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The AKC "Bulldog" was developed by show fanciers around 1860 from pit bulldogs crossed with pugs and other breeds.  
 Many folks will argue that the pit bull just "sprung up" suddenly, mid 1800s, or that it was developed here in the US. Because there were no registration agencies, there are no "official" pedigrees prior to the 1880s, but that does not mean the breeding of pure bred dogs was not taken seriously and that records were not kept by owners.

Here is an example of one dog, a male pit bull imported into America who fought on October 19, 1881. This dog, one of two brought over by "Cockney" Charlie Lloyd on his last trip to America, beat a dog named Kreiger's Crib in one hour and 25 minutes. Some people don't believe that the pit bull existed as a pure breed this early, however, as the following will show, even without written records, the pedigree of this animal shows that his recorded breeding goes well back into the mid century, and there is no reason to believe it doesn't continue far past that, though now lost to written record.

"Pilot was bred by John Holden, of the Red Lion Inn, Park Stree, Walsal, England, and his sire was Small's Billy, who was owned by R. Small, of Seddgely. The name of Billy's sire is unknown, but Billy's sire was sired by Lane Billy and his dam was Tom Parson's Beauty. Pilot's great great grandsire was Insley's Bear Dog, owned by Joseph Insley, and Bear was bred by Sam Cooper of West Hampton. The Bear Dog's sire was Cooper's Captain who was owned by Sam Cooper and bred by Fred Evans of Wittenhall. Captain won many fights in England. In one fight he beat Philip Sautern's dog, of Sedgely. Captain also won over John Hooley's dog, of Manchester, who weighed 33 3/4 pounds (about a 40 pound dog when not in shape). Finally, Captain defeated James Hlford's dog, Gallus, of Hall Green, near Billston, who weighed 34 pounds. Captain is in the fifth generation of Pilot's pedigree, so you can see that Pilot came from a long line of fighting dogs in England."    The History of the Pit Bull Terrier, Wayne D. Brown
Cockney Charlie Lloyd and "Pilot"
MYTH: If pit bulls were purebred, they would registered by the American Kennel Club. 

Fact: Serious pit bull fanciers in the United States and the United Kingdom have never wanted kennel club recognition for the breed. They knew that once any breed became the victim of show ring breeding, it spelled ruination for any "purpose bred" dog. It has happened to UKC dogs, which are now indistinguishable from the AKC American Staffordshires. 

I myself rarely register my dogs. I don't show them in conformation (beauty) contests or sell to the public, so don't spend the money. I know how they are bred, and more importantly, so do they. Also, I have at times felt it was important to breed to other dogs which are not registered, but a better match for my dogs than a registered dog. I am hoping that for the sake of keeping the gene pool viable, the ADBA will someday consider open registration again for those who want it.

Pit bulls breeders have - to this day - been notoriously secretive about how they breed their best dogs. Pete Sparks, one of the most noted authorities on pit bulls during most of the 20th century, stated that with only one or two exceptions (the Colby family being one of those exceptions) almost "all" breeders such as Corvino, Carver, and others would intentionally fake pedigrees. 

The AKC did begin to register UKC and ADBA American pit bulls in 1936. They changed the name to Staffordshire terrier, and later, when they divided the breed again into two separate breeds, they changed it to American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier. The pit bull is registered by two other registering bodies, the ADBA (since 1909) and the UKC (since 1898).

MYTH: The pit bull was bred for dog fighting only. 

Fact: The history of the working bulldog far predates the time when bans on bull baiting caused blood sport fanciers to turn to fighting dog against dog. The very name "bull" or "bulldog" gives us the clue as to what the original purpose of this breed was.

Far back into history - too far for us to see - man had bred dogs for gripping large game like boar and bear. From these dogs developed the Butcher's Dog, or Bull-dog. The bulldog was an animal from 35 to 80 pounds, long of leg, sturdy in body, athletic, with a strong head and muzzle. The pit bulls of today descend directly from these animals. 

MYTH: Boston terriers, American Staffordshires, Staffordshire bulls and boxers are not related to pit bulls. 

Fact: The Boston "bull" terrier was developed toward the end of the nineteenth century in the Boston area (a Mecca for dog fighters at that time) from primarily Irish bred pit dogs bred to small terriers - with a dash of the then extremely popular pug which gave the breed its screw tail. The boxer was developed at the same time, on the continent, by infusions of European baiting breeds with the English show-type bulldog. The show bulldog was just being developed at that time, and it was very popular with show folks both in the UK and in Germany. Show bulldog blood gave the boxer its deformed nose - a nose never found on real working bulldogs. For a time, many "Boston terriers" were 30 to 35 pounds and difficult if not impossible to distinguish from purebred American pit bulls. See pictures of Bostons from this time frame.

As to Staffs and Staffie bulls, they are, of course, simply pit bulls which were registered with kennel clubs. After so many generations, of course there are now some differences in type. Staffie bulls are typically smaller and stockier than either pit bulls or Am Staffs. Today, some people cross breed Am Staffs and pit bulls to produce the UKC show type dogs.

MYTH: "Bull terriers" are pit bulls. 

Fact:  The "bull terrier", that humorous white dog (though they come other colors) with the slanty eyes and deformed muzzle, is often confusedly called a "pit bull", and yet he carries only a portion of pit bull blood. The bull terrier was developed to perfection by a Birmingham man named James Hinks. In the words of his son, James Hinks II, "My father owned dogs from the bravest of the old breeds and had experimented in their breeding. He had also crossed in the white English terrier and the Dalmatian. In this way he produced a pure-white dog, which he named the bull terrier." The idea, again, was predominantly to develop a "stylish" dog, bred for its good looks. The original bullterrier cross looked much like a thinly built pit bulldog, as the characteristic "down-face" wasn't developed until a specific stud dog imparted that characteristic in the breed and it became the fad. Several years after the development of the white show bull terrier, pure pit bulldogs were bred back into some lines, for added mental and physical hardiness. The breeders of the pure white dogs, despite their increasing issues with deafness and other degenerate problems, fought tooth and nail to keep the pit bull-bull terrier crosses from the registry. These crosses were, however, admitted after a struggle.

There are two English bull terriers in the bloodlines of many American pit bulls today, mainly Frisco Sport whose dam was a purebred bull terrier, and Bloomsbury Texas Tommy, a pure bull terrier. These dogs also appear in the background of American Staffordshire.