Oh the Myths I hear about Staffies

  With all the hype about how “bad” staffies are, I thought it was time to bring some facts to the public and have a bit of fun with them as well. As you all know, I  will not refer to them as “Pit Bulls” as this is not a breed, this is a term dubbed to dogs put in a ring to fight one another. 

Myths about our Staffies

They have “locking jaws”: This is probably my favorite myth about them, the one I get the most laughter out of.  I want to meet the person responsible for stating this and personally ask them how much time they spent on Dr. Moreau’s island. I mean really, how many staffies have you seen that were cross bred with reptiles?? Of course this ridiculous myth is FALSE.

  No canine has the capability to unhinge their jaw and set it to a “locking” position, but every breed of dog does have the capability to hold on to their prey or challenger.  Police dogs do this regularly on the job; as many have witnessed, they will hold on to the suspect regardless of the threat they may be under. This is what we, in the dog field, call persistence; which all dogs have or can be taught.  How many people with Jack Russell Terriers and small breeds lift them clear off the ground during a game of tug of war? Does this mean they too are from Dr. Moreau’s island??

All will eventually turn on their owners. Although many of the abused, neglected and fighting dogs in my opinion, would be well justified in doing so, again this is FALSE. Since 1900 they have been bred to be farm dogs, military mascots, and family companions. Even the unfortunate dogs that were bred to be dog-fighters had to be exceptional with their humans or they were put down. Human aggression is not allowed, even in the cold-hearted dog fighting community.

The so called “Pit Bull” is responsible for all attacks on children and humans. This is FALSE. Any breed of dog kept chained to a tree, intact and not trained or socialized properly has the capability of attacking a human. In my own client cases involving human aggression, a very slim 5 percent of Staffie and Staffie mixes are involved. The majority of human aggression cases are herding breeds and small dogs.   Unfortunately there has never been a database that keeps records of the type of dogs involved in fatalities and breed misidentification is a tremendous problem in the society today. Recently I was told by a shelter employee that they have no resources to educate their intake staff on breed identification.  Facts of attacks are never investigated nor recorded at the time of an attack, when they are researched, they are found not to be a bull breed at all. The leading expert on these statistics, Karen Delise, notes that here in Texas,” there have been 62 fatalities in the last 45 years, from 18 different breeds. All of these attacks were from unneutered/unspayed dogs, and a significant number of them lived their lives on chains.” For more information about these statistics please visit: http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/

Staffies never feel pain”, all I can say is really? Again an uneducated assumption. And we all know what happens when you assume something. Staffies and all dogs have the same pain threshold; all dogs have a higher threshold of pain tolerance than us humans. They will have a complete hysterectomy (an extensive open abdominal surgery) and be running around the next day, if not the same night. Where we as humans, are off our feet for 2-6 weeks feeling the pain. Search and rescue dogs will literally work themselves to death to find a live human; their handlers have to force them to stop working.  Border Collies have been known to work themselves into the ground while herding sheep all day.

They have more bite pressure than any other dog, more of the Dr. Moreau fans here; but for all you believers out there, this again was scientifically proven to be FALSE by Dr. Brady Barr of National Geographic. In his television show: Dangerous Encounters: Bite Force, they had tested the bite force of different animals.  Using a bite sleeve that was loaded with a pressure gauge, they had a Rottweiler, a German Shepard and a Staffie bite down. Guess which dog had the LEAST force in their bite per square inch, yes the Staffie.  I personally think they should have tested a heelers(Australian Cattle Dog) bite force, as in my experience their bite has always been worse than any other breed.

All staffies will “eat your children or your face off” someday. Note this is what we hear from people like David Letterman and Judge Judy, both of whom are supposed to be highly educated people, I mean they are after all, on TV right? Sadly they are not reprimanded for this false information, nor are they asked to tell people they have no proof to back up their “racial profiling” of the breed. The dogs that have been identified in children fatalities have been “resident” dogs, which as Karen Delise again so wonderfully describes them: dogs that live their lives on the ends of chains, have no training or social skills, run at large in packs and are intact (not spayed or neutered.)  In my own experiences the slim 5 % of staffies that are human aggressive (this is out of 879 cases I have worked with in just the last 3 years) have been the above described cases and have been taught to be more persistent in their bites and attacks by the owners. You can go anywhere on the internet and find information on how to make your dog (any breed) tougher and stronger. Many yahoos on the net will tell you to enhance their prey drive (which controls their persistence level) by using a flirt pole or the ever increasingly popular tree tug. What this does is teach to the dog to bite and hold longer and to chase with more persistence. Does anyone else here see why the owners should be held responsible for the dog’s actions?

There are a few dogs that have a naturally high persistence level; terriers of all types are known for it, just ask any breeder.  I have seen Jack Russell’s dig until they were bleeding to get to their prey. 

They can never be with other animals. This is one I love to debate, why? I personally have a staffie and a bull mix that live amongst my pack. Both came to me with issues and both play the “Nanny” to the 2 Chihuahuas. Oh yeah they also live with my declawed cat without issue.  Are they prone to be more reactive to other dogs? As much as any other breed out there in my experience. Again, taken from just the last 3 years and 879 cases; I see and rehabilitate an equal amount of staffies and staffie mixes as I do small breeds and sadly the most common truly dog-dog aggressive cases I see are the Great Pyrenese and herding breeds. All dogs can be dog-dog aggressive or reactive if not trained properly. Again this is on the owner, not the breed.

We need to step up and truly educate the public. Lets have the owners take the responsiblity of their dogs actions, STOP “racial” profiling breeds because you heard it from a friend/media/stranger/friend of a friend. Seems to me, history proves this is the wrong thing to do in every species, even our own.

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6 thoughts on “Oh the Myths I hear about Staffies

  1. On the Youtube video of the National Geographic evaluation of dog attack styles they measured bite force of an American Bulldog, Mastiff, Dutch Shepherd, and Malinois and they found a direct and significant correlation between bite pressure and skull size.

    link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZm037jPNgc

    Also there are two studies on the NCRC council from Spain and Scotland on bull breed’s very low representation in breeds involved in bites requiring hospital care, as you often hear from people that “pit bull attacks” inflict more damage than other dog attacks

  2. Oh it I could meet you I would hug you! Thank you so much for this!! I am a VERY proud owner of a Staffie mix that is the best most loveing smartest dog you will ever meet. I have 2 young children *gasp, the horror!* that love their 4 legged brother more than life itself and he is the best thing that ever happened to us. I will stand up for my dog for as long as I shall live, because I know that he is as loyal as they come. Never will he turn, he doesn’t have an evil bone in his body. He is an indoor dog, treated like a prince…and get this….we also have 3 indoor cats that he loves. OH MY can this be a fantasy??? NO That is how the great Baxxter is!! Gentle and kind, loving to all animals and people alike. I will fight for his rights until the day I die.

  3. This was just such a joy to read!!!!!!!We have a what do you call it…a staffie/boxer mix and he is the best pooch ever!!!!Peolpe are always afraid of him because of the “Pit Bull” look. But I have had many of dogs in my live time and he is the best!
    People give staffies a bad name, the dogs owners are at fault! If you train them, teach them and love them, just as any dog they will be you brest friend for live!

  4. Proud owner of a staffy cattle dog mix (mainly staffy) . The most gentle,loving ,patient , fun ,all purpose dog i could imagine. Loves everybody including other dogs, cats and budgies, although not fussed with emus and scrub turkeys. A real good traveling companion in cars and people love her. My best dog ever.

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