My first bit of advice to anyone looking to get started with The Pit Bull Breed is DON’T. Forget about it and don’t get caught up in this lifestyle. If you want to be a responsible pet owner, fine, I hope this book helps you, but if you are looking to get into the illegal aspect of it, don’t. Yes, that is what these dogs are bred for; yes again, it is a thrilling sport if conducted in the right way; and yes a third time there is no finer example of a canine athlete than a top-quality specimen of the American Pit Bull Terrier breed. But even still, there are too many drawbacks. The first drawback is most of the rest of society will hate you, misunderstand you, and seek to imprison you. Every waking moment of your life, with a yardful of dogs, will be spent worrying about if some zealot has “called the law” on you. Truly, this is no way to live your life, and there are thousands of different pastimes one can pursue, that are more accepted in society, and less hassle. So if you haven’t gotten into the dogs yet, don’t. Just stay out. Do yourself a favor and pursue a different hobby, as my bottom line advice is if you don’t break the law, then you can’t possibly get caught breaking the law. How is that for simple? However, if you are already in dogs, or if you simply “must” experience the life that comes with these dogs, I will tell you how to go about it in the right way. Mind you, this is not my promoting or endorsing you to go ahead and do it, but if you are going to go ahead and do it anyway, you may as well be guided in the right direction by learning how to rear your dogs properly, rather than to being left to flounder out there doing everything wrong, thus ruing many potentially good dogs. I myself do not even live this lifestyle, but I know enough about it to give you sound advice. OK, here goes … a person looking to start out in this game is faced with many options – what to do, what to get, and from whom to get it. This includes both dogs and supplies for dogs. Some people have a game plan – but most people usually do not. Most people are all full of desire and want-to, but they’re running short on how-to and where-to. This book will bridge that gap. Remember, nobody plans to fail – what they do is fail to plan. If you want to succeed in these dogs, then you need to clarify what your goals are first. Where do you want to go? Once you answer that basic question, then you need to devise the best way to get there, and then you need to stick to it until you do get there. In other words, know where you’re going first – then plan your work on how to get there – and then work your plan until you finally do arrive. The many options the beginner faces on his journey, like anything else, can be boiled down and analyzed. Basically, they are (1) am I going to show dogs or breed dogs?; (2) do I want to start with a pup or an adult?; (3) do I want to start with a male or a female?; (4) what bloodline am I going to go with?; and (5) who can I trust to sell me quality animals from my chosen line(s)? I realize there is a lot of room for overlap here, but this chapter is to get you thinking. True, some people can be breeders and conditioners of dogs; true again, a person can buy pups and adults, etc. Nonetheless, these are ultimately the real breakdowns of the decisions you will be making when you first get into the game. Let’s start with (1) should you show or breed dogs? I can tell you right now, if you want to be a breeder, then you’d better buy yourself a lot of land, ten acres minimum, that is properly-zoned for breeding dogs … or you will be moving … a lot … and having to give up many good dogs along the way to make these moves easier. I know; I’ve lived through it too many times. So learn from my mistakes. I’ve had to let go of a lot of dogs I wish I wouldn’t have, by my failing to plan, so take it from me … since hindsight is 20-20 … if you want to be a breeder of any significance, then get yourself set up on a place that you own first, a place where you will stay for many years – that has a lot of land – and again, that is properly-zoned for kennels.
