"The first cast of dogs had already been brought in by their handlers"
14th century tapestry depicting a Florentine wolf hunt
Public Domain14th century tapestry depicting a Florentine wolf hunt - Credit: Galleria degli Uffizi

The blood sport of dog-fighting gained popularity in 19th century England after bear-baiting was banned. The dogs formerly used to torment the bears were then pitted against each other. The ‘sport’ spread across Europe and into the Americas during the 1800s.

Unsurprisingly, the practice of wolf-baiting is less common, although not without precedent. Historically, the baiting of wolves was more in the context of training dogs for wolf hunting than public entertainment. Wolves would sometimes be caught, either at the end of hunts, or in set traps, and would be set upon by the dogs, usually as a way of helping them master their fear of the animal.

 

Dogs worring wolf at conclusion of hunt, from Theodore Roosevelt's The Wilderness Hunter
Public DomainDogs worrying wolf at conclusion of hunt, from Theodore Roosevelt's The Wilderness Hunter - Credit: Theodore Roosevelt