Over the years there has been much debate, discussion surrounding the heritage of the American Staffordshire Terriers, what they should look like, what they should be.  Below is some historical letters written over the years.

Some key facts

The Staffordshire Terrier Club of America was formed on May, 23, 1936.  The Committee for this Club was as follows:

President: W.T. Brandon

Vice President: Clifford Ormsby and J.P. Colby

Secretary/ Treasurer: J. Maurice Wheeler

The AKC notified the STCA on June 9th, 1936 that the breed had been recognized.

An announcement was released in the 1936 Dog World:  "Good news! The AKC has recognized the Yankee Terrier with full show and registration priviledges and has placed this good breed on an equal footing with every other dog in the official canine family"

Show Sight Magazine - Judging The Amstaff article written by Sara Nugent. 

"If one wants a dog that goes over the 60lb mark and which as some of the staf characteristics, he can satisfy this desire with a bull-mastiff.  On the other hand, there is no breed smaller than the staf that satisfies the same requirement.  It seems that most oldtime pit bullterrier men definately lean towards a medium-sized dog" - W.T. Brandon
“Few dogs have been more carefully bred throughout their history, and there are few breeds with as voluminous pedigree records. Today the Staffordshire has emerged from his gladiatorial background as one of the finest of all dogs. He is proud and noble of bearing, he combines power and with grace and agility, he is bright and alert and his courage is not surpassed in any other animal on earth. He is intelligent, outstandingly amenable to training and discipline, and is adaptable to almost any conditions. He is superbly gentile with children, intensely loyal and affectionate, and is a wonderful watchdog. There are few dogs indeed that combine as many admirable qualities.”  “In no other breed is there present such a remarkable combination of gentleness, camaraderie and reliability” - W.T. Brandon
"The Stafs will hunt, go to ground with the same zest as any other terrier, make excellent guard dogs, good farm dogs, are not too large for the apartment; and the surprising part is that they seem almost immune to all the trivial dog ailments having exceptionally strong constitutions, because the breed has never been a pampered one, and has always been all dog.

The breed's unswerving loyalty to master and household is sufficient within itself to gain the admiration of the most demanding. They will guard your home or protect your car, and do it with an air of authority that counts. They crave their master's attention, and ask no better place than to be by his side. They thrive on affection and return it fourfold. While their determination of purpose never wavers, they have no competitors as pals and guardians for children. I know of no other breed of dog that I would rather trust with the care and protection of my children. They are unbelievably tolerant and dependable in this respect. They are large enough and strong enough so that the children can't pull them apart. With children they relish being part of the fun and want to be considered a companion to absorb the child's overflow of animation. They can bear the brunt of short tempers without resentment or without having their spirits broken, and they will always come back to lick the administrative hand. In no other breed is there present such a remarkable combination of gentleness, camaraderie, and reliability." - W.T. Brandon (1956)

"Up until 1936, the breed in this country was developed chiefly along fighting lines, with little thought being given to uniformity of type, body conformation, etc., and let me say here, that while I do not condone this form of sport, it was the one factor that kept the breed pure, and it is certainly not my intent to urge Staf breeders to strive for freak and fancey developments, because every effort should be made toward keeping the breed as fundamentally sound and game as it was years ago.

Repeated attempts were made, without success, to get the breed recognzed by the American Kennel Club under the names American (Pit) Bull Terrier. However, on May 23, 1936, a group, The Staffordshire TerrierClub of America met. At this first meeting of the Club, a resolution was passed, requesting the American Kennel Club to recognize the breed under the name Staffordshire Terrier, because of it's relation to theStaffordshire Bull Terrier of England." - W. T. Brandon

"The American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Put Bull Terrier are the same breed. The American Pit Bull Terrier was first registered with the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1898. In 1913 the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA) began registering American Pit Bull Terriers and all of the original ADBA dogs were from UKC stock. All of the early members of the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America (STCA) had UKC registered American Pit Bull Terriers (also some of them had dual registered UKC/ADBA dogs, but they were frustrated because they wanted to show their dogs in conformation shows, which the UKC did not offer. Bill Brandon and others had tried for years to gain AKC recognition for their American Pit Bull Terriers and, in 1936, it actually happened. The name Bill Brandon submitted to AKC was the traditional name, American Pit Bull Terrier. However, the AKC would not accept a name with "Pit" in it and the Bull Terrier Club of America objected to anything with "Bull Terrier" in it. So, the early fanciers had to compromise and settle for the name, Staffordshire Terrier. Although many American Pit Bull Terriers and their ancestors had been imported to the United States from the Staffordshire area of England, the name was never fully accepted here. However, it was either that name or no AKC recognition." - Wayne Brown - History of the American Staffordshire Terrier
Alberta Ormsby’s answer upon the Question ; what is the difference between a pitbull and a American Staffordshire Terrier. What would you answer? “I always get asked the same thing. Until one day they were all pit bulls and when England and the AKC ruled that these dogs could not be called like that, they became American Staffordshire Terriers.”
An Open Letter from the President to Members and Friends of the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America

From the Staffordshire Standard-Bearer, Vol.1, No.10, Dated October 1, 1958. 

