. Their adaptability is large, they can be held both on a farm or in an appartment in the city.
Social Build: in general dogs of this breed are exceptionally well with children, they withstand roughness and will not easily feel treated unfairly. When an Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier is sociallized well with cats and other pets, there do not have to be any handling problems. In their youth, these dogs often still go well with peers, but once mature, an Irish Stafford prefers to have the reign for himself. In particular, the dogs can be very competitive towards other males. When somethings is off these dogs will respond, but as a rule they are friendly to all people.
Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier Socially
Care: the IrishStaffordshire Bull Terrier needs very little coat care. It is possible to brush the coat once a week with a soft bristle brush. During the shedding period dead hairs can be removed easily using a rubber glove to massage the coat. Keep the nails short if necessary.
Education: the Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier is very intelligent and learns relatively quickly. A consistent and loving upbringing, with a lot of variety and action gives the best results. Putting much emphasis on the socialization, has a positive effect when building its character.
Activity: these dogs are very energetic and they love games and the wilder and madder the better, as the more fun they'll find. Especially rope pulling games are his favorite, but teach the dog to let loose when you want to. They can jump very high, they like playing with balls and playing fetch as well. They like to accompany their owner on long walks, which they care little; through the woods or through a busy city. When an Irish Staff gets sufficient exercise, he will be rather quiet once in the house.
Usability: the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a very suitable family dog for people who do not have the space to keep a big dog, but like a 'big' dog personality. The breed is not or hardly represented in the various dog sports branches, but doesn't say anything about their capabilities in this area. Given their energy, agility and intelligence they with a good coaching would do well in sports such as skill and fly-ball. Due to their working roots, high power to weight and harshness to themselves they are top contenders in weight-pull matches. Furthermore, as far as agility is concerned one should not penalize an Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier who prefers to engage another canine instead of performing the agility task, the dog is merely doing wht he has been bred to do for centuries.
Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier Quotes / Trivia
American Kennel Club: "from the past history of the Staffordshire Terrier, the modern dog draws its character of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity. This, coupled with its affection for its friends, and children in particular, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, makes it a foremost all-purpose dog." In the past the Irish Staff has falsely been classified as an American Pit Bull Terrier in diguise, this is not the case, that said the ISBT and the APBT both represent the more atletic versions of the SBT and AST, respectively, whereas the last two cover the show-based variants. The main Irish lines are Psycho/Northford, Dublin Red and (O')Flynn.