History of The Staffordshire Bull Terrier
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 dog fights 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 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 last dog still fighting (or occasionally, the last 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
The breed attained UK Kennel Club recognition on 25 May 1935.
Staffordshires were imported into the US during this time. Though very
popular in the United Kingdom, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has not
gained the same fame in the United States.
In the US many were imported by pit fighters and used in their breeding
programs to produce the American Pit Bull Terrier and American
Staffordshire Terrier. Many were imported by British nationals who
brought their dogs with them or U.S. expatriates who fell in love with
the breed in England and brought it home. The Staffordshire breed was
recognized in the U.S. in 1976
Although individual differences in personality exist, common traits
exist throughout the Staffords. Due to its breeding, the modern dog is
known for its character of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and
tenacity. This, coupled with its affection for its friends, and children
in particular, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, makes
it a foremost all-purpose dog.
It has been said that "No breed is more loving with its family"
The breed is naturally muscular and may appear intimidating; however,
because of their natural fondness for people, most Staffords are
temperamentally ill-suited for guard or attack-dog training.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier appeared in the top 10 breeds most
suitable for families and especially children in a report researched and
published by Southampton University in 1996. This breed is highly
intelligent, eager to please and very people friendly. It adapts readily
to most situations making it the foremost all purpose dog. Staffordshire
Bull Terrier puppies are very easy to house train
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium-sized, stocky, muscular dog
with athletic ability. They have a broad head, defined occipital
muscles, a relatively short foreface, dark round eyes and a wide mouth
with a clean scissor-like bite (the top incisors slightly overlap the
bottom incisors). The ears are small. The cheek muscles are very
pronounced. Their lips show no looseness, and they rarely drool. From
above the head loosely resembles a triangle. The head tapers down to a
strong well-muscled neck and shoulders placed on squarely spaced
forelimbs. They are tucked up in their loins and the last 1-2 ribs of
their ribcage are usually visible. Their tail resembles an old fashioned
pump handle. Their hind quarters are well-muscled and are what gives the
Staffy drive when baiting.
They are colored black, brindle, red, fawn, blue, white, or any blending
of these colors with white. White with any color over an eye is known as
piebald or pied. Skewbald is white with red patches. Liver-colored and
black and tan dogs sometimes occur. The coat is smooth and clings
tightly to the body giving the dog a streamlined appearance.
The dogs stand 14 to 16 in (36 to 41 cm) at the withers and weigh 24 to
32 lb (11 to 15 kg) (male dogs are normally up to 6lb heavier).
The 'Staffordshire Bull Terrier' can suffer from health problems common
to other dog breeds including cataracts, luxating patellas, hip
dysplasia and breathing problems. Overall they are a very healthy breed.