On this page I offer insights into my program plans to accomplish my end goal of producing the perfect American Pit Bull Terrier. I also include personal experience observations and yes, even a few rants. Some of the information posted here was previously posted on other pages and scattered about. I thought it would be a good idea in accordance with suggestions received by clients to consolidate all this onto one page. Here you will find why I am so enamored with the American Pit Bull Terrier, lots of detailed factual information on my foundation bloodline (Ruffian) and other good stuff to know if you are considering making this regal dog a part of your life.
Traditional vs. Bully come lately
I became enamored with the American Pit Bull Terrier in the early part of 1990 when I first saw a picture of "PR" "GRCH" Ruffian Hercules of Har-Wyn. Strictly speaking Hercules was not a an American Pit Bull Terrier but rather an American Staffordshire Terrier, but more to this point a little later. Since my early days as a hobby breeder, I have had a traditionalist attraction to the Pit bull of yesteryear. Back to a time when the dog was bred for agility, grace and strength. When men like John Colby, Eric Stratton, Joe Corvino, Ed "Sonny" Crenshaw and too many other distinguished and accomplished individuals to name, bred a dog with purpose. These individuals were true to form "Dog Men" (I know that many women came later). That purpose today has lost it's significance, as well it should. I have always loved the dog but not the original intent. Dog fighting is barbaric. Still, one has to appreciate the subtle implication of power and impressive visual angular contour of the American Pit Bull Terrier. It is to me comparable to the appeal many sports car enthusiasts may feel when they see a Z02 Corvette. The American Pit Bull Terrier is a true "Muscle Car". Or perhaps more accurately stated, the original true to form American Pit Bull Terrier is.
I will not be disingenuous. My motivation for breeding the American Pit Bull Terrier is two fold. I expect to make money doing it. I will leave the breed better than it was before I started. I do not always make money on every litter I produce, but I do believe that I make sometimes marginal, sometimes significant strides forward in my quest to produce what I believe is a better dog. What is it that I believe is a better dog? How about an American Pit Bull Terrier that is true to form but is not dog aggressive. Now, wouldn't that go a long way to dispel all of the bias and media hype that plagues this breed? I suppose that the "Dog Men" of yesteryear would be turning in their graves if they knew what I am doing. I can just imagine what they would have to say of the Bully Breed Fad.
The Bully style "Pit Bull" was the brain child of Dave Wilson who in 1990 began to experiment with the creation of a bigger, heavier dog with a lower, wider body profile and a disproportionately larger head. The early "Razors Edge" dogs, were in all honesty, handsome dogs. It is the Bully style dog of today that is in my opinion an abomination of the breed. It seems that every back yard breeder with poor english composition skills is advertising in every online puppy for sale web site the following:
Razors Edge Bloodlines, Heavy Muscular Structures, Super Thick Bones , Mega Wide Chests, Massive Head Piece.
I have to shake my head. This reads like a movie trailer for a low budget science fiction that could aptly be named ROBODOG. These Bully style dogs are so far removed from the original so as to not be an American Pit Bull Terrier. I am in complete agreement with the by-laws of the United Kennel Club that disqualifies from show any American Pit Bull Terrier that exhibits the extreme physical characteristics of the Bully style dog. I believe that this may be one of the reasons that Bully style registration clubs like the ABBA and the ABKC have suddenly risen from nowhere offering their services. Personally, I view this as a good thing. I have thought for a long time now that what is being called the American Bully should be divorced from the American Pit Bull Terrier and recognized as a breed apart. I can only hope that in time the distinction becomes clear. I would like to see a dedication to preserving and improving the traditional breed standard of what is the American Pit Bull Terrier.
Enter Ruffian Hercules of Har-Wyn. Here was a truly handsome dog. Not truly a "Pit Bull" but a very close cousin. The American Staffordshire Terrier is a branch from the same tree as the American Pit Bull Terrier. In the early 1900's breeders made a decisive commitment to take the breed in two directions. That of a show dog and that of a game dog. I have made the decision to recombine the two in order to produce a slightly more robust but still conformation correct American Pit Bull Terrier with little or no game. Nearly every dog in my kennel is a descendent of "PR" "GRCH" Ruffian Hercules of Har-Wyn.
My vision of the perfect American Pit Bull Terrier is not shared by all. There are those that would say that I am as guilty as Dave Wilson in that I am taking the breed in a direction that diverts it from purity. Since the cornerstone of my mission is to produce a line of dogs that is better suited for family interaction then for the traditional purpose, I suppose that they may have a point. I have had to explain my reasoning more than once to my peers. I remember one such inquiry not very long ago by one very prominent breeder. I will not mention his name but I will say that he had a lot to do with the "Going Light" dogs. He was initially upset in that he felt that I was diverting from breed purity. By the time i finished explaining my vision, I believe that he understood my point of view. He complimented my dogs, then wished me luck and success.
I passionately believe that the work I am doing is noble and necessary. With all of the bad press that this gentle and intelligent breed gets and with all of the breed specific legislation that is either in effect or proposed and continually attempted, the time has come for an American Pit Bull Terrier that is non dog aggressive. Only time will tell if my vision and labor producing and promoting them was worth the effort.