Reprinted in STCA's mag, 3rd qtr 95, submitted by Mrs. I.N.Stinson and Jennifer Cullison 


The Constitution of the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America says: "The object of this Club shall be to encourage the breeding of purebred Staffordshire Terriers, more commonly know in this country  as "Yankee Terriers" or "American Pit Bull terriers"; to develop and bring to perfection their naturally high qualities;...." 
Please note that our Constitution recognizes that the Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pit Bull terrier as one and the same. Also, that one of the objects of the club is to develop and bring to perfection their NATURALLY high qualities. 

The American Pit Bull terrier is one of the oldest American Breeds. It was popular in this country before either the United Kennel Club or American Kennel Club was founded. A hundred years ago my grandfather referred to it as Brindle Bull dog; as such it was the foundation stock of the Boston Terrier. Fifty years ago when I first became acquainted with the breed it was known as the American Bull Terrier. This name was popularly adopted to distinguish it from the then recently imported (white, English) Bull terrier which had been developed by crossing the English prototype of our breed with an all- white English Terrier about 1860. Later the UKC inserted the word "Pit" into the name and my first registered dog was a Pit Bull Terrier. Still later the AKC classified them as Staffordshire Terriers. 

Throughout its history, regardless of its name, the naturally high qualities which it is the object of the Parent Club to develop and bring to perfection, have been typical of the breed. during the past 22 years we have tried to breed the best traditional type. The physical characteristics of this type as expressed in our official Standard were set by over a century and a half of selective breeding for the perfect Pit dog. The temperamental characteristics were set by untold centuries of selective breeding for a trustworthy guard dog and companion. The Staffordshire Terrier is not a new breed. If it is purebred all its ancestors a few generations back were American Pit Bull terriers, and all of its characteristics should be typical of the "natural high qualities" of the American Pit Bull terrier. 

The name Staffordshire Terrier is of recent origin. When the American Kennel Club decided to recognize our breed they already had a breed registered simply as "Bull terrier" with a parent club known as the "Bull terrier Club of America". Any combination of American and Bull terrier was thought to be confusing. THE NEW NAME WAS NEVER INTENDED TO INDICATE A NEW BREED. (emphasis present in letter as written) 
During the negotiations for recognition our people encountered considerable opposition, chiefly from the well entrenched Bull terrier group. It was claimed that our breed, the American Pit Bull terrier, was vicious and mean, suitable only for pit fighting, unreliable and not a fit companion of man or beast. After considerable work involving countless hours of conference and research our people were able to persuade the AKC that the American Pit Bull terrier was a loyal and affectionate companion, fit to be accepted into the best human and canine society. 

In the past several months this smear campaign against our breed has been resumed. This time it is being carried on by "Staffordshire Terrier people". Although they cannot deny that only a few generations back all our stock was UKC registered American Pit Bull terriers, they seem to think they can increase the popularity of our breed by claiming American Pit Bull terriers are vicious, have to be fed through a heavy wire fence with long handled shovels, etc. 

One kennel advertising in a dog magazine says that their kennel "added a quality that is indispensable if a dog is to be a companion and make his home with his master rather than to be chained to awaiting his death in the pits". This they have done in about 15 years, having bred a few generations? Teddy Roosevelt, who owned and loved one of our dogs for its loyal companionship before these people were born would say "Bosh!" 

Another "friend" who is more vitriolic started out to buy a bull terrier two years ago and ended up with a Staff. Since then he has become an expert on the breed and its bloodlines. None of the enemies of our breed were ever so vicious in their attacks on it. His diatribes are filled with references to neurotic, escapee(s) from the couch and denunciations of UKC registered dogs. I wonder how he would classify himself if in his truth-seeking he learned that both the sire and dam of his dogs are registered with UKC as American Pit Bull terriers. 

I have a Staffordshire Terrier - American Pit Bull terrier who talks. The other night, before he started his supper, he bowed his head and I heard him say: "Protect me from my friends, I can protect myself from my enemies." 

Sept.11, 1958 

Colby's Primo - Myth or Fact?

By Carla Restivo

I've heard the Primo story for years -- about how he was the model for the American Staffordshire Terrier standard. The story had always been on the edges of what I knew about the breed and I hadn't thought too much about it, until the advent of the Internet -- and then the story became quite pervasive and I was hearing it everywhere and it was used with authority.

So, curiosity got the best of me and I started doing a little digging. While I was in Texas (1995 to 2007), I had the advantage of picking the brains of people that have been in the breed longer than many of you have been alive and who had conversations with Mr. Wilford T. Brandon, founder of the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America and author of the Standard.

In an article which appears in the 2002 Hoflin Annual, Wayne Brown (author of the book, "History of the Pit Bull Terrier" writes (this information is NOT new, but Wayne has recently written a lot of it down in a concise way in the STCA Quarterly and the Annuals):

"Bill Brandon was a fellow Texan and he told me that he wrote the Staffordshire Terrier standard using the UKC APBT Standard and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Standard from England. Others have said that he also used the standard of the American Bull Terrier Club of Clay Center, Kansas and even others have said that he also used a famous dual registered UKC/ADBA American Pit Bull Terrier named Colby's Primo as a model for the Standard. The AKC approved the Standard on June 9, 1936".

