The year is 1835. The every-day crowd of England’s streets becomes quiet; the popular sport called ‘Bull Baiting’ has finally been ruled illegal. Profit has now become a scarce commodity for promoters of such violent games.
The Rise of Pit Fighting
Ironically, these ‘sportsmen’ turned to a no less violent endeavor - dog fighting. Since the English Bulldog was already so well-known and popular, what progenitor to better sire a new line of champions? Though (at the time) the English Bulldog was perfectly bred for its intent - every facet down to the short nose, loose skin and overbite had a purpose - they were a bit slow and cumbersome. Handlers wanted something more agile.
Hence, they crossed the English Bulldog with various terriers to create a powerful, more agile fighting breed with an abnormally high pain threshold; these dogs would often literally fight until the end.
- The American Pitbull Terrier was specifically bred for bite inhibition to handlers and loyalty toward humans. Meaning - they were conceived to NOT be aggressive toward humans!
- The American Kennel Club rates their version of the Pitbull, the ‘American Staffordshire Terrier’, in the high 90th percentile with children and families!
Unfortunately, Pitbulls have a terribly misguided reputation and are widely mistrusted; it’s even illegal to own these dogs in some countries. The reality is ironic; amongst over 300 dog breeds in existence, the American Pit Bull Terrier is one of the friendliest ‘people’ breeds (once even prized for children’s companions!).
- In the early 1900’s, when the Pitbull came to America along with immigration, they were often used as children’s companions- even earning the nickname ‘Nanny Dogs’.
- The ‘American Bully’ is an actual breed, recognized by the United Kennel Club. Though they may look muscular and intimidating, these dogs were specifically bred from other ‘bully’ breeds to form the ‘perfect family companion’!
One of the most famous Bulldog mixes to ever live, ‘Stubby’, became a war hero. If it weren’t for this dog, countless soldiers would have perished. As the story goes, dogs weren’t allowed to live amongst soldiers during the early 1900’s; when Stubby was discovered, the company commander ordered him to be removed. That was until the dog executed a salute (trained by one of the soldiers) - the commander couldn’t ignore this! One night, as the soldiers slept, poison gas began seeping into their enclosure; a stealthy assassination attempt by the enemy. No human would have detected the danger until it was too late, but Stubby’s short snout was immensely powerful. He alerted the tent with his barking, saving his entire platoon.
After that day, he earned a promotion to ‘Sgt. Stubby’, outranking his owner!
As many elders may be able to attest to, Pitbulls were enormously popular, the dog of choice, during the first half of the 20th century. Unfortunately, this fame all but faded completely after WW2, replaced with a vision of violence and destruction. Many attribute this to a controversial article published by ‘Sports Illustrated’ (they have since written a conflicting article, promoting the breed).