Staffordshire Bull Terrier Dogs

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier AKA Staffie, Staffy, Staff, or SBT is one of the most popular dogs in the UK and is renowned for his love of people especially children. Although originally bred for dog fighting hundreds of years ago, nowadays with the proper socialisation and training a Staffie is the perfect family pet.

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Loving nothing more than spending time with his family, they are a sensitive breed and do not do well left outside or spending long periods on their own as this can lead to destructive behaviour (they love a good chew).

staffordshire bull terrier face

Source: thestaffordshirebullterrier.com

Loyal, gentle and loving with humans they can however, be dog aggressive and shouldn't be allowed to roam freely, while they might not instigate a fight they are tenacious and can do serious damage to other, especially smaller dogs. Whether you are looking for Staffiue puppies for sale or even better adopting a Staffy from a rescue shelter you can be sure you will get a lifetime of love.


Staffordshire Bull Terrier (AKA The Staffy)

Staffies are happy go lucky dogs, their wide faces give them a permanent smile that is hard to resist, they adore us and are very eager to please making them relatively easy to train, a trait that has unfortunately been taken advantage of by some unscrupulous owners leading to them being much maligned.

a staffy and a police officer

Source: itv.com

How many people cross the road when they see a young man with a ferocious looking dog kitted out with large studded collar? (Most likely not a pure-bred Staffie) They might look formidable but are really, big softies and make terrible guard dogs more likely to trip a burglar up waiting for a belly rub than bite them.

They do well as therapy dogs and the RSPCA have recently set up a partnership with the police to rehome unwanted dogs for police work, with an increasing number of success stories.


Size

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium sized, incredibly muscular dog, females can be between 33- 38cm (13-15") at the shoulders with males slightly bigger at 36-41cm (14-16") This is the accepted breed standard, but you can get longer legged Staffordshire Bull terriers sometimes called Old Tyme Terriers which are an Irish strain of the breed and while they also make great pets they are not recognised by the Kennel Club.

Weight

Staffies love their grub and unfortunately, many can end up a bit chubby but their optimum weight is 13 - 17kg (28-37lbs) for males and 11 - 16kg (24-35lbs) for the ladies.

Coat

Staffies come in a variety of colours including white, black, brindle, fawn, red, liver, blue and a mixture of white with any of these. If you are thinking of showing your SBT undesirable colours are black and tan or black and liver. Their coats are short. smooth and lie close to the skin.

Lifespan

The average lifespan of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is 12-14 years but it is not unusual to see them living longer with some reaching the ripe old age of 17 or 18.

Appearance

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a pocket powerhouse, stocky, agile and muscular.The body should be compact with a level top-line and defined muscular tone, the chest deep and wide, forelegs set wide apart straight with strong pasterns and feet turning out slightly.

SBT appearance

Source: Staffordshirebullterrier.co.za

The head is short almost triangular in shape, with broad skull, wide pronounced cheekbones, tight mouth with strong underjaw.

Ears should be rose (half dropped and folded back slightly) and eyes should be round and set straight ahead.Hindquarters should be well defined with legs being parallel when viewed from the front. The tail should be low set, medium length and taper to a point.

A Staffy's coat should be smooth and lie flat against the skin it can be a variety of colours. Blue has become increasingly popular resulting in an increase of blue Staffordshire bull terrier puppies for sale.

This shade is in fact caused by a recessive gene, both parents must be carriers to produce blue Staffy pups and it is the only colouring of the breed where a lighter eye colour is accepted by the Kennel Club.


History

Originating in England hundreds of years ago, when blood-sports were an extremely popular pastime, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a violent and chequered past. Bulldogs were used to bait bulls, bears and other animals in the 17th century.

In fact, at one point it was illegal to sell bull meat unless the animal had been terrorized by a pack of dogs as it was believed to tenderise the meat, a practice that still continues to this day in Korea where they do the same with dog meat maintaining fear releases hormones that make the meat taste better, this is totally inhumane and as Gandhi was quoted

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

After the amendment to the Animal Cruelty Act in 1835 these practices were outlawed in the UK. However, dog-fighting became even more popular as it was easier to keep secret. Bulldogs were often crossed with terriers because of their tenacity, speed and agility. These dogs looked very different from the breed we are familiar with today as the quest to produce the perfect fighting dog continued.

