American Pit Bull Terrier ~ Breed History
The History of the Pit Bull - Pitt Bulls are known by many different names. Since the breed's conception, they have been known as: Bull and Terrier, Half-and-Half, Brindle Bull Dog, Pit Dog, Pit Bull, Yankee Terrier, American Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. These names illustrate the vast and colorful history that the Pit Bull breeds have.
All of the members of this breed trace their roots back to the early 19th Century. It was the cross between the Bulldog and the terrier that resulted in the Staffordshire Terrier, which was originally called the Bull-and-Terrier Dog, Half and Half, and also the Pit Dog or Pit Bullterrier. Later, it became known in England as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and is the dog breed that ultimately started the American Staffordshire and American Pit Bull Terrier breeds.
In the early part of the 19th century, the Bulldog was bred in England for the purpose of bull baiting. Bull baiting is a sport in which a tethered bull, brought to market for slaughter, would be attacked by bulldogs. The supposed purpose of the bull baiting was to help tenderize the meet of the bull prior to slaughter. It was thought that the dog attacks would help to tenderize the meat. While there was no scientific proof that the bull baiting actually tenderized the meat, its purpose was most likely to profit those who trained dogs.
The bull baiting was cruel to both the dog and the bull. During these matches the dog would assault the bull, while trying to avoid the stomping hooves and slashing horns of the bull. The dog would attempt to grab on to a nose or ear, and hang on until the bull collapsed from exhaustion or lack of oxygen. Many dogs were crushed underneath the bull's hooves, disemboweled by slashing horns, and tossed through the air causing broken legs, backs, and skulls when they hit the ground. On the whole, both the dogs and the bulls suffered greatly. Every class of person from commoners to royalty enjoyed this sport until mass public outcry finally forced Parliament to take a stand and ban the practice of bull baiting in 1835.
With bull baiting banned, dog breeders turned their attention to dog fighting. These dogs were preferred because of their fierceness, courage, and tenacity. The dog breeders began with the Bull Dog, mixed in some terrier blood for gameness, and produced the Bull and Terrier, a dog that met all of their expectations. The Bull and Terrier was bred for aggression to other dogs, unrelenting bravery, a high pain threshold, a superior blood clotting ability to aid him when wounded, a willingness to fight to the end, and an unmatched affection for people. Dogfights were also very brutal on the dog as they sometimes were allowed to go until death.
Not only were the dogs bred to be aggressive towards other dogs, but they also had to be loyal to people. If a pit dog ever turned on, bit, or showed aggression to a human it was put down immediately. This led to the breeds overwhelming people friendly personality and truly kept the breed from being an outright danger to man.
The Pitt Bull arrived in America in 1870's, as all-around farm dogs and frontier guardians. They excelled in their service to mankind on the frontier and soon earned a reputation as one of the finest dogs a man could own. To increase the dog's usefulness in relation to his new frontier lifestyle, breeders of the Bull and Terrier began to selectively breed for a larger dog. The Bull and Terrier dog became adept at just about anything he was tasked with to include: herding, livestock protection, vermin removal, weight pulling, watchdog, and family companion. In all, things were good for this breed as it was loved and respected as a true family companion and faultless dog. Eventually, these dogs began to assume other names such as Pit Dog, the Pit Bull Terrier, the American Bull Terrier, and even the Yankee Terrier.
In 1898 the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the Bull and Terrier Dog as the American Pit Bull Terrier. The Pit Bull has also been seen in the advertisements of Buster Brown shoes, whose mascot Tige, an American Pit Bull Terrier, was put on every shoe to enhance it's image as a sturdy, dependable shoe. RCA used Nipper to illustrate the clarity of sound emulating from it's phonograph bye showing the pit bull being fooled into thinking he was actually hearing his master's voice and not a recording. The breed was also used to illustrate American neutrality without fear in 1914, the toughness of Levi jeans, and as a "defender of Old Glory". Then in 1917 came Sgt. Stubby who became a war hero for saving several soldiers lives and capturing a German spy while serving in the trenches of France with the 26th Yankee Division. About two decades later came a sturdy white pooch with a patch over one eye named Petey, who played alongside a lovable bunch of kids called 'The Little Rascals'.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) did not recognize breeds called "pit bulls" until 1936, when it recognized the American Pit Bull Terrier under the alias Staffordshire Terrier. The name Staffordshire Terrier comes from the miners of Staffordshire, England, who had a hand in the development of the original English fighting breed. Originally, 50 Staffordshire Terriers were accepted into the AKC. One of the original dogs was none other than the famous Petey, from the Little Rascals. The name was changed in 1972 to the American Staffordshire Terrier to distinguish the breed from the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England, the ancestor to the American dogs, which was recognized by the AKC in 1974. The British version of the dog is 14-16 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 45 pounds. The American cousin is 18-19 inches at the shoulder and weighs up to 80 pounds. The UKC's American Pit Bull Terrier is preferred to range from 30-60 pounds with the females generally, but not necessarily, smaller than the males.
Since acceptance into the AKC, the American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog has been bred separately from the UKC's American Pit Bull Terrier. This has resulted in two separate breeds. The AKC does not recognize the American Pit Bull terrier as a pure bred dog. The only bull terrier breeds recognized by the AKC are the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier. On the other hand, the UKC does recognize the AKC's American Staffordshire Terrier as an American Pit Bull Terrier and allows them to be registered with the UKC.
Today the American Staffordshire Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier are wonderful family dogs, capable of anything their owner's demand of them. Neglect and bad training has been a cause for severe damage to the reputation of the breed and has resulted in the deaths and mutilations of many people. There is a growing movement around the world to improve the ownership of these dogs and to educate people as to the true value these creatures hold as companions to people.
The Bull Terrier breed has a long history as a dog of the common man, and it is from his basic stock that the AKC's American Staffordshire and Staffordshire Terriers, and the UKC's American Pit Bull Terrier developed.
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