PHOTOS & ARTICLE: © Griet Coetzer
We hope this article will offer you some helpful advice. Looking for that perfect new member to add to your family can be a daunting task - this article covers aspects you need to know to get you started on the right track.
It can be an exciting time looking for that new puppy to add to your family. You know you definitely want one that is a happy, healthy bundle of joy and so you should. You must remember there are many important things to consider as well and it is hoped this will help you to understand the correct way to go about finding a happy, healthy and well reared Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy.
Before buying a puppy or a dog, you should ask yourself:
• Most importantly, is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier the right breed for me and/or my family? A Stafford need to interact with it’s people. If you don’t like your dog to come into your house and follow you around, demanding affection - then I’m afraid this breed is not for you! If you want to research the breed and it’s traits please contact your local Breed Club Secretary to find out about any local meeting places, shows, events or recommended breeders. A Stafford will literally ‘love you to death’, they are not known to be guard dogs, they are ‘a mate’, ‘a family member’.
• Can I afford to have a dog, taking into account not only the initial cost of purchasing the dog, but also the on-going expenses such as food, veterinary fees and canine insurance?
• Can I make a lifelong commitment to a dog? - A Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s average life span is about 12 years.
• Is my home big enough to house a Stafford? – Or more importantly is my garden secure enough?
• Do I really want to exercise a dog every day? – Staffordshire Bull Terrier can become very naughty and destructive if they get bored or feel they are not getting the time they deserve. They are a very people orientated breed and love human company.
• How long will the dog be left at home alone? - Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s get lonely just like humans.
• Will I find time to train, groom and generally care for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier? – Grooming is the easy bit but where you save time there training will swallow it up. Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s are a very clever breed but they need lots of time and consistent training from puppyhood to adult to help them become well-adjusted and better behaved individuals.
• Will I be able to answer YES to these questions every day of the year? – Only you can answer that but please think hard before you make your mind up.
When sourcing a healthy pedigree Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy it is the breeder that is the most important consideration - buying a pedigree Stafford should not be done ‘on the cheap’ nor should it come from a disreputable source. By going to a responsible Staffordshire Bull Terrier breeder you stand the best chance of getting a dog that will enjoy a happy and healthy life.
• Most Breed Club secretaries will know of any forth coming shows where you can go along and take a look at the dogs. They may know of health tested litters or know of one that may be on the way soon. They have first-hand experience with the breed so are a good source to answer any questions about the breed’s health, temperament or anything at all that is Staffordshire Bull Terrier related. Breed Clubs are found around all States in Australia - so there should be one fairly local. Breed Clubs are the best ‘first port of call’ for anyone looking for a Stafford puppy. Alternatively contact The Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA) or source breeders online.
• Avoid disappointment!!! Don’t buy blind. Contact a Staffie Club for advice. You can find the nearest Club to you from The Kennel Union of Southern Africa which is the controlling body of registered dogs in S.A.
• Ask the breeder if they are a member of any Staffie Club. If not, you should ask yourself the question why not? Like Clubs, breeders should be in it for the betterment of the breed and therefore support stafford Clubs.
• Do not buy unregistered dogs. These dogs could have mixed breeds in its genes and therefore have unpredictable temperaments or you might, unknowingly be supporting a stolen trade.
• Do not buy from newspaper adverts or internet ads like Gumtree. You might be buying a pig in a poke. The Club receives many calls from disillusioned buyers. Do not believe breeders from such adverts - if they try and impress and claim ‘from Champion bloodlines’ (then they would not advertise in newspapers and free sites). If they are a member of a Staffie Club and if it is really from CHAMPION LINES. Those litters are often booked well before they are born.
• Even if it is well known 'show people' - there is no harm to check with a Club first, before you commit. The latest scam is that people buy puppies up from pet shops and elsewhere to sell it as their 'own breeding', because the breed is in such a demand. We recently experienced 3 mongrels that landed in The Cape, who was sold as pure-bred Staffies. The new owners never received their registration papers!
• Another scam is where puppy buyers are requested to pay money upfront and then they just never get there promised pup - even after been told to collect the pup from the airport???
• Clubs know all the reputable breeders. Breeders who breed for Quality (not Quantity). You’ll do yourself a favour by giving one a call!
• Above all - Be patient. Do not buy in a hurry. Good, well-bred Staffies are hard to come by. You must be willing to wait.
• Do yourself a favour by doing enough research on the breed.
* Be very aware of adverts selling puppies in local papers and on various dog selling sites on the internet, there are no background checks so any dodgy dealer can advertise on there. Alarm bells should ring if the advert reads something like this...
• 2000 champions in the pedigree – a reputable breeder won’t sell puppies based on these silly numbers, it won’t guarantee quality or health….. it is just a sales pitch.