In my conversations with Wayne, he tells me that he does remember Brandon telling him about using the SBT and UKC Standards, but does not remember him saying anything about Primo. Richard Gray (Rounders Kennel) says the same thing, adding "....and he (Brandon) talked a LOT!"

Remember, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier had achieved recognition by the English Kennel Club in 1935. Jackie Fraser writes in "The American Staffordshire Terrier":

"Brandon studied the Standards of other breeds while trading ideas with Jack Barnard and Joseph Dunn of England who were working to gain recognition for the SBT in their country. Utilizing this information along with a mental picture of the best Pit Bulls he had ever seen, he wrote the Standard for the breed which is still serving today."

So the author of the ST Standard, Brandon, kept in touch with his counterparts in England, and the English dog was granted recognition in 1935.

Fraser continues:

"On May 23, 1936, the first official meeting of the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America took place. The Standard was adopted and a resolution was passed to grant full recognition to the breed under the name Staffordshire Terrier. On June 9, 1936, the fledgling club was advised that the AKC had granted the request.

So, we see that the Standard as written was adopted by STCA (Staffordshire Terrier Club of America) in May of 1936. 

I mention these dates because they become kind of important when you learn when Colby's Primo was whelped. According to a letter from STCA to Louis Colby in 1943, (in which AKC registration certificates were sent to Colby for some of his dogs), Primo was whelped on May 29, 1935, sired by Colby's Brandy out of Colby's Mabel. This would have made Primo almost exactly one year old on the day the Standard was adopted by the STCA on May 23, 1936. 

Here is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Standard which was in effect in 1936, so this is the one under which that breed achieved recognition in 1935 in England: 

GENERAL APPEARANCE: The SBT is a smooth-coated dog, standing about 15"-18" high at the shoulder. He should give the impression of great strength for his size, and although muscular should be active and agile.
HEAD: Short, deep through, broad skull, very pronounced cheek muscles, distinct stop, short foreface, mouth level.
EARS: Rose, half prick and prick; these three to be preferred, full drop to be penalized.
EYES: Dark
NECK: Should be muscular and rather short.
BODY: Short back, deep brisket, light in loins with forelegs set rather wide apart to permit of chest development.
FRONT LEGS: Straight, feet well padded, to turn out a little and showing no weakness at pasterns.
HIND LEGS: Hindquarters well muscled, let down at hocks like a terrier.
COAT: Short, smooth and close to skin.
TAIL: The tail should be of medium length tapering to a point and carried rather low; it should not curl much and may be compared with an old-fashioned pump handle.
WEIGHT: Dogs 28 - 38 lbs. Bitches 4 lbs. less.
COLOR: May be any shade of brindle, black, white, fawn or red, or any of these colors with white. Black and tan and liver not to be encouraged.
FAULTS TO BE PENALIZED: Dudley nose, light or pink eyes (rims), tail too long or badly curled, badly undershot or overshot mouths.

Any of that look familiar?

Now, the UKC American Pit Bull Terrier Standard in effect in 1936...

HEAD: Medium length, bricklike in shape, skull flat and widest at the ears, with prominent cheeks, free from wrinkles.
MUZZLE: Square, wide and deep, well pronounced jaws, displaying strength. Upper teeth to meet tightly over lower teeth, outside in front.
EARS: Cropped or uncropped (not important), should set high on head, and free from wrinkles.
EYES: Dark and round; should set far apart low down on skull.
NOSE: Black preferred with wide open nostrils.
NECK: Muscular, slightly arched, tapering from shoulder to head, free from looseness of skin.
SHOULDERS: Strong and muscular with wide sloping shoulder blades.
BACK: Short and strong, slightly slopng from withers to rump. 
Slightly arched at loins which should be slightly tucked.
CHEST: Deep but not too broad, with wide sprung ribs.
RIBS: Close, well-sprung, with deep back ribs.
TAIL: Short in comparison to size, set low and tapering to a fine point, not carried over the back.
LEGS: Large round boned, with straight upright pasterns reasonably strong. Feet to be of medium size. Gait should be light and springy. No rolling or pacing.
THIGHS: Long with muscles developed. Hocks down and straight.
COAT: Glossy, short and stiff to the touch.
COLOR: Any color or marking permissible.
WEIGHT: Not important. Females preferred from thirty to fifty pounds. Males from thirty-five to sixty pounds.

Okay, here is the Standard for the Staffordshire Terrier which went into effect in 1936 and has never been changed. 

GENERAL IMPRESSION: The American Staffordshire Terrier should give the impression of great strength for his size, a well put-together dog, muscular, but agile and graceful, keenly alive to his surroundings. He should be stocky, not long-legged or racy in outline. His courage is proverbial.

HEAD: Medium length, deep through, broad skull, very pronounced cheek muscles, distinct stop; and ears are set high. Ears - Cropped or uncropped, the latter preferred. Uncropped ears should be short and held half prick or rose. Full drop to be penalized. Eyes - Dark and round, low down in skull and set far apart. No pink eyelids. Muzzle - Medium length, rounded on upper side to fall away abruptly below eyes. Jaws well defined. Underjaw to be strong and have biting power. Lips close and even, no looseness. Upper teeth to meet tightly outside lower teeth in front. Nose definitely black.

