Choosing your Bloodline
If you are just getting started in the “dog game”, one of the toughest decisions you will have to make is, which family or families of dogs to start with. The varieties of bloodlines to choose from are endless, from Grand Champion Ace to Grand Champion Zebo and everything in between. What makes choosing so difficult is in almost every issue of “The Sporting Dog Journal” there is a new line, or dog, that is winning impressively and it is very easy to jump on the bandwagon to get something from this particular dog or line of dogs. With proper research, choosing a line can be the difference between a rewarding and enjoyable career in the dogs or just a series of disappointments.
It is suggested that a novice experiments with several different bloodlines, so they can “get a feel of the game”, before they settle down with one particular line. Pat Patrick owned many different bloodlines before he purchased Bolio. The problem with owning several different bloodlines is in future expectancies. For instance, let’s say you start with a Zebo bred bitch, a Boomerang bred male, and a Bolio bred male. While all three may be good dogs, you’re also going to end up with three very different dogs that may require three different feeding programs, three different keeps, etc. One is tough enough, even for the experienced dog man, just imagine the pressure of this on a beginner who has to figure out three different keeps. With three different dogs you may end up with one excellent match dog, one good brood dog, and one worth nothing. In other words, those three different bloodlines, when crossed together may not produce what you are looking for. By staying with one family of dogs or two lines that cross well together, this is one way to better your chances of getting those desired characteristics you are breeding for.
Before one chooses a specific line of dogs, you should research everything you possibly can before determining which line of dogs you are going to be breeding. By researching, I mean you should have knowledge of the breeder, how long the line of dogs have been bred, and what to expect of the line.
Get to know the breeder, because most of your dealings will him will consist of phone calls, some letters, and maybe now a days some e-mails. Try to locate someone who has purchased dogs from this breeder and ask his/ her opinion about the breeder and his dogs. Check in the “Readers Write” section of the Journal and see if there are any complaints or compliments publicized regarding this breeder. Also remember, every breeder will tell you whatever you need to hear to guide you to purchasing a pup from his yard. Some will even go as far as to degrade another breeder to deter you from his competition. The term “puppy peddler” always seems to come to mind when dealing with these types of breeders, J.P. Colby was considered the first “puppy peddler”, because he was the first breeder to sell his dogs to the public. In those days, it was not acceptable to sell to the public, according to the earlier fraternity. I often hear of people complimenting Tom Garner, STP, Vince Cooper, and Vernon Whitley to name a few well known breeders. Another question to ask is if the breeder is using what he is selling. For instance; I know a well known breeder who breeds and sells two or three other bloodlines to the public, but uses the line that he is most noted for. If the breeder doesn’t feel confident enough to use what he sells, then why should you buy it?
How long has the bloodline been established? Some breeders have been breeding the same lines for most of their tenure with these dogs. If it said that it takes seven generations or fourteen years of breeding your own dogs to create your own line of dogs. There are fellows who have been around long enough to have established their own lines of dogs and there are some dogs that have been bred enough to have established their own lines. Then there are the peddlers, who breed puppies to puppies, brothers to sisters, fathers to daughters, and so on until they get seven generations of dogs with their name as the breeder. All this in maybe five years, so they can say they have established their own line of dogs. These are the ones that you need to beware of. Below are a few names of some dog men who have established their lines with patience and time:
Pat Patrick- he has been making the Indian Bolio/ Tombstone crosses for three decades. His breedings were the catalysts to some greats like: Bull Boy Bob ROM, Ch. Tonka ROM, Red Lady ROM, Grand Champion Buck ROM, and Dirty Mary ROM.
Bobby Hall- his name has become synonymous with Bullyson.
Vince Cooper- known for maintaining Boomerang, Giroux’ Ch. Booger ROM blood through Champion Opie and also Bolio blood through Grand Champion Amboss.
Bert Sorrells- he has been breeding the same line of dogs for as far as I can remember, and has had his ad appear in “The Gazette” for as long as I have been reading the magazine.
Super Gnat- when you say Super Gnat the next word is usually Grand Champion Ace. His yard is based on the blood of Champion Charlie, Grand Champion Angus, Grand Champion Zebo ROM, and Grand Champion Ace.
Ozzie Stevens- a reputed breeder and winner. His dogs are based on Champion Homer ROM and his yard contains the blood of other dogs he has owned and bred, i.e. Grand Champion Virgil ROM, Champion Zero, Champion Cholly Boy, Champion Rastus, Champion Tami, Champion Wiley, Grand Champion Snake, Jr., Geraldine ROM, Troll ROM, and Ramona ROM to name a few.