Over the years, they developed into various bully breeds both here and abroad such as the Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier. In fact, most countries have their own version of Bull Terrier. Breeding with native fighting dogs like the Cane Corso and the Pakistani Mastiff has produced a wide range of Bull Terrier type breeds across the world.

It was the potters of Staffordshire that took the breed further, producing a heavily-muscled agile fighting dog and so the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was born. The potters were extremely poor often with large families and it is believed these early breeders killed every dog that showed aggression to humans especially children this completely eradicated human aggressive traits within the breed, so much so it was a common site to see a badly injured fighting dog returning home in prams alongside newborn babies. This gave them the name "Nanny Dog".

A hundred years after the Animal Cruelty act the Staffordshire was finally recognised by the Kennel Club as a breed in its own right. It was rare for a breed to be recognised without an official club so a few months later a group of enthusiasts got together at the "Cross Guns" Inn Cradley Heath. One of this group was the owner of "Jim the Dandy" from whom it is said the first breed standard was derived another was the owner of "Cross Guns Johnson" who went on to win best in breed at Crufts in 1936.

Staffies were adored family pets at this time making the news for all the right reasons. One of the most famous Staffies of all time is Sgt Stubby.

Sgt Stubby most famous staffie

Source: MotherNatureNetwork

An American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, this amazing dog served in the trenches of France during World War 1, participating in 4 offensives and 17 battles. He survived numerous injuries and was the only dog promoted to Sergeant through combat. A true hero he was given a gold medal for service to his country in 1921 and is still remembered today as being one of the bravest dogs ever.

Another brave Staffie who become famous the world over is Sui. She belonged to the the late Steve Irwin who described her as "the love of his life" For 16 years she was by his side as he wrestled with crocodiles, captured snakes or swam with water monitor lizards while making his wildlife documentaries.

Nowadays Staffies are one of the most popular breeds in the UK and unfortunately the one most often found in rescue shelters.

Watch this video to see our special relationship with the breed over the years:

In recent years, the Staffy has gained a bad reputation mainly down to the way it looks, (It bears a remarkable similarity to many more aggressive breeds) This is due entirely to irresponsible ownership and cross-breeding with more aggressive breeds. In fact, Staffies come 22nd in reported dog bites in the UK and the majority of these incidents are crosses. A pure-bred SBT makes the perfect family pet and is one of only 2 breeds from nearly two hundred, the Kennel Club state are totally reliable with children.

Characteristics

Owning a Staffordshire Bull Terrier will bring a smile to your face every day. They are full of joy and are never happier than when they are by your side. Staffies are fearless, bold, courageous and affectionate, they love to play although games of tug of war should be avoided as they are a dominant breed and losing (which you will) can make you seem weak. They have strong powerful jaws and need tough toys to chew on otherwise your furniture will suffer.

A confident dog they take everything in their stride giving them great patience with rowdy children. They treat every day as an adventure and love it when they share adventures with their family whether it is a road trip, hiking through the countryside or lounging around watching a movie.


Staffie V Other Bulldog Breeds

English/British Bulldog

cute english bulldog puppy

Source: Pinterest

Easily distinguishable from the Staffie the British Bulldog also has a bloody past, Like the SBT he is affectionate, great with kids, loves his food and doesn't make a great guard dog. However, there the similarities end.

A British Bulldog will cost 3-4 times as much as Staffordshire Bull Terrier to buy and more to insure. They don't live as long and have many more health problems than a Staffie. They also must deliver any puppies by caesarian section because of the size of their heads.

They don't need as much exercise and can be quite lazy. A Bulldog is much more dignified than the fun-loving Staffie and can be stubborn making them quite difficult to train.

American Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Two American Staffordshire terriers lying on the grass.

Source:Dogtemperament.com

Many people confuse the 2 but the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier or Am Staff is a very different kettle of fish from its cousin. Larger ranging between 17-19 inches at the shoulder and weighing 45-70 pounds they are strong powerful dogs.

