Do Staffordshire bull terriers make good family pets?

A brown and white staffie enjoys playing
Staffies are cuddle monsters

When you think of Staffordshire bull terriers what do you picture? Many imagine an intimidating looking ‘status dog’. But separate the reputation from the reality and you’ll find that staffies can make wonderful family pets… 

Seeing a Staffordshire bull terrier looking forlornly out of a kennel is sadly a common sight at rescue centres. Blue Cross takes in over 400 unwanted and abandoned staffies every year.

Heartbreakingly, staffies really struggle to adapt to kennel life because of their sheer love of spending time with people –  a need which, as hard as we try, is difficult to meet like an owner would in a home environment.

Charities like Blue Cross are inundated with requests to take in staffies and their crossbreeds because of the growing numbers being over-bred and abandoned. 

On top of this, they can take a lot longer to rehome because they have a reputation for being a status symbol, so people don’t see them as family pets – but you might be surprised to find out that this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Staffie Elsa licks her owner's face
Staffies love to learn and have fun with you

A survey we conducted last year revealed that nearly three quarters of people would definitely or probably not consider rehoming a staffie. However, 80 per cent of people acknowledged that the breed’s bad reputation was down to irresponsible owners, rather than the dogs themselves. 

Jay Cruikshanks, Rehoming Centre Manager for Blue Cross in Tiverton, says: “It’s heartbreaking to see so many of these lovely dogs immediately being overlooked because they have been given an unfair label.

"I wonder if they were in a ‘different costume’, would they be given more of a chance to show their true personality?

“We know that people who don’t have any experience of staffies are sometimes wary of them, because of the bad reputation they have due to a minority of irresponsible owners. But we have so many sweet-natured staffies at our centres - we would urge anyone thinking of rehoming a dog to look further than skin deep and come and meet some of them. Once you get to know them you will realise they can be fantastic, loving pets.”

A grey staffie enjoys a walk through the countryside. His owner wears Hunter wellies
These tricksters enjoy exercising and loving life!

Staffies can make great family pets 

Why? As a rule, they are gentle, affectionate dogs who adore people. They are utter clowns who enjoy life and simply love being part of the family.

In fact, their well documented love of children once earned them the nickname “nanny dog”. 

Of course every dog is different and, in the wrong hands or with a bad experience, any breed can become troubled or aggressive. 

But don’t let this put you off getting a staffie because the majority have so much love, loyalty and kindness to give – and they’re just waiting in a rehoming centre somewhere for the chance to show it to the person who picks them.

Blue Cross is dedicated to improving the reputation of bull breeds and regularly visits schools and colleges to deliver our RespectaBULL workshops, which aim to dispel myths about bull breeds such as staffies and encourage owners to get them for the right reason and give them the proper care that they need.

Could a staffie become part of your family? We have many just waiting to meet you!

Staffie on a park bench
— Page last updated 28/03/2022