The Character in Modern Am Staf
In 1956, W. T. Bill Brandon in his first book on the Breed of Cliff Ormsby quoted the following character description - the same which almost twenty years ago he used as the presentation in the American Kennel Club for the typical character of this very particular Terrier - in order to request the official recognition.
"The Stafs will hunt, go to ground with the same zest as any other terrier, make excellent guard dogs, good farm dogs, are not too large for the apartment; and the surprising part is that they seem almost immune to all the trivial dog ailments having exceptionally strong constitutions, because the breed has never been a pampered one, and has always been all dog.
The breed's unswerving loyalty to master and household is sufficient within itself to gain the admiration of the most demanding. They will guard your home or protect your car, and do it with an air of authority that counts. They crave their master's attention, and ask no better place than to be by his side. They thrive on affection and return it fourfold. While their determination of purpose never wavers, they have no competitors as pals and guardians for children. I know of no other breed of dog that I would rather trust with the care and protection of my children. They are unbelievably tolerant and dependable in this respect. They are large enough and strong enough so that the children can't pull them apart. With children they relish being part of the fun and want to be considered a companion to absorb the child's overflow of animation. They can bear the brunt of short tempers without resentment or without having their spirits broken, and they will always come back to lick the administrative hand. In no other breed is there present such a remarkable combination of gentleness, camaraderie, and reliability.".
Almost 75 years has passed and for what I am concerned I will not change a word about the description of the ideal character for the modern Am Staf, on the contrary, I sympathize each word of the great Bill Brandon and of our "Founding Fathers".It is thanks to these men and others before them, the breeders of the first imported crossbreed, the famous "Old Time Breeders" of Pit Bull (E. Tudor, J. Corvino, J. Colby, Al Brown, etc.); people that had surely contributed to create the so call "The Grand Old Breed", through the "All-American Dog" transmitted till today, in the modern American Staffordshire Terrier, the typical characteristics of temperament, courage and boldness which probably we would not have without the work, sometimes "uncivil" (from today's point of view) of these people of other time, and of different dog-loving vision.
The firm basic character of these dogs is surely due to the particular temperament. In order to understand the structure we absolutely need to assimilate this simple and at the same time complex concept: 'if your Am Staf is not "Gameness", it will never have the perfect temperament of its specie. Consequently, its character, as whole, will not be typical.'
Let me make an example. The famous musician Duke Ellington said that in order to descript the magic of the music masterpieces: 'which existed and is going to exist thanks to the fact that they have "Swing" and that all the others that does not possess this element has no meaning at all (It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing).'
The synonyms of Swing are: oscillation, rocking. For the people who are interested in art and music with knowledge, they will recognize the wording of Mr. Ellington the essence of something - which is not mathematically explainable. Describing the typical character of an Am Staf I agree and somehow also paraphrase the same concept:' it will have the ideal character and even more than typical one only if it can demonstrate that it possesses the "Gameness".'
In reality the word gameness in dog-loving jargon has a very wide interpretation. From the origin of our dogs, somebody would like limit the meaning to the capability and the ability of the dog to defeat each other in a fight. In fact, as some of us know and, after 50 years of breeding Am Staf my mentor Bill Peterson teaches us: "The gameness is the expression from the dog through the extreme confidence and the desire to please it human master. They are its own will, the capability and the readiness to complete a work, in spite of how it could be discouraging and painful, to make the dog gameness".
With this presumption, I write, without fear of being deny, that Am Staf possesses some psychological characteristic which very little other recognized dog breeds have, and thanks to the great versatility of work, it can be used as a household dog, guard dog, Civil Defence dog, defence dog, in Pet Therapy, and even used in the sport activities like Obedience and Agility. The objective of each serious breeder should be the one of never losing the temperament and consequently the typical character of the breed, and therefore preserving its reliability, stability, friendliness and, above all, typical reluctance of Am Staf to bite or to attack people.
The American Staffordshire Terrier should be totally reliable and loyal. It is not the type of dog that wags its tail and then bites, or gaze carefully with semi -closed eyes, with lowered ears, a face slightly turned away, the tail between the legs, the hair upright. Am Staf greets unknown people with attention, determination, not hostile but interested and thoughtful: it should be a direct glance, loyal, interrogative, and intelligent. The frankness of the dog transpires in the total faith in human. We could almost say that it is like an ingenuous young boy, ready to grant credit and affection to the people that present themselves as friends; sometimes it remains disappointed, it shows its disappointment with a surprised, interrogative and saddened glance. But its nice temperament will help it to overcome easily the bad experience, and it will return rapidly to be a cheerful and enthusiastic dog as always: only that the next time it will be more careful to grant its faith to the others. It is really the strong temperament that makes the Am Staf particularly balanced in its behaviour. A typical Am Staf will never refuse its own master, nor a child or a person with physical problem: due to this reason Am Staf has great result in the Pet Therapy.
An insecure, slothful, nipping, disloyal, neurotic American Staffordshire Terrier is to be considered an atypical of the breed, and is always to be penalized severely and anywhere it is found and it is to be removed from the reproduction. The intelligence of this breed is formidable. Averagely they are the dogs that understand all and are particularly predispose to training: not in the least they excel in the test where it is requested rapid comprehension and mnemonic capability, like Agility and Obedience. But Am Staf expresses its intelligence also in the daily life, in the cohabitation with human; it sometimes demonstrates in a surprising way its capability of reasoning. Other aspects which are common to all the Am Staf are love and happiness of living. The American Staffordshire Terrier is a cheerful dog, friendly, affectionate, exuberant, skittish. Above all it loves to be with its master, and it is even better if it can live in a family, where there is also children, with whom it loves to play with in proportion to the physical possibility of its little friends. Being in a family is important for your Am Staf, which will have way to develop its own formidable character. Each of them has its own personal characteristic, but all of them have a great love towards the family members, and, although expressing in a different intensity, they demonstrate their feelings in a clear way which sometimes, is also touching. There is the one that follows you everywhere, participate in the domestic life, it rubs itself continuously against your legs; another which might only follow you with its sweet and tender glance from its kennel, maybe waving its tail when you pass it by; another express all its affection by biting you delicately with its teeth. In any case, each of them has its way, but all of them will let you know unequivocally that they love you. Loyalty, courage, intelligence and love towards its master are the commune characters of all typical American Staffordshire Terrier; then, each individual will express itself according to its temperament. After more than twenty years with these marvellous dogs I feel that I can conclude also this note on their character defining it: "ideal for many people, but surely not for everybody"