I do not know of any other breed of dog that has such a wide, acceptable interpretation of breed standard. The ADBA standard is not the UKC standard. Many a ADBA dog that has placed well or even championed in an ADBA sanctioned event has failed miserably in a UKC sanctioned event. I personally do not know of any UKC show breeder that would contemplate entering an ADBA event. Yet both registries hail that the dog they represent is the real American Pit Bull Terrier. This is sad. This is confusing to many new would be owners. This is the fodder of many arguments and animosity between those that breed to show and those that breed for game. My rant will undoubtedly add to this. I will begin my dissertation commenting about those that still believe that the American Pit Bull Terrier is primarily a Game dog.
Gamedoggers breed a dog for ... well game. Game is an adjective that seemingly, innocently, for some in the Pit Bull community today describes a dog with drive and determination. That drive and determination traditionally had one intended focus. It was the gauge used to measure a particular dogs ability to win a match. What kind of match? A dog fight match. Die hard purists believe that a dog without game or one that has not proven itself (again in a match) is not worthy of being call an American Pit Bull Terrier. I have read proclamations to this in some Pit Bull chat forums. Forums that are thinly veiled meeting places for dog fighters and those that fancy them. Where those that offer any input converse in "game speak" to prevent suspicion and attention from being drawn to them. When a Gamedogger talks about "testing", I assure you that they are not discussing OFA hip grades.This is a sect of people that even today firmly believe that the American Pit Bull Terrier is first and foremost a blood sport tool. I believe that people with this mentality are far more dangerous to the future of the American Pit Bull Terrier than even the most self serving political zealot that is fixated on passing legislation that would facilitate the abolition of the American Pit Bull Terrier either by outright ban or more abhorrently, by extinction. We already see evidence of this movement in such cities as Denver and Miami - Dade County. The Humane Society of the United States has proclaimed in memos and other communications that it is a stated goal of the organization to make the private ownership of any American Pit Bull Terrier type dog ILLEGAL in the United States. A simple Google search of the keywords HSUS Pit Bull Ban will bring up page after page of documents that support this claim. Better yet, click on this link that will take you to Regulations dot Gov to view an HSUS comment posted in the comments section requesting citizen input to the new APHIS regulations for sales of cats and dogs: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0003-3677. You will have to decide how credible any of those sources are but I have to believe that where there is smoke .. well you know the rest.
There are some ethical Gamedoggers in the Pit Bull community. Some breeders and purists that wish to maintain the traditional form, drive and energy that is indisputably within the genome of gamedogs are channeling that energy into other activities. Weight Pull, Fly Ball, Schutzhund and Game hunting to suggest a few. I think that these are all worthy diversions but they are just that, diversions of an energy to other activities. Diversions of energy and drive that was bred for many decades to specifically be used as canine gladiators in a contest of determination and strength will always lie just below the surface. Have two Alfa game dogs in close proximity of each other to see evidence of this. This is the Game Bred American Pit Bull Terrier. For some, it is the only true American Pit Bull Terrier. For me it is a sect within the family whose time has past and society will no longer tolerate.
The American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier were at one time the same dog. As I explained in an earlier writing, in the early 1900's stewards and aficionados of the American Pit Bull Terrier were at a crossroads with where the breed should go. Some believed the the breed should remain true to the original propose. Others thought it was time to move away from the notoriety attached the that reputation and begin to promote the dog in a more positive light. Gamedoggers continued to breed dogs with high energy, drive and dog aggression. Showdoggers started to breed lines that were less dog aggressive and added traits with bloodline manipulation that they considered attractive. I know that the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier at one time in history were one and the same dog, I admit that as a result of breeding along distinct lines since the initial separation, form and function for both dogs has changed. I believe that by carefully recombining the two, a more perfect American Pit Bull Terrier that is true to form and accepted by society, can be produced.
The History of the Ruffian...
- by Richard Gray (Rounders Kennel)
If I try to tell the story of the Ruffian line without giving the founders some credit, I would feel like an Ingrate. Even before Clayton Harriman, the Ruffian line was being formed. The people chiefly responsible were Martin, Klump, Schroeder, and maybe even others should receive some credit. In my opinion none of these follows had a complete concept that they were forming a line, but begin a line they did.
From my research I couldn't find a single entry In the AKC's Stud Book by Schroeder. Floyd C. Klump had a few dogs entered Into the Stud Book. Ed C. Martin had many dogs entered Into the Stud Book. Martin's AKC involvement was from 1939 - 1949. How long he was In the other registry I do not know, but all these men had an Impact.
In going through the AKC Stud Book I noticed a strange geographic coincidence. The first was a strong correlation between the states of Michigan Texas. and Colorado. Martin, Klump, and later Harriman all resided In Michigan. Harriman moved from Texas to Michigan. He had a brief stay In Kansas City between Texas and Michigan. While In Texas, Harriman met W. D. Harper. Harper later developed her Har-Wyn strain. William M. Whitaker lived In Colorado. Whitaker, Harper, and Harriman seemed to work closely together.
