You recently did a post about the breed of bull terriers, would you have the same stance of Staffordshire bull terriers ? Also I have heard a few times over the years that mixed breed dogs like mongrals tend to be healthier than pure breeds. Would you agree with this? Thanks
Staffordshire Bull Terriers (SBTs for short) are one of the most popular dog breeds locally. They are quite different to Bull Terriers, but talking about them is confused because I see three different types of dog called SBTs.
The first type is the classic English SBT. This breed is actually kind of small, but has lots of muscle packed on.
(Photo By Sannse on en.wikipedia)
The second type is the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, sometimes called the AmStaff.
(Photo via pintrest, but watermark states ‘art of staff’)
The AmStaff is a bigger breed, distinctly taller and locally they are the breed most likely to be called a ‘pit bull’.
The third type of dog presented to me called a SBT is either a mix of the two, or a similar looking dog with brindle or black-brindle coat that looks close enough to be a SBT mix, but doesn’t actually have any SBT DNA when tested.
If I keep the focus of this post on actual SBTs and their mixes, then these are the the points I always bring up with perspective owners.
Allergies are the most common problem I encounter with either types of SBT. Ths can range from a seasonal plant allergy to full blown atopy. Food allergies aren’t as common but can still occur. The allergies can then predispose to pyoderma, and require maintenance to keep the dogs comfortable
Demodex mange is also reasonably common, though less so with over the counter parasite products available that just happen to treat it.
They are prone to anxiety. This varies in how severe it is, and more of them are barkers than destroyers, though they have a decent set of jaws and can chew through an awful lot of stuff if given the opportunity. These dogs, especially the English, really need a human. They’re very people focused and many of them just can’t handle the world without ‘their’ people.
They’re often hyperactive and hyperexcitable, but that’s personality. The difficulty with that comes when they are poorly behaved in public, especially with the AmStaff, and members of the public call them ‘pit bulls’ which can get them investigated by the council.
Some of them will chew rocks and wood, wearing down and damaging their teeth. This isn’t a genetic weakness, but it is something that benefits from careful management.
Skeletally they’re not too bad. They’re a common breed to present for cruciate ligament rupture, but to be fair this usually happens after the dog has jumped off something particularly silly.
They are one of the breeds unreasonably prone to Mast Cell Tumors. They get lipomas more often, but you can’t tell without testing whether one lump on a dog is a fairly benign lipoma, or a dangerous Mast Cell Tumor. While some Mast Cell Tumors are highly treatable with surgery, early detection increases your chance of a cure.
English SBTs are, technically, brachycephalic. However their anatomy is nowhere near as extreme as the breeds notorious for brachycephalic airway syndrome. These dogs generally breathe well, but you will often come across individuals with a mild symptoms, such as a subtly elongated soft palate or a moderate collapsing trachea in their old age.
Epilepsy seems to crop up in these dogs a bit more than average, but it’s generally manageable. It means lifelong medication, but often it’s initially more stressful for the owners than for the dogs.
The AmStaff version still has a hip dysplasia problem and I would recommend pennhip screening from 16 weeks of age, especially from ‘breeders’ who are breeding primarily for ‘rare colors’.
These dogs are extremely popular, and consequently also the most popular breed to end up in the local shelter. There are a large number of people who keep wanting to breed their ‘rare, blue’ SBT of either type, that wont let me talk them out of it.
I think the shelter problem is compounded by how common they are alongside their neediness. The vocal range of this breed is huge, the sounds they can make include ‘screaming child’ and ‘strangled goat’. People get the cute puppy, but decide they can’t meet the needs of the adult dog.
The AmStaff version as a whole social issue of its own to contend with, because a certain segment of the population is in love with the idea of the aggressive Pit Bull, and they want one, but can’t get a ‘real’ one, so get themselves an AmStaff since it’s not a restricted breed. Pit Bulls are here, but the situation is a bit sticky because you don’t ave to prove the dog is a pit bull, you have to prove that it’s not. The enforcers of these laws have a checklist of physical attributes, and if the dog meets enough of them it can be labeled a ‘pit bull’, no matter what it is.
I’m very loathe to ever label a dog as a Pit Bull, because there are some breed restrictions around me, and I don’t wish to accidentally get a dog into serious trouble. The dog breed DNA test we use also won’t publish anything with the words ‘Pit Bull Terrier’ on it, lest the dog gets euthanized for that reason either.
But for these people what actually want the tough looking pit bull, not a pibble couch buddy, the dogs are often not well socialized and unfortunately problematic in the clinic.
SBTs are one of the breeds I would label as ‘addictive’. Once somebody has owned one, more often than not they end up with multiple dogs, or find themselves unable to enjoy life without owning a dog of this breed. They are kind of like kids to their special people.
As for mixed breed dogs, their issues are less predictable, and their anatomy generally less extreme, but they are no guarantee of health. If you cross two breeds with the same health concerns,you are equally likely to see that concern in the resulting cross. I would not guarantee a mixed breed dog would be healthy, but there is very little in general that I would guarantee.