Bandog "Bandogge" or "American Bandogge Mastiff":

The name "Bandog"(also known as Bandogge) comes from the word "Banda", which means, "chain."  It was used by the Saxons around 1250-1300 in Middle England. The Saxons would leave the dogs on a chain during the day, and release them at night as a guard dogs.The name Bandog was attached to a mix breed of a Pit Bull and an Mastiff mix. Now it has expanded to cover a wide range of mixed breeds, all of them with a Mastiff.  The most common mixes that make the Bandog are: Pit Bull x Mastino Napoletano and Pit Bull x English Mastiff. Or other breed programs: Pit Bull x American Bulldog, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Cane Corso, Perro de Presa Canario, Tosa Inu, Boerboel, Great Dane, Bullmastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux. Bandogs were originally developed to perform a wide variety of duties, such as fighting, pulling, hauling, hunting, rescuing and guarding.

Andante Bandog Kennels, Lucero´s Working Class K9 Kennels, Thunderdome´s Kennels and On/Off Bandogs Kennels bloodlines are the most well known Bandogs, and have a great temperament with outstanding working abilities. They are believed to be the perfect protection and working class guard dogs available today. Andante´s, Lucero´s, Thunderdome´s and On/Off´s Bandogs are the most famous kennels celebrated for their stable temperaments and outstanding working qualities. Many people believe these dogs to be the perfect protection and working class guard dogs. These dogs could require firm control if not properly obedience trained. As with all dogs obedience training should include a proper socialization program. This should start from the time that they are weaned to avoid problems and having an uncontrollable dog.

Bandog Characteristics

The Bandog has an intimidating appearance, is heavily boned, muscular, and very ferocious when provoked. Size and color varies enormously depending on what type of Bandog is breed. The most common characteristic will be an intelligent dog with a broad skull, wide shoulders, strong chest, great agility for it size, strong muzzle that is medium in length, depending on the mix and very well controlled dog provided that it is socialized as it is growing up. The temperament of a Bandog for the most part is that of the Mastiff breed. With socialization at an early age, it gives this breed a great disposition. They will be extremely affectionate, loyal, and friendly. Bandogs are extremely intelligent, confident, and strong, and can be reserved dogs. However, without socialization at an early age, they can become extremely aggressive towards people and dogs, independent, dominering and difficult to manage. The Bandog can display the best or the worst characteristics and traits available to their bloodline, as with all dog breeds. The characteristics and traits are not limited to the parents and can go even further back to the other breeds that the breed originated from.

Working Bandogs Today

The original Bandogs were bred with a functional purpose, as all as other working dog breeds. The modern day Bandog is primarily used as Guard Dogs, Police dogs, Sled dogs, Rescue dogs and unfortunately in the dog fighting area as well. The Bandog is growing in popularity among Security agencies and law enforcement with patrolling and crowd control. The Bandog is becoming a regular participant at weight pulls and other k9 sports that require raw physical strength and strong indurance. A Bandog is a good choice for a person who is in the market for a dog that will do more then just discourage an intruder, but at the same time a great pet for the whole family as well.

General: The bandog is designed to be a close quarter combat dog. It excels in realistic protection and can be a wonderful companion/family dog for experienced dog owners. They are quite trainable and easy to maintain. It is naturally good natured, fond of children in general, extremely devoted to its owner and eager to work. Appearance is muscular, behavior is self assured, steady and fearless. It is basically a calm dog that transforms when a bad situation arises.

Bandog Size
Males: 50-70 kg. (110 - 140 lbs)
Females: 40-50 kg. (95 - 110 lbs)


                                                          The original foundation breeding combination of Bandog: Mastino Napoletano x Pit Bull










"The Mastyve or Bandogge is vaste, huge, stubborne, ougly and eager, of a hevy, and burthenous body, and therefore but of little swiftnesse, terrible and frightful to beholde, and more fearce and fell than any other Arcadian Curre." Dr. Johannes Caius 16th Century (1576)

History: The Bandog philosophy of breeding has existed just about as long as domestic dogs themselves. Mankind developed fleet, nimble hunting dogs that fulfill the purposes of the hunter-gatherers, through to the large breeds that guard settlements and livestock. The progression toward breeding these heavier dogs to the smaller, more athletic dogs producing a medium type has been a natural process that has independantly occurred across several geographic regions. The resultant dogs proving to be more flexible across a greater variety of tasks. Bandogs have been used primarily for big game hunting and as guard dogs throughout the centuries. The first most organized and well documented approach and application of the Bandog was done by British "Gamekeepers" whose "Gamekeepers Night Dog" fulfilled the role of patrol companion and 'despatch dog' (capturing wounded game so they could be dispatched without undue suffering). The Gamekeepers Night Dog had an extremely dangerous job that often cost it its life. It had to locate and fight armed "Poachers" who would often find themselves fighting these dogs for their lives. In the 1820's, the "caught" poacher could see one shipped off to the colonies of Australia or America, if they were lucky, such punishments however, made desperate men. In France, similar types were bred to partake similar roles, the paralells even extending to nomenclature: Chien du Nuit...

Temperament: Mentally these dogs are the very picture of stability. At times described as having "British" rather than "German" canine temperament. By which it is meant that whilst both should have high stimulus threshold and pack mentality, the British temperament does so without desire to assert rank whereby the German temperament is unflinchingly loyal to its master but affords itself as superior to all others. It is this subtle yet distinct difference that distinguishes breeds such as the Bandog and Bull Mastiff from the Rottweiler. When raised appropriately, this makes them utterly trustworthy with children, often becoming self-appointed custodians. Spirited when at play or work, they are otherwise calm, composed and easy going. Shows no signs of shyness, or needless apprehension. Always demonstrates a high tolerance as well as a quick recovery from stress. Impeccable ability in discerning between general human activities from behavior warranting suspicion or aggression. Possessed of a true 'On'/'Off' switch resultant from surpreme self-confidence making for a highly predicatable and stable dog that has nothing to prove in responsible hands. Strong balance of drives. Pronounced pack and fight drive, strong hunt, prey, and defense drives. Level-headed, responds positively to stress. Switches between drives with little outward physical indication, which can require an expert eye to discern. This balance of drives does not foster the outward manifestation of aggression but should not be taken for granted, as they will respond in kind when threatened, increasing their intensity in almost linear progression until the threat is dealt with. Can prove diffident or rambunctious when young. This behavior can be linked both to the maturation rate of larger breeds, as well as to environment and upbringing. Best developed in the hands of those that understand these differences, rather than those expecting to see similar behavior to that exhibited by traditional working breeds such as the shepherds.

Todays Uses: The modern Bandog is primarily used as a home/family guardian but it is also the choice of an increasing number of Security agencies as a patrol and crowd control dog. It would make a good candidate for weight pulling and other K-9 sports that require raw physical strength and the eagerness to please their master. The desire of the dog to be with and please it's master coupled with a natural affinity toward exercise suits it to any activity. Furthermore, the very essence of the dog is one of a balance in structure, being free from needless exaggerations, greatly enhancing any dog's chances of leading happy, healthy and active lives as ideal companions.

Bandog article written in its entirety by Dan Balderson of England and Stelios Sdrolias of Greece (On/Off) 

The term Bandog (also known as Bandogge) originated around 1250-1300 in Middle England, referring to a mastiff type dog that was bound by a chain during the daytime and was released at night to guard against intruders. In 1570 Johannes Caius published a book in Latin which in 1576 was translated into English by Abraham Fleming under the name Of Englishe Dogges, in which he described Bandog as a vast, stubborn, eager dog of heavy body.

History of the Bandog

DNA sequencing has confirmed that all dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) originated from the wolf (Canis lupus); however, the exact development of the original Bandogs still remains a mystery. Although, it is impossible to say exactly how the Bandog originated, it is certain the original Bandogs were bred with a functional purpose, as were all working breeds, and for the Bandog this purpose revolved around guarding and protecting. Early incarnations of the Bandog probably had bloodlines from bull baiting dogs and the Guardian Mastiffs or the cross of both like the war dogs used in the Crusades.

William Harrison, in his description of England during 1586, first mentions the type in his statement, "Bandogge which is a huge dog, stubborn, uglier, eager, burthenouse of bodie, terrible and fearful to behold and often more fierce and fell than any Archadian or Corsican cur." It is assumed that the word "Bandogge" originated from the use of strong bonds and chains to secure the dogs.

Modern History Sourcebook: Wiliam Harrison (1534-1593): Description Of Elizabethan England.

In 1576, Dr. Caius states that, among others characteristics, the "Mastiff or Bandogge is serviceable against the fox and the badger, to drive wild and tame swine out of meadows, and pastures, to bite and take the bull by the ears, when occasion so required." ( Elizabethan Poems By Arthur Henry Bullenn  The Bandogs of old were strictly working dogs, often of various crosses and various sizes. Usually these dogs were coarse-haired hunters, fighters and property protectors without a strictly set type, developed from eastern shepherds and mastiffs crossed with western Bullenbeisser s and hounds, with a few local bloodlines eventually being established as specific types in some regions, such as Britain, Spain, Germany, Poland  and elsewhere in Europe.  One of the most famous Bandog programs in England led to the establishment of a recognized breed, the Bullmastiff.

Edmund de Langley, writing in the fourteenth century, mentions the Molossus (mastiff) and the Aluant (bulldog). This appears to be the first occasion when the breeds were mentioned separately. Dr. Caius, on the other hand, mentions only one breed " the Mastive or Bandogge " in a book written about 1570, so we presume that, in the Middle Ages, the breeds were frequently cross. I suggest that in future bull-mastiffs be called Bandogges - surely a more attractive name! When the Bull-mastiff Club was formed, to standardize a small handy mastiff or large old-fashioned bulldog, there was a dispute as to the name: some wished to call them night-dogs, some bull-mastiffs, some bandogs. Queen Elizabeth or her physician, Doctor Caius, would have been in no doubt at all : bandog is the traditional name. Though earlier writers distinguished between the Alaunt or Canis Anglicus (bulldog) and the Canis Molossus (mastiff) Caius fails to mention the smaller variety: the " mastive of bandogge " was " An huge dogge, stubborne, eager, burthenous of body and therefore of but little swift-nesse, terrible and fearful to behold and more fierce and fell than any Arcadian curre. " In Vero Shaw's opinion this description refers to the bulldog rather than to the Canis Molossus or "mastive" of Edmund de Langley which, being supposed to be of Greek origin, was doubtless the "Arcadian curre."

 Whilst other kennels have enjoyed relative success, only two other programs from N. America have exerted such an influence over quite literally, "the Bandogge world", these are: Lucero´s Working Class K9 and Thunderdome Kennel.







Lucero´s Working Class K9- Joseph Lucero III. (California- USA)

In the mid eighties, Joseph Lucero III, a breeder and protection dog specialist out of California, who was fond on Rottweilers, decided to create his own line of bandogs. Lucero hand picked the best genetic specimens from the Neapolitan mastiff and American Pitbull Terrier and started a breeding program that was also very successful. After more than 20 generations, Lucero established a new line that he called the American Bandog mastiff. This new breed is well-known. Lucero's Bandog is a phenomenal breed, very athletic, very intelligent, and protection capable. Joe Lucero and his "right-hand" Sammy Holloway have competed with their bandogs in obedience and protection rings with awesome results!

