BREED STANDARD VARIATIONS
1935 the First Standard was drawn up at the recognition of the Breed
by the English Kennel Club while the Second Standard took effect in
1948 and the Third in 1987. Taken section by
section, these standards could be discussed ad infinitum, but the
salient points are enumerated here.The following
description of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was adopted by the
various Stafford clubs at a General Meeting on June 15, 1935, at the
Cross Guns Hotel, Cradley Heath, Staffordshire, England: It is
considered that this description, which has been drawn up and
approved by many of the leading owners, who have bred Staffordshire
Bull Terriers all their lifetime, will be of material assistance to
the smaller owners and to the novice breeder”.
1935: General Appearance: The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a smooth
coated dog, standing about 15 to 18 inches high at the shoulder. He
should give the impression of great strength for his size, and
although muscular should be active and agile.
1948: Characteristics: From the past history of the Staffordshire
Bull Terrier, the modern dog draws his character of indomitable
courage, high intelligence and tenacity. This coupled with his
affection for his friends, and children in particular, his off-duty
quietness and trustworthy stability, makes him theforemost
Breed Standard Variations
General Appearance: The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a
smooth-coated dog. He should be of great strength for his size and
although muscular, should be active and agile.
1987: General Appearance: Smooth-coated, well balanced of great
strength for his size, muscular, active and agile.
Characteristics: Traditionally of indomitable courage and tenacity.
Highly intelligent and affectionate especially with children.
Temperament: Bold, fearless and totall reliable.
1) In the 1935 original Standard, the heights were included under
the “General Appearance” and not under a separate clause.
2) No mention was made about the SBTs temperament in the original
3) The words ‘Bold, fearless and totally reliable’ appear only in
the 1987 Standard.
4) The words ‘active’, ‘agile’, ‘great strength for his size’,
‘muscular’ and ‘smooth coated’ have never been changed.
5) The word ‘balanced’ appeared only in 1987.
1935: Head: Short, deep through, broad skull, very pronounced cheek
muscles, distinct stop, short foreface, mouth level.
1948: Head: Short, deep through, broad skull, very pronounced cheek
muscles, distinct stop, short foreface, black nose.
1987: Head and skull: Short, deep through with broad skull, very
pronounced cheek muscles, distinct stop, short foreface, black nose.
1) The nose had its own clause only in the 1935 Standard.
2) The 1935 Standard had no ‘mouth’ clause and the only mention of
it was here, under ‘Head’, where it says ‘mouth level’.
3) The word ‘skull’ was included in the clause’s title in 1987.
4) Essentially the description of the head has remained unchanged.
1935: Eye: Dark.
1948: Eyes: Dark preferable but may bear some relation to coat
colour. Round, of medium size, and set to look straight ahead.
1987: Eyes: Dark preferred but may bear some relation to coat colour.
Round, of medium size, and set to look straight ahead. Eye rims
1) In 1935 the description was simply ‘dark’ which was reiterated by
the 1948 version, but leeway appeared for allowing less-than-dark
eyes in relation to the coat colour.
2) The shape, size and placement of the eyes has been included since
the 1948 version.
3) Dark eye rims have only been called for since 1987.
1935: Ears: Rose, half prick and prick, these three to be preferred
to full drop, to be penalized.
1948: Ears: Rose or half pricked and not large. Full drop or prick
to be penalized.
1987: Ears: Rose or half pricked, and not large or heavy. Full drop
pricked ears highly undesirable.
1) Only full drop was penalized in 1935. Full drop and prick were
penalized in the 1948 version. Since 1987 they have been ‘highly
undesirable’, in other words, as bad as black-and-tan and liver is
2) Size was referred to in 1948.
3) Thickness of the leather was referred to only in 1987 by the use
of the term ‘heavy’.
1935: Mouth: Not mentioned.
1948: Mouth: The mouth should be level, that is, the incisors of the
lower jaw should fit closely inside the incisors of the top jaw, and
the lips should be tight and clean. The badly undershot or overshot
mouth to be heavily penalized.
1987: Mouth: Lips tight and clean. Jaws strong, teeth large with a
perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, ie. upper teeth closely
overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
1) Original Standard contained no separate mouth clause but did call
for ‘mouth level’ (see above).
2) In the 1948 Standard a level bite was called for BUT the
description was that of what we know today as a scissor bite.
