The following is a question and answer interview with David Farnetti. The purpose of this interview is to dispel some myths and rumors and inform people about Dave, his dogs, and dogs of that era.
For some of you people who are not familiar with David Farnetti, here is a brief history. Dave is from upstate New York. He bred English Bulldogs in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and bred American Bulldogs from the mid 80’s until the mid 90’s. Dave was the owner of “Dozer” and “Ruby.” His breedings between the two produced many of the modern day great American Bulldogs breeders foundation dogs such as Dick the Bruiser II (Tiny), Elrod, MGK’s Bam Bam, MGK’s She’s a “Doozy,” Whitey and Dick the Cruiser.
Tim: Is there anything you would like to add?
Dave: Yes, a lot of dogs I bred are foundation stock for some of the more established breeders, but you forgot to mention your dog Jake and some of his offspring that were produced when he was bred to Whitey. One of which such dogs I sold to a man in Utah and turned into the biggest dog I ever produced.
Tim: What was the reason you discontinued your English Bulldog breeding program?
Dave: I quit affiliating myself with the English Bulldog because of their multitude of health problems. It was costing me a fortune to keep them alive. If you look at “The Complete English Bulldog” by Col. Bailey Haines, you will see old lithographs of what English Bulldogs used to be like and that was the type of dog I wanted as opposed to the modern day Bulldog. English Bulldogs of today are crosses between Old Bulldogs and Pugs. In the mid 1800’s they got tired of messing with the cantankerous real Bulldog and wanted to downsize and exaggerate the features and make it a much friendlier dog. So they started crossing with the Pugs and they stumped it up and made it a much more manageable animal.
Tim: How did you find out about the American Bulldog?
Dave: I found an ad in “Dog World” magazine. Johns D. Johnson, Joe Painter and Steve LeClerc were the three breeders I talked to first. However, Mr. Johnson had the best reasons for why he had the dogs.
Tim: Who was your first American Bulldog?
Dave: It took a few years, but Dozer was my first. I purchased him from John D. Johnson, Dozer’s father was “Machine Buckaroo” and his mother was “Sugar Doll” # 20″.
Tim: What was your impression of Johnson’s yard?
Dave: I thought Dozer’s dad was an ugly dog, I really did, he was long in the snout, tall and lanky. Dozer was a carbon copy of his mother, I have pictures of both his parents. I think the closest comparison to Machine Buckaroo would be Elrod. The second dog I owned was Ruby. I picked her up from James Elerby in Philadelphia. I picked Ruby out of two puppies that survived out of the Bruiser Bo # 6 (Bo Bo) and Sugar Doll # 6. Bo Bo was definitely the biggest Bulldog I have ever seen, with a head like a Bison. Sugar Doll, a gorgeous female that I would have loved to own, was a very scrappy dog. She had a fight with one of her kennel mates ” Champagne” two or three days before I saw her, she was all bit up. It was not a staged fight, it was because they got through the fence at one another, that’s just typical Bulldog behavior.
Tim: How many times were Dozer and Ruby bred to one another?
Dave: Three times.
Tim: Were either of your dogs bred to different dogs? If so, to whom?
Dave: Dozer was bred to a dog from New York City – I can’t remember the dog’s name offhand. He was also bred to James Ellerbe’s female Dutches, Ruby’s blood sister, A lot of people think that Ruby and Dutches are out if the same litter, but they were NOT. Ruby was the only in her litter. Dozer was also bred to Dick O’Boyle’s female Maggie and to Mike McDonalds dog Dot.
Ruby was also bred to Dozer like I said before, Ruby was also bred to Muscles. Actually Muscles II, a son of Ellerbe’s Muscles and a dog named Champagne. Muscles was out of Bruiser Bo # 6 and Georgia Firecracker. Champagne was a dog that James had bought at a dog fight, she was a black dog no one knew the true breeding of her, one rumor was that she was half Pit Bull, half Labrador Retriever. I saw her and I would say she looked to be half Pit Bull and half Neapolitan Mastiff. Champagne was a very nasty, aggressive dog.
Tim: How big was Dozer?
Dave: Dozer with ribs showing was 125 lbs., when he was a year old. So when he was 3 in his peak he was probably 130 lbs. It was hard to get ribs showing on Dozer, especially since I had him outside all the time. I live in a very cold climate, so my dogs, well they would pork up in the winter.
Tim: A lot of people think Dozer was the consummate American Bulldog. What do you think of that statement?
Dave: ABSOLUTELY NOT! Dozer was probably one of the strongest, toughest dogs in the world. He also had to rank in the top 5 meanest and most dangerous. He was an incredibly dangerous dog, his disposition was not one I recommended or wanted to strive to produce. But he was predictable-predictably mean, and that’s overkill, without a doubt he was overkill.
Tim: You have been opened and honest that Dozer had surgery. How many surgeries did he have and do you think it was because of genetic flaws?
Dave: The surgeries were on his knees and knees alone. He never had hip surgery, his hips were fine. Dozer grew at a ridiculously fast rate, thanks to me feeding him Eukanuba.” As a matter of fact Dozer was part of a study at Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine telling that large bone dogs should not be fed high protein as puppies.