Today Monske and Nowicki along with others Live In Michigan. Gigi and Jerry Rooney Lived In Michigan until they moved to Colorado. Of course, I live In Texas. This group with other Ruffian fans, cooperates very well together.
Mr. Harriman, from what I can determine by studying the AKC's stud book, did have a solid view of what he was doing. I never met the man, but when you see the number of litters the man bred and how those litters were bred, I felt this was a gentleman Intent on developing a line. He was successful, and his line has lasted over fifty years. Of course, there have been Infusions of dogs from time to time, but each Infusion of this purest of strains was based on Ruffian dominated dogs. Harriman's good dogs were too numerous to list, but The Ruffian himself was a landmark dog as was Ruffian Our Teenie, Ruffian Walkway, but I fell In love with the picture In Ormsby's book. I find It strange that today none of the blood from Bubbling Over Is still In Am Staffs.
Even though I never saw Mr. Harriman's early dogs, from the pictures I did see that Mr. Harriman's stock was very stylish (type), and not over sized. Even today when the purest of Ruffians are crossed with other lines the original style often holds true. Unfortunately, I don't know how sound they were.
The first entry In the AKC's Stud Book by Clayton Harriman was in 1939. His wife Letti seems to have taken over the kennel after Clayton passed on and the last entry I could find was in 1949 as well.
Enter William Whitaker and Howard Hadley into the picture of developing the Ruffian Line. Howard I don't think was in the least bit Interested In developing a Ruffian line. Howard was developing the Mounthaven line from William's dogs. However, Howard had used a dog-named Ruffian Scalawag. Scalawag was as strong a Ruffian bred dog as one could find. Howard also had a dog-named Mounthaven Tex of Har- Wyn, a litter mate to Ruffian Grayboy of Har-Wyn So this was a powerfully bred Ruffian dog. Ruffian dogs such as Ruffian Contact of Har-Wyn, Ruffian Rudy of Har-Wyn were intertwined into the west coast infusion of our brood so that I could not help but think of them as Ruffians. Indian Doc was a result of this west coast style of dog. If you have never heard of Indian Doc, he was special.
Howard produced a pair of females know as Ruffian Janet of Mounthaven and Ruffian Janet of Har-Wyn. This pair was outstanding. I do not think either was ever shown, and I couldn't understand why they were not shown. These two play a role In the development of Ruffian Red Rack of Har-Wyn. Howard was Active In AKC dogs from 1943 to 1968 at least.
William Whitaker was developing his Jolly scamp line . However, his dogs were as pure Ruffian blood as a dog could be. His most powerful Influence was the fine dog Jolly scamp Blueguard. Blueguard Is as Important to the Ruffian strain as any single dog I can think of, save his sire Gallant Ruff. In fact, the two may be the corner stones of the breed. I am not sure of that last statement as I have not studied all the pedigrees for Am Staffs. Mr. Whitaker may have been one of the three best Ruffian Breeders to this date.
While the basic style of dog Whitaker had was similar to Harriman, more size and variety were added. Other Important dogs Whitaker was responsible for were Puddin Pie Pepper Duster, Puddin Pie Blue Smoke, and Jollyscamperpuss. While Whitaker greatest activity In brooding AKC dogs was between 1945 and 1958. He had profound Influence on the brood.
Ed Ringold kept the Gallant line In tack until his death. Gallant Ruff was the corner stone for the Ruffian and Gallant line. Gallant Kimbo I think was responsible for any phenotypical difference between Peggy's dogs and the Gallant line (Ed's dogs were very stocky for the most part) , but In fact, I see the two lines being Parallel lines. Ed produced so many fine dogs and such a fine type that he needs more credit. Some of Ed's finer Stock should be noted were Gallant Pistol Pete, Gallant Golden Girl, and Gallant J.R.. Mr. Ringold was active with the breed from World War One until his death In the mid 80's.
Charlie Lloyd was active helping Ed keep the Gallant strain alive. Charlie was a mainstay In the breed from 1954 until very recently. Charlie had some big winning dogs In his time. He should receive the credit he deserves.
Ike and Joan Stinson brought his Crusader dogs Into the mix because they were such good show dogs. Ed, Peggy and others couldn't resist using them and In fact the Crusader dogs had liberal doses of Ruffian blood from Gallant Ruff and Howards Hadley's stock. Knight Crusader and Knight Bomber were Just outstanding and Knight Crusader for many years was the biggest winning Am Staff In the breeds history. From the few Crusader dogs I did see, these dogs appeared to be based on soundness.
Some people to this day will say that Crusader was not a line just a kennel name. These people do have a point, but the same fault can be made about many of the other famous lines In the breed.