[Check the Zoning Department in your area before you buy your land, and make sure you can run a kennel from that spot, and (if so) then set yourself up in that spot before you buy any dogs.] Yes, this takes time, but nowhere near as much as the amount of time and energy you will waste if you fail to plan and buy a home where you can’t breed dogs. Set yourself up to succeed, not to go bust. Also, point blank, forget about renting. No landlord is going to put up with you slowly accumulating a yardful of 20 bulldogs, so why set yourself up for failure by building up a yard of dogs on someone else’s land … only to be told you have to move? What do you do then? So, be smart, and save up to buy yourself a plot of land, first, before you do anything else, and make sure the spot you pick is in a rural area that is properlyzoned for dogs. Another thing you want to do is select a spot that does not have any animal control or Humane Society within a hundred miles, or at least not in your county. The reason for this is simple – so no one can call them on you. It is also preferable to select a spot with a lot of farm animals in the surrounding properties, as the country people who own farms and who have farm animals generally understand “working dogs” better than do pale, limp-wristed city-dwellers. If you select a place where most folks have livestock, in an area with no animal control or Humane Society, then right away you lower your odds of being around the kind of zealot who could call the pound on you – and you’ve make sure there’s no animal authorities in the area for them to call anyway. Believe me, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so make sure you take these preventative measures. However, if you can’t afford to buy acreage, then you can forget about being a breeder. Yes, you “can” work around the land issue, to an extent, by forming a “combine” (a group of trusted friends who pool their resources and dogs together and who can thus keep a lot of dogs of a bloodline going between them, with only a few in each man’s yard), but this is not as good as what I’ve laid out. In a combine, you will always have personality conflicts to deal with, and all kinds of differing ideas, so it is much easier to just do things yourself. That doesn’t mean you can’t work with other people – you have to, and you should – it means you don’t want to have to depend on a group of people for your goals, which can be a big drawback. With me, I got dogs first … and started breeding them … and I quickly had too many dogs for my situation. So don’t you be this foolish. Believe me, I have had to get rid of many good dogs over the years, to make my moving “repeatedly” easier, that I have hurt myself greatly as a breeder. It still makes me sick to think of all of the dogs I’ve had to give up over the years, by my failing to plan, so all I can do is implore you to listen to me and to follow my advice, and make a better start than I made. True, I’ve still turned out some damned good dogs over the years, but still nowhere near what I would have had I started out following this advice myself. If I would have had advice like this to read years ago, and if I would have followed it, I would be light years ahead of where I’m at now. So take it from me, this is the first and most major real issue you need to address before you can take off as a breeder – and that is finding the right spot to do it. So clarify this question first – are you going to compete with your dogs or just breed your dogs? If you want to breed, ask yourself if you realistically have the resources (land) to do it, as it should be done. If not, get the land first. If you can’t afford the land, you can try to form a group of trustworthy friends to do so, or to form a compbine, but if you can’t do either then forget about being a breeder and focus on being a competitor. End of tip.
On the other hand, if you want to compete, it is actually better that you have a small yard of quality dogs, so you can really form a deep relationship with each good dog. Further, you can exercise each dog daily, and spend quality time with them daily, throughout their lives, which makes a BIG difference between two otherwise equal dogs. But, here again, if you are going to be a competitor, then you should purchase all of your conditioning equipment before you buy too many dogs – or at least before you start showing them. Too many people get themselves a match dog … and then hook him up for a show in their excitement … and then soon realize that they know nothing about conditioning. Worse, many of them and don’t even have any of the necessary equipment, not even a scale. How can you hook a dog if you don’t know how to call a dog’s weight? How can you find the weight of your dog without a quality scale and without certified Test-P’s to ensure that the measurement is accurate? How can you condition a dog without the necessary equipment to do so, and without the proper knowledge of conditioning? How can you give your athlete the proper nutrition without the necessary knowledge of nutrition? These things need to be addressed before you hook your dog to show him. In a later chapter (THE ULTIMATE KEEP) I will get into all of this equipment, food, and how to apply each, but this tip is just to get you thinking deeply about your job as the owner. Ok, you’ve crossed that road now and made your decision: you’re going to be a breeder, a competitor, or both. Next thing, (2) should you start w/ a pup or get an adult? If you’re a pet owner, go with a pup, but this book isn’t really addressed to pet owners (though certainly there are principles here that can benefit any pet owner). For a serious dogman, though, getting a pup is the slowest way in which to reach the top, plain and simple. There are only two advantages to buying a pup – one is cost, and the other is the fact you get to raise him the way you want, and with that comes the confidence that you know his/her entire life history. However, every other advantage goes with buying an adult, especially a proven performer and/or producer. Most pups are between $500-$1,000 and most adults are between $1,000-$3,000. Yes, you can get pups for less, and yes you can pay more for adults, but this is the average cost for each. Most people prefer to go the cheap way and get a pup, but it is actually more expensive, in the long run, in both time and in money, to buy a pup. First of all, you have to wait at least 18 months on a pup to even begin his schooling. With an adult, you can look at him right away. If you’re a breeder, same thing, you still have to wait awhile to use a pup for breeding, whereas you can breed a purchased adult right away. Either way you go as a dogman, breeder or competitor, you can immediately begin to get back from your investment when you buy an adult. What’s worse, with a pup, you can spend 18 months to three years of your life raising and caring for it … plus all of his shots, worming, and socialization … only to have him quit and to have thus wasted all that time and money on a cur. Which means you have to start all over again. Let’s say you paid $750 for that pup. Well, in addition to wasting that money, you just wasted two years of food, shots, effort, exercise, etc. … only to be right back where you started from if he doesn’t work out: two years of your life wasted and not a single step in the right direction. And, if you start all over again with another pup after that, you could go through the very same thing again … two more years of wasted time, effort, and money … possibly on another pup that grows up to be a cur – and you would still be NOWHERE in four years’ time!
