|Home | Dog Profiles | More Photos | Articles | Available | Policies & Procedures | FAQs | Contact|
Disclaimer: This FAQs page is long, and always getting longer. I've finally organized it by topic, but many individual answers are still pretty long, and I'm sorry for that. When I get serious questions from people, I try to give a well reasoned and fairly exhaustive answer. I want the reader to be able to weigh my answers against the broader body of information available out there. You should know, that I am not a professional trainer. I am not a canine nutritionist. I am not a vet or a dog behaviorist. I am not an AKC Breeder's Cup winner. I'm a guy that breeds dogs, who has been very successfully breeding a few specific types of dogs, and amassing that entirely subjective and limited experience. No information you receive here should be considered gospel. No information given here is intended to end your research, or replace the advice or services of other animal or dog professionals. No man knows all and I remain a seeker of knowledge regarding dogs, same as you, imperfect in my understanding, incomplete in my journey. I offer these answers only because readers have asked me questions.
Directions: Click a question for the answer or spend a couple hours reading the whole page, up to you. Please review questions before emailing. Thanks!
Topic: Policies & Procedures Questions:
Topic: Frequently Asked Questions:
Topic: Feeding Questions:
Topic: Training Questions:
Topic: Dog Health Questions:
Topic: Dog Aggression Questions:
Topic: Dog Breeding Questions:
Topic: Dog Facts:
Topic: Other Points of View:
Topic: Opinion Statements:
Q: How much do your dogs cost, how often do you breed and why should I get one of your dogs instead of someone else's dogs?
A: I have quite a few breeding females in breeding rotation and other youngsters that continually replace them in the rotation. As such I usually breed at least twice a year. Historically my puppies have typically ranged in price from around $1,200.00 to $2,500.00, with most in the $1,800.00 to $2,300.00 range, all priced according to the qualities of the individual dog. However, the economy is in bad shape. Groceries cost a lot more. People are working more hours for less money, and I care about the people that get dogs from me. As such, I am lowering my prices at least for the 2013-2014 seasons. Any puppies I have for sale up till January 1, 2015 will range between $1,000.00 to $1,800.00, with, as usual, my Bandogge crosses selling cheaper than my American Bulldogs within that stated range. I have to make a living too, and these dogs cost a lot of money to care for, so don't expect to haggle me down, but for now at least, I'm lowering my prices as a mercy to those who may have it a little tougher than me.
As to why you should consider one of my dogs, judge for yourself; that's what all the pictures are for. Our dogs are almost without exception, strong, solid, full-sized, well knit, working and/or show or breeder's quality animals with very strong conformational characteristics, consistent and predictable temperament, and from successfully cracked and meticulously rebuilt bloodlines that can be bred to any other bloodline in the world, with a very high likelihood of dramatically improved progeny as a result. There are plenty of "pet quality" breeders and dogs around and I in no way disparage them, not in the least, but this is not what we ourselves breed and as such we basically never have the $700.00 to $1,000.00 puppy. Conversely, you'll also almost never see the $3,500.00 puppy here, because I don't believe in price gouging for paper. I sell true-grit working dogs not "paper champions" where you're buying the pedigree rather than the dog. Make no mistake, we do have excellent pedigrees for the dogs I deal with, they are available to the public and all our dogs are either registered or easily could be. We just aren't trying to sell you the memory of their great grandparents is all.
We also occasionally sell started dogs. These are dogs we've begun training in-house, priced according to their qualities.
Q: Do you offer kenneling for customer's dogs or any other dogs? Can you recommend a good kennel?
A: No, we do not provide this service at this time. While we do have the ability to keep many more dogs than what we have, we see too much of a liability in caring for other people's animals, with individual needs and conditions not familiar to us, or we familiar to them.
Further, except in very rare cases I personally recommend that you never kennel your dog with strangers, but only with people already well associated with the dog and the dog already seeing them as extended family. My reasons are this:
First, I don't trust most professional kennels. I've seen too much irresponsible bullsh-t regarding dogs over the years and I am not willing to subject my dogs to those risks. There are plenty of cases in which kenneled dogs have died, either at the kennel or shortly after returning home. Dogs contract diseases. Dogs are sometimes not cared for in the manner promised. Dogs are sometimes even abused. There are no doubt excellent kennels out there in which these circumstances might never be the case, but I'll never know, cause I don't kennel my dogs, period.
Secondly, while a dog is in fact a livestock animal it is also an animal with a full range of actually very human-like emotions, but lacking our own intellectual understanding of even simple things. Imagine going on vacation to Hawaii and leaving your three year old child in a daycare center the entire time with complete strangers. It sounds unthinkable, doesn't it? Well your dog is roughly the equivalent of that three year old human child in its balance of emotion and intellectual understanding. From the dog's perspective, you've basically abandoned him or her, betrayed trust and left it in a dramatically unfamiliar, sterile, commercial environment. I love my dogs and I'd never do that to them.
We do sometimes help friends out caring for their dogs once in a while, balancing the advantages of the higher level of conditioning and training we're able to offer the adult working dog, with the described negatives of temporary abandonment. This only for very specific dogs and specific circumstances though, not as a commercial endeavor.
Q: Do you have references?
A: Yes, both other breeders as well as people who have previously purchased dogs from us. They are available upon request to serious inquiries only, as we do value the privacy of our friends. I am currently working on a testimonial page for the website. If you own one of my dogs we'd really appreciate anything you might be willing to write regarding your experiences with us and/or your dog.
Q: Do you show your dogs and if not, why not?
A: No. I'm an old man (or getting there) and sort of set in my ways. I keep a busy schedule and I don't have much patience, or frankly respect for the typical dog show. I have repeatedly seen dogs with Champion and even Grand Champion designations in their names that were just crap dogs I'd never breed on my own yards. I would much rather have you show a dog I've bred and give me news of any victories to use on the testimonial page I'm working on. Further, we live on 40 acres of wild land abutted by many thousands of acres of National Forest lands in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, in actual bear, lion, wolf, elk and coyote country. I know exactly what my dogs' working qualities and abilities are, because they are the 24/7 protectors of my own small children and any non-dog animals we have about the place. I am sharply critical in evaluating the conformational, health, temperament and athletic characteristics of my dogs, not because I hope to get a piece of paper that says mine are better than someone else's, but because I entrust the day-to-day safety of my family to them, just exactly as dogs like this have been developed and bred to do for centuries. When I say "working and/or show quality," I mean it in the fullest sense of the term. My dogs have responsibilities. I don't have any mediocre dogs I cut loose in a field to overwatch my kids.
Q: When can I pick up my puppy?
A: I let puppies go between 10-12 weeks of age depending upon the litter and their overall development. All sold animals must be paid for in full at time of pickup or before delivery, no exceptions, ever. I never release any puppy before a minimum of 9 weeks of age and I still feel strongly that this is too young. Puppies get a great deal of important socialization from their siblings and mother, and this is a process that when interrupted early, tends to have detrimental affects on the dog as an adult. Whether you are getting a dog from me or somebody else, I strongly recommend that if at all possible, your puppy stays with its litter mates at least 10 weeks and ideally 12 weeks. You'll get a better, happier, more confident dog.
Q: Do the dogs you sell bite or are they gentle enough to have in public places?
A: Fail to socialize and train our dogs, and they are a liability which will see most or all strangers as a threat. It is the training commitment of the dog owner who determines whether or not a dog is safe, or not-so-safe in public, around strangers, or in your home. If you want a dog that will never bite a human under any circumstance, for legitimate protection or otherwise, there are breeders of many breeds who brag about such dogs. I neuter them. My dogs will bite if provoked, and you the owner are responsible for socializing and training a dog, as to when it should, or should not be provoked in any given situation.
Generally speaking any dog can be socialized and trained to be sweet and docile in public places, even among crowds of strangers. Also generally speaking, any dog can and will bite a person given the right set of circumstances, such as fear, stress, agitation, unfamiliar people, surroundings or activities. It's an owner's responsibility to socialize and train a dog and not something the breeder can do for you.
I can tell you that one dog that has bitten more children than most is the Cocker Spaniel, a theoretically non-aggressive, non-working, theoretically docile lap dog. My own dogs, assuming loving owners, can be counted on to bite, if they or their human family are threatened. They are bully bred and Mastiff dogs that do not back down, are highly assertive and take the job of protection seriously. That said, look at the pictures of my dogs with my family throughout the website. They are as gentle as lambs. Based upon how I've purposefully socialized and trained them, some are very docile and gentle in public also, able to be pet, played with and handled freely by strangers. Others, also based upon how I've socialized and trained them, are highly assertive and very proactive "night dog" type guard dogs that do not tolerate interaction with strangers at all. The difference between such a wide range of behavioral potentials is the owner's own choice in how you socialize and train any particular dog. Your socialization and training is always the determining factor, not the dog's breed or bloodline.
Q: Are your dogs dog aggressive?
A: In a word, yes, but there's more to it than that. The American Bulldog as well as other Mastiff breeds tend to be assertive, keep order type dogs, whether male or female. A well socialized dog - that is, socialized with lots of other dogs its entire life and aggression never tolerated is a dog that, if it came from me, will still stand its ground if attacked, period, no matter how hard you've tried to train them into being a Beagle. They are farm dogs specifically bred to confront and engage threats. Threaten them seriously and they will engage with the goal of subjugating the more aggressive offender and getting him in line with the whole peace and tranquility program you've taught them you prefer.
Of course, if you fail to socialize and train your dog, and another dog attacks him, and that dog is hurt or killed, or people are harmed trying to break them up, all of that is your fault. So, don't be lazy in socializing and training your dog.
You won't train most bulldogs or Mastiff type dogs to allow themselves to be harmed. Their nature is to contain and control dangerous things or people by force. That said, the American Bulldogs and other Mastiffs are also known for already having a long fuse and being stable, confident dogs that need not feel undo aggression towards other dogs. A well socialized, psychologically healthy dog is not a fear biter, not all insecure and needing to prove itself every time another dog acts a bit dominant in its presence. Teach them you want peace and they'll typically be peacemakers, tending to tolerate an awful lot from less polite dogs.
Remember also, you have a responsibility to protect your dog, same as you want him to protect you. Don't put your dog in high stress situations. Don't cut him loose at a dog park with other dogs when you know he doesn't have much experience making friends with new dogs. Get him away from dogs you can see have problems. Don't go to dog parks frequented by irresponsible owners.
Q: Are you the same guy that caught that big gray Mastiff after he tossed those animal control people around down in the Springs and got away after he bit that little girl? I was there visiting my sister that was awesome dude! Good work he never showed you any trouble at all even after he just totally tore up those dog cops and made them jump in their truck. I'd really like to know how you did that?
