In England during the time of Queen Anne, bull-baiting was practised in London at Hockley-in-the-Hole, twice a week – and was also reasonably common in provincial towns, for instance at Birmingham's Bull Ring. At Tutbury, a bull was tied to an iron stake so that it could move within a radius of about 30 feet. The object of the sport was for the dogs to immobilize the bull.
Before the event started, the bull's nose was blown full of pepper to enrage the animal before the baiting. The bull was often placed in a hole in the ground. A variant of bull-baiting was "pinning the bull", where specially-trained dogs would set upon the bull one at a time, a successful attack resulting in the dog fastening his teeth strongly in the bull's snout. The extinct Old English Bulldog was specially bred for this sport.
Bull-baiting was not only practiced as a form of recreation: there existed a "long-held belief" that baiting improved the meat quality and tenderness when consumed. . By the early nineteenth century, the sport began to die out, both because the baiting caused a public nuisance and because of new concerns about animal cruelty.
A Bill for the suppression of the practice was introduced into the House of Commons in 1800 by Sir William Pulteney. The Bill was defeated by a one vote margin. A second Bill was introduced in 1802 by John Dent, but was defeated by thirteen votes. Bulls were excluded from the protections afforded to other cattle in the Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822. Bull-baiting was not finally outlawed until parliament passed the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835, which forbade the keeping of any house, pit, or other place for baiting or fighting any bull, bear, dog, or other animal.
In Wexford, the activity arrived in 1621, brought by the Guild of Butchers; bulls were baited twice a year and their hides presented to the Mayor. The area where bull-baiting took place is still called the Bullring.
In Kilkenny it took place at the site called The Ring, first in 1609, and commonly on the feast-day of John the Baptist (December 27). The last recorded bull-bait was in 1837, after they had become illegal under an 1835 Act.
In the 19th Century, and during Spanish Colonial Rule, bulls used to be pitted against bears, in California and Mexico. Kingsley (1920) said that the bulls that fought the bears, at least while California was part of the United States, were not domesticated Hereford bulls, but Spanish Fighting Bulls, whose weight, agility, speed, sharp horns and hot temper were said to be dangerous to both bears and humans, and Wistar (1937) said that those bulls were fearless. In a case of the bull winning, victory could come early, when the bull used its strength to gore the bear to death with its horns, or toss the bear into the air.
Bull-baiting dogs, including Old English Bulldogs, Bullenbeissers, Spanish Bulldogs, Ca de Bous and bull and terriers, were bred to bait animals, mainly bulls and bears. During bull-baiting the dog would attempt to flatten itself to the ground, creeping as close to the bull as possible, then darting out and attempting to bite the bull in the nose or head area. The bull would often be tethered by a collar and rope which was staked into the ground. As the dog darted at the bull, the bull would attempt to catch the dog with his head and horns and throw it into the air.
In 1835, the Cruelty to Animals Act was passed in Parliament that outlawed "Blood Sport" in the United Kingdom. The bulldog's work was suddenly over and the bulldog rapidly started dying out. Around 1865 dog fanciers began developing dog clubs which eventually culminated into conformation shows. Many fanciers utilized various remnants of the dog utilized for "Blood Sport" to resurrect the "Bull" dog and ultimately developed today's modern English bulldog.
Washington Irving, in his book, The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, wrote that a bear was baited, and likewise, a wild, fierce bull, before they were brought by vaqueros to an arena in a small amphitheatre in Monterey, California, to fight each other. He called the fight "a favorite, though barbarous sport." In this case, he said that the bear used its sharp claws against the nose of the bull, before catching its tongue, after being repeatedly gored by the bull. Then the bull overturned it "with a desperate effort," and then 'dispatched' it rather easily.