Staffordshire Bull Terrier History
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.