A: Yes, that was right near where we used to live. There's no secret really. I mean I'm not "the Dog Whisperer" or anything. I respected that dog for the big, powerful and very frightened guy he was. I sat down to be on his level, rather than towering over him. I talked to him soothingly a bit before putting the lead on him. Then I led him to the animal control vehicle following a different path and going to the opposite side of the truck than they had dragged him and fought with him previously. Then I sent my own dog, Bella, into the transport bin ahead of him to show him it was safe and that a pretty girl was inside waiting for him. Bella also smelled strongly of the bacon my daughter had rubbed on her ears only moments before. Dogs are pretty simple critters, really. He was just scared and needed a little reassurance, patience, time to calm down and a nice distraction from the situation.
You should also know that the little neighborhood girl that Mastiff had bitten was an all-too-familiar menace to the local neighborhood dogs. She had climbed my fence repeatedly, even after being told not to, always teasing my dogs, and she'd been bitten previously by a different neighborhood dog, again for walking up messing with it in a teasing fashion. The Mastiff in question was somebody's old, cranky, sort of unsocial boy who had accidentally gotten out of his yard and couldn't get back in. The bitten girl had literally climbed on him like she wanted to ride him, and the dog at over 170 pounds easily could've maimed or even killed her, but instead gave her a very light warning nip - just a hey, get off me you little demon child; it's freakin' hot out here!
The animal control people were very obviously not dog-wise. They were scared of him, approached him in a stalking, cornering fashion like a dangerous lion on the Serengeti. He smelled their fear and knew they were looking to start a fight. Fear is suspicious to dogs in the first place, smells a lot like aggression I'm betting and probably why so many people afraid of dogs tend to get bit more than just once in their lives, while the rest of us are rarely bitten. In contrast, I approached directly, at a normal pace, in a normal position, like a dog is used to seeing friendly humans do.
A quick word to all dog owners regarding child biting and its prevention: Even if what you really want is to own an unsocialized, "mean," biting dog to guard your little slice of American dirt, you should still socialize the dog with children, both your own, and others, and thoroughly. Remember, in almost every dog bite case, liability lies with the owner, regardless of the circumstances, so be smart and teach your dog that kids are harmless, and never to be bitten.
Q: I think what you people do breeding these dogs is just f---ing terrible. All these big dangerous breeds need to be made extinct, dog breeding any dog should be illegal and people should only be allowed to have rescue animals as pets!
A: Funny actually, I feel very similarly towards people who are angry, hateful and antisocial enough to write cussing at total strangers out of the blue, as if your somehow superior moral compass licenses you to be a jerk towards those who don't agree with you. I had a dog like that once. I put him down.
Look friend, do the research; the bully breeds and Mastiffs are not by far the most dangerous of dog breeds statistically, but a number of smaller lap dogs are consistently found at the top of that list. Furthermore, an animal is owned; it has an owner with responsibilities and it is not a free moral agent allowed to do as it pleases. It is rare when I have looked into a dog bite story that didn't have a dog owner in the middle of it that you'd just somehow expect to have an out-of-control dog. Further, People very typically keep guns, knives, swords, dangerous dogs, pythons and even alligators, poisonous cleaning and photography chemicals, fireworks, cars, trucks, heavy machinery, hammers, axes, chainsaws and all manner of life threatening things in total safety all over the world, proving that it is not the object or animal which presents danger to our broader society, but the few people who own them who are not responsible. Those same people also sometimes kill people with their cars, or get mad and hit people with hammers, or even attack others with can openers. So tell me my friend, should we also outlaw cars, hammers and can openers?
Now regarding people only being allowed to keep rescue dogs and your desire that all purposeful dog breeding be stopped, if we follow that to its logical conclusion you would first eradicate the differences between all dog breeds, and then very shortly make all dogs as a species extinct. Purposefully causing the extinction of a breed, much less an entire species, is simply not a rational goal. I accept you. I accept your right to be who you are. I accept your right even to hate me, hate my dogs and think it better if I, or they did not exist. I have responded to your insults and anger with well reasoned answers and respect. Perhaps just live in an apartment, or gated community that doesn't allow dogs, and your angst will be calmed. Either way, peace.
Q: How big do the dogs you breed get?
A: I work primarily with American Bulldogs and different Mastiff breeds and never Pitbulls. Typically, my straight American Bulldog females range between 85 to 120 pounds, 25 to 27 inches at the withers (shoulders), and my male American Bulldogs range from around 95 to 120 pounds or so, 25 to 28 inches at the withers. However, because of repeated requests I've also begun a new line of American Bulldogs that are a bit smaller, females in the 70 to 80 pound range, 19 to 24 inches at the withers, males 80 to 90 pounds and 21 to 24 inches at the withers. There's exceptions within those two American Bulldog groups also, sometimes my bigger dogs throwing slightly smaller pups, sometimes my smaller dogs throwing slightly bigger, but it's pretty consistent. My Bandogge Mastiff crosses, depending upon what I'm breeding are usually bigger, some just a bit bigger, others quite a bit bigger.
Q: What do you feed your adult dogs?
A: I like a dog to have a diverse diet, first because it assures a better balance of nutrients (and I don't trust any dog food company to get it right 100% of the time in a factory setting), second because I wouldn't want to eat the same thing all the time myself and third, because I've noted over the years that dogs with the most finicky stomachs/appetites and the poorest health are most often dogs that spend years eating the same food. I feed my adult dogs a 27% protein kibble for about half their overall diet. I change brands back and forth between half a dozen or so brands every couple weeks. The other half of my adult dog's diets is made up of unsalted, non-greasy people food; leftovers from dinner as long as it was a healthy dinner and not McDonald's or some equally greasy or unhealthy fare, lots of whole dairy products such as cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, heavy whipping cream (not whipped cream), lots of raw hamburger, but never raw chicken or pork as dogs are susceptible to the same parasites we are, and treat items like peanut butter, a couple cans of tuna, etc. and lots of beef bones. Further, for the first two years I like to see a dog with a good covering of flesh over his ribs and a stomach that is not well tucked - not distended and fat, just not well tucked. I talk about that a bit more, I believe on Doc's profile page.
Q: Is the "raw foods" diet good for my dog?
A: Raw foods generally speaking do retain more of their nutrients than cooked foods and this fact is what the raw food diet crowd typically points to emphatically. However, dogs are susceptible to parasites much as we ourselves are and as such, to avoid Salmonella, no raw pork, chicken or wild game should ever be given to a dog. If your dog likes raw carrots from the garden, fine, even raw beef, fine, but any type of wild game, chicken or pork, no, not ever.
A: Further follow-up... Another breeder informed me they were feeding one of their dogs raw chicken. There are pictures all over the Internet of other people doing the same. I've read articles almost as long-winded as my own, explaining how good raw chicken is for your dog, arguing that dogs are canivores, that acids in their stomachs make Salmonella impossible for them, that grains or ANY cooked foods are not what a dog is built to eat. Really...? Man was the one that developed the dog about 15,000 years ago, and we are the ones who have fed them for their entire existence on the earth. Being that commercial dog food is less than 200 years old, what exactly do you think we fed them before then, when the primary staple of our own diets has been grain for thousands of years...? Look, raw chicken is NOT ok for your dog! If the reader doesn't want to take my word for it, here's a couple articles that you should read, by people a bit more informed on the topic than the average blogger, or even the above average dog breeder:
Next time someone tells you to feed your dog raw chicken, ask them if they are a vet, a biochemist, or even a licensed dog nutritionist. Lots of people have opinions, but not all opinions are equal.
Q: Should I get my dog fixed, you know, so it can't breed?
A: Now days this has become a topic of some controversy with a lot of groups pushing that all dogs should be rendered unbreedable. Factoids rather than facts get cited, people with too much time on their hands become passionate followed by angry, and the real whys and why nots, pros and cons sort of get lost in the mix. Here's some facts intermingled with my own experience and thinking.
First, in my own experience dealing with primarily large, protection type dogs, I do not see a real attitude difference between the neutered male and non neutered male. Activity levels may drop, but the legitimately aggressive dog does not in my own experience magically become unaggressive when we cut things off of him. I recognize that a host of animal activists and vets say that neutering an overly aggressive male calms him, but I've tried it repeatedly over the years and seen no real difference - again, in the specific breeds I deal with personally, which tend to be big, aggressive breeds. Maybe Collies calm right down. I have no idea as I don't breed Collies.
However, it is true that both fixed males and females do statistically have better overall health. In males, prostate and testicular cancer rates drop dramatically. I mean it's hard to get testicular cancer without testicles, right? In females, mammary cancer, womb infections (pyometra) and diabetes rates drop sharply.
Further, with females in particular the fixed female is much more convenient to have around than the unfixed who will have every male dog in the neighborhood trying to get at her when she's in heat. Here you're trying to keep her in to avoid the unwanted suitors, but she's spotting blood on the carpets, and now you're running around scrubbing the floor and mumbling under your breath just to avoid a relatively cheap, and typically safe surgery.
I personally do not typically fix my dogs because I'm a breeder and the dogs I keep I typically want the option to breed. I have also not seen any case of testicular or prostate cancer, mammary cancer, womb infections or diabetes on my yards, but the statistics aren't lying so maybe I'm just lucky. One thing certainly worth mentioning of my own experience, however, and often repeated by other breeders I know, is that dogs "fixed" before two years of age almost never meet what we as breeders know to be their full growth potential. It sort of seems that maybe the energies that would've been used growing, instead get diverted to healing.
Ultimately I think it's your own choice. If you have a really great dog you might want to breed, just being a responsible pet owner and controlling your dog and having it at the vet yearly should completely alleviate the risk for unwanted puppies and any illness which could conceivably be correlated to leaving your animal in tact. I like dogs though and I say why cut things off of them that I wouldn't want cut off me? Nonetheless, the statistics exist and suggest very strongly that fixing is typically a good decision and if you don't, there are added responsibilities and minor headaches which you, the dog owner, should carefully consider. Here's a bit more on the topic...
Q: Is it OK for my dog to drink out of the toilet if I keep it really clean?
A: My dogs have fresh water down at all times and yet they all give me this quizzical look whenever they see me urinate in their preferred water bowl. So, we keep our toilets really clean, even typically cleaning them whenever they're used. It's a disgusting dog-thing (of which there are quite a few) and I have tried keeping them out of the toilets for years, but they're all mostly able to open doors so it's basically impossible to prevent without screwing latch hooks into the doors that then my kids can't reach. I use bleach and just clean the toilets really, really often and really well and none of them has ever gotten sick around here from it so apparently cleaning works. Still though, pretty disgusting, huh? Dogs really are gross sometimes and anyone saying differently has never owned a dog.
Q: Is it true that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's mouth?
A: Gosh, I mean I guess it depends on how often you brush, right?
Just kidding. Seriously, no, absolutely not. This is an old wives' tale based on an interesting and sort of related dog-fact: The mouth of an injured dog will sometimes produce an antibiotic-like saliva which it then uses in cleaning its wounds, this promoting healing. Generally speaking though, no way is a dog's mouth a clean thing, and as with any warm, wet place that is certainly not kept sterile, all mouths - dogs, wolves, house cats, lions, hampsters and humans, can be loaded with bacteria and all manner of yuck. There is no such thing as a natural sterilizer in any form of animal that kills bacteria, so quit tongue kissing your dog, that's nasty! You know where his mouth has been...
