Breeders and Bloodlines by Jack Kelly


I first became interested in the dogs in the late 1950’s. At that time there weren’t as many participants in the sport as there are today. In the late 50’s Louis and Mike Colby were carrying on the famous breeding of their late father, John P Colby, who had passed away in 1941. John P Colby had been breeding the “Colby” bloodline since 1888. He started, like everyone else when they first get into the dogs, by breeding a variety of bloodlines that looked good to him at the time. In John P Colby’s case he started with the Gashouse stock from Boston along with Teddy Racine’s bloodline and stock that he imported from Galtie in Ireland. All this blood went into establishing the greatest bloodline of American Pit-bull Terrier.

I matched my first dog when I was barely in the game for a couple of months. I used a dog that came from a Menefee bloodline and won, in short order, over a dog of Corvino’s breeding. The Corvino dog was little more than a pup and certainly wasn’t ready to be matched. Everyone in those days, in the Northeast, kept dogs from the Colby bloodline. I didn’t want to be like everyone else and got my dogs from a variety of other bloodlines. If you were matching dogs at that time in the Northeast, it was not hard to match into a Colby dog and the next four times I matched a dog, it was into a Colby dog. I lost all four matches. It was about this time that I figured out that if you couldn’t beat them then you’d better join them. I did and won a good few matches, after that less than auspicious beginning, with pure Colby or mostly Colby blood.

In about the middle of the 60’s the Colby dogs lost some of their charm and it seemed to me that the bloodlines of Howard Heinzl became a most popular line. The Arizona Aces were winning just about every time they were matched. Of course, Heinzl was an admirer of the Colby bloodlines and just about all of his dogs were Colby dogs or mostly of Colby bloodlines. Many of the Heinzl dogs were crossed into the Tudor blood. After a while the Heinzl dogs waned in popularity and suddenly it seemed that everyone was buying pure Corvino dogs.

By the time the 1970’s came around, the dog game was growing by such leaps and bounds, it seemed that no one bloodline was prominent and several different lines were coming into vogue. About this time, Maurice Carver curtailed much of his matching of dogs and went into selling dogs, match dogs. Carver never really had a bloodline he could call his own. Bullyson was from a Boudreaux bloodline. Carver’s Pistol was mostly a Cajun bloodline. Miss Spike was from a Tudor/Fitzwater bloodline.

However, it always seemed to me that Carver had a great eye for a dog. I am convinced that he could watch a 15 or 20 minute roll and could unerringly tell which dog was a rank cur, which was a game dog and which one had the potential to become one of the aces of the breed. Carver was by far, the most successful breeder of his time and sold more good dogs to better dog men right up until the time he passed away.

The game continued to grow and while no bloodline was proving to be superior to any other, some breeders were maintaining lines that were certainly proving to be better than the average. Pat Patrick started out with a variety of bloodlines, mostly Carver dogs crossed with the bloodlines of Bert Clouse and right up until the present sells some great dogs. Boyles has established a winning bloodline by crossing some of the aforementioned Patrick dogs into some of the better quality dogs from the southeast.

James Crenshaw used the dogs purchased from Maurice Carver to produce some of the very best dogs of the past twenty years, including Ch. Jeep, Ch. Rascal, and Ch. Honeybunch. Kimsey Wood, Irish Jerry and Ron Hyde also parlayed some of the same Carver bloodlines into successful bloodlines. Bert Sorrell capitalised on the Corvino line to establish a bloodline of Sorrell’s dogs. And some others, such as STP have crossed many different bloodlines into breeding some top notch dogs. All of these top breeders are getting older and soon enough there will be vacancies created for some new and innovative breeders to come into prominence. I wonder who they will be.

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