Working Class Kennels (WCK9) of California, who have also shipped dogs internationally for commercial and personal security applications. In addition, to along with Hardball Kennels, WCK9 also provided the foundation stock for Elite Kennels and also coincidentally, has more recently contributed fresh blood to the Thunderdome program not to mention gained notoriety for the abilities of its foundation stock to perform in the entertainment industry for Movies such as 'Hulk' and TV including 'Fear Factor'

Lucero´s Curly- Lucero´sWorking Class K-9, owner: Al Colistar


Thunderdome's Lucho, 125 lbs (Thunderdome Kennel, USA-New York)

Bandogge as defined by Thunderdome:
„We use the term Bandogge to describe a dog made up of Bulldog and Mastiff blood. In our 15 years experience with the Bandogge breed, it is our opinion that more important than the breeds used to create a Bandogge, are the individual dogs you use. We have not limited ourselves to one particular cross, but have utilized excellent dogs from different mastiff breeds. The fact that we are not tied down by a breed standard allows us to breed dogs that will add the most to our breeding program. We are not breeding dogs for economics, this is our passion."

Bandogges History A Breed In Progress
by: Martin J. Lieberman

In the middle nineteen sixties John Bayard Swinford, VMD. Began crossing American Pit Bull Terriers with English Mastiffs. I had a similar ideology and we eventually introduced by a mutual acquaintance. John and I remained friendly for over three years. During that time we combined ideas and collaborated on a number of breed specific issues. Our goal was to breed a large super Mastiff, "a dog fearing nothing made of flesh." Our work began by crossing English Mastiffs with Pit Bulls. However, over time it became apparent that garnering English Mastiffs for this project was increasingly difficult. We needed to bring in an infusion of outside blood. We looked at our options and came up with the Italian Bull Dog, an ancient European Mastiff.

We liked the primitive over done appearance of the dog. We liked the natural suspicion exhibited by the breed. In addition, we liked the hard bonding characteristic of the breed. We didn't like the differential in skull size between the bitches and dogs. We also had a problem with the breed's lack of (prominent) dentition. Plus, many of the Italian Bull Dog bitches have a condition called cat face. These dogs lack length of muzzle (often times) impedes endurance and the ability to bite. The late Luigi Forina bred Italian Bull dogs, as they were affectionately called in those days. That was well before folks called them Neapolitan Mastiffs. Senior Forino lived on Logan Street in Brooklyn, not far from the queen's border. Luigi, allowed us to harvest blood from a well-made 240-pound stud dog. This blood was crossed back into our (existing) brood bitches.

We now had the fresh blood our project needed. The impact of the hybrid-vigor factor surfaced immediately. Without question we had created a superior mastiff. This being the first responsibility of the Bandogge project. Conversely, we also created an inferior American Pit Bull Terrier. However, the goal of the Bandogge breeder should not be to improve the Pit Bull Terrier, as this would prove to be futile. However, to improve the mastiff, with their many faults would be a reasonable challenge. Our primary focus would be to improve motor skills, to thicken nerves and capture a higher degree of gameness. One must never loose sight of an important historical fact. It took three hundred years to create the perfect bull and terrier cross. Having said this, it is also safe to assume the larger the dog the longer the journey to perfection.

One must view the Bandogge as an ongoing work in progress of a breed in progress. It is my opinion that our first generation breeding produced pups that were vastly superior to their Mastiff parents. This is not arrogance, but fact. Ergo, I am comfortable stating that the first segment of our genetic journey was a success. The breeding that followed continued to demonstrate reasonable gains. John Swinford died in the fall of 1972. I continued to breed and promote our project well into the next decade. I guess I became distracted by responsibility. I have not put pups on the ground for many years. In truth, I no longer have the temperament to deal with the voluminous numbers of un-coachable puppy buyers. Today's breeding environment has endless options. The modern breeder of Bandogges has a wealth of outside blood to infuse into his or her kennel. Rare breeds are no longer rare! The world has become smaller, more transparent and less mysterious.




"John and I remained friendly for over three years" - This shows that Mr. Lieberman's efforts occurred both independent of, concurrently to and thereafter Dr. Swinford's. It shows that whilst they did indeed collaborate, it was for a relatively brief period of time (certainly by dog breeding standards in respect to the fixing of a line(s)) in view of common perceptions and that whilst there were shared elements in terms of standards, Mr. Lieberman's views should be treated as both distinct to and equal of Dr. Swinford's, yet Swinford is seemingly attributed with a disproportionate degree of credit as a result of fame garnered through the books released by one Carl Semenic.

The entire "Swinford concept" was embraced to varying degrees by a number of individuals both in terms of breeding the actual 'Swinford' dogs (Swinford, Lieberman, the Grimm family etc.) and in terms of furnishing the component breeds (Kelly, Ashton, the Sottile family). With Swinford's passing, the concept continued on as it had done for hundreds of years beforehand in Europe, Africa, Asia and beyond, yet the specific Swinford program itself was not sustained, despite the fact others maintained an affinity toward the concept. There will no doubt be opinions as to why this might be, but one part of the explanation must be that insufficient progress had been made to produce a consistent, worthwhile line to preserve or even to play a significant role within the continuing programs of others:

The Sottile family were one of the earliest to import numbers of rare breed mastiff and continued to own and breed these dogs; Neapolitans and Cane Corso amongst them.

The Pitbull fraternity continued along their path as before, with the concept holding little to no interest for 'serious dog men'

The Grimm family were never sufficiently happy with the Swinford dogs and later gave them up upon discovery of the American Bulldog, which was described as being that which the Swinford was always meant to be; so much so that this sentiment was conveyed by the family through David Putnam's popular publication, "The Working American Bulldog".

Mr. Lieberman's efforts continued on for a period after Swinford's death; "I continued to breed and promote our project well into the next decade" and he also went on to set-up a very successful business within the pet/working dog industry, which in part may explain in part how he "became distracted by responsibility".

As pertains to the use of the Neapolitan, Mr. Lieberman makes quite clear his likes and dislikes in the aforementioned article. He also clearly states the the majority of issues pertained to the females of the breed and that they made use of a male for purposes of their breeding. The effect of this infusion of Neapolitan into the existing EM and APBT combinations was that "Without question we had created a superior mastiff."

Whilst it is mentioned that "Conversely, we also created an inferior American Pit Bull Terrier" it must be remembered that at this time, dog fighting was by and large a "tolerated activity" by the authorities and still a persistent albeit small part of 'popular male culture'. The only context in which this comment holds any pertinence is in the context of the 'box' or fighting dog. However, as Leiberman clearly goes on to state, "the goal of the Bandogge breeder should not be to improve the Pit Bull Terrier" instead it is to "...improve the mastiff".

This returns to the point of breeding in the modern age. Thunderdome Bandogges made use of the very same combinations of breeds employed by Dr. Swinford and Mr. Leiberman; indeed the EM, Neo, Bull & Terrier and also the American Bulldog combined to produce the very dogs that Mr. Lieberman referred directly to in his glowing endorsement of the Thunderdome programme with owners "so passionate about the development of the Bandogge" producing dogs to such a standard that, as Mr. Lieberman himself puts it "I am certain it would please John Swinford as well."

Mr. Lieberman's thoughts clearly were not in isolation, as the dogs Mr. Liebermans comments were based upon (amongst them Thunderdome's Silver Belle, Bodacious Bo, Hurricane Rosie and Mad Max) and their descendants (Gator, Harden's CJ, Blockbuster's Porsche, Taboo, Atlas, Lara, Zara and through cooperation with DK9; Storm Bruin, Richie's Hondo etc.) have actively been sought out and used to provide foundation stock for numerous programs around N. America (Blockbuster, Jim Harden, DK9 to name but three) and around the world (for example: On/Off Bandogges in Greece).

This will be the last installment on our series of breed comparisons. So unless any of our readers write in and want to see certain match-ups, this will be it. I've received a lot of positive feedback on the previous two, and hopefully we've all learned a great deal about not only training, but choosing a particular dog to fit our needs. This one should be especially interesting, due to the fact that these two breeds are relatively unknown to not only professionals in the field, but to the general public.

In the early 60's an American veterinarian by the name of Dr. John Swinford set out to develop the ultimate working/combat dog. He began crossing the APBT with the Neapolitan Mastiff, and the finished product was to be known as the Bandog. Unfortunately, Swinford died at an early age, and his creation was never really perfected. I was lucky enough to locate a serious modern day Bandog breeder who was willing to talk about this rare breed, and hopefully put to rest some of the myths surrounding them.

Also known as the American Mastiff or American Bandogge Mastiff (ABM), there have also been attempts at crossing the pit bull with an English mastiff and even the Bullmastiff. So in addition to our usual topics, we will find out if the ABM's breed true, and which crosses have been more successful and why.

On the other side of the world in the 1920's, Dr. Antonio Nores Martinez and his brother Augustin also set out to develop the supreme hunting/working dog. It was to be used on the most dangerous game, such as wild boar, the puma and the mountain lion. As a base, they used the Cordoba fighting dog, which was produced by crossing the Spanish mastiff and an old time fighting bulldog. Then they gradually blended in 9 other breeds to suit their purposes: Pointer to increase scenting ability, Boxer for intelligence and trainability, Great Dane for size, Bull Terrier for fearlessness, Bulldog for chest width and valor, Irish Wolfhound for hunting instinct and speed, Dogue de Bordeaux for jaw strength, Great Pyrenees for size and white coat, and Spanish Mastiff for power. The finished product, known as the Dogo Argentino, took 27 years to perfect. In addition to being a supreme hunter, he also wanted the Dogo to be unsurpassed as a family guard/protection dog. Although many European and American breeds would bark, lunge and even bite an intruder, he wanted a breed that would give its life, fight to the death if need be, for its master. This quality, he felt, was lacking if not totally absent in any other working breed of that time. We will examine this fine breed, see how it measures up to our tough standards, and find out why not one, but both of our interview subjects would love to keep these exotic breeds in the "rare breed" category.

Bandogge is a unique dog race that is unknown to the many but well known to the very few. Dogs that are born to live and deal with extreme situations will stand up to their value when it comes to protection. Either as a property guard dog, or as a bodyguard the bandogge has the mental and physical potential to protect his handler/owner.

Below by Dan Balderson (United Kingdom):

The Wikipedia article still seems a bit off. Bandogges are mentioned by Geoffrey Chaucer over a 100 years before William Harrison wrote his works for example. Likewise, the Bandogge pre-dates the 'sports' of Bull baiting' and such like. Bandogges pre-date the Normans, given that it was an Anglo Saxon term that eventually fell foul of the Norman (French) influence that led to the eventual word of 'mastiff'. A wolfhound / Azores Griffon type dog was employed by the 'Celts' and was likely one of the forebears of the earliest Bandogge types. These dogs and the esteem with which they, along with boar and other key elements to that lifestyle are still seen today in the highly stylized forms of traditional 'Celtic' works of art, particularly as incorporated into knot work.

There is truth to the point of securing the dog, but the origins, at least as so far back as can be traced to Chaucer, suggest that Bandogge's were in fact catch dogs that were kept tied whilst on the hunt until the game was in clear view / and at bay upon which time they were released, much akin to many modern hunters employing 'Bulldogs' today.

In terms of modern origin, the Bandog / Bandogge still originates from the British Empire; the term was used along with Game Keeper's Night dog, Bull and Mastiff, and of course Bullmastiff with equal regularity until such time as an official breed was recognised under the latter term. However, Bandog, was also one of the proposed breed names (as they were regularly referred to as such in Print, certainly from around the 1930's) at the time of acceptance and determination of a modern breed standard. The Bandogge concept was widely employed across the empire, notably in Southern Africa, but also in India where the term 'Seizers' came to the fore. These dogs were often mixes of English and German hounds with Bull, Mastiff and (Bull) Terrier breeds, or the latter combined with indigenous dogs, notably hounds such as the Rampur hound for the express purpose of big game hunting.