3) 1987 saw the term changed to ‘scissor’, but the description
remained essentially the same. The sentence about badly undershot or
overshot being penalized was dropped altogether in 1987. In fact
there is nowhere in the 1987 Standard which specifically calls for
penalization of the undershot or overshot mouth.
1935: Neck: Should be muscular and rather short.
1948: Neck: Muscular, rather short, clean in outline and gradually
widening towards the shoulders.
1987: Neck: Muscular, rather short, clean in outline, gradually
widening towards the shoulders.
1) Basically unchanged except for the ‘gradually widening towards
the shoulders’ part inserted since the 1948 version.
1935: Body: Short back - deep brisket, light in loins with forelegs
set rather wide apart to permit chest development.
1948: Body: The body should be close coupled, with a level topline,
wide front, deep brisket, and well-sprung ribs being rather light in
1987: Body: Close coupled, with level topline, wide front, deep
brisket, and well sprung ribs, muscular and well defined.
1) The only thing remaining from the original Standard is ‘deep
2) ‘Light in loins’ was dropped from the 1987 Standard.
3) ‘Short back’ only appeared in 1935.
4) ‘Close coupled’ appeared since 1948. (‘Short back’ and ‘close
coupled’ are two entirely different things).
5) ‘Level topline’ only appeared in 1948.
6) ‘Forelegs set rather wide apart to permit chest development’
appeared only in the original Standard although it made a
reappearance of sorts under the 1948 Forequarters clause. In the
Body clause it was ‘replaced’ by ‘wide front’ in 1948.
7) The description of the ribs appeared only in 1948.
8) The description of the body as a whole, ‘muscular and well
defined’ only appeared in 1987.
1935: Front Legs: Straight, feet well padded, to turn out a little
and showing no weakness at pasterns.
1948: Forequarters: Legs straight and well boned, set rather wide
apart, without looseness at the shoulders, and showing no weakness
at the pasterns, from which point the feet turn out a little.
1987: Forequarters: Legs straight and well boned, set rather wide
apart showing no weakness at the pasterns, from which point the feet
turn out a little. Shoulders well laid back with no looseness at
1) ‘Set rather wide apart’ appears in the 1948 Standard, having been
moved, as it were, from the Body clause.
2) ‘Well boned’ made its first appearance in 1948. Special note that
the word used is ‘well’ rather than ‘good’, ‘strong’, or ‘big’.
3) The shoulders were mentioned for the first time only in 1948
‘without looseness at the shoulders’.
4) Shoulders were redefined in 1987 with ‘shoulders well laid back’
– and ‘looseness’ was now connected with another part of the anatomy
as in ‘with no looseness at elbows’.
5) Having no clause of their own originally, the ‘well padded’ feet
were mentioned in this clause only in 1935.
6) ‘Straight’ as in legs; ‘turn out a little’ as in feet; and
‘showing no weakness at pasterns’ are the three phrases that remain
consistent in all three Standards.
1935: Hind Legs: Hindquarters well muscled let down at hocks like a
1948: Hindquarters: The hindquarters should be well muscled, hocks
let down with stifles well bent. Legs should be parallel when viewed
1987: Hindquarters: Well muscled, hocks well let down with stifles
well bent. Legs parallel when viewed from behind.
1) Bend of stifle was not mentioned in 1935 when this clause was
called “Hind Legs’.
2) For the first time, the term “parallel” was introduced into the
3) Both the 1948 and 1987 Standards are otherwise practically
1935: Coat: Short, smooth and close to skin.
1948: Coat: Smooth, short and close to skin.
1987: Coat: Smooth, short and close.
1) Identical except for the words ‘to skin’ being dropped in 1987.
1935: Colour: May be any shade of brindle – Black – White – Fawn or
Red or any of these colors with white. Black and tan and liver not
to be encouraged.
1948: Colour: Red, fawn, white, black or blue, or any of these
colors with white. Any shade of brindle or any shade of brindle with
white. Black-and-tan or liver colour not to be encouraged.
1987: Colour: Red, fawn, white, black or blue, or any one of these
colors with white. Any shade of brindle or any shade of brindle with
white. Black-and tan or liver colour highly undesirable.
1) ‘Blue’ was not part of the original Standard. The old timers who
‘invented’ the Breed would probably have considered what we call
‘blue’ today actually as ‘liver’.
2) ‘Not to be encouraged’ was changed to ‘highly undesirable’ in
1935: Feet: Not mentioned.