He has an athletic build stocky, but not as deep-chested as a staff and the head shape is also slightly different, the Staffy's being more triangular.

Both these breeds need regular exercise and consistent training. The Am Staff is a much better guard dog than the Staffy and will protect his family fiercely.

American Bulldog

american bulldog

Source: Pinterest

Originating from and looking much like, the now extinct old English Bulldog, the American Bulldog is a large dog. They stand around 20-28 inches at the shoulder and can weigh anything from 60-120 lbs.

They are an all-purpose working dog and unlike some of the other Bully types can live either indoors or outside.

They are extremely protective and make excellent guard dogs unlike the Staffie. They require extensive training and a lot of exercise to prevent boredom. Like the Staffy their coats are easy to maintain and come in a variety of colours but like the English Bulldog they also drool and slobber.

Prices vary massively for this breed depending on pedigree you can pay up to £2,000 for Johnson lines and you can also pick up ones that have become too much for their owners and crosses for as little as £300-£400.

Bull Terrier

bull terrier on a rail track

Source: Pets4homes

When Bulldogs started to be cross-bred with terriers to produce fighting dogs, variations appeared and became distinct breeds in their own right, but the Bull Terrier and the Staffy are arguably the most similar in characteristics if not appearance.

The most obvious difference between the 2 is the head, Bull Terriers having their distinctive square shape which some experts believe comes from introducing collie or greyhound into the breed back in the day.

Larger than the Staffie, Bull Terriers are extremely stubborn and will test boundaries so, like all the Bully-types need a confident owner. They are also the most boisterous of the Bully-breeds and can play very rough if allowed.

They get bored easily and this can lead to exuberant jumping, chasing their tail and other serious beharioural issues. A Bull Terrier will cost a lot more than a Staffy to purchase, the vet bills will probably be a lot higher and some lines can be nervous and more aggressive than Staffies.

American Pit Bull Terrier

American pit bull terrier

Source: Pinterest

Banned in the UK, ABPTs actually come from the same ancestors as the Staffie. These Bulldog-Terrier crosses travelled to America in the 19th century where they were crossed to become the dog we know today. The key word being crossed. Staffies in this country had human aggression bred out of them while their American counterparts had more aggressive lines introduced to produce the ultimate fighting dog.

Larger than the average Staffie in the UK the ABPT has the same fun-loving, people-orientated character and is keen to please. They look tough (especially with cropped ears) and similar to Staffies in this country they have been exploited and this loyal, affectionate working dog has become a weapon or status symbol for unscrupulous types leading to a bad reputation with many countries banning the breed.

It should be noted that the term Pit Bull refers to a type of dog and can include The American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffie, Americian Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog or crosses that look like any of them which has resulted in a lot of confusion when dog attacks have been reported.


Buying a puppy

If you are thinking of getting a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy you will be spoilt for choice and will see "Staffy puppies for sale" everywhere from social media, classified ads to cards in the local corner shop.

However, it is essential to find a reputable breeder if you want a healthy, pure-bred Staffie with all the lovely characteristics of the breed. With so many of this breed in rescue shelters it is important you consider these factors, before bringing a Staffie puppy into your home

  • Are you prepared to make a long-term commitment? - Many Staffies live for up to 14 years
  • Do you have the knowledge and experience to gain the respect of your new four-legged friend? - Staffies can be headstrong and are a powerful dog
  • Are the whole family on board with getting a SBT?• Is someone at home most of the time? - Staffies love people and don't like being alone for long periods
  • Is your' home a comfortable, secure environment for a puppy?
  • Have you taken into account the cost of neutering, micro-chipping, vaccinations etc?
  • Have you thoroughly researched the breed? Staffies should be owned by someone who understands them

If you answered yes to these questions then you are ready to become a Staffy parent, a big responsibility, but well worth it.

Click here to find a list of Staffordshire Bull Terrier breeders you can trust

You can expect to pay between £300-£600 for a Staffy.

five Staffordshire Terrier puppies

Source: Dogbreedslist.info

You will find blue Staffie puppies for sale at the top end of this range, perhaps costing a little more.

