The following is a brief summary of the history of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed. For a more indepth history I reccomend the book, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, by Dieter Fleig.
Just when the first Bull-and-Terrier type dog was bred is not certain but there are records and drawings of this type dog showing up in England in the early 1800s. Before this time bulldogs were used for the sport of bullbaiting where a bulldog was pitted against a staked out bull. These early Bulldogs looked nothing like todays English Bulldog. They were a lean muscular dog with incredible courage and stamina. In 1835 the English parliment rightfully outlawed all dog fighting. This didn't stop dog fighting but did take it out of the open public arena and force it underground. Before this time Bull-and-Terrier dogs had already been developed and fought against other dogs but this new law made the sport more popular. Bullbaiting needed a lot of room and was done out in the open. Now forced into secrecy the pitting of dog against dog grew. Bulldogs had the courage and tenacity for this but they lacked fire and quickness. That is why the Terrier was bred to bulldogs to produce the Bull-and-Terrier dog.
The other ancestor of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is the now extinct early English Terrier. This early English Terrier was described as being belligerent, grumpy and irritable but of great intelligence. It was developed for killing foxes and other animals and was extensively used in vermin control since they were excellent rat killers.
Breeding Bulldogs and Terriers produced a dog with the perfect qualities for dog fighting. From the Bulldog they got courage, loyalty, love of people, and tenacity. From the Terrier they got quickness, fire and a desire to fight. This combination made the perfect fighting dog.
One comment I would like to make here. I hate the thought of dog fighting but to deny the history of this breed leaves a lack of understanding them. Staffys received much of their wonderful qualities because of this heritage. It is up to breeders to retain the good qualities while suppressing those that are undesirable today.
The Staffordshie Bull Terrier received Kennel Club recognition in England in 1935. The first Staffordshire Bull Terrier club was founded later that year. Staffordshire Bull Terriers were first shown as a recognized breed at the Great Hertfordshire Open Show on June 20th 1935.
This is a very abbreviated early history of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. If you own one of these wonderful dogs or are seriously considering purchasing one I suggest you study more about their fascinating history it certainly makes owning one a more rewarding experience. One website I recommend is the Stoutheart Kennels website. They have a huge amount of articles on breed history and opinons on what a Staffy should look like. If you would like to visit their site click the link below.