Q: At what age do you notice your puppies start to really RUN around? You know, really start to run and actually be able to carry their own weight around without looking so floppy. Also, can these dogs actually go for a jog? What age do you think it's safe for me try and take him along?
A: I typically see puppies very firm on their feet and agile enough to play and run without the floppy look at maybe 4-5 months of age, and sometimes dramatically sooner. As for jogging, just as with any new jogger, first walking is thoroughly established, walking fast for short intervals to longer, then very short jogs, then longer - basically same as a person just introduced to physical activity. I would not jog with a large breed dog under 8 months or so and this assuming the dog is well exercised previously and then introduced a little at a time as described. With youngsters focus on walking distances, especially if you maybe have grass next to the sidewalk where you walk. This will build everything in a low impact fashion.
You want solid pasterns and tight, well exercised toes already well established on a dog for running and you want to watch his gait and be very familiar with it. Dogs commonly don't complain about pain, but you'll see subtle changes in their gait if you learn to watch for it and are familiar with his happy, unencumbered gait. Never let your dog jog with you if you suspect even minor discomfort or injury. You have state-of-the-art running shoes, and are most likely on concrete most of the time. Your dog has bare feet made for dirt, grass and natural surfaces that will wear out quicker than your shoes in the joints and whatnot if he's not allowed the slow, patient approach to build him up and then a careful eye to be sure he's never running in pain. He'll likely be willing, so you have to protect him from himself.
Q: How do I stop this dog from chewing furniture?!
A: Bitter Apple is a nontoxic spray for stopping dogs from chewing or licking things. It can be safely sprayed on furniture legs, couch pillows and the like as well as the dog itself such as on a bandage you don't want torn off. It's not magical. Some dogs actually like the taste, but most do not. It may help. Beyond that, reprimand behaviors you do not like sharply, replace inappropriate chew items with appropriate chew items like a bone, rawhide or kong and praise the dog whenever it goes for the appropriate chew item rather than the inappropriate. As for an instant solution for great grandma's end table, keep the dog away from it when not supervised.
Q: I got this adult dog from the animal shelter, a Border Collie mix they said. She's very sweet and I love her to bits, but she's tried biting my three year old son in the face three times now and like she's really angry with him too and I have to quick grab him or get in her way. What do you suggest?
A: I am truly very sorry. Responsible dog ownership sometimes requires tough decisions and this is one of those times. End the risk that she may one day actually get a little kid's face rather than just trying to. Spend $150 to $250 at the vet and have that dog destroyed, no more chances, no new and unsuspecting owner or owner without kids (who may well have neighbors with kids). We could spend pages discussing what probably happened to make your dog act like this and you could spend a lot of time and money trying to train her out of it, but even with the resultant pity of the pathology or seeming success of the training, she's not safe as a pet, can never be trusted to not have a "bad moment" at some point in the future, and little cute humans are a damned site more valuable than little cute dogs. I would put her peacefully to sleep. Don't allow that this dog gets recirculated through some rescue group that may result in her living next door to a day care center a couple years from now. Again, I am very sorry. This is the only appropriate thing to do. Any other possibility presents risk to a future child and we are not licensed as dog owners to knowingly place our community at risk.
Q: (follow-up) But if a dog bites a child it isn't just automatically a vicious dog is it? I mean doesn't it deserve a second chance or maybe just watch it better around kids?
A: Dogs generally bite in fear. A dog's fear of a child is most generally either a poor socialization thing where the dog hasn't been raised around children (or perhaps raised around more wild or cruel children), or a pack thing in which the dog views the child as a puppy to be disciplined through bites and nips. It is rare that a dog is truly a child-hater or anything similar. A dog not socialized with children who has bitten can usually be socialized and trained to never do it again, but a legitimate plan of action needs to be executed post haste and you should seek a professional trainer to get the dog over this very serious hurdle, and you need to secure that dog from children until you can be 100% sure based upon the trainer's directions and a passage of time in which the trainer has been proven correct. How are you going to accomplish this with the dog and kids in the same home? The very act of locking the dog away from children will tend to increase its distrust and aggression towards children, and not locking the dog away from children presents serious risk to the children. A child biting dog and children in the same home is a catch 22 scenario, a no win situation.
The real issue here is NOT what makes the dog bite a child or what you might do to train the dog differently so you can keep your pet and feel you've done the right thing. The issue is, what have you, the owner of the dog or parent of the child done to prevent it from ever happening again? A dog is an animal, generally a fairly stable and predictable animal, most often safe around kids, but still an animal. We are humans, whether we be dog owners or parents and it is our responsibility to both know and secure our animals and both educate and protect our children.
Rather than trying to evaluate a dog who bites kids I follow a simple rule: If the dog shows a significant sign of aggression towards a child (as yours has), I apply harsh and instantaneous negative sanction (I smack the taste out of its mouth and yell "no"). If the dog does similar ever again, the dog is dead. You'll notice here that my method requires that I be present with the child who is in near proximity to the dog. That is my responsibility as a parent and my responsibility as a dog owner, to protect my child from possible threat, and to control my dog from possible misbehavior. You'll also note a certain merciless attitude towards the dog in question. That is because a dog is an animal that is not ever as important as a human child. If it presents risk to a human child, I as the dog owner have a responsibility to NEVER allow that dog to present such a risk ever again, no matter what, period, no exceptions, end of story. I don't care how much you love your dog, if it is a child biter, it should in my opinion be a dead dog, or how will you assure its security from children for every moment for the rest of its life? That's basically impossible without the dog living 24/7 in a cage like a tiger. Euthanize this dog. Three attempts is too many. You're pressing your luck and placing your child at risk, and rehoming the dog will place other children at risk.
Q: I'm a cat person, my boyfriend is a dog person and he says I should ask you to change my mind. You can't but give it a try. He also says that cats are stupid animals and I know that's not true.
A: Go find your cat and in your most firm and serious voice, say, "sit!" If your cat is not stupid he must not like you very much, cause I just bet he's not sitting there looking up at you expectantly, awaiting your next command.
Look, I think cats are pretty cool, especially in a rural setting if you need to keep the mouse or chipmunk population down, and there's no reason cats cannot live side-by-side in peaceful coexistence with dogs, even in an apartment. So, let me be clear, I am not a cat hater by far. However, if you absolutely must choose, a dog is an animal that thinks he's lucky just to be allowed to love you and only wants to please you. A cat is an animal that thinks you're the lucky one just to have him around. The dog worships you. The dog needs you, values you above his own life, typically prefers your company to that of his own kind. The cat tolerates you, sometimes allows you to worship it and really might secretly be waiting for you to go to sleep one night so it can eat your face. OK, maybe that's not true (maybe), but c'mon, which sounds more naturally designed for human companionship and a mutually fulfilling relationship? Besides, obviously your guy wants a dog, so what's he supposed to do, stop liking dogs as long as he's with you? Doesn't sound like a very permanent, fair or fulfilling solution to me. Actually, your guy is a heck of a lot more reasonable than me. I had a cat-loving girlfriend once and when she met my dogs and didn't much like them, I took it as a sign we weren't compatible and got a new girlfriend. Besides, I bet maybe you've got enough room in your heart to love both dogs and cats, huh?
Q: (follow-up) You know what that response wasn't even necessary you went too far! My boyfriend isn't like that he'd never break us up over wanting a stupid dog when he knows I don't like dogs. What kind of a--hole jerk are you!!!!
Q: Hello, I was wondering where you guys are located?
A: Divide, Colorado.
Q: Why can't I find your phone number on the website?
A: Because it's not there. I try to give my number out sparingly. Please do not hesitate to email me by form or directly with questions, links, polite comments or just to extol the many virtues of the American Bulldog. If you are in the process of actually purchasing a dog I'll happily give you my number so we can talk on the phone at length by appointment. I've just got other stuff to do than answer the phone at all times of the day and night. Been there. Done that.
Q: I am a doctor of the Veterinarian sciences in São Paulo, Brazil and for 32 years specializing with the anglo community here for dogs and cats. While I was doing research on this American Bulldog breed I came across your website and now I have just completed reading every word of your beautiful website with very much interest. I must say to you that truly I am impressed with your dogs and the care provided and sophistication of your knowledge as a professional breeder of such a fine breed. I am left with no further questions today and I would add that I greatly admire your passion and dedication. Please continue this exemplary work Blasco Family Bulldogs, you are very much great credit to your breed and the breeding of dogs profession.
A: Doctor, that really means a lot to me. Thank you for taking the time to write. If we may be of any further assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me. If we do not have the answer to a question, we are always pleased to help you find it so that both of our knowledge may grow. Best regards.
Q: Mr. Blasco, what are your thoughts about getting a dog from a shelter or a rescue organization?
A: I see nothing wrong with that in the least. There's a lot of fantastic dogs out there to be rehomed. One thing you want to keep in mind, though, is that while some dogs end up at the shelter or with a rescue group for perfectly innocent reasons, like a hurricane sweeps the area and owners cannot care for their animals, other dogs have serious behavior problems that someone did not want to deal with. Your shelter and rescue people are providing dogs an invaluable service and should be commended and supported, but the way a dog acts with person "A" is not necessarily the way it will act with person "B" much less the "C," "D," and "E" they are likely to meet all at once when coming into a new family situation. You want to be sure your shelter or rescue group has an iron clad return policy that includes same day pick up, allowing you to get that dog out of your house immediately if there's a problem.
One thing I have noticed (and I intend to cast no aspersions here, just making a personal observation), but I've noticed that most of the shelter people are not particularly dog savvy but relatively inexperienced hourly workers, and the larger majority of the rescue group people do not have small kids at home, but are either older dog lovers with kids grown and gone, or younger people and also without kids at home. This makes it difficult for the larger number of rescue or shelter animals to actually have been evaluated in the family settings they tend to find themselves in. Now most dogs are good dogs so there is rarely an issue, but just because a dog loving retiree or college student providing a temporary foster home for a dog says he's great, doesn't mean he's going to be great when your three year old pulls his tail or pokes him in the eye. I donate to a rescue group, I believe in the value of their service and I would never wish to dissuade anyone from getting a dog from a shelter or rescue group. However, there are risks that exist in rehoming a strange adult dog, and I rarely hear those risks discussed with the potential adoptive family, standing outside the pet store filling out paperwork to bring a strange dog into their home. Take the time to really get to know a particular dog, maybe by visiting that rescue group's location or shelter a few weekends in a row and spending extended time with the dog you're interested in, and take the time to know the policies of the group you're dealing with. You want to be absolutely sure that they are ready, willing and able to come and get any problem dog the same day you call without a hassle.
Q: Rebecca told me to write you and get the recipe for your puppy mix. Also, what other feeding tips or tricks do you use in raising these dogs?
