Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Under Attack

Over recent weeks various sources in the United Kingdom media have been suggesting that Staffordshire Bull Terriers should be added to the Dangerous Dogs Act.  To say this is an absurd idea is to risk a gross understatement.

There is no doubt that dogs bite if poorly trained, abused by their owners and then put under undue pressure from whatever source.  All dogs may bite if abused, from a Jack Russel to Great Dane.

The problem as ever is that when the media report a “Staffy Attack” they rarely, if ever, report the background to the attack.  Blaming a dog for reacting badly to human cruelty is not looking at the problem correctly.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers have been renowned for years for their gentle temperament with children.  Their behaviour with toddlers was previously held in such high esteem that it earned them the nickname of “the nanny dog”.  Reconciling the description of a”Nanny Dog” with the modern media’s interpretation of them as “dangerous dogs”, or worse, as “savage killers” is beyond my capabilities. Nanny dog is certainly closer to the truth if the owner is remotely responsible.

Even given that the breed was originally bred for dog fighting one must realise that the people breeding the dogs would not tolerate a human vicious dog.  Any dog attacking a human would not be bred from and would be destroyed.

What appears to be going wrong today is that the people who have the various dogs today that are being classified as “dangerous” are actually irresponsible dog owners.  They breed bad dog to bad dog looking to increase viciousness.

This factor is not a problem of Staffordshire Bull Terriers, it could just as well be any dog.  If we allow the government to add Staffys to the dangerous dogs act then all that will happen is that the thugs will breed for vicious traits in another breed.  Eventually this new breed will be added to the dangerous dogs act and the whole cycle will begin again.  What is needed is a law that deals with the thuggish owners and does not punish the breed, 99.5% of which are great family pets.

After my recent feeble attempt at a publicity video I went to search for better offerings.  I think the video in the link below does a good job of making the case for keeping Staffordshire Bull Terriers off the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Perhaps what we really need is a Dangerous Owners Act?

2 thoughts on “Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Under Attack

  1. Karen Graham

    I for one am fed up with the age old excuse that the owners are responsible for aggressive dogs. I know and everyone with half a brain knows this IS rue. However the fact remains that some breeds are animal aggressive and unless ou are the dog whisperer you are unlikely to eradicate this instinct. The “staffy” which you so fiercely defend is overpopulated in Scotland. In the small area in which I live I have personally witnessed 2 staffy’s attack and rip apart a kitten in my garden in front of 7 children. Two weeks ago I witnessed another 2 staffys escape their owner and viciously attack an alsation again in public while the alsation was on a lead. I have in fact just returned from the local shop where a staffy tied up outside managed to reach and maul a collie a little girl tied to banisters near it much to her distress. The screams of the collie were horrendous. The same dog then attacked a passing spaniel when its owner tried to lead it away. They ARE aggressive and dangerous. MUZZLE THEM.

  2. Dave Post author

    Hi Karen,

    Your comment sounds like you have strong feelings on this subject, along with some emotional personal experiences. I respect your viewpoint, but I have to differ in some aspects. I hope you understand.

    Dog behaviour is a complex subject. There are usually many contributing factors in any dog attack. Human behaviour and training, or lack thereof, is usually a large part of these events. Many “house dogs” are poorly socialised with humans and other animals and are often kept outside in the yard. This means that they can hardly be called “household pets.” Breed is often a very small part of the equation, yet it is often over-emphasised when events are reported in the press and this in turn gives rise to public perceptions that are often quite incorrect. Most members of the public cannot identify a Staffordshire Bull Terrier from a Pit Bull Terrier for example.

    Unfortunately many owners are drawn to various “status breeds” to bolster their own low self image. They admire a dogs perceived vicious traits and seek to encourage them. This is an aspect of many dog attacks that is unreported in the press as to do so accurately would require real investigative reporting which takes time and therefore costs money. If the report was later disproven then the journalist and the organisation they work for leave themselves open to a court case and compensatory damages. It is far easier therefore for the media to demonise a particular breed of dog, as dogs do not sue in court.

    The only real factor a dogs breed plays in the majority of dog attacks is the actual damage it inflicts. This is in direct relationship to the size and power of the dog, not in relationship to the dogs breed as such. The American Centre for Disease Control did actual hard research into dog attacks and breed behaviours. Their findings would no doubt surprise many, if they were wider known. There is information about this on this website, as well a link to the book about this research on Amazon – I understand you might not want to buy it, but please order it from your local library and read the scientific facts of the issue, rather than the usual lazy media hype about particular breeds.

    While I don’t doubt for a minute that you witnessed a particular problem with an individual Staffy outside the shop, or that there may be a wider problem with Staffys in your home area, I doubt very much that this has any relationship to the breed of the dog itself. Far more likely is that idiots of various stripes are drawn to buying a dog that the media tells them is vicious and they then treat it is a manner likely to accentuate those behaviours. Dogs will do practically anything to please their owners. This fact, when constructively employed, gives rise to drug sniffer dogs that save many live every year. When destructively employed, this same aspect gives rise to dogs that are a danger to the public.

    In closing I just want to make a few final points, directly relating to your comment.

    1. Owners are, or should be, legally responsible for their dog at ALL times. Leaving a dog tied up outside a shop means that the owner was not behaving responsibly.
    2. Under present UK law a dog should be kept on a lead at all times. The Police do not enforce this law however. If you doubt the truth of my statement, please visit your local Police station and ask.
    3. Muzzling of dogs is a possible solution to attacks by poorly trained and socialised animals in public places, but it should apply to ALL dogs and not just certain breeds if it is to be brought in at all.
    4. You stated that two Staffys attacked a kitten in front of seven children at your home. I assume that the seven children were actively being supervised by a competent adult at the time? If they were, why did the adult not stop the attack? If the dogs were predisposed to attack (known to be vicious) then why were they loose with children and other small animals?

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