Before the nineteenth century, bloodsports such as bull baiting, bear baiting and cock fighting were common.
Bulls brought to market were set upon by dogs as a way of tenderizing the meat and providing entertainment for the spectators; and dogfights with bears, bulls and other animals were often organized as entertainment for both royalty and commoners.
Early Bull and Terriers were not bred for the handsome visual specimen of today; rather they were bred for the characteristic known as gameness. The pitting of dogs against bear or bull tested the gameness, strength and skill of the dog.
These early “proto-staffords” provided the ancestral foundation stock for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. This common ancestor was known as the “Bull and Terrier”.
These bloodsports were officially eliminated in 1835 as Britain began to introduce animal welfare laws. Since dogfights were cheaper to organize and far easier to conceal from the law than bull or bear baits, bloodsport proponents turned to pitting their dogs against each other instead.
Dog fighting was used as both a bloodsport (often involving gambling) and a way to continue to test the quality of their stock.
For decades afterwards, dog fighting clandestinely took place in pockets of working-class Britain and America. Dogs were released into a pit, and the las dog still fighting (or occasionally, the las dog surviving) was recognized as the winner.
The quality of pluckiness or “gameness” was still highly prized, and dogs that gave up during a fight were reviled as “curs”.
As an important aside, fighting dogs were often handled in the pit during fights, by both their owners and the judge, so were bred to be as trustworthy with humans as they were aggressive towards other dogs.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier breading
Enthusiasts of Staffordshire Bull Terrier tried to consolidate the breed around 1930, and they started to imagine a breed outside the fighting pit. Although dog fights had been abolished long before that time, they continued to take place illegally, until they were completely eradicated by the police, who enforced the Law in the 1930´s.
The breed original standard of points was taken from the superb show winner Jim The Dandy, owned by Jack Bernard, and the standard guideline was formulated by the committed breeder Joe Dunn. The breed attained UK Kennel Club Recognition on the 25th May 1935.
The original club was founded for more than 40 breeders and Jack Bernard was its first president. The dogs were first shown on the Hertfordshire Open Show in June 1935. The following year Cross Guns Johnson, owned by Joe Dunn, won in the Crufts Canine Show, it was the first time that a Staffordshire Bullterrier took part in.
Gentleman Jim was the first champion of the Kenner Club and won his first Challenge Certificate in the Birmingham National Exhibition. He became champion after only two shows. The first Staffordshire Bull Terrier monographic in the southern counties in 1946 concentrated over 300 dogs.
Los pioneros de la raza, que vivían en la “Región Negra”, no estaban contentos con la entrada del Staffordshire en el mundo de las exposiciones caninas.
Temían que el temperamento de la raza estuviera en peligro y que el verdadero espíritu se perdiera. Muchos de esos pioneros continuaron haciendo pelear a sus Staffordshire para mantener ese “espíritu” en su sangre.
Controversy arose regarding the size of the dogs. The original size standard was similar to the most popular Bull Terrier, from 37.5 to 45 cm. Breeders were breeding dogs which where to heavy and not very agile; therefore in 1948 the standard height was decreased to 35-40 cm. Many breeders did not welcome this change and many dogs, nowadays, are still above the breed standard.
Many British emigrants, who went to EEUU to work in the mines and the industry between 1860 and 1870, took with them their Staffordshire Bullterrier and continued breeding them in the EEUU, crossing them sometimes with other terriers. These crossings produced the Yankee Terriers, American Bull Terrier and American (Pit) Bull Terrier. Theses dog were praised for the devotion to the family and children. Despite not having the size of other guard dogs, they could perfectly compare to them in their strength, bravery and courage.
The UKC (United Kennel Club) was founded to register these Pit Bull dogs, but the dogs were rejected by the AKC (American Kennel Club). This AKC did not recognise the American Bull Terrier and it was not until 1936 that they recognised them with the name of Staffordshire terrier. The first Staffordshire terrier registered in the AKC was Wheeler´s Black Dinah. Many enthusiasts took advantage of the situation and registered their dogs twice: in the AKC as Staffordshire Terrier and in the UKC as American (Pit) Bull Terrier.
