The Staffordshire Bull Terrier first came into existence in or around the seventeenth century. As bull baiting declined in popularity and dog fighting enjoyed a surge of interest, it became necessary to develop a dog which possessed a longer and more punishing head than the Bulldog and also to combine strength and agility. It is therefore believed that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was derived from the fighting Bulldog of the day with some terrier blood introduced. This cross produced what was known as the Bull and Terrier or Pit Dog; these dogs were renowned for their courage and tenacity and despite their ferocity in the pit were excellent companions and good with children. In fact it was not unknown for an injured dog to be transported home in a pram with the baby!
Although dog fighting and other barbaric pastimes of the day were patronised by the aristocracy - Lord Camelford reportedly owned a famous dog called 'Belcher'- fighting dogs were also owned by the poorest of families. The pit dog was a favourite with miners and steelworkers and was prevalent amongst the chainmakers of the " Black Country " where the dogs were not only fought for entertainment but provided a working man with valuable extra income when worked against badgers or as ratters.
With the introduction of the Humane Act in 1835, baiting sports and dog fighting became unlawful and a group of men in the Staffordshire area endeavoured to preserve their breed by introducing them to the show world. After much discussion the Standard was written describing the dog's physical attributes and this dog was named the Staffordshire Bull Terrier to differentiate him from the English Bull Terrier.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was officially registered by the Kennel Club in 1935 and the first club show for the breed took place in August 1935 at Cradley Heath in the West Midlands where 60 dogs and bitches were entered . The founder club was named The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club and is affectionately known as 'The Parent Club'. There are now a total of 18 clubs in Great Britain and Northern Ireland ranging from the North of Scotland to the West of England.
The breed received championship status in 1938 when CC's were awarded for the first time at the Birmingham National. The first two Champions of the breed were Ch. Gentleman Jim and Ch. Lady Eve. The popularity of the breed has now spread abroad with well established clubs in many countries including Australia, Eire, France, Germany, Holland, Spain and the USA, to name but a few.
Ch Gentleman Jim
Ch Lady Eve
Over the years the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has become a successful show dog and a serious contender in the Terrier Group, where they frequently have the highest number of entries of all dogs in the Terrier Group and are occasional winners of Best in Show. More importantly the Stafford has become a popular pet retaining the attributes gained from generations of fighting dogs bred for courage, tenacity and most important:
total reliability and affinity with people and in particular children.
Compiled by Jenny Smith 2001
|Adapted from an original article by BILL BOYLAN |
- Pictured opposite in 1939 with Ch. Game Laddie, born January 1936 (BoB Crufts, 1938) and Emden Challenger, born March 1937).
The Cradley Heath Club was formed at the 'Old Cross Guns' (above) where the hosts were Mr. and Mrs. Joe and Lil Mallen. I know that Joe claimed that while his wife was the licensee, he himself was just a customer. The purpose of the move was to be able to apply to the Kennel Club for "Staffordshire Bull Terriers to be recognised and accepted as a seperate breed under Kennel Club Rules."
During 1933, Staffordshire Bull Terriers were mentioned in 'Our Dogs' after an article in John Bull about the miners' fighting dogs. A letter appeared in that journal about these dogs that had no written pedigree. It was late in 1934 that a real move was made when a letter appeared in 'Our Dogs' from Stewart Poole of Tipton, who asked for anyone interested in the formation of a club for Staffordshire Bull Terriers to contact him. I did this but unfortunately, he received only nine replies so it was decided to wait a while and use 'Our Dogs' to emphasise the betterings about this wonderful breed that had taken a lot of stick owing to bad publicity of the dog-fighting days.
