The Blue Paul Terrier was a breed of fighting dog that was apparently kept primarily in Scotland and the United States. Very little is known about this dog, other than the fact that it was supposedly quite ferocious in the dog fighting ring and that it was likely the means by which a blue coloration was introduced into Staffordshire Bull Terriers and their descendants the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. There does not seem to be any agreement as to when or where the dog was developed, when or how it went extinct, or even on its appearance and nature. The Blue Paul Terrier was also known as the Scottish Bull Terrier, Blue Poll Bulldog, and the Blue Poll.
Almost nothing is known with certainty about the Blue Paul Terrier. The dog’s origins and eventual fate are shrouded in mystery. Legend holds that around 1770, the Scottish-born American sailor, John Paul Jones, returned to his hometown of Kirkcudbright, located in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland. This John Paul Jones was allegedly the America’s first famous naval hero, most well-known for his taunt, “I have not yet begun to fight.” He supposedly brought several Blue-colored Terriers with him. These dogs were apparently extremely dog aggressive and were quickly adopted by local dog fighters. It is not stated where he acquired these Blue Terriers, but the locals began to call them Blue Paul Terriers in his honor. The breed was allegedly most popular with the “Gypsies” that traveled through the region. However, sources do not make it clear whether these “Gypsies” (a derogatory and obsolete term that describes at least three separate groups in Britain) were Roma, Scottish Travelers, or Irish Travelers. Based on the time and place it is most likely that they were Scottish Travelers, but this cannot be said with any certainty. The Blue Paul Terrier earned a near legendary reputation in the ring, where it was said to be willing to fight to the death. John Paul Jones allegedly returned to America in around 1777, bringing Blue Paul Terriers with him, where they subsequently became established on the Eastern Seaboard.
There are many problems with this story. The biggest is that there does not appear to be any documentation to back it up making it little more than rumor and folklore. Additionally, the timing is just a little bit off. The American Revolution, which began in 1775 (depending on what event is considered the start), was in full swing by 1777. Although primarily fought on the ground in the colonies, there was also a fair amount of maritime conflict as well. The British blockaded most major Colonial ports at one point or another during the conflict as well as interfering with American shipping. It is highly doubtful, although admittedly not impossible, that John Paul Jones would have returned to America at this point, and it is even less likely that he would have been able to bring dogs along with him. In any case, John Paul Jones was apparently already present in America by 1774, and he earned a commission from the Continental Congress in 1775.
It is also completely unclear how John Paul Jones first acquired these dogs or where they came from. The “Gypsies” who kept them insisted that they were originally from the Galloway Coast, where Kirkcudbright is located. If they were developed there, it doesn’t seem likely that John Paul Jones introduced them. It is possible that the “Gypsies” did not actually mean Galloway, but rather Galway, an important city located on Ireland’s Western Coast. If so, the Blue Paul Terrier may have been a descendant of the Kerry Blue Terrier, but that is little more than speculation. It is commonly stated that the Blue Paul Terrier was a form of Bull and Terrier, a cross between an Old English Bulldog and a Terrier. This is possible, but somewhat unlikely. Although Bull and Terriers may have existed for centuries, they were not common until after 1835, when dog fighting’s popularity rose after bull-baiting and bear-baiting were banned by Parliament. If the Blue Paul Terrier did date back to the 1770’s, it would have predated most other Bull and Terriers by more than 60 years. The surviving drawings of Blue Paul Terriers are not conclusive. They do look similar to other drawings of Bull Terriers, but these were made well into the Blue Paul Terrier’s history, and may actually represent crosses between that breed and Bull and Terriers rather than the original breed itself. In any case, those drawings are not conclusive and show a dog that looks just as much like a Manchester Terrier and other Terrier breeds as it does a Bull and Terrier. References are made to the breed having the same blue coat as some Greyhounds, and it is possible that the breed was actually a cross between a blue Greyhound and a Terrier, although this has no more evidence than any other theory. Other theories that have been posited are that the dog may have been descended from crosses between Terriers and one of the Blue Gascony Hounds, Collie-type dogs, or perhaps a Native American dog, but these theories are even less likely.