The original club, Staffordshire Club of America, was founded on the 23rd May 1936, to protect the “magnificent old breed”, formerly known as American (Pit) Bull Terrier o Yankee Terrier. They immediately wrote the standards guidelines and the Staffordshire Terriers were able to get access to the rings in dog shows.
It was in the late 30´s when the first American exhibitions took place, celebrated together with the Kennel Club of Chicago and where 50 dogs were shown. The first champion of the AKC was Maher´s Captain D, who obtained the title in 1937.
Probably, the most important Staffordshire Terrier of those years was the champion X-Pert Brindle Biff, owned by the breeder Clifford A. Ormsby.
Due to the different varieties of dogs, the breeders decided to divide the Staffordshire terrier into two different breeds. In 1972 the American Staffordshire was recognised and two years later the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Using the same name as the one given by Joe Dunn in England in the 30´s, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a dog with shorter legs, stockier and weighs 11 to 17 kg and with a height of 35.5 to 40.5 cm. The American Staffordshire Terries has longer legs and his height is 42.5 to 48 cm.
Of course, the physical appearance of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier from America was still very similar to the English original dog.
Although there would always be individual differences in personality, there are some common traits to all Staffords. Due to its breeding, the modern dog is known for his courageous character, high intelligence and his tenacity.
This, together with his loving personality to friends and children, his serenity when off duty and his well-balanced trustworthy nature, make him by far one of the most versatile dogs ever.
i. It has been said that “no other breed is as loving with the family”
This statement can be contradictory: How could you expect this great and brave fighter to curl up next to the kids? Who could imagine that thousands of dog lovers will choose this breed for taking care of their children?
To understand this contradiction we have to identify those qualities that moved the Staffordshire Bull Terrier to fight against other dogs till death in the first place, and this is no other than the total and absolute devotion to men. No other breed in the world wants to please its owner as much as a Staffordshire Terrier.
Staffords can recognise the tenderness and fragility of children, which inspires them to protect and take care of them. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is known as the Nanny Dog, in reference to their eagerness and ability to get along with children in the home. Nevertheless, you should never leave children with a dog of any size or kind without supervision.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is amongst the 10 best dog breeds for families to have, especially for children. This report was published by Southampton University in 1996. This breed is highly intelligent, willing to please and friendly with people. It adapts easily to any situation, which makes him a very versatile dog.
Staffordshire puppies are very easy to train at home.
The Staffordshire bull terrier is a short smooth-coated dog, well balanced, with a great strength for his size. Muscular, active and agile.
Traditionally of indomitable courage and tenacity. Highly intelligent and affectionate especially with children. His temperament is bold, fearless and totally reliable.
The head is short and deep although with a broad skull. He has very pronounced check muscles, distinct stop, short foreface and a black nose.
The eyes, dark are preferred but may bear some relation to coat colour. Round and of medium size and set to look straight ahead. Eye rims are dark.
The ears, in the shape of a rose or half pricked, not large or heavy. Full, drop or pricked ears are undesirable.
The mouth has lips tight and clean. Jaws are strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, which means upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
The neck is muscular, rather short with a clean in outline gradually widening towards the shoulders.
The forequarters legs are straight and well boned, set rather wide apart, showing no weakness at the pasterns, from which point feet turn out a little. The shoulders are well laid back with no looseness at elbow.
The body is close-coupled, with a level topline, wide front, deep brisket, well sprung ribs. Muscular and well defined.
The hindquarters legs are well muscled, hocks well let down with stifles well bent. The legs are parallel when viewed from behind.
The feet are well padded, strong and of medium size. The nails are black in solid coloured dogs.
The tail is of medium length, low set, tapering to a point and carried rather low. It should not curl much and may be likened to an old-fashioned pump handle.
The movement is free, powerful an agile with economy of effort. Legs moving parallel when viewed from front or rear. Discernible drive for hindlegs.
The coat is smooth, short and close. The colour can be red, fawn, white, black or blue, or any of these colours with white. Any shade of brindle or any shade of brindle with white. Black and tan or liver colour are highly undesirable.
The size; desirable height at withers is 36-41 cm, these heights being related to the weights. Weight: male dogs 13-17 kg; bitches 11-15.4 kg
Male dogs should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
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 of importance.