First & foremost, I would like to thank the late John Swinford VMD, for requesting my involvement in the Bandogge Project. In truth, we were about to reinvent an old broken wheel. Canine cross breeding is not an easy endeavor.
For centuries artists have painted, drawn and sculpted Mastiff type dogs. “Some of the older renderings suggest only a minor similarity, to the Swinford Dog”. If one studies the old Bull Dog & Mastiff illustrations, it is apparent, little or no suggestion of Terrier blood is visible.
Our strategy was to garner the very best Pit Bull Terrier blood. This blood would be the glue that would vulcanize the Mastiff to the Pit Bull Terrier. In spite of the hurdles, we truly enjoyed the Journey! It is safe to say we were the first kennel in American history to create the Mastiff – Working American Pit Bull Terrier Cross! Perhaps in the world! The other breeders are merely pretenders to the John Swinford Throne! It is also safe to mention John rejuvenated and utilized the term Bandogge.
John began his project in the late nineteen sixties .I met John via one of his clients named Barbara Ieda. Barbara bred English Mastiffs as well as White & Colored English Bull Terriers. John & I talked about the creation of a large, lean, athletic dog, a superior canine! Having clarity, drive & suspicion! We set out to capitalize on the “Hybrid Vigor factor.” John agreed with my ideas! Over time, John suggested I write the breed standard.
As we entered the Nineteen Seventies Era, the world was rapidly becoming a smaller place.Oddly, the task of garnering breeding stock became more complex. I believe in part, this was caused by an increased demand for rare, exotic, dangerous dogs! One thing for certain, the well – bred American Pit Bull Terrier was the best possible choice for our (cross) breeding project! Quality specimens were ubiquitous!
In retrospect, when the APBT is bred to the rather untidy English Mastiff or the less common and equally sloppy Italian Mastiff, the outcome proved to be a creature of athleticism & beauty. Mature males reached approximately 125 plus pounds, lean! The bitches were 85 to 105 pounds lean. Subsequent generations were sometimes 5% to 10% smaller. However, exogamy & all its hybrid vigor benefits were clearly noted.
The famed breeder, “Senior Luigi Forino,” was in part instrumental in the creation of the Swinford cross. Luigi was perhaps one of the most prominent Italian Mastiff breeders in the world. As a gift Luigi gave us a beautiful cross bred dog. The dog was comprised of a Great Dane male to a Neopolitan Mastiff bitch. This gift was the conclusion of a marathon event. For well over a year, John & I tried to purchase her.However, Luigi always declined our overtures! One night after several glasses of homemade red wine, the bitch was given to us. Luigi refused payment. Luigi Forino, was a hard nut to crack. However, once he believed in someone, he was extremely kind hearted. The Forino bitch was one of the best made brood bitches in the Swinford project! She wasted no time Proving her worth as a brood bitch, as well as an athlete.
Several years later Luigi died. Members of his family stopped by our store to tell me of his passing. Later they joined me at my home. We looked at photo albums, filled with dog pictures & pleasant memories. We Toasted to John Swinford & Luigi Forino. I never heard from the Forino family again. I believe they sold their house on Logan Street, in Brooklyn. Perhaps, they moved to the country. Another possibility is they may have returned to Europe.
If I were to go back to cross breeding dogs, the Tosa would be my secondary foundation breed, with the American Pit Bull Terrier as my primary breed. The end result would be a very large pit bull with less slop than the crossbred dogs currently being bred. My priorities would be clarity, muscularity and rapid recovery time! I would test all dogs in extreme weather conditions. In addition, to a variety of stress related events. These activities would prove relevant in making breeding decisions.
I have co-owned two Tosas from Taiwan. Both dogs lived long lives. They originated from a kennel in Deer Trail Colorado. Sadly, this facility no longer breeds or imports dogs. As a result, John and I were always ln search of new Tosa blood.