About three months later, Joe Dunn saw Joe Mallen (pictured above with a game cock and 'Stowcote Pride') at work and asked him if he would help in the formation of a Club and could a meeting be arranged to take place at 'The Cross Guns' and to canvass a small number of the locals to become members for five shillings. Mrs. Mallen agreed to it and the meeting was quickly arranged at which were nine or ten present, one of whom Mrs. Mallen loaned the five shillings membership! I have these names; three of the group were Fred Silvers who owned the original 'Queenie,' Jack Shaw who owned 'Jim the Dandy' and Harry Pegg who owned 'Fearless Joe. The first Cradley Club Show was held following this event and took place nine weeks later, l7th August, 1935 with Mr. H. N. Beilby as judge. All the notable dogs of that era were there, such as 'Jim the Dandy' (below) from whom the original standard was chiefly taken, 'Cross Guns Johnson,' who six months later secured the first award for Best of Breed at Crufts, 'Fearless Joe,' his son 'Vindictive Monty' (the first one) and my own 'Game Lad.' In bitches, were 'Brave Nell,' 'Queenie', and from the North, 'Lioness.' The awards were: Open Dog and Best in Show 'Jim the Dandy,' 2, 'Game Lad,' 3, 'Cross Guns Johnson,' Res. was 'Vindictive Monty,' Open Bitch 1, 'Brave Nell,' 2, ' Queenie,' 3, 'Lioness,' Res. 'Victorious Lass.' Special awards other than for best dog and bitch were for best second prize winner and best over four years of age were awarded to 'Game Lad.'
Crufts 1936 was another important event for Staffords, as this was the first time our breed had been on view there, and much attention was paid by a man who heard so much about these dogs in the past. Mr. Joe Dunn, the club secretary and founder was chosen to judge. He made Mr. Joe Mallen's 'Cross Guns Johnson' Best of Breed and Tom Walls brindle bitch 'Brother of Looe' best bitch. It is sad to report that the dog died soon afterwards and did not leave any progeny. That was a tragedy which could have been avoided, and no doubt meant a big loss to us as a breed.
The next big event to take place was a very well publicised show named Wembley National Dog Show held in conjunction with the Star Dog Tournament. (The London Star evening newspaper). This show was managed by Mr. Leo Wilson, a big name in the dog Press and a world wide judge. The date, 2nd October, 1936, and two classes were given Staffords, one of which had 24 entries, and all the named well known dogs were included.
I well remember the arrival of the Cradley coach with those dogs at the Wembley Way. I wondered how they had fared on the journey as they were all in a lively mood and did manage one scrap on the benches. Two contenders were Jack Barnard's 'Barham' and 'Cloth of Gold.' Jack had by then bought 'Jim the Dandy' and had him there with his others. The well known all rounder, Mr. Jas. Saunders, was the judge for Staffords and for his best dog and Best of Breed was a newcomer to us in Miss Joan Elliott's good brindle 'Bocking-Joseph' with' Game Lad' second. Best bitch was my own 'Timyke-Mustard' who was sired by 'Game Lad.' By that time Joe and Mrs. Lil Mallen had become our friends, and this developed over the years into real affection, but with the loss of 'Cross Guns Johnson' Joe seemed out of things and events, but he soon got a young brindle dog registered as 'Game Bill' whom he later sold to Dan Potter. This dog went on to win Best of Breed at Crufts 1937 under Phil Dee.
However, on 25th May the same year, 'Gentleman Jim' (opposite) was born, bred by Jack Dunn and sired by 'Brindle Mick,' who was the dog-founder of the well known M-line, and incidentally, he was full brother to 'Cross Guns Johnson.' That was very satisfactory to Joe and it did help him over his previous bad luck. This turned out what was to be a second good start, as history has proved. Earlier, on 1st January, 1936, I also had bred a litter that included a brindle dog which I registered as ' Game Laddie,' who later entered for Crufts 1938 at which show 'Gentleman Jim' was entered in the puppy class. He was made best Stafford puppy in show, while 'Game Laddie' was made Best of Breed. The judge was Mr. H. N. Beilby. Of course it is well known that 'Jim' was the first champion of our breed; in fact, he and 'Laddie' were the only champion dogs to be made, pre-war.