All of these breeders, and their lines, and there are plenty more, are proving to be consistent winners and producers of winners. As a novice, try to avoid the line of dogs that have yet to establish themselves. That destroyer of today, may be the disappointment of tomorrow.
BUYING AN AMERICAN PITBULL PUP
It takes 2 1/2 to 3 years to breed, raise, school and test a litter of dogs and, of course, many of them don’t make the grade, but the buyer still expects each one to be perfect. And most of them want “Gr. Ch. Art” for the price of a newspaper poodle! Those who have tried breeding and raising a number of dogs seem to have more respect for the breeder than those who just picked up a breaking stick 6 months ago and more respect for a good dog also.
What I find presently aggravating is the way some buyers shop for a dog or pup based solely on pedigrees or perhaps one or two famous performers from a certain line. Bloodlines come and go so quickly in this game that if one breeds a litter of what is popular today by the time he has them raised they are likely to be yesterday’s news and the buyers want something entirely different. For that reason (and others) I choose not to conform to what is currently popular but rather to just breed the best dogs that come along. Consequently, I suppose my pedigrees may look pretty scatter-bred or haphazard to some but it is a result of raising a lot of dogs and simply “letting the cream rise to the top” come testing time. I forget their names and leave their pedigrees at the house, as it were, and play no favourites. I have learned long ago that if you lie to yourself about your dogs it will only cost you more in the long run.
My dilemma comes in trying to satisfy customers who are “pedigree shopping”. They ask what bloodlines my dogs are out of and I have to respond something like Rascal, Alligator, Tudor, Lightner, Bullyson, Tombstone, Bolio etc. It seems most people refer to “landmark” dogs or breeders in their pedigrees and my “landmarks” have fallen rather far back. Now, through my experience and research I know, for instance, that the Plumber’s Ch. Alligator is half Tudor breeding (Jeff, Spike, Black Widow) through “Nigger” and half Carver breeding through “Satin Lady”. I also know that “Bolio” is very heavy in the blood of “Black Widow” and “Dibo” and, as such, is closely related to the “Nigger” dogs and therefore is a line breeding not an outcross. (“Bolio” is probably related to the Carver side too, but since so many Carver pedigrees were intentionally misrepresented by him and others, we’ll never know for sure).
The point is that although many of the older breeders know how the different bloodlines are related (on paper anyway) many of the buyers do not! And pedigrees that may be a life’s work of line breeding may look to them like a hodge-podge of unrelated strains bred together by some “ignorant old codger” who “doesn’t have a clue.”
Well, maybe the prospective buyers should give the old farts a little more credit. Speaking only for myself, I have made all the mistakes possible breeding dogs! And I think it has made me a better breeder for having made them. A lot of breeding, after all, is knowing what dogs NOT to breed.
The point I’ve been driving at is that I think the person one buys a dog from is much more important that the bloodlines the dog is from. Two different breeders can start with the exact same dogs and in a few generations one will have improved greatly upon his foundation dogs and the other may have completely ruined his. How? By the choices one makes every time a litter is bred!
Some things to stay away from? Curs, of course, cold dogs, hunching dogs, non-scratching dogs, scratching but non-follow-thru dogs and so on. In other words, deviants from the norm or “weirdos” as I like to call them. And, just as important and often overlooked, dogs that are bred from parents and grandparents that fall into these categories! But what if he/she is a “super” Bulldog? Should I not breed to him/her just because one or both parents are weird? The answer is: if you want to keep coming up with weirdos that is how you get them. Even if the dog is right in every way he will produce some screwed up dogs. Practically every dog does. And in my opinion, breeding to these deviants is why overall, our breed is so screwed up and so difficult to breed good dogs from today!
I know it’s easy to get confused and get on the wrong track. I know of breeders with 20 or 30 years experience that haven’t figured all this out. It is easy to become frustrated, to fall pretty to the stories of curs producing game dogs, game dogs producing curs, etc. ad infinitum. Some of them are true and it is mainly attributable to breeding errors like those I’ve mentioned before. The bottom line is if you want consistency (who doesn’t) you have to breed only to dogs that conform to a certain standard. If you do this for several generations all the other crap seems to disappear! That has been my experience anyway. And I have gone from breeding a whole litter of cold dogs 15 years ago (out of very game parents) to getting litters with 75% or 80% good dogs. (Yes, I’m referring to these scatter-bred Rascal, Alligator, Carr, Bullyson, etc. mutts I currently have. I’m just going to start calling them Rushin Bred dogs, I guess. It’s a lot easier.)
