UNPREDICTABLE VARIATIONS IN THE AMERICAN PIT BULL TERRIER BY GARY HAMMONDS


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TOM LUNDBERG AND I WERE RECENTLY DISCUSSING THE THINGS YOU ARE LIKELY TO SEE IN OUR BREED THAT COME AS A SURPRISE TO THOSE OF US WHO BREED THE DOGS. THE OLD LIME BREEDERS WERE OF THE OPINION THAT ANYTHING THAT CROPS UP IN PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES HAD EXHIBITED ITSELF SOMETIME BEFORE. THIS MAY VERY WELL BE TRUE, BUT I FEEL CERTAIN THAT IN MANY INSTANCES OTHER FACTORS MAY BE AT PLAY. IT IS OFTEN THOUGHT THAT THE SCATTER BRED DOGS ARE MORE PRONE TO THROW EXTREME DIFFERENCES IN COAT COLOR, SIZE, ETC, BUT I HAVE HAD EXPERIENCES FIRST HAND WHERE VERY TIGHT BRED DOGS THREW UNBELIEVABLE VARIATIONS.

For instance, in my early years of breeding, I owned one of the last dogs bred by Earl that was somewhat heavy Dibo breeding. It was the old “Tudor Zeke” dog and was a forty five pound red nosed dog. He had come from a litter of different looking dogs as far as color and structure. The Rasmussens had a bitch at that time called Ginger that was the Deffebach stuff and it too, was predominantly Dibo. I had shared our idea of breeding the two with several people before it was made, and the majority of the dog men I knew were excited about the heavy Tudor breeding that we were about to do. Red Martin, on the other hand, said “I gotta warn you, just like Earl told me, that the Dibo stuff bred loo tight is liable to come crazy” and the way he said “craysee ”, would about make you crazy. What the heck, we kinda liked crazy in those days. When they came, no two looked like litter males. As they grew, we just couldn’t believe what we were seeing as we had expected to see a litter of Dibo clones. Rather than look alike’s, each was different. At eighteen months, there was a tiny, old time looking under shot bitch that was twenty eight pounds, and a male that was one hundred and ten pounds. He looked like a Great Dane with a bulldog head. Pete, his owner, was an ex-paratrooper that weighed 250 pounds and had a hard time taking him for a walk. Everyone, except me, wanted to breed to this dog, as he was indeed very impressive. In spite of his Marmaduke appearance, he was quick on his feet and quite agile. Pete would have to get his long lead around a stationary object, like a telephone pole, in order to stop him if he saw something he thought he wanted to explore.

PUPIES

This is what I call a mixed bag…

To top it off he never produced a pup in his life and was found to be sterile. The big Plumbers’ Jade dog was the shiner of this litter and was a fifty pound red dog that did have a Dibo look to him. He even produced some litters that were not only good, but relatively uniform. The first black and tans to show up in my old BrunoHeinzl breedings had me concerned, as I knew of none in either dogs background. I contacted two men I felt confident in, Pete Sparks and Howard Heinzl. Pete said that while it wasn’t all that common, it did happen. Howard said “Just send all of them to me.” Years later after having had many black and tans, I bred Parkson to Vinnie and here comes Hailstone, a black with brindle, where the tan would be on a black and tan. In the old days many of the dogs, who were way above average in ability, were referred to as “freaks”. I had one of these that worked several farms and ranches here in Texas. It was the old Missi dog and she was quite clever and always ended up back here because of her mis-deeds. She was amazing as a catch dog, very focused and controllable and as a varmint dog, able to dispatch just about any thing, with little or no injury to herself. Her favorite feat was that as an escape artist and being able to do things that were impossible. I would have to say that rather than a “freak” she may have very well been a mutation, as there were none like her as far back as I knew. While she has produced me some very high quality individuals none could wear her “escape artist” collar, thank goodness. Even though she was above average in the physical department, her edge had to be her problem solving abilities which were uncanny to say the least. It may very well be that intelligence is the deciding factor that makes the difference in some of these individuals of greatness. The mutations, it seems, have caused many species to adapt in the history of our planet. With man, who is the master genetic manipulator, it seems nature does indeed improve on his very best endeavors from time to time. There are a lot of other variations where two tall athletic individuals produce a fireplug, short and squatty dogs. Breeding bulldogs is not an exact science, but you occasionally see families of dogs looking like Bert Sorrells’ yard. The only variation you would see in his yard of reds was an occasional black and tan or the tricolored dog. As for structure most looked like clones. He often said he bred them “tight and right” and they sure did exhibit family traits to the max. I even have people call me from time to time and explain that with the Alligator influence in my dogs they should produce all black dogs. While many do come black, there is a mix of brindles, reds, buckskins and even an occasional spotted pup. As you might think, color is of little importance to me, as I tend to focus more on the physical and temperament attributes that make an overall good working dogs more than any other single trail. With all this said, I feel certain that in the breeding of the American Pit Bull Terrier, we must realize, that it is a lot like Forest Gumps’ box of chocolates… ”You just never know what you will get.” Celebrate those different dogs when they crop up and give them a chance. They could be the best you’ve ever had and might even play a part in the breeds future and survival.

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