Ireland's Pit Bull Terrier Association (IPBTA)
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History of the american Pit Bull Terrier

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History of the american Pit Bull Terrier

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:16 pm

The history of the Pit Bull varies depending on the sources you refer to. In fact some sources go so far as to claim the Pit Bull is not a pure breed at all. This is an often perpetuated myth by registries that do not support the Pit Bull breed and others that do not understand the Pit Bulls well established history as a pure breed or what it takes to meet the standard of a pure breed line.
The Pit Bull in fact has a lineage that goes back further than most other considered pure breeds in existence today.
The most reliable history on the beginning development of the Pit Bull, goes back to the time of the Romans. During the time of Minos in Crete the sport of bull baiting was quite a popular form of entertainment. This sport was developed as a part of the worship practice in honor of the warrior god "Mithras".
During this time most dogs were wild and ferocious by nature. As the Roman tribes of the time conquered and moved across the land they also took the sport with them. Due to the selective breeding of the best dogs a distinctive breed began to emerge.

By the 1700's there were two primary bull baiting dogs that had developed. This was the Blue Poll of Scotland and the Alunt from Ireland both of which were referred to as bulldogs. The Alunt of the time resembled something closer to a Great Dane but is presumed to have later developed into the Alono of Spain.
As this and other dog sports were developed people selectively bred different dogs to achieve the working attributes that they desired. They often mixed these breeds with the great dogs of England also used to bait bulls.
During this time it was thought that the use of the dog on a bull had a tenderizing effect on the meat. In reality this was a myth perpetuated by dog men and gamblers in order to encourage participation and thus draw the profits of gambling.
By the time of the early 1800's due to selective breeding a dog had emerged which was very similar to the American Pit Bull of today. Due to a slow economy and a law which prohibited people of low economic means from owning a sporting dog the practice of bull baiting began to diminish.
In 1835 bull baiting was officially banned. This forced people especially of the lower classes to find alternatives for their dogs. This resulted in a sport known as ratting where a number of rats were placed in a pit for a specified time with the dog.

THIS IS IN FACT WHERE THE "PIT" IN THE AMERICAN Pit Bull TERRIER NAME CAME FROM NOT FROM FIGHTING OTHER DOGS.

A little known fact is that Teddy Roosevelt worked ratting dogs in the basement of the White House.
The terrier part of the name came from its ability to hunt small game and was one of the reasons why ratters knew these foundation Pit Bulls being developed during this time would excel in the rat Pit. The larger the number of kill the better the dog placed in the match.
Due to the constraints of space and the agility of Black & Tan and now extinct White terriers of England these terriers were often being mixed with the old bull baiting dogs to achieve dogs which were premium for these purposes.
It is believed that this practice of mixing bulldog's and terriers began in the town of Staffordshire England and became known as the Staffordshire Bull and Terrier.
Due to the agility and gameness of this newly developed breed many began to also fight dogs with each other. Soon dog on dog fighting and ratting became so popular that practically all Inns and Pubs were equipped with a fighting pit. But another part of this breed's genetic makeup is an unwillingness to bite humans. Handlers reaching into the dog-fighting rings wanted to be able to separate dogs without getting hurt themselves. Quite soon the breed developed a reputation as a strong, protective dog, but one also known for being gentle and family-friendly.

As colonization of America and Canada began growing immigrants and explorers also brought their dogs. These dogs soon became known by the current name of "Pit Bull Terriers"
As time progressed a gentleman by the name Chauncy Bennett founded the UKC in 1898 with the American Pit Bull Terrier as its foundation dog breed. This is in fact when the officialization of the American Pit Bull Terrier ( APBT ) as a breed is recorded.
Due to the protective nature many Pit Bull owners had at the time of their dogs many refused to register even though the breed standard had become officialesed. Today many Pit Bull owners still continue to not register their dogs due to privacy concerns - especially with ramped Breed Specific Legislation ( BSL )- financial constraints and subsequent loss of lineage determination.
Today the Pit Bull breed is in fact the most unregistered pure bred line of dog in existence. This has fractured supportive services to Pit Bull owners and over the years has worked to severely diminish the value of the Pit Bull breed as a whole.

By the time of WWI the American Pit Bull Terrier had became a well loved and desired dog breed of choice. In fact the Pit Bull was used as America's canine military mascot of the time as seen in such posters as these during war time.
In 1917 a Pit Bull by the name of Sgt. Stubby became a war hero for saving several soldiers lives and even capturing a German Spy while in the trenches of France with the 26th Yankee Division.
Later the Pit Bull was used to signify sturdiness, dependability, and loyalty by such organizations as RCA, Buster Brown shoes, and even the loveable Pete of the Little Rascals.
In fact the first dog to travel across America in a car was a Pit Bull ( Bud ) and did so with the first persons ( Horatio Jackson and his assistant and "bicycle" mechanic Sewall Crocker ) to cross America in a car ( a Winton named the Vermont). Horatio later donated Bud's goggles to the Smithsonian Institute
in Washington D.C. During the trip Bud would assist in watching for large bumps in the road and often received as much if not more attention by the press than did Jackson. After the trip was completed Bud bravely guarded the Jackson home until his death of old age.
Many a famous people such as Rachel Ray, Ashley Olsen, Pink, Jessica Alba, Jesse James ( West Coast Choppers) Fred Astaire, President Roosevelt, Jack Dempsy, Thomas Edison, Madonna, Michael J Fox, Brad Pitt, Bernadette Peters, Sinbad, Alicia Silverstone, Linda Blair,
Humphrey Bogart, Usher, Mel Brooks, Ann Bancroft, John Stuart, Jan Michael Vincent, Pink (the singer), Kelli Williams (Actress from The Practice), Ken Howard (Father in Crossing Jordon - his Pit Shadow saved his life), Malcolm Jamal Warner, Stephan Jenkins, Rosie Perez, Amanda Lewis, Amy Jo Johnson, Mary Tyler Moore, Steve and Terrie Erwin (Crockhunters),
Jack Johnson (Hawaiian singer), Bill Berloni (Broadway show dog trainer who has said that the Pit is the breed of choice for training), Anthony Robbins, Molly Price (Actress from Third Watch),
President Woodrow Wilson, Frankie Muniz, AJ Mclean, Barbara Eden, and even Helen Keller have been lucky enough to own this magnificent animal.
Well known sports figures who own Pit Bulls include: Tennis Star Serena Williams (Bambi), Professional Basketball Players Desmond Mason (Zane, Capone), Rashard Lewis (Cookie, Angel, Ginger), all own a pitbull terrier.

When these "bull dogs" accompanied immigrants to America they began new careers as all-around farm dogs. Their jobs included hunting wild game, guarding the property from animal intruders, and providing companionship. In keeping with the "bigger is better" mindset of their new country, the settlers developed a dog larger than it had been in England.

In 1898 the UKC, Britain's equivalent of the AKC, named these bull dogs the American Pit Bull Terrier. The AKC decided to recognize the breed in the early 1930s--but under a new name. Intending to separate it from its pit-fighting past, the AKC named it the American Staffordshire Terrier.

Since then the American Staffordshire Terrier has been bred for AKC conformation, or dog shows, while the American Pit Bull Terrier has not been. The results are very slight differences in build and in personality.
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