Who needs that?
With an adult … especially if you really hit your hip pocket and buy a proven good dog … you’re in business right away. Yes, proven adults “appear” to cost more … but in reality the total cost to you (especially in time and effort) is actually much less if you buy a proven adult. You can show the adult immediately, if that’s what you got him for, or you can start your breeding program immediately, if that’s what you got him for. Or both. Therefore, if you can afford it, you should always spend the extra money and go for a proven adult. Even if you can’t afford an adult “right now” … then it is better to save up a whole year and get an adult when you can afford it, because it is better to wait a whole year for a good dog than it is to waste two years feeding a pup that grows up to be a cur. The only real justification for buying a pup is if you cannot find an adult representative of that particular bloodline! As to (3) whether to buy an adult male or female, I would say this depends on whether you are going to breed dogs or show them. If you are going to be a breeder, then definitely go for a female. Hands down, there is no contest as to which is the better choice. For starters, even if you bought the best male stud dog in the world … he is useless as a brood dog without a bitch! Therefore, if you start off with a male, you’ve just forced yourself in having to buy two dogs (a male and a bitch) just to get started as a breeder J However, with a bitch, you don’t even need to buy a male. You have the availability of dozens of the very best stud dogs, from all over the country, all being advertised to breed to your bitch, so why buy a male? J Therefore, if you are starting out with the idea to breed dogs, your best bet is to buy the very best ADULT BITCH you possibly can, and then breed her to the very best, most proven producer stud dog(s) you can … and within two months, you’ll have your future male(s), and you’ll also have yourself a bunch of high-quality pups, right off the bat. This is the quickest, most intelligent strategy to get your feet off the ground as a breeder of these dogs, and if you check your top breeders (Hollingsworth, Boyles, myself) this is exactly what they did. What’s more, after you breed your bitch to a key stud, you can then sell off a few pups and recoup your initial investment, in many instances getting back your entire investment (or more). Think about it. Suppose you spend $2,500 on a very good bitch, and another $750 on a stud service. That’s $3,250 out of your pocket to get started as a breeder. Well, suppose the bitch has 8 puppies, of which you sell five for $750 each (and if you get a super bitch and breed her to a good stud, you can do this with ease). My calculator tells me that you just made $3,750 on the 5 pups you sold, or in other words $500 more than what you actually spent on both the bitch and the stud fee J If you deduct your initial $3,250 investment from the $3,750 figure you got from selling 5 of your pups, this means your bitch was basically free, your 3 remaining pups were basically for free, and you have $500 extra to cover your feed up to that point! Think about it: you now have a free $2,500 bitch, your stud fee was free too, and on top of that you now have three free $750 pups … with $500 left over.
