Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier
This was an immensely popular working strain of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed, developed in Ireland during the 19th century. Whereas the English dogs were primarily fighters and vermin killers, the Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier was also used to hunt wild hogs, badgers, foxes and other game. Taller and more athletic compared to its small English cousins, the breed was highly valued as a tenacious fighting dog, known for its superiour gameness. Although it is directly descended from the Irish Bulldog and the original Staffordshire Pit Terrier, this breed was also influenced by the Scottish Blue Paul, English White Terrier and the English Bullterrier, as well as various local hunting and fighting terriers. The Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier was one of the key progenitors of the American Pit Bull Terrier and is believed to had been influential in some bloodlines of early American Bulldogs as well. The breed had remained more or less unchanged for 200 years, even though Irish strains of gamebred English Bullterriers and small hunting sighthound/terrier crosses have been introduced into the working lines periodically to maintain drive and health.
Sometimes referred to as "Old type" or "Sporting" Staffordshire Bull Terrier, this legendary Irish gladiator is fairly rare today, but it isn't extinct, as some believe. It is still bred and used for its traditional duties, both in its native land and worldwide. In recent years, some American Pit Bull Terrier blood is believed to had found its way back into the ISBT gene pool, bringing these two breeds even closer together. Some consider these dogs to be either actual APBTs given an Irish name designed to protect them from harsh BSL bans in the United Kingdom or simply non-standard Staffordshire Bull Terriers, but in reality the Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier is both and neither at the same time, because the APBT is basically its refined version from the United States and the modern Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England is its non-performance bred descendant whose popularity as a show contestant and family companion had overshadowed its ancestral stock and its Irish counterpart.
Muscled, agile and powerful, this rugged working dog is well equipped to tackle a number of tasks, but its love of humans and trainability make it an excellent family pet and urban companion. However, like with other bully breeds, proper training and responsible ownership are very important. The Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier will chase small animals and get into fights with other dogs if not socialized from an early age, but even with the best training, it will retain its strong confrontational attitude. This is a solid, muscular and athletic dog, with a deep chest, broad shoulders, long sturdy legs and a fairly wide head. The ears and tails are usually left unaltered, even on the fighting examples, but occasionally dogs with cropped ears can be seen.
The coat is short, smooth and flat, coming in all bully colours, including black, fawn, brindle, blue and red, but most dogs are predominantly white with darker markings. Average height is around 20 inches.