|The "bulldog" of yesterday is the
first direct ancestor of our Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This "BULLDOG" was
leggier, lighter and alltogther quicker than the modern day stafford. The head, however,
is not dissimiliar and had been expertly evolved by selective breeding for the specific
task to hand. To enable the dog to pin the bull by the nose and hang on for long periods
of time, the under-jaw was hugely developed. So that the nostrils weren't obstructed the
top jaw was lay back. It is even though that the wrinkles on the face were selectively
bred so that the blood, from the nose of the bull, could run off the dogs face, and not
into his eyes.
As bull baiting become less popular, dog fighting enjoyed by many, became an interest towards the end of the 18th century. The men who owned these bull baiting dogs began to gain recognition as owners of fine fighting dogs. The "bulldog" was bred to pin and hang on at all costs, especially when he was against a bull, he didn't have the fighting instinct when pitched against another dog. The muzzle needed to lose its lay back and the teeth need to be larger - so that different grips could occur and plenty of blood could flow. This was for the benifit of the crowd. These modifications could have been achieved by selective breeding from the "bulldog", but it seems likely that some "terrier type dog" were introduced. The name given to the "terrier type dog" was "bull and terrier or pit terrier". This type of dog was quicker, stronger with a longer muzzle than the earlier "bulldog". He was also used for ratting and badger baiting.
You might be wondering how this dog become a very popular family pet with such a bloody history. The key requirements for the type of dog from which the Staffordshire Bull Terrier evolved was that it must above all else, possess great courage. Even the rules of dog fighting tipped the scales in favour of the courageous dog - who kept coming up to the scatch line, rather than the most aggressive animal. The fighting of these dogs necessitated a great deal of human contact. After each round the dogs had to be broken apart, pick - up and taken back to their corners, these men were never expecting these fighting dogs to bite them. The ability of this dog to distinguish between animal and human is one of the most endearing and obvious characteristics of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Even though this pastime was barbaric, many of these fighting dogs were owned by the poor. The fighting dog at times being the only wage earner, in the household. Aggression was necessary in a fighting dog - but whereas a dog can be trained to be aggreesive, nothing can teach a dog courage. That is bred in him. Courage is extremely important in a pet dog, because usually dogs bite out of fear than for any other reason. The motto of the scottish kings: "nemo me impunne lacisset" meaning "no one can attack me without getting back as good as I am given"
A friend of mine told me when he was a boy, living in England, his father owned a fighting dog. As far back as he can remember, his father would return home in the evening with his dog. The dog was always bathed, feed and pampered. This dog slepted at the foot of my freinds bed up untill the day the dog passed away, at 10 years of age.
Their ability to fit into the family prevented them from becoming extinct after the outlawing of dog fighting in 1835 and during the following hundred or so years, where fighting of dogs occurred, it was strictly underground.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers have come along away. With thanks to their admirers and responsible breeders they are a very popular family pet. They are a success as a dog for children, as hardy, fun loving and fearless, as they are. Staffords are doing well in comformation shows and obedience trials all over the world.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS & RECOMMENDED READING
Guide to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier by Clare Lee (Constones U.K)