The Origins of the American Bully

Riff Raff Headshot

Since the inception of the breed in the 1980’s, American Bullies have had to earn acceptance in the wider dog world.

The American Bully was originated in the United States, bred for its iconic muscular look and lovable temperament. In the formation of the breed, American Staffordshire Terriers provided the basis for temperament along with a few bulldog breeds. The breeds chiseled, muscular build was enhanced with the addition of American Pit Bull Terrier genes.

After roughly two decades of breed development, the American Bully Kennel Club was founded in 2004 to help raise the bullies profile in the dog world and provide a legitimate foundation for the fast growing American Bully community.

The divisive history of the American Pit Bull Terrier was a key contributor to the hurdles put in the path of this new breed. As so much of its physical characteristics were instantly recognizable and widely associated with vilified fighting dogs, the American Bully had to win over the public with its charming personality.

happy american bully puppy
Such a cutie! Daughter of Diesel and Daisy

But where did the American Pit Bull Terrier pick up this dangerous persona? The history of the Pit Bull dates back all the way to ancient Greece with the Molossi tribe and their famous war dogs. During the first millennium AD, these Molossian dogs bred with indigenous European breeds and were commonly used for entertainment at the colosseums.

Later, during the Norman Conquest in England, Normans were known to use these Greek and Roman breeds to tame wild bulls. These dogs would hold a bull by their snout until the men were able to subdue it. This practice became known as Baiting and by the 16th Century, it had transcended necessity and was practiced as sport. By the 1800’s the primary pick for baiting dogs came to be known as the Old English Bulldog. Along the way a new sport emerged where smaller dogs were put a circular pen with rats and bets would be made on which dog could kill the most vermin. This became known as Ratting, and it’s from these “pits” that the American Pit Bull Terrier got its name.

The British Parliament needed to outlaw ratting and baiting and in 1835 a new law was passed making the practice illegal. Unfortunately this did not end the use of Molassian breeds in bloodsports. Over the years many attempts to end animal blood sports have been made my governing bodies across the globe, effectively driving these atrocities into the shadows. As Baiting and Ratting practices were targeted by authorities, a new kind of sport developed in the shadows: dog fighting.

With this new application came a desire for new traits in the breed. Pit Bulls now had to demonstrate agility, ferociousness and focus to be valued by their keepers. They were now bred specifically for combat with other dogs.

As this practice had now been driven underground, the stakes were higher and the crowd demanded an every increasing level of viciousness from participants. There were no real regulations on the development of these dogs or training practices. The dogs were starved and beaten in an effort to produce the most violent and relentless animals possible. When the English began immigrating to the Americas, they brought their fighting dogs with them. Dog fights remained popular throughout the middle of the 19th Century before it was ultimately outlawed in the United States.

Tan Puppy with White feet on pavement.
Green and Tandaw really did their thing!

Then, in 1898, a newly formed United Kennel Club took the first step and recognized the American Pit Bull Terrier. Even though, the American Kennel Club was already established at this time, it wasn’t until almost 40 years later when they decided to recognize the breed as a subset of the beloved Staffordshire Terrier.

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