NECK: Heavy, slightly arched, tapering from shoulders to back of skull. No looseness of skin. Medium length.

SHOULDERS: Strong and muscular with blades wide and sloping.

BACK: Fairly short. Slight sloping from withers to rump with gentle short slope at rump to base of tail. Loins slightly tucked.

BODY: Well-sprung ribs, deep in rear. All ribs close together. Forelegs set rather wide apart to permit of chest development. Chest deep and broad.

TAIL: Short in comparison to size, low set, tapering to a fine point; not curled or held over back. Not docked.

LEGS: The front legs should be straight, large or round bones, pastern upright. No semblance of bend in front. Hindquarters well muscled, let down at hocks turning neither in nor out. Feet of moderate size, well-arched and compact. Gait must be springy but without roll or pace.

COAT: Short, close, stiff to the touch and glossy.

COLOR: Any color, solid, parti, or patched is permissible, but all white, more than 80 percent white, black and tan and liver not to be encouraged.

SIZE: Height and weight should be in proportion. A height of about 18 to 19 inches at the shoulders for the male and 17 to 18 inches for the female is to be considered preferable.

FAULTS: Faults to be penalized are Dudley nose, light or pink eyes, tail too long or badly carried, undershot or overshot mouths.
Adopted and approved June 10, 1936.

It seems fairly obvious what sources Brandon drew on for his Standard. Primo's birthdate just seems too late for him to have been used the way the "legend" states -- as the "model" for the Staffordshire Terrier Standard. Richard Gray and Wayne Brown do not remember Brandon ever mentioning Primo and Brandon "talked a LOT!" Neither Jackie Fraser or Richard Pascoe mention Primo in their books on the breed.

So how did the Primo legend get started? Wayne Brown conjectures that AFTER the fact, Colby declared he had on his yard a dog that matched the AKC Standard - and he very well could have in Primo, who appears to be a very nice dog from the pictures. 

But was he THE MODEL for the Staffordshire Terrier Standard? I'm not trying to change anyone's mind, just presenting additional evidence to what has been out there....

Establishing a Bloodline

One of the most frequently asked questions at the ADBA office this last year has been, “How do I become a breeder and establish my own bloodline?  The answer could encompass a whole book, so I will begin by breaking down the question into a few of the fundamental parts and begin putting together the answer that will help guide those new fanciers that have this interest.  The motivation to become a breeder can be twofold.  Number one:  the individual wants to preserve and maintain the quality of the dogs that he has noted in a dog or a number of dogs that he has come in contact with, or number two:  the individual wants to improve or incorporate a new characteristic into a family of dogs that he is involved with. 

Breeding a litter of pups is not the same as becoming a breeder and developing a bloodline.  Many fine dogs have been produced by the former, but to continue to develop and refine the finest characteristics of the breed into a family of dogs that breed true for these characteristics is the definition of a ‘bloodline’ and the ultimate goal of a ‘breeder’ .    We have within our breed bloodlines that are known for producing great dogs as well as bloodlines that are known for producing mediocre dogs with certain problems, i.e. conformation faults, health issues, temperament faults etc.  The newcomer that is interested in developing a’ bloodline’ must understand that it is more that having your name carried as a part of the registered name of the dog.   It is the development of a family of dogs that breed true for breed characteristics that you deem as essential and desirable, and that have been selectively bred into your family of dogs.

Becoming a breeder and developing a ‘bloodline’ demands that you establish a breeding plan.  Number one is to identify those breed characteristics that you want to see reproduced in the dogs that you will produce.   Identifying your individual list of characteristics that you want to develop in your bloodline requires that you are familiar with the breed character and are knowledgeable about the breed standards that have been established by the experts within the breed. You will also need knowledge about structural soundness and genetic health issues within the breed.  Number two is to develop your eye for a dog, to be able to evaluate one dog from another in terms of those traits that you are breeding for.

This is a tall order for someone new in the breed, and it is the reason why many longtime fanciers spend years and years in the breed, before starting their careers as breeders.  Newcomers can expand their knowledge by becoming involved with local breeders and fanciers in their local area. Attendance at shows and weight pulling events, and talking to judges and exhibitors about the dogs can also enhance ones understanding.  A study of the literature available about the breed and about dogs, genetics and breeding in general is also essential.  The breeding of fine dogs is an art, with a strong scientific basis.  What a breeder seeks to produce, the ideal that he formulates, is self expression – the fulfillment of the creative urge.  That lies the joy of breeding dogs.    The emphasis a breeder places upon soundness, a great head or the dogs correct front-end or backend declares his own nature.  The breeder who would achieve a consistent color or size at the cost of breed type or honest structure is a different kind of person from one who prefers a correctly made dog.

