Before the 19th century, blood sports such as bull baiting, bear baiting and cock fighting were common. At the cattle market, bulls were set upon by dogs purportedly as a way of tenderising the meat and providing entertainment for the spectators. Blood sport with bears and other animals was organised as entertainment. The early bull and terrier types were not bred to resemble the breeds of today, but rather for the characteristic known as gameness, with the pitting of dogs against bear or bull; testing the strength and skill of the dogs. Landrace working dogs crossbred with bulldogs provided the ancestral foundation stock for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. These bloodsports were officially eliminated in 1835 as Britain began to introduce animal welfare laws. Dog fighting involved gambling; dogs were released into a pit, and the last dog still fighting or surviving was recognised the winner. A dog fighting contest was cheaper to organise and easier to conceal from the law.
The modern breed is one that has a temperament suitable as a companion dog. It is a dog worthy to show and was accepted by The Kennel Club as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier on 25 May 1935. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club was formed in June 1935. It is unusual for a breed to be recognised without a club in existence first, and even more unusual for there not to have been a breed standard in place. A standard was not drawn up until June 1935 at the Old Cross Guns, a Black Country pub in Cradley Heath where 30 Stafford enthusiasts gathered and devised the standard and elected the club's first secretary, Joseph Dunn, a well-known figure connected with the breed. Challenge certificates were awarded to the breed in 1938, and the first champions were Ch. Gentleman Jim (bred by Joseph Dunn) and Ch. Lady Eve (owned by Joseph Dunn), both taking titles in 1939. The breed was recognised in the U.S. by the American Kennel Club in 1975.