Peggy Harper visited the line next and she scrambled the genes. Peggy used Howard's dogs, some of Ed Ringold's dogs, Peggy used William Whitaker dogs , she even used Tacoma all- A- Blaze, she also put some of her fathers' pit bulls Into the Mix, and some Crusader blood. Peggy broods The Ruffian of Har- Wyn, she used Ruffian Headlight Hal In large amounts. Other major Impact dogs were Ruffian Sika, Ruffian Dreadnought, Ruffian High Ace, Ruffian Grayboy, Ruffian Chita, and others I am sure I have left out. Peggy even produces Ruffian Hercules of Har-Wyn, for years the top producer In the history of the breed. Ruffian Red Rock of Har-Wyn her most famous show dog, and for awhile, the top winning Staff In history, and he was one of the last Peggy bred. The old Tacoma dogs trace their roots back to the same base as the Ruffian line does so All - A Blaze was not an out cross.
However, Peggy may be most remembered for Introducing Blitz and especially Sky King Into the Ruffian Mix. Some would argue that Blitz and Sky Kings Impact changed from the Ruffian line to Har-Wyn line at this point and time. I would agree that the Sky King Influence altered the line, It would not be too big of a stretch to suggest that the line could be called the Har-Wyn line Instead of Ruffian.
Blitz and Sky King were litter mates. They were 5/8 Ruffian, 1/8 X-pert, l /8 Tacoma, and I /8 unrelated to any major line. She did this because Sky King was such a sound dog and a big winner of his time. He gave her dogs an edge In the show ring. A great female behind Sky King was Jones Gaye One Roxie. I've seen only the one picture, but what a picture. I asked Peggy who was the best Am Staff she had ever seen not of her kennel. Peggy replied " Jones Gage One Roxie."
I do not know that Peggy really knew what she was doing In so far as genetics were concerned, but she was doing It anyway. Her method of breeding was based on numbers. She had many different looks In her kennel. Many were sound, some were not real sound physically, but what drew me to her line was the out going temperaments they had. This was Important to me and no easy trick with a kennel of 60 + Am Staffs In her runs. You know they had little or no socialization, and still they wanted to be your friend.
Peggy was one of a kind. She would have made a fine Am Staff, Except she wasn't nearly as stable as our dogs. She acquired Ruffian Headlight Hal from Whitaker for Just being willing to take the dog off his hands. Hal was very dog aggressive and hard to control. Peggy was maybe 5'1 ", Whitaker was a big man, but Peggy grabbed the leash from Whitaker, took Hal Into the ring, won , and then she took him home. I heard other stories about other dogs and how Peggy acquired them, Including Tacoma All-A- Blaze. Knowing Peggy It might have been true. I still pray for her.
Peggy Harper or Winnie Doris Harper was In AKC dogs from 1947 to 1977. Remember Stud Book entries will always be a gear or two behind.
After Peggy's death Melvin Powdery took over for at least 3 months. Richard Bell became Melvin' partner and soon had all the dogs to himself. Richard used his dog Ruffian Hercules of Har-Wyn and produced many dogs For a good length of time Hercules was a top producer of champions. Richard was soon forced out of Am Staffs.
In the late 60's and In the early 70's many players were active In the Ruffian arena besides Richard Bell. Among these were Susan Rogers, Walter Patton Jr., O.L. Hill, Mr. D Mrs. Hartnet, and others. Shortly before this were Hendrix Harper, William F. Peterson, Richard Pascoe, myself, and Charlie Lloyd.
Richard Pascoe had Ruffian dogs. This was not Important to Dick. Dick wanted good obedience dogs and that he had . Dick' strain went heavily Into Indian Doc type dogs. Doc was a big winner. Indian Doc was a winner In more than one arena. Dick then bred Into Ruffian Hercules . The dogs were Impressive and to my view he produced one of the very best I've ever seen, Whiterock Grover. One of Grover's daughters, Penny, when bred to her uncle, Bomber, produced a group of dogs that made Dick famous for years. Among these dogs were Whiterock Perry the Fridge and Rounder's Whiterock Azure Some remnants of that breading still exist. Dick slowly Introduced Ruffian Rolls mixes along with some Tacoma Into his line. Currently he has few, If any, of the purest Ruffians one can have. However, Dick really likes what he Is producing, and can anyone fault that.
Wm. F. Peterson brought with him a strain of Crusader dogs That was as pure as driven snow. Bill called his line Wlllynwood. 01 hill also used Ruffian Hercules as a stud. Wow! The offspring were just great Brae Bull Adam of Topstaff, Wlllynwood Liberty Belle, Wlllynwood Blue Lotus, and too many more to name. Bill next bred Into Ruffian Red Rock of Har-Wyn and had good dogs, but not as good as Bill wanted. Bill started brooding Into Ruffian Rolls Mixes and I think he Is happy with what he Is getting, but his pure Ruffians are no longer, at least I can't find them.
O.L. Hill, this man was not a show person first. He did know how to be effective at showing. In my view he was very Interested In what the breed was supposed to be " the original function". He started off with a Ruffian dog Ruffian Harper of Har-Wyn. Harper was out of Sky King and a Sky King daughter. He bought Ruffian Chita from heavy old Ruffian blood. Next he bought females from other lines ( Ruffian the line was not Important to Mr. Hill as function was) . Mr. Hill also used the dog Heffiers Maccaundo from my old line. However, to stay on his place, the dog had to function and the Ruffians were the ones who stayed. I think only one female from other strains was breed at O.L.'s place. While the Ruffian line was not Important to O.L. his Concho dogs remained the strongest Ruffian till the end.