A: Dan's Basic Puppy Mix
Q: I met you a few years ago with one of your dogs in the parking lot of Safe Way in Colorado Springs. I never saw such a perfect protection dog in my entire life. He just sat there over two hours when we talked and never once broke position and saw everything like those silent guards in England. He never moved or even looked at me even when I tried to give him a treat and talk to him. I been researching training methods so I figured I'd ask you this question I have after reading a lot of training literature that says different stuff. Should a person ever SPANK their dog for any reason?
A: You've been reading so I'll start by throwing a couple names at you. I like Pat Hastings and Jack and Wendy Volhard, but with the bully breeds I also have Konrad Most firmly in mind. I'll also mention again that I am NOT a professional trainer. I'm a guy who breeds dogs and has a few that are well trained. I'm a seeker too in this arena so I'm only giving you a layman's perspective here, but thank you for the compliments. They are appreciated.
Different trainers have different methods as you've found, and many of those methods seem to contradict one another, especially on the issue of corporeal punishment (spanking and similar). I think that when you consider that anyone writing a dog training book has very well trained dogs that do exactly what they're supposed to do, it becomes difficult to make a truly unprejudiced argument that one is better than the other. Rather than argue against those professional trainers who reject all corporeal punishment in favor of exclusive positive reinforcement, or against corporeal punishment as the case would be if we argued against Conrad Most (one of the most prolific and accomplished early dog behaviorists and trainers in history), I'll just describe HOW it is done properly, so that you don't inadvertently abuse your dog if you choose to use corporeal punishment. Obviously any trainer who rejects all corporeal punishment may well reject this description as "abuse" itself. So, I would point out to you that your own method of training is by comparison the "new method," dogs having been very successfully trained using corporeal punishment for thousands of years before your own methods were devised.
The correct application of corporeal punishment in dog training is this, only spank once with one stinging slap to the rear flank with an open hand, always saying "no" sharply and never after more than a two seconds have passed since the negative behavior. You don't get up, run across the room and spank the dog's flank. If the dog is beside you and it refuses to come to form for cause of agitation, excitement or distraction, if it moves away from you breaking assigned form, if it turns its nose towards a distraction or makes a move, THEN you spank the flank one single, stinging time and deliver a sharp "no." Understand that your goal here is NOT primarily teaching that the particular behavior was wrong, but teaching the dog to comprehend the seriousness of the word, "no," so that in the future, there will be no need to spank the flank at all, just the word. NEVER strike your dog in anger or frustration. NEVER continue a training session at all in anger or frustration, but walk away and regroup, return and love the dog up thoroughly and continue training tomorrow. NEVER strike the face, head or any other part of the dog except the rear flank, when the dog is already beside you actively being trained, but only once and only on the flank. ALWAYS praise the dog with the same softly whispered voice and words, stroking the side of its face soothingly when it responds correctly to negative sanction, whether the spank or just the "no" to let the dog know it has succeeded at pleasing you.
That said, I remember our meeting and it was Mambo you saw that day, the worst behaved dog I have owned in a decade. In Mambo's entire life he only ever received the single spank to the flank two times and he was one hardheaded boy. This should act as a form of testimony that corporeal punishment, while it may arguably have a place in training more self-willed dogs, it has a very, very narrow, limited and restrained place. You probably shouldn't need to spank your dog at all. In the end, my own leanings are to generally agree with the positive reinforcement trainers, with the caveat that there are some dogs, in some situations where the sharp, negative sanction of a spank to the flank gets faster results in teaching the importance of always obeying the word "no."
Q: How do you potty train your dogs?
A: There are other ways and means I've used, but I prefer the crate training method provided below, because it's relatively fast and I don't have to clean up many messes. That said, another thing I've done that's successful and usually without any mess is the very old time method of just keeping working dogs outdoors till they're a year or more old. Once they're used to only ever going outside, going inside is not natural. Also, because most traditional working dogs are specifically being trained in that first year for some form of animal work, whether herding, hunting, whatever, the owner/trainer has typically already trained the dog to not relieve itself in his/her presence without command as to where and when. I mean we don't allow hunting dogs to go in the areas we're hunting cause that acts as a wide reaching olfactory alert to the animals we're hunting. We don't allow dogs around chickens, pigs or sheep to relieve themselves in livestock areas for fear it causes sickness. Now the dog comes in the house, you keep it near you and take it outdoors to relive itself regularly where you want the act done and the dog is typically house trained at that point. Lacking that, use the crate training method. It works.
Crate Training Method of House Breaking a Puppy
Start a regular feeding schedule. Confine him after eating for 10 to 20 minutes. You'll learn the pup's need-to-go schedule quickly. Then take him to the spot you want it to use and give a command such as "go potty" or whatever you choose to use consistently. It'll be some false starts, but eventually the dog will relieve itself. PRAISE the dog as and after it goes.
Now take the dog back in for some play and belly scratching time, or if the two of you prefer, play outside a while, or take it for a walk (after third set of shots). If the dog really likes to play outside, and you continually take him inside after eliminating, the dog will learn to hold it to extend its outside time.
If you plan to take the dog for a walk, then it should go first at home, before you go. Many people take their pups for a walk, and as soon as they go, they bring the dog home, thus sending the message that they are going home because the dog has eliminated, so don't turn around and head home as soon as it goes.
After a half hour of play, crate the dog for a nap. Every hour take it out to go. If it goes, give it play time, if not, back into the crate. Reward desired behavior and follow this schedule when crate training.
Under 8 weeks: Elimination every hour
Always take the puppy out the same door, the one you are going to want it to signal at. Always take the dog to the same area you want it to use. Never allow the dog an opportunity in the house to have an unobserved mistake as this teaches the dog the house is a good alternative toilet. When you are in the house playing or observing the dog and it starts to sniff for a spot, say "no" firmly and rush it to the door and out to the spot quickly.
Q: Are you doing BST (Breed Suitability Testing)?
A: If I ever had a dog that could pass those tests without significant training, I'd neuter him. I breed traditional American Bulldogs and Bandogges. They are supposed to be distrustful of strangers, with self-initiating assertion, highly assertive with non-livestock animals (other dogs, and wild animals such as hogs and coyotes), protective and controlling of livestock, and aggression is by far a preferable trait.
Understand, I do recognize the current fad to breed these dogs more commercially into something akin to Labrador temperament, fulfilling the market segment for would be yuppie fanciers who want tough LOOKING dogs without the associated traditional traits of true working dogs, but that is not a direction I will ever go. The ABRAs adoption of the BST was in my opinion a total sell out of what the breed is supposed to be, and one of the key reasons that I, as well as many other older breeders of American Bulldogs, simply do not seek ABRA recognition of our dogs, and do not support that organization with our money.
This is not to say that you cannot socialize and train my dogs into dogs to pass the BST - or for that matter, the AKCs Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog requirements; you certainly can! They're smart dogs, responsive, wanting to please, and with stable minds, and self-control. However, the requirements of the BST are such that a properly bred American Bulldog who ACTS like a properly bred American Bulldog cannot pass the test. The training removes from the dog its own natural tendencies, which is a betrayal of the breed, and a thing that leads to breeders trying to breed dogs "more mellow" in order to pass such tests more easily. I wouldn't ever want my dogs to be anything other than what they were meant to be, and what they have always been. We breed true grit, aggressive family guardians. They threaten. They bite. They are bred to keep order on acres. We like it that way, and so do our customers.
We temperament test, courage test, game test, and every dog NOT JUST THAT WE BREED, but that we SELL must have a high active defense drive, or the dog won't be sold. We also don't sell eight week old puppies, or puppies raised like boutique Hamster breeds under heat lamps. We breed and sell traditional working farm dogs - the kind you don't need to train to kill coyotes, catch hogs, or bite the bad guy. If you want them BST titled, feel free, they'll train easily. It's just not what I myself would ever want in an American Bulldog or Bandogge, and it is not supposed to be the dog's natural disposition.
Q: I have a dog I'd like to breed with one of your dogs. Is that possible, what's the procedure?
A: Thank you for the compliments. I currently have no stud dogs I am willing to share, so if your dog is a female, you'd need to purchase a male puppy and wait for him to grow up.
As for my females, you may send me pictures, description and pedigree information of any male you think I'd be interested in, but I warn you in advance, I have very specific requirements for any stud I might use and very few dogs fit into my criteria. To save you some time, only contact me on this if ALL of the following are true: 1) Your dog has a known and confirmable bloodline in which I can view both him and both of his parents in person and perform proper pedigree research on their progenitors, 2) Your dog is free of genetic diseases and has a hip score of "good" or better, or no higher than .2 on either side, 3) Your dog is a conformationally correct, fully developed and highly robust male measuring a minimum of 110 pounds and 27" at the withers for American Bulldog males, or a minimum of 130 pounds and 28" at the withers for any Mastiff breed or bandog outcrosses. This dog must also be a minimum of 2.5 years of age and I have very strong preference for males to be older than that, 4) Your dog (while there is no need to be "friendly" towards strangers) must show me no temperament issues upon meeting him, based exclusively on my own judgment at the time, and is placed easily under verbal control by you the owner, with no need for muzzling or leashing in my presence, and 5) Your dog will need to receive a physical with bloodwork and have a clean bill of health.
Now that said, I may make exceptions to criteria number one or number four depending upon the dog, so if you have an animal that meets numbers two and three that you're just sure I'd be interested in, go ahead and introduce him to me by email, but don't hold your breath. Furthermore, if I were interested in breeding to your male, you'd need to bring him to Divide, Colorado for the breeding, or I would need to meet your dog in advance somewhere else and then do artificial insemination with vet confirmation of the collection.
Payment is negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
Q: I am an american pit bull terrier breeder but I have always wanted an american bulldog. I have never commented on any ones website before this one. I just wanted to say that you have the best looking bulldogs I've ever seen. I hope in the future I will own one of your outstanding pups. At least I know now where to get on when I get enough funds to allow me to do so. I love your descriptions on each of your dogs and thats why I think you are an excellent source to start my AB line. GREAT DOGS MAN
A: Hey, thanks, that really means a lot coming from another breeder.
Q: Can you settle an argument for me? I got a pitbull and rott mix 120 pounds and a real good aggressive hard biter but he's real hard to control in public just cuz he wants to show everyone whose boss. He keeps trying and go all balistic on people and I'm afraid he's gona to get me in trouble. I got a bad-ss police kind of harness for him, my dad whose an a--hole alciholic says it's no good and I should use just a normal collar that's real strong. What do you think?
A: Listen close because I'm going to try and help you here, as well as the rest of humanity that you encounter throughout your life. First, I'm unhappy that you even own an attack dog that you cannot control with your voice. I'm not a hater, but I'll tell you plainly, you're the kind of dog owner I want to see come to your senses, or stop keeping dogs. Taking a dog out in public that you cannot trust to obey you, who you know to be a serious biter, well, when he attacks someone, you'll likely go to prison AND YOU'LL DESERVE IT. You don't have a right to put me, my wife or kids in DANGER so that you can look tough, or cool, or whatever it is you believe you're getting by walzing an out-of-control biting machine around in public places, that you yourself are telling me you have a hard time controling even by force. What if you're in a car accident and the dog attacks the paramedics that would have otherwise saved you? What if you lose control of him around a four year old kid who smells like the dominant male dog daddy keeps at home? You're telling me that you have a 120 pound dog that is so out-of-control you have difficulty handling him, and yet you like taking this dog out in public, and your only concern seems to be what might happen to YOU. That is irresponsible at a level that DESERVES JAIL TIME, period. You need to get your head right. Now, all that said (and I mean it, buddy; you're a real live flippin' CRIMINAL if what you've described is true and accurate), in the interest of public safety, I'm going to answer your question from the technical perspective you're wanting...