All quality bloodlines have been established by incorporating quality brood stock from someone else’s bloodline.  It is not often that you can incorporate your pet quality bitch or dog into your breeding program and produce consistent quality pups.  When I first got into the dogs and wanted advice on breeding, the advice that I received most often was to buy the best bitch that I could afford from a top kennel and then select one of the top quality studs being offered open to public stud to breed her to.  Top producing dogs are most often inbred or line bred individuals from an outstanding bloodline.   Inbreeding and line breeding produces a prepotent dog whose genetic material is homozygous. Homozygous is a term that indicates that the gene pairs are the same.  Since only one gene is inherited from each parent, if the parents are related, as in inbreeding and line breeding, the chance of doubling up the gene pair is greater than in the case of breeding unrelated dogs, or outcross breeding.  The term prepotent means a dog that can produce offspring with his same characteristics. The reason is that a dog that is homozygous for a certain trait will pass this trait 100% of the time to their offspring.  A dog produced from an outcrossed breeding that is heterozygous (the gene pairs being different) for a certain trait, even though they themselves have the trait will pass the trait on to their offspring only 50% of the time.  A breeding dog needs to be selected based on the dogs bloodline, the method of breeding that produced the dog (inbreeding or line breeding) and the individual attritibutes that the individual dog will bring to the breeding program. 

Before making the commitment to become a breeder and establish your own bloodline, an honest appraisal of your resources is in order.  First do you have the money and time to invest in this endeavor?  A large kennel facility is usually not necessary if you get two or three quality bitches to start out with.  A small residential kennel where you can spend the time necessary to care for the brood matrons and to socialize and evaluate the pups produced is all that is needed to get started.  More important than space and money is the commitment to the pups that you will be producing.  For breeders to know if their breeding program is working, ongoing evaluation of the pups is essential.  Most of us, do not have unlimited space, so placing pups in good homes when they will receive adequate care and nutrition, training and evaluation is going to be essential.  As a breeder, I only breed a litter when I need a dog myself to show or to breed, or if I have interested people that I feel will do a good job with the puppy.   I like to place puppies within a 100 mile area of where I live so I can get feedback about the quality, temperament and performance of the dogs as they grow, and get a chance to see them at the local shows.   

Darwin’s theory of natural selection states that when a natural breeding in the wild takes place,’ NATURE’ places demands on the individuals produced and the strong survive to reproduce and the weak die.  In this scenario, as a dog breeder you are ‘NATURE’.   Your role is to give an honest appraisal of the dogs that you produce, and breed only the strong.  The weak, or dogs with characteristics that you do not want in your breeding program, should be spayed and neutered and placed in good pet homes.   This is where many, many breeders fail.  Over time, they become kennel blind and emotional about their pups, and keep inferior dogs as breeding stock for one reason or another.  Many times a breeding partnership works best, a husband and wife, or kennel partners as they can keep one another on track about the quality of the offspring that is being produced.  What dogs should be kept and which needs to be sold, or placed in pet homes.

Once a breeder has developed a breeding plan, an evaluation of the brood stock that you are going to be using is the next step.  First and foremost, the individual stud dog or brood bitch must possess the outstanding traits that the breeder is looking for in the offspring.  The mating of animals with similar characteristics tends to produce offspring that resemble themselves. This is known as like-to-like, type-to-type or positive assortive mating. It is obvious that breeders should avoid mating animals with the same faults, as this type of mating will also tend to produce offspring with those faults set within the family of dogs.

An analysis of the dog's pedigree is the second but equally important step that must be considered in the selection of brood stock. For novices, a dog's pedigree is usually meaningless. For the experienced fancier, the pedigree is a profile of genetic potential, containing an unlimited amount of information. Knowledge about the individual dogs in the pedigree can be obtained firsthand from the dog's breeder. Pictures and information on the dogs can frequently be obtained from the numerous breed magazines and breeders websites. Conformation and weight pulling titles on the individual dogs can also be used in compiling your data base of information on the dog's pedigree. After a number of years into a persons breeding program, the breeder will have first hand knowledge of the dogs making up the pedigree of the breeding stock. Also a data base of information concerning the littermates as well as offspring from repeat breedings should be available to the breeder. This first hand information will always be the most reliable if the breeder remains objective in his evaluation of his pups. 

Pedigree analysis will also reveal the style of breeding that produced the stud dog or brood bitch. Why would this be important? Certain styles of breeding, namely inbreeding and linebreeding tend to fix and preserve desirable traits by increasing homozygosity of the genes. This means that the gene pairs are the same. Since the gene pairs are the same, the genes for their quality will be passed to the dog's offspring 100% of the time. Outcross breeding increases heterozygosity of the genes. This is where the gene pairs are not the same. Dogs that are the product of an outcross breeding will pass the genes for their quality traits to their offspring only 50% of the time because most of the time their genetic makeup is heterozygous. The value of a stud dog or brood bitch lies in the dog's ability to consistently and predictably pass specific traits to their offspring. This is spoken of as being prepotent. This is what we are looking for in our brood stock. The ideal brood bitch or stud dog would be a dog that has the traits that the breeder was looking to produce and would be the product of an inbreeding or linebreeding. 


