History and Development
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, as his name implies, was produced from a Bulldog with one or more of the terrier breeds which abounded in the early 1800’s. His main progenitor was the Old English Bulldog of about 1820, when the initial crossings were made. This was a rangier, lighter Bulldog than our modem version – in fact, sonic students of canine racism aver that the Stafford is actually a fined-down type of pure Bulldog, selectively bred on terrier-like lines with no true terrier infusion. Quite apart from the name “Bull-and-Terrier” used freely in literature for many decades, respected authors like Pierce Egan in Annals of Sporting (Vol. 1.), 1822, refer to the result of these crossings for the first time as Bull Terriers”. Later in 1829, Captain Thomas Brown in his Biographical Sketches and Authentic Anecdotes of Dogs, devoted a special chapter to this “new” breed, the Bull Terrier.
The terrier role in this Bulldog-Terrier alliance is believed to have been performed by the Old English Black-and-Tan Terrier, forerunner of the Manchester Terrier. It is not surprising that size in these old Bull-and-Terriers varied considerably. Some taking after their Bulldog progenitor went 60 lbs. and more at maturity, while others, following more the terrier pattern of their ancestry, would be as light as 20 lbs. Type too seems to have been extremely diverse, but the fact remains that as the breed progressed animals which did not rise to the set standards of courage, and later of type, were weeded out and a better stamp of dog produced with the girth and substance of a smallish Bulldog but speedier and more athletic than that breed by virtue of its terrier inheritance. These dogs were termed Bull Terriers and this name remained with them for over 100 years although in the middle 1850’s James Hinks of Birmingham introduced an all-white variety by crossing the old Bull Terrier with the Old English White Terrier (nowextinct) and the Dalmatian. This variety developed into a fancier’s dog and later, when it was established as a breed, its supporters registered it as “Bull Terrier” with the Kennel Club in Britain. Actually, it was the original Bull Terrier (Bulldog-Terrier or Bull-and- Terrier) who as the original of his kind had a right to this name, but later when he assumed show bench status on emerging from a gladiatorial past, he had to be content with the name Staffordshire Bull Terrier. However, today he is proud of the appendage Staffordshire to his name, that English Midlands county where he began and was developed.
Bred in the opening years of the last century to satisfy his sadistic owners’ lusts for the savage spectacles of bull-and-bear-baiting the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was later used for badger-drawing and dog-fighting. However, the baiting sports which had become so much out of hand by the end of the third decade in the last century were banned, but dog-fighting went on, sonic say it exists even today in hole-and-corner places in England and America. For this sport the Stafford was ideally suited, not only by virtue of his physical make-up but because he desired to fight. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier or Pit Bull Terrier, as he was known, “progressed” into the present century still in warlike garb, but with the thirties some lovers of the breed considered his possibilities as a show dog and in 1935 the Kennel Club recognized him as a pure breed. A Standard was evolved and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club formed in Cradley Heath, South Staffordshire, to look after his interests. Today, there are many clubs specializing in the Stafford not only in the United Kingdom but throughout the world where, apart from specialist breed clubs which seem to increase yearly, the Staffordshire Hull Terrier has proved he can thrive in almost any climate from Scandinavia to the tropics. America is developing a lively interest in him now, although the American Kennel Club has yet to “recognize him. Tin American Staffordshire Terrier (once the Yankee Terrier) is an offshoot from the English dog formed over 100 years ago. It is a bigger, taller dog and is bred on distinctive lines to suit its fanciers. It is quite popular in the States, as is another variety (more like the English Staffordshire) called the American Pit Bull Terrier, commoner to the Southern States of America, but not registered by the American Kennel Club.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier: Color
The Staffordshire Hull Terrier has always sported the coat colors which mark his Bulldog parentage. In the early days, all-white patched (pied and skewbald) coats were common, followed by fawns and brindles. Today, the preference seems to be more for fawn and brindles, although blue (which color should be well pigmented to be acceptable) was introduced to the breed Standard in 1948. These days black-and-tan (in conjunction with liver colored coats) is strictly taboo in the show ring.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier: Care
The Stafford, being a short-coated dog, needs little attention apart from brief daily grooming and inspection. Like Diogenes, he is capable of living happily in a barrel or if need be adapting himself readily to the comforts of a baronial hall. But make sure lie has a comfortable bed, free from draughts and enough fresh, raw meat in his diet. He can take as much exercise as he is given and this is better on hard ground than parkland, to keep his pads hard. He is an impulsive dog – and sees little fear – this is why he should never be free from his lead when traffic is close. He is strongly constituted and is seldom ill, but owners make sure he has a full course of inoculations when a puppy and is thoroughly dried off after a soaking.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier: Character
The present-day Staffordshire Hull Terrier is a tearless, “honest” breed “game unto death” as they say, and his ferocious aspect hides a surprisingly soft nature. As a house-guard he is good and can be trained to be excellent. As a nursemaid to the very young he is exceptional and is amiable under even the roughest treatment received at their hands, from puppyhood he needs firm treatment, for he inherits from the Bulldog a stubborn streak, winch must be mastered immediately it is noted. He makes a wonderful member of any family circle and can offer you great sport in the field, especially where vermin abounds.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier: Standards
The original breed Standard was drawn up in 1935 and revised a little in 1948. All ideal male specimen al present stands 16″ at the shoulder and should weigh no less than 38 lbs., some two pounds more than tins contributing perhaps to a better balanced creature. Hitches weigh slightly less, but the important co-ordinating features are type and balance. The Stafford is a wonderful athlete, well endowed with hard, rippling muscle. The head, his prime feature, is very broad in the skull and deep through, with a strong, short foreface and distinct stop. His bite is huge, the mouth opening being capacious, but to conform for show work the upper front teeth should rest over and upon the lower incisors in a conventional terrier mouth. An undershot jaw – the opposite to this, which can be likened to the Bulldog jaw, is quite wrong in the Stafford. His body can be described as a lot packed into a small frame and his broad shoulders, deep chest and barrelled ribs and clipped-in loins and strongly muscled hindquarters proclaim us power. One interesting feature of his forelimbs is the way the feet turn out a little at the pasterns, allowing him greater flexibility in a fighting turn. His eyes should be round and set to look straight ahead and they are better when very dark, although the Standard does permit them to bear some relation to coat color.
Selections from the book: “The World Encyclopedia of Dogs” (1971)