A Quick History of the American Bulldog

Mikie working
Mikie at work with Tom Riche
Mikie was extremely fierce during bitework
Mikie with our son
Mikie at play in our back yard
Mikie was extremely gentle with kids and puppies

The American Bulldog, also known as the White English, or Southern White Bulldog, is a true working dog that is fairly early in its transition from a working to a show breed.. Throughout its long history, this powerful animal has been a tremendous farm and home guardian against predatory animals and human intruders as well as a fearless catch-dog of large wild game and potentially dangerous farm animals. Current uses of this breed are as personal-protection and Schutzhund sport dogs, as show, agility, and weight-pull dogs, and as child-loving, ball-chasing family companions.

The breed's general character is that of a family guardian. Because they can be dominant and highly protective, they are likely to look on new people and dogs as threats to their family and home. We consider dog aggression to be the breed's number one problem, therefore yards must be securely fenced. Most AB's are not suited for off-leash romping with other dogs. A second, less common problem is over-dominance, which is almost always limited to males. An American Bulldog thus needs lots of firm handling from day one, with continued training throughout its first two years of life. They also need a lot of socialization - the dog should meet at least 100 people of different ages and ethnicities in its first year. Their physical appearance is attention-grabbing and intimidating, having characteristics similar to, yet distinct from their bull-breed cousins the Boxer, the Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Pit Bull, the Bullmastiff, and the English Bulldog.

Two basic types of American Bulldogs emerged from the first twenty years of registered breeding, due primarily to the efforts of Alan Scott and John D. Johnson. Mr. Scott selected for the best cattle and hog-catching dogs. Mr. Johnson selected for big, bullmastiffy dogs with hard protection drive. Though starting with much of the same stock, one can easily see how the lines would quickly diverge into the courageous and agile "Scott" or "Standard" type dogs and impressive, often more protective "Johnson" or "Bully" type dogs. Both forms have their attributes and their weaknesses.

The Bully-type bulldogs have grown immensely in popularity in recent years due to their large size, impressive, blocky looks, and protective nature. It is our opinion that if it were not for the efforts of John D. Johnson in promoting and selecting for large, impressive-looking dogs, together with the re-infusion of modern English Bulldog blood in the 1970's, the American Bulldog would still be primarily an extremely rare, backwoods dog, if not extinct. Since 1990, the bully dogs have further split into the larger, more-mastiffy Collette and Rebel Rouser dogs, and compact, smaller, English-Bulldoggy Dozer x Ruby/ Sugar Doll-bred dogs. However, despite their popularity, the Bully-type dogs often have the following weaknesses; intolerance to hot weather, shortness of breath, joint troubles (especially knees and elbows), extreme dog- aggressiveness, short life-span, and lack of the extreme athletic ability necessary for the working dog.

Johnson dog
Gr. Ch. Boyd's Air Jordan, OFA Good
Jordan is 3/4 Johnson, a very Bully type AB
Scott dog
Boyd's Smashing Pumpkin, OFA Good
Though 5/8 Johnson, Pumpkin is a thicker, Standard-type AB

Alan Scott worked on his strain of dogs until around 1980 when his lines were continued by other breeders, including Joe Painter, Steve LeClerc and Mr. Williamson. These Standard-type bulldog breeders selected for prey drive, agility, gameness, and/or ability to catch bulls and wild hogs . The highly athletic, high prey-drive bulldogs they developed are very similar in appearance to the working bulldogs and Alaunts found throughout our record of canine history, both in America and Western Europe. Many of these dogs can run for miles, jump readily over a 5-foot fence, catch a wild boar with a minimum of injury to themselves, and tolerate the hottest weather without a problem. They tend to be quite muscular and are often sound and powerful in the hindquarters. Things to consider with this type of dog are that there seems to be a higher occurrence of shyness, that they are usually medium in size, as opposed to large, and that they often possess a head and body-type more often associated with pit-bulls or hounds.

Throughout the development of the American Bulldog, certain individuals in the South have discovered and made available new bloodlines of surviving, original-type "White English Bulldogs." These are the original dogs predecessing the modern American Bulldog and are still in the unbroken chain of bulldogs dating back to days in England and before, that are loyal to and protect the family, will catch a wild hog or a 2000 lb. bull with little regard to self-preservation, yet sensitively respond to training and the master's commands or else "be buried behind the barn" at an early age. They are medium to large in size, usually predominantly white in color, active and moderately social with a high level of prey drive and a closely undershot bite. Examples of this type of dog include Joshua's Sandvalley Sam and Shunamite, Vanguard's Magnum Force, Hines Snowbird/Flash, Rice's Sgt. General Hooker and White Iron, Blackwell's Polar Bear, and Scarborough's Dutchess of Snow White, none of whom have any Johnson or Scott blood, yet are as true American Bulldogs as any alive, and are the same types of dogs as Mr. Johnson and Mr. Scott started keeping pedigrees on in the 1970's. We are proud to include the best of these original-type dogs in our bloodline.

The last decade has galvanized the modern American Bulldog into three types: bully, standard, and hybrid. Those who want the best of both the bully and standard dogs have crossed the extremes and developed a middle ground, or hybrid-type AB. The "hybrid" dogs have predominated in the West, largely due to the efforts of Kyle Symmes, who began crossing Johnson and Painter dogs in the early 1980's. Because of the athleticism, vigor, and looks of this type of dog, many believe that they are the best representatives of the breed and have followed in his footsteps.

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