History of The American Staffordshire Terrier
To correctly give the origin and history of the American Staffordshire Terrier, it is necessary to comment briefly on two other dogs, namely the Bulldog and the terrier.
Until the early part of the 19th century; the Bulldog was bred with great care in England for the purpose of baiting bulls. The Bulldog of that day was vastly different from our present-day "sourmug." Pictures from as late as 1870 represent the Bulldog as agile and as standing straight on his legs-his front legs in particular. In some cases he was even possessed of a muzzle, and long rat tails were not uncommon. The Bulldog of that day, with the exception of the head, looked more like the present-day American Staffordshire Terrier than like the present-day Bulldog.
Some writers contend it was the white English Terrier, or the Black-and-Tan Terrier, that was used as a cross with the Bulldog to perfect the Staffordshire Terrier. It seems easier to believe that any game terrier, such as the Fox Terrier of the early 1800s, was used in this cross, since some of the foremost authorities on dogs of that time state that the Black-and-Tan and the white English Terrier were none too game, but these same authorities go on to stress the gameness of the Fox Terrier. It is reasonable to believe that breeders who were attempting to perfect a dog that would combine the spirit and agility of the terrier with the courage and tenacity of the Bulldog, would not use a terrier that was not game. In analyzing the three above-mentioned terriers at that time, we find that there was not a great deal of difference in body conformation, the greatest differences being in color, aggressiveness, and spirit.
In any event, it was the cross between the Bulldog and the terrier that resulted in the Staffordshire Terrier, which was originally called the Bull-and-Terrier Dog, Half and Half, and at times Pit Dog or Pit Builterrier. Later, it assumed the name in England of Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
These dogs began to find their way into America as early as 1870, where they became known as Pit Dog, Pit Bull Terrier, later American Bull Terrier, and still later as Yankee Terrier.
In 1936, they were accepted for registration in the AKC Stud Book as Staffordshire Terriers. The name of the breed was revised effective January 1, 1972 to American Staffordshire Terrier. Breeders in this country had developed a type which is heavier in weight than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England and the name change was to distinguish them as separate breeds.
The American Staffordshire Terrier's standard allows a variance in weight, but it should be in proportion to size. The dog's chief requisites should be strength unusual for his size, soundness, balance, a strong powerful head, a well-muscled body, and courage that is proverbial.
To clarify the confusion that may exist, even in the minds of dog fanciers, as to the difference between the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Bull Terrier, a comment on the latter may be helpful. The Bull Terrier was introduced by James Hinks of Birmingham, who had been experimenting for several years with the old bull-and-terrier dog, now known as Staffordshire. It is generally conceded that he used the Staffordshire, crossed with the white English Terrier, and some writers contend that a dash of Pointer and Dalmatian blood was also used to help perfect the all-white Bull Terrier.
In mentioning the gameness of the Staffordshire, it is not the intention to tag him as a fighting machine, or to praise this characteristic. These points are discussed because they are necessary in giving the correct origin and history of the breed. The good qualities of the dogs are many, and it would be difficult for anyone to overstress them.
The Amstaff in Australia
The American Staffordshire Terrier was officially recognised in Australia on 1st January 1987.
The first Amstaff was imported from Hawaii in November 1985 by Mr & Mrs Murdoch of Red Cliffs Victoria. They were to become the first breeders/exhibitors of the breed, their kennel prefix being "Amstaff". The basis of their future breeding programme was to start with this import, "Rockislands O’Omua O Hawaii". Bob & Ruths next import was the lovely brindle dog Ka Hanahou ’ s Lei O ’ Makana. He was to become the first Australian Champion, and with the earlier imported bitch was to produce the first Australian bred litter.
The original founders of the Ruffian bloodline were Clayton Harriman and William Whitaker. Clayton Harriman (Ruffian kennel) and William Whitaker (Jollyscamp kennel) worked together to produce the important foundation dogs of the Ruffian line. Clayton Harriman was the owner of CH The Ruffian (Klumps Deuce X Klumps Black Dina), whelped August 28th, 1938.
