I thought that perhaps instead of a simple glossary it might be more helpful to read the explanations in context. My apologies if it becomes tedious, I've never discussed the subject at length with the general public. Should I at any point use a term or make reference to something that seems vague please let me know and I'll address it.
A dog pit or box is the arena in which the dogs due combat. It is
generally twenty feet on a side and two to two and a half feet high.
Carpet should be used as the floor covering as it provides traction for
the dogs. Two corners diagonal from each other will have a line of tape
or paint apx. three feet out from the the corner of the walls. This is
the scratch line. The dog and handler must remain behind this line at
all times until directed by the referee to release the dog. The handler
may not step over this line until the dog has left the corner. To do so
will result in a loss by fouling out.
Prior to the match the dogs are weighed. If a dog is over the specified
weight the handler must pay the predetermined forfeit. The owner of the
other dog may still choose to continue or reschedule the match for a
later date. The referee will toss a coin to determine order of washing.
The winner of the toss can choose to wash first or last. The dog washed
first is then wrapped in a towel or blanket and carried into the pit.
The handler first in chooses a corner and waits for his opponent. Once
both dogs are in their corners and the referee has entered the match can
commence. There are two officials, the referee and a time keeper, who
advises the referee of corner time counts during scratch in turn as well
as the official length of the match at conclusion.
To begin the match each dog is held facing into his corner and may not
turn around until the referee instructs the handlers to "face your
dogs". At that time the dogs are turned to face one another and make eye
contact. When both sides are ready they are ordered to "let go" or
"pit" their dogs and the fight begins. Only then may the handlers leave
During combat the handlers may talk to their dogs, whistle, clap or pat
the carpet but may not at any time touch the dogs. Only the referee may
instruct the handlers to touch their dogs and only their own dog prior
to the end of the match.
The referee may order the handlers to hold their dogs in place in the
event that one becomes "fanged". Ranging occurs when a dog in trying for
a bite hold on his opponent pierces his own lip with his canine tooth
or "cutter". This impairs a dog's ability to stay in hold and is
corrected as soon as discovered. In order to unfang a dog the referee
will slide a pen, pencil or similar tool between the gum and lip above
the tooth to be freed. It is then pulled down the outside of the tooth
freeing the lip from the tooth. If this cannot be done when the dogs are
in hold the will be separated but not taken to their corners and the
fight will recommence.
Either handler can call a "turn" on either dog which the referee may or
may not allow. A turn is the dog literally turning head and shoulders
away from the opponent without seeking a hold. This may indicate that
the turning dog want a break, wants to quit or is simply part of the
fighting style of that individual.
This begins the "scratch in turn" portion of the match. A handle is made
as soon after a turn is granted by the referee and the dogs are free of
holds. They are returned to their corners and the thirty second count
begins. The referee gives a sponge to each handler to clean and cool the
dogs. The sponges are from the same water bucket that remains under the
eye of the time keeper or a judge for the entirety of the match.
When time is called the handlers again face the dogs and the dog who
turned must scratch to the other dog in order for the match to continue.
If the dog refuses to scratch or fails to beat the count to complete
his scratch the match is over with the failing dog loosing the match.
Almost all fights are won or lost during the scratch in turn portion of
Each dog has his or her own style of fighting. Some are "front end"
fighters in that they prefer the chest or brisket and shoulders as a
target. Others prefer to fight the "stifles" or the knee to upper thigh
of the hind legs. There are preferential face, ear, nose, throat, head,
leg or gut and back end fighters. Ch. Chinaman was one of the best known
gut and kidney dogs who literally disembowelled one of his opponents in
the pit. There are also dogs known as "nut cutters" in males for
specifically targeting the penis and testicles.
The fight will continue until a dog is unable or unwilling to continue.
If a dog is unable to complete his scratch, cannot or will not take a
hold, or attempts to leave the pit the match is over. The handlers may
also agree to a draw during a long fight between equally matched,
equally game dogs in order to try to save both dogs.
After the fight has been decided the handler of one or both dogs may ask
for a "courtesy" scratch as proof if his dogs willingness to continue
even if unable to win. The winning dog is held in his corner with his
mouth held closed to prevent further damage to the loser. When the
losing dog has made his courtesy and been retrieved by his handler, the
winning handlers may "tail scratch" his dog to reciprocate the courtesy.
In this the handler releases his dog but holds the dogs tail to insure
there is not contact with the loser.
If both dogs have shown to the satisfaction of their handlers and recover from the match they may be retired or matched again.
A dog who has won three or more contract matches earns the title of
"champion". A dog who has won five or more contracted matches without
any losses or draws earns the title of "Grand Champion".
I'm sure there will be more terms or activities I fail to sufficiently
explain but I'll answer any questions you may have to correct my