Inbreeding: Inbreeding is usually defined as the mating of closely related individuals. Some references include half brother to half sister mating as well as brother to sister, father to daughter, mother to son, grandsire to granddaughter and granddam to grandson breedings as examples of inbreeding. Other references define 'closely related' as brother to sister or closer. Another way I like to think of inbreeding is mating the individual dog to a dog that is IN the dog's pedigree. Regardless of how you define it, the goal of inbreeding is to fix and preserve the traits that the breeder is looking for by increasing homozygosity in the dog's genetic pool. You can calculate the inbreeding coefficient, or the probability of the genes being homozygous by looking at the number of times that a certain dog is present in the dog's pedigree. In every generation, each parent transmits only one half of his or her genes, and each subsequent generation again reduces the genes from an individual in half: in other words, 50 percent in the first generation, 25 percent in the second generation and 12.5 percent in the third. When the same ancestor appears in the pedigree of both the sire and dam, it increases the probability that the same genes will be present in the offspring and that they will be homozygous. 

From breed to breed and bloodline to bloodline the popularity of inbreeding can vary. The more sound the bloodline (void of structural faults and health problems) the more successful inbreeding will be. This is because, inbreeding leads to random fixation of traits, increases homozygosity of the genes and for some genes, can cause inbreeding depression. Some genes causing detrimental health effects are only expressed in the homozygous state.  They remain hidden (recessive) until as a consequence of inbreeding the genes are made homozygous. You then see the trait expressed in the offspring. One example of this is the gene causing juvenile cataracts in the Boston Terrier. When mating two dogs that are heterozygous or carriers for the gene together the probability is 25% of the bad genes becoming homozygous and causing blindness in the affected offspring. In the heterozygous or carrier state, the dogs are unaffected and will have good vision. A breeder could be totally unaware of a dog being a carrier for this gene unless a thorough pedigree analysis was done for this trait, or when the dog produces an affected pup.

Within a breed, it is not uncommon to see a breeder use half brother to half sister breedings with great success for about four generations, and then run into a brick wall where they find that a bad trait that was occasionally seen is now being expressed 100% of the time in the offspring. This is because of the fixing of the trait within the family because of the resulting homozygosity of the genes.

Knowledgeable dog breeders can use inbreeding as an effective tool to achieve specific goals and to enhance desired traits, if they are carefully alert for developing problems. Many novice breeders feel that inbreeding is the only way to develop their own strain or bloodline. In the wrong hands inbreeding can be dangerous. If the novice starts with a fair or poor quality dog then begins to inbreed to one of the close relatives they are likely to run into trouble. If one plans to use inbreeding in their breeding program, the breeder must have high quality, sound brood stock and a knowledge of what was behind them.

Before deciding to use inbreeding in your breeding plan there are some questions that a breeder might consider:  How inbred is the brood bitch or stud dog itself? Are there any recessive hereditary disorders known in your stud dog or brood bitch's bloodline? What breed faults might you be concentrating or passing on to the resulting offspring? What are the positive effects that you are hoping to achieve by inbreeding?

Careful inbreeding is often of great value to a breeder. It is most successful when the highest quality dogs are used as brood stock, the breeder has a thorough knowledge of the dog's pedigree and intends to fix within the bloodline specific desirable traits.

Linebreeding:  This term is often used to denote breeding among related individuals or dogs from the same family or bloodline.  Examples would be mating between first or second cousins, uncle to niece, aunt to nephew, and in some references half brother to half sister is also listed as an example of linebreeding. Linebreeding is the breeding style that is a compromise between inbreeding and outcross breeding.  Breeders use line breeding to preserve the traits of a family of dogs while at the same time retaining the variability in the gene pool. Variability is good as it counteracts the potential detrimental effects of doubling up on bad genes that is sometimes seen as a consequence of inbreeding. Line breeding is a slower and less direct way to fix desirable traits in a bloodline, but does offer more options and fewer risks than inbreeding. Diligent selection of quality brood stock from bloodlines known for their soundness and breed type is also very important when a breeder is choosing to do linebreeding.

Outcross breeding: The definition of outcross breeding is the mating of purebred dogs within the same breed that are relatively unrelated. The style of breeding increases heterozygosity and creates new genetic combinations by bringing together genes from totally unrelated individuals. There are two primary reasons that a knowledgeable breeder will choose to make an outcross breeding. The first is to introduce into their family of dogs a trait that is absent or lacking, and secondly to dilute undesirable traits that are caused by homozygous recessive genes. Outcross breeding is essential when a breeding program begins to show signs of inbreeding depression such as loss of vigor, disease resistance and infertility. Many times breeders will have two basic inbred or linebred families of dogs or bloodlines within their kennel and will do outcross breeding between these two lines. The result will be dogs that are 'better' than the two original lines.  Breeders speak of this as a 'nick'. Geneticists speak of this as 'hybrid vigor'. No matter what you want to call it, this type of breeding will many times produce animals that are better than each of the original lines. Many times these dogs produced from outcross breeding have gone on to become athletic top performance animals. We have seen many famous 'nicks' within our breed, none more notable than the Tudor/ Colby breeding of Howard Heinzl and the Boudreaux/ Carver breeding of the Honeybunch line. Both of these bloodlines have produced many outstanding individuals as well as becoming the foundation of many other quality bloodlines today.