I think Susan Rogers had one of the better concepts concerning what the Ruffian line was, or at least as to how a dog should look (for the show anyway). Susan's main dog was Ruffian Sky Bolt of Har Wyn (Ruffian Red Rack of Har-Wyn sire). She picked him up as the Har Wyn kennel was being destroyed. She also put Ruffian Hercules of Har-Wyn Into her line. She didn't realize how closely related these two dogs were. However, she may be responsible for as many good looking dogs as Anyone. Some of her more impressive dogs were Herks Harper, Tryarr Strawberry Fields, and others. Her Tryarr line was maintained pure for the relatively short time she was In Am Staffs. The Hartnets were not In dogs very long. They did produce Mountshire's Barn Bass a fine dog.
Walter Patton Jr. did know who to listen to. His major claims to fame were brooding Atchley's Fanny to Ruffian Red Rock of Har-Wyn. This produced Skillet, Josephine, and Lucy Belle. I think his pride prevented him from repeating the breeding. He had some other successes but nothing that matched his first litter. He really didn't care about the Ruffian line just success. Walter did a lot of breeding and spread his dogs around quite well. At present he Is not In Am Staffs.
Ruth Alexander developed her Atta Boy and Atta Girl line from mingling the Har-Wyn strain with the Gallant Strain. She produced many a good looking stylish dog. She has more Gallant blood than any of us within the strain.
Rudy and Nancy Estevez owned Ruffian Red Rock of Har -Wyn. They owned Ruffian Little Herc of Har-Wyn, a dog Hendrix and I took to help our Ruffian blood.
Hendrix Harper understands genetics as well or better than anyone. In fact he Is the one that sold me on keeping the line pure. He Introduced me to Dr. Roy Fangue, a Genetics professor at Texas A&M . Roy sold me on Quantitative Genetics . Hendrix was already using It. Hendrix could predict things that did come true, and I was Impressed with the predictions, If not the offspring.
Hendrix was In part responsible for Ruffian Harper of Har-Wyn. He was also the breeder of Ruffian Texas Queen. Later he produced Tonkawa Big Tex. Big Tex has been used over and over. The results are still out on the dog, but I am betting on him. His line Is the Tonkawa line and he maintains some Interest In the purest of Ruffians. He has other dogs with backgrounds other than pure Ruffian. No matter which dogs you ask Hendrix about, he Is pleased with where his dogs are.
Gigi & Jerry Rooney had the Rowdytown line. This line was based on Skillet. They had branched off Into a strain that was not as pure (they were being successful with those dogs) as what could be, but realized what the Ruffian line was and came back to It. This was a major show of faith. These two made the Ruffian line popular again. If the line Is to be maintained they should have major amounts of the credit. These two were responsible for Rowdytown Hard Rock Cafe, Can Am's Iron Skillet, and too many others to mention. Jerry Is out of Am Staffs right now but Gigi continues.
Now as to myself, I really had no clear cut vision of what I was doing In the mid/to late 60's as I showed, and from time to time bred my bitch. However, after I listened to Dr. Ray Fangue at a seminars I began to formulate a plan of action. Dr. Fangue, when asked about out crossing responded, "why would you want to." After listening to responses, Dr. Fangue countered with two basic answers. One If you like the other guys dogs better than yours leave yours behind and get the other guys. ( You don't want to be Mixing up the hidden genes.) Two If your line Is lacking a trait find the best dog within your line ( Insofar as that trait Is concerned) and use that dog to improve your line slowly. Now Dr. Fangue made a lot of other points about the form of genetics he works with (Quantitative Genetics) . but It would take too much space to put all his points down. People have written books about the subject. To be blunt about this breeding program, It does have some down sides, but It has
been fun trying to overcome the genetic bottle necks and polygenetic difficulties.
While I do feel we are making progress, I must admit that progress will be cyclical and not always steady.
Now as to some ups and downs already experienced by me, Ruffian Gentleman's Gem (Man) was Best of Breed at the STCA specialty. After Man I had few dogs that I was pleased with, some of the displeasure was due to some out crossing I did and some was due to poor selection on my part. In fact, Hendrix and I were breeding dogs strictly on paper and we were very unsuccessful all because we put little emphasis on selection. After that I realized It takes good dogs as well as a good program to have what you want.
Rounder's Top Sergeant was a big boost. I admit Ruffian Gentleman's Gem was as much luck as skill, and at least as much of Peggy's planning as mine. Sergeant was the result of breeding my best pal, Ruffian Sunset of Romar, to Whiterock Grover. Sunset, or "Hope as I called her, can be traced back directly to Mr., Harriman and Whitaker dogs. I used Hope and her daddy, Ruffian Little Herks of Har-Wyn as much as I could. At that time I believed I could still salvage the old strain before Sky King and the other Infusions. Unfortunately, I could create no Interest and the dream disappeared.