So, you have found a local breeder, the next thing you need to do is visit the litter, this is essential so you can see how the puppies have been brought up and evaluate the parents. A responsible breeder will be happy to answer any questions you have and discuss health issues, temperament, etc.

Questions to ask include:

  • Have the puppies or parents had any health problems?
  • Do they have the relevant health screening certificates?
  • How many puppies are/were in the litter?
  • Have the puppies been treated for worms?
  • Will the puppies have their first vaccination and/or be microchipped before rehoming
  • Does the breeder offer back up advice and interest in the pup's progress?

Much of this is common sense and if you have any doubts or feel uneasy about anything during your visit, walk away.

Of course, you may prefer to adopt a Staffy puppy or an older dog (definitely worth considering) in which case you will literally have hundreds to choose from depending on where you live.

There are more Staffies and Staffy crosses in dog shelters and rescues across the UK than other breed all waiting for their forever home. Check with the local dog charity or one of the many breed specific Staffie rescues. Whichever option you choose once you bring your new best-friend home you will need to decide on a name, some popular names for Staffies include:

Male

Buster

Rocky

Tyson

Jake

Max

Diesel

Billy

Spike

Kaiser

Female

Bella

Lilly

Holly

Poppy

Daisy

Lexi

Ruby

Sasha

Phoebe


Does a Staffie need much training?

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are highly intelligent and eager to please which means they are relatively easy to train if you know what you are doing and a handful if you don't.They can be stubborn, are easily distracted and don't always see the point of doing what they are told.

It is essential to start training and socialising your puppy from the moment you bring him home and to be 100% consistent.Staffies respond well to positive re-enforcement but as this usually consists of some form of bribery it is not always the best way to train the dominant breeds.

You need to be firm too.Yes, your pooch may come when called if you are holding a piece of sausage but is a sausage as tempting as chasing next door's kitty probably not!A strong-willed dog needs to respect you and obey your commands without question whatever the distraction.

He needs to understand you are the leader, he might be your best friend but he is not your equal and treating him as such is a recipe for disaster.

A balanced approach of both positive and respect training is the best way to ensure a well-behaved adult Obedience classes are a great start as they will teach your pup to behave around other dogs and give you the skills and confidence required to take training a Staffy to the next level.


Grooming

A Staffy's coat requires minimum attention to keep it looking in tip-top shape a daily rub-down and weekly brush should be sufficient. Some Staffies are susceptible to skin allergies so may need bathed with a medicated shampoo and it is essential to treat for fleas regularly as they can also cause serious skin problems.

Grooming can be very therapeutic for a dog and is an excellent time to check for soreness or injury. It also gives you the opportunity to clean ears, teeth and eyes which are all important for a healthy Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Exercise

Staffies are highly energetic, boisterous dogs especially when young and require 1-2 hours of exercise a day. They also appreciate mental stimulation 20 minutes solving a problem can equate to 90 minutes running around so it is a good idea to give them puzzle toys.

Staffies do well at agility and flyball which are fun ways to spend time with your four-legged friend and further build that special bond between dog and owner.

staffie doing slalom

Source: Pinterest

The great thing about Staffordshire Bull Terriers is they are adaptable and while some are happy jogging for miles and hiking with their owners, others, as long as they get sufficient walks to keep them healthy will quite happily spend their time chilling on the sofa. They important thing is they are with you and that's what makes them happy.

Feeding a Staffie

Staffies love their grub and will eat almost anything so it pays to be vigilant when they are puppies as they love to chew. They can also be greedy dogs so it is important that you monitor their weight and don't overdo treats.

When you bring a puppy home the breeder should supply a feeding guide and if you make changes to their diet it is essential to do this slowly to prevent upset stomachs. Puppies should be fed small regular meals gradually reducing this to 1-2 meals a day when fully grown.

Most Staffies are happy with dry food, but it is entirely personal preference and your pet will be happy with a raw diet or a mixture of wet and biscuits. For more information about dog food click here.