The Swinford stuff is also not wholly accurate. He worked with a great number of people to achieve his ends, of course Leibermann is known, but the likes of Grimm's and a few others were equally involved, they simply chose not to gain the same degree of notoriety, nor had the exceptionally privileged background as to be able to conduct themselves as he did. His program was not entirely based on APBT to Neo, as Lee and others are correct to point out, that just happened to be at around the time he was most well-known prior to his death. His program was not successful or long lasting. Families such as the Grimm's would encounter the American Bulldog and pursue it as everything the combined Swinford program was hoped to be, but was not. This point was even recorded in print when the family was interviewed about their involvement with both types of dog.

The current breeding section is a load of old tosh and frankly dangerously provocative "to combine the courage and tenacity of an American Pit Bull Terrier with the large size and guarding instinct of a Mastiff". This is not strictly true and as such should not be presented in this context. It is a fallacy perpetuated by the limited and hence poor research of the author Carl Semencic whose primary research early on was gained during his exposure to the illicit world of dog fighting that existed and thrived in his region of the USA .

More accurately, the infusion of the Pitbull terrier is to correct the many structural, biological and temperamental flaws inherent in today's mastiff breeds, to create a tighter, more functionally sound and active dog without the type of 'tenacity' that many folks would associate with the word when used in conjunction with the term 'pitbull' is not dog fighting aggression or tenacity ...which is in many ways anathema to the purpose of a working mastiff. The Pitbull, when selected carefully, contributes a greater degree of bid ability and tolerance even, around people, creating a more fun-loving, less sharp, but very human-focused dog. Equally, inappropriate selection of the Pitbull can cause no end of problems; shyness, fearfulness (toward people) are inherent issues with some lines of these dogs, not specifically avoided because for other purposes (i.e. fighting) such traits were an acceptable hindrance, when they didn't otherwise impede performance in the illicit world of dog fighting. It is also true that the Pitbull is far from the only breed used or necessary to be used in the development of Bandogs. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are equally employed, though do not produce the same degree of size in the F1 progeny as many lines of Pitbull might, but still develop the same positive qualities. Indeed, the Stafford is documented as having been used in the re(-construction) of the Perro de Presa Canario among other breeds. In sport/pp working bandogs, AmStaff blood is also heavily employed, in part because these dogs are not only bigger, but because many lines have already been bred to perform in avenues such as Schutzhunde for many generations. In animal catching Bandogges, both English Bull Terrier and American Bulldog have also been employed, in particular in regions such as Australia where non-indigenous hogs have reached epidemic proportions and are otherwise prey only to the Saltwater Crocodile once mature.

Not only is the assertion that "why don't breeders simply cross Bandogs with other Bandogs. The answer is at the current stage of Bandog development, when one crosses a Bandog with another of its breed, the final product is not a Bandog. Bandogs do not breed true yet and it seems that Bandog breeders are far from having perfected a purebred dog." Yet another poor attempt at research by drawing upon the opinion of a frankly unqualified author such as Semenic, it is patently false and in keeping with the ignorance presented prior; the Bandog is most often a tight mastiff/bull mastiff not a large pitbull (petbull/pulldog). The primary breeding practice in the initial generations is to backcross the first filial generation to the mastiff component of the breed, rather than to another F1 or the parent bull & terrier; because again, the effort is to produce a balanced, functional working mastiff, not a large pitbull. This is exactly the same type of process employed in the creation of all breeds and is no different in bandogs. The primary differentiator is the employment of traditional, rather than modern Kennel Club breeding practices that do not preclude selective line and even out-crossing to maintain both performance and health, even if it does sacrifice a degree of type.

I really don't like the use of the word aggressive in the piece either, it is thrown around without care or attention to the readership, or the effects it might have upon them. In short and without wanting to sound too callous, critical or offensive, it is quite an amateurish piece in many regards when actually scrutinised, and I find it to be lacking. However, having seen the pieces on other breeds, such as the Presa Canario, which I'm reliably told is petitioned regularly by Dogo Canario breeders to ensure it states a view akin with their beliefs, this is one area in which Wikipedia falls down, given a lack of quality references to support submissions.

BANDOG from Wikipedia - This is the Wikipedia Bandog article. Below the article is some input from Dan Balderson (United Kingdom) on the validity of the text:

(also known as Bandogge) is a name derived from early English and refers to a dog that was bound by a chain until it was released at night in order to guard property. The fact that the modern day Bandog is also large, is a guard dog, and is composed of someand some Bulldog, as was the original Bandog, is all that the Bandog of old and the modern Bandog have in common.

History of the bandog

Most writers are of the opinion that all dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) originated from the wolf (Canis lupus); however, the exact development of the original Bandogs still remains a mystery. Although, it is impossible to say exactly how the Bandog originated, it is certain the original Bandogs were bred with a functional purpose, as were all working breeds, and for the Bandog this purpose revolved around guarding and protecting.

Early incarnations of the Bandog probably had bloodlines from bull-baiting dogs and the Guardian Mastiffs or the cross of both like the war dogs used in the Crusades.

William Harrison, in his description of England during 1586, first mentions the breed in his statement, "Bandogge which is a huge dog, stubborn, uglier, eager, burthenouse of bodie, terrible and fearful to behold and often more fierce and fell than any Archadian or Corsican cur." It is assumed that the word "Bandogge" originated from the use of strong bonds and chains to secure the dogs.

In 1576, Dr. Caius states that, among others characteristics, the "Mastiff or Bandogge is serviceable against the fox and the badger, to drive wild and tame swine out of meadows, and pastures, to bite and take the bull by the ears, when occasion so required."

The Bandogs of old were strictly working dogs, often of various crosses and various sizes. Usually these dogs were coarse-haired hunters, fighters and property protectors without a strictly set type, developed from eastern shepherds and mastiffs crossed with western Bullenbeissers and hounds, with a few local bloodlines eventually being established as specific types in some regions, such as Britain, Spain, Germany, Poland and elsewhere in Europe. One of the most famous Bandog programs in England led to the establishment of a recognized breed, the Bullmastiff.

Modern breed description:

When describing Bandogs, it should be noted there have been many variations of such programs under a variety of names, but the breed commonly accepted as the Bandog today was developed in the 1960's by American veterinarian John Bayard Swinford, who set out to create a guardian dog superior to all others. Though many breeders of Bandogs today disagree on just what breeds went into Swinford's original breeding scheme, it has been proven that the basis of his program was largely derived from 50% American Pit Bull Terrier and 50% English Mastiff. Unfortunately, Swinford died in October of 1971 at an early age and his version of the Bandog, although very successful, was never perfected or recognized as a purebred during Swinford's time. Eventually, all the original Swinford dogs died out.

Many programs have used American Pit Bull Terrier (American Staffordshire Terrier) and Neapolitan Mastiff crosses, as has been the case with the Lucero program. Other programs, such as the Swinford program, developed primarily founded upon American Pit Bull Terrier and English Mastiff crosses. A few programs have also used other bully type breeds as well as other mastiff type breeds. Regardless however of which program a breeder selected, if they were breeding dogs true to guarding purposes it has been essential to select dogs suitable for such work. Dogs were bred from strains that have temperament, phenotype, to do home guardian or personal protection. The Bandog is a rugged dog, heavily boned and muscled, intimidating when seen and is ferocious when provoked. The Bandog, any variety, is strictly a working breed and should be a result of serious and dedicated planning, starting from careful selection of parent breeds and more importantly, appropriate representatives of those breeds, with the health and temperament testing being on the top of the list of priorities, while the uniformity in appearance is the last of the breeders' concerns. The intention in each case is to combine the courage and tenacity of an American Pit Bull Terrier with the large size and guarding instinct of a Mastiff. Broad skull, strong muzzle that is medium to long muzzle depending on the strain, wide shoulder, powerful chest, great agility, intelligence and very well controlled dog.


The hope is that the breeding of these dogs will finally be perfected; however, the Bandog is being bred by many breeders who range from the very serious and knowledgeable to the very amateurish and inexperienced, sometimes called backyard breeders. Like with all dogs, the Bandog can display either the best or the worst characteristics of the parents (or the parent breeds), depending on the knowledge of the breeder and the randomness of genetics. Therefore, a purchaser of a Bandog must do a good deal of investigation to avoid the risk of buying a puppy from a breeder that doesn't understand the necessity of proper selection.


It should be noted that appearance is of least concern to serious bandog breeders, as the purpose of such dogs is first and foremost function. It should also be noted that not all groups currently agree on a universal standard. While some breeders share a general standard, the SSDA has kept their standard for the Swinford type dogs private and for this reason the general standard seen below will vary significantly from their adopted version.

Size: Males and females: Height: 25" or greater. Weight: 100 lbs or greater.

Drives: Natural guardian ability is required. The dog should display prey drive with enthusiasm. Defensive drive should be bold and confident when stimulated. Weakness in any form should be selected against.

Specials characteristic: Effectionate with the family, intelligent, loyal and devoted to their master.

Temperament: Effectionate, loving, and submissive to the master and family (including children), yet fearless adversary to anyone who threatens the Bandog's master or property. Although accepting to welcomed guests, the Bandog should present a guarding disposition towards visitors if his master is not at present.

Disposition: The Bandog protects their master against any danger, even to give their own life to protect him.

Body: Large, but compact. Powerful, but agile. Should represent an athlete.

Color: Different mixes of colors are acceptable, but most common colors are: any brindle color, black, golden fawn, fawn and red. Other colors are allowed too, as is red and black on their noses. Large amounts of white has been frowned upon by some programs due to its lack of being a natural color, inability to camouflage the dog well, and because it is often associated with various genetic defects.

Coat: Short, close and medium fine.

Ears: Cropped or natural.

Neck: Very strong, muscular and robust.

Eyes: Dark preferable, but should bear some relation to coat color.

Tail: Docked or natural.

Faults: Failure to be worked, failure to work successfully, producer of genetic problems in pups, poor immune system, affected by hip and elbow dysplasia. Excessively undershot.

Foundation breeding:

What is reported here is just an estimated expected average range of various foundations breeds commonly seen in various Bandog programs.

The Primary Group , approximate average of 25-75% from American Pit Bull Terrier and/or American Staffordshire Terrier.

The Secondary Group ,approximate average of 25-75% from English Mastiff and/or Mastino Napoletano.

A Tertiary Group (used in some programs) approximate average of 0-75%: American Bulldog, Boerboel, Bullmastiff, Bulldog Campeiro, Bull Terrier, Cane Corso, Dogue de Bordeaux, Fila Brasileiro, great Dane, Perro de Presa Canario, and/or the Tosa Inu.

Interview with: Joseph Lucero III. (Working Class K9 Kennels) and Karolyn Harris (Thunder Mountain Kennels) for (Dog Sports Magazine '98, Copyright © 1998)

This will be the last installment on our series of breed comparisons. So unless any of our readers write in and want to see certain match-ups, this will be it. I've received a lot of positive feedback on the previous two, and hopefully we've all learned a great deal about not only training, but choosing a particular dog to fit our needs. This one should be especially interesting, due to the fact that these two breeds are relatively unknown to not only professionals in the field, but to the general public.

In the early 60's an American veterinarian by the name of Dr. John Swinford set out to develop the ultimate working/combat dog. He began crossing the APBT with the Neapolitan Mastiff, and the finished product was to be known as the Bandog. Unfortunately, Swinford died at an early age, and his creation was never really perfected. I was lucky enough to locate a serious modern day Bandog breeder who was willing to talk about this rare breed, and hopefully put to rest some of the myths surrounding them.

Also known as the American Mastiff or American Bandogge Mastiff (ABM), there have also been attempts at crossing the pit bull with an English mastiff and even the Bullmastiff. So in addition to our usual topics, we will find out if the ABM's breed true, and which crosses have been more successful and why.

