The Staffordshire Bull Terrier first came into existence in or around the seventeenth century.
As bull baiting declined in popularity and dog fighting enjoyed a surge of interest, it became necessary to develop a dog which possessed a longer and more punishing head than the Bulldog and also to combine strength and agility.
It is therefore believed that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was derived from the fighting Bulldog of the day with some terrier blood introduced.
This cross produced what was known as the Bull and Terrier or Pit Dog. These dogs were renowned for their courage and tenacity and despite their ferocity in the pit were excellent companions and good with children.
In fact it was not unknown for an injured dog to be transported home in a pram with the baby!
Although dog fighting and other barbaric pastimes of the day were patronised by the aristocracy – Lord Camelford reportedly owned a famous dog called ‘Belcher’- fighting dogs were also owned by the poorest of families.
The pit dog was a favourite with miners and steelworkers and was prevalent amongst the chainmakers of the ” Black Country ” where the dogs were not only fought for entertainment but provided a working man with valuable extra income when worked against badgers or as ratters.
With the introduction of the Humane Act in 1835, baiting sports and dog fighting became unlawful and a group of men in the Staffordshire area endeavoured to preserve their breed by introducing them to the show world. After much discussion the Standard was written describing the dog’s physical attributes and this dog was named the Staffordshire Bull Terrier to differentiate him from the English bull terrier.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was officially registered by the Kennel Club in 1935 and the first club show for the breed took place in August 1935 at Cradley Heath in the West Midlands where 60 dogs and bitches were entered .
The founder club was named The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club and is affectionately known as ‘The Parent Club’. There are now a total of 18 clubs in Great Britain and Northern Ireland ranging from the North of Scotland to the West of England.
The breed received championship status in 1938 when CC’s were awarded for the first time at the Birmingham National. The first two Champions of the breed were Ch. Gentleman Jim and Ch. Lady Eve.
The popularity of the breed has now spread abroad with well established clubs in many countries including Australia, Eire, France, Germany, Holland, Spain and the USA, to name but a few. Over the years the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has become a successful show dog and a serious contender in the Terrier Group, where they frequently have the highest number of entries of all dogs in the Terrier Group and are occasional winners of Best in Show. More importantly the Stafford has become a popular pet retaining the attributes gained from generations of fighting dogs bred for courage, tenacity and most important: total reliability and affinity with people and in particular children.