Keeping your dog happy and healthy is the goal of every responsible owner. Caring for a Staffie isn’t as arduous as looking after other breeds. They are pretty low maintenance, don’t require huge amounts of exercise and are generally fit and healthy.
Of course, if you don’t care for your Staffordshire Bull Terrier properly, they can quickly become high maintenance and be plagued by ill-health. Providing your furry friend with the proper nutritious diet, physical exercise, mental stimulation and vet visits are crucial components to ensuring a long and happy life. Also being aware of common Staffy health problems will help keep you informed and know what to look out for if anything goes wrong.
Ultimately, your dog’s health, happiness and wellbeing is entirely down to you.
Scary stuff, huh?
Don’t panic! We have a complete rundown on how to care for your Stafford. These range from daily tasks such as diet control, exercise and body checks to weekly, monthly and annual routines including grooming, bathing, preventing parasites and checking ears, eyes, teeth and nails.
Prevention is always better than a cure and catching any potential issues before they become real problems is key in caring effectively for your Staff.
Just remember that prevention is always better than cure, so doing your best to prevent any illness and catching problems at the earliest possible stage is the goal to aim for. The following sections cover all of the big (and little) things you need to know to effectively care for your Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Making Your Home and Garden Safe
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a fairly playful and curious breed, especially when they are puppies. Dangerous household items can cause considerable damage to inquisitive paws and mouths! It may be worthwhile restricting access to areas of your home when your Staffie is very young if there are hazardous objects about. Regardless of if your dog has the run of the house or is just hanging out in one room, you will need to:
• Hide or cover sharp objects and surfaces they could chew, walk into or lick.
• Make sure all electrical wiring is covered. Dogs and electricity aren’t great play mates.
• Make sure no food or wrappers are left hanging round. Dogs don’t differentiate between good and bad ‘chow’, they just chow, which could lead to choking.
• Imagine your puppy or dog is a toddler. Child proof cupboards and drawers containing hazardous chemicals and cleaning fluids.
• Some house plants (and garden plants) can be extremely toxic to dogs. Be mindful of the toxicity of certain plants. In fact, over 100 plants have been found to have adverse effects on pooches, so make sure you do your research before bringing any green stuff home.
• Pools, ponds and even puddles can be dangerous for dogs. Fence them off, especially when your Staff is still a puppy.
Here’s a task for you. Get down on your hands and knees and crawl as fast as you can to the other side of the room. Yes, you will look a bit daft, but bear with us! Is there anything you could hurt yourself on? If so, hide it, fix it or get rid of it. Your Staffie will thank you for it!
Click here for more advice about puppy proofing your home.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Grooming Basics
Mention grooming and you think of running a brush over a furry coat and then bopping along with your day. Alas, looking after your Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s outward appearance is a little more effort than that!
Grooming is a terrifically important part of dog care. Not only does it give you the chance to learn every inch of your Staff’s body, so you can identify any changes, but it also provides a great opportunity to bond with your pal through touch.
Basic Staffordshire Bull Terrier Coat Care and Bathing
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a short-haired breed that don’t need excessive brushing. During moulting season, however, you may want to step up the pampering to ensure your sofa doesn’t get anew removable cover of hair.
The great thing about brushing is that it not only cleans your dog up, but also helps release the natural oils in your Stafford’s body which gives them a lovely, glossy sheen. Fancy.
When it comes to bathing, Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a short, smooth and close coat so you need to get stuck in with a nice shampoo massage to get to the dirty bits. It is important not to shampoo too frequently though, as frequent bathing will strip the natural oils secreted by your dog making them prone to dry skin in wet and cold weather. Just 3 or 4 times a year should do the trick, or when your Staffie is particularly dirty or ‘fragrant’.
Trimming Staffie Nails
A manicure is required for Staffordshire Bull Terriers about every 2 to 3 months. Walking your dog on hard ground regularly may mean that your Staff doesn’t need any nail care at all, as the nail will be filed down naturally.
Essentially, play it by ear. If you can hear your Staff’s nails clicking on the kitchen floor, get the clippers out! A vet is probably your best bet for clipping your dog’s claws. If you want to DIY, get a lesson from the vet as it is a delicate operation – cutting ails too short can cause your pooch considerable pain. Remember to always use dog specific clippers too – the human kind just won’t cut it (figuratively and literally!).
Staffies have gorgeous pricked up ears that don’t require too much primping and preening. However, it’s recommended that you include ear checks as part of a ‘weekly once over’ to see if there is any inflammation or build up of wax.
Unfortunately, our dog’s dental health is often neglected. Did you know you are supposed to brush your dog’s teeth around 3 times a week?
Bad dental hygiene can lead to gum disease, tartar build up, loose or cracked teeth and abscesses. All of these can lead on to more serious ailments if neglected. As well as brushing three times a week, professionals reckon that you should also take your Staffie to a canine dentist every 6 months for a good check up and any required treatment.
Managing Parasitic Infestations
Controlling fleas, ticks and other parasites is a critical component of keeping your Staffordshire Bull Terrier healthy. Not only do they cause skin irritation and sores, but they can also lead to bigger problems. Lyme disease and tape worms anyone?
Incorporate checking for external parasites into your weekly grooming routine. Brush your hand against the grain of your Staff’s fur and keep your eye out for any moving dots or ticks.
Make sure you always have a stash of safe and effective over-the-counter flea control products too, as once fleas get in on the action, it’s a real effort to get rid of them. Remember, prevention is better than a cure!
Take your Staffordshire Bull Terrier to the vet on a regular basis for a health check. About twice a year or so. Identifying issues before they become bigger problems will save you time and money and your dog from unnecessary discomfort. The vet will be able to spot things that aren’t necessarily clear to an untrained eye.