Standard 2" to 4" wide collars are typically good control tools on a dog's neck. Problem is, stronger dogs with big, thick, heavily muscled necks that are roughly the same diameter as their heads can slip collars. Regarding harnesses, those are for WELL TRAINED DOGS, not yours. I have never seen a harness that a dog cannot easily slip or back out of if that's what it wants to do. Again, a harness WILL NOT contain a dog that is motivated to get out of the harness. You must secure THE NECK of the dog (same as your dad said), so that it's impossible for him to slip collar(s).
When I have to deal with a dog like this (usually rescuing it from someone like you), I use TWO standard 2" wide collars, one behind the other. I run the lead through the d-ring and one time all the way around the width of the rear collar and clip it to the d-ring of the forward collar. Both collars should be tight. In this way it becomes very difficult for the dog to slip the collars, because the forward collar with the lead clipped to it acts as an anchor for the rear collar, keeping it in place. If the dog just goes nuts and really wants to escape, the collars will twist on themselves and make it very difficult for them to slip off. Understand, this is NOT fool proof; it is a way to get a difficult dog from point A to point B with some extra assurance he's not going to break loose in the few minutes it takes to do so. A custom choker chain fit to the specific dog is a better control tool, but you need to cut the slack off to be sure that when it hangs free in its most open position it can't just slip off.
Keep in mind, however, you are describing a dog who has no respect for you (an opinion I share). No leash or collar combination on earth is going to last even one second, the day that monster turns around and bites YOU in order to escape and bite someone else. So, let me again be crystal clear, what you really need to do is KEEP YOUR DOG SECURED AT HOME, properly train it and don't take it out in public until it is properly trained - OR, surrender it to your local Animal Control office! You do not have the right to endanger the public with your dog. You're probably thinking that your big, mean dog makes you look tough. In reality, it makes you look too weak and stupid to handle your own dog.
Look, fear and respect are two different things, Sparky. If what you want is people to fear you, than you are not worthy of respect. Real men do not cause fear to their fellow citizens; their calm and confident presence, and their thoughtful commitment to always do right takes fear away. Please don't ever take that dog out in public again, not until he's as calm and trustworthy as Lassie. (Google Lassie; it's a really cool dog from my generation.)
Q: My dad says I can ask you whats the strongest dog in the world is.
A: Possibly the Russian Ovcharka or the Tibetin Mastiff, but certainly a dog from the Mastiff group would be the strongest overall, I think. However, if you're asking what's the strongest dog for his own size is, you know, pound-for-pound, that's a hard one. Certainly American Bulldogs (which are also a Mastiff offshoot) are very strong dogs for their size, often able to pull 30-times their own weight and more. Sometimes Pitbulls are really strong like that too, but when they are, they often have too much muscle for their lighter weight bones. I guess I'd have to say that I'm not really sure, but that a Mastiff of some kind would have to be the strongest dog overall. Thanks for writing.
Q: (follow-up) My dad wants to no if pit bulls make good dogs to gard are family an whats the best dog to gard a family is?
A: That's a big topic and I'll try to keep my answer short, for you and your dad to read together. First, sometimes Pitbulls can make good family companion guard dogs. I've met some really good ones over the years, and I won't pretend I haven't. However, in a home invasion situation, most Pitbulls at under 90 pounds are a little small for fighting off multiple attackers. The dog will surely do some damage, but a couple guys working with a big couch pillow and a blanket, can usually get a Pitbull under good enough control to toss it out a window, or get it locked in the bathroom. For any kind of serious guard dog, I want a dog that is a minimum of 100 pounds, and very, very strong - so strong that a man cannot simply sit on the dog and hold it down, or injure it easily.
Then there is also the Pitbull personality to consider. Pitbulls can be really great dogs as house pets, but the thing that most Pitbull breeders don't talk about much is the significantly higher level of day-to-day attention and human interaction a Terrier bred dog needs to feel happy and secure in his human relationships. Pitbulls are Terriers and they are very active dogs, mentally and physically. They are not the kind of dog that you want to attack train and then toss them out in the yard 16 hours a day and ignore. They need heavy people contact, continuous socialization, lots of dog-human activities to keep them content. In the beginning when you get a dog, that's a lot of fun, but after six months or so, people tend to get bored with their dogs and don't want to maintain that level of committment. Yet without that committment, being regularly focused on the dog, spending a lot of time and energy keeping him entertained, a Pitbull can become lonely, irritable and destructive.
What I like for a family companion guardian is Mastiff bred dogs, not just my own American Bulldogs, which are a Mastiff offshoot and very good for this use, but also Bullmastiffs, English Mastiffs and Neapolitan Mastiffs (if you can find more athletic ones), South African Boerboels, Dogue de Bordeaux (assuming good structure and size), Great Danes (if you can find ones that aren't all boney and frail), Saint Bernards - REALLY BIG DOGS, properly attack trained, that tend to be very calm and lazy when there's no bad guys to bite, as will likely be the case for their entire lives. These are dogs that you can almost ignore, happy if you pat their heads a few times a day, give them a kind word and a scratch behind the ears, and not really needing much attention besides that. They are stable minded, confident dogs. Assuming good socialization and training, they are emotionally secure. Mastiff bred dogs are easily the most loyal, family oriented dogs in the world...
And if bad guys really ever did bust through the door (which probably is never going to happen), and they encounter your 110 to 200 pound attack trained monster, with a mouth big enough to hold a football - a dog that can break a man's leg with a single bite, well, smarter bad guys will run right back out the door, and if they don't, daddy will have plenty of time to go get his gun, and make sure you and mommy can get out of the house and go call the police.
I don't want my dog to have to work at being a good guard dog. I want a family guard dog that's big enough to overcome a man easily, without a bunch of frenzied shaking, cause bad guys usually come in pairs, and they usually have a plan they're feeling pretty good about. What we want is when they see your dog rushing at them, looking like some enraged modern day illustration from a medieval European battle field, they instantly realize the plan was not good enough, and run for their lives.
One last note on family guard dogs... You need to understand and always remember, the dog is not there to win in a fight against bad guys, not any dog, not ever. Humans are smarter than dogs, and sometimes they have weapons. Your guard dog is only there to give you time to escape, and no more. In any situation in which you need your guard dog to actually engage a bad guy to protect you, his job is to keep the bad guys busy for a minute, and your job is to run away really fast and go get help. The dog is there to guard your retreat, not win the battle for you.
Q: I read your Policies page and I have a question. How come so many breeders offer a money back garantee if things don't work out or whatever but you say your dogs ar as is and you never return money?
A: Fair question and I'm going to post my answer on the FAQs page... First of all, I've been doing this breeding and selling dogs thing for quite a while. There was a time I did offer a money back guarantee. People brought dogs back that had been abused, some jerk kicking a puppy across the kitchen floor for a month because he was too lazy to properly house train the poor dog. Dogs came back sick because people refused to vet their dogs. Dogs came back half starved, having missed developmental stages and ruined because of it. One very special lady even returned a six month old dog that had died of Parvo (associated starvation) and wanted her money back. So, reason number one is that there's just too many people out there who lack honor, common sense and decency, who will buy a dog on a whim, no plan or knowledge how to care for it, and when it doesn't work out, they return it as if it was a rental couch they don't like the color of any longer.
Second reason is what I just touched on: The impulse purchaser. There are people who get it in their head they want a really cool looking American Bulldog on Monday, who, on Wednesday have come to their senses, realize they did yet another impusive thing, and now they want to return their dog. Those people know exactly who they are, and because they know who they are, I don't have that problem, because they know up front I'm not going to facilitate that for them. Most of my buyers these days are serious, have done serious research, and they have a serious plan that they seriously implement when they get their dog. That's because less serious would-be impulse buyers don't see an opportunity to be irresponsible with me, cause they read: Card laid, card played, buyer beware, and they know full good and well I'm talking directly to them personally, and they go to someone elses website and try to buy a dog.
Third reason, and in my own mind most important, is you yourself, the customer who trusts me to give you a good dog. You mentioned the breeders who do give money back guarantees, so let me ask you, where do you think those dogs end up after they've been returned? When person "A" buys a dog, takes it home, the 30 year old adolescent drunkard male of the house kicks it around a few days, gets bored and says take that stupid dog back, once the breeder takes the dog back and refunds the money, where do you think that dog goes, now that he may well be permanently damaged psychologically, possibly sick and certainly confused, insecure and no longer a happy puppy...? He goes to the next customer, that's where he goes, problems and all.
The breeders offering money back guarantees don't adopt the dog for themselves when they've just returned a thousand or more dollars - money that had already been counted into their profit margin and budget; they RESELL THE DOG, and to whome...? YOU, that's who. They make out like they're doing people right, when in reality, to have a policy like that, a breeder has basically committed himself to quietly screwing buyer number two, every time buyer number one has second thoughts.
Not here. If I take a dog back it's within 24 hours for a previously undiscovered health issue, confirmed by a vet that I've spoken to. That dog then either gets nursed back to health and offered back to you, or put to sleep, so as not to corrupt my good reputation by selling you a dog that looked like he might've had Parvo last week, but looks like he might be sort of ok today. I don't give the money back at those times either, but apply the payment to another dog of equal or better quality in my own estimation... for the first two reasons given above.
Q: I see a lot of different ready made dog kennels available on the internet all different sizes from 4x8 feet to 12x24 feet. How big are the kennels you use professionally and do you have a brand you recommend?
A: I do not use kennels, period. I have quite a few very large yards that my dogs circulate through, dogs being on one yard for a week, then in the house for a week with access to more than an acre of fenced yard, then onto a different yard for the following week. The smallest of my yards is 25x65 feet, most are in excess of 25x80 feet, and no dog "lives on a yard" exclusively, but always circulates in and out of the house, and into and out of other yards, as described. I do not believe in "kennels" as such; they're just too small. They are too small for a dog to run and get proper exercise. They are too small for a dog living in them to be psychologically healthy.
I have many friends who are breeders of different types of dogs. One in particular breeds larger Mastiff bred dogs somewhat similar to my own. They use home built kennels ranging from roughly 8x16 feet to maybe 20x40 feet, so, relatively large kennels as kennels go. They let the dogs out of these kennels, I believe every day for extended exercise periods, running after an ATV around their property. They are very conscienteous dog lovers and I respect the many extra efforts they go to showing their dogs love and trying to do the very best for them. However, while many of their dogs are pretty decent genetic specimens, not one of those dogs has proper adult muscle development for their breed. Some are clearly both over weight and weak house dog type versions of the breed, others are overly thin and under developed dogs that would clearly love to be the farm dog version of the breed, but have never had the opportunity to really build muscle properly.
