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Although there has been some discussion through the years about the origin of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, authorities generally agree that the breed can be traced back to the Mastiff-like dogs through the old Bulldog which, when crossed with British terriers, produced the first "Bull and Terriers." Books published in the early 1800s which refer to "Bull and Terriers," "Pit Dogs," and "Fighting Dogs" confirm that the cross existed at that time.
The old-fashioned Bulldog was a fierce, courageous animal used in the "sports" of bear and bull baiting as early as the mid-sixteenth century. When these "sports" fell from public favor and were outlawed, their supporters turned to dog fighting and sought to create a sporting dog that, while retaining the legendary courage and ferocity of the Bulldog, would incorporate the greater agility of the terrier.
Terriers thought to have been used in the cross are the Manchester Terrier and the now-extinct English White Terrier. In addition, crosses with various of the old working terriers were made.
Because of the attentions of different groups of English fanciers, two distinct types of Bull and Terriers arose and by 1900, they were easily distinguished. James Hinks' elegant white dogs, produced by crossing the old Pit Bull Terrier with the English White Terrier (and some say Pointer and Dalmatian), were recognized by the Kennel Club (England) and the American Kennel Club at the turn of the century. This "White Cavalier" is known today as the Bull Terrier. The other Bull and Terrier - the Stafford, which was owned by the common man - was not as easily "legitimized."
Fanciers of the "working class dog" met in England in 1935 to form a club for Staffordshire Bull Terrier fanciers and draw up a Breed Standard. In 1938, the first Championship Points were awarded in Birmingham. The first Staffordshire Bull Terriers brought to the United States lived their lives out simply as companions; it was not until 1975 that the American Kennel Club recognized the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a registerable breed that could be shown outside of the Miscellaneous Classes. The first SBT to be registered in the American Kennel Club Stud Book was the dog, an English Import, Champion Tinkinswood Imperial; the first American Champion was a bitch - the Australian import Northwark Becky Sharpe.