Blog #30 – The Old Plantation Dogs

There has been numerous articles, stories, fairy tales, discussions, old wives tales, claims and everything else in between the moon and the sun about the types of dogs that were used as and called Old Plantation Dogs throughout out America, especially in the southern states. These dogs worked on farms protecting their owners property, land, prized possessions and also made sure that the slaves and farm workers were all kept in check.

Over the years, I have done a lot of research on the different types of dogs that were used on farms, plantations, homesteads, ranches and estates and there was a variety of different breeds and types used all across America as plantation dogs. There was no specific breed or cross that appears to have been used more than any other. The few records that exist today covering these highly rated dogs, prove that the old plantation dogs came in a variety of sizes, coat types and had either been imported from Europe or were bred from dogs taken to America by European explorers and settlers. The term Plantation dog was like so many other breed names of the time, long before dog shows. A breed/type was named after the function it carried out or where it was from.

There are a few breeds that we have today that are always associated to be or descend from the old plantation dogs but the truth is, a lot of these stories are nothing more than marketing tools to help promote and give certain breeds some fancy history story. The reality is that a lot of the breeds we have today are all relatively modern and were created in the last 150-200 years from local and regional types. I say types because originally dogs were bred for their working ability and not for their looks. There would of course been some uniformity and similarities in types that carried out the same function as form always follows function but there was no where near the consistency that we have in todays pure KC breeds.

The Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog, American Bulldog and White English Bulldog are all breeds that their owners, fanciers and breeders alleged to be or descend from the old plantation dogs.
The reality is, that both the Alapaha and the American Bulldog are a relatively modern creation. Both breeds were created in the 20th century from crosses between the White English Bulldog and several other breeds. The White English is believed to have existed in the south for many centuries under different names like Old White English, Georgia White, Mountain Bulldog and Country Bulldog. These dogs are alleged to have been your typical working bulldog that worked on farms, rounded up the cattle and were also used to catch big game.

There is also lot of controversy and debate surrounding the history of the White English Bulldog as some people believe that it’s also another modern creation. I was once told by a well known American Bulldog breeder that she DNA profiled several American Bulldogs from different lines and the results were astonishing. In some lines there was up to 27 different breeds in the make up of the American Bulldog. This in my mind only further proves  that the original old plantation dogs were just like the breeds we have today doing the same job, created from different working breeds and crosses.

It’s hard for some dog people to accept this but what we have today are a few modern breeds that we’re created based on these old tales of these ferocious and hard working old plantation dogs passed on from one generation to the next. I mean who doesn’t love a good dog story on a dark clear night around the fire with a bit of moonshine!

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