The Stafford developed in what was then called the Black Country of Staffordshire and parts of Warwickshire. The breed was originally developed as a fighting dog, and shares the same ancestry as the Bull Terrier, i. e. Bulldog crossed with the Black and Tan terrier. However, according to author and Stafford enthusiast James Beaufoy, there is "interesting evidence" in some of the early 19th-century paintings that depict similarities in the appearances of modern Staffords when compared to the Old English Bulldogs in the paintings. One such painting dated 1816 is by artist Abraham Cooper titled Crib and Rosa. The painting depicts two bulldog types with conformation and coat colors that resemble the modern Stafford. Had that theory been proven true, then the modern Stafford would be considered a descendant of purebred bulldogs with no crossbreeding to terriers. The second theory, which is more closely supported by reputable dog registries and kennel clubs, suggests a breed that originated by crossing the thickly muscled Old English Bulldog, known for its stamina, strength and courage, with smaller Black and Tan Terriers, known to be feisty, agile, and lithe. The aggressive Old English Bulldog, originally bred for bear and bull baiting, was often pitted against its own kind in organised dog fights, but it was determined that lighter, faster dogs were better suited for dogfighting than the heavier Bulldog. In an effort to produce a lighter, faster, more agile dog with the courage and tenacity of the Bulldog, breeders outcrossed with local terriers and ultimately achieved success.
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