The amount you feed an adult Staffordshire Bull Terrier depends on their activity most dog food has guidelines on the packaging but if you feel Fido is becoming chubby cut back a little.


Health

Staffies are a healthy breed although they are classed as category 2 by the Kennel Club. These are dogs which have visible features that, when exaggerated by irresponsible breeders may cause future health issues within the breed. At present, there are a few genetic problems that can affect Staffordshire Bull Terriers including:

Hip Dyplasia

Although this condition is generally associated with large breeds it also occurs in short-faced bully type dogs. It occurs when the ball and socket joint of the hip is loose and varies in severity in relation to the looseness. A dysplastic joint allows bone to bone contact which eventually causes pain and arthritis. Symptoms include:

  • Lameness
  • Reluctance to stand on hind legs
  • A swaying or rolling gait
  • Lack of muscle mass in hind legs
  • A narrow stance in the hindquarters
  • Reluctance to climb stairs

There has been evidence to suggest that rapid growth during puppyhood can exacerbate the problem as the bones and ligaments can't cope with the increase in weight and as Staffys love their food it is important not to overfeed especially during this vital stage of growth.

Your local veterinary surgeon can provide prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers but there are steps you can take at home which will help

  • Keep your dog warm
  • Invest in an orthopedic bed
  • Add joint supplements and Omega 3 fatty acids to diet
  • Try Hydrotherapy
  • Weight Control
  • Shorter more frequent walks
  • Discourage jumping

In severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct the problem sometimes resulting in a complete hip replacement. This is an expensive procedure so prevention is better than cure and many breeders now perform screening on the parents.

Skin Problems

Cyclic Follicular Dysplasia

Also, known as seasonal alopecia this condition results in hair loss usually patches on the flank or sides often occurring in spring or late autumn, hence the name. The hair usually regrows within 6 months although melatonin can be prescribed by a vet to speed up recovery. Common breeds to be affected include the Staffy, with Blue Staffies being especially susceptible.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopy is one of the most common allergies seen in dogs with around 15% being affected and Staffies considered high-risk of being predisposed to skin allergies. Like us humans, dogs can be allergic to many things; dust mites, chemicals. food, grass, pollen and especially fleas. Symptoms include severe itching, dogs will often bite at themselves and scratch so much the area becomes inflamed and sore resulting in bald patches and in more severe cases open wounds.

There is no cure but the condition can be managed effectively once the underlying cause is found. It is important to rule out food allergies with a trial, also be vigilant with regular flea treatment. Other allergies can be aided by antihistamines including Piriton and severe cases can be treated with Steroids prescribed by your vet, however they shouldn't be used long-term as they can be harmful to your pet when used for prolonged periods.

Eye Disease

Hereditary Cataracts

dog cataract

A Cataract is a film covering the lens of the eye making it appear cloudy or opaque. This condition appears in young dogs sometimes from few weeks old and affects both eyes. It is a degenerative condition and will result in total blindness within 2-3 years.

The only treatment for cataracts is surgical removal, not all can be operated on and the operation is expensive costing between £1,500-£2,500. As Staffordshire Bull Terriers are commonly affected by hereditary cataracts you should ensure both parents have been DNA tested for this genetic disorder.

PHPV

Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous or PHPV as it is commonly known is a congenital eye condition whereby blood vessels that aid in the development of the eye remain and are not reabsorbed by the body. This leaves deposits on the eye itself which can impair vision this varies dramatically and while some dogs suffer mild vision loss others can be totally blind.

Surgery is not always possible for every case and is an extremely delicate and expensive operation with no guarantees. Most dogs can life a good quality of life with limited vision. However, puppies born blind with PHPV are often euthanised. A good Staffie breeder will be knowledgeable about PHPV and as with hereditary cataracts should have done the relevant testing.

L2-HGA

L-2 Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria is an inherited condition affecting the central nervous system. It is a neurometabolic disorder caused by elevated levels of L-2 hydroxyglutaric acid. Symptoms including, wobbly gait, epileptic seizures, muscle stiffness and altered behaviour usually present between 6 months and a year.

