The Southern Bulldog can trace its origins back to indigenous
American working dogs, many of which populated the Rural south over the last 200 years. How much actual "Bulldog"
exists in the mix is anybody's guess, but the breeds which might comprise the Southern Bulldog include Boxer, English
Bulldog, Mastiff, White English Terrier, Labrador, Catahoula, American Staffordshire Terrier, Plott Hound and Black mouth
Cur to name a few.
Southerns were used widely as general purpose utility dogs - anything from watchdog to
companion dog to hunting. Some lines have been trained successfully to compete in Obedience and Weight pull competitions.
Other lines have competed at high levels in Sport work such as French Ring and Schutzhund, although they will probably never
match the German Shepherds or Malanois at high levels in this field. This is because Southerns have evolved
for generations on farms performing general utility work. They are a "Jack of all trades" breed that has the intelligence,
loyalty, athleticism and tenacity to take on just about any task.
Variously known as American Bulldogs
(AB's), Old Southern Whites (OSW's), Johnson Bulldogs (JDJAB's) or White English (WEB's), these dogs
varied in size, colour, temperament and appearance depending on the geographical area they populated and the tasks for
which they were used. Some breeders believe that there remain "pure" examples of each of these breeds (or lines)
in certain geographical areas, but this has proved to be impossible to verify. All that can be said with accuracy is that
there have been a very few "lines" that have been bred and kept within families for many years. What
the origins of these lines are, less than a hundred years ago, nobody knows. To complicate matters further, these
same lines have been interbred to such an extent that it is often not possible to source their origins.
that the answer to the "big question" about the origins of the American Bulldog is a rather simple one.
Aside from the well documented, and comparatively recent infusion of registered English Bulldog made by J.D. Johnson, there
is absolutely NO PROOF that the American Bulldog of today originated anywhere else but the USA. A common
belief amongst breeders is that English settlers brought Bulldogs with them when they arrived during the 17th and 18th
century. Between 1732 and 1736, it has been documented that many English settlers moved into the Georgia area, bringing
with them a variety of livestock - including dogs. It is reasonable to expect that these dogs may well have been
representations of the English Bull or Bear baiting dogs. However, there is no definitive proof - only supposition. Whether
these dogs remained in their "pure" form, or to what extent they interbred and "evolved" over the
next 250 years is debatable. What is apparent, however, is that the Southern Bulldog originated from a variety of
working dogs with the purpose being to create a useful, intelligent and strong farm dog that could accomplish a variety
of tasks. The fact that these tasks varied considerably from area to area (hunting Vs. working cattle Vs. watchdog
Vs. predator control) dictated the selection of dogs used, and therefore the structure, colour and temperament preferred.
Commonly regarded as the grandfather of the American Bulldog is John D. Johnson of Georgia. This gentleman did
more to establish and popularise the breed than anyone. After World War Two, he gathered together as many good examples of
the breed as he could find, sourcing dogs from farms throughout the rural south. Obviously, there were no pedigrees on
these dogs. Johnson relied on his memories and experiences with these dogs since his youth in the 1920's and 1930's.
He then set about breeding best to best in order to set a consistent "type" and temperament. In 1985, Johnson
changed the name of his dogs from "American Pit Bulldog" to "American Bulldog" to avoid the inevitable
and unwanted confusion with "American Pit Bull Terriers".
In 1970, the first official Standard
was written for the American Bulldog. "These breed standards were established by John D. Johnson of Georgia, Alan
Scott of Alabama, and the Alabama-Georgia American Bulldog Club. These standards were approved and the American Bulldog was
approved for registration by the National Kennel Club on July 7, 1970." (Quoted from the original Standards document).
Whilst it is important to have an understanding of the history of the Southern Bulldog, most important for our breeding
program is where we are going in the future. We cannot change history, but we are setting clear goals for the future.
Since 1996, we have been involved in collecting quality dogs from America and New Zealand in an effort to
breed a line of dogs that are healthy, people friendly, sound of temperament and capable of doing the kind of general work
their ancestors were prized for. I have selected away from dog & human aggression towards trainability and athleticism.
Most people want a dog that will be a reliable and stable family member - not a dog that will bite people
or other dogs without extreme provocation. We are striving to produce dogs which will not be subject to health problems such
as hip dysplasia or NCL. This is a time consuming, expensive but rewarding process.
Since 1996, we have kept our
yard closed to the public. We do not sell to other breeders or those who are looking to make a quick buck. We have always
retained all the paperwork on our dogs in an effort to control future breedings and directions. We enjoy an excellent
working relationship with a few quality breeders, and will continue to strive for the very best in form and
The reason for the name change to "Southern Bulldog" away from "American Bulldog" is to
distance ourselves from some of the unprofessional, unethical and inept "breeders" populating Australia today.
Our "Southerns" represent the essence of the old working farm dog of the rural south. A once dying breed
that has successfully made the transition from the American Deep South to the great Down Under.