On the other side of the world in the 1920's, Dr. Antonio Nores Martinez and his brother Augustin also set out to develop the supreme hunting/working dog. It was to be used on the most dangerous game, such as wild boar, the puma and the mountain lion. As a base, they used the Cordoba fighting dog, which was produced by crossing the Spanish mastiff and an old time fighting bulldog. Then they gradually blended in 9 other breeds to suit their purposes: Pointer to increase scenting ability, Boxer for intelligence and trainability, Great Dane for size, Bull Terrier for fearlessness, Bulldog for chest width and valor, Irish Wolfhound for hunting instinct and speed, Dogue de Bordeaux for jaw strength, Great Pyrenees for size and white coat, and Spanish Mastiff for power. The finished product, known as the Dogo Argentino, took 27 years to perfect. In addition to being a supreme hunter, he also wanted the Dogo to be unsurpassed as a family guard/protection dog. Although many European and American breeds would bark, lunge and even bite an intruder, he wanted a breed that would give its life, fight to the death if need be, for its master. This quality, he felt, was lacking if not totally absent in any other working breed of that time. We will examine this fine breed, see how it measures up to our tough standards, and find out why not one, but both of our interview subjects would love to keep these exotic breeds in the "rare breed" category.

Working Class Kennels (located in Yucca Valley, CA) is owned by Joseph Lucero III. He has been breeding the American Bandogge Mastiff for the past 10 years. I must say that in my years as a trainer, I have yet to speak to anyone more passionate about their dogs. When he talks about his dogs, stand back and take cover, because this guy is serious about them. And although he specializes in personal protection training, he also does public demos of advanced obedience. In addition he shows the true qualities of his dogs, such as being great family and companion dogs, and if the called upon to defend owner or property, would prove to be every intruders' worst nightmare. We will delve into its' history, study its' past, and see exactly how it stands up to other more popular working breeds.

Thunder Mountain Kennels (located in Indiahoma, OK) is owned by Karolyn Harris and husband Chris Wike. Chris is a nationally certified French Ring decoy with regional ranking, and has been involved with this breed for over a decade. Karolyn is a professional trainer with a decade or so experience under her belt, and between them have the distinction of training the first 2 Dogos in the world to French Ring titles. In addition to her training experience, Karolyn was chosen to judge the largest Dogo conformation show in history, and was on the Board of Directors of the Argentine Dogo Club. Strictly speaking, the lady knows her stuff. We will examine her training methods, learn a lot more about the Dogo, and as I've tried to do in the past, bring out different aspects with respect to training and temperament, that have never been written about before.


JD: Okay Karolyn, one of your clients has hired me to train their Dogo. What should I know about them?

KH: They are an extremely intelligent breed and do not take well to hard corrections from their owner. A heavy-handed person would quickly ruin a Dogo. They definitely need to be obedience trained and have an extremely strong hunting drive. They are not a dog with a high retrieve drive, but are highly motivated by playing tug, or by food. They can also become easily bored, so the training has to be varied. They are very sensitive to their owner's needs, and are definitely one family dogs. For this reason, they do not make good kennel dogs.

JD: I saw the video of Gator in his French Ring II trial. He made it look like a game, like he wasn't even trying (Gator, now deceased, was the first and only Dogo in the world to attain a FRII title. If any of you get to see the video, believe me, FrIII would have been a walk in the park).

KH: It's true. These dogs were originally bred to hunt down and kill wild boar and mountain lions. I think you'll agree that a decoy with a bamboo stick isn't exactly their idea of a threat.

JD: Mountain lions?

KH: Yes. There have been many stories of Dogos killing mountain lions and wild boar single-handedly. The Dogo is similar to the wolf in that they consider other animals food, and will kill and eat them. In fact in Argentina many owners do not feed them dog food. They simply share the prey with their Dogo.

JD: Alright Joe, I'm training an ABM from your kennel, what should I know?

JL: They are similar to the Dogo in that they are sensitive to corrections from their owner, but only in obedience. During bitework they are so focused, you have to correct them a little harder to get their attention. They are an extremely loyal breed, and as long as they're a member of the family, they're happy. It is therefore doubtful that you would have an ABM that is dominant towards their owner, like a lot of other breeds.

JD: Give us a little background on how you got into breeding the ABM.

JL: I was formerly very heavily into Rottweilers, but they were lacking in the qualities that I required. So after extensive testing and researching EVERY working dog you ever heard of, I was sold on the ABM.

JD: Why?

JL: Well first of all, the Neapolitan Mastiff is THE ultimate home protection dog. Their temperaments are phenomenal, they are loyal beyond description, and if anyone dared tried to come in your house, its over. We're talking about a 150 to 200 pound dog with DRIVE. There is no better natural protector in the dog world, although I could do without the drool, extra skin, and great lack of endurance. But you take that dog, cross it with a good APBT (whose physical attributes and tenacity are no secret) and you've got a personal protection dog extraordinairre.

JD: Why the Neo? Why not the Bullmastiff or English Mastiff?

JL: They are both non-athletic, and have no drive at all. I've tested both, and I couldn't get them to do anything but bark. An alarm dog, yes. But as a home protector, no way. The Neo is the most tenacious of the mastiff breeds, the cream of the crop. None other can compare.

JD: How do you compare your line to the Swinford Bandog?

JL: Although I have never seen any of his dogs up close, I would leave the comparison to the fact that our goals were the same. But going by pictures, they look very similar, with the exception that mine seem to be a little more robust.

JD: How do you answer to the accusation that you're messing with mother nature? That the ABM should not be recognized as a purebred dog.

JL: In reality, there is no such thing as a purebred dog. I don't go by what some no-name organization says. Just about every breed of dog we have today has been created by man for a certain task. My dogs happen to have the task of protecting the family (pack) against any intruder, man or beast. This dog has recently been developed, and that it closely looks similar to some existing rare breeds that only promise to have the temperament that my dogs deliver, this is what upsets people....too bad!

JD: At present, do ABM's breed true?

JL: Oh yes. I would say after about 5 generations of selective breeding of the ABM, you would have close to a finished product, which I am very proud of. But I will never have the final product because you must always strive to advance with every breeding!!! But it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, if you know what I mean.


JD: Since they take on mountain lions, I would assume under tenacity, you would give your Dogos a 10?

KH: Oh yes. Many other breeds such as the APBT or the AB, are also used to hunt wild boar, but they have to be taught. The Dogos are NATURAL hunters. Which is also one of their drawbacks. If you own a Dogo, you don't let them run free, or you will be in for problems with other animals.

JD: How about tenacity against humans?

KH: Well, let me just say that this is a very PRIMITIVE breed. Unlike many American or European breeds, this dog was created to give its life for its master. I cannot stress this point enough. There are many breeds that will bite a decoy or an intruder, but when stressed enough they will show avoidance. There are many cases of Dogos defending their masters, sometimes with tragic results. This is why we are very selective as to who we sell to.

JD: How about the ABM?

JL: Off the charts!(laughs). Lets put it this way. The ABM is the only working breed in the world that was bred specifically for combat against a man. Don't even compare them to some of the other working breeds. This is a fighting dog. No comparison. I've tested them all. I have an open invitation to anyone to come over and work my dogs if I can work theirs. And don't wear those flimsy bite suits either. I design my own bite suit with extra padding and they still hurt. They are the most punishing dog on the planet. Period.

Quality Dogs

JD: Tell us the main differences between local and imported Dogos. Also are there different bloodlines?

KH: In my experience the Dogos that are imported are much more aggressive. Remember in Argentina there is very little sport type training. The Dogos are either boar hunters or guard dogs. I feel that although we are ahead of Argentina in training knowledge, we are behind them in conformation. So due to the fact that there is very little control work there, we end up with much more aggressive types. Also there are 3 main bloodlines in Argentina. The El Tumi and Los Medanos are the taller, more aggressive dogs with better head structure. The Agallas bloodlines have the smaller, quicker, more agile dogs. I prefer to mix the El Tumi and the Agallas, with the result being a more balanced all-around dog.

JD: Wouldn't it be nice if someday trainers overseas were bragging about their "American" import?

KH: It would be very possible if people weren't so money hungry. Most Dogo breeders here do not work their dogs at all. They sell mainly conformation champions. So anybody could buy a pair of nice looking Dogos, start breeding them, and claim to have the ultimate guardians. Don't forget too, that more and more charlatans are getting into rare breeds because they can get more money for them.

JD: That is interesting. I was going to base the premise of this article on the fact that rare breed people are more dedicated than those breeding a popular breed, because lets face it, you're not going to sell as many Dogos, as say, Rottweilers.

KH: Not really. These people do their homework. They advertise in dog magazines and are on the show circuit. They may be breeding without purpose, but they're making $. They'll jump from Dogos to Tosas to whatever the hot breed of the month is. So while it is important to do your research when buying any dog, probably more so for a rare breed.

JD: Joe, when you started, did you choose any particular bloodline or the APBTs or the Neos?

JL: No. I look for temperament first. I want to see that natural protectiveness, but I also look for that bond with the owner. If the dog will leave its masters' side and flee when threatened, I don't want that. I want a dog that will keep its' master in check. If the threat ceases, fine. And this is without training.

JD: Was size a factor in either breed?

JL: Not at all. I like to use an average size Neo, and an average size APBT. Remember I focus on temperament. So the Bandog is bred for function, not appearance.


JD: You mentioned one of their drawbacks is their extreme hunting instinct. Anything else?

KH: Probably their main problem is that they are extremely dog aggressive. Sometimes a male and a female would get along but I would never leave them alone. And in the case of 2 males, forget about it. Possibly if you have a submissive non-working type dog in the same house with a Dogo you'd be alright, but I would be 100% sure before you left them alone together. They also do not tolerate cold weather very well. Another drawback, if you want to call it that, is that adult Dogos do not transfer ownership well. That is why we stress in our literature, if you want a Dogo, you keep them for life.

JD: Why is that?

KH: Its the flock guardian in their bloodline. However it's not as pronounced in the Dogo as in other flock guarding breeds. With many of them (Kuvasz, Anatolian Shepherd, Akbash, etc.) if they lose their original master, they will just lay down and die. So an adult Dogo could take some time to readjust.

JD: Is that why they wouldn't make good police or military dogs?

KH: Well I know the military rotates handlers frequently, and this is a very bad situation for a Dogo. After an adult Dogo loses its original master, they will never be the same. They will start to distrust all humans, and can go a bit insane. For the police units that allow the same dog and handler to remain together for life, the Dogo would be a good dog, and possibly superior in hot climates, because they tolerate heat very well. And although they have been trained and certified as SAR dogs, they do take some extra training and proofing with animal distractions to overcome their strong hunting instincts.

JD: Any drawbacks with the ABM, psychological or otherwise?

JL: One problem is that they do resemble a large APBT. In some areas where there are problems with pit bulls, they risk the possibility of being banned also. Another problem, like the Neo, is that due to their longer jowls, they tend to fang themselves during bitework. Sometimes after a training session I'll notice that their lips are slightly punctured, but not always. But it is my firm belief that their main drawback (not to me, but to the novice owner),is their willingness to commit to a confrontation. I cannot stress this point enough. This is not a dog that doubts himself! Some people can't deal with that. They want a dog for protection, but when something happens, and the dog nails the bad guy, they're like, "holy....!!!" But they are like a professional bodyguard. They are invisible until needed.

JD: How about their endurance? I know the Neos have some problems in this area. Any carry over?

JL: Obviously due to their size, their endurance would not compare to a Malinois. But this is not a sport type dog. Although people have begun to train them in French Ring Sport and Schutzhund to show their versatility, this is not their main function. So I do recommend that owners do some type of conditioning work with them to kick them up a few notches in that area. But how much endurance does a dog need? It can still catch any human on 2 feet. I would say that they have better endurance than a Rottweiler. So it should not be a factor.

Health Problems

JD: Are there any particular health problems with your breed?