The term Pure Ruffian is used to describe American Staffordshire Terriers with a distinctive pedigree. The registered names and kennel names are not important, but all Pure Ruffian dogs can be traced back to Peggy Harpers HarWyn kennel, with no outcrosses added since that time. Peggy Harper was not the founder of the Ruffian bloodline, but she took some of the original Ruffian dogs to start her own intensive breeding program, and made the Ruffian line very successful and very popular.
In 1947, Peggy Harper (HarWyn) purchased CH Ruffian Headlight Hal from Clayton Harriman. She later bought CH Ruffian Dreadnaught from Mr. Harriman, which became Peggys foundation bitch.
Peggy Harper produced one impressive specimen after another, and many other breeders acquired HarWyn dogs for their foundation stock. Her HarWyn dogs proved themselves in the show rings and as producers. Peggy produced many dogs that were not only important to the Ruffian line, but important to the breed. These dogs include CH Sky King of HarWyn, CH Ruffian High Ace of HarWyn, CH Ruffian Harper of HarWyn, CH Ruffian Hercules of HarWyn, and CH Ruffian Red Rock of HarWyn.
So, the term Pure Ruffian is actually describing a pedigree that is pure HarWyn. For whatever reason though, the term HarWyn was never used to describe Peggy Harpers line, and instead her dogs were commonly referred to as Ruffian. Both Peggy and the people who acquired dogs from her used the word Ruffian in naming most of her dogs. On that basis, and also the fact that the bloodline has been kept pure with no outcrosses added since the early 1960s when X-Pert Rowdy Rascal (X-Pert, Ruffian, and Tacoma) was added into the line, it is considered Pure Ruffian.
Corvino and Tacoma
Joe Corvino was one of the most famous dogmen in the history of the breed. Joe began his breeding program in the late 1920’s, he started from dogs of Feeley, Tudor’s and Shipley’s lines and also from Armitage x Tonn's crosses. He bred numerous outstanding specimens, his gamedogs played a very important role in the history of the American Staffordshire.
Some of Joe Corvino’s most notable American Staffordshire’s are Corvino’s Braddock (14xw), Corvino’s Shorty, Corvino’s Thunder, Corvino’s Gimp and Neblett’s Braddock Jr.
Joe Corvino bred National Specilaty Winner of 1939, Westminster Winner of 1940 Ch. Sox of Chicago (Corvino’s Dick x Corvino’s Darky) that was whelped on March the 1st, 1938.
The Tacoma Line was developed through the breeding activities of Charles Doyle of Winamac Indiana. The great dog, Tacoma Jack, was whelped in 1927. He was owned by Al Brown. Using Tacoma Jack and Brown’s Judy, Mr. Brown produced a number of outstanding dogs. Several of these, including Tacoma Jack’s Replica, were sent to Charles Doyle. Using Tacoma Jack’s Replica and other Tacoma dogs, and with liberal infusions of Corvino blood through such great dogs as Corvino’s Braddock and Corvinos’s Shorty, Mr. Doyle produced a long line of courage and sound dogs.
Some of the best included Ch. Young Joe Braddock, Ch. Doyle’s Tacoma Disaster I, Ch. Doyle’s Tacoma Disaster II, Ch. Kane Tacoma Blaze, and Ch. Tacoma All-A-Blaze. Ch. Tacoma Frivolous Sal, owned by Howard and Janice Hadley, won the National Specialty in 1954. Subsequently Tacoma crosses have been important in all other major AST lines.
Mr. Doyle, who was active in the National Club both as a board member and long-time Secretary, strongly believed in keeping the Staff as Game and Functional as possible. Of all the AST lines, the Tacoma dogs have easily the most outstanding record for courage and capability.
