History of the APBT
(Part 2)
In 1835, a law was set in motion in England that would make the sport of
baiting illegal, and over the next few years, the activity eventually died
down upon enforcement of the law. The people turned to another blood
sport - dog fighting - and of course turned to the bulldog as the likely
candidate for what was to the become the foundation of a new breed.

Bulldogs with a heightened tendency to exhibit dog-directed aggression,
a smaller size, and greater agility for performance in a pit that was
decidedly smaller than the large areas that baits were typically held in
were the likely candidates. Hardy, scrappy sporting terriers were crossed
into these fighting bulldogs to further enhance these traits. The crosses
were called bull-and-terriers.












It is considered general knowledge that these crosses were the first Pit
Bulls, however there is some speculation as to whether or not the history
of these crosses is that of our Pit Bulls, or rather a history "borrowed"
from the Bull Terrier, which is a very well documented bulldog/terrier
fighting dog cross. Some students of Pit Bull history believe that the Pit
Bull is practically a living replica of the old-time bulldog, and that during
this time the bulldog was refined as a fighting dog ‘as is’, without any
crossbreeding. The question presented is this: why would the devotees of
the already extremely game bulldog dilute the blood of the perfect fighting
dog with non-game terriers? The typical argument is that the terrier blood
increased agility and decreased size. However, the jobs the bulldog was
typically required to perform would have demanded agility and the ability
to avoid the antics of an enraged bull. As already pointed out, bulldogs
came in a variety of sizes and shapes, so breeding down the size to be
more compatible with the pit would not have been a difficult task, even
without looking outside the gene pool. Examining works of art from all
points in history, one will discover dogs that look similar to today's Pit Bull.













As tempting as it may be to sucked in by the allure of such a notion, the
odds of the APBT being the original, terrier-free bulldog is not likely. It is
the opinion our opinion that, while the APBT is probably made up mostly of
old bulldog blood, at least some terrier blood *was* indeed introduced.
Please consider the fact that quite a bit of cross-breeding went on among
the game dog fanciers of the time who were not so much interested in
purebred dogs as they were in dogs with fighting ability, and would
therefore breed accordingly to dogs that were game, regardless of
pedigree. It is a known fact that bulldogs and terriers were mixed, and
fought, and it is extremely unlikely, and in fact no evidence proves, that
none of these bull-and-terrier mixes never made it into the APBT gene
pool.

The breed eventually to be known as the American Pit Bull Terrier was
selectively bred specifically with the idea of it becoming the ultimate
canine gladiator. But by virtue of the fact that so much of the breed was
made up of versatile bulldog blood, the breed also proved adept at a
number of non-fighting activities, including those which the bulldog had
been used for. Also, the traits (specifically gameness and a soft, gentle,
amiable temperament with humans) bred for in pit dogs were surprisingly
relevant in other arenas. Gameness is defined as the willingness to see a
task through to its end, even under penalty of serious injury or death.
Gameness was the trait most cherished in a fighting dog for obvious
reasons, however this same trait proved useful in other areas - a dog
who had the tenacity to hold a wild bull or boar, braveness to keep wild
and stray animals away from valuable livestock, and extreme tolerance for
pain (which made for a very stable dog less likely to bite out of fear or
pain) was useful in rural old England, and later on in America. So while a
core group of fanciers focused on the fighting uses of the breed, and bred
with the pit in mind, others kept dogs for a variety of tasks. And indeed,
some family/working dogs were used in the pit and some pit dogs were
also family/working dogs. There was never a clear line drawn between
‘fighting dogs’, and ‘non-fighting dogs’ in those early years of the breed.

Pit Bulls were imported to America shortly before the Civil War, and used
in much the same manner as they were back in England. But in the USA
the breed solidified and was named - the American Pit Bull Terrier. Strains
of the fighting dog that remained in England later came to be known as
Staffordshire Bull Terriers. There is speculation as to how closely related
the Stafford and Pit Bull are as a breed, but the most convincing case is
made up of claims that they are a similar breed, developed during the
same time, made up of similar but separate strains of bulldog and terrier
blood. Cousins, but not brothers. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier became
recognized as a breed by the English dog registry, the Kennel Club, in
1935.




















In America, the Pit Bull flourished. It was one of the most popular breeds,
highly prized by a wide variety of people. The Pit Bull was used to
represent the US in WW1 artwork; popular companies like RCA and the
Buster Brown Shoe Company used the breed as their mascots. A Pit Bull
named Pete starred in the popular children's television series, Our Gang;
Stubby, which many people call a “pit bull type dog” became a decorated
WW1 hero. Pit Bulls accompanied pioneer families on their explorations.
Laura Ingalls Wilder of the popular Little House books owned a working
Pit Bulldog named Jack. Famous individuals like Theodore Roosevelt and
Helen Keller owned the breed. It was during this time that the Pit Bull
truly became America’s sweetheart breed, admired, respected and loved.

















Continue on to part 3--->
"Dustman" - a known
bulldog-terrier cross.
"Crib & Rosa" -
this painting is
shown to depict
two dogs of
original bulldog
type.
Sally served with the
Pennsylvania
Infantry during the
Civil War, and is
regarded as a war
hero.
"Lucenay's Peter"
- aka "Pete the
Pup" from the Our
Gang series.