Interview with Sandra Mendoza, Breeder of Felizstaffords – Staffordshire Bull Terriers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Sandra Mendoza: I live in Stockton, California. I grew up with hunting dogs and my grandma took us to the Daly City bench show. So, I always knew I wanted to show dogs. I have owned Staffordshire Bull Terriers for over 18 years. I had my first litter 16 years ago.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Sandra Mendoza: My kennel name is Felizstaffords. I currently keep nine dogs, but co-own many.
Which breeders have provided the greatest influence on my decision to breed dogs?
Sandra Mendoza: I had a friend, Angela Beezley, who died of cancer when I first got in the breed. She took the time to talk to me for hours. Today I have a group of amazing peers, like my sister, Starlee Rownd, my daughter, Feliza Mendoza, and good friends Rossi Lavonda, Larry Peterson, and Alicia McElroy. As a group, we always talk about how to better the breed. We are always studying the Breed Standard and dog health. Tina Vickrey is always willing to educate on health.
Can I talk a bit about my foundation dogs? How have they influenced my breeding program?
Sandra Mendoza: I got my first Staffordshire Bull Terrier from a pet breeder. Her name was “Laila” and she died after our first show. She was a very “bully” girl. I had read many books and knew that bully is not what the breed should be. This taught me that I wanted my foundation to keep with the purpose of the breed and have true athleticism.
My next SBT was very athletic and had a great temperament—loved everyone. I knew that’s where I wanted to go with my breeding program. My first brood bitch was the same way. She gave birth and bred with ease, never losing a pup. I knew at that moment that this would be very important to me. Today, my dogs are athletic, have great temperaments, and are well-balanced.
What about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Sandra Mendoza: My dogs are in my home and my pups are whelped in my kitchen. I raised them as part of my family.
Do I have a “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Sandra Mendoza: It takes many things, including experience, to choose a pup. I like to look at the skeletal structure at birth, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks. I like to watch them move throughout their growth, and I also like to watch temperament. Temperament is very important; I don’t won’t any shyness. Many years in the breed, sometimes you still won’t get it right.
How do I choose the homes for my puppies? Is puppy placement important to me as a breeder?
Sandra Mendoza: I have had great success picking the right homes, but have had a few heart breaks. I am a talker and like to talk to the people throughout the prosses.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Sandra Mendoza: As a community, we can do better and have not reached the full potential of this breed. We cannot agree what the true SBT should look like, even though there is just one Breed Standard.
The breed should be a balance between Bull and Terrier – Height at shoulder: 14 to 16 inches. Weight: Dogs, 28 to 38 pounds; bitches, 24 to 34 pounds, these heights being related to weights. Non-conformity with these limits is a fault. In proportion, the length of back, from withers to tail-set, is equal to the distance from withers to ground.
Many breeders blame the judges for putting up dogs that don’t represent the breed, but it is the breeders who produce the dogs and take them into the ring. There are many serious faults that I’ve seen being shown. For example, full drop or full prick ears are to be considered a serious fault. There is an Illustrated Standard to better educate the judges. Not every dog is a show dog, and this has to be okay. We are who represents the breed to the public and in the ring; we need to take this seriously.
Now, that all being said, a lot of us are laying the foundation for the next generation of breeders. As a breed, we are fairly young to the US when compared to other countries. Many breeders are trying to import to improve the breed itself here in the States. People are now studying pedigrees and structure to better our knowledge. The community is trying to educate the judges and breeders at large. Most are receptive, but not all. Like our National, SBTs at all-breed shows and Specialty shows are becoming well-received. The dogs are getting better and we are bringing in better judges to help us expand our understanding of the breed.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Sandra Mendoza: Each dog is different, but not really. They are a wash-and-wear breed.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Sandra Mendoza: Overall, the Stafford is a sturdy, healthy breed whose main health issues are those that might arise from his rough and tumble exuberance of life and the absence of a self-preservation gene in many of them. The two main issues that plague the breed, L2HGA and Hereditary Cataracts, have been greatly reduced by rigorous health testing for these recessive traits. Always check that your puppy is clear of these by parentage, and you should enjoy 11-16 years of fun.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Sandra Mendoza: The SBT was bred to be an all-purpose dog. They should be great with all whom they meet. The breed is a family dog, and then a working dog.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Sandra Mendoza: After being in the breed for 18 years, I think the numbers have grown with the knowledge that’s being represented by the Stafford world. We, as a newer community, want better for our breed. We are striving for balance; not too much Terrier and not too much Bull.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with my breed?
Sandra Mendoza: This “little nanny dog” amazes me by how truly good they are with children of all ages. Also, I’m always amused by what these little dogs can do; they excel at Dock Diving, Scent Work, Weight Pulling, Fast CAT, Bite Work, and just being great.
Are you looking for a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Staffordshire Bull Terrier dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the tenacious Staffordshire Bull Terrier dog breed with articles and information in our Staffordshire Bull Terrier Dog Breed Magazine.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Magazine - Showsight