Blog #17 – Lana’s Merle Bulldogs

The ‘Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog’ has always been a breed that has grabbed my attention. I first heard about it over 20 years ago. I was extremely interested in buying a puppy and over the years I have been extremely close to making a purchase on a few occasions. There are some very good breeders who consistently breed good dogs capable of doing a variety of tasks. So on the surface there is a lot of pros about the breed and it’s a breed with a lot of potential but as you delve deeper, there is a lot of breed politics which I think has had a huge effect on the progress of the breed. Unfortunately, It also seems to be a breed that attracts a lot of chancers, who buy a few dogs, breed a few litters, sell the puppies for as much as possible and then they get out of the breed as quickly as they got into it.

The history of the breed is also full of conspiracies and old wives tales. A lot of the issues today between breeders and registries stem from the three main breeders who all created their own version of the Alapaha.

The Alapaha was originally created by Miss Lana Lou Lane in Rebecca, Georgia, USA. The breed was named after the famous Alapaha river that runs through Georgia. The breed is relatively modern, despite Lana claiming that it’s well over 150 years old and was the original old plantation bulldog. This was nothing more than a marketing tool used by Lana to attract unsuspecting buyers who liked the look of her merle coloured Bulldogs.

There has always been crosses between the Catahoula Leopard dog and the American Bulldog/Pit Bull Terrier in the southern States of America by hunters and farmers in an attempt to create a multipurpose hunting and farm dog but there was never an Alapaha Bulldog until Lana created the breed and the name.

The Lane family were well known in Georgia for owning and breeding quality Colby Pit Bull Terriers and also a few White English Bulldogs which are the ancestors of the modern day American Bulldog. The famous dog owned by Lana’s grandfather named ‘Otto’ that she claimed to be an Alapaha, was in fact a pure White English Bulldog. Despite this, very little WEB blood went into Lana’s Alapahas, I actually think she was trying to preserve that type of old family/farm guardian bulldog that she was brought up around but the temptation of producing bulldogs with fancy colours was too much of a gold mine for her to ignore.

The breed began from an accidental breeding between a female named ‘Roseanna’ that was a cross between a Colby Pit Bull Terrier and White English Bulldog and Lana’s next door neighbours Catahoula Leopard Dog. Lana’s early Alapaha’s were mainly a combination of Pit Bull Terrier x Johnson American Bulldog x Catahoula Leopard dog with small amounts of blood from WEB’s, a Labrador dog, a Bullmastiff and an American Staffordshire Terrier. At the time it’s well known that Lana bought several American bulldogs from Mr John D Johnson aswell as buying several Catahoula Bulldogs (Catahoula Leopard Dog x Pit Bull) from S&M Kennels. These dogs were also used in her Alapaha Bulldog breeding program.

The majority of Lana’s Alapahas were known to be extremely defensive in nature but the problem with her dogs was that they were all heavily inbred, they were so heavily inbred that the dogs were getting smaller and smaller with each litter and the Pit Bull Terrier size and temperament was exhibiting itself more and more with each breeding. Once her breeding program was under way, Lana’s long term ambition was to recreate dogs like ‘Marcelle’ and ‘Van Shelton’ who had both the temperament and structure that she wanted in her new Bulldog breed. However, due to there being so many breeds in the makeup of the Alapaha, very few of the dogs she owned and bred had the desired temperament and structure and there was a large variety of types in the majority of litters that she was producing.

In an attempt to bring some consistency to her dogs, Lana employed MRN as her kennel hand and dog trainer, he was to assist her in picking breedings, evaluating dogs, training and help her ship her Alapaha’s all over America as there was a growing interest in the breed. MRN was known as a good dog trainer and bred and owned American Bulldogs, he lived in Atlanta where he worked at the Airport with R.C who would later also enter the Alapaha world. MRN and R.C were close friends and it was MRN who introduced R.C to Lana and to the Alapaha breed. R.C was also to assist Lana in shipping her Alapaha’s to buyers all over America as he had contacts in many of America’s airports. As Lana’s health deteriorated , MRN was given more and more control of breeding’s and sales, he began to breed Lana’s dogs with his own dogs and also began sending pups to R.C in the west coast of America as MRN and R.C had begun planning on breeding the Alapaha together and cutting all ties with Lana. However, In order to do this they required some foundation stock directly from Lana.

When Lana found out about what was going on she immediately dismissed MRN, whilst this was happening R.C and MRN fell out and decided to go their separate ways. MRN went on to create his own version of the Alapaha under a new breed name, his version was created from Lana’s stock crossed to his American Bulldogs with some Catahoula Bulldog blood. With time, his dogs became heavily inbred and an outcross was required, by a stroke of luck a friend of his was driving through Georgia, when he stopped at a petrol station and saw a truck pull up with a big WEB on the back. The friend immediately questioned the owner of the truck about the WEB and obtained his contact details to pass onto MRN, the WEB’s owners family had been breeding the same line of WEB’s for over 60 years in central Georgia. MRN took this opportunity and bred some of his Alapaha bitches to some of the WEB males owned by this family. This was how MRN managed to get WEB blood and use it in his line of Bulldogs.

R.C also went on to create his own version of the Alapaha from stock that he obtained from MRN and from other’s who had dogs down from Lana. He added Hermes Bulldog, American Bulldog, Leavitt Bulldog, Boxer, Bandog and other blood to create his own Alapaha. R.C’s intention was to always create a bullier type dog that was more marketable and appealing to the general public, as there was a growing interest in larger more bully dogs. I have also been told that he used to breed his bitches to many other stud dogs that he liked the look of no matter what breed they were as long as they had the bully look. I am sure that many other breeds were used but no one will ever really know for certain… The different bull breeds added by R.C only further created more inconsistencies in a breed that was nowhere near consistent and breeding true to type.

Once R.C had created his new Alapaha breed, he needed to register it in order for it to be recognised and marketed accordingly. As he could not register the breed with the original Alapaha registry that Lana used, the ARF so he created his own registry and claimed this to be the breeds first and oldest registry. With his new registry in place, he could issue his own pedigrees and register the dogs that he wanted as Alapahas and therefore use them in his breeding program, this new bully Alapaha went onto to become the more popular and more widely seen out of the three types.

This small article is not in any way an attempt to defame any of the breeders involved in the breed or the dogs. I am merely trying to share some of the info that I have found out over the years from several sources. This information has been given to me by individuals that were there and knew all 3 of the main breeders. They visited their yards, owned Alapaha’s bred by them, witnessed breedings taking place, saw many puppies and let the 3 main breeders use their dogs at stud. There is a lot more to the Alapaha and I mean a lot more, but I don’t think anyone will ever know the whole truth.

I think breeders need to stop arguing among each other and work together and use the best of the three different lines that we have today. Their aim should be to follow through with Lana’s vision and produce what Lana set out to do when she began in the 1970’s and produce the old plantation bulldog.

3 thoughts on “Blog #17 – Lana’s Merle Bulldogs”

  1. love your critique of the foundation of this breed, once again it is apparent created primarily for money and to appeal to the public need for unusual and fancy , like the american bully now.

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