Grouped in with the Pit Bull breeds, there is no doubt that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has suffered its share of misconceptions and false allegations. Though the breed is a forerunner of the American Pit Bull and American Staffordshire, the term Pit Bull is actually a blanket term used to describe all three breeds; just as sports car is used to describe a certain type of automobile. However, the three are very different strains of canine, just as there are different brands of car. Unfortunately, the recent debate over the issues of breed aggression and breed specific legislation has lumped the three together.
Descended from the Mastiff, the Staffie still carries the sturdy build of its distant relative. Though thought to have inborn aggressive tendencies, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is actually quite docile. In fact, some owners have taken to calling their Staffies the Staffordshire Bull Terrifieds, a lighthearted poke at the breed's sometimes timid manner. Of the thousands of dogs stolen each year, over half are Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Thieves target the dogs not only because they look tough but because they know a Staffie will quite literally walk off with just about anybody. The breed can make a good guard dog but they are not a wholly suspicious breed and therefore do not assume danger around every corner.
The majority of veterinarians and animal psychologists agree that it takes a great amount of unspeakable abuse to make a Staffordshire Bull Terrier aggressive towards humans. The breed is known to take an aggressive stance toward other dogs; however, this is to be expected of a dog that was chiefly bred to bait bulls on farms. Farmers needed a dog that could pin a bull yet would be immediately obedient to a human owner. A Staffie that did not immediately back down when commanded could be of no use to its owner. The trait of aggression towards other four legged animals was carefully bred in, while aggression to two legged animals was vigilantly bred out. These traits remain strong in Staffies bred by reputable breeders.
To avoid problems with Staffies that have been abused for the purpose of promoting aggression, one should only opt for Staffordshire Bull Terriers originating from the most reputable of breeders. Many breeders and enthusiasts agree that it is backyard breeders with little or no knowledge of canine mating and biology that are hurting the breed more than helping it. The docile breed continues to have its supporters that are quick to point out that Dachshunds have killed more people than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The breed is also said to have a friendlier breed temperament only a few points higher than the ever loved Labrador Retriever.