Tacoma by Harold Card
The X-Pert bloodline is one of oldest in Am Staffs. It was started in 1930 by Clifford & Alberta Ormsby. This line is one of most famous lines in this breed. The X-Pert bloodline has numerous Champions, Westminster winners, many good working dogs... Today you will not find Am Stafs without X-Pert dogs in their roots. X-Pert's are in all amstaffs pedigrees in one degree or another.
Though some might disagree that this is not a bloodline, as these dogs were bred from Ruffian lines. Sierra Staffs are likely the most well known modern Amstaff kennel of our time.
Breeding some amazing dogs, this bloodline is very strong in mind and ability, the most famous is CH AKC GR.CH UKC Sierra-Gaff Titanium Tank, an all round stunning dog that well deserves the title of one of the best amstaffs of all time. Winnning multiple world championships and top producer multiple years in a row, I couldn't write this list with out mentioning.
Stubby served with the 102nd Infantry Regiment in the trenches in France for 18 months and participated in four offensives and 17 battles. He entered combat on February 5, 1918 at Chemin des Dames, north of Soissons, and was under constant fire, day and night for over a month. In April 1918, during a raid to take Schieprey, Stubby was wounded in the foreleg by the retreating Germans throwing hand grenades. He was sent to the rear for convalescence, and as he had done on the front was able to improve morale. When he recovered from his wounds, Stubby returned to the trenches. He ultimately had two wound stripes.
In his first year of battle Stubby was injured by mustard gas. After he recovered, he returned with a specially designed gas mask to protect him. Also, he learned to warn his unit of poison gas attacks, located wounded soldiers in no man’s land, and – since he could hear the whine of incoming artillery shells before humans could – became very adept at letting his unit know when to duck for cover. He was solely responsible for capturing a German spy in the Argonne. Due to his capture of the enemy spy, the commander of the 102 Infantry nominated Stubby for the rank of sergeant. However, whether Stubby was actually promoted or even an official member of the Army has been disputed. Following the retaking of Château-Thierry by the US, the women of the town made Stubby a chamois coat on which were pinned his many medals. He also helped free a French town from the Germans. He was later injured in the chest and leg by a grenade. At the end of the war, Robert Conroy smuggled Stubby home. Stubby died in his sleep in 1926.
"Petey" from Little Rascals
Pete the Pup, the son of Pal the Wonder Dog, took over the role of Petey, the canine mascot of the Our Gang/Little Rascals shorts after his father, Pal the Wonder Dog was poisoned in 1930. He appeared in many of the best-remembered shorts, though he was replaced with a series of younger dogs beginning in 1932. He lived to the ripe old age of 16. The trademark ring around his eye was makeup to match his dad’s natural marking.
Helen Keller’s, "Sir Thomas"
Blind and deaf since the age of 19 months, Helen Keller was an inspirational writer and speaker, and one of the most admired figures in the 20th century. She was an avid animal lover and had many canine companions throughout her long life, including her beloved pit bull, Sir Thomas. In her words:
“Whenever it is possible, my dog accompanies me on a walk or ride or sail. I have had many dog friends–huge mastiffs, soft-eyed spaniels, wood-wise setters and honest, homely bull terriers. At present the lord of my affections is one of these bull terriers. He has a long pedigree, a crooked tail and the drollest "phiz" in dogdom. My dog friends seem to understand my limitations, and always keep close beside me when I am alone. I love their affectionate ways and the eloquent wag of their tails.”
There is some debate as to exactly what type of terrier Nipper was, but he was believed to be at least part pit bull. Born in 1884 in Bristol, England. The beloved pet of the brothers Mark Henry, Philip, and Francis Barraud, Nipper is most famous for a portrait of him painted posthumously by Francis. It is a picture of the dog listening with his ear cocked next to a phonograph. Titled "His Master’s Voice", the painting became the basis for the trademark of RCA.
Later, other dogs were recruited to play Nipper and his fictional sun "Chipper" in print and television ads, but the original Nipper passed away in 1895. He is buried in Kingston-upon-Thames in England, and in 2010, a small road near his burial site was named Nipper Alley.