you must understand the difference between a breed and a type. Not until the advent of dog shows at
the end of the 1800's, did the concept of individual breeds
become widely used. Before that, dogs primarily came in types.
There were retrievers, pointers, spaniels, greyhounds, huskies,
sheepdogs, livestock guardian dogs, hounds, mastiffs and bulldogs as well as several "toy" or "pet" type dogs. Any dog that did the work and
looked somewhat like a type of dog was that kind of dog. It is a mistake to believe, though, that our ancestors did not take breeding seriously when breeding dogs for a specific job.
With the advent of dog shows, dogs begin to be bred to conform to a strict written standard of how humans thought they should look. No longer bred for work, but strictly for exhibition, many breeds became non-functional at their original work.
Dog fanciers developed "standards of perfection" for breeds, and subdivided types of dogs into more and more separate breeds. The vast majority of pit bull breeders fought to keep their
dogs away from the show ring, and succeeded for several decades.
Then, like now, breeder of true performance dogs knew that the show
ring spelled ruination for their animals. It wasn't until the 1930's
that a very small group of individuals made an attempt to bring the
pit bull into the show dog world.
Using several dogs (including
Colby's Primo) as the "standard of perfection", a
physical standard was drawn up for the pit bull. The name "pit
bull" was a problem for these show dog folks - they felt
it would scare people off. They tried several names, including
Yankee Terrier which was a foolish choice for a bulldog from the United Kingdom!
They finally settled on "Staffordshire Terrier". To this day, the debate about whether or not the pit bull should be grouped with terriers (small dogs which go into tunnels for vermin) rages.
At the turn of the last century, the American Dog Breeders Association and the United
Kennel Club were already registering pit bulls.
When the American Kennel Club accepted the pit bull into their stud books in 1936, UKC and ADBA registered
pit bulls got their registered names changed to "Staffordshire Terriers.
To add to the confusion, the name "Staffordshire Terrier" was changed to "American Staffordshire Terrier" in
the 1970's when the AKC decided that the pit bulls still being bred in England
had enough variation in type to warrant being called a different
So, while the dogs all originated from the same group of animals from the United Kingdom, the dog show world turned them into three different "breeds". The American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier and the Staffordshire bull terrier.
Are they the same breed? Read on!