Little is known with specificity about the Blue Paul Terrier. It was supposedly extremely dog aggressive and readily willing to fight to the death. The breed usually had a bluish grey coat, but it isn’t clear if the coat was always solidly-colored or if it sometimes possessed white markings. Not all Blue Paul Terriers were blue, and red and brindle breed members were also sometimes born. These dogs were known in Scotland as Smuts or Red Smuts. The breed was quite muscular and athletic. Those drawings that have survived show a dog with a short, smooth coat, relatively long and straight legs, and a medium-length very slender tail. The head of this breed looked powerful, and was topped by erect ears, although whether they were naturally-erect or artificially cropped is unknown (although most think that they were cropped). The breed’s muzzle looked quite short, roughly half the length of the skull, but it was also relatively wide. The breed had a wide and deep chest, which may have made it look rounded. Allegedly, the breed stood up to a height of 50 centimeters (roughly 19½ inches) at the shoulder, and weighed approximately 20 kilograms (roughly 44 pounds). Although the dog had a Blue Coat, it was said to have amber eyes, which were neither prominent nor sunken. The Blue Paul Terrier supposedly had a very unique facial expression, one that it alone among all dogs possessed. This expression was the result of a small dip in the forehead combined with an unusually expressive facial musculature. Some have theorized that the musculature was the result of the combination of the musculature of two different breeds, but since all dogs have the same facial muscles, this would seem to be impossible.
As has already been stated, dog fighting became considerably more popular in the United Kingdom after 1835. Dog fighters discovered that Bull and Terriers made the most ideal fighting dogs as they combined the size, power, and ferocity of the Bulldog and the quickness, dog aggression, and determination of the Terrier. British dog fighters began to cross a number of different Terrier varieties with Bulldogs in an attempt to develop the ultimate fighting dog. These breeders incorporated the Blue Paul Terrier into their breeding programs. Breeders in Staffordshire particularly favored the Blue Paul Terrier, and the Blue color was introduced into the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a result. When Staffordshire Terriers were introduced into America in the mid-1800’s, they were further crossed with American fighting dogs, among them the Blue Paul Terriers allegedly descended from dogs brought back by John Paul Jones. This introduction of Blue Paul Terrier blood (as well as that Blue Staffordshire Bull Terriers) had a major impact on the subsequently developed American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. Blue has long been one of the most popular colors among American Pit Bull Terrier fanciers, such dogs are commonly referred to as Blue Nose Pits, and much, much more rarely, Blue Pauls.
It is sometimes said that the Blue Paul Terrier was one of the first dogs brought to America with English immigrants in the 19th Century. However, this is in no way accurate. British settlers had been bringing dogs with them to America since the 1600’s. Bloodhounds accompanied the earliest British settlers to Virginia, and the Mayflower carried a Mastiff and a Spaniel to Plymouth. Many other breeds preceded the Blue Paul Terrier to America, including Collies, Foxhounds, and other varieties of Terrier.
At some point, the Blue Paul Terrier went extinct, although there does not appear to be any information as to when that occurred. The breed may have died out anytime between 1850 and 1900. Although many breed members likely perished in combat, the breed probably did not die out in the traditional sense. Instead, it was likely so frequently crossed with American Pit Bull Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers that it ceased to be a distinct breed and was enveloped into those dogs as a color variety. The fact that no one documented its extinction may be evidence that dog fighting fanciers did not think that it was gone entirely, but that its blood lived on in other breeds.
The Blue Paul Terrier resembled contemporary Staffordshire Terriers. They had a smooth coat and were powerfully built. They weighed about 50 lbs. and measured up to 22 inches at the withers. The head was large; the forehead was flat, muzzle short and square, large and broad but not receding like that of the. The jaws and teeth were even with no underbite. They had a slight dip between the eyes, which were dark hazel and not sunken. The ears were small, thin, set high, and invariably cropped, with a tight face. The eyebrows contracted or knit. The facial expression of the Blue Paul has never been seen in any other breed and can frequently be recognized in mixed breeds. The body was round and well ribbed up, it’s back short, broad, and muscular, and its chest deep and wide. The tail was set low and devoid of fringe, rather drooping and never rising above the back. The dog stood straight and firmly on its legs. Its forelegs were stout and muscular, showing no curve. The hind legs were very thick and strong, with well-developed muscles. The color was dark blue as can be seen in Greyhounds. However, they sometimes produced brindles or reds, which were known as red smuts in Scotland.