So much has already been written about the history of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier that I wondered if indeed it was necessary to write more!
But it is important for an owner or potential owner to know some of its origin and breeding; in order to understand the habits, nature and tendencies of the breed today. If I were to neglect the history – it’s possible that owners or potential owners could miss out on the understanding that the history brings.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier of today is very much a result of man’s perverse desires in the area of animal fighting. However in this case, in spite of the hideous cruelty that birthed it – mankind has truly been blessed and now benefits from the existence of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in my somewhat biased experience!
Though Staffordshire Bull Terrier records are not detailed, there is evidence of a history of Bull and Terrier dogs back in the 1800s, at a time when dogs were specifically bred for baiting bulls. However this dog was a much larger animal – the size of a mastiff. The barbaric practices of dogs versus anything — was considered public entertainment, I can only say that I sometimes feel I would like to entertain the public with some of these individuals!
For those who are shocked by stories of cruelty, might I suggest that you skip the next five paragraphs?
According to John F. Gordon, bull-baiting, bear baiting and the baiting of badgers were old English pastimes and stories of such events are common in history. He says: “any big, strong animal was fair game for the pleasure loving Briton with his ponderous fierce dog.”
And goes on to say “This sport soon took on throughout the country and it was not long before every market town had its bullring or place where the bull was tethered and baited by dogs.”
In the practice of bull-baiting – a tethered bull was to be attacked by a dog. In order to achieve a win, the dog was expected to hold the nose of the bull to the ground and to be successful at this without being gored – so the dog needed to be strong, yet small enough to avoid the horns. So a compact, muscular dog that was low to the ground was seen to be more likely to be successful. It is from here that the squat, low-slung muscularity of the Staffordshire originates. One does not wish to ponder too long on how many dogs were unsuccessful – or the extent of their injuries!
Records existing from the region of Staffordshire apparently report on events and wagering – hence the association of the town to the animal, though the practice was not limited to this area.
Eventually one must assume that people finally came to their senses, because the sport was eventually made illegal, though not without considerable delay.
Being a dog lover, that’s about where I would like to leave the history of dogs and fighting. I could go on to describe bear and badger baiting as does Gordon, but I hate the thought of it – and believe that any reader that truly loves dogs would also feel similarly?
Sketches and line drawings of the earliest types of dog used in the fights, bear resemblance to something cross between what we would now call the Bulldog and the modern English Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Crossing of breeds continued and it is generally accepted that the dog of today was arrived at by the crossing of the Bulldog with the Old English Terrier and the English White Terrier.
The history of the breed itself can be traced to the beginning of the 19th century. But according to Gordon, it was not fully recognised as a breed by the Kennel Club of Great Britain and the American Kennel Club until sometime around the mid 1930s.Today Staffordshire Bull Terriers have become one of the worlds MOST POPULAR breeds – and for good reason, despite their fighting background, they make great family pets!
But perhaps you’re still unsure? I LOVE Staffordshire Bull Terriers – so maybe I’m just a little too biased?
May I suggest that you locate and watch the 2 videos on I found on YouTube recently (at the bottom of the Should YOU own a Staffordshire Bull Terrier article) and see a wonderful perspective on Staffordshire Bull Terriers and how perfectly they fit in with families?