KH: Obviously we have to watch for Hip Displasia (HD). But the main problem has been congenital deafness. We have them BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) tested at 5 weeks of age, to determine if they are normal, unilateral (deaf in one ear) or bilateral (deaf in both ears). And it's not something you can test for in your backyard. It is done with a very expensive piece of equipment that not all veterinarians have access to. Also some skin problems, like any animal that is all white could get. But they are very durable dogs. A Dogo could have a problem but you would never really notice it, since they wouldn't tend to complain about much. And we don't really know what problems the Dogo has because they have only been in the USA for about 12 years.

JL: Due to their size they are prone to hip displasia. Also OCD in the elbows. But they seem to be pretty free of other problems because they are still in the infancy stage. But once more amateurs start breeding them, they'll be in for more problems down the road.


JD: Lets talk about the protection phase of training. Are Dogos more prey or defense oriented? Also about what age do you start them?

KH: They seem to have a good balance of the two. We try not to do too much civil in-your-face defensive work with our Dogos, due to the fact that they become so mad that they start going for hands and faces. Seriously, we had a special bite suit that was made for Gator, and the decoy even wore extra padding. Well guess what? Gator would puncture his forearm or biceps right through the suit if he started working him too seriously. We also have a bitch named Cuda (the first and only female Ring I Dogo in the world) who is even feistier than Gator. And the list goes on. So we do try to keep it a game for them in training, but I have no doubt if something really happened, they would happily rise to the occasion. And as far as when we start them, I would begin imprinting them at around 6 weeks. If you don't imprint the Dogo puppies to view humans as prey, then as an adult he would not generally exhibit serious prey drive towards a human. To a Dogo, prey is food. Unimprinted Dogos raised with humans don't view us as prey (thank god!), but they will exhibit the same aggression toward humans as they would towards other dogs (survival, dominance, displacement, territorial, food, etc.). So for these reasons we recommend you keep the training a game.

JD: How about threat display. Is it prevalent in the Dogo?

KH: Depending on the individual dog of course, they are pretty quick to respond if there is a threat, but very laid back otherwise. The bitches tend to have a quicker trigger than the males, but that can be true in many breeds. If I had to compare them to the dogs in your previous article, I would say that they're not as quick to react as a GSD, but not as laid back as an AB either. It depends of course on the quality of training they've received too. I've have seen many Dogos ruined by poor training methods, such as too much civil work. Then the dogs are just too aggressive.

JD: How about cross training?

KH: This comes very easy for them because the sport aspect is realized as a game. Whereas most dogs that are used for sport and as home protection dogs could get confused doing both, the Dogo takes this in stride. As long as the training is done properly, you would have no problems cross-training them.

JD: Are ABM's more prey or defense oriented?

JL: I would not even call it defense. I would say that they have a good balance of prey and fight drive. Defense comes out due to fear. Fight drive is confidence. These dogs are very laid back, and I believe it is because they are very secure.

JD: Any differences between males and females besides the obvious?

JL: Not really. The males have a bit more fight in them, and the females are easier to control.

JD: Are they quick to respond to a threat? Or is threat display, or lack of, a signature of the breed?

JL: They have a good balance. But again, when they commit, they're on you. I would say that their fuse is somewhere between a Rottweiler and an APBT. But they are very territorial.

JD: Any comments or predictions on the future of your respective breed?

KH: The breed could be in trouble if breeders don't diversify and work together. It is very difficult to have a breeding program without diversifying the gene pool. I try to blend in the 3 bloodlines I mentioned, but one person doing this is not enough. I just hope that the people involved with this breed put them before the almighty buck, or it could spell trouble for the future of the Dogo.

JL: I would hope that they would continue to grow and develop. Possibly get involved in some sport work to show versatility. But more importantly, have serious breeders get involved with them, and keep the show community as far away as possible.

The Aftermath

I truly hope I do either of these fine breeds a disservice by writing about them. The last thing we want is for dogs like the American Bandogge Mastiff and the Dogo Argentino to become popular. We have learned that any breed that has made its' way to the U.S. has become two things: popular and substandard (in that order). Despite our efforts to keep our working dogs "state of the art," there are always amateur breeders out there who ruin it for the good ones. One of my favorite sayings, "oops, my bitch is pregnant, I'm a breeder," describes these people perfectly. Here's a couple reasons I predict this will not happen with these two breeds: First, to someone who has never seen one, a Dogo resembles a large white pit bull terrier. So to the charlatan breeder wannabe, this is a pit bull imitation. Good. These geniuses don't want an imitation. They want the real thing, right? Good again. And since Dog Spots Magazine only caters to die hard dog people, it is doubtful this article will get out to the general public. Secondly, with the American Bandogge Mastiff, it would take YEARS of breeding and lots of money for some lame brain to cross APBT and Neos and come up with a decent product to peddle to the public. Too much work. Good. My advice to the phonies: stick with show dogs. My advice to the serious breeders: raise your prices, and be very selective in selling to the general public.

Pointed Questions and Answers about Bandogs.

Question 1. What is a bandog?

On/Off Bandogs Greece:  A multi generation (strategically) Mixed bred dog for the purpose of realistic protection against humans.

DanUK: Agreed, emphasis being on multi-generational blend/mix that has been evolved into a line, often encompassing 2-3 sub-strains of said line (notably if the breeder works alone or in a small group).

In addition, the historical context of a large (c.100IBs +/-), big game catch-dog should persist into the present function in terms of the structure, design and approach of the dog to engaging/apprehending hostiles. The catch function may still be present or actively employed in the modern context also.

In context of temperament, a Bandogge is a means of recapturing the British Temperament working mastiff, as opposed to the German Temperament. To this end, the dog forfeits a degree of ultimate trainability (e.g. precision in OB, more handler sensitive etc.) in exchange for a more affable nature that is not dominated by rank drive/aggression (as per good working German dogs, e.g. Rotti), has a (relatively) high stimulus threshold but which nevertheless, does not forfeit man-gameness to produce a dog that naturally engages clear threats with pronounced defence and fight drive that increase exponentially in direct response to the threat presented until such time as it is no longer present. It also results in a dog that works silently, specifically in the night time and as such is not pre-disposed toward threat display as would be encouraged in context of modern policing / military work. It could almost be encapsulated by saying that the Bandogge is the dog a Police officer would leave at home to guard the family whilst going on patrol with a herding/droving breed.

Katrina Hartwell AU: A purpose bred mastiff bull breed mix.

Clinton Cilliers ZA: A Bandog is a functional mastiff that should be able to do most things you require it to do. If you need a dog that can do most disciplines, it will probably only do it to an average level at best.

MaTi US: A modern version of an "Old-Country" mastiff that has been recreated in the sense of a functional and natural guard dog.

Aaron Davis US: I was reading everyone's answers and had some thoughts:

When it comes to what a Bandog is, look at the "pure bred" "rare breeds". These are all bandog's that have a purebred label put to them.

Cane Corso
Presa/Dogo Canario
Spanish Alano
Ca Dae Bou.

Not that these breeds haven't come under criticism, from time to time, but the term bandog has become a catch all phrase that encompasses more Mastiff blend/types of dogs than most people typically consider.

The corso is the perfect example of it, with so many other types of dogs mixed into it, there are few "rustic type" dogs left. I personally don't see pure blood in those dogs either. The farmers crossed what they needed the utility dogs to perform.

A Chained dog which at night was released to protect the estate is the main function of this type of dog. A fearless dog, that would put its life on the line to protect property and family, was the function of the day.

Question 2. What is work?

On/Off Bandogs Greece: Work is the task we need the dog to perform.

DanUK: Agreed, that's as succinct as it can be put. To expand, it could be stated that in the historic context this entails close quarters personal protection, property protection of family members, catch work and some degree of sentry work. Whilst it is recognised that children should not be left unattended with dogs, it is particularly imperative that the Bandogge be completely reliable around the family and children in particular; hence the disdain for rank-driven behaviour. The dog should have high enough natural pain tolerance and stimulus threshold that it does not care to misinterpret the actions of family members and instead relishes the opportunity to be with its pack, no matter how gentle or boisterous an environment exists.

Katrina Hartwell AU: Broadly, any task you require of the dog to perform, in my opinion work is an actual job, (hunt, patrol etc) not a game or sport.

MaTi US: Work translates to tasks performed. Work can be as complex as scent discrimination, as simple as sitting with the children in the yard. Much more importantly... "Work Ethic" implies an innate desire in the dog to do work for/with its handler.

Question 3. What are people breeding for, and how are they proving dogs are breedable?

On/Off Bandogs Greece:  Ultimately Bandogge's are bred for CQB. Proof can only be provided by people/organizations that specialize in that area. (Real life could also provide some proof that a particular dog is breed-worthy).

DanUK: One of the key issues that differentiates the Bandogge from traditional working breeds and other Bull-Mastiff breeds is that whilst the overriding function and composition/disposition is generally the same, the very fact that the Bandogge path has been trodden, means that the breeder(s) proliferating a line, do so with a unique and personal interpretation of what it is they wish to produce and obtain from a dog. To this end, whilst phenotype may be largely consistent between lines, there regularly will be differences in the end product, which also leads directly on to answer question nine.

Katrina Hartwell AU: An average sized, healthy, all purpose dog, stable yet protective, trainable, athletic, easygoing. A dog without dog aggression, handler aggression and one with not just longevity, but a long working life.

My pups are tested at 5 weeks, 6 months, 12 months and 18 months. They must prove themselves stable and able to cope with stress. Brood stock are purposely under socialised and still expected to behave as if they were exposed to everything early. Any dog that has any unwanted qualities is re-homed where it can use its strengths. Dogs are expected to be able to live amongst other dogs and stock, small children and anything else I chose. They need to prove their ability to hunt and catch and to protect in a strange situation. Most are worked way beyond this.

MaTi US: People are breeding for everything you can imagine physically and psychologically. Some people prove their dogs are breedable by color and size, some prove it by how much they paid, some by the titled parents... others by the titled offspring.

Question 4. What are their expectations?

On/Off Bandogs Greece: Mine are: Health, high fight and pack drive, low/no rank drive.

DanUK: Agreed. Stability also factors into both health and the drive balance sought and outlined by Ancient. Different breeders place different degrees of emphasis upon size/power and speed/agility/endurance. For many the balance is determined not relative to other (breeds of) dogs, but to mankind, e.g. does the dog have the required size and stopping power to fend off a group of large male assailants, with of course the necessary endurance and agility to complete this task? For others, the desire for companionship extends to partnering in hunting, hiking or other activities, whereupon a degree of size is willingly forfeited in knowledge that the odds of encountering five hostile, NFL-lineman like three-hundred pound hostile men on drugs is so infinitesimal that the risk of accepting the smaller package is outweighed by the day to day benefits.

Dominick Donovan US: I myself would NOT own/breed a dog that could NOT act at least satisfactorily at organized dog sports......and I would not keep a dog that would not seriously fight a man if I direct him to do so. Any dog I own/breed....that I consider a "working dog"..... must retrieve like crazy...on land or for anything I direct him to.....respond to commands with enthusiasm...accept the use of force in training without over submission.....climb...leap and jump as a true athlete........defend pack members...himself... and territory.....He must respond to ANY form of reward...FOOD....OBJECT....PLAY/PRAISE....and be trainable through any reasonable system....He should be able to be a GUARD dog...a detector dog....POLICE dog...a SCHUTZHUND dog...a "DEMO" dog.....a bodyguard .....or family protector......I do sometimes tolerate dogs that are a bit much for regular family life....but many will do fine in this regard if the right individuals are selected. ...contrary to popular belief...MANY seemingly high strung "working" dogs are fine in the home....and really don't need to be crated...many are crated for the purpose of frustrating the dogs for squeezing top robotic performances out of them...and sometimes simply from lack of emotional involvement/care or real concern for them.....NOT necessarily because they HAVE to be!....

