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Forum Home > APBT History Discussion > Evaluating a Bulldog

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Author: California Jack

I believe there is a pandemic of confusion as to how to evaluate a bulldog, both for brood as well as hunting purposes. About all anyone ever wants to speak about concerning a dog’s overall quality is, “Is he game or a cur?” Either that or people always ask, “Does he have mouth or doesn’t he?” Those are the two most often-asked performance questions in these dogs, gameness and/or mouth, and I think the reason people discuss these traits the most is simply because they are the most obvious traits to see.

* Did the dog scratch or didn’t he?

* Did the dog hurt the hog or didn’t he?

The truth is, any idiot can see these things, and so that is about all there is most people’s evaluation systems whento it comes to “looking at” their animals: the dog either scratched or he didn’t, and the dog either left big holes or he didn’t.

The trouble is, if you want to produce dogs that win consistently, you have to open your eyes much wider to notice many more subtle signs than these most basic of traits. You have to train your eyes to see equally-important performance traits, that are not as easy to watch-out for, and the simple truth is some people will never develop this kind of an eye.

For starters, to breed good dogs you have to know what your dog’s job is. And your dog’s #1 job is to be able TO SURVIVE the continuous attack of his opponent, because in any system of combat the #1 rule is “to protect yourself at all times,” and anyone who disagrees with this is a fool without a clue. From this most basic need, to survive, your dog needs to be able to (2) mount his own effective attack against his opponent. Notice I did not say “reckless” attack, I said *effective* attack. These are the basics to any kind of combat strategy: you must defend yourself first, and then you must make effective counters in return, and this basic strategy is true of men, it is true of dogs, and it is true of global warfare.

However, there are some additional basics a good dog need, and that is (3) to be able to keep this up for a longer period of time than his opponent can ... and finally(4), your dog needs to be willing to go back into his opponent at any time he is separated from him and is asked to go back. These are the four fundamentals to winning a Cajun Rules contest, the first-two basics, and the second-two basics, and yet each one of these 4 factors involves complex traits in-and-of themselves.

Now, most people are only concerned with elements of (2) and (4), with their dog being able to bite hard and being willing to scratch. However, the intelligent dogman is well aware of many other complex factors required to win, and as such he is equally (if not more) concerned with (1) and (3), a dog having excellent defense and survival skills as well as his ability to keep that up and *outlast* his opponents. As the old saying goes in sports, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins Championships.”

Scratching-back and “biting” are all offensive maneuvers and aptitudes, whereas “not getting hurt” and “surviving longer than the opponent” both involve *defensive* maneuvers and aptitudes. So let me repeat that timeless sports-saying again: “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins Championships.”

You see, the reason why most dullards always focus on “scratching-back” and “biting” is that these traits are what every dullard and “ticket-buyer” wants to see ... and only has the ability to see ... while the reason why cagy and successful dogmen and breeders worry about more subtle defensive skills, speed, timing, reflexes, coordination ... and the ability to outlast an opponent ... is because these traits take a little more experience, a little more of an eye, and a little more chin-rubbing to see.

“Looking good early” means nothing in a Cajun Rules contest; looking good AT THE END means everything. For that matter, I have never seen or heard of anyone getting to bring home so much as a quarter for his dog “biting hard,” if his dog failed to make his scratch while his opponent ran his scratch. Nor have I ever heard of any “second place” money being paid to a man for his dog “wrestling well in the beginning,” only to run out of gas and lose the deal down the stretch. As best as I can tell, the money is always – and only – paid to the dog who is still on his feet in the end, and who is still willing to scratch.

The thing about it is, there are many complexities required to “still be on your feet” in the end, ranging from the necessary speed and timing required to stay out of trouble ... to the durability to take it if you do get got ... to the intelligence and style to position oneself out of harm’s way while you’re in holds, etc. Therefore, the ability to last, the speed and reflexes to stay unbit, the durability to take it when you are bit ... and the learned skill and natural sense to be in holds and yet NOT to get bit in return ... *all* involve a bountiful complexity of gifts, natural aptitudes, as well as conditioning on the part of the owner. And unfortunately, most dogmen don’t even look for these critical skills when they evaluate a dog.

Now, in its most basic form, sure, if you can look good all the way from beginning to end ... hey that’s great ... but if you have to select between a dog who looks good early (but who fades as it goes on) ... or a dog that looks poor early (but who gets stronger as it goes on), the second dog should always be your choice, because he is the one who is designed to win consistently in a Cajun Rules contest.

The reason why *latter* performance prowess is more important than “initial” performance prowess in these dogs is because a Cajun Rules contest is a NO TIME LIMIT contest. And the reason why a dog who is “willing to go back into his opponent at any time he is separated from him and asked to” is typically more important than his ability, is because who wins and who loses is predicated on scratching. Or have I missed something?

Therefore, the dog who gets better-and-better the longer it goes will always have the advantage over the dog who gets worse-and-worse the longer it goes ... and the dog who is always willing to go back and resume what he is doing is the one who will ultimately defeat the dog who at some point is not willing to resume. I mean, this is just basic horse sense.

