One of the largest subjects currently on debate in dog ownership has to do with breed bans. Breed bans may also be referred to as breed specific legislation. The laws, guidelines or policies set in place work towards the restriction of breeding and ownership of certain types of dogs. Depending on the country, breed bans have focused on Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Brazilian Mastiffs, Dobermans, Akitas and many others. While some locales completely outlaw the ownership of these breeds others enact guidelines as to when, where and how the animal can be kept. Much debate rages on the how and why of these guidelines and where they stand legally. Each side has its supporters and detractors with the dogs largely stuck in the middle.
At the center of the debate is the Pit Bull. The ferocity and frequency of Pit Bull attacks have tarnished the dog's image as an indomitable, aggressive breed. The breed of course also has its supporters. Unfortunately, with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier being a cousin to the Pit Bull, the breed has often found itself swept up in breed ban legislation. While some areas have seen fit to distinguish and recognize the differences in the Pit Bull, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier, others have opted to ban all three based on general principle. This only spurs the debate further as whether this guilty by association action is fair or unfair.
In its early seventeenth century history, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was used for bloodsports such as bull and bearbaiting. Its stocky physique sat low to the ground allowing it to get around its quarry with relative ease. Even after the prohibition of such activities, the Staffie was still used in certain areas for dog fighting for many years. In fact, the breed's reputation for being such is what kept it from earning a place with reputable kennel clubs until the mid 1930's. While the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was said to be a formidable opponent in the dog fighting ring, their aggression was never an issue with their owners or referees. The breed has now been bred away from its dog fighting tendencies by those looking to save the dog from its off putting reputation.
While most breed specific legislation is aimed at dogs with a history of fatal attacks, it should be noted that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has candidly been given the nickname of The Nanny Dog or The Children's Dog. Of the number of dog attacks between 1965 and 2001, there have been no incidences involving a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The last recorded fatal attack by a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the United States occurred sometime in the 1940's. The American Staffordshire Terrier has killed two times in the 1965 to 2001 time period. The Dachshund, three.