Staffordshire Bull Terrier: a Bulldog or a Terrier?

by Aleksander INSHAKOV and Yevgeniy TSIHELNITSKIY

It is rather a bulldog than a terrier: a little athlete with a wide massive head has strong personality and ability to stand up for itself, which makes certain contradiction to its size. According to a generally accepted theory the breed came up as a result of crossing of old English bulldog with terrier supposedly in order to give it more recklessness and velocity during dog fights.
If you consider this point it can make you wonder, how on Earth a terrier, who has been used mainly to hunt foxes and fight rats, 
can improve fighting qualities of a bulldog? Maybe you must be braver, faster and stronger to kill a rat than to fight with a dog or a bull? Another fact speaking in disfavor of the above theory is that John Hinks intended English bull terrier as a fighting dog, but already the third generation disappointed their breeder and turned out to be not more than just companions for young English gentlemen seeking for a way to emphasize their strong character and sport lifestyle. It is worthwhile considering the opinion of a well-known specialist, Stonehenge, that terriers were often crossed with bulldogs to increase their rage and obstinacy, which a hunting terrier is in need of (i.e. not to improve the bulldog). 

Old English bulldog being a true working dog had enough strength, speed, sense of smell and didn't need any crossing to improve these qualities. Selection of different forms of bull dog did not exclude crossing with other dog breeds, still we are inclined to agree with Richard  Stratton, who spent much time researching different fighting breeds. His point is, fighting dogs are small forms of hounding bulldog, who has existed in relative purity since a very long time.
 The human interest for animal baiting has been known since per-Christian times and reflects in the culture of Rome and Crete. Some modern peoples and folks keep very strong connection with this ancient tradition.
 The organizers of such performances tried to make it as spectacular as possible. As a result the dogs taking part in the performances were picked thoroughly, which influenced the breed forming of all baiting dogs immensely.  
 Ancient breeders crossed the best dogs with the best, without bothering with the look, inbreeding depression threat or any breed standard. All they were concerned with were the fighting qualities necessary for a successful performance.

 One of the features common for all fighting breeds is the specificity of their psyche. Scientists came to a surprising conclusion: big and dangerous animals very rarely fight with each other. This was first noticed by the ancients Romans, when they tried to pit lions in circuses. They saw that a lion is ready to attack any creature except another lion. In the latter case all it did was demonstrate its strength and roar.

This is no wonder, as the nature keeps an eye on the "fighting machines" like lions and other predators, otherwise they would just kill each other. There must be an impassible barrier in their psyche reducing their aggressiveness that must be set in their genotype by a group of dominant genes, otherwise the species will self-destruct. Usually dogs - wild or domestic - begin their fights like this:

1. Show teeth.

2. Ptiloerection (to look bigger).

3. Various sounds (mainly roaring) meaning threat.

4. If none of the rivals changes its mind, one party tries to knock down the other, grab it by the shoulder or demonstrate its physical superiority some other way. In 90 per cent of cases it does not cause any serious injuries. The losing party strikes a submission pose and makes a "strategic" withdrawal, not being haunted by the winner.

This is the way all regular dogs, except the fighting breeds, behave. Let's see how a fighting dog deals with this situation.

1. No show of teeth.

2. No ptiloerection (rarely, especially with good fighters). If there is one, then only for a little while, at the very beginning of the fight.

3. Very little noise. No roaring, only a little whining, if the dog is held.

4. First, a fighting dog evaluates the rival trying to find its weak points and making feints. Then it  attacks drastically. It doesn't care for submissive poses of the dogs of other breeds and keeps attacking the surrendering party like nothing happened. When it comes to the fighting dogs, they never give up, may be because they "cannot", their psyche is very different comparing to regular dogs.

To be continued...