Katrina Hartwell AU: Mine are hunt on Sunday, School on Monday morning, security patrol Monday night.

MaTi US: Some to create a K9 that fits into the family naturally and innately is able to perform tasks of obedience, hunting, catching or guarding. Some expect that you'll easily find another ten people to buy pups off of your pup for 2G's each. Some breeders expect you'll give them the money they want and they will never see you again regardless of the dog.

Nico FR: I would add agility, stamina, speed, great movement, and stable.

Question 5. Should a Bandogge be expected to do sport? If yes, why? If no, why?

On/Off Bandogs Greece:  It should be an added bonus. Nothing more.

DanUK: Again, agreed. It depends on definition of sport also. If one broadens the spectrum to encompass traditional KC activities such as CGC, entry level (companion) OB and even (ability to perform, not necessarily be in any way competitive) Agility, then yes. Likewise, if sport is also meant to encompass elements such as the Schutzhunde-BH or Ring-Brevet then the answer again should be yes, similarly tests such as the Austrian Mil-DH exam for the Rotti could also be argued as reasonable type of expectation for BST-type purposes. Anything beyond this as stated is a bonus and it is not felt that sports such as Schutzhunde, in particular beyond the entry levels, are conducive to identifying dogs for practical applications. To this extent, the use of Operational style temperament testing, training and appraisals is considered ultimately preferable, especially if the testing is conducted by respected professionals with a breadth of experience across all manner of breeds, not simply a line of Bandog's or a type of herder.

Dominick Donovan US: I believe that Bandog breeders would benefit from a general organized "concept" for the dog....and straight-forward performance test...... I have seen a few really special bandogges...dogs of high intelligence....tractable....explosive protectors...athletic and engaging....I have also seen many poor ones.....nervous....overly sensitive.... with physical problems....I believe the value or lack there-of in "sport" has more to do with HOW it is done than anything else....The approach and goal of the training needs to be carefully mapped out. I believe that a sport CAN mean quite a bit in evaluating overall trainability....desire......fighting drive.....and general nervous condition....

Katrina Hartwell AU: No, I don't see why any dog should be expected to do a sport. No matter what sport you take up there is somebody else knocking it, it is too easy, too hard, too unrealistic, too many props, not relevant, not made for this breed, etc, etc. When our Australian Bandog's trialed they proved themselves obedient, protective and stable without any professional training........that's better feedback for me as a breeder than any medal, bits of paper or letters behind their name.

Philippe Roy CA: Talk amounts to very little. Get out there Bandogge owners with your dogs, and show the world they can work. Why does public exposure have to = sport work?

I did a demo with an AB in PP in front of no less than a hundred people a couple of weeks ago. Nobody whom was there will walk away saying standard AB's do not work.

Not for shit, but I did not have to "incorporate" my dog into a program, just get out there and show drive and control.

People whom do not want to do sport with their Bandogges I have no problem with; it's doing NOTHING, or not feeling strong enough in you, your dog to prove it in any public way. That, I have a problem with.

Clinton Cilliers ZA: By selective breeding with bandog's within a few generations you would produce a truly credible sport dog!!!!! Why is it not being done? Firstly there are sport dogs that have been bred for many generations and are truly fantastic, considering the time and effort needed to title, go with what works, the people capable of titling dogs will not want to invest in your new breed of dog since they "know" what works. Secondly you will no longer have a dog that is relaxed around the home with natural protection instincts.

Savannah had two litter brothers that were very mouthy (would hang off the ground at 6 weeks) very prey orientated and not too civil, they would have given sport type work a decent bash.

MaTi US: A good dog of any breed can "do" many of the tasks performed in sport work. Sport work is a system of patterns based on focus and trust... bond between handler and k9. Sport is not about balls and cookies. Sport is about teaching work ethic. When I go out on the field we have fun yes... I am a palate for the dog... I am his/her support team... yet, I am also the teacher... who corrects, intervenes, inhibits, prevents, interrupts, makes pressure, conflicts, and most importantly confronts the dog.

Sport work is a fantastic way to span out the perspective of the dog into being able to focus on many things independently... it trains the mind as well as muscle memory. Sport is repetition. Sport can be light or heavy. Just as Sport is criticized for being synthetic or inhibiting the potential of a PP dog... many sport dog trainers prefer and will own nothing less than a dog that will protect them in real life situations.

Aaron Davis US: What organized events are set up to test such courage?

Why does a dog have to be able to perform outstanding feats of wall scaling and jumping far distances to be considered a PP dog?

Does the fact that the dog lacks high level OB lessen it's effectiveness as a protector?

Why is a super high drive dog, like a Mal/sport dog, desired to guard someone's house/family? It doesn't equate to a better PP dog IMO, it just makes for a harder to control hyper animal.

The argument of how long can the dog work is moot, all the dog needs to do is prevent entry or escape, it doesn't need to run 6 miles to accomplish that feat. It needs High level of confidence and fight drive. Courage is the name of the game. Selective breeding will accomplish this; however dogs like this are too much for most to handle. Everyone wants the tough dog, but often times once seen, realize that it can be liability in Suburbia America. These Dogs have their place, and there are a few breeders producing them, just as there are few breeders producing any good type of working dog. As everyone knows the show breeders produce softer temperament dogs in the mastiff/rare breeds, plain and simple.

Just one guy's opinion...

Question 6. Is there credibility to these posts, and if yes, what should we do about it?

On/Off Bandogs Greece:  It's not about credibility, it's about experiences. If Chello had bad experience with bandog's then his opinion is credible.

DanUK: Again, broken-record, but agreed. However, a caveat to this would also be that trainer's should also realise if their own commentary is for whatever prejudice.

Trainers of the caliber of a Paul Cipparone (prime example having titled GSD's, Malinois, Rottweiller's, Terverun's and Cao Fila de Sao Miguel among others), Dominic Donovan, Ivan Balabanov and others are relatively rare. Many respected trainers have only experienced great success in relatively limited context and as such despite expectations to the contrary, do not have the experience/knowledge/open-mindedness to vary their approach to the dog/situation. This is not a point made in reference to any of the posters alluded to, but one made in a far broader context. It must be noted however, that consequently it is far from uncommon that negative experiences with alternative breeds are actually product of the trainer, rather than the dog itself.

Katrina Hartwell AU: It depends on how many Bandogs' and the broadness of the sample this opinion is based on as to how relevant it is. If that's what his experience has taught him then that's his opinion. It won't change until he meets some better Bandog's!!!

MaTi US: You cannot expect ANY breed to work. I'd say it's almost impossible for any breeder to guarantee it in a PUPPY. Health and temperament yes... Work Ethic? That's something that is often cultivated more so than innate. Put the two together and YES I'd expect that Bandog to work. When we agree that ANY breed is NOT bred to work... that breed is going to shit in no time. Many dogs bred to work simply do not possess the ethic. Worse when the ethic is there but not the structure or health to be able to work. I say Psyche first. Structure is not as hard to preserve.

Many dogs bred for sport have potential BEYOND most average sport trainers. These dogs excel at sport in the right hands as well as PP. These dogs are often much too hard... confident... dominant... aggressive... intuitive... discerning... available... powerful and intense for most Sport trainers.

These are the dogs that the BEST Sport trainers seek out. Some of the BEST sport dogs out there WILL naturally protect in every way. There are NO ultimates. Weak dogs in Sport... Hard ones as well. Weak pp dogs that couldn't do sport if they tried... Hard-ass Sport dogs that need FAIRNESS and RESPECT to be able to work in Sport and perform incredibly. Take that dog to the street and you'll see even more.

Philippe Roy CA: And, whom can you blame for having doubts about the ability of Bandogges, when very few people are willing to step up to the plate with their dogs?

Nobody else is going to prove the worth of the type for y'all.

Question 7. If a dog can't do sport, than will it really protect?

On/Off Bandogs Greece: I know many dogs that do well in sport and get a big zero in real protection. Ability to do well in Sport is NOT a measuring unit for real owner protection.

DanUK: Again, agreed. The answer to this question is also the same in the opposite context; with a dog that can do sport will it really protect? The answer is that in both cases, the answer is not known. The natures of the dog and in case of sport dogs, its training are fundamental to answering the question. However, whilst many of the best sport dogs will protect equally well in real situations, a very high percentage of titled/respected sport dogs will not be able to perform in a realistic, operational context.

This is further evidenced by how few sport programs are actively pursued by Police and Military departments in the modern era; KNPV, NVBK and to some degree French Ring dogs will either directly, or indirectly (through their progeny) be sought out for real operational employment. However, very few Schutzhunde dogs are considered in the modern era despite the fact that clearly there are many dogs involved in the sport that would be able to transfer to operational work. Where dogs are sought from this venue, they are often desired to come from the lower levels where it is considered more viable to cross train them over to operational work. Where sport holds real sway in modernity is two-fold: It provides transparency as relates to dogs/lines/breeding programs and in addition, where accountants exert as much influence as any party in modern Police and Military activities the modern sport approaches provide a source of rapid development almost comparable to a production line for getting dogs into service as quickly as possible for as long as possible, as well as some degree of positive PR to make this investment seem worthwhile.

Katrina Hartwell AU: I don't know that the two are as linked as they should be.

E-Dog US: Sport is just that... SPORT. I spend hours a week training sport dogs and handlers that are just there for the social aspect whose dogs will title but that does not make them any more protective that any other dog. There are a lot of titled dogs that are titled because of great training and handling. Behind every titled dog there are countless hours of dedication, training, handling that go on to get the dog that title. I have been in front of great dogs with no title and crappy dogs with titles so the title in it's self means little in regards to the dog but says more about the trainers and handlers. Now don't get me wrong you have to have a trainable dog with some drive to start with and the higher levels in sport require a dog that has higher drives and trainability... but foundation is key in training any dog to do any task and finding someone to work your Bandog to get to a level to be titles is hard to find.

Will the bandog be as flashy as the Mal or GSD? I doubt it. Can a good Bandog compete in sport? Yes. Will they ever be on top...? I doubt it as politics and the amount of training with the right trainer required would be a huge hurdle. I think Donovan's dogs have the best chance of achieving high end competition titles.

Clinton Cilliers ZA: I started in sport and have great admiration for the people and dogs that partake but for my situation I needed more dog, and I would not want to face Nero one on one as he would literally kill you if given a chance. He has more prey than my pit as far as wanting to chase and kill livestock, which is a bad thing on a farm but he grew up in town so was not raised correctly, yet Mack got used to livestock and is fine with them but not left unsupervised.

MaTi US: If the dog doesn't have the nerves/confidence to take a correction or guidance... I'd say it probably cannot be counted on to protect you in a safe manner. Some dogs that don't have the confidence/commitment to do sport work will never leave your sight and in the case of the Fila, perhaps no one will ever get near you. It depends on your definition of "protect".

Cath US: Sport has no bearing on whether or not a dog can work so who cares? A lot of them won't protect, can't track for $--- and break down very quickly off the sport field.

I see the same bias in many breed groups. Different breeds are suitable for different things.

*** If they will, than why can't they do the sport? Never make the mistake of judging a dog by what it does on a sport field.

Question 8. What are the issues with bandog's and their failure to do sport? Are people trying and failing, or is their a total lack of effort or a combo of both?

On/Off Bandogs Greece: Most of the bandog programs worldwide do not produce "all around" dogs. As a result, most of the tries are doomed to fail. If you also add a general lack of effort, then the result is exactly what you describe. Question is: is the profile of a bandog owner the same with an owner of a Malinois?

DanUK: Again, agreed in all aspects. See the answer to question three for clarification as to why this is. In answer to profiling, the typical Malinois owner in my experience, specifically sought out the breed in order to partake in a particular sport/activity for which they are/have desire to be involved; be this protection, tracking, OB, agility based or a sport encompassing elements of some or all of the aforementioned disciplines.