That is basically a $5,250 total yield from that wise investment J Now compare that intelligent strategy to buying a female pup, as opposed to a fullgrown and proven brood bitch. You spend $750 on the female pup, and then you have to feed it for two years, without getting anything in return during this period for your investment of time and money. But suppose she quits during schooling. You just spent probably $2,500 total by the time the two years are up … all for nothing. So rather than make a $5,250 total yield doing things the smart way, you are now $2,5oo in the hole, and two years behind, which is a $7,750 total disparity in value. So, you see, buying a good, proven bitch is the best way to go for an aspiring breeder. Any questions? Didn’t think so J By contrast, if you are going to be a competitor, I would say to get an adult male. For starters, with a male you don’t have to worry about paying a forfeit if he comes into heat. That alone justifies getting a male over a bitch as a performance dog. Secondly, especially if you have kennel-space problems, you don’t have to worry about breeding him and having pups. Rather than breed puppies when he’s retired, you can stud a male out – instead of filling-up your small yard with pups you have no room for with a bitch. And, if you’re blessed with a really good dog, and you have no desire to breed him at all, you can just sell him as a Champion for between $5,000 and $10,000 after you’re done with him, no problem, and you can take that money and start over again on a new prospect. That is, if you are 100% committed to showing dogs and not to breeding them at all. Truthfully, if you become a really good conditioner, you can turn being a showman into a very lucrative business. People will pay you to condition their dogs … so you will get paid doing something you love doing … therefore why make it a “hobby” and only “an expense” to yourself, when (if you play your cards right) you can profit enough from it to make it your life? Isn’t this The American Dream, making a living off of what you love doing? Sure it’s risky, we covered that back in the beginning, but if you’re going to take that risk anyway, it may as well be for profit, with an intelligent strategy, rather than to be for free without any game plan whatsoever. On top of this, if you’re good, you’ll win most of your shows and get still more income from the bets … and finally (when you’re using your own dogs) and it’s time to retire them, again you can make a very good profit selling the good ones back to their breeder, who will cherish these retired animals in his breeding program. In fact, when a breeder and competitor have a really good working relationship, the competitor can depend on the breeder to get him good dogs FOR FREE, and the breeder can depend on the competitor to give him back the retired athlete for the breeder’s brood pen, once the competitor retires the animal. This is the best and most harmonius relationship in these dogs. Or, if you really like the dog (or if you’re more into a long-term cash flow), you can just buy your dogs from the breeder and keep your retired Champions/Grand Champions, earning stud fees on them for as long as they’ll produce. This can prove to be a small fortune, if you have a real good dog, all with no pups and with no hassles. So my advice would be stick with males if you are going to be a competitor. Next comes (4) the subject of what bloodlines to use. This really is a personal consideration, but either way (if you want to succeed) you need to go with a high-percentage bloodline. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a highpercentage “game” bloodline, but the dogs should definitely win more than they lose, when the money’s on the line. The rest is a matter of personal style. Do you like wide-open barnstormers, or methodical, slick dismantlers? If you like barnstormers, the Eli/Nigerino type dogs would be a consideration. Many Red Boy/ Jocko dogs are like this, and many Boylesbred dogs are too. The bonus of these kinds of dogs is their style makes them win early – which means you can show them more often, because they don’t take as long to win and (hence) don’t take as much abuse. Their liability, though, is they tend not to be as game … if they are in there with a good one and are forced to go the long haul … and thus you will get more curs out of them. Many people don’t mind going through a bunch of curs to get their ace, because they know he will be a money-maker … However, if you like dogs that tend to be distance athletes, who save themselves for later and come on strong in the end to pull out the win, then I would recommend the Hollingsworth and CH Butkus crosses as well as the CH Bullshit/White dogs. Pure Red Boy dogs tend to be like this also, but they also tend to be very stupid. The bonus of distance athletes is that, as a line, they tend to be game more consistently than other lines, which means you don’t have to cull as many animals. The liability of these kinds of dog is they tend to take longer to win (and thus more abuse), which means they don’t win as many shows, per dog, as more barnstormy dogs do (on the average) … but in the trenches they are more dependable. Remember, these are mere simplifications, and there are many other lines not mentioned. You could write a whole book on bloodlines alone, and still not cover everything, but this section is to get you thinking about the style of dog you want, from where you can then get pointed in the right direction as to what bloodlines tend to carry that style. I will say this: breeders tend to prefer the gamer, longerwinded, more consistently-game dogs … because they have a higher satisfaction rate among their customers … whereas competitors tend not to care about “bloodlines” so much … they just want to get their hands on whatever dog they can that will get in there and win quick, so they can move on to the next show. Thus competitors are willing to cull through more dogs to get that destroyer, whereas breeders are wanting to work with a line where the majority of what’s produced are at least game dogs. Finally, if you are going to be a competitor, try hard not to become a “dog-user,” and by that I mean try not to be somebody who doesn’t give a damn about his dogs and who is just in it for the money. Yes, there is money to be made, and I agree that you should try to make it, but this effort should never be at the expense of Life nor should it be won by abandoning Fair Play. Remember, this is a sport, and therefore you should be sporting in your actions. That means you do not leave your dogs down to die, when they should be picked-up, and it means you do not violate the rules by cheating just to try and win “at all costs.” Because the “cost” you will pay through such dispicable actions will be your human decency and your integrity, and there is no amount of money that can buy that back for you. So play the game fair, and if your dog can’t win (and live afterward), then be a man and pick him up and show some class. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Fair play and sporting decency make the game a whole lot nicer, for everyone, not just for you and your dog. Likewise, be sure you only associate with competitors like this also, and make sure you openly criticize and ostracize anyone who is not like this, and in so doing you will weed out the human scum of the sport and help return it to the days of Gentlemen Sportsmen. Be a positive embassador and fancier of this breed, and not the kind of monster that the media likes to portray.
