Digging up the history of an earth dog and his escapades in the pit: trading one bloodsport for another
Most terrier breeds were developed in Great Britain and Ireland. They were used to control rodent and vermin such as rats, rabbits, and foxes both over and under the ground. Some larger terriers were also used to hunt badgers. In fact, the word terrier comes from the Middle French terrier, derived from the Latin terra, meaning earth. The Kerry Blue Terrier and Airedale, however, were particularly noted for tackling river rats and otters in deep water. Different localities raised terriers suited to their hunting or vermin control needs. Terriers were often crossed with other dog breeds: hunting dogs, fighting dogs, and other terrier breeds. In the mid 1800s, with the advent of dog shows, various breeds were "refined" (more show, less go) from the older purpose-bred dogs. Almost all of today's terrier breeds are bred primarily as pets (especially the patterdale terrier and the german jagd terrier are still used for real terrier tasks among the hunting fraternity).
The gameness of the early hunting terriers was exploited by using them in sporting contests. Initially, terriers competed in events such as clearing a pit of rats. The dog that was fastest in killing all the rats won. In the 1700s some terriers were crossed with hounds to improve their hunting, and some with fighting dog breeds to "intensify tenacity and increase courage". Some of the crosses with fighting dogs, Bull and Terrier crosses, were used in the blood sport of dog fighting. Modern pet breeds developed from the Bull and Terrier, such as the Miniature Bull Terrier, are listed by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) under Bull type terriers.
Classification of Bull type Terriers: The Bull and Terrier types were originally combinations of bulldogs and terriers as general mixed breed bull-baiting and pit dogs. In the late 1800s, they were refined into separate breeds that combined terrier and bulldog qualities. Except for Boston Terriers, they are generally included in kennel clubs' Terrier Group. At one side of the spectrum show breeders have continued to breed modern Bull type terrier show breeds, such as the Bull terrier, into still often winning show terriers. At the other side of the spectrum another descendant of the Bull and Terrier types, the American Pit Bull Terriers, are among the most supreme dog breeds still bred and raised for dog fighting purposes.
The rise and rise of the Bull and Terrier
I believe that this large 100lb old type of working "bulldog" and the newer evolved "bulldog" (the original bulldog was rumoured to not weigh in excess of 55 lbs (25 kg) for dogs and 40 lbs (18 kg) for bitches; this bulldog could be described as an shorter muscled version of the current working american pitbull terrier ) version, lived alongside the new types (the show type exaggerated Bulldog and the new challenger: Bull and Terrier crosses) for a period, slowly losing favor to the precocious and increasingly more popular bull and terrier mix being abbreviated, and referred to by most as Bull and Terriers Bull & Terriers/ Bull Terriers (when the Bull & Terrier became registered the Bull Terrier name was already given to the English Bull Terrier, hence the addition of Staffordshire (the dogs from Staffordshire were of noted superiority) to Bull Terrier: Staffordshire Bull Terrier) and Half and Halfs.
The reason for the rise of the Bull and Terrier was their well-roundness or in other words their package deal; they possessed the best of both worlds, retaining most of the brute force of the real working bulldog combined with the smaller size and the benefits of the terrier and the tenacity and quick responses of the latter.
I believe that this mixture got its merits equally from both bulldog (explosive strength) and terrier (fast reflexes) parties.
Many American fanciers and authorities on modern Bull & Terriers are reluctant to keep and refer to the terrier in the name, referring to them just as bulldogs, when they are clearly not just bulldogs.
They are what there name describes them to be: Bull and Terriers Half and Halfs. The American Pit Bull Terrier and the Original (working) Staffordshire Bull Terrier are the direct descendants of the Bull and Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier is the show variant American Pit Bull Terrier, as is the (show) Staffordshire Bull Terrier to the Original (working) Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Most of the working Staffordshire Bull Terriers are gone, the American breeders simply continued the development of the breed for longer periods of time: as a result the APBT is the epitome of the evolved Bull & Terrier. In early American fighting dog history, the men often refered to their dogs as "Staffordshire" terriers or even often simply Bull & Terriers. As the breed originated from the British isles, where the dogs from Staffordshire were of noted superiority.
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