Although certain anti-seizure and behavourial modification treatments can be prescribed and some Staffys do live normal lives with the condition under control, many dogs suffering from this condition unfortunately need to be "put to sleep" due to the severity of the fits. Breeders should be able to provide the relevant DNA test results showing the litter is clear.

SBT Temperament- Are Staffies good with children?

black staffy with child

Source: Buzzsharer.com

Renowned as one of the most loyal and loving breeds the Staffie has been a family companion for hundreds of years. They have a big personality in a relatively small body and are often called "the clowns of the dog world" They are a fun-loving breed that loves nothing more than playing with the kids (supervised of course) and spending time with their humans. Easy-going, affectionate and courageous they are much softer than they look and surprisingly make terrible guard dogs, as they just love people too much.

Of course, any dog can be trained and tormented to become aggressive but it is worth noting that even terribly abused and neglected Staffies have tenderly licked the hand of their rescuers trusting them completely. Patient and kind, they adore children although they can be rambunctious and accidentally knock over toddlers.

Staffies were originally bred for fighting and this instinct remains so early socialisation is essential with this breed as they can be dog aggressive, even if your pooch is a lover not a fighter he must still be kept on a lead around other dogs. He might not start a fight but he will certainly not back down from one and unfortunately will always get the blame.

Male V Female

It is entirely personal preference as to which sex you prefer but a dominant male will push boundaries and be harder to train. That said male dogs are often more affectionate and playful than their female counterparts, whereas a female will bond with one member of the family a male will happily bond with everyone equally. Females of course will usually be smaller, that's not to say they will be sweeter.

Females can be moody and are often more cunning than males, they are usually calmer as they get older males being puppy-like for most of their lives. It costs more to spay a female than neuter a male and if not spayed she will leave a bloody discharge around the house when she comes into season twice a year. Unless you intend to show your dog or breed (not recommended when there are already so many unwanted Staffies) It is best practice to neuter at around 18 months to 2 years.​

It is not advisable to have 2 Staffies of the same sex living together unless you are experienced with the breed and have complete control. Whichever you choose with the proper training Male or Female will make a fantastic addition to the family.

Cost of Ownership

gold pig with dog treats

Source: pets4homes

Staffies are a big commitment as they have a long lifespan, but they are relatively inexpensive to own. They are not fussy eaters and are generally healthy so vet bills are usually kept to the minimum. The initial cost of the dog will be anything from £300-£600 and you will need to factor in the cost of Micro-chipping (around £15) vaccinations, neutering and regular flea and worm treatments.

Insurance costs can vary massively depending on where you live and what cover you go for. As Staffies can be prone to joint and eye problems which are expensive to treat it is recommended to choose the best insurance you can afford and lifetime cover if possible as this means any ongoing treatments are covered so you will be looking at £20-40 a Month. You also need to provide good quality strong toys and should definitely invest in puppy socialisation and obedience classes. In total on average it will cost between £40-£80 a month to keep your Staffy


Highlights

  • Great with kids
  • Needs regular exercise
  • Extremely playful
  • Doesn't need much grooming
  • Can be dog aggressive
  • Needs to know who's in charge
  • Loves to chew
  • Love Cuddles
  • Need Consistent training
  • Adores Humans

FAQs

How long do Staffordshires live?

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What were they bred for?

Is a Staffy a good family dog?

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Staffies with kids?

How big are they?

Staffy colours?

Where to find reputable breeders?

Temperament?

Are Staffys aggressive?

Staffy diet?

Can they live with other dogs?

Best dog to have with a Staffie?

At what age do Staffies stop growing?

Neutering my Staffordshire Bull Dog

Staffy with other pets like cats?

Adopting a Staffy?

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Do Staffies shed?

Conclusion

Over the years, Staffordshire Bull Terriers have gone from being fearless fighters to lovable family pets. Yes, they can sometimes be dog aggressive and need firm and fair training but they are loving, gentle and have a zest for life that's hard to beat.

They are great with kids and make great therapy dogs due to their calm natures. They are intelligent and love a job to do as long as they are by your side they are the happiest dogs going. Bringing a Staffy into your life will give you immense pleasure and you will be sure of lots of cuddles.

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