American Bulldog History
A history mired with controversy!
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History in England
The history of Mastiff-type dogs in the British Isles dates back beyond the arrival of Caesar, who reported of the ferocious dogs. With the arrival of the Normans in 1066 came Alaunts from the continent. The breeding of the indigenous mastiffs to the newly arrived ones produced the Mastiff and Bulldog of England. An interesting aside is that all descriptions of the Alaunts (there were three types) mention an all white, or almost entirely white coat - a feature the American Bulldog shares with several other Mastiff-type breeds, including the all-white Argentine Dogo.
In England during the 17th and 18th centuries, Bulldogs were used on farms to hold livestock; as butchers' dogs; and as guardians, as well as for other tasks. This eventually led to bloodsports such as bull-baiting, popular for both entertainment and the potential for gambling. These practices extended not only from the British Isles but also to the colonies acquired during this time, including what is now the United States and in particular the South; many settlers brought their dogs with them to help around the farm, hunt in the woods, guard property, and use in gambling and sport.
In 1835, the sport of bull-baiting was outlawed in the United Kingdom and, over time, the Bulldog there became a common pet, being bred into today's more compact and complacent version. The product was as much the efforts of selectively bred bulldogs as it was the introduction of the Pug. Conversely, the American strain maintained its utilitarian purpose, and thus underwent fewer modifications; even as its popularity declined in favor of other breeds. Even the slight modifications the bulldog underwent in England up to the Industrial Revolution (pre 1835), were absent in the American strain. (Most settlers of the American South came from the West Midlands and as a result of the Civil War between Royalists and Parliamentarians, well before the Industrial Revolution). Bulldogs in England were originally working dogs who drove and caught cattle and guarded their masters' property. The breed's strength, courage, and familiarity with livestock led to its popularity in the brutal sport of bull baiting. When this sport was outlawed in England, the original type of Bulldog disappeared from Britain and was replaced with the shorter, stockier, less athletic dog we now know as the English Bulldog.
History in the United States
The original Bulldog, however, was preserved by working class immigrants who brought their working dogs with them to the American South. Small farmers and ranchers used this all-around working dog for many tasks. Perhaps the most important role of the bulldog and the reason for its survival and in fact why it thrived through out the South was because of the presence of feral pigs, introduced to the New World and without predators. The bulldogs were the settlers' only means of sufficiently dealing with the vermin.
By World War II, the breed was near extinction so John D. Johnson and his father scoured the backroads of the South looking for the best specimens to revive the breed. During this time a young Alan Scott grew an interest in Mr. Johnson's dogs and began to work with him on the revitalization process. Along with Mr. Johnson, Alan Scott, and several other breeders, They began carefully to breed American Bulldogs, keeping careful records and always with an eye for maintaining the breed's health and working abilities. The American "Pit" Bulldog was registered for the first time by the National Kennel Club in 1972. Later the "Pit" part of the name was droped off so not to confuse them with the APBT.For many years Alan Scott and Mr. Johnson bred the same line of American Bulldogs together. Producing foundion dogs like Scott's Dixie Man out of Johnson's Dick the Bruiser and Scott's Dixie bell, and Johnson's Sand Man the Great out of Scott's Mac the Masher(bred by Cel Ashley) and an inbred Dick the Bruiser daughter. In or around 1979 Alan Scott and Mr. Johnson parted ways and seperated their breeding programs never to breed together again.
John D. Johnson
At or around 1980 Mr. Johnson decided to infuse an English Bulldog by the name of West Champs High Hopes owned by David Levett. At which time JDJ began to create and market his trademark Johnson American Bulldogs AKA "Bully Classic Type". Whether your a fan of his dogs or not,you have to admitt, he was a hell of a breeder. In Januray 2008 the American Bulldog world said goodby to one of its founding members Mr. John D. Johnson.
Alan Scott, has never changed the way he bred his dogs, always keeping an eye on the working traits he had come to depend on in the woods and on the farm. Never adding to or taking from what he and Mr. Johnson started with all thoes years ago. Alan has dedicated 40 years to the refinment and survivel of the original working Bulldog. Helping write a standard that will continue to keep the American Bulldog going in the right direction.
Their are breeders out their that are breeding the Johnson and the Scott dogs together producing a "HYBRED" dog that may look more "STANDARD" or more "BULLY" but is still a "HYBRED" They belive they have the best of both worlds.
Libberty Kennels feels that the Scott line(preformance and old southern white) American Bulldogs are as close to the original as you can get today. Below is a compairison between a Bulldog owned By my wilfe Christine's Great Grand Parents in 1916. Her Gandmother is a young child in the photos with her sister. The Bulldog's name was Rivers.
As you can see Rivers in the photos in the early 1900 bares a look very similiar to that of our Sweet Valley Girl of A.S. Now bare in mind we have no idear as to Rivers blood lines or his background he lived almost 100 years ago!! But he is clearly in my mind a Scott type American Bulldog!!