History and Standards
The Bulldog was brought by immigrants from England in the late 1700's and early 1800's. They settled in what is now the Southeastern United States. This Bulldog has gone by many names, Old Southern White, White English and just plain Bulldog. He was used on farms and plantations throughout the South. His main job was guarding the homestead. He was also used as a catch dog to round up free ranging livestock such as hogs and cattle.
By the late 1940's, due to the decline in the number of family farms and the migration of people to the cities, these Bulldogs had declined greatly in numbers and could only be found in small pockets in areas of Northern Florida, Northern Georgia and the Sand Mountain area of Northeastern Alabama. After returning from World War II, John D. Johnson of Summerville, Georgia, remembering the bulldogs his family had owned in his youth, began collecting the best representations of these bulldogs.
Until the early 1970's, this bulldog had never been registered as a breed. By this time, John D. Johnson and Alan Scott near Fort Payne, Alabama had joined forces. Having decided to begin registering their dogs, they chose the National Kennel Club for their registry, called their dogs American Pit Bulldogs, and wrote the first American Bulldog Breed Standard. On July 7, 1970 the National Kennel Club approved the breed standard and started registering the first American Pit Bulldogs. Johnson and Scott began promoting their dogs and influencing others to register their dogs. They also began holding shows. The Pit was later removed from the name to eliminate confusion with the Pit Bull Terrier, and the breed became known as American Bulldogs.
At some point Scott and Johnson had a disagreement and quit holding shows and using each other's dogs in their breeding programs. Gradually their idea of what type of dog they wanted changed. Scott wanted a smaller, more agile dog and bred for those traits. Due to personal problems, Alan Scott eventually sold most of his dogs and quit breeding for more than a decade. Though untrue, at one point some even thought him to be dead. Later Scott was able to retrieve some of his line and rebuild his Owl Hollow Kennel. He has a farm just north of Fort Payne where he raises Percheron Horses and American Bulldogs.
John D. Johnson changed his choice of registry to the Animal Research Foundation and continued to breed his dogs. His dogs gradually evolved into a tall big boned bulldog with a noticably broad head and short muzzle. He and his wife, Mildred, raised bulldogs for many years. To distinguish his dogs from other Johnson type American Bulldogs, Johnson recently started calling his dogs "John D. Johnson Bulldogs". A registery for the John. D. Johnson Bulldog was started by Mike and Joan Farley, but is apparently now defunct. Although Mildred passed away in 2001, Mr. Johnson still has a few of his bulldogs at his home in Summerville, Georgia, while the majority of his better dogs are at his new kennel managed by Scott Weaver. They have formed a partnership and trademarked the new kennel, calling it the Johnson Kennels llc. Although in poor health, Mr. Johnson, with Scott Weaver's help, still holds two shows a year, one in the spring and another in the fall.
American Bulldog enthusiasts all over the world owe a debt of gratitude to Alan Scott and John D. Johnson. It was through their foresight in establishing a named breed that we have the dogs of today. Lest we forget others of note, like Cel Ashley, W. C. Bailey, Lance Kettles and his father, The Williamsons, Rayburn Stover, Darin Jones, and Joe Painter, should be also considered founding fathers of the American Bulldog. For surely, you can still see their names in some of the old pedigrees of that early time.
American Bulldogs are powerful dogs bred for versitility. They are loyal, bold and fearless. They make an excellent family companion, bonding strongly with their owners. However, as with any large dog, children should be supervised when in their presence. They do have a stubborn streak, so obedience training is strongly recommended. The courage of the American Bulldog is unparralled, with stories of herosim abounding in areas of the South where the "Bulldog" was first found.
They are still used as guardians of the home and on farms to catch escaped cattle and hogs. They are also adept at driving cattle. They make excellent dogs to hunt and catch distructive ferrel hogs or the feared razorback both of which are regarded as distructive pests who destroy farm land and subdivision landscaping with equal abandon. Although once considered only as guardians of the farm, American Bulldogs have enjoyed a surge in popularity. They excell at Canine Sporting Events such as Weight Pulling and in protection work such as Schutzhund. As their popularity has grown, so have the registries.
In the years since Johnson and Scott started registering American Bulldogs, many registries have come along. The National Kennel Club (NKC) was the founding registry for the breed in 1970, with the Animal Research Foundation (ARF) not far behind. Some twenty years later, in the early 1990's, Cayce Couturier founded the American Bulldog Association (ABA) and started registering American Bulldogs and holding shows. He also produced a magazine he called the American Bulldog Review . He sold the magazine to Gary Fuller in 2007. Fuller has since opened the magazine up for advertising to all breeders, regardless of their choice of registery. The Backwoods Bulldog Club (BBC), formerly the Backwoods Bulldog Confederation, came along in the mid 1990's, holding their first show in May 1997, but only formed a registry in 2002. They still hold BBC shows, as does The American Bulldog Registry & Archives (ABRA) which was established in 1999. Not to be left outdone, the United Kennel Club also recognised the American Bulldog, then started registering American Bulldogs in 1999.
Each of the afore named registries, except United Kennel Club (UKC), have separate standards and show rings for the two American Bulldog types, Scott Type (Standard/ Performance) and BullyType (Classic/Johnson). The UKC standard is more of a hybrid of the two types of American Bulldogs, with all dogs showing in the same ring. Although the NKC once practiced this one ring format, they have since recognized the necessity of the two separate rings for different types.
There are several breed clubs, The American Bulldog National Alliance, the Heart of Dixie American Bulldog Club, the Working American Bulldog Association, and the All American Bulldog Club. These breed clubs sponsor events such as conformation and working shows. They are dedicated to the preservation of the American Bulldog and serve as ambassadors to the world to show the many and varied atributes of the American Bulldog.