Your Staffy will also need his or her regular vaccinations and boosters
You don’t want your Staffordshire Bull Terrier to suffer from distemper, rabies, hepatitis or parvoviros do you? If not, then vaccinations are a must. Puppies generally receive their first shots aged five or six weeks and need a top up around the 18 week mark. At 6 months old, they get a rabies shot and then following that, will need a booster each year to protect him or her.
For more details on vaccinations and when to get them done, click here.
Staffy Nutrition and Diet
Dog’s need food and water. You know that already, right? The Staffordshire Bull terrier has a propensity towards obesity, so it is important that you feed your pup the right food. No munching on whatever he or she likes all day, but a nutritious diet that will keep your Staff healthy.
Try and feed your Staffie the best food you can afford. Cheap tinned stuff or leftovers just won’t cut the mustard and could cause your beloved pet serious health issues later in life, including weight problems, malnutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and digestive problems. The occasional treat is great, but too much sub-par food can have devastating effects.
Take the time to research the best Staffy food and consider whether you want to feed him or her a traditional or raw food diet. For more information to help with your choices, check this article out 4 of the best foods for Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppies or the best dog foods for adult Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
Establish a set feeding routine for your dog. Twice a day is standard. Ensure your dog is well fed but never over-fed. Remember adult dogs and puppies have differing nutritional requirements and their food needs will change over the years.
The most important part of your Staffordshire Bull terrier’s diet is water. Make sure your furry friend has access to clean water 24/7.
Finally, water…Your Staffordshire Bull Terrier should have access to water 24/7/365 and the water must be regularly changed and kept clean.
If you notice a significant change in your Staffie’s eating or drinking habits, contact the vet. Big changes in consumption usually indicates an underlying issue.
Related article: Best food for Staffies
Staffy Weight Watching
Staffordshire Bull Terriers can become quite, ahem, portly if left to their own devices around food. They are voracious eaters and will just keep eating, even if they are full.
Weighing too much can cause your Staff lots of problems, including heart problems and arthritis. To combat this from happening, watch their intake carefully and make sure they burn the calories off with exercise!
Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a medium amount of energy so need daily exercise to prevent becoming overweight and also to keep their mental health in tip top condition. They do have a tremendous amount of stamina so CAN go for hours, but a couple of 30 – 45 minute walks each day, with some mental or agility exercise thrown in for good measure should suffice. If you don’t have a garden for running around in, your Staffie will need a longer exercise session each week for around an hour.
A Staffie puppy is another story. Puppies shouldn’t be exercised lots as it can affect their skeletal growth and cause joint issues. The general rule of thumb is 5 minutes a couple of times a day. Once your pup reaches a year old, you can start letting them let off a bit more steam!
Staffy Shelter and Bedding
A Staffordshire Bull Terrier should always be given a bed. ‘Bed’ in this context, means any soft surface: the sofa, a folded blanket or even a palatial doggy palace with velvet cushions. These guys need somewhere to rest their legs, as they carry round a fair old bit of body weight. Lying on a hard surface can also cause callouses on your Staffie’s elbows.
If your Staff spends a lot of time outside, you MUST provide a shelter to keep him or her safe from hot sun, strong winds and freezing snow. It will have a raised floor where possible, so that your pup doesn’t get a wet underside!
It is best to get your Stafford used to their bed as soon as possible. Not only does it provide them with a safe ‘time-out’ space, but it also prevents bad habits being formed. If you let your Staff sleep in your bed the first few nights, it’s going to be a tough job getting that to change when he or she starts taking up most of the bed when they reach maturity!
Related article: Best Beds For Staffies
The importance of training your Staffordshire Bull Terrier cannot be overstated.
It’s easy to anthropomorphise our dogs. We have all seen dogs dressed in clothes, receiving hugs and kisses and sharing beds. Whilst it is lovely to completely embrace your pup into family life, you must remember that your buddy is still a dog. Dogs dig and eat poop. They also chew sofas and chase cats. Humans tend not to do these things (and if they do, they get a stern telling off!). These are natural behaviours and a dog doesn’t automatically know which of their behaviours are good and which are bad.
Teaching your dog to behave using consistent instruction is key to a happy relationship and a happy dog. No one likes getting told off every time they do something, so you need to teach your dog what is acceptable.
This doesn’t happen over night. Training a Stafford takes patience, time and effort, just like with any other breed. Luckily, Staffies are pretty smart and pick things up fairly quickly. There is a plethora of information available on training techniques and it’s wise to find a training regime you and your dog feel comfortable with and stick to it. Chopping and changing can become confusing for both of you. We at thestaffordshirebullterrier.com implore you to use positive reinforcement training, where good behaviour is rewarded. Training programmes that result in negative consequences for bad behaviour tend to lead to your dog becoming afraid of you and, perversely, behavioural problems.
NEVER use a shock or pinch collar. EVER. If you ARE considering using one, test it on yourself first and then make your decision as to whether to purchase one.
Recommended Training Course
If you learn best through watching ‘how-to’ videos rather than reading information, you might want to check out The Online Dog Trainer. This video shows every step of the training required for a puppy from the age of 8 weeks old all the way through to their first birthday.
Wow. Lots of information, right? It may look daunting but once you have learnt the basics and have set up routines, training your Staff will all fall into place. You will learn to read each other’s moods, understand what motivates and demotivates and know when something isn’t quite tickety boo.
Combine solid training with regular grooming, vet visits and appropriate diet and exercise and you will be the proud owner of a well behaved, happy and healthy Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Anything To Add?
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