1948: Feet: The feet should be well padded, strong and of medium
1987: Feet: Well padded, strong and of medium size. Nails black in
solid coloured dogs.
1) Feet had no specific clause in 1935 but were mentioned under
‘Front Legs’. (see above).
2) The 1948 Standard saw the description of the feet expanded with
‘strong and of medium size’.
3) The 1987 Standard calls for ‘nails black in solid coloured dogs’,
a dubious term. Is white a colour? Is brindle a solid colour or a
1935: Tail: The tail should be of medium length tapering to a point
and carried rather low; it should not curl much and may be compared
to an oldfashioned pump handle.
1948: Tail: The tail should be of medium length, low set, tapering
to a point and carried rather low. It should not curl much and may
be likened to an oldfashioned pump handle.
1987: Tail: Medium length, low set tapering to a point and carried
rather low. Should not curl much and may be likened to an
old-fashioned pump handle.
1) Apart from the addition of ‘low set’ in 1948, this clause remains
1935: Gait/Movement: Not mentioned.
1948: Gait/Movement: Not mentioned.
1987: Gait/Movement: Free, powerful and agile with economy of
effort. Legs moving parallel when viewed from front or rear.
Discernible drive from hind legs.
1) Did not exist until 1987!
Weight and Size
1935: Weight: Dogs 28 to 38 lbs. Bitches 4 lbs less.
1948: Weight and Size: Weight: Dogs, 28 lb. to 38 lb. Bitches, 24
lb. to 34 lb. Height (at shoulder), 14in to 16in, these heights
being related to the weights.
1987 Weight and Size: Weight: Dogs, 28 lb. to 38 lb. Bitches, 24 lb.
to 34 lb. Desirable height (at withers), 14 to 16 inches, these
heights being related to the weights.
1) In 1935 the height was included in the General Appearance clause
- ‘standing about 15 to 18 inches high at the shoulder’.
2) Although the weights have never been changed, the height was
changed to 14 to 16 inches in 1948.
3) Both the 1935 and the 1948 Standards describe the height to be
measured ‘at the shoulder’, without mentioning WHERE on the shoulder
the measurement should be taken.
4) Of course, the 1987 Standard says ‘at withers’ which is more
5) In 1987 the term ‘desirable’ was put in front of the word
6) Since the 1948 Standard the term ‘these heights being related to
the weights’ has been included.
1935: Faults: To be penalized, Dudley nose, light or pink eyes, tail
too long or badly curled, badly undershot or overshot mouths.
Scale of Points: General appearance and coat condition – 15, Head –
30, Neck – 10, Body – 25, Legs and feet – 15, Tail – 5. Total = 100.
1948: Faults: To be penalized in accordance with the severity of the
fault; - light eyes or pink eye-rims. Tail too long or badly curled.
Non-conformation to the limits of weight or
height. Full drop and prick ears. Undershot or overshot mouths. The
following faults should debar a dog from winning any prize:- Pink
(Dudley) nose. Badly undershot or overshot mouth. Badly undershot -
where the lower jaw protrudes to such an extent that the incisors of
the lower jaw do not touch those of the upper jaw. Badly overshot -
where the upper jaw protrudes to such an extent that the incisors of
the upper jaw do not touch those of the lower jaw.
1987: Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be
considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should
be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.
Note: Male animals should have two apparantly normal testicles fully descended into the
1) The ‘Scale of Points’ existed only in the 1935 Standard.
2) Originally only ‘Dudley nose, light or pink eyes, tail too long
or badly curled, badly undershot or overshot mouths’ were termed ‘to
3) In 1948 ‘non-conformation to the limits of weight or height. Full
drop and prick ears’ were added ‘to be penalized’. ‘Dudley nose’ was
now treated with more severity.
4) In 1948 ‘in accordance with the severity of the fault’ was added
to ‘to be penalized’.
5) ‘The following faults should debar a dog from winning any prize’
was added in 1948 and thus made the ‘pink
(Dudley) nose’ and the ‘badly undershot or overshot
mouth’ disqualifying faults.
6) The clause was completely changed in 1987 and did not specify any
precise points for penalization or disqualification.
7) As was consistent with all English Kennel Club Breed Standards,
the note about the entirety of the male was included.
The foregoing is only an abbreviated description of Breed Standard
alterations since 1935.