"The Pit Bull Terrier was made from the Bulldog and the Old English White Terrier. It has been said that a cross of the old Spanish Pointer was used, but this has never been confirmed to be authentic. The exact proportion in which each breed was used to produce the Pit Bull Terrier is not known.
During the nineteenth century when bull-baiting and dog-fighting were active sports, the bulldog was found to be too slow for pit purposes, hence the need for a dog with more speed and a good strong, punishing jaw.This new breed met with success and was much superior to the bulldog for fighting in the pit. One of the first strains that was produced was noted for its gameness and fighting ability. One sire and his son were reputed to have won many battles and were undefeated. After the bill was passed declaring bull-baiting and dog-fighting illegal, the Pit Bull Terrier was associated with the smartly attired young man about town, the prizefighters and tavern keepers.
Most of the impromptu combats were staged in cellars of the taverns or at some secluded rendezvous in a small village. Little change has come about in the appearance of the Pit Bull Terrier. The most noticeable change that has appeared is the head. The present dogs lean more to the Terrier type than the bulldog type as was common among the early dogs of the nineteenth century.The writer has seen strong characteristics crop out from time to time divulging their ancestors. The more common characteristics are bench legs, screw tail, undershot jaw and low station. Yet there has been produced an exact replica of the old English White Terrier, in the hide of a Pit Bull Terrier. Although these characteristics seldom appear, they are more commonly found in dogs that have been inbred.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, dog fighting and bull-baiting were very active sports in England. During the nineteenth century, England passed a bill making the sports illegal. Soon after this bill was passed the Pit Bull Terrier started to disappear from the public eye, as no one felt a though he wanted to be known as the owner of a battle-scarred pit dog, due to the penalty the law prescribed for any one found guilty of fighting dogs in the pit. A few years later the breed seemed to revive and was given the name of the Staffordshire Terrier, by which the breed is still known today in England. However, when dog fighting was introduced into the United States, the old name of the Pit Bull Terrier stuck with the breed and it is the belief of the author that they will never be known by any name other than the American Pit Bull Terrier.When the Pit Bull Terrier was introduced into America, he was more commonly found to be owned by prize fighters, saloon keepers and habitues, sporting men and the like. From the start the breed earned an unjust reputation due to his fighting ability and the character of the owner. To this day he is still trying to live down an unjust and undeserved reputation.
At about the turn of the twentieth century the breed was fast becoming popular and the pit dog found his way into the homes of men from all walks of life. Dog magazines carried ads and illustrations of dogs that had earned a reputation in the pit and through this advertising many dogs were sold and fought for large sums of money.
Much of this popularity was due to the notoriety given Harry Krieger and his dog,"Crib", Cockney Charlie and his dog "Pilot" and Johnnie McDonald's "Grip," more commonly known as the Gashouse Dog; McGough's "Bob," better known as "Bob, the Fool"; Connor's Bismark, "Rock and Rye," and many other famous dogs with a reputation proven in the pit.
In as much as dog-fighting is an illegal sport, thousands of dollars are wagered each year at the pitside. As long as these dogs are bred, there will be pit contests to prove who owns the better fighting dog.
A few of the many fanciers of the past and present who were active in fighting and producing game pit dogs are: Tom O'Rourke, Hector Connor, Pat McDevitt, Johnnie McDonald, Ted Timoney, John Galvin, J. Edwards, Con Reardon, Jack Burke, the Farmer Brothers, Con Feely, Mike Redican, Noonan, Semmes, John P. Colby, George Armitage, William Shipley, Jack Wolf and Tom McGough. A few of the present day men that have been successful in producing game pit dogs are: Pete Donovan, Earl Tudor, Jim Williams, Al Brown, J. M. Corrington, Ham Morris, Joe Corvino, Walter Komosinski, Harry Turner, C. P. Delaney, Charles Smith and Harry Clark.
At the present writing the breed is advancing rapidly in popularity. The author predicts that within a few years there will be such a demand for game pit dogs for sporting purposes, that it will be beyond the production. Due to the fact that this breed has weathered the so-called depression that prevailed, is proof enough that there is a market for them, even though they have a bad reputation in the dog world. Dog fighting in the past two years has increased over fifty per cent as compared with the previous two years. Which proves that the sport still holds a fascination. New faces, new dogs, new breeders gain recognition each year, and the game is on an upward trend that will see no equal."
- J.L. Colby