My own recommendation is that you simply never use kennels per se, but actual yards, the larger the better, and also not plain dirt yards, but yards with trees, grass, terrain and elevational differences that keep it interesting for the dogs living there. That's just me. I want my dogs to have a life worth living, with the space to ALWAYS run, not just at scheduled periods. I want my dogs to have interesting things to investigate and occupy their minds, not just a life in which they're typically incarcerated, standing by a fence looking outward, hoping that their little portion of temporary freedom is longer than usual today. We do that to human prisoners that have committed crimes, and they don't typically come out of prison in better psychological condition than they went in, and they deserve punishment, whereas my dogs do not. Lots of people use kennels, but I don't agree with the practice. The proof is in the pudding. You can take a casual look at my dogs and decide for yourself if you think I've got the right idea on this one.
Q: Why do people cut off some dogs tails and ears?
A: I know that the practice of ear docking at least originally comes from dogs used in confrontational duties against other animals, such as dogs developed to protect sheep and whatnot from wolves, and of course, from dogs that were used for fighting. Ripped ears do bleed very, very badly, so not having longer ears that are easier to bite would logically lower the incidence of ripped up ears. However, I have not done a great deal of study on this issue, and I'm not one of these people just too proud or insecure to say, "I dunno," accompanied by a stupid look on my face (please insert stupid look here). When it comes to tails, I really don't get it at all. I mean, both Mastiffs and American Bulldogs specifically use their tails in combat for balance, and to increase the speed and accuracy of their spinning, turning front to back and back to front with lightning quick speed. So why would there be this age old tradition among such dog breeds for chopping off their tails, when they were originally developed for duties that their tales help them perform well...?!?! It doesn't make sense to me. I just don't know. I do not dock my dogs tails or ears, regardless of breed. I've got some dogs with docked tales, but their previous owners did it, and I never would have done so. If anyone else wants to chime in and give a more authoritative answer, please email me. Again, I dunno.
Q: My pit bull lab mix dog is 8 and has started getting these lumps on different spots of her body over the last year. Is this cancer, what is it?
A: I am not a vet. Further, if I were a "vet technician" rather than a vet, I would NOT advise that you take my word for it, but that you should take your dog to an actual vet. That said, as a rule of thumb, (NOT as a hardfast rule of science, but just generally speaking), hard tumors below the skin tend to be benign, soft tumors more often cancerous. A dog of eight years old is an older dog now. I would not worry about an older dog with hard tumors. It's relatively common. However, I do recommend a visit to the vet.
Q: You know, you really are sort of a jerk and I don't appreciate the arrogant all knowing attitude you seem to have about dogs. You should just shut the !$&#@! up and don't worry about how other peoples take care of there dogs.
A: This page has a disclaimer at the top of it, right up front, first thing I wanted you to read, in which I explain that I myself do not see myself as an expert, that I am neither a vet, a dog nutitionist or even a Breeder's Cup winner, but just a guy that breeds dogs successfully. That means, you know, according to the common usage of the English language we share, that I am not in fact so arrogant as to a) believe I am an expert, or b) as to want you to believe I am an expert.
With regards to I should just shut up and not speak about whatever topic it was that left you feeling all clammy in the palms, insecure and irritated, buddy, I'm an American citizen, and that still means something to me. I'll say what I want, when I want, how I want, to whomever I want, and you obviously feel that you are free to do the same, so what's the problem here...?
As far as my being a jerk goes... well, I think in many cases I really would have to agree with you on that note, but at the moment, I've got six dogs laying happily at my feet, that all assure me that you're the jerk and I'm the greatest human ever birthed by woman since Jesus. I'm going with the dogs on this one, and you should maybe be a little more introspective and take a fresh look at exactly what set you off, cause I'd bet money, that your dogs aren't as happy or well behaved as mine, and knowing it, you'd rather lash out at me than confront your own dog husbandry issues. Obviously that's just a guess on my part, but again, the dogs reading over my shoulder are all nodding in agreement, and general consensus is that you're the jerk and I'm Ghandi.
Q: (follow-up) Ok man, you got me laughing with that so maybe we can just agree we're both jerks sometimes. What I don't like is what you said to the kid with the pit rott mix that's a problem biter. Its pretty !$&#@! you write someone a letter looking for advice and they tell you you should be in jail. Jail sucks and no one should ever have to be there.
A: Imagine that kid doing just exactly as he himself described, being out in public with that dog when your wife and kid pass by... and the dog snatches your little girl by the face, and when he finally lets go, after shaking her violently for 45 seconds to a couple minutes, she's missing her face, her neck is broken and she's laying there destined to spend the rest of her life in a wheel chair, so scarred that most people won't even look at her when they're speaking. Or just imagine she's dead, and you just got home from a closed casket funeral. How do you feel about that kid and his dog, now that your kid is dead or maimed...?
You gave me your point of view with good humor, so I'll give you mine in absolute candor. If I was walking in a public place and I saw that kid/dog combination on the other side of the street from me, I would reschedule my day, cross the street, and stand just out of reach of that dog as it went nuts smelling my dogs. And when he lost control of that monster, I would take the bite and call the police to see that the kid was dealt with and the dog was destroyed... BEFORE they meet your wife and kid some sunny day, and change your lives forever.
You need to think about what you're saying here, partner. You are licensing somebody to put the most innocent, weak and frail in our society in mortal danger, just cause they happen to go to the grocery store, at the same time that kid is there trying to posture like a tough guy. I'm all for tolerance and good manners, but I draw a line where somebody is knowingly and without care or concern, putting innocent lives in danger.
Q: (follow-up) I see your point. I didn't really think of it that way you know that sometimes dogs really hurt people. What do you do with a dog like that to get it more calm and stuff? Peace out.
A: You lock that dog up safely so it can't hurt anyone, either in public or in your own house, and you call a professional trainer and ask for an on-site evaluation of a large problem biter. At that evaluation, the trainer is going to say one of two things, either he or she will give you a price for fixing the problem, (and then you need to decide if it's worth it, or if you should just surrender the dog to animal control authorities), or he/she will tell you that dog is too far gone and needs to be either kept like a tiger in a cage the rest of its life, or destroyed, at which point, you surrender the dog to animal control authorities, because you are probably not qualified to keep a tiger.
Look bud, I'm absolutely against breed specific legislation, and I support a person's right to keep properly housed and maintained guard dogs, but I am absolutely FOR owner responsibility, and the more capable the dog, the greater the owner responsibility becomes. It is the law that you MUST be in full control of your animal at all times. That law is logical, and it protects the public when it is properly enforced. We cannot sit here and pretend that all dogs are good, as if they descend down on fluffy pink clouds from heaven, never to do harm. People get hurt and even sometimes killed by dangerous dogs, (and almost always) coupled with irresponsible owners. A responsible dog owner is someone who realizes that their dog has gotten away from them behaviorally, presents a risk to humans, and therefore needs to be put down in order to end that risk. I'm not talking about responsibly handled guard dogs here, but the casual pet owner who has a biter they are unable to control. That dog needs to go. Period. Have you seen what dog attacks can result in...? You should read my Pitbull Advocacy article. There's some dog bite pics towards the middle or end of it you should study. Responsibility is always key in owning a dog, any dog.
Q: How long is a bitch in heat and can get pregnant?
A: (I copied and pasted this from dog-info.com for you):
"During heat, or proestrus, the eggs in the bitchs ovaries begin to mature and her estrogen levels start to rise. This will continue for several days. During this time she will leave a small bloody discharge which will gradually change from red to pink to yellow to clear. Around day 10 (more or less) of her heat period she will start being receptive to males. This is the estrus stage. Some males will have already shown interest in her prior to this time, but most bitches will snap at them and have nothing to do with them before they are physically ready to mate."
"Once their progesterone level reaches the proper level for ovulation, the bitch is ready to accept a male. This may continue for a few days, or it may only last one day, depending on the bitch. Her progesterone level usually determines how willing she is to receive a male. Mating can result in pregnancy only during the estrus stage. Proestrus and estrus combined may last anywhere from five to around 28 days. Diestrus is the period following estrus. In a pregnant bitch, diestrus will last until puppies are delivered. In a bitch who hasnt become pregnant, diestrus will last for the same amount of time it would normally take for a bitch to go through pregnancy. She will experience the same shifts in hormones as a pregnant bitch."
"Some female dogs will go through a false pregnancy and will gather toys as substitutes for puppies. A female in false pregnancy may gain weight, have her mammary glands swell, produce milk, and even make a whelping area for puppies. Following the time when puppies are born, or would be born, is the anestrus period when the bitchs reproductive system is quiet. This period usually last at least four or five months. She has not particular response to males during this time."
So, the short answer to How long is a dog in heat? is about 28 days, but she can only get pregnant during about 14 of those days, at the most."
Q: I heard if a dog eats chocolate it'll kill him but my dog loves chocolate and he's not dead so what's the truth about the dog chocolate thing?
A: Chocolate contains theobromine which is toxic to dogs. Theobromine is an alkaloid of the cacao plant, where chocolate comes from. Dogs metabolize theobromine slower than humans, thus causing theobromine to remain active in the dog's system much longer than in a human, who it doesn't harm in the first place. Theobromine poisoning causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and an increase in urination. It can progress to an irregular heart beat, seizures, internal bleeding, heart attacks, and then even death. However, dogs can eat small amounts of chocolate without getting sick at all, and this then is where your observation has left you wondering. Dogs don't typically get sick from eating a small amount of candy. Also, there's a difference between milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and dark chocolate. Milk chocolate has less theobromine than dark chocolate, which has the most theobromine. A common textbook example is that a 44 pound dog would get theobromine at a toxic level if it ate 8.5 ounces or less of dark chocolate, but might not experience any notable symptoms if it ate up to 12 ounces of milk chocolate. Bottom line is that you should not let your dog eat chocolate. It's toxic to dogs, typically not in smaller amounts, but just the same, toxic.
Q: Hi, maybe you can help me out. I have a 10 month old Bullmastiff mixed with Aikita. My husband got us this dog befor he left for Afghanistan to protect his kids and me back home. He is a good protector (the dog and obviously my husband too!), but he doesn't always listen to me and if he thinks he needs to protect us I really can't do much to call him off it's like he just does his own thing and doesn't respect me yelling at him or anything. I love this dog and he's a real great dog with me and my kids but he's getting big and I need to control him better. I had a trainer come out and he said that I haven't "established myself as his pack leader" but then he offered to buy him and I don't think that trainer was very good he just wanted my dog is all. How do I be a pack leader to my dog and get him to listen to me better?
A: Thanks for writing and thank you for your service. I recognize it's your husband in Afghanistan, but I also want to recognize your own service, which is the willingness to raise your kids, handle a household, and make ends meet - financial, emotional and otherwise, doing so alone for a time. All too often the spouses of our war fighters are taken for granted, when your service is every bit as noble and patriotic as your husband's. Thanks for that. Now to your dog...
