earliest times one canine descendant of the wolf has been especially
identified for the size, breadth of head, shortness of muzzle,
strength of jaw and outstanding courage. Mainly used for hunting
large game such as wild boar, this dog also had a role as a
warrior dog. Just such a dog was to be found fighting alongside
the Ancient Britons against the Roman invaders.
Romans were so impressed with these dogs, whom they called 'Pugnaces'
or 'broad-mouthed' dogs, that some were sent to Rome to be used
for the sporting entertainments that so delighted Roman crowds.
Their bloodlines featured in the later development of many of
the larger European breeds and, at the time of the Norman Conquest,
they could be found taking part in bull, bear and even lion
and bull baiting reached the height of popularity from the middle
of the 16th century through to the middle of the 17th century
when very large and powerful dogs were required to 'throw' the
bull. From the end of the 17th century it became more popular
to tether the bull and a somewhat smaller bull dog was developed.
This 'bulldog' was leggier, lighter and altogether quicker than
his modern cousin. The head, however, is not dissimilar and
had been expertly evolved by selective breeding for the specific
task to hand. To enable the dog to pin the bull by the nose
and hang on for a long time, the under-jaw was hugely developed
while a top jaw that lay back was bred for, so that the nostrils
were not obstructed. It is even thought that the wrinkles on
the face were selectively bred in so that blood (and a nose
wound would bleed heavily) could run off the dog's face and
not into his eyes.
are large-hearted and their way of showing that they love human
beings does not express itself by a friendly wag of the tail
and a gentle lick of the tongue. This is a dog that will launch
itself at visitors, and even when trained to be more controlled,
will still be a fussy pet - nudging and pawing the object of
his affection in order to win a stroke and a pat in response.
If you want a quiet reserved dog who 'knows his place' and will
wait to be asked to join in the game, then a Stafford is not
for you. It is recorded that fighting dogs often changed hands
- to settle debts or simply to raise funds, but whatever the
cause it is a well-known fact that Staffords are amazingly adaptable
at changing home or even owners. Unfortunately, this does make
them easy prey for 'dognappers' from whom they will need protection.
are physically extremely strong for their size. They can bruise
your legs if they try to barge past you, can be extraordinarily
powerful if allowed to pull on a lead and, if left unsupervised
and lonely, amazingly destructive in the home.
deep down inside them, is the in-bred possibility of fighting
with other dogs. The motto generally taken by most Staffords
Clubs is that of the Scottish kings - 'nemo me impunne lacisset'.
Roughly translated, this means that 'no one can attack me without
getting back as good as I'm given'. No responsible Stafford
owner will fail to remember that, if attacked, even the quietest
Stafford could respond and fight back. Because of their power,
their build and their history, they can do a lot more damage
than their size would suggest. Of course, there are those people
who will actively seek out the sort of dog they hope will beat
up all the other dogs in the neighbourhood. If you feel that
you are such a person then this breed is definitely not for
you, as you would only bring a good breed into disrepute. Modern
society is not willing to accept anti-social behaviour from
dogs. Irresponsible owners undo all the hard work that generations
of genuine lovers of the breed have expended in civilising it,
while retaining all the characteristics that make the Stafford
such a special and rewarding dog to own.