However, the line still was strong If you considered the west coast strains, Sky King, Crusader, and Gallant as part of the Ruffian strain. I did. Now A dream Is born. As the Skillet, Lucy, and Josephine litter was Important for Walter Patton. The breeding of Rounder's Dotty to Rounder's Casey was a life saver for Rounder's kennel. In the early to mid 80's I had lost almost all of my stock to a virus. I had only two pups left. However, my brother had Dotty and a friend had Casey. By a quirk of fate I was given both back. The two produced the best litter I had up to that point (except perhaps Grover to Hope). Not only were we alive, we were competitive. Until that time we were holding on by the skin of our teeth. We have had many good litters since Dotty to Casey, but most of these go back to Dotty &, Casey.
Dotty can be traced back to Ruffian Gentleman Gem (Man) who had a big dose of Sky King and the old Ruffian blood. Dotty also has a dose of Concho blood which was very similar to Man. Rounder's Casey Is the result of Lucy Belle and Stanley. Stanley was the last of the old time Ruffians.
I did manage to pick up Dinah Girl from Mr. Bally's stock In Laredo, TX. ( I found out later what they were being used for the original function), Dinah went back to my old stock (Man). Dinah produced some pups for us and led to a female ( Rounder's Pokey) who was what this breed should be, In the mind at least.
Rounder's White Rock Azure came from Dick Pascoe's kennel. This was one of his last pure breeding But Azure, while not being prolific, did produce Rounder's Blackheart, and this girl has a lot of what I want In an Am Staff.
Hendrix produced a male Tonkawa Big Tex and he may have even been too hot even for me, but, oh my, was he good looking. He had a look that was very Intense and you know he accepted no trash form any dog. I bred him to as many of my bitches as I could.
During the decade of the 80's I had few dogs and a smaller market. The Ruffian line was down to about 25 dogs of the purest blood. While Hendrix and Dick still had a few ( purest of Ruffians) It was obvious that their plans lay elsewhere. I knew there were others, but where? The answer came at a STCA specialty held In Louisville Ky. In the Mid 80's.
I had searched for any who had these few purest of Ruffians none of the owners were Interested, except for Jerry &, Gigi Rooney. These folks did a lot of work researching where the Ruffians were. Sometimes we were successful, sometimes we were not. One example of what happened was Jerry getting a female from Bill Harbor who had a number of these Ruffians from O.L. Hill, but was only mildly Interested In what we were doing. Jerry also had great luck recruiting young, eager people to join the program, something I could not do.
The Rooney's sold to Ruth Prehn. Ruth started a line known as Ledgerock. Her dog Ledgerock's Copper Corn was a superior dog. Unfortunately I have not found him In any of our purest of Ruffian pedigrees. Ruth's fabulous moving female Rowdytown's Jazz of Ledgerock Is behind much of the Rowdytown stock. Ruth's stay In the breed was short, about ten years In the 80's. However, Ruth has gone on to become an AKC Judge.
I have built my line based on having physical and mental soundness. I have been faulted on not having more type or on not even developing a type. To me physical and mental soundness are the correct type and all else Is secondary. I am at this time slowly developing a type but making sure that we don't lose soundness.
I should mention that Eric Jackson has brought some solid dogs that go back Into the Tryarr and Gallant strains. This should make the line stronger. Eric also has some of the remnants of the pure side of the Whiterock dogs. Eric's Tryarr dogs were brought In from Jane Robello. Eric acquired them after Jane died. He also has a fraction of my stock.
Jerry and Gigi brought In Keith Monske, Lisa Jenkins, Jodi Petiach, Randi Holtzman, Eric Jackson and others. These folks have recruited other bright face too numerous to mention.
We have as many or more people with these Ruffian dogs now than we had Ruffian Dogs In the middle of the 80's . Things look good now with many young outstanding dogs on the way, but who knows what will happen next. I can tell you this- I am excited about going down this chosen path with this group of people, they are quality.
At present, I believe we are starting a period of Improvement. How much, will be hard to predict. We just do not know the limits of the line. I am seeing a great number of good ones, and they should lead us to even better ones. Whatever happens, I am satisfied that we have done the best job we could, and the effort was well worth making.
Puppy Purchase or Shelter Rescue
People sometimes ask me why would I want to bring any more dogs into this world when there are so many in shelters that need homes. Homes that may have been available to shelter/rescue dogs if someone had not bought a puppy from me. My answer to this question is often overlooked by those that would ask in the first place. Clients that pay what I charge for a puppy are not likely to adopt a puppy or dog from a shelter even if I were not the one selling it to them. You see, the logic here is not complicated. Clients that purchase one of my puppies, have a very good idea of what they want. Be it a home, car or dog. My clients have a connection to their puppy from the time it is conceived to the time it is delivered. This connection, sadly is not possible with a rescue dog. There is no anticipation or chronological bond. This is important to many of my clients. It is like planning for a baby and then watching that baby grow from conception to bringing it home. This is an important transition that fosters a lifelong bond. There is also the argument that many rescue dogs have health issues or temperament problems and most certainly, unknown histories. I understand that this is not the case with all shelter/rescue animals but lets be honest here, it is a very real problem with many animals in shelters. Additionally, I know that in tough economic times, many high quality well behaved dogs will also find themselves in a rescue or shelter in anticipation of a new home. I know that unfortunately for many of these well bred, well mannered dogs, this hope of a new home will not be realized. Historically however, this is not typical of the kind of dog one will find in a shelter.
