American Bulldog History
American Bulldogs are descended from ancient Mastiffs that originated in Asia and were brought to Europe by nomads. Mastiffs were bred to bring down, fight or hold large aggressive prey such as wild boar, bears or big cats. Phoenician traders brought a brown strain of Mastiff to England around 800 B.C. Celts bred these brindle or brownish red behemoths to catch cattle and wild boar. Around 400 A.D. a second very tough strain of Mastiff reached English shores. This dog was called the Alaunt. English butchers and farmers turned the Alaunt into the world’s first true Bulldog. In medieval times, the working English Bulldog was the first dog to develop the so called ‘lock jaw grip’. A true Bulldog has the ability to chase, catch and hang onto the nose, cheek or throat of a large herbivore and not let go no matter how hard the beast struggles or how much punishment the dog is forced to absorb.
Today, the dog the world calls the English Bulldog is really a Pug Bulldog cross, a fine animal in its own right but not a true working Bulldog. In fact, the working English Bulldog became extinct in his native land at the turn of the 19th century.
However, the “old” English bulldogs were imported to the United States by immigrants, together with Bull Mastiffs and Bull Terriers. Today, the “White English” found in the South of the country is the closest to the old English Bullgog as was imported by the immigrants and most certainly took part in the development of the American Bulldog.
Toward the end of the 1960s, the last remnants of working English Bulldogs were disappearing from the rural south. Large agribusiness firms were consolidating land and eliminating small scale ranching. Also, small all terrain vehicles were allowing farmers to herd, catch and move cattle without dog assistance. It looked like the working English Bulldog was truly going to become extinct once and for all.
Fortunately at this time a few dedicated Bulldog enthusiasts made a concerted effort to locate some of the last of the hill Bulldogs and begin efforts to breed them, preserve them and foster a public awareness so their breeding programs could continue into perpetuity. Because of their work, the Bulldog, the breed that had toughed it out for so long against so many adversaries, could survive. Due to the small amount of “English White” bulldog remaining, a small amount of other breeds were used to ensure a good genetic pool. These were Mastiff/Bull breeds and the Alaunt that had been used in the making of the original English Bulldog
The principal architects of today’s American Bulldog are Allen Scott and John D. Johnson. From the breeding programs of these two men, two distinct strains have emerged, commonly called the Johnson type and the Scott type. The two types differ temperamentally as well as physically.
The Johnson dogs are descendants of the plantation Bulldogs that were kept as yard dogs in the old south. They are typically more territorial, more man aggressive, in short more of a guardian.
The athletic Scott strain descended from hog and cattle catch dogs. They were and still are used to catch wild hogs and cattle that have strayed into brush so thick that a man on horse back would find it impenetrable. This type of work requires extreme physical prowess. For this reason the smaller strain is called Performance.
The American Bulldog is now certainly far enough from its rood breeds to be unquestionably regarded as a true breed in its own right.