Wednesday, June 6, 2007

American Bulldog

The American Bulldog is a breed of working dog developed for catching livestock and for protecting property. Though larger in size, they are the closest surviving relative of the Old English Bulldog because they were not altered to as great an extent while in Colonial America as their European cousins. There are generally considered to be two types of American Bulldog, the Johnson type and the Scott type, named after the breeders who were influential in developing them, John D. Johnson and Allen Scott. These are more commonly known as Classic or Bully type and Standard or Performance type.

The American Bulldog is a stocky, strong-looking dog. Its coat is short and either white or white with patches. The Johnson type is a larger dog with a shorter muzzle than the Scott type. However, many modern American Bulldogs are a combination of the two types. In general, American Bulldogs weigh between 27 to 57 kg (60 to 125 lb) and are 52 to 70 cm (20 to 28 in) at the withers.

There are two distinct strains of American Bulldogs, Classic (Johnson, Bully) and Standard (Scott, Performance) which is often mistaken for its second cousin, the American Pit Bull Terrier because of its appearance, and for its much smaller European relatives because of its name. The American Bulldog is different from any of these. The American Bulldog is massive in comparison to the French Bulldog or Bulldog as it still resembles the Old English Bulldog and was never down bred to be a lap dog.

The Standard American Bulldog does resemble the pit bull-type breeds on many points, such as being muscular dogs that can be all white or white with patches. However, the pit bull's head is in the shape of a wedge coming to a more rounded point at the muzzle, whereas an American Bulldog's is box-shaped. The American Bulldog's ears are also typically uncropped, and its head is heavier and a little bulkier.

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 Dogo Argentino.
In England during the 17th and 18th centuries, bulldogs were used on farms to catch bitches 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.

American Bulldogs are now safe from extinction and are enjoying a healthy increase in popularity, either as a working dog or as a loving family pet. All over the world, they are used variously as "hog dogs" (catching escaped pigs or hunting razorbacks), as cattle drovers and as working K-9s. American Bulldogs also successfully compete in several dog sports such as schutzhund, french ring sport, street protection sport, Iron Dog competition and weight pulling.

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