Many times using these talented performance dogs that are the product of outcross breeding as brood stock will result in a disappointment for the breeder, as the dogs will tend to produce the norm of their respective bloodlines. Many an old time breeder has been heard to say, "don't breed to the top performance dog of the day, breed to his parents". On the downside, many breeders frown on the use of outcross breeding as it does introduce unknown and sometimes undesirable traits into the bloodline. Also with an outcross mating of dogs that are already the product of outcross breeding, there is little predictability and uniformity in the traits that one will see in the offspring. Within a litter of pups, you can see good pups, poor quality pups and everything in between. Uniformity and predictability in the quality of the pups produced is the goal and the hallmark of a good breeder.

One of the most effective ways I have seen an outcross breeding used by breeders is to select to breed to an  unrelated dog with a sound pedigree that possesses an outstanding quality that is absent or lacking in the breeders bloodline. From the resulting offspring an individual is selected for the trait that the breeder is looking to introduce into his line. That dog is then bred back into the original bloodline (linebred or inbred) fixing the new desirable trait into the original bloodline. One breeder explained the breeding strategy of bringing a quarter outcross into his line to be used as a 'catalyst' for the line. A 'catalyst' in the sense of bringing together all the goodness and quality of his bloodline with an added kick of hybrid vigor. 

Grading Up:  Breeding the females on hand to a male of better quality is known as grading up. The best females in each generation are then kept and again bred to a top sire from an outstanding bloodline. This is one of the tried and true ways to improve the quality of a cattle herd and other livestock. This is also true of many dog breeders. Many breeders have started with a very average bitch from a good bloodline and have invested their money wisely in breeding to an outstanding champion stud. As their experience increases they have refined their selection process, retaining the best in each generation. Careful selection of the top studs have in many cases produced a foundation of brood stock that have gone on to develop into a quality bloodline. There have also been many examples of breeders going astray and developing bloodlines that have consistently produced average or inferior dogs because of loss of focus into the selection of quality brood stock or chasing after the latest fad in breeding style or individual dogs.

Selection of breeding stock, the pedigree analysis and the styles of breeding are all tools that a breeder can use to develop his bloodline of dogs. High standards, diligent pedigree research and honest evaluation of the dogs the breeder is producing are also essential to guide the breeder to a successful program. What might work for one breeder may or may not work for another. This is why breeding dogs is considered as much as an 'art' as it is a 'science'. - By Amy Greenwood Burford

Breeders, Bloodlines and all that Jazz!

There has been a lot of interest expressed as of late with the definition of a breeder and the definition of a bloodline. Even outside of the dog world, there is much talk of ones bloodlines.

A few weeks ago, I was commenting to a young mother about the personality of her pre-term infant. I commented, "She is definitely a feisty one." The mother replied, "Oh, she comes by it naturally. It's in her bloodline." In reading an interview that was done by a rap star, he spoke with affection concerning his wife and said, "She is my bloodline." There is also a music company that specializes in rap called Bloodline Records.

Technically, the breeder of a litter of pups, is the owner of the dam. It is the owner of the dam who decides that this bitch is worthy to breed and goes about to find the proper stud to breed her with, to produce the litter. This is not etched in stone and we have seen in about 10% of the case when a litter is submitted into the registration office, the owner of the sire is listed as the breeder. This is an issue that can be decided between the owners of the sire and the dam. This is a technical definintion, but for a person who is deciding to become a "breeder" of American Pit Bull Terriers, or to establish their own bloodline, there is much more of a commitment expected.

We can look to the history of the breed and use those breeders and bloodlines that have held up as the finest examples to use in formulating our understanding of what it takes to be a breeder and what a bloodline is. One of the more notable examples of this was Howard Heinzl and the Heinzl bloodline. The Heinzl bloodline was established based on three well known bloodlines of the era- the Corvino, Tudor, and Colby lines. A "standard" was set in each breeding that was done, only the pups that met the "standard" were retained in the breeding pool. Howard studied pedigrees and investigated the individual dogs in the pedigrees of the dogs that he was using as brood stock. He had a vast knowledge of the principles of genetics and talked with other breeders of dogs as well as horse breeders and breeders of other livestock. Howard had a written plan of future bleeding’s that he wanted to make, always keeping his "standard" in mind. Howard used line breeding, inbreeding, and out-crossed breeding among the three quality lines within the formulation of his bloodline. Throughout his career, fanciers could always count on the quality that the Heinzl line was based on, when acquiring a Heinzl dog. These qualities included beautiful athletic conformation, soundness, health and beautiful heads with strong teeth. The Heinzl dogs were known for wrestling ability, being long winded and possessing endless endurance. His family of dogs, after his many years of selection, all had these qualities. This is what constitutes a bloodline. the dogs breed true for the trait or traits that the breeder is aiming for.

Now all coins have a flip side, and so it is with dogs. There are also undesirable traits that are apparent in some dogs. There are certain bloodlines that have become known in the American Pit Bull Terrier fraternity that breed true for some of the more undesirable traits such as shyness, structural problems or health issues.

So what can we learn from looking at the Heinzl dogs as an example of a bloodline and Howard Heinzl as a breeder of American Pit Bull Terriers?

1) A bloodline can be defined as a family of dogs that breed true for certain traits that the breeder sets as his "standard". A breeder's standard should always start with breed type. Those physical characteristics that were established in the breed that reflect the history and original purpose of the breed and enable a breed to be distinguished apart from other breeds. These include temperament, overall proportions, balance, soundness and health.

