Opinions vary about exact details of breed origin,Some are of the thought that they are the original Bulldog,others say they are a 50/50 mix of the Brachycephalic Bulldog of England(the ancestor of the English Bulldog) and the extinct Hunting Terrier. Part of the reason for this is that until recently, dogs were named according to appearance or job function rather than breed. Historically, the terms “Terrier” and “Bulldog” were common , but the meanings were varied. Terrier referring to many hunting dogs be it game hunting, or hunting rats in homes. Bulldog referring to many dogs used for bull-baiting or bull herding. The controversy continues to this day, some classifying the American Pit Bull Terrier(APBT for short) as a mastiff breed while others say its a Terrier breed.
A History Lesson
As far back as you look, you will find references of Molossoid dogs that were used for fighting, hunting, and war. They were spread about the globe and these dogs evolved into our modern Mastiffs and Bulldog breeds. It is unknown whether these dogs share a common ancestry or sprang up independent of each other. Some believe that the Molossoid originates in a region close to China. When the Romans invaded ancient England, they were impressed by the War dogs so much so that they began exporting them back to Rome for use in the Great Arena, alongside the other dogs that they possessed for such uses. Most assurdly these dogs mated with their Italian counterparts. Descendants of the Inter-bred(not in-bred) Roman-British dogs were exported to France and Spain where they were renowned fighting dogs, and so, a variety of Mastiff/Bulldog type breeds were scattered about. Most likely contributing to the Bulldog that was to be one of the main ingredients in the creation of the APBT.
Referrances to the “Alaunt” or “Allen” dog ( a descendant of the early Molossoid dog) can be found as far back as 1406, which was the popular baiting dog of the time because of its tenacity and strength. Around 1686 a painting depicting dogs described as “Alaunts” looking very similar to Pit Bulls, only of a larger size, are shown hunting wild hogs.
The name “Bulldog” was first mentioned in in 1631, referring to the fact that they were used to bait bulls and bears. These dogs are presumably the descendants of the “Alaunts”. And in 1632 a letter written by an Englishman named Prestwich Eaton(Then the Duke of York) to a breeder requesting “One good Mastiff and two Bulldogs”.This gives indication that a split had occurred and the Bulldog was a distinct type all its own. Take note that “Bulldogs” at this time did not refer to a specific breed, rather, a dog with certain traits or used for certain things. Its reasonable that the dogs with more Pit Bull-like features went on to become Pit Bulls, and the more “Bulldoggy” Bulldogs went on to become English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, etc. etc.
:John had to walk me:
Bulldogs were used for Bull and Bear baiting, dog fighting, stock-work, hunting, a farm dog, as well as a companion Animal. They were an agreeable dog, capable of extreme ferociousness towards other animals on one hand, but with unwavering loyalty and gentleness towards humans. They were expected to demonstrate a certain level of aggression towards animals, but often used in pairs to bait and hunt, so extreme aggression towards others of the same species was not necessarily a desired trait.
Laws were enacted in England in 1835 that outlawed bull and bear baiting, and over a few years it decreased in popularity. The people turned to another bloodsport-dog fighting- and of course turned to the bulldog for use in fighting. Selective breeding produced a dog with heightened dog-aggression, smaller size and greater agility for performance in a pit far smaller than the fields baits were held in. Sporting terriers were crossed in to enhance these traits. These cross-breeds were called Bull-and-Terriers, Half-and-Halfs, and Pit Terriers. Whether these were the first Pit Bulls or not is in debate, this is the Bull Terriers(Spuds Mckenzie is a famous Bull Terrier) origin.
The breed to become the APBT was bred to be the ultimate gladiator. But by virtue of the versatile Bulldog blood, proved to be more just a fighting dog, including jobs were the Bulldog excelled. Traits found in pit dogs, such as gameness, were useful outside of the pit. Gameness is defined as the willingness to see a task to the end, regardless of death or injury, This trait was valuable in hunting, steadfastness to protect, and extreme tolerance for pain. so even early on, these dogs were much, much more than fighting dogs.