The late U.S. Army Captain Don Albin, had a Korean Tosa named Remington. Remington was a great specimen as well as a bold guardian. Captain Albin decided to breed Remington to a bitch I co/owned. The pups were fat & full of drive. On balance, it is my belief the Tosa may have more vigor than the majority of the Mastiff breeds, or so it seems. I was told Remington lived well into his teens. His picture hangs on a wall in our office. Remington is sitting in front of my fireplace, next to a Bronze Valton Statue, referred to as the Tethered Mastiff !
Captain Albin, was a highly decorated Viet Nam War hero .He was respected & liked by everyone! Mattie Albin, Don’s bride serves in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Recently, Mattie gave us additional photos of Remington. Among these photos was a picture of Chimchi, a Remington pup. Chimchi, was approximately 6 weeks of age when her picture was taken.
Sam, another Japanese Tosa, co-owned by myself & the deceased Charles M. Goodman, was shipped to us from Deer Trail Colorado. Sam was a very serious dog, with exemplary obedience & bite work. Charles was an extremely good trainer. However, Sam was a very suspicious dog and as a result required constant owner supervision! Sam died @ approximately 14 years of age. We have several of his photos in our waiting room.
My perception of the perfect cross bred dog is as follows: The dog must be willing to endure noisy, rough housing (play) from children or adult family members.” I will not feed, nor will I keep a dog that dislikes children or pups.” In addition, the ideal cross bred dog must be able to endure harsh environments & eager to face new challenges! “The old timers say a proper dog must fear nothing made of flesh.” My perception varies a bit. “A properly bred dog should allow his owner to suture a wound or brace an injured leg.” The wounded dog should demonstrate nothing more than soft eyes and a wagging tail”. Try that on your average AKC dog!
We live in an era where courage is no longer held in the highest esteem. In fact, some regard an act of bravery as a foolish endeavor. However, if you look hard enough you will find lads & ladies still living by “The Olden Laws of the Lamp.” “Where drive & courage, are held in high esteem.” Currently, the Asian Tosa is the only dog I would consider using in a cross breeding program.” This is based on the breeds I have owned and co/owned.
A Tosa bitch crossed to a working American Pit Bull Terrier, in my view is the ideal (Mastiff cross) working dog! Most of us are aware of the dishonesty and false pedigree issues that Asia is known for. However, in a perfect world the Tosa would be my first choice as a foundation dog!
A proper Tosa has an intense suspicion, along with clarity, drive & longevity!” Perhaps, the South African Boer Boel is a better made dog than the Tosa. However, it has been my experience that the Boer Boel lacks longevity. “This, in my view puts the Boer Boel in second place.” This is predicated on one trip to South Africa & one trip to Zimbabwe. A Tosa crossed to a well- bred American Pit Bull Terrier provides more than enough drive and athleticism to please the serious dog person.
As duly noted, I could care less about dogs that breed true.” If you want sickly, cowardly dogs go to the AKC breeds. “AKC dogs keep Veterinary practices overly productive & profitable.” Sadly, a depressingly small segment of the AKC breeders are serious working dog people! The majority are lofty, arrogant, bleeding hearts. “One of the nice qualities working dog people have is they seem to know what is significant.” They do not focus on minutia or minuscule issues!
You know what? Here is where I switch hit! Forget the Bandogge concept! Get a well-bred American Pit Bull Terrier, preferably out of an old & proven ancestry. A pedigree filled with hard driven, athletic dogs! “Working Pit Bulls live longer, love longer, work harder & pound for pound have proven their superiority over any breed of Canine on this planet.”
It took approximately 350 years to create the modern APBT. Where would the Swinford crosses be without the American Pit Bull Terrier’s vigor & genetic type? Where would the Plott Hound be, the Corso, the American Bulldog, the original Boxer, the Patterdale & Jack Russel Terrier. In truth, the American Pit Bull Terrier is the Ultimate Foundation breed.
“Historically, the American Pit Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier have provided rock solid genetics for the industrious cross breeder.” Far & away, the American Pit Bull Terrier is the ultimate breed! The king of all Canids !” The APBT & Staffordshire Bull Terrier are also known as the Nanny’s Dogs!” How ironic!