Still, there are times when I feel deeply conflicted. It is at times like this that I re-evaluate what my motivations are to bring more innocent puppies into an already crowded world. Then the answer comes to me. It has been there all along. I have a mission to produce a more perfect American Pit Bull Terrier. One that is not dog aggressive. I have made significant strides to this end and there are always clients that specifically want what I offer to sell. Clients that demand to know the pedigree, temperament and health status of the puppies they purchase. An unfortunate unknown quantity with a shelter dog.
There have been numerous times that a prospective client has inquired about one of my puppies but found the price to be an obstacle. These are people that want to include a dog or puppy in their families. These are people that have kindness of heart and responsible character, just not the means to acquire one of my dogs. There are times when I have low or no cost adoption puppies and dogs to offer families with the desire to open their home to one of mine but more importantly, these are people that can best provide what a shelter dog desperately needs. A compassionate friend and a loving home.
What is a Merle Dog?
The "Merle" color pattern in the American Pit Bull Terrier is considered a disqualifying fault by the standards of The United Kennel Club, The American Dog Breeder's Association and The National American Pit Bull Terrier Association. Dog Day Kennel does not produce, sell or condone the breeding of "Merle" colored American Pit Bull Terriers. It is the opinion of many experts, show judges and researchers that the "Merle" gene has been introduced into the breed by unethical breeding practices that include out crossing to other breeds of dogs. Most notably, the Catahoula Leopard Dog. This is an opinion that I share. Below is an article by Scot Dowd Ph.D. that explains in detail what a merle dog is.
By Scot E. Dowd Ph.D.
The recent appearance of merle patterned APBTs and a couple breeders specializing in the "new" and "rare" color pattern has stirred up a controversy in the APBT community. The general thought among those that have been around the breed for the greatest number of years is that, these new color patterns were brought about by unscrupulous outcrossing to a separate breed such as Catahoula Leopard dogs. Several breeds are known to carry merle as a color pattern but the APBT is not one known to have ever carried this "infected" allele. What is known is that Catahoula Leopard dogs along with pit bulls are often used in the sport of hog catching and it is known that crosses of these breeds have been made in attempts to produce more competitive catch dogs.
The following comments from the APBT standard committee provide prelude to a brief essay on the merle locus in relation to the APBT
Walt Pasko Show Judge, United Kennel Club. Grand Master, American Pit Bull Terrier Association. President, Sunshine Terrier Kennel Club. "I feel the emergence of the merle color pattern in our breed has raised the questions of how it was introduced into our breed and what health problems the merle gene could cause. From all information I've read, I have to recommend that the merle color be made a disqualification in the APBT Breed Standard."
Carol Gaines Stephens "I strongly oppose the color pattern 'merle' in the APBT since it has never been there in the past and has just recently risen it's ugly head with the popularity of the catch dogs in the south. I have spoken to several people from the south that say that they know and do so themselves, cross the APBT with the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog to make a better catch dog. If the gene has never been present in all these decades/centuries then how did it finally come about just recently? I am a firm believer in leaving the standard the way it was originally, but when something surfaces that has no rhyme nor reason, then I think we have to address the matter."
Cheryl Larum "I am in agreement with the other committee members on the merle issue"
Scot E. Dowd " First it should be noted that there are ways that the merle can remain hidden such as within a complete phaeomelanic coat where the merle would not be evident, also there are cryptic merles, however this absolutely would fail to explain the relatively recent appearance of this color pattern in the APBT. I feel that another allele with defined health problems associated with this locus, is not a positive thing for our breed"
The following information is submitted on behalf of the NAPBTA standard committee - Scot E. Dowd
There are two issues of concern with the merle as a color pattern. The first, as mentioned, is that merle pattern in the APBT may have come about through unethical outcrossing to another breed of dog. This practice would then have been followed by falsely registering such a outbred animal either with the ADBA or UKC as a purebred APBT. Such false registration would be termed hanging papers. The other issue is related to the health aspects of the Merle allele. Here I will try to answer the predominant questions that arise regarding the merle allele and the APBT without making a judgment of my own other than that expressed above.
Why is a color or color pattern so important to the stewards of the breed?
The entire process of coloration and color patterns in dogs starts with embryonic development. The specific cells that become melanocytes (pigment producing cells) are derived entirely from the neuronal crest of the embryo. This essentially means that pigment cells are directly produced along with the same cells that give rise to the nervous system. Though not entirely true, it can be assumed that if you have defects in genes associated with color genetics you might also have nervous system defects because both types of cells are derived from the neuronal crest. This provides a logical genetic indicator and explains why it is likely that certain dilute or patterned dogs, such as extreme piebalds, or other types of homozygous dilutes common in the APBT, as well as those that may be carrying the Merle pattern are prone to psychological, neurological and/or immunological problems found in other breeds that carry these alleles.
