AMERICAN BULLDOG
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American Bulldog >> History

 

The history of Mastiff-type dogs in the British Isles dates back beyond the arrival of Ceasare, 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 - something only the American Bulldog still has.

In England during the 17th and 18th centuries, bulldogs were used on farms to catch and 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 she 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, and use in gambling.

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 utlitarian purpose, and thus underwent less modifications; even as its popularity declined in favor of other breeds. Even the slight modifications the bulldog underwent in England from the late Renaissance into 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).

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[1]. The bulldogs were the settlers' only means of sufficiently dealing with the vermin. By World War II, the breed was near extinction until 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. At a point, Alan Scott began infusing non-Johnson select dogs with John D. Johnson's line creating the now Standard American Bulldog. Therefore, the base stock of the Standard American Bulldog is the Classic American Bulldog. This created a falling out between Johnson and Scott causing them to go their separate ways and breed the two slightly different versions of the American bulldog.


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