The Bull and Terrier is an extinct type of dog that was the progenitor of the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, English Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
The Bull and Terrier is a cross between the Old English Bulldog and a variety of Old English Terriers.
There were several varieties of this combination between bulldog and terrier, depending on the location(town or country) and the dogs chosen for the crossing. In Ireland, they used the old Irish bulldog with different terriers and some insertion of hunting sighthound/terrier crosses. In England, there were several varieties, among which three became known and survived until the 1930s. These were the Walsall type, that had some influence from Whippet; the Darlaston type, that had the major influence of terrier blood; and the Cradley Heath type, that had more Bulldog blood. Phil Drabble reported that among these three types of bull and terrier, the type of Cradley Heath was recognized as a separate breed under name of Staffordshire Bull Terrier in 1935, and the other types gradually disappeared because they did not meet the imposed standard. But decades earlier, in the 19th century, at least the Walsall type was carried by immigrants to the United States, where it served as an important component for the genetic basis of the American Pit Bull Terrier breed, through specimens such as the dog Lloyd's Pilot and the Colby bloodline, strongly combined with Irish strains.
The anatomy of the Bull and Terrier is the result of selective breeding for the purpose of hunting, dog fighting and baiting.
Most terriers, of the past and present, carried or carry a quarter to an eighth Old English Bulldog blood in them in order, allegedly, to give courage to bear the bites of the prey they are meant to attack. Terriers who were not developed from crosses between the Old English Bulldog and earth-working dogs were of inferior quality and were valued far less.
There are earth-working dogs who by default and definition are called terriers because they have the ability to go to ground; however, the best earth-working and hunting terriers are the progeny of bulldogs bred to earth-working dogs (terriers), also known as the 'Bull-Terrier' or 'half-bred' dog.
John Henry Walsh wrote in 'The dog, in health and disease, by Stonehenge' (1859):
The terrier as used for hunting is a strong useful little dog, with great endurance and courage, and with nearly as good a nose as the Beagle or Harrier. From his superior courage when crossed with the Bulldog, as most vermin-terriers are, he has generally been kept for killing vermin whose bite would deter the Spaniel or the Beagle, but would only render the terrier more determined in his pursuit of them.
Walsh also wrote of the Fox Terrier:
The field fox-terrier, used for bolting the fox when gone to ground, was of this breed (bull and terrier).
Not only is the Fox Terrier the progeny of the Bull and Terrier, but so is the Airedale Terrier, rat-working terriers, working black and tan terriers, and most all other vermin-hunting terriers.
James Rodwell described in his book titled The rat: its history and destructive nature, that the great object, among the various breeders of Bull and Terrier dogs for hunting vermin and rats, was to have them as nearly thorough-bred bull as possible, but at the same time preserving all the outward appearances of the terrier as to size, shape, and colour.
The Old English Bulldog was bred for bull-baiting. Its life depended on "Go Low, Pin and Hold". Such a breed was unsuitable for dog fighting in the pit. Once an Old English Bulldog got a good grip, there would be little left for the spectators to see, except for two dogs gripping each other, closing their jaws tighter and tighter.
Required were quick attacks, new grips, and tricks, which made up the drama of a dog fight that appealed to spectators, gamblers, and dog owners. The introduction of English Terrier blood provided longer legs, fiery temperament, and speed, which provided entertaining fights.
The crossing of bulldog and terrier produced a dog that no longer belonged to either foundation breed. The new breed was called the Bull and Terrier. With attributes such as ferociousness, aggressiveness, and intelligence, there were few fighting tasks it could not perform better than other breeds of those times.
In 1835, with the banning of baiting the breed was placed in jeopardy of extinction; however, while bull-baiting and bear-baiting laws were enforced, dog fighting flourished, so the Bull and Terrier lived on. Around 1860, the Bull and Terrier breed split into two branches, the pure white Bull Terrier and the coloured forms that lived on for another seventy years in the dog pit until they finally were recognized as a legitimate dog breed called the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Around the same time, many lower class Irish and Englishmen were emigrating to America with their proto-Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Over time, the descendants of these dogs became taller and heavier. Their masters opted for a dog that was both an aggressive warrior in the gambling dens of the cities and saloons but also was a working dog, its terrier and bulldog blood from Ireland and the UK proving to be very useful in farm work and in hunting. The breed was officially recognized as the American Pit Bull Terrier, in 1898 and later its close kin the American Staffordshire Terrier in 1936.
Famous Bull and Terriers
A celebrated Bull and Terrier named "Billy", weighing approximately 26 pounds, set a world record for rat-baiting on April 22, 1823 by killing a hundred rats in five-and-a-half minutes.
In 1812, Sporting Magazine described "Dustman" as a very famous and talented fighting dog, which represented the optimal Bull and Terrier type.
According to accounts in the Sporting Magazine from the year 1804, a Bull and Terrier named "Trusty" was just as famous throughout England as the Emperor Napoleon. Trusty went undefeated in one hundred and four dog fights.