Finally, to the novice this advice. Don’t get too involved with pedigrees or with who was breeding good dogs 20 years ago. Don’t be too quick to breed to that multi-time winner either. Unfortunately performance doesn’t guarantee prepotence. (How many great dogs have you seen that were out of two grand champions bred together? Not many, right? Ever wonder why not?) In fact many great performers have been total flops in the brood pen. Why? One explanation may be, believe it or not, a lack of gameness! Most of the really great dogs never sustain much injury. Some of them act bad when they get in a little trouble but their ability gets them out of it quickly and they go on to win. I’ve seen several champions myself that acted badly and I wouldn’t breed a coyote to them, but you won’t read about this behaviour in a two sentence match report sent in by the winner. You won’t see it mentioned in his stud ad, either! Unless you are in a position to raise a lot of dogs, you’d be better off waiting a couple of years to see what the latest “super-dog” is producing. Ask what he’s produced! If he’s been bred to extensively for 3 or 4 years and has only produced 1 or 2 good dogs out of a dozen or more litters it might be best to avoid him. Regarding pedigrees: What was a good line 10 or 20 years ago may have fallen apart by now. And to you who are inclined to “paper breed” remember, papers can be falsified and many have been! (Some breeders even have been known to register a dog one way and then go back and change his breeding years later, perhaps because he’s pushing a certain bloodline more now, and this has been allowed and even condoned by the dog magazines! Gr. Ch. Buck’s many pedigrees are a good example of this! He started out pure Tombstone x Dolly and now neither dog is even in his pedigree!) There are no safeguards unfortunately. Anyone who buys an ad can put in anything he chooses, so be careful! And try to give the honest breeder some credit. It’s a lot easier to get champions and ROM’s by cheating that by doing it the honest way. But if you do it right your accomplishments mean alot more.
I think the key to buying a good pup is asking the right questions! Such as: How many litters has he bred, raised, schooled and tested (a measure of his experience). Regarding your pup or dog: What are the parents like? Are they hot or cold? Have they been tested? Did they show to be good dogs? (Yes, believe it or not some people will test a dog and if it doesn’t show well will breed it anyway with justifications like: “But look at his pedigree!” or “He wasn’t feeling well that day” or “He’s got the mouth, I’ll put the scratch in there with the bitch” and so on). Same for the grandparents. Again, the same for the great-grandparents. Now, of course, you can be lied to so check out the seller’s credentials with his peers in the fraternity, too. Is he known for honesty or is he a paper-hanger and pedigree changer. I always assume if a man will lie about one thing he’ll lie about anything and make my judgements accordingly. I’m seldom proven wrong about this.
If you follow these suggestions I feel you will have a much better chance of getting a good one. But remember, even if you buy a top bred pup the environment he’s raised in and his care and feeding are just as important as his breeding! You get out of them what you put into them. (More if they’re bred right!!)
It is my hope that you can avoid the rip-offs, intentional or not, and find that good dog you are looking for. I hope this will be of some assistance in your search.
CHOOSING A PUP
This may very well be the most difficult subject to discuss. So, let’s start off by deciding what type of pit bull you are looking for i.e. a house pet, a show dog, a weight / pull dog, one that will be used for schutzhund or protection, hunting, or as a pit dog. This is very important in choosing where to start looking for this quality in your pup, as there are breeders who breed specifically for those traits alone.
One must also consider that there is no way of telling if a eight week old pup will be game or posses a hard mouth when it matures into adulthood, for it all lays in the dog’s genes and we can’t see genes with the naked eye. Besides, as pups, each has as much of a chance of developing into something special as all the other litter mates.
Now that you’ve decided on what your intentions will be for this pup, when he/she matures, let’s figure out where do we begin to search for this dog.
There are probably more places to locate a pit bull for use as a pet then anything else. You can start by picking up your local newspaper and looking in the classified ads. There, in the “PETS” section you could probably find litters of pups for sale on any given day, reasonably priced. Another good thing about choosing a pup from the paper is that the breeder usually is local so you can easily travel to the breeder’s house and choose your own pup from the ones available. Also, by going to the breeder’s house you can see first hand how the sire and dam look and act, which is a good indication as to what the pup will develop into. As a matter of fact I purchased my first, so called, pit bull through the paper. This black dog, I named Prince, was in fact sired by a pure Pitbull, but his dam was probably a Labrador Retriever. I paid $150 for this dog, and after making futile attempts to get in contact with the breeder, I learned to accept Prince as a pet.