That, I suppose, is how it all began, and started to grow as the second formation was of our own Southern Society, whose first show was held 1st May, 1937, the judge being the well known all rounder Mr. Jas. Saunders, who had an entry of 76 made by 21 exhibitors. There are now numerous Stafford Clubs in Great Britain and others in many parts of the world. I feel certain, that for Staffords to have achieved such a high realm of popularity from that tiny start in the mid-thirties is an outstanding and almost unbelievable feat well worth recording.
Mr. Joseph Dunn it is sad to say passed away just 42 years to the day since the first meeting was held in June 1935; he passed away in June 1977.
Now I would like it to be known that Joe had no time for any blood sports and it was a well known fact that he was connected with the R.S.P.C.A. so any supporters of fighting were not encouraged and I think this was one of the reasons that certain people turned against him.
I do not think the Club would have gained recognition with the Kennel Club if it had not been for the effective way that he used his influence that he had made as a judge and breeder of Toy dogs and I think it best to quote what Mr. H. N. Beilby said about him in 1936.
(l-r) Matt Weaver, Fred Grove, Joe Dunn, Fred Holden, H. Beilby and A. Payton Smith present Mr. Joe Dunn with a gold watch at the Woodman Hotel, Cradley Heath (then headquarters of the Club) in recognition of his services as Secretary. Joe Dunn was responsible for getting the club recognised by the Kennel Club. His great knowledge of show dogs was a wonderful asset as Joe was also Secretary of the Birmingham Show Dog Society. The Chairman, Mr. Fred Holden is making the presentation.
Our secretary, Mr. Joseph Dunn, is a great deal more than merely a secretary, he is one of the best known dog men in the Black Country. It would not be far wrong to say that he is the originator of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club, and certainly he and a few other old hands are responsible for the formation of the Club in 1935. He takes a very keen interest in the welfare and development of the Stafford, no trouble is too great for him where the welfare and development of the breed is concerned, and the Staffordshire breeders owe him an everlasting debt of gratitude for the time and energy he has given so generously to the variety.
The club shows that he has organised on our behalf have been models of what such events should be, and on the financial side the position is thoroughly satisfactory. As a judge he is in great request at some of our largest shows when his awards, arising from his clear sightedness and experience do much to direct the breed along the approved lines of development as set forth in the club standard.
The Brigands (above) were soon to become well known and Joe owned the first champion bitch in Lady Eve. He also owned another good dog Champion, Brigands Bosun, who was sold to Mr. Arthur Payton Smith and on his good authority I can add that Joe never had a penny out of the deal. Arthur was told to pay a certain gentleman the amount of cash required for him and collect the dog and this is as much as I will say about the matter, but for the record I think one of the best dogs he ever had was a dog that was rescued by him; it was Brigands Bashum (above left with Brigands Judy). He was not shown because one ear had been ripped almost off, but he had a remarkable stud record and I would say sired more puppies than any other dog.
I was at the meeting on the Sunday moming at the Jolly Collier, Cradley Heath, when Joe resigned. He refused to turn over any books or records and it was said that they were burned, and I have always supported his action because of the way he had been treated. He had been openly slandered and abused by members he had done so much for and he left the club a very bitter man and never came back, but always remained one of the breed's top judges and a top all rounder until his retirement some 10 years ago and I had the satisfaction of driving him to his last 3 big shows at Plymouth, Sleaford and North Wales. I worked with Joe at Austin Motor Co. Ltd. in the 1930s and was connected with him with more than one breed of dog and always found him very fair and knew him in the palmy days and in the bad days of his serious muscle complaint in the arms when he had to wear a cage for 2 years.
The stories that could be told about the Stafford before the club was formed are countless and one told by the late Fred Silvers was that he bred a litter and let a fellow have the pick for 10 shillings. It turned out to be one of the best dogs at that time, but Fred said that he went for the puppy when Fred was at church on the Sunday morning and he was never paid for the dog. Now this was the thing that caused the trouble and many times when the members travelled together with their dogs to shows on the train on more than one occasion a member has come back with a black eye.