Katrina Hartwell AU: I believe there are many factors. I have only sold 2 Bandog's as protection sport candidates. They are both too young to see if they will be successful. There is much prejudice against off breeds, in Australia they are simply not able to compete or train in Schutzhund makes it difficult to achieve credibility when you can't play on the same field.

Many trainers are accustomed to training herder types so won't get the results they should with a mastiff types. I don't believe that most people have determination it takes to stick with training long enough to be successful and would rather buy a going dog, or one of a breed they will get quick results and lots of support with.

E-Dog US: In regards to a Bandog's in sport... I think there are many variables...

1. Breeding & Temperament: There are a lot of bandog's being bred by people with no goal in mind and very few have a goal of what they want in the temperament of their dogs. Mostly breeding for looks and F-1 crosses.

2. The type of people who like Bandog's and are willing to own one are not necessarily "Sport" minded people. Most are looking for a big dog to love/protect their family.

3. If you do find a bandog in a Sport situation it is rare that a sport trainer can or will do the work required to title such a dog. I know my Bandog is a mystery to most that get in front of him. He knows it's a game when the equipment is on and he has a high defensive threshold. So there is a grey area that needs to be made more clear and I attribute most of that to his poor foundation caused by decoys that were inexperienced in reading this type of dog and working him correctly. MaTi did a great job with him when he came out here reading and reacting to him very well. (Wish you were training out here brudah)

I don't think that is the Bandog that is the reasons that there aren't more of them titled out there but politics, dedication and the mindset of the people in the sports that hold them back... Either way I think if you want to do sport work with your bandog ... go for it. It's fun and you will learn a lot about yourself and training. I think it will also give you an appreciation for all of the time and hard work that goes into training and titling a sport dog. And if you don't want to do sport work do something ... Give that dog a daily JOB and put some good OB on him / her, increase your bond with them and love the heck out of them... JMO

Roger Williams US: There is not one breed of dog that didn't become less (or at least drastically changed) with huge popularity. It's human nature. I have had this conversation with otherwise good Judokas that are constantly trying to make Judo more popular, to the extent that they can't see that they are perfectly willing to change the art to be more appealing to people, either by making it easy to promote children or turning it totally into MMA. The art loses. I don't want the country full of Judo McDojos as happened with TaeKwondo or BJJ, anymore than I want the country full of ball crazy Bandog's, changed to fit Chello's sport expectations - or lobotomized and crippled, changed to fit a blue haired old woman's expectations on the show bench, or, as "courtyard guardians."

I have flirted with the idea of having a totally utilitarian way of third party evaluation (testing) a Bandog's skills, but unfortunately I can't get the human quotient out of it that tends to bring in politics, favoritism, etc. I'm working on it always, though, just for our own dogs and for our own needs. Bandog breeders should probably start a club with past problems in mind; I guess I would be open. Clubs and organizations always start out with the best intentions, but seldom do they work. As far as the questions, I think a well trained protection Bandog could compete in sports, why not? - I'd like to get some of ours to sport trainers to find out, but they'd probably not always be a high scorer... and of course it doesn't necessarily work the other way around. They will be great for what you breed for, if you breed great dogs. Although it's hard to acquire the right dogs to breed in order to breed great Bandog's, the main problem with Bandog's (or Performance Neapolitans, or AB's before they were softened up and sporterized) is not necessarily creating them, it's finding people who can take care of them with the security and liability issues. You have to worry about that before you ever think about what they can do to advance them on a sport field. There are a lot of people on this board that, what a great idea, a fully functional Mastiff...but that doesn't give qualified homes to a litter of puppies.

Philippe Roy CA: I have often stated the biggest two problems with Bandogges are dogs and owners lacking in drive.

Clinton Cillers ZA: With the correct imprinting from a pup I don't see why a Bandog can not give a good showing of sport work. The progression might be a bit slower and the final product a little less polished but it should be credible nonetheless. When I was involved in SCH there were Boxer breeders that came and trained their dogs, many laughs and sniggles but eventually when their dogs started to become proficient, even though no where near the same class as the GSD's, people started showing them and their dogs some real respect for their perseverance and the dogs gave a good showing.

I think Bandog owners should pursue any avenue they enjoy with their dogs, and if the dog is capable of working on a higher level so be it. Hats off to those working BB also since that is a huge challenge in itself but can be very rewarding. One problem is that these dogs seldom end up with truly capable people for various reasons.

A good dog is were you find it period and as far as sport vs. real protection there is no correlation, some dogs will protect but not do sport some will do sport but honestly wont protect and some do it all. Some sport dogs cross train well into active pp roles; the two are not mutually exclusive.

Decide what your needs are and get the dog accordingly, most sport people are full of it but the real dog men will recognize a decent dog for what it is. We have a truly top SCH trainer here that loves and admires the APBT. AND HAS WORKED A FEW it has helped him shed his blinkers so to speak.

MaTi US: Sport is slowly, politically being snuffed out. Without Sport none of us will be able to have guard dogs. Sport does what it was intended to. It makes an impression.

Sport allows the public to see dogs in control. Dogs working with a human. Dog's that chase, stop, hold, retrieve, track, search and Focus. Sport proves dogs are dependable.

When the public sees this it validates the usefulness of the K9 in everyday life. It implies that K9's are trustworthy, intelligent, obedient, and they will work for you.

In the real world when a dog attacks someone you can look at it many ways.
If you take your Sport dog off the field to the street and it shows the same obedience... the public will condone you.

Take a PP dog out on the field and show everyone how you have no obedience on the dog and many people would just as soon have your dog non-existent.

When you tell your "PP" dog what to do and it doesn't, anyone observing the scenario becomes concerned for their well-being and for others. NOT good.

If your PP dog is aggressively going for something (plant/animal/human) and you tell him to stop where he/she shows NO RESPECT TO YOU...EVERYONE BECOMES CONCERNED.

Sport often is a game. Many people would rather play games (minus the Russians) so usually anything SPORT justifies the existence of our K9's. Whether it provokes a facade or not, this concept is extremely important to the existence of working dogs.
Sport allows the public to believe that a guard dog can be obedient and social in itself.

Guard dogs or PP dogs look like loose cannons to the public. Without Schutzhund...the German shepherd dog may not exist. Police/military dogs justify having a K9 to do "man work". We as civilians have the privilege of breeding/training dogs of our liking. If the "Courage test" is taken out of Schutzhund..we may all be doomed.

Cath US: *** But if a dog is "real" why can't it do sport, even at the lower levels?

Why undo training just to get a title? If your dog already has shown it will protect and/or man track and/or do a lot of other things what will a title add?

Some people just don't like sport and find everything about it boring. I won't name any names. LOL To each his own and at the end of the day all that matters is are you happy with your dog.

Q9. Why is there no unity and cooperative effort in the bandog community?

On/Off Bandogs Greece: LOL ...I see tremendous unity in the GSD community worldwide.

DanUK: Again, see question three for clarification as to the ethos of many Bandogge breeders; it is very much a personal endeavour to meet personal needs. Conversely, there are two other elements; firstly the public face of bandog breeders which tend to be modeled around the Swinford Myth popularised by Carl Semenic. The majority of these individuals are involved in breeding in what can only be deemed as a commercial context, irrespective of whether or not this eventually leads them to a profit financially speaking, or simply provides enough funds to subsidise their hobby/program and in progress gain the public exposure many of them seek. There are plenty of examples and they don't need to be flagged in this discussion. Needless to say, many do attempt to work their dogs, often claiming to do operational style defense work, but instead employ modified sport techniques which only serve to impress nobody; for sport the work is weak/poor and in the operational context, the work is not viewed as being any better because there is simply too little understanding of the requirements for this work and as such the dogs are presented with a lot of work that actually does stimulate prey drive, make use of equipment as a stimuli and very animated, sport-derived work as pertains to the body language helper. This shouldn't be viewed as entirely their fault or reason for them to be condemned, because many government organisations also fail in this area and attempt to operationally train dogs with sport techniques, often just outside of the usual sport scenarios. On the other side of the coin, you have the serious breeders who do not have a public face or seek exposure. There are groups of breeders of working bull-mastiff breeds that do work and correspond together to assess programs. In some cases, these breeder networks may not directly utilise one another's stock (regularly) but do encompass programs from different countries within Europe and North America. These parties may not all focus upon the same methods of training or have completely shared objectives, but they do realise the value of comparisons / benchmarking and so employ the same commercial trainers to appraise their stock in operational contexts and provide feedback that can allow for example, a Neo-APBT centric program to be compared to another that utilises Neo-Rotti, or purebred Corso's or Presa's to various Bandogge programs. Many of these breeders would give dogs to sport homes if they thought it was a viable prospect that the home would: understand what they were getting, be flexible enough to train it in the most appropriate fashion and would gain value from the experience. However, there are very few sport participants willing to deviate from their own breed even to another related breed (e.g. Mal to GSD, Terv to Mal etc.) let alone take on a breed that they know in advance will require a different approach, will mature more slowly and which ultimately will never be a high scoring points dog, if indeed it can even progress to a higher level. Where you do find such people like; Paul Cipparone, Dominic Donovan, Norman Epstein, Tony McCallum (real work with cattle etc. rather than sport), Lucillano Olivia, Tom Ritchie, Al Banuelos and for those that know them, folks like Eric Wright (UK - GSD's, Mal's, Rott's, Boxer's and AB's), Chiva's (AB, AmStaff etc.), Chestnut's (AB), Torsten Sonn (titled a female AB (Mourquise's Emmylou) to BH, VPG1, VPG2, AD, FH1, FH2) and became the youngest female to pass the VPG3 in Germany) etc. it is clear that it is not just the traditional breeds that can prove successful.

Katrina Hartwell AU: People have very different goals. There are some people breeding for cash rather than better dogs and are at odds with those there for the long haul. There is the same thing in most other breed groups though.

MaTi US: Bandogs are rare.

Some Random Thoughts on Bandogs and Sport by Dan Balderslon (Dan UK).

"Let's look at the facts: the dogs used...

Mastiffs - Not utilitarian dogs X Pitbulls - soft to biting people usually bred against man work.

Where does utilitarian come in either of these two mixes? Then they go on to lay claims, without proof."

This is simply not true, but then it also depends upon definition of Utilitarian. If you wish to encompass protection and scent-work for example, you have much greater argument than if you mean protection and catch work. Certain strains of mastiff are still bred for protection, whilst skilled bandog breeders (often arriving in this sphere from 'sport breeds') can look beneath the surface to match and blend traits in different dogs then selectively breed a line from them. It is not that different to performing a line cross in many instances. I've seen US Terv's (which I have no idea what they were based upon), bred to UK Terv's (which have heavy Mal' influences in their foundation) produce very inconsistent results, yet both parents were from purebred lines dating back over many, many generations and obviously representatives of the same breed. It is usually a product of ignorance that sees such comments arise, because you can know a good dog or be a good trainer, but it doesn't entail you'll be a good breeder and vice versa.

"If Bandog and Mastiff breeders were serious in producing dogs for work ie. SchH, Ring or any of the globally recognized programs, from their own stock, with consistency and not "one offs"....they'd produce proof and not hype."

Again, the proof is there in cases, it just isn't always open to public scrutiny. Sadly, at least in the context of the UK, if the public perceptions were more accommodating, there'd be a very different picture that would likely change a few opinions somewhat. I don't see public/government policy changing, if anything I see dogs becoming increasingly rare in operational contexts that involve potential for 'biting'.

"Since I have seen these dogs work at some level and think that I wouldn't mind seeing them get over that weird nerve, or even worse their high thresholds.

Plus, too many people spew out the word "sport" as if it was a bad thing.........and many of these people have dogs that couldn't do basic levels of these sports, and that is what makes it so bad.