Another good place to look is in your local pet supply stores and veterinarian offices, they usually have a bulletin board with local breeders advertising litters of pups also.
In some telephone books, I’ve come across a toll free listing which will help you locate any breed of dog you may be looking for.
You could also try the local Humane Society, sometimes they may have discarded pups and grown dogs available, free of charge. They are almost always spayed and neutered before they can be adopted. By them being “fixed” some say it lessens the aggressiveness found in these dogs. I owned one male, who was born with recessive testicles, he was not only aggressive towards males, but females and anything else for that matter on four legs. In all, I think this is the most humane way of obtaining a good pet, in that you are receiving a pup already socialized, which may just need a lot of attention, in addition to that you are saving a pup from being put to sleep, which is what ‘media phobia’ has dictated society to do with this breed of dogs and other so called “dangerous breeds”.
When searching for specific traits and characteristics you will have to find those that are breeding for that trait. When searching for the show pit bull check the listing in back of those national publications like DOG WORLD, DOG FANCY, etc., even the PIT BULL GAZETTE. There, you should be able to find some very good looking dogs as most breeders often include a picture of their dogs. You could also contact the major registry services: the AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB (AKC), the UNITED KENNEL CLUB (UKC), and the AMERICAN DOG BREEDERS ASSOCIATION (ADBA). They should be able to tell you where you could find a good pup, they may even be able to tell you of someone locally. Not to sound too cynical, but I think if you are looking for show / conformation dogs you’d be better off purchasing an Staffordshire Bull or an American Staffordshire Terrier. Not to say a Pit Bull is not a wonderful dog in appearance, it’s just not what they were bred for, as American Staffordshire Terriers and Stafford Bulls are now being bred specifically for that purpose. You may also want to find out when and where the next conformation show will take place, and attend one or two. This can also be said if you are looking for weight pulling dogs, these registries also have contests for this sport. For the protection dog I can only suggest you get in contact with a skilled trainer, as popular as this breed of dog has become, I am almost sure every trainer has trained a few of these dogs for schutzhund. I have a friend in Texas who bred and trained Rottweilers for schutzhund and a customer of his brought a little forty-five pound pit bull to be trained by him. This was his first interaction with a pit bull, so he wasn’t too sure about the stopping abilities of this little dog in comparison to his 120lb. Rotties. When he got this dog to hit the sleeve and he felt the pressure from the pit bull’s bite, he was shocked that such a little dog could posses such a hard bite. As he hit the dog with the training stick, it seemed the harder he hit the dog, the harder the dog bit. For protection the pit bull, with his speed, power, determination and all of this wrapped up in a small package suitable for the largest of homes, to the smallest of apartments. As for hunting, the pit bull’s fearlessness makes him ideal for this “sport”. Though, I wouldn’t suggest using a small pit bull for this purpose, as some game are very large and can be quite formidable, so a larger dog would be a wiser choice. There are breeders who breed the larger pit bull, in the 100lb. Range. Oh, by the way, my friend from Texas now owns and breeds Pitbulls.
When looking for a dog to acquire for any of the above cases you’d be just as easily inclined to purchase another breed of dog to fill the bill. For instance, an American Staffordshire Terrier has the look of a Pit Bull and does very well at conformation shows. You could purchase an American Bulldog for use as a schutzhund dog, as they can range from 90-100 lbs. The Olde English Bulldogge, with it’s powerful, low to the ground, build can make an excellent weight pulling dog. A Staffordshire Bull or Patterdale Terrier, being that these are considered a miniature version of a Pit Bull (20-40 lbs.), either one of these breeds would make an ideal house pet for someone living in an small apartment. When it comes to finding a dog for the pit, pound for pound nothing can match the “king” of the squared circle, the American Pit Bull Terrier. The word “PIT” was purposely put into the name of the American Pit Bull Terrier to set it apart from any breed that resembled it.
There’s an old saying and it still remains true today, “match dogs come from match dogs”. Thus, if you are looking to procure a puppy to later be used for combat, you will have to get him/her from someone who matches their dogs. This is not as easy as it may sound, as most dog men are skeptical to sell or even talk to new comers, for fear of being “set up” by the authorities. Most breeders will give you the third degree in regards to who you are, the most widely asked question is how did you get my number and who do you know in the game? If you can answer these two questions correctly, you have a shot. Those who match their dogs consider themselves in an elite group, and for good reasons too. The match bred Pitbull terrier has got to be the most expensive breed to own. For you must have knowledge of breeding principles, conditioning techniques, handling skills and, to some degree, veterinarian skills. All this knowledge doesn’t come easy or free. The more you know about each aspect, the tougher it is to be defeated in a match. You want every advantage when competing in this sport, which is another reason why some dog men pay someone else to condition, handle and/or perform all medical necessities on their combat dogs.