First, let me give you some simple exercises that you can begin today that may see this problem start to curb itself a bit. You still have a young enough dog to consider it a puppy, so this isn't so much a matter of re-training, which can be difficult, but of proper initial training, which is much easier.
To begin with, if the dog is allowed on furniture, disallow it immediately and make no exceptions. Don't let the dog on the living room furniture, any other furniture, and certainly not on your bed or your kid's bed. I want this dog to immediately stop seeing himself as your equal. He is a dog. He is below you, and I want him kept physically below you in order to begin sending that message through the foggy mass of instincts and vague understandings of his dog brain. Yes, it is true, that you see literally dozens of photos of my own dogs on furniture, but my family and I are well established pack leaders making this exercise unnecessary within our own dynamic. For you, there needs to be clear distinction between the dog's place, your superior place with your kids, and your position of authority in defining that for him needs to be asserted. Remember, no compromises, not one toe, not his chin, not his tail; he is no longer allowed on furniture.
Next, when you feed this dog, don't let him eat his food right away. Force him to sit calmly at attention in front of his newly filled food bowl and look at you, not at his food. When he becomes willing to sit and do this without looking towards his food, allow him to eat, tell him he's a good boy and pet him a bit as he eats. I want this dog to learn to discipline himself to your will, and to understand that food comes from you, his pack leader. If that nose turns towards the food, respond sharply with "NO!" and place his head back in position looking up at you. A leash may make this exercise easier. When you feel he's eaten enough, call him off his food, pick it up and don't allow him to eat again without the same exercise, always standing over him as he eats, always by your command alone, always interupted and stopped from eating while he still has food left that he would have liked to have eaten. Canine pack leaders administrate all meals, deciding who eats, how much and when. Thus by controling his eating, you are showing him you're the boss, the pack leader, a thing he will instinctively comprehend.
Third, I want you to walk this dog on a short leash around your house and if your yard is fenced, around your yard, and for long periods of time. Clearly you should not have him out in public as you cannot control him at the moment, so keep him home. I want him on a leash of no more than 18 inches, by your side and under your explicit command for every step. Yank that leash in a hard, snapping motion that jerks his head to your thigh if he shows any tendency to part ways from your will. When you get tired of the exercise, sit down and rest, and make him sit at attention waiting on you, not laying down and resting himself. Then do it again for a while. If you stop walking, make him sit, not lay down, as soon as you stop. I want this dog totally focused and waiting on you and your next command.
Lastly, I want you to call another professional trainer. I'd have a great one for you if you didn't live out of state, but you do, so call another. One place you can look is by calling the Canine Unit of your local State Police. If you call the non-emergency number of your local post, they should be able to give you the number to the Canine Unit, and they in turn, should be able to recommend a local trainer.
Understand, the three exercises I've given you are only a beginning towards establishing yourself as pack leader, and getting this dog properly in hand. You need some professional help to teach you how to train your dog to your will, and it's important that you get that help. We're talking about a big, dominant male dog here, far stronger than you, and sure to get much stronger still. If you cannot call him off someone, you cannot have him around people. That means that when you and the kids order pizza, or the FedEx guy shows up, or a crusty neighbor rings the bell who has always made you uncomfortable, the first thing you'll need to do is lock the dog away... where he CAN'T protect you. That ruins the whole point of your husband's intentions, and I want to see this man's plan for his family honored, you and your kids guarded as he intended, by a disciplined and capable canine protector.
So, start your exercises right now, make some calls, and shell out the money on the trainer to do this thing right. I would expect you and the dog to need no more than perhaps four to six one hour long sessions with the trainer for that person to be able to evaluate your need, advise you and adjust your own behaviors with the dog, and to show you how to get what you want from the dog regarding basic obedience and the "down" command. Good luck! And if you run into any problems along the way, let me know it so I can have another opportunity to help you and your family bring this plan to fruition.
Q: I'm (name/rank withheld). My wife wrote you while I was in Afghanistan about our Akita Bullmastiff that was getting a little rowdy. I need to thank you Mr. Blasco. She wrote three other people before you and also had a trainer come out and nobody helped as much as you did. I read what you told her and I appreciate what you said about her and my service and you took the time because of that. The dog is ok now. She got another trainer like you said and he built on what you started for the dog and her. Obvious your a professional but you did more than that and I want to thank you. If your ever in (withheld) we owe you a home cooked meal and alot of beer. Your a good man and we know alot of them who aren't.
Q: The thing I liked about your site as opposed to the dozens of others I have read about the American Bulldog is that even through your "stories" about family and dogs I was able to garner information I did not have before. Had a guy in yesterday to do some HVAC work who "trains" service dogs in our area. Proceded to inform me I was not alpha enough as a pet owner and the list went on and on. I kept thinking - you do not know me, you do not know "this" dog and we are getting along quite fine, thank you very much. What a jerk. Then proceeds to tell me he offers obedience classes but people think he charges too much at $6000 to $20,000 for the three years he takes to train service dogs. I'm thinking really? Wonder why. And I get the distinct impression he is all about dominance and force. Treats have been working fine for training at the moment and this poor dog already has a 2 inch long scar on his neck from previous owners - choke collar? - dog bite? - who knows but it's right where the collar goes. I just do not think "force" is the way to go with our dog.
A: First, if it takes three years to train a service dog, it's either a stupid dog or a stupid trainer. There are AWARD WINNING POLICE DOGS (featured in my Pitbull Advocacy Article), that went from shelters to full-time police work in only six months. Next, standing in a living room for 10-minutes observing a dog that the owner has no trouble with, is simply not a legitimate evaluation process - or the proper and ethical business practice of a professional dog trainer. I guess it never occurred to HVAC guy that if he was worth $6,000-$20,000 as a professional trainer, he would not in fact be an HVAC guy.
One view I have regarding training is don't fix what ain't broke. All too often I've seen trainers want to reinvent the wheel so to speak, pushing for a whole new attitude towards the dog, a dramatic change in the owner/dog relationship, big changes in all the basic parameters the dog is doing just fine in. I find myself often thinking, if you wanted to be a behavioral psychologist, maybe choosing six years in university, rather than the 90 to 180-day dog training class might've suited you better, buddy.
It amazes me how many people I see within the dog industries who take themselves so very seriously, as if the average citizen hasn't been entirely and exclusively responsible for the domestication, breeding and training of dogs for 15,000 years, with no help whatsoever. Obviously when there's a problem, you fix it, and maybe a person needs a more dog experienced perspective than their own to do so, but this whole fad where every other fellow who owns a dog that sits when he tells it to, now sees himself as Cesar Millan, the efficacy of their every word rated right up there with Veterinarians, it's just a lot of wish-I-woulda-gone-to-school-and-turned-out-more-important posturing. I'm glad you saw through it and didn't ask him for his $12 for 500 copies business card. I've met a lot of trainers over the past few years in particular that just make me want to say, hey, GET A JOB, POSER - watching dog shows on cable television does not make you a professional dog trainer. Just saying...
Regarding your dog, if you're not having any mentionable difficulties with the dog, just love him immensley, let him know it and play with him. It sounds like the last owner may've been a bit on the meaner side. I've rescued a LOT of dogs over the years, often keeping them for a time before rehoming them, in order to nurse them past their fears. Dogs are resilient, both physically and emotionally - very UNLIKE humans in that way, who more often choose to be permanently defined by whatever awful things they've experienced. I have seen dogs that were treated in the most objectively cruel ways you can imagine, turn out calm, brave and confident, fearing nothing and loving everyone, responding to nothing more than a little love, kindness and patience. I'm thinking your dog is lucky to have you.
Q: My family and I are thinking about breeding dogs as a hobby and maybe an extra source of income. Do you have any advice? What's the most important thing new breeders should knowe about dog breeding if they want to do it?
A: I guess a few things come to mind really. First, you need to always do what is best for any dog you own, and sometimes that doesn't run parallel to the dog breeder's desires. For instance, while some females can have what seems to be almost endless litters of puppies without it taking anything out of them, other females have a single litter and you can see it made them older and really took something from them. What now? Well, the correct answer is that you retire that female, never breed her again, feed her and vet her for the rest of her life and not get tempted to do it twice. Similarly, you need to always do what is right for the customer. As a breeder you'll sometimes spend a couple years raising a dog, training it, investing time and money into it, only to have it reach adulthood and not be the excellent breeding specimen you believed it would be. Many breeders breed whatever they have on their yards. A good and ethical breeder, who cares about the breed, and cares about the customer, that person only breeds the most excellent specimens, ever. So, sometimes you lose your investment and you need to accept that.
The second big thing that comes to mind is to really study, and reading a book, or for that matter, my own comments on this website is not nearly enough. A breeder needs to have a good understanding of genetics, the history of dogs their own chosen breed and the breeds related to it, and always be seeking to be ahead of the curve regarding best practices, not one of the many yahoos who tend to make the same fundamental mistakes copying one another's ignorance. With regards to that, a truly knowledgeable breeder cannot follow the common breeding protocols practiced by many breeders of Champion dogs, where repeated inbreeding and in-line breeding is the fad. This is an industry in which if you model the breeders of Champion dogs, you'll see a lot of sick, sub-standard dogs and the occasional good one. That means you really need to know what you're doing, because by simply copying those who SEEM successful, you'll quickly learn their best kept secret: They're not usually very successful, just lucky once in a while, or worse, in a group of fellow breeders that Champion each other's sub-standard dogs, pretending at greatness as their breeds degenerate into pale shadows of what they were meant to be. That means studying. You'll want old time animal and dog husbandry books that are expensive, hard to find, and sometimes need to be translated from other languages. You'll want to digest hundreds of scholarly and peer reviewed articles and studies by vets, molecular biologists and similar. You'll want to truly understand structure and what defines good structure as opposed to bad, and why. You'll want to be able to correctly judge temperament, and be up-to-date on the best testing practices. You'll want to be aware of a host of different diseases, conditions and be able to identify usually very subtle symptoms. You'll want to be fully prepared for what can be catastrophic events in labor and delivery and really understand canine reproduction. There's a serious learning curve in dog breeding, and it takes endless hours of study to be good at it, so it's not best pursued by those who are not academically inclined. If you're someone who might tend to have real difficulty pulling a "B" in a college level biology course, this isn't a field to venture into.
Lastly (and obviously there's a lot more, but I'm answering an email, not trying to write a book), you need to understand that dog breeding is a labor of love and not particularly profitable. I mean, Blasco Family Bulldogs© does alright some years, because we have a lot of dogs that can generate a good bit of money in a good season and we've been at it for a long time, but even then, we're still only just breaking even most years, and we've been known to suffer losses measured in the tens of thousands of dollars. There's a lot of expense in caring for dogs professionally, from special diets, to vets, to training and management. To do it truly right, it's hard to be consistently profitable. I'm a long time professional business consultant having worked with countless entrepreneurs and corporate bodies, and I could never recommend dog breeding as a truly for-profit-business. If you want to make extra money, you're far better off with a non-living product, or a professional trade or service of some sort. You want to be able to have control over the more fundamental parameters in any business endeavor, and dog breeding has a lot of variables determined day-by-day by the dogs themselves, as well as a sometimes fickle market. Hope this helps.
