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Canine Blood Sports

Updated on September 8, 2012

All for a few bucks, dogs have been put through a number of dirty deeds that had a high fatality risk. These blood sports have been popular throughout the years, but in most cases these "sports" are now illegal.

Bull-baiting, bear-baiting, and boar-baiting have all been very popular in history, being popularized by mostly by countries in the United Kingdom, but when new opportunities arose in other countries a man would move his family and the canine blood sport traditions with him.

As time progressed and animal rights became more popular with activists, these blood sports, as well as other inhumane activities have been banned and deemed illegal. If caught with paraphernalia or in the act, there are very strict penalties that one must pay.



This "sport" was once very popular, so much so that a ring was used for baitings is still evident in a few British towns. There are even street names in Birmingham and Corchester, as well as a few others, that have reference to bull-baiting days.

The owner paid a entry fee for the privilege of baiting the bull, and he owner of the dog that finally pinned the bull would win the prize.

To prepare a bull for baiting, either a strong rope about 15 feet long was tied around the root of his horns or a wide leather collar was buckled around his neck, and either a strong chain or rope was attached to it. The other end was connected to a large iron ring, which acted like a swivel on a stake that had been driven into the ground.

The dog, or dogs, would be released and were expected to attack the bull from the front in an effort to pin him by the nose. A trained bull would defend himself with knowledge and strength as he became wise and experienced to the concept. Dogs were often tossed in the air by the more experienced bulls. It was not uncommon for a dog to be so badly gored that its intestines hang out; many dogs would also become crushed under the bull's hoofs.

There are horrid stories where a butcher brought his prized female and her pups that he was trying to sell; as soon as the female pinned the bull, the butcher began cutting her to pieces with a cleaver. Since the female continued to hold onto the bull until she died of the wounds the owner was inflicting, there was an instant demand for her puppies, which he sold for a hefty price. Another man, amputated the feet of his dog one at a time while the dog continued to attack the bull in order to win a bet; when the bet was won, the owner cut off the dog's head in order to put it out of misery.

In most bull rings the bull did not fare any better than the dogs. If he became tired and tried to lay down, fires were lit under him to force him to stand back up. Sometimes the bull's tail would be twisted until it broke and sharp spikes poked into his tender parts to liven him up.


Bear-baiting was performed similar to bull-baiting, except the bear's weapons were teeth and claws instead of hoofs and horns. Bear-baiting stories before the 16th century indicate that the bear wore a collar and was fastened to a stake in a similar manner as the bull. Later stories mention a ring through the bear's nose. Some bears even became famous throughout the land for their fighting ability.

Dog Fighting in ancient Japan
Dog Fighting in ancient Japan

Dog Fighting

Dog fighting was the most popular in the British Isle. The people needed something to focus their minds on so that they didn't have to think and dwell on their meager lifestyles, which is why they began gambling, cock fighting, and dog fighting. Dog fighting has been popular in many other countries throughout time.

In most dog fighting rings, the owners were present, as well as the two dogs and a judge. The spectators watched from the outside. Prized fighting dogs and puppies of champion fighters would sell for thousands, but the longevity of these dogs was very short even though original dog fighting rules were very strict and fights were stopped before the dogs were mauled.

Dog fighting has become a horrid sport where the owners now hang, burn, and bury live dogs for losing a fight or becoming badly injured. In the origins, dog fighting was semi-fair for a blood sport, but it wasn't all innocent of course. Dogs were not allowed to fight if they were human aggressive, and before each fight they were bathed by the opponent's owner in order to remove repellents and glass shards, as well as to prove the dog was not human aggressive.

The dogs were brought to the scratch in excellent condition; dogs that were ill or injured were not able to scratch in the match. Dogs that were able to scratch were cheered on by the owners and spectators while their willingness to please their owner and their determination to not give up would typically get the better of the dogs. The fights can last anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. In many cases, one or both dogs may die of exhaustion. Otherwise, it wasn't uncommon for dogs to suffer broken bones, severe abrasions, torn skin and muscle, and deep puncture wounds.


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    • Guardian1 profile image

      Guardian1 8 years ago

      Ugh, people can be so heartless. Anyone who has looked into a dog's eyes can see they have feelings and a soul. It's terrible how humanity can be so technologically advanced and yet so emotionally unevolved all at the same time.

    • Ellandriel profile image

      Ellandriel 8 years ago from Portugal

      So horrible, people saving and giving new families to animals, and others using them to dirty purposes....the shame....