Evolution of Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Bull Terriers: A Tale of Recognition

Evolution of Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Bull Terriers: A Tale of Recognition

As the popularity of pit bulls increased in the United States, so did the desire of their owners to have them officially recognized as a legitimate breed. However, the American Kennel Club, established by affluent individuals who socialized in Manhattan and engaged in shooting activities with their Pointers on vast Long Island estates, did not wish to be linked to the brutalities associated with fighting pits. Consequently, in the late 1800s, enthusiasts of pit bulls were denied the registration of their dogs.

Bull Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers

In the United Kingdom, the bull and terrier had developed into two distinct breeds – the Bull Terrier, which abandoned its fighting background and moved forward, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, whose supporters continued with their illicit competitions, mirroring the journey of pit bulls in the United States. Similar to their American counterparts, Staffordshire Bull Terriers faced obstacles in gaining official recognition in their homeland, due to the same reasons. Established registries were reluctant to associate with a breed that engaged in interbreed fighting.

Gaining Recognition: Staffordshire Bull Terriers in Britain and the United States

It wasn’t until 1935, following another wave of legislation against dogfighting, that the Kennel Club in Britain formally acknowledged and registered the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This paved the way for the American Kennel Club to acknowledge a segment of the pit bull population in the United States a year later, after breeders assured that their dogs would not be involved in dogfights.

After contemplating various names such as the American Bull Terrier (which stirred up the enthusiasts of the well-established Bull Terrier) and the Yankee Terrier, the AKC eventually decided on Staffordshire Terrier, as a tribute to the breed’s origins in the “black country” of Britain, renowned for its high concentration of mines and foundries. This appellation remained until 1972 when the AKC opted to recognize the Staffordshire Bull Terrier from the UK. Recognizing that Staffordshire Terriers in the U.S. had evolved into a larger, distinctly different breed, the AKC appended the term “American” to the name to clearly distinguish the two related yet now separate breeds.