• Rare blues – there are ‘no rare blues’, about 75% of all puppies registered now (internationally) are actually blue and a diluted colour.
• Red Nose Staffy, Long Legged Staffy, apple head... – there is only ‘one’ Kennel Club registered Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed and that is the ‘Staffordshire Bull Terrier’, the other colourful names are given to mongrels to make it sound attractive.
• Rare Merles – there is no merle in this breed nor has there ever been. So if you see a merle coloured Staffordshire Bull Terrier ask yourself how did they manage that?
• Blue champion stud dog – ask them to prove it?
• Father sired 2000 litters – this just means that the dog has been used A LOT, so another sales pitch.
• Extra cost for the 'rare coloured' puppies in the litter – a reputable breeder will sell all puppies at the same price regardless of colour or sex.
• Never accept/buy a puppy that is delivered without you going to visit first and seeing the litter in their home environment and with their mother.
• Don’t go for one that’s a bargain and/or dropped price because it is the last one left or the breeder has a holiday booked in a few days – that’s not the attitude of someone who cares about their puppies and where they go.
• Remember if something doesn’t seem right - it probably isn’t quite ‘right’! Always give yourself time to think about making the right decision – a reputable breeder will not push you into having one of their puppies, or make you feel like time is running out. They will want to find out if you and their puppy will be well suited for one another’s needs.
• Are the puppies Kennel Club registered? – You could be buying a cross breed if they are not Kennel Club registered.
• Are both parents hereditary clear for L2-HGA & HC? - Reputable breeders who care about their puppies will do testing prior to them leaving home. Don’t buy if untested, politely say good bye and hang up!
• Are the puppies micro-chipped?
• Have they been wormed regularly? – Worms take away vital nutrition from the puppies so if infested they won’t thrive.
• What are the parent’s temperaments like? – A Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s temperament should be reliable; not human aggressive nor timid or nervous.
• Was the litter reared inside? – Puppies are better socialised indoors with all the hustle and bustle of family life going on around them, they get used to being handled and around people from an early age.
• Will they have a contract? – The contract is a legally binding document that both you and the breeder will sign if you both agree to the sale of the puppy. Most breeders state that if you can’t keep the dog/bitch then it is returned to the breeder, which is fair as no breeder wants one of their much loved puppies to end up in a rescue or in the wrong kind of environment.
• Are there any endorsements on the puppy? - These should be explained by the breeder in full detail.
• Do you have all the paper work available for me to look at? – The breeder should show you all the paper work when you visit and explain to you about health testing, the contract, endorsements placed and why.
• It is wise to explain to the breeder a bit about yourself, if you’ve had a dog before, if you want a family pet or one to show or a budding agility star. That way the breeder will have a better idea about what you’re looking for in your puppy i.e. a lively little character would most probably thrive in an agility home, where the quieter litter mate would be more suited to a young family.
• If you can think of any more questions write them down before making contact with the breeder.
• Expect a few questions back, it’s responsible that the right homes are being sought by the breeder, just like you want the right puppy for you.
You could be met by a rabble of over enthusiastic little characters all with sharp teeth, fighting for your attention and dangling off your clothes. Or they could have just been fed, had a mad half hour and are now a pile of little sleepy heads that refuse to wake up.
What you need to look out for:
• You must ask to see them with their mother – if dad isn’t living there, which quite often is the case, then the breeder usually has a photo and health information, like a copy of his tests to show you.
• Nice plump puppies with lovely clean shiny coats - free from dirt, dandruff, fleas and not patchy.
• If they are not asleep then bright, clear, alert eyes – puppies may get ‘sleep’ in the corners when they have just woken up but they shouldn’t have any green discharge or weepy/runny eyes.
• Clean ears that don’t smell – if there is a build-up of debris it can cause infection that will smell foul. Puppies that have been kept in a clean environment won’t usually suffer from dirty or infected ears.
• Check there is no mess or wet underneath or down their back legs as this could indicate runny stools and some sort of underlying illness, disease or a very bad case of worms.
• Is the bedding and play area nice and clean with plenty of natural light? That doesn’t mean the odd toilet, that just can’t be avoided with a litter but fresh vet bedding or blanket in the sleeping area and clean newspaper or puppy pads in the play area. These should be changed daily; puppies should not be playing in yesterday’s mess.
• Puppies can’t thrive if living in filth or with parasites like fleas or worms. If you buy from someone that would keep them like that you are condoning their actions and they will continue to breed for all the wrong reasons.
Thankfully there are breeders out there who care and cherish their puppies from the moment they are born and those are the kind of breeders you need to get your puppy from.
A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Here is the Breed Standard for The staffordshire Bull Terrier and our idea of a good specimen.
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