Locating a breeder is relatively easy, if you are associated with someone in the game. For there are numerous ‘pit’ magazines available, which contain advertisements from breeders in every issue. The most popular or well known magazine is “The Sporting Dog Journal”, this is considered to be the bible of the pit dog. There are also other magazines such as The American Game Dog Times and The Pit Bull Chronicle. There are even some international magazines such as Toe The Line, Pit Bull Arena and The Pit Bull Review. For the most part, even getting a subscription to most of these magazines require you to know someone in the game and they will have to send a referral to the editor to have him consider giving you a chance to subscribe. I’ve heard some novices tell how they sent a $36.00 money order to The Sporting Dog Journal and a few days later received the same money order back in the mail.
Purchasing a pup
Now that you’ve decided that you are going to purchase a pup from match stock, you’ve got a connection in the game, you’ve got a subscription to a magazine and you know what bloodline you are looking to acquire you can now purchase a pup.
When purchasing a pup your first and maybe only contact with the breeder will be either through letters or phone calls. Many breeders will not answer letters, as it is very time consuming and would prefer all inquiries to be made by phone. Hopefully, you have some etiquette and know what is a proper hour to call someone’s house, usually prime-time is decent (7:00-10:00 p.m.). Now also take into consideration what time zone you are calling; if it’s 9:00 p.m. PST and you call someone on the east coast, be prepared to be cursed out, then hung up on, for it is midnight there.
When talking to a breeder ask a lot of intelligent, well thought of questions concerning his dogs. (Some questions or statements you shouldn’t ask would be like, asking for the telephone number of someone who beat him, in an attempt to purchase something from him instead, or telling Super Gnat that you think Ch. Jeep would have defeated Gr. Ch. Angus). A good question would be to ask for references, anyone who has bred dogs for any length of time should have some references.
Most, game dog, breeders aren’t too concerned with the colors of their dogs, so don’t call asking if he has any specific color on his yard. The more you know about this breeders line of dogs the more confident he will feel when talking to you. When I call someone in regards to their dogs, I can tell them about the sire, the dam, the grand parents, what this dog has produced and so on. When the breeder talks to me he can get the feeling that he can tell the whole story of his dogs and be confident in knowing that I’ve done my homework.
Now that you’ve decided to purchase a pup from this breeder, he may send you a copy of the pup’s pedigree, some breeders will send you a picture of the litter and allow you to choose which pup you want, and some will even go so far as to send you a video of their yard. The average price of a puppy today is around $500.00, some go for as low as $250 and as high as $2500, this is not to say the higher the price, the higher the quality of dog, as there are some grand champions that cost a whole lot less than $100, i.e. Gr. Ch. 35, who was purchased for $35.
This is where it can get tricky, for you are now going to be sending a stranger, in another state, a nice piece of change and hope he sends you your pup. In this sport/business, you have a lot of honest people and an occasional dishonest one, therefore if you can’t go and physically pick up your pup or know of someone in that area who could pick up the pup for you, then send a US Postal money order by certified mail, because each are traceable and can be used in small claims court. Hopefully, this will not be necessary, but if it does occur you do have some evidence of the transaction. But, you’ve got an honest dog man who has received high praise from a lot of other dog men and he has assured you of your purchase. That initial $500 just bought you a pup, now comes the extras to get the pup to you, as most breeders charge for shipping and crate. The crates have to meet airliner’s specifications. He, the breeder, then has to put the pup on a plane and if the weather is too severe he may not be able to ship the pup on that day, because of safety reasons the airliners will not allow an animal to be shipped if it gets too hot or too cold, which may result in fatality. Before the puppy can get on the plane the breeder has to also provide the airliner a certificate of health, which he has to purchase from a veterinarian. I guess by now you figured that you will have to pay for all of these extras, which can run you an additional $200-$300. (Some breeders may even charge you to take your pup to the airport). Once you’ve received your pup from the airport and you have taken it to your veterinarian, had it checked and have been given a clean bill of health you can begin enjoying your new friend. If, for some reason, the pup you have received isn’t in the best of health or, even worse dies, a reputable breeder will either replace the pup or refund you your money.