Petey from Our Gang

Petey from Our Gang
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
I mentioned Petey from Our Gang on the radio, as well as Buster Brown, so of course I'm getting mail telling me I'm all wrong. Actually, I've only gotten a message from one person, anonymously, who says that Petey wasn't a pit, he was an American Bulldog. Of course, the big problem with breed legislation is that no one knows what a pit bull is, so sometimes it is an American bulldog, sometimes a Staffordshire, etc.

Petey's owner called him an American bull terrier. Which is another made up designation. (If I'm wrong, please let me know, but I haven't found "American bull terrier" in any formal breed listing.) The dog (or dogs) that played Petey look fairly pit-ish to me, and much smaller than an American Bulldog.

Of course, the person who wrote in about this designation also claimed that I was talking about the RCA dog. I wasn't. If memory serves that was a jack russell or something. This person also says that Valentino couldn't have been an 85 pound pit bull. Well, most pit bulls are around 50 pounds, but that doesn't mean that there aren't some large variations, particularly since there isn't a breed standard.

What concerns me most about this anonymous poster is that he/she says that they didn't support breed legislation until they got an American Bulldog. Now they love the dog but think they should be banned.



TrapJacksMama said…
I meet people like this all the time - I feel your pain! There was a guy yesterday I could've smacked...

Anyway, I've done a lot of research since I started working with pits, and this is pretty much what I've gathered: Until pretty recently, the breeds commonly known as "pit bulls" have not been really standardized like more well-known breeds (like beagles or something that have strict AKC guidelines). And until a few decades ago, they were all (American Bulldogs, American Staffordshire Terriers, etc.) generally referred to as "bulldogs". Today though we usually think of Old English Bulldogs as "bulldogs", so to differentiate we came up with other names for the American versions. And then people fostered different lines with certain attributes, and started thinking of distinct lines as different breeds as they diverged from other lines. And the name "pit bull dog" - later just pit bull - just designated what they were known for (i.e. being used in the bull-baiting or fighting pits). So American Bulldogs are a distinct breed TODAY, but not necessarily a different breed from "pit bulls" back in Petey's day.

Plus, people should remember that other breeds don't necessarily look exactly the same as they did 50 years ago. Think of how exaggerated the shape of Collie and Bull Terrier noses have become. Or how strongly sloped German Shepherd Dogs hips are today. Considering that, pit bulls haven't changed too much - I know pits that look EXACTLY like Petey!

The AKC's story on history of the Am Staff (pretty much the "pit bull" show name) can be found here:

I'm sure people will argue with me too, but that seems to be the most agreed-upon idea.

And also, working at an animal shelter and as a vet tech I've seen pits vary in weight from 35 pounds to 95.

Sorry this was so long!! I just thought it might be helpful to some people...
Anonymous said…
Petey as with Chance in Homeward Bound pit or american bulldog?

I don't think American Bulldog was even in the vernacular until Mr. Johnson or someone coined the name 50 yrs. ago. Yes, in Petey's era the name American Bulldog did not exist. Doesn't mean the breed did not exist.

Bullbaiting was outlawed in England. At some point terrier was added to bull baiting dogs for fighting purposes. These became known as pits or Staffordshire or whatever.

Early settlers bought over their dogs which are or were very close to the original bull baiting dogs. These were mainly kept in the south on farms and never got sucked into the akc or dog shows. They were bred for ability not type so you get a lot of variety but good sound breed.

The english bulldog also has origins to the original bull baiting dogs. Plus it's a sad example of how the formal dog show (akc) can cripple a breed.

My two cents....
Anonymous said…
American Bulldog History
History / Origin:
American Bulldogs are descended from ancient Mastiffs that originated in Asia and were brought to Europe by nomads. Mastiffs were bred to bring down, fight or hold large aggressive prey such as wild boar, bears or big cats. Animals that are as likely to fight as run away. Ancient Mastiff had incredible fighting ability and courage.

Phoenician traders brought a brown strain of Mastiff to England around 800 B.C. Celts bred these brindle or brownish red behemoths to catch cattle and wild boar. Today's English Mastiff and Bullmastiff have a similar color and to some degree are descended from this strain.

Around 400 A.D. a second very tough strain of Mastiff reached English shores. This dog was called the Alaunt. English butchers and farmers turned the Alaunt into the world's first true Bulldog. In medieval times, the working English Bulldog was the first dog to develop the so called 'lock jaw grip' which really has more to do with a dog's gameness than any structural difference in its jaw. A true Bulldog has the ability to chase, catch and hang onto the nose, cheek or throat of a large herbivore and not let go no matter how hard the beast struggles or how much punishment the dog is forced to absorb. Throughout medieval, Elizabethan and the early industrial periods, Bulldogs routinely caught horse, cattle and boars. Sometimes in routine farm or butchery work and sometimes in staged competitions. When catching domestic animals, the Bulldog was usually able to make the hoofed creature submit to the excruciating pain of the bite before being harmed himself. When it is ready to cry "uncle" a bull will lower its head to the ground and allow the Bulldog to drag him backwards to the butcher. The bovine can then be slaughtered or put into a holding pen.

An old time working Bulldog also had the ability to throw a bull to the ground by rapidly corkscrewing his body right when the big beast was off balance in the middle of a stride. It was possible for an experienced 80 pound Bulldog to topple an 1800 pound bull.

Though his main opponent was usually a bull, the English Bulldog was also used against bears, lions and other ferocious carnivores. These staged fights were called baits. The Bulldogs employed on bears and large meat eaters were heavier than the ones used solely on livestock. For the larger opponents speed was not as important and the fight would take place in an enclosed area so endurance was less of a factor. Whether large or small the working English Bulldog that survived this grueling gauntlet of animal combat became the greatest canine warrior ever. In 1835, all animal baiting contests were made illegal in England.