Merle like other dilution alleles acts to lighten whatever color would otherwise have been expressed. However, with merle the lightening effect is not spread evenly over the coat, but produces patches of undiluted color (dappled pattern) scattered over the dog's body. The merle gene when heterozygous Mm (only one copy of the gene) on an otherwise black dog produces a blue merle which is phenotypically a bluish gray dog that is dappled with full color black spots. A homozygous or MM dog (carrying two copies of the merle gene), often called a double merle or a homozygous merle, will be a mostly white dog (similar to an extreme Piebald). The normal state of the merle locus is dual recessive mm and completely lacks the offending transposon resulting in normal color.
Maybe merle has been in the breed throughout its history and only now is it being noticed?
The response to this question is also genetic in nature. The genetic and phenotypic nature of the Merle locus and the merle allele (M) is such that it would not remain unnoticed in a breed and suddenly appear. It would take crossing to another breed that carries the merle allele for it to be transferred into the breed. The reason it could not remain invisible or hidden is because the Merle allele is expressed with incomplete dominance. This means, if it is within the genome at all, even in a heterozygote (one copy of the gene) state, it is still expressed and evident. The M allele is not found in all breeds; in fact most breeds do not carry it. Finally, this specific transposon cannot arise spontaneously or through mutation as some have claimed.
What are the health problems associated with the merle allele?
The merle allele like a couple other dilution factors when expressed in a homozygous state is correlated to psychological, neurological, and usually immunological issues. Here I will mention a few of the issues. The first are eye development problems that are superficial in nature affecting appearance such as heterochromia iridis (A difference of color between the iris of one eye and the other), thus a dog with one brown and one blue eye has heterochromia iridis. Note that this defect is not necessarily or always indicative of having the merle gene because it can also be found in dogs with extreme piebald or double blue dilution for example. In addition to superficial indicators there are also major effects such as absence of tapetum lucidum. Tapetum lucidum is a reflective substance that lines the back of the dogs eyes. This reflective structure acts like a mirror and reflects light back through the retina, like a satellite dish giving the retina two chances to catch the light. Dogs that lack tapetum licidum have night blindness or reduced ability to see in low light. Another defect is lack of retinal pigment and microphthalmia. Microopthalmia (smaller than normal eye) is described as dogs having prominent third eyelids and seemingly small eyes which appear recessed in the eye socket (enophthalmos). Another problem known as coloboma is actually a physical cleft in a portion of the eye, particularly the iris . In addition to the eyes which are a key indicator of neurological defects, there is also evidence for effects on the ears that result in reduction in auditory sensitivity or complete deafness because the merle color locus exerts epistatic effects on ear development. Excessive white or dilution in a dog of any color can be a warning sign of potential hearing problems. If there is no pigment in the inner ear the dog will be deaf; white ears are more likely to lack inner ear pigment.
More technically, what is the genetic explanation of the merle pattern?
The merle allele is considered to be caused by a transposon or transposable element. A transposon is a piece of DNA that has the potential to actually jump out of, or excise from the gene it has infected (disrupted), during cellular division and genetic DNA replication. This means that while melanocytes are migrating from the neuronal crest during embryonic development the merle transposon can remove itself from the gene in some of the melanocytes when they are derived and produce normal coloration on those parts of the coat to which they migrate. Thus, the merle allele acts to cause eumelanic areas in the coat, to become diluted, but other areas to be fully and intensely pigmented. Such fully colored areas occur in scattered patches throughout the body. The merle locus is autosomal (not carried on one of the sex chromosomes) acting as a dominant mutation (it is expressed in all dogs that carry this gene). It should also be noted that genetically such transposons do not arise spontaneously but must be passed from sire and/or dam to offspring. This means that if the APBT did not carry this allele to begin with, then only through outcrossing to another breed, that does carry this transposon, could it be integrated into the APBT genome.
Dog Days Kennel position.
In conclusion of this topic I would like to offer my personal observation and the official policy position of Dog Days Kennel as submitted to The National American Pit Bull Terrier Association on December 5, 2005:
As members of the National American Pit Bull Terrier Association, we are presented with the issue of the Merle coat color dilution pattern that very likely has been introduced into the breed by unethical conduct. The Merle coat dilution pattern has not been known to naturally exist within the genome of the American Pit Bull Terrier and the presence of this dilution pattern is a known marker to other serious health issues. As stewards of the breed we have to choose to continue to honor our current standard and to reflect that the Merle color pattern, with all of it's associated health issues, is not an acceptable color pattern for the American Pit Bull Terrier.
These are two merle pattern "Pit Bulls".
Parts reprinted with permission. Copyright© 2009 The Encyclopedia of the American Pit Bull Terrier. All rights reserved.