And yet many people spend their whole lives trying to breed “barnstormers” who can’t go the distance, or they pay more attention to how much “mouth” their dog shows early over how intensely committed he is to go back in the end. And this is just a foolish selection strategy for trying to produce athletes that are supposed to win no-time-limit contests where who wins and who loses is predicated on scratching.

However, that being said, the concept of “No Time Limit” is also misunderstood, and it needs to be examined more closely. While, in theory, Cajun Rules contests have no real time limit ... in point of fact, these contests DO actually have a typical limit. You see, I have crunched the numbers of over ten-thousand shows, and I have found out some interesting statistical facts:

75% of all shows are over with by :45.

92% of all shows are over with by 1:20.

98% of all shows are over with by 2:00.

** Less than 2% of all shows that have ever happened go over 2:00, and less than 1% ever make it passed 3:00 **

Therefore, worrying about “a 3-hour deal” (or longer) is a complete waste of time 99% of the time, as **the actual numbers** show. And since this is an odds-game people, the intelligent strategist prepares for the odds, not the exception to the odds. The fact is, the lion’s share “odds” (98%) of what is going to happen in a Cajun Rules contest is that it will be decided under 2 hours ... and really most of these (92%) will be decided within 1:20. These are absolutely critical statistics to your understanding your dog’s job in the real world!

First of all, these numbers mean that people who try to prepare their dogs “to go all day” are not only wasting their time, they are over-training their dogs, and in fact they are failing to preparing their dogs for the reality of what they will actually be doing out there – which is 92% of the time going to be giving everything they have for 1:20 or less. In other words, those people who condition their dogs for more than an hour or so at peak-keep are not paying attention to what their dog is actually going to be doing out there. These “4-hour keeps” (or more) are basically a complete waste of time, and they are actually *harmful* to a dog’s best chances of winning.

That would be like a human mile-runner preparing for his 1-mile run by repeatedly-training using 20-mile runs as his standard training. A complete waste of time. In order to run 20 miles, a runner will at no point be going as fast as what he needs to in order to win a 1-mile race. And in order to survive a 4-hour keep, a dog will be exercised at nowhere near the intensity of what he should be exercised at either. High-output exercise, for no more than an hour at peak keep, is what these dogs really need as true preparatory work (but this is a whole other subject).

Anyway, what these statistical numbers *also* mean to someone who is trying to evaluate his dog as a potential candidate for succeeding at his job, is that you should be breeding and selecting for dogs who are AT THEIR BEST by about the :45 mark (and beyond), not for dogs whose peak efforts are achieved before this time, but who start to fade long before their opponent. For instance, a dog whose peak performance efforts are at :05 to :15 ... but who starts running hot and fading by :20 to :30 ... is *not* a dog who is designed to win a Cajun Rules contest on average. By contrast, a dog who paces himself and who stays out of trouble for :15 to :20 ... and then who starts to come-on-strong by :25 to :30 ... or even :40 to :50 ... is a dog who IS DOING HIS JOB, which is to win a Cajun Rules contest 75-92% of the time.

Yet most people breed dogs who waste themselves early and then who peter out before the peak :45 time. Yes, some of these barnstormers do bite hard enough to win early, but such dogs will never do this on a large-percentage basis, as a family, and even individually they will typically fail to do this when they compete at a very high level. Mouth is an important factor to success, but it is not as important as *CONTROL* – because in order for the mouth to do its job, it must land on target. In fact, there are a lot of all-time-great “hardmouth dogs” ... who only get credit for their mouths ... but in truth their greatness was really owed to their defense, their timing, and their stamina. In fact, I believe that Gary Hammonds once wrote an article about GR CH Art like this. While everybody talked about Art’s “mouth,” what Gary saw was an untouchable defensive-genius head dog ... who when he switched to offense *also* carried a crippling mouth. Everyone always credits Art’s greatness to his “mouth,” but Gary credited Art’s greatness to his impeccable style

I remember reading a similar article about Shankbone’s GR CH Lionhead. Everyone always brought out some freak-mouth (but one-dimensional) “destroyer” to beat Lionhead ... but while Lionhead could damned sure bite himself, it was actually his impeccable defense which was responsible for his success. And while these other dogs he faced foolishly "spun their wheels" trying (unsuccessfully) to get to Lionhead, ol' Head just nullified their efforts and broke their asses down. So yeah, Lionhead could bite like all hell himself, and that is all the average dullard ever talked about or saw him do, but it was the fact that Lionhead rarely got bit in return which separated him from the “one-dimensional biters” that he faced.

So, here again, the average person in dogs will only breed-for and select-for what he can “see” in a dog ... whether or not he makes big holes and if he scratches (which is the stuff that “sells tickets”) ... but most people doen’t have the sense or savvy to appreciate DEFENSE and STAYING POWER (which is the stuff that “wins Championships”). Most people actually breed for just the opposite kind of dog that is required to win a Cajun Rules contest ... a non-pacing, barnstormy dog ... and such dogmen will usually produce dogs that may do OK against other such dogs in the bushleagues ... but they will lose more often than they will win when they compete at a very high level.

There are a lot of folks in these dogs who simply don’t have the basics down as to what they should be breeding and selecting dogs FOR, to achieve true performance excellence in these dogs.

CA Jack

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January 1, 2010 at 4:15 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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