The only baiting that survived the ban was dog baiting or dog fighting. Coal miners in the Staffordshire region crossed English Bulldogs with scrappy terriers and continued the gladitorial tradition in clandestine matches that are still going on today. From these Bulldog terrier crosses we get the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull terriers and the Bull Terrier.

Because of the anti-baiting laws, purebred Bulldogs were very rare in England by the middle of the 19th century. They were being exported to America where they joined and improved the working Bulldogs already in the former colonies. They were also shipped to Germany where they helped create the Boxer. They were crossed with Mastiffs to create superior guard dogs. Interestingly, the early Bullmastiffs were often white or piebald, only latter with the addition of dark brindle mastiff blood did darker colors evolve. And finally the last of the working Bulldogs were crossed with pugs to create a blocky mild mannered little show dog.
American Postcard, circa 1900

Today, the dog the world calls the English Bulldog is really a Pug Bulldog cross, a fine animal in its own right but not a true working Bulldog. In fact, the working English Bulldog became extinct in his native land at the turn of the 19th century. Fortunately he survived in America, especially in the mountainous regions of the rural south. There he was saved from extinction because he still had work to do. Hogs and cattle were allowed to free range in this rugged terrain where fences were impossible and could only be caught with hardy English Bulldogs.

Throughout the south and the southwest, Bulldogs were also used as guard dogs. In the 19th century and earlier there are numerous historical records of large plantation Bulldogs or estate Bulldogs that were kept in yards sometimes on chains and used on human bad guys. Plantation bullies were occasionally allowed to roam in prison yards, patrolling open spaces between cells and main wall. Regional varieties developed and many names were applied to the southern Bulldogs. Some of the more common names were Old English White, White English, Swamp Bulldog, Backwoods Bulldog, English Pit, Old Country White and many others.

American Stamp, dated Oct 26, 1908

Toward the end of the 1960s, the last remnants of working English Bulldogs were disappearing from the rural south. Large agribusiness firms were consolidating land and eliminating small scale ranching. Also, small all terrain vehicles were allowing farmers to herd, catch and move cattle without dog assistance. It looked like the working English Bulldog was truly going to become extinct once and for all.

Fortunately at this time a few dedicated Bulldog enthusiasts made a concerted effort to locate some of the last of the hill Bulldogs and begin efforts to breed them, preserve them and foster a public awareness so their breeding programs could continue into perpetuity. Because of their work, the Bulldog, the breed that had toughed it out for so long against so many adversaries, could survive.

To say that today's American Bulldog is a direct descendant of the original working English Bulldog is not to say that a small percentage of other breeds have not been recently added, mostly in the 1970s when the AB was being rebuilt. The Mastiff/Bull breeds used in such outcrosses were descended in part from the working English Bulldog, Alaunt and other ancient molossers. Due to the low number of Old English Whites left, some breed out-crossing was inevitable to insure enough genetic diversity.

Johnson and Scott Types

The principal architects of today's American Bulldog are Allen Scott and John D. Johnson. From the breeding programs of these two men, two distinct strains have emerged, commonly called the Johnson type and the Scott type. The former is a larger, wider dog with more bone, pendulous lips, an undershot jaw, facial wrinkles and a shorter muzzle. The Johnson type resembles an athletic, tightly built, white Bullmastiff. The Scott type looks like a large, coarse, leggy, white Pit Bull.

The two types differ temperamentally as well as physically. The Johnson dogs are descendants of the plantation Bulldogs that were kept as yard dogs in the old south. They are typically more territorial, more man aggressive, in short more of a guardian. The athletic Scott strain descended from hog and cattle catch dogs. They were and still are used to catch wild hogs and cattle that have strayed into brush so thick that a man on horse back would find it impenetrable. This type of work requires extreme physical prowess. For this reason the smaller strain is called Performance.
Anonymous said…
due to the long run of the show I'm sure there was more then one everyone is wrong and everyone is correct.

try this site...find the pit:
TrapJacksMama said…
Oh yeah there was definitely more than one Petey. I recently strumbled across one of those "True Hollywood Stories" devoted to Our Gang and supposedly there was a curse attached to the show. Apparently the original Petey was poisoned! So sad...
Weezie Le Rouge said…
The dog's trainer and owner Lt. Harry Lucenay used one of Pete's offspring to continue on with Pete in the series. This dog, called "Lucenay's Peter", was dual-registered as an AKC American Staffordshire Terrier and as a UKC American Pit Bull Terrier. Lucenay's Peter was whelped (born) September 6, 1929, and bred by A. A. Keller. A few other dogs played Petey, but Lucenay's Peter was the most famous.


I've read that Lucenay's Peter was the first AKC-registered AmStaff.
Anonymous said…
"American Bull Terrier" was a name used by some people to describe the Am pit bull Terrier/ bull terrier at a time when the 2 breeds were often intermixed.

The white dog in the famous WWI poster ("I'm neutral but not afraid of any of them") is labelled "American Bull Terrier".

Bull Terrier or American Pit bull Terrier?

looks like either one to me!

Before the AKC recognized the breed in 1936(And named it "Staffordshire Terrier") some "pit bull terriers" were shown as "bull terriers", a breed AKC had already recognized
Anonymous said…
Ok, Petey the pup from the original Little Rascals movie was actually an American Pit Bull Terrier. His sire was Earl Tudors (dogmen) "Braddock."
Anonymous said…
His sire was Earl Tudor's "Black Jack". A gamebred American Pit Bull Terrier.

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