Anyway, as to (5) “who to get your dogs from,” again, it depends on what style or line of dog you want. I am not going to give you any personal recommendations here as to what breeders to go to, as there are plenty of both good and bad breeders out there, for every line, but I will give you these general guidelines: (a) buy from a proven-successful breeder and (b) buy from a breeder who has a reputation for accurate paperwork. Obviously your odds of getting a good dog are dramatically increased when you go with an already-established, successful breeding program that produces winners regularly. So too, your odds of succeeding as a breeder are greater if you know the truth about not just how the dogs behind your animal “are bred,” but also that you are told the straight scoop as to their strengths and weaknesses, both as individuals and as producers. Some good performers can’t produce, and some poor performers can produce, so you not only need to know the correct pedigree of your dogs … but you need as much honest information as you can about the traits of each dog in their pedigrees, and the percentages of both good and bad ancestors … to be able to get a grasp of the gene pool you’re working with as a breeder. Knowing the general tendencies will also give you an idea how your dog is likely to hold up in the trenches, should you use him as a competitor. Again, going to a successful breeder to get your stock is good, but going to an honest successful breeder is even better. Why set yourself up for failure by going to a breeder who never bred a winner? Why buy from a “competitor” who can’t even breed his own winners, when you can buy from the breeder who set that competitor up with his winners? Why go to a breeder who produced winners, say, 20 years ago … but who has bred his line out and hasn’t produced anything of note in today’s game? Why go to a breeder who already has a reputation for paper-hanging, so you will have no idea as to how your dog is really bred, when you can go to a breeder who not only produces good dogs, but dogs that are bred as represented? This brings us to the subject of paperhanging, which is pandemic in our sport. In fact, just about every dog out there at one time or another is questioned as to how it’s “really bred.” Ultimately, we as buyers of someone else’s dogs, from someone else’s breeding program, have to rely on the honesty and integrity of the breeder from whom we are purchasing our pup(s) or our grown dog(s). And with some breeders this is no problem … however, with other breeders, that’s like trusting a fox in a hen house – they’ll paper a dog “just like you want it papered,” so they can get the sale. As a buyer, nothing is more disappointing and angering than if you later find out you’ve been scammed on how a dog is bred, even if the dog turns out to be a good one. You see, even if a dog is good, you don’t know what the heck you’ve got now, genetically, so how can you know how to breed it? I will get into breeding and genetics later, but knowing how your dog is truly bred is as important to a breeding program as is how he is as a performer. Anyway, here’s what can you do to protect yourself as a buyer of what you really want – as opposed to buying a dog that is “papered that way.” Here are a few things you can do to better your chances of getting a correctlypapered bulldog. They are:
1. NEVER buy a dog from a breeder who already has a reputation for hanging papers. If you go to such a breeder, I mean right out of the gate there is a chance that the dog you are looking at is already falsely-papered (and if not that particular dog, then its parents, or some dogs in the parents’ background, probably aren’t accurately-represented). Just make a rule of only buying dogs from breeders who have a good reputation for delivering good dogs, with accurately-represented paperwork, and you will increase your odds for success dramatically right from the start. Again, don’t even waste your time with a breeder who isn’t producing winners in today’s game, because if the breeder’s dogs aren’t winning in today’s game, then you won’t win using their dogs either. Go with proven success – and then go with proven integrity on top of that.
