In the mid-1800s, Terriers of all kinds were bred and used as pit fighting dogs in England. This “sport” was particularly localised in the Midlands with areas such as Darlaston, Birmingham, Walsall, and Stoke-on-Trent nurturing their own fighting breeds.
One such breed that eventuated from this era of fighting dogs was known as the Bull Terrier. The dog was originally bred to an improved form by a James Hinks of Birmingham. In 1888 the Bull Terrier standard was published by the Bull Terrier Club in England.
The Bull Terrier eventually became popular as a family animal and gentleman’s dog and even had its own breeders club in Birmingham. This, unfortunately, did not last long as most of the members never returned from the trenches of the First World War.
In the words of James Hinks II, “My father owned dogs of the bravest of the old breeds and had experimented in their breeding. He had also crossed in the white English Terrier and the Dalmatian. In this way he produced a pure-white dog which he called the Bull Terrier.”
The idea was to develop a stylish gentleman’s dog breed for its good looks. The “down face” snout was introduced later by a stud; this feature was later reverted in some lines of the breed. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has arisen from centuries of careful breeding to develop a strong dog that is placid towards people.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a stocky, muscular dog with a broad head, thick neck, deep chest, powerful jaws, relatively short snout and short floppy ears. The cheek muscles are usually large and increase the impression of strength in the jaws. The coat is uniformly short and may be coloured black, brindle, white or tan (a reddish tan). The belly is covered by sparse hair only.
Staffies can come in any solid color except liver, and white with any color spots (known as pied). Brindled coats and brindled spots are also allowed. Black and tan Staffies are sometimes seen but are considered an unacceptable color.
The dogs stand 14 to 16 inches at the withers and weigh 24 to 38 pounds with bitches on the lighter side and male dogs on the heavier side.