Shortly before the Civil War the Pit Bull reached our shores, and were used in much the same manner as in England. Here, In America, the breed was solidified and named, THE American Pit Bull Terrier. Strains that remained in England became known as Staffordshire Bull Terriers. There is speculation on how close Staffies and Pitties are, prevailing wisdom says that they were developed during the same time, made of similar, but separate, Bull and Terrier breeds. Kin, but not Kindred. The Staffie was recognized by the RKC(Royal Kennel Club) in 1936. The Pittie was recognized in 1898 by the UKC(United Kennel Club) and, in fact, was the first breed in the registry.
In America, the Pit Bull flourished, It was called “America’s Breed”. It was used in many Patriotic posters from WW1. RCA and Buster Brown Shoes used them as mascots. Pete the Pit Bull starred in the “our Gang” series. Stubby the War dog was a decorated hero of WW1 for biting and holding a German soldier until American soldiers arrived to complete the capture. Stubby was made a life member of the American Legion, the Red Cross, and the YMCA. In 1921, the Humane Education Society awarded him a special gold medal for service to his country. It was presented by General John Pershing.
* 3 Service Stripes
* Yankee Division YD Patch
* French Medal Battle of Verdun
* 1st Annual American Legion Convention Medal
* New Haven WW1 Veterans Medal
* Republic of France Grande War Medal
* St Mihiel Campaign Medal
* Wound stripe, replaced with Purple Heart when introduced in 1932
* Chateau Thierry Campaign Medal
* 6th Annual American Legion Convention
* Humane Education Society Gold Medal
In 1926, Stubby died in Conroy’s arms. His remains are featured in The Price of Freedom: Americans at War exhibit at the Smithsonian.
Sergeant Stubby’s brick at the WWI Memorial
Stubby was honored with a brick in the Walk of Honor at the United States World War I monument, Liberty Memorial, in Kansas City at a ceremony held on Armistice Day, November 11, 2006.
Stubby was also featured in the Brave Beasts exhibit at the Legermuseum in Delft,Holland. “”
In 1898 the United Kennel Club was formed with the express intent of
providing registration and fighting guidelines for the now officially-
named American Pit Bull Terrier. Later, those who wished to distance
themselves from the fighting aspect of the breed petitioned the
American Kennel Club for recognition of the Pit Bull so that it would be
eligible for dog shows and other performance events. The AKC
conceded in 1936 but only under the stipulation that the dogs
registered with them be called “Staffordshire Terriers”, the name of
the province in England in which the breed supposedly originated.
Upon acceptance of the breed, many people dual-registered their
dogs with both the AKC and the UKC. Lucenay’s Peter (the dog that
starred in the Our Gang series) was the first dual-registered Pit
The UKC evolved, eventually beginning to register other working-type
breeds, and later holding shows similar to those of the AKC. Currently,
the UKC is the second largest purebred dog registry in the United
States, complete with strict bylaws that ban anyone who is convicted
of dog fighting. The American Dog Breeders Association was formed in
1909 because of certain fanciers’ opinions that the UKC was not doing
its job protecting and preserving the Pit Bull breed as they felt it
should be preserved. The ADBA’s goal is the same now is at was
then: to register, promote and preserve the original American Pit Bull
Terrier fighting-type dog, although like the other two registries, they
officially frown upon the illegal act of dog fighting.
The AKC eventually closed its studbooks to American Pit Bull Terriers.
They allowed registration only to those dogs with parents registered
as Staffordshire Terriers. For a short period in the 1970’s, the AKC
reopened its studbooks to American Pit Bull Terriers. In 1973 the AKC
added the prefix “American” to the Staffordshire Terrier’s name in an
effort to distinguish it from the newly recognized Staffordshire Bull
Terrier. Today, only those dogs with AmStaff parents are eligible for
registration. Both the UKC and the ADBA allow registration of
AmStaffs, but in these organizations the dogs carry the original name,
“American Pit Bull Terrier.”
Today the Pit Bull has evolved into a marvelous working and
companion dog, used for purposes as varied as those it originally
performed. Pit Bulls are employed as police/armed services dogs,
search and rescuers, therapy animals, and livestock workers. They
compete in all manner of organized dog sports, from herding to agility
to conformation to obedience and the bite sports like Schutzhund and
French Ring. They make loving pets for children and seniors, and
everyone in between. They are indeed one of the most versatile
breeds on the planet. Much of this is owed to the activities it once
performed. The harshness and physical demands of the activities
molded a strong, healthy, stable animal, one anyone should be proud