Mr. Blasco. Your article discussing the difference between pit bulls
and American Bulldogs is quite helpful. I am meeting my new landlord
tomorrow and I needed more info. i also went through your faq section
and I have a question for you. How do you feel about what I call "irresponsible
breeders" and is there anything that can be done about it? My American
Bulldog had two eye surgeries for entropion repair. The breeder was
aware and bred the mother again. With the next litter, a puppy appeared
to not have an eye. Long story short, there was an eye in there that
ended up being removed. Later it was discovered that something was wrong
with her stomach and it would fill with liquid, her stomach needed to
be drained several times. The NEXT litter only consisted of one puppy
who has now died under a year of age. Apparently it was due to a stomach
problem. These situations really upset me, am I being too sensitive
because I am compassionate towards the animal?
A: Too sensitive? No, absolutely not. As far as DOING something about it? No, probably not, at least not anything most of us would want as a result. I mean, the entire issue is not as much a matter of unethical breeders, but of uneducated breeders. What you describe is a bloodline falling apart from over in-breeding. Now there is not a thing wrong with in-breeding, or with in-line breeding until it's done too much, and therein is the problem. In-line and in-breeding is enthusiastically promoted by some of the "best" or at least most well known and recognized breeders in the country, with little or no mention of the outcross breeding that is also necessary to balance the practice. Among modern breeders, terms like "tight is right" has become a mantra, something almost Biblical, when in reality, tight that is, dogs bred tight to a bloodline, cousin-to-cousin and also more directly, is actually only "right" for a single generation where in-breeding is concerned, and a maximum of two generations where in-line breeding is being practiced. After that, progeny of such breedings should only ever be bred to entirely unrelated dogs, and serious consideration should be made regarding breeding outside of breed true outcross breeding. In saying that, and publishing it as I will to the site, I will get piles of emails from other breeders calling me names, citing this book and that from this other well known breeder and that one. Problem is, genetics with regards to the purposeful selective breeding of animal species is a well established science, and not too many breeders get that. Breeders tend to be more knowledgeable about what other breeders they look up to have done, than about the fundamentals of the science that undergirds our craft. Terms like, "genetic bottleneck," are not in the professional vocabulary of most breeders, and when such terms are, they cannot typically name off the traits of the phenomena, to be able to identify it in their dogs. Among American Bulldogs it's a real problem. I see the breed headed for the most part, not entirely, a very similar direction the dog now called the English Bulldog was once taken, again, by ignorant breeders who were SURE they knew what they were doing, only to create one of the most disease prone dogs on earth today. Now today, the American Bulldog is getting smaller, sicker, less capable overall, and less capable in hotter and colder weather. Many lines have severe allergies. Many lines have dramatically high rates of different cancers. Many lines have severe gastrointestinal problems. Many lines have severe eye problems. And of those lines where such things can be observed, every damned one of them has "Champions" that are bred, bred, and bred again.
So, that's the problem, but what is the solution? In my mind, only education. Legislation rarely solves problems rather than curtailing the freedoms of the more ethical, and being ignored by the less ethical. I would LOVE to see the ASPCA or similar come out with a campaign promoting best practices in breeding, explaining who to to breed to who, when and why. Maybe such a thing might have an impact, I don't know. As for me and my associated breeders, we follow a different path, our dogs aren't shrinking, we've never seen a case of cancer, our dogs are healthy, robust, all-weather-versions of the breed, and we've gotten there by ignoring breeding protocols promoted by groups like the AKC, NKC and others, and following the simple fundamentals well known and established fundamentals, of old time animal husbandry.
Thanks for asking.
Q: (follow-up) Thanks for all the information. Where I live animal welfare groups are concerned with mandatory spay and neuter (unless you have a breeder's license), which I support. Your suggestion to help set guidelines for breeding makes sense. Here is your breeder's license AND a pamphlet on how to do it right.
A: Glad I could help. Personally I do not support breeder's licenses or mandatory spay/neuter laws. POLICIES for spay/neuter on dogs coming from animal shelters, that's fine if that's what a particular organization believes in, but NEVER laws enforcing that, not ever. Such laws SOUND so reasonable, and for a dog lover like myself, I do have to acknowledge that they can have an impact on saving some dogs from unhappy lives. The problem is, such laws and regulations also tend to promote the more popular AKC type breeding protocols, in which only purebred dogs get bred, and more often pedigrees are being examined more closely than the dogs themselves. This creates genetic bottleneck (the shrinking of gene pools) and in turn quickly multiplies disease rates, and encourages the breeding of specimens which meet specific visual standards, but commonly are not healthy structurally or otherwise.
Case in point, the English Bulldog can't breath; the Neapolitan Mastiff can't run; the Dachshund has grotesque spinal issues; ALL the pocket breeds and miniatures have serious health issues; MOST of the lap dog breeds have similar health issues; most "Champion" German Shepherds are sub-standard specimens and the list could go on and on of dog breeds that have been terribly harmed by professional show breeding breeders purported to be the "best" and "most knowledgeable" in the world, and who are often called upon to help develop laws and regulations on dog breeding, who actually have done more harm to dogs with their breeding practices, than any other group of humans in modern history.
The reality is, that while the unprofessional "backyard breeder" type of dog breeder gets a bad rap and sometimes for good reason, he also provides dogs the most valuable service possible: He expands the gene pools through outcross breeding. Ignoring the AKC protocols and pedigrees, he tends to breed dogs based upon good things he can actually SEE in the dogs themselves, and the result is that he often creates dogs of superior hybrid blood, which then very often find their way back into registered bloodlines, thus improving and preserving the health of those bloodlines.
In short, if we had strict regulations on dog breeding, groups like the AKC would be writing many of those regulations, and as such, dogs would suffer greatly because of it. What I support is regulations on dog owners regarding the ethical treatment and containment of animals, and the safe control of dangerous animals, these two areas actually protecting dogs from unscrupulous breeders, and the public from more dangerous dogs. Beyond that, breeders laws and regulations, no, I don't support that, because I know who writes those laws, and it is the same group of people responsible for the downfall of dozens of dog breeds just over the past 150 years. Anyway, that's my view as someone with more than 20 years in the industry, and some of the best dogs around. Thanks for yours! Best Regards.
A: Thanks for the kind words. The American Bulldog as a breed is a very codependent dog, thriving on human relationships, depressed when they don't feel they're getting enough attention, and always wanting to be involved with the family. Possessiveness is part of that. They are very loyal and while the properly socialized and trained dog tends to really enjoy other people outside the family, it always prefers the family. Males are more possessive than females, a lot more possessive. However, possessiveness in a dog is nothing more than misdirected loyalty and an unrefined desire to protect. It is an issue in dogs not properly socialized or trained, but not in dogs that have had a proper start, and have firm boundaries dictated to them by their human pack leaders.
A: I'm sorry I had not noticed Biscuit's inverted vulva before she left us. Over the years I've seen some dogs with inverted vulvas, but never before in my American Bulldog lines. Years ago I dealt with the issue repeatedly in a line of English Mastiffs I was working with. That's where the majority of my own inverted vulva experience comes from, and what I'm relying on as I give this advise.
First, regarding the surgical plan, my girls usually see their first heat between six and ten months of age, and it tends to be in the spring/summer months, and is easily missed with only a light flow, and minimal swelling. Their second heats tend to be more noticeable, with a somewhat heavier flow, and much more obvious swelling. In all cases, however, my girls do not tend to be "messy" in their heat cycles. It's typically just a small bit of spotting for a few days, and then the blood issue itself is passed, followed by a few weeks of mild swelling, and with no negative issues/behaviors whatsoever. I've long told people that with these bulldog girls, fixing a female to avoid a mess is sort of pointless, as even during the heaviest time of their heat, they really aren't very messy at all.
Regarding the inverted vulva issue, however, there is a correlational observation to be made between the heat cycle, spaying, and the issue of an inverted vulva, and I encourage you to share this email with your vet.
While I'm not aware of any formal studies done on dogs with inverted vulvas (in other words, there doesn't seem to be any actual research upon which to support an opinion differing from my own), I like to see a female with this issue go through her first heat before being fixed, (and being a bulldog who will likely have a very minimal first heat, maybe her second heat also).
Inverted vulvas will often correct themselves once the dog has experienced the full vaginal swelling of a proper heat cycle. Further, I know many vets have observed that females with inverted vulvas that have been spayed before the first heat have kept their inverted vulvas permanently, even in lines where it is common, and commonly corrects itself. An inverted vulva in and of itself is not any kind of serious issue, but they have been linked both to vaginitis, as well as other vaginal malformations that can be problematic, so giving the issue a chance to right itself is certainly prudent - far more prudent than spaying a female, who is not living with an unfixed male in the first place.
If your vet were to perhaps contact another vet or two, specializing in dog reproduction issues, I feel sure the advise given would be to NOT spay this female until she has gone through at least one heat cycle. Nature can and often does correct little issues like this, and human tampering can and often does exacerbate such issues.
If Biscuit were my dog today, we would monitor the issue of the inverted vulva probably for the first full year at least, and possibly for the first 18-24 months. We would also keep a container of baby wipes around, and maybe once daily swab the vaginal area lightly, just inside the inverted vulva, to be sure there was no opportunity for bacteria to make a home. What I would not do is subject her to an unnecessary surgery without having given her body the chance to naturally develop out of the inverted vulva issue. I am NOT a vet, but having bred and cared for many hundreds of dogs, being associated with dogs at a professional level for many years, and having of course had the pleasure of countless professional relationships with vets because of that lifelong experience, that is what my own call would be for my own dog, and I would suggest the advise of at least one reproductive specialist before going forward with spaying.
Please keep me informed on this issue, and I am very sorry I was unaware of it when I sent you your dog. Had I known about the inverted vulva, I'd have kept her until we had a sure resolution to the issue.
Please also be advised that if this issue is just too much for you - something you just don't want to deal with, I am extending you the return option, whereby you can feel free to send your dog back at your expense, and I will provide another puppy of equal or higher quality (in my own estimation), delivered to your nearest airport hub at my expense. It is never my desire to see a new owner subjected to the unplanned inconveniences of a less-than-perfect puppy. While I doubt that Biscuit's inverted vulva will be any kind of real problem, certainly it does come with an added care taking responsibility you had not planned for, and I will gladly replace this dog for you, if you decide you would rather not be burdened with that additional concern. Just let me know, and we'll work out arrangements, and set you up for a different dog.
|Home | Dog Profiles | More Photos | Articles | Available | Policies & Procedures | FAQs | Contact|
dogs from a diversity of registered bloodlines -
It's better for the dogs - it's better for the breed...