When bandog and mastiff people can come up with their own version of a test, then maybe the rest of us "herder" people will at least listen. Until then, it is not going to be taken seriously.

Almost all sports are breed-biased. The folks that love GSD's in Sch for example, will find that they (GSD's) are not competitive in say KNPV and ring sport vs. Mal's/Dutchies, or events like OB and agility which are both dominated entirely by working sheepdogs (though there are a couple of lines of Terveruns that can compete on level pegging), a breed that increasingly is dominating even in Working Trials here and that includes the bite work in the PD stakes because after some hesitation to partake in PD that enthusiasm and desire to almost obliterate all breeds from all sports has taken over. I kid you not, some of the best bite-work dogs out there are collies and the only thing they lack is size, which is being addressed in some lines, just as collies were bred down to dominate in smaller group agility. Best to best, the working sheepdog is a better dog than a GSD in sport terms. May not do Sch better, but across the board they are even more versatile, even more precise in their OB etc. I'm not a Sheepdog person, but that is the way it is. I don't see it as sensible to say therefore, that we should only use Working Sheepdogs or that all other breeds are useless because they aren't as good.

In the UK, you will not see sport or PP getting a 'public face' it is kept as far from the public eye as possible, because the public are by and large too ignorant to comprehend either and too susceptible to the influence of mass media. The only established 'protection' Sport is Sch, which is still dwarfed here by Working Trials, which are more demanding and more applicable to real life. They incorporate as much precision as is necessary for work without diminishing the overall affects. In the OB stakes, the routines can be anywhere, you can be healed off a manicured lawn, straight into a wood or a marsh even if it happens to be there and you see pure 'OB' dogs try this and the polish suddenly rubs off very quick. In the PD stakes, you have PSA style tests with multiple helpers, objects, distractions and such like on top of the usual Sch style exercises and the breeds that do well, are those with dedicated owners and individual breeders not 'x' or 'y' breed as a whole.

The breed tests for the bull and mastiff breeds in the UK began in the 1870's, well before any of the modern sports which have drawn heavily upon these original 'BSTs' in terms of tracking, Agility, OB, suit and muzzle work. These tests however, fell away for three reasons:

  1. The war devastated the UK, killing-off not just the dogs, but the people behind them too (gamekeepers, young aristocrats, etc.)
  2. Public perception of bite-work and increasing industrialisation saw diminished 'need'
  3. Animal Cruelty became a public consciousness issue and the BSTs became viewed as "barbaric" to many; e.g. there were no padded sticks, they used real Ash or Birch to test the dogs and there were no guidelines on where or where not to strike a dog, so long as the intent was not to do permanent damage.


  • In the modern age, Bull breeds in the UK are tested in purely Operational context, including those dogs that don't actually work for a living but for whom the breeders want to assess overall consistency. Do you get 100% workers in litters? Not likely at all. 80%? Possibly in the very best of the best. 60%? Quite frequently.
  • In the Operational arena, all breeds are appraised equally and compared together and this includes dogs from a sport background. It is patently false to state that Sport dogs can perform in the real world just because they can title in sport, though certain sports/programs (e.g. KNPV, NVBK) do produce very high ratios of operational-capable animals (whereas Sch provides very few directly, but does produce lines/dogs that go on to produce operational dogs). The number of weak dogs in Operational training comprises as many, if not more sport dogs as those dogs/breeds with no exposure to sport. There are many possible reasons as to why this is the case:
  • Sport has become about personal ego and points, and far less about proving dogs
  • There is more emphasis upon precision as a differentiator than there is upon hardness and combativeness
  • Sport (and to be fair much of operational PD / Military work) puts dogs to work earlier which is great, but doesn't always afford the dog the mental maturity to deal with real pressure unless it is presented in the familiar, patterned context of their sporting environment
  • Many sports almost make a friend out of the helper
  • Many sports place a huge amount of emphasis upon the use of equipment
  • Many sports allow you to title on your home field; and with your home helpers (obviously this isn't the case at high (national) levels)
  • Many sports decree so much precision obedience, that it inevitably leads to dogs learning that man is to be 'respected' - I'm not wording this one well, but I'm sure someone like Dominic Donovan can more clearly express what I'm getting at here
  • Many dogs immersed in Sport are used to different sorts of pressure which whilst no doubt heavy, is regimented and structured (out of necessity to make competition, i.e. points-scoring consistent) and is developed with extensive use of prey development topped-off with defence work. In contrast, Operational work normally requires older, more mentally advanced dogs that are trained predominantly through their defence and fight drives with prey utilisation to address specific issues in bite or to recover dogs that are overloaded and starting to show signs of avoidance
  • Some sport dogs require a great deal of direction because for example, their scenting has become so regimented that they need a competent handler to focus them, rather than say a WT-certified dog that has learnt through practical trialing and training, when it needs to ground scent and air scent, when to quarter or to pursue a scent directly etc.
  • Sporting dogs have become more usable by PD's in many countries due to liberal laws that put the onus upon protecting the well-being of the criminal, despite the fact that they have been caught in the act of committing a crime/refused to comply with instructions

The last Operational session I worked, the weakest dogs there all came from sport backgrounds and all were Shepherds. There were one or two examples of decent GSD's and with sport backgrounds, but they were the rarity. In fact, one of the better bite-work dogs there was a WT-trialed Labrador. He didn't have a punishing grip like the bull mastiff breeds, but he was enough to be effective, had sound nerves and had enough bond with his helper that his desire to protect her helped overcome defensive work that was very foreign to him. All of the better dogs at this session were also older, as the extra time afforded to mature proves to be much more valuable in operational work than it does in sports where you can start doing a lot of things very early on. The outright best operational dog was a Presa, but he was also the least suitable dog for exposure to the general public or to perform flashy OB routines. Most folks would not be willing to invest the time or effort into a dog like this, especially if it were not conducive as he was, to ensuring the handler's well-being.

Do the bull and mastiff breeds being bred and tested for operational work have weaknesses? Of course they do. Some as per the example above are just way too actively aggressive and dominant for most situations. However, far more likely is too high of a stimulus threshold. The "sport breeds" if you will have been bred to emphasise both use of "voice" and threat display and also been taught that this has a positive effect upon 'bad guys'. Operationally, many bull breeds lack in this area, but also do in the cases where they are trained in sport. Yet, some of the higher echelon sport dogs out there are also bull breeds like AB's, at least in Europe. So again, to assert they can't perform is naive.

More commonly, the criticisms leveled toward alternative breeds come from trainers who feel they are expert within their small sphere of competence, usually working with specific breeds in specific sports, who despite their being 'experts' cannot translate their methods to other breeds and are too inflexible to adapt. Another case in point is how easily such trainers can spoil the potential of bull breeds without even realising it. For example, in teaching the escort, many trainers will 'reward' loss of focus or attention on the helper with a rap on the head/body of the dog with the padded baton. With the shepherds, this regularly has the desired effect for many reasons (low stimulus threshold, re-direction of aggression and sensitivity to equipment stimuli) but for many bull breeds, it has adverse effects; the dog doesn't see it coming and interprets it as being a correction from the handler, who they are so eager to please and cannot understand what's going on. Many helpers are frankly uncomfortable working incredibly defensive, fight-driven breeds even with equipment let alone as is common with operational training, relying purely upon skill and ability to work the dog civilly.

To this end, many serious bandog breeders don't want to be good at sport, because they see it as undermining the suitability of their dogs for their functional purpose. Many are happy to make comparisons across breeds, countries and continents using professionals that can provide accurate and constructive feedback to drive improvement. The big weakness of this is that unlike sport, it doesn't have any public/mainstream exposure and so provides no credibility to the breeder. People interested in such dogs need to do their own ground work is what this means and this is quite foreign to many when they are used to just going on the Internet and downloading some trial footage or what have you. It's funny, because a number of people didn't understand Barbara's dog initially, but seeing her development are now saying, 'that's a nice dog'.


"The typical Thornywood nightdog should be no less than 80 pounds and if it be 100 lbs fit and agile, all the better. It should be dark with a clean close coat with little in the way of markings for easy concealment at night. It should fear no man, or group of men, no matter how sinister their intention. It should be able to face whip or cudgel and shot gun with equal enthusiasm and show no shyness or fear of the aforementioned. Once engaged with its tormentor it should grip like a vice and fight like a lion and never relinquish its hold of its own accord, even if it comes to serious mischief and takes its death. In my charge he should be obedient and faithful. In my home or in his kennel he should be quiet and good tempered. There is no better or hardier dog than a good nightdog."
~Burton of Thornywood Kennels

"the mastyve or bandogge is vaste, huge, stubborne, ougly and eager, of a hevy, and burthenous body, and therefore but of little swiftnesse, terrible and frightful to beholde, and more fearce and fell than any Arcadian curre."
~described by John Caius

"The time when Screech-owls cry,
and Bandogges howle,
And spirits walke, and Ghosts breake up their graces."

~Act I, Scene IV of William Shakespeare's King Henry VI

"This island of England breeds very valiant creatures;
Their mastiffs are of unmatchable courage."
~Henry V by William Shakespeare

"And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge, ...
Shall in these confines, with a
Monarch's voice,
Cry, 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war."
~Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

"Of the molossian breeds of dogs, such as are employed in the chase are much the same as those elsewhere; but the sheepdogs of this breed are superior to the others in size, and in the courage with which they face attacks of wild animals."
~Aristotle's History of Animals c. 247 BC (revised Oxford translation ed. Jonathan Barnes, 1984)

"He seems to be fully aware of the impression which his large size makes on every stranger; and, in the night especially, he watches the abode his master with the completest vigilance."
~William Youatt, on the Mastiff, in the Dog (1854)

" is better to have a very large animal, whose growls alone are somewhat terrifying, and whose size is bound to impose respect. At the same time, growling is not sufficient; the dog must be able and willing at any time to 'go in' at a nod from his master, and he must take take his death, if necessary, when called to protect him."
~'Training a Keeper's Night Dog' from Dog Breaking by Wildfowler (1915)

"As fierce as a bandog that has newly broken his chain."
~Sir George Etherege

"He was usually spoken of as the bandog of Burgundy, or the Alsation Mastiff."

"A mastiff pass'd inflam'd with ire
His eyeballs shot indigant fire."
~John Gay's IX Fable

"While master goes throughout,
See shutters fast, the mastiff's out."
~Summer Eve by Kirk White

"He hath two Barons...the Keepers of the Mastiff Dogs...there are 2,000 men who are each in charge of one or more great mastiffs..."
~Marco Polo, when visiting the court of Kubla Khan in 1298.

"Our english men (to th' intent that theyr dogges might be the more fell and fearce) assist nature with arte, use, and custome, for they teach theyr dogges to baite the beare, to baite the bull and other such like cruell and bloudy beastes (appointing an overseer of the game) without any collar to defend theyr throtes, and oftentimes they traine them up in fighting and wrestling with a man having for the safegarde of his lyfe, eyther a Pikestaffe, a clubbe, or a sworde and by using them to such exercises as these, theyr dogges become more sturdy and strong."
~A Short Treatise of Englishe Dogges by John Caius, 1565

"The first dog I could call my own was a black one, of a cross between the bull and the mastiff... His name was 'Grumbo'... I saw the back of one of the men, his figure stationary, his hands held high above his head, and Grumbo, my faithful, sagacious dog, a yard in front of him, barring his path, couched like a lion in the act to spring, his eyes, not his teeth, fixed on the fellow's throat. The menace sufficed, he stood in terror...and in this position I presently seized him by the collar."
~From Recollections-Poachers by Grantley Berkeley, (1850)

Some Bandog article on our official Andante Bandog Kennels web site are from the "Bandogmastiffs blog" (Thank you Barbara, USA- New York):