History of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

History of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

By Don Krnel

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier presents an incredible mix of intelligence, courage, and tenacity tempered with a sweet affection for it’s family. As a breed, it is often shrouded in myth and misconception about it’s history and origin. Read on to learn the truth about where the Staffordshire Bull Terrier came from and what the difference is between this breed and others similar in name and appearance.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or “Staffie”, as fans of the breed call it, dates back to Elizabethan England when an ancestor of the Bulldog was used in a bloody sport called bullbaiting (also bearbaiting). This dog was closely linked to the Mastiff and weighed in at between 100 and 120 pounds.

Around the 19th century, when bullbaiting was outlawed, dog fighting quickly gained popularity and the massive bullbaiting dogs were crossed with smaller terriers and a smaller, quicker breed of dog was born, weighing about 60 pounds. This dog became known as a “Bulldog Terrier” or “Bull and Terrier” and was further refined by outcrosses to an ancestor of the Manchester Terrier. This produced a dog of about 30-45 pounds that came to be known as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which is the father breed out of which came the English Bull Terrier (1860), and later, when exported to North America around 1880, the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier.

The American Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier appear very similar to each other and people often hotly debate whether or not they are separate breeds. To clear things up a bit, the American Pit Bull Terrier was first recognized by the UKC and later by the AKC. However, when the American Pit Bull Terrier was entered into the AKC registry, the name was changed to American Staffordshire Terrier, as noted by the AKC on their website, www.akc.org, “As the breed moved to America the names Pitdog and Pitbull Terrier stuck. However, American breeders wanted an animal heavier than the British breed, hence the name American Staffordshire Terrier. This is the breed commonly referred to as Pit Bull.”

Although certain breeders have pursued slightly different goals with the American Staffordshire Terrier, often referred to as the AmStaff, and the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), the two remain virtually indistinguishable and a single dog could conceivably be simultaneously registered as both an AmStaff with the AKC and as an APBT with the UKC.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, however, is a distinct breed. It’s official, AKC standard states that the Staffie stands at 14-16 inches; male dogs weigh 28-38 pounds and females weigh 24-34 pounds. This is in contrast to the AmStaff which has no such size or weight limit. The Staffie’s color is also restricted allowing red, fawn, white, black, blue, or brindle or any of these colors with white and disqualifying black-and-tan and liver color.. AmStaffs can be any color except white (80% or more).

Described by the AKC as a, “formost all-purpose dog”, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier can be an intelligent and affectionate family dog and a courageous and tenacious protector. An all around good dog with a rich history!

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