2. BE CAUTIOUS if a breeder singleregisters his dogs. Old Man Hollingsworth told me that this is the classic stamp of the paper-hanger, and if you think about it, it’s true. Conversely, if a man makes a habit of registering whole litters then he has to account for each and every pup born at the time it was born – which means he cannot come up with a “new” pup out of that litter, years later, since said litter was already been registered at birth. By contrast … if a man single-registers all of his dogs, that means he makes up the paperwork for you right there on the dog you want. Since there was never any documented record (in the form of a whole litter registration) as to how many dogs were actually in that litter … when it occurred … there is nothing preventing this breeder from adding “one more” to the list, papered “just the way” the customer wanted that pup bred.
Case in point, there are something like 27 dogs registered off of the breeding of Carver’s Pistol to Carver’s Miss Spike. Now, we all know that Miss Spike didn’t have a litter of 27 pups, and I don’t believe there were 2 to 3 repeat breedings, so this means Maurice Carver lied to his customers on the majority of the pups he sold off that “breeding.” And breeders today do this all the time. No, not every breeder who single-registers his stock is a paper-hanger … especially in this day and age where some people don’t trust the registries anymore (whose records can be turned over to the feds). Therefore, just because a man does not register (or only single-registers) his stock doesn’t make him a crook. He may just not want his breedings in the hands of a registration body, so don’t jump to conclusions. Just keep in mind that the practice of single-registering dogs makes paper-hanging much easier to get away with. This brings us to …
3. If you “have” to go to a breeder who singleregisters his dogs, never state to that breeder what you want prior to seeing his yard. Go over his yard of dogs, in silence, and let him tell you each dog’s breeding first, while you simply jot down what he says. Then go back and select the dog you want after he tells you how it’s bred (and what its strengths and weaknesses are). You are much more likely to get a true pedigree that way than if you came over to the yard, and before seeing a single dog announce: “Mr. Breeder, I’m looking for a dog off of So-And-So bred to So-And-So.” If you come up and say something like this, right out of the gate, and you are dealing with a guy who single registers each dog sold at the time of purchase, believe me, you very well might get a dog “bred just like that” – on paper J Therefore, walk around and ask for the breeder to tell you the pedigrees on all the dogs first, and then make your purchase decision after he has gone over everything. As a recap, if you make sure to follow these three steps … 1) Only buy from successful and proven-reputable kennels; 2) Avoid those who single-register their dogs, if possible; but 3) If you do go to a man who single-registers, don’t tell him what you want first, but instead make sure you ask him how everything is bred first and then select what you want, once he’s told you the pedigrees himself. If you follow these guidelines, you will have protected yourself from 99.99% of the chance of being sold a falsely-papered dog, and at the same time you will dramatically-increase your chances of starting out with a good dog. Buying a well-known winner, or a proven-producer, will further increase your chances of success (and of getting a correct pedigree), dramatically, but you must be prepared to pay a lot of money for either a proven winner or (especially) a proven producer. Ultimately, of course, the best way to know how a dog is truly bred, and whether or not it is good, is to breed your own. Still, everyone has to start out somewhere, and all of us always start out in the dark. This book is your “light.” Just remember to ask a lot of questions, which will help “keep the light on” for you, but remember to be respectful as you ask. Just because someone single-registers doesn’t make him a bad person, so don’t treat someone who single registers like a crook. Be respectful. Finally, the last bit of advice I have on starting out is, once you have made a decision, and once you get a quality line of dogs, stick with it. Don’t be discouraged if the results aren’t instantaneous. Remember, you are inexperienced, and (as with any other skill) it takes time to develop your bearings and to gain your competence as both a breeder and a competitor. I promise, if you keep switching bloodlines, you will NEVER get to know what you’re working with. Remember, the bumps and bruises of lost shows, or failed breedings, are still experience, which (good or bad) is still invaluable to have! Rest assured that, as you continue on in your breeding and conditioning efforts, that you will make the necessary adjustments because you will be gaining the necessary experience and savvy, and thus you will gain the necessary competence. So do not “abandon ship” just because you don’t rocket to success right away. Remember, if you stick with a good line, sooner or later you will know what the best individuals are of that line, and with this deep knowledge you will eventually become an expert in that bloodline, and the only result you can get from true expertise is success. Good luck!