The Staffordshire Bull Terrier (SBT) was A breed of dog, originally bred for bull-baiting and dog fighting in Birmingham by James Hinks in the mid-1800s. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was originally known as the Bull and Terrier and was later (incorrectly) changed to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier to distinguish between more readily available and not necessarily as pure breeds of the Bull Terrier. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is an English breed of dog
In the centuries prior to the twentieth century, bloodsports such as bull baiting, bear baiting and cock fighting were common place. Such sports often supplemented the income of people who would otherwise have no means to feed their families. However, it was not only a poor mans game. Back in the day, bulls were brought to market and several dogs were encouraged to attack the bull in order to tenderize the meat, this barbarrick practice also provided entertainment for the local spectators, uniting the classes in their choice of entertainment. Dog fights with bears, bulls and other animals, were well organized events to provide entertainment for the rich, the poor and the elite. The SBT of the modern era did not exist the early days, the Bull and Terriers were not bred for the the show ring, nor was the way they looked important, they were bred for only 2 factors; function and gameness. If the dog could not function it was useless and if it lacked courage it was deemed useless.
The pitting of dogs against bear or bull tested the courage and tenacity “gameness”, as well as strength and skill “function” of the dog. These dogs provided the ancestral foundation for not only the the Staffordshire Bull Terrier but for several breeds including, the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. The “Bull and Terrier” was the common ancestor.
In 1835 bloodsports were officially eliminated, Britain began to introduce animal welfare laws as growing community concerns were being heard as people started to travel across the oceans and the globe became smaller The authorities introduced penalities for particapting in blood sports. Since dog fights were easy to organize and conceal from the law, dog fighting became a very popular sport, and quickly filled the voids that were left as bull or bear baiting died out, dog fighting unlike bull baiting and bear fighting did not need big arenas and were in expensive to organise and the penality was not as harsh for dog fights. In the mid-1800s, terriers of all kinds were bred and used as pit fighting dogs. This sport was particularly localised in the Midlands with areas such as Darlaston, Birmingham, Walsall, and Stoke-on-Trent nurturing their own fighting breeds. Dog fighting was used as both a bloodsport and a way to continue to test the quality of their stock. Many fortunes were made and lost at the dog ring. Dogs would often fight to the death and the surviving dog would be well fed after a win which was usually the motivation behind its ability to fight. Pit dogs were often put into the pit hungry knowing that food was on the otherside of the fight. A champion fighting dog dog resulted in much needed wealth and prestige among the working class and swindles who were the major players in the Pit fighting industry. For many decades afterwards the banning of bloodsports, Dogs were released into a pit, and the last dog still fighting or the last dog surviving was recognized as the winner. The quality of “gameness” was still highly prized, and dogs that gave up during a fight were reviled as “curs”. Despite the courage and savageness that a prizing fighting dog must have in the ring if the dog did not possess the ability to be humble and trustworthy with humans, they were no good as fighting dogs. Pit dogs were often handled in the pit during fights, by both their owners and the judge, so they were bred to be as trustworthy with humans as they were aggressive towards other dogs.
Breeding and exhibiting SBTs
As Society became more civilised dog fighting to became a sport which was harder to organise without being caught and prosecuted. The SBT had long been recognised for its nobility and its connection to humans and people became very fond of the breed. On 25 May 1935 The Staffordshire Bull and Terriers attained UK Kennel Club recognition as a breed, the breed became known as the Staffordshire Bull Terriers and man variations such as Stafford or staffy. Staffordshire Bull Terriers were imported into the US and Australia over the next few decades as people migrated to these countries. The Staffordshire Bull Terriers were very popular in the United Kingdom, however it would be many decades before the popularity grew in other countries
Many Staffordshire Bull Terriers were imported to the US by pit fighters and later used in their breeding programs to produce the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. British nationals who migrated around the world with their dogs, were primarily the true promoter of the breed. The Staffordshire breed was recognized in the Australia in the 1950’s and the U.S. in 1976 Australia’s first SBT champion was Westaff Red Devil owned by Noel and Audrey Knight.
It would be several decades before the SBT became a popular dog in Australia, however, once the SBT bug started it spread like wild fire being one of the countries most popular breeds.
The stafford has changed in appearance over the years however there are common traits exist throughout the breed. The Stafford is renown for its character of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity. This, coupled with its affection for its friends, and children in particular, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, makes it a foremost all-purpose dog.
It is commonly said that
“No breed is more loving with its family”
Despite the beginings of the breed the Staffordshire Bull Terrier appeared in the top 10 breeds most suitable for families and especially children in a report researched and published by Southampton University in 1996. This breed is highly intelligent, eager to please and very people friendly. It adapts readily to most situations making it the foremost all purpose dog.
In the 60’s enthusiasts of the breed worked together to create the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Society of N.S.W Inc, which was formed in November 1965 in order to bring together the breed enthusiast who were passionate about the SBT. The club was established and Doug Williams was the first president and Bull Terrier exhibitor and Stafford supporter Joan Officer served as Secretary for several years. The first championship show was held in 1965, judged by Mr Fred Luland (N.S.W), with Mr Les Kendall’s Aust/NZ Ch Mowcop Maestro (imp N.Z) winning Best In Show and also going on to win the Society’s first three championship Shows.
The Society went on to introduce international judges to the breed specialty shows, with the first U.K breed specialist to come to Australia in 1977, awarding Evan’s Brittany Bedazzled the Best In Show award. Stafford matriarch Mrs Marion Forrester (N.Z) was one of the first overseas specialist to judge the breed in Australia. She judged the Society’s tenth Championship show, finding her winner in Crossguns Bill Sykes. The breed is now represented by clubs in all states and territories of Australia except for Tasmania and the Northern Territory, with each of these clubs following the foundation club’s lead and regularly bringing specialist judges from all over the world to adjudicate at their shows.
Early pioneers of the breed across Australia worked extremely hard to make the breed the force it is today. The efforts of the breeds forefathers cannot be overestimated, and it is to them that the breed’s popularity and acceptance in to homes of Australia as a much loved family member can be accredited to.
in 1966 QLD enthusiast formed a club followed by Victoria and Western Australia in the early 70’s. South Australia and ACT formed in the 80’s and NNSW in the 90’s Thanks to the hard work of the clubs members their committees and executives over the years we have enjoyed many wonderful specialty shows, And the breed enthusiast who play guardian to the breed who dedicate themselves to the continued improvement and development of the breed the future will bright.