Staffordshire Bull Terrier - breed information and advice

Affectionate, intelligent and with a kind, gentle nature, Staffordshire Bull Terriers (Staffies) are ‘people pleasers’. This makes them relatively easy to train, but they’re clever (and sometimes stubborn), so they need a firm leader. Staffies love being around children, but these powerfully built dogs can be boisterous unless well exercised. They also have a competitive spirit with other dogs and should always be supervised when other dogs are around.

Breed information


Size: Medium, but compact and muscular all over

Coat: Short-haired – a weekly brush is all that’s required

Exercise: Staffies have lots of energy and adult dogs need to be exercised for at least an hour a day, preferably two.

Life span: 10+ years

Breed group: The word terrier comes from ‘terra’, meaning ‘earth’, as these dogs were bred to control vermin, pursuing them below ground. They tend to be fun but feisty, and love to chase!

Click on the hotspots illnesses seen in a Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Eye conditions

Eye disorders are very common in dogs. Conjunctivitis, for example, is due to the most superficial layer of the eye becoming inflamed as a result of infections, irritants, allergies or trauma. Another common, painful eye irritation is corneal ulceration, which happens when the surface of the cornea is grazed as a result of scratches from other animals or vegetation, or because of foreign material in the eye, chemicals, heat or smoke, or infection. Treatment depends on the type and severity of eye problem and may be required for life to keep the dog’s vision in good health. Corneal ulcers, for example, can be treated using eye drops and sometimes surgery.


We paid £1,039 to treat Smudge the Staffordshire Bull Terrier for eye disorders in 2016

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Skin conditions

The skin is the largest organ of a dog’s body and a number of disorders can affect it. Like other dogs, Staffies can suffer from allergies that lead to dermatitis (skin inflammation). Allergies can be caused by many different items, including things that are inhaled (such as pollen or dust mites), items that are eaten (for example, wheat), items that the dog comes into contact with (for example, washing powders), or bites from parasites such as fleas. Another skin problem, pyoderma (meaning ‘infection of the skin’) is usually caused by bacteria, fungi (‘ringworm’) or yeasts. Staffies can also be affected by a skin condition called demodectic mange. It is caused by the parasitic mite demodex, which can multiply rapidly and damage the hair, leading to hair loss and flaky skin. Skin disorders can be managed using various treatments, usually required long-term, which means the dog can get on with enjoying life.


In our experience, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are most likely to need treatment for a skin problem

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Gastrointestinal disorders

Staffies, like all dogs, can suffer from problems affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a long, winding tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus, with various twists and turns along the way. Conditions such as gastroenteritis or an obstruction within the bowel (due the dog to eating stones, cloth or string, for example) commonly cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Treatment depends on the exact cause, but prompt intervention usually results in a full recovery.


We paid £1,953 to treat Daisy the Staffordshire Bull Terrier for gastroenteritis in 2016

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Lumps and bumps

Like all dogs, Staffies can develop masses (lumps and bumps) in the layers of fat, skin and muscle that cover their bodies. These might be warts, cysts, lipomas (soft fatty lumps), abscesses or tumours, such as mast cell tumours or histiocytomas. Mast cells are normal skin cells that help dogs respond to trauma and damage by releasing histamine. These cells can sometimes replicate into a serious type of tumour called a mast cell tumour. They vary widely in size and shape, but most take the form of a solitary lump within the skin. Histiocytomas are benign skin tumours that can appear suddenly on the surface of the dog’s skin. Despite their appearance, they are not painful. Generally, treatment depends on the size, location and exact nature of the lump, but almost always involves surgical removal.


Lumps and bumps are the second most common illnesses we see in Staffordshire Bull Terriers

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Dislocating kneecap

The kneecap (or ‘patella’) sits in a groove at the end of the femur (thigh bone). A dislocating (or ‘luxating’) kneecap is one that pops out of its groove. A relatively common condition in Staffies and other small breeds, dislocation happens because the alignment of the bones from the hip through the knee to the ankle is not straight, which pulls the kneecap to one side. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition, but surgery may be required to reduce the likelihood of arthritis and enable the dog to live a normal life.


In our experience, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are twice as likely to need treatment for patella luxation than all dogs
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