2) A breeder has to start with quality stock from somewhere. A through research into the dogs in the background or the pedigree of the dogs is ESSENTIAL to learn about the traits that they possess as well as how they were developed. Such as line breeding, inbreeding or out-crossed breeding. As in the example of Howard Heinzl, many successful breeders usually start with two or three outstanding lines to serve as the foundation of their bloodlines.

3) The principals of genetics and the ways to breed, (i.e., line breeding, inbreeding and out-cross breeding), and the strengths and weakness of each needs to be understood.

4) Accurate records of the breeding made and the pups produced need to be kept . Follow-up in the evaluation of the pups is essential, as is the selection of quality brood stock for future breeding. A breeding may look great on paper, but the evaluation of the offspring is essential to confirm what works and what does not. The pups that do not measure up to the breeder's "standard" should be spayed and neutered and go into responsible pet homes, so as not to muddy up or spoil the name of the breeder by producing sub-standard dogs that carry on the name of the breeder.

A bloodline can be based on a breeder, such as in the example of Howard Heinzl, or it can also be based on an individual stud dog or brood bitch. In this case, it is usually a prominent dog that genetically throws such quality, that a high percentage of its offspring all breed true for this quality. An example of this is Crenshaw's (Jerry's) Champion Honeybunch. Honeybunch was a bitch from the Carver and Boudreaux bloodline which genetically possessed such quality that, when bred to five different stud dogs, produced top dogs from every litter. There was no wrong way to breed this bitch. She produced quality from all five breeders. One of her sons, Crenshaw's Champion Jeep, is given credit in some circles for being one of the greatest producing studs of modern APBT history, You hear of fanciers, that credit Jeep with establishing a distinct "bloodline" of his own. We can argue that, Jeep is really a dog from theHoneybunch line or 25% Carver, 25% Boudreaux, 50% Loposay cross, depending on how far back in his pedigree you want to go or to whom you want to give the credit.

For a person who wishes to establish a quality bloodline of dogs, accurate record keeping is essential to record breeding’s, pups produced and establish accurate pedigrees. Each breeder or person wishing to establish themselves as a breeder must recognize and value this fact. If they do not, the predictability of the quality in the offspring that they produce is really a crap shoot and not based on the genetic laws of probability. Tell me which person wants to devote 20 years of time and money to develop a line of dogs that will not breed true because someone hung papers on an unknown dog for a quick buck? When you hear of someone claiming not to care about this or touting, "so and so did it, so I'm not so bad", you can quickly determine their quality of commitment to their breeding program and to the future of the breed.

Becoming a breeder of high quality American Pit Bull Terriers and establishing a "bloodline" of which to be proud, is no small feat. It is certainly more than putting a few litters on the ground. We salute those breeders of the past and those today that remain committed in producing the finest quality APBT's for future generations to come.

By Amy Greenwood Burford


For those who are serious about producing showing the APBT, time spent studying the document entitled "basis for Conformation of the APBT" will increase their knowledge and ability to apply it in practical ways.

The Winter issue of the APBT Gazette indicated "we will try to present one portion of the ADBA standard in each issue" Early on I had a tendency to put undue emphasis on the head. i especially liked a big head with the clean look obatined from a good ear trim. I don't believe this is unusual. From a human standpoint. It is a natural thing to be led astray by a beautiful and shapely head and to overlook faults that likely have more to do with performance.  I also know it is not unusual to try and make the standard fit the dog(waht we like)  rather than objectively judging the dog by the standard. In view of the above and the "must be balanced in all directions" of the standard.  I believe the excerpts and examples set forth below will help us be more objective regarding overall balance (fit and function) as we study each portion of the standard when they appear in the Gazette

1. The standard states "above all the American Pit Bull Terrier is an all around athlete. His body is called on for speed, power, agility and stamina.  he must be balanced in all directions.  Too much of one thing robs him from another.  Too big a head simply carries more weight and increases the chances of having ............

2. The Standard states: "The gait of the dog should be light and springy."  All good movement is dependant on the inclined shoulder(scapula 45 degrees is best) without which the front lake operate to its best advantage and you can't put power and drive from behind, unless the front can take it without loss of coordination(fit and function). A balanced gait is one in which the two halves of the body are syncronized to result in perfect coordination between the front and rear legs. The length of the stride of each leg should result in the foot contacting the ground at the exact moment required for the dog to carry his body in a straight line. The body shoud also be carreid parallel to the ground.  A properly balanced dog is as light on his feet as a professional figure skater when compared with the dog that moves as though it had it's weight on its back.

3. The standard states: "His body is called on for speed, power, agility and stamina." Each of these is affected to some degree by the overall (fit and function) of all the parts. Therefore the best way to evaluate a dog for these qualities in the show ring is by moving the dog. Many dogs meet the requirements of the standard until they are asked to move.  When a dog is moved the gait whoud be be smooth, effortless, with good reach, powerful drive and free from roll or pace. When the dog is going away you should be able to see the pads on all four feet. a sign that the pasterns and hocks are being properly flexed, feet shoudl be close to the ground. The dog should always move in a straight line (without crabbing)  whether being viewed fromt the side, coming or going.

by Don Humes

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