Tim: What would you recommend people feed their dogs?
Dave: Just plain dog food, you don’t need to feed puppy food. The fat content is not an issue so a high fat diet is good, but I recommend keeping the protein content under 30%.
Tim: Due to your English Bulldog background what can you tell us about Westchamp’s High Hopes, and do you feel he was instrumental in the modern day American Bulldog?
Dave: I have sent you pedigrees, you know, that Westchamp’s High Hopes was out of two champion A.K.C. English Bulldogs (Snows Big Fairy Prince & Bulldog’s Ego Trip of Daydel). He was insturmental in Dave Leavitt’s Olde Bulldogge breeding program. John D. Johnson got a couple of females from him (Bullmead’s Queen and Sugar Doll # 3). Westchamp’s High Hopes is in Dozer’s pedigree 4 times and in Ruby’s twice.
Tim: Youbalready said Bruiser Bo # 6 was the biggest dog you ever saw, who were the biggest dogs you produced?
Dave: Elrod was probably the biggest male I produced. He was 110 lbs. at 10 months old when I gave him to Mr. Johnson. He was much bigger than his brother Tiny (Dick the Bruiser II), who was only about 95-100 lbs. filled out. Elrod could have touched 140 lbs. because he was tall. However, he didn’t have the shape of Bo Bo, who was built like a Buffalo.
I believe the biggest female I ever produced would be Labet. Labet is a daughter of Jake (GWK’s Big Jake Farnetti) and Whitey (Crimson’s Miss White). Labet is a true 116 lbs. She is an absolutley gorgeous female, she is built like a male.
Tim: In your opinion who were the best Bulldogs you produced and why? (male and female)
Dave: I would have to say the best female I produced is the one in my yard Brindy. Brindy is another dog from Jake and Whitey litters, her personality, size. athleticism and control makes her the best female I ever produced.
Males, that’s a tough call, but I have to say it would be Tiny (Dick the Bruiser II). I wish I never got rid of that dog. I thought he was the perfect specimen of a Bulldog. He had perfect structure, beautiful head, athletic, stocky, strong and quick. He was a great dog.
Tim: Out of all the Bulldogs you have seen in your lifetime, who was your personal favorite and for what reason?
Dave: Well, it’s very difficult to give you the scope, but I would think, Dozer without a doubt was my favorite. He was my first and he was the best guard dog I have ever seen. But he was a dog that was only good if you were up in the mountains and you wanted a dog that would absolutley die for you. He was great in that way, he was also excellent with my children. With other children he was terrible. So that kicks him out of the leauge of being a great guard dog.
Jake I’d say is pound for pound as good a Bulldog as I have ever seen. And he is the fastest male I have ever seen. He’s the hardest dog I have ever seen. He’s got great character as you know – a heck of a personality. The only flea Jake could possibly have is he is a little cross-eyed, so he dosen’t have the depth perception where you want it, but if that’s all you can get wrong with a dog that’s fine. I think he is an excellen example of a Bulldog.
I think for females, oh God, it’s so hard to call. Ruby was probably my family favorite. She had all the courage that any dog could possibaly have. She would die for you in a heart beat. She was just excellent around people. She was just a great, great dog. However, I think Whitey was as good a female as there was in the breed. She was tough as nails yet she’s lazy, and I like that. She’s athletic but she’s not hyper, she’s very trackable and very easy going until it’s time not to be, then she reminded me of Dozer in that way.
Again, I think the culmination of my breeding was when I bred Jake to Whitey and got Brindy. Brindy for me is what I want. She’s bigger, faster, stronger than my other females and she is a sweetheart… and when I say sweetheart that’s exactly what I want because all my dogs will take it on and take it on in a hurry. So I don’t have to worry about courage in my dogs.
Tim: How do you feel the dogs of today compare with the dogs of 10, 15 years ago and beyond that?
Dave: Well, I think there has been way to much breeding of these dogs. I think there has been an over abundance of certain dogs and certain lines and I think there has been too much influx of breeding. I remember in the 80’s you would see two or three ads in Dog World Magazine in a year or so, but you know, they flooded the pages with these Bulldogs and a lot of them are cross bred, but not all of them. The quality of the breed is fading because it has been handled in a non-professional and in a money making manner. People want to make money as opposed to bettering the breed. The only way you can better the breed is to come up with an idea of what you want the breed to be. People want dogs to look like Dozer, but should never really want a dog to act like Dozer.
Tim: What if anything, are breeders of today doing wrong and what could be done to rectify the situation?
Dave: I think there has to be more selective breeding and probably a slow down in the breeding process. Really get the Bulldog people together and define what they want. You have people that only want the dogs to look a certain way. When actually looks and temperament should be weighed equally. We all know there have been crosses of Pitbulls in these dogs, along with crosses of the Bull Mastiffs and Lord knows what else. You want a dog to look a certain way and more importantly to me act a certain way. We have to get rid of the riff-raff and junkyard trash mentality. They just have to go. They are going to take this breed to a level that nobody wants it to go to.
Tim: If you were still breeding dogs today, what would you be looking to do and what would you look for in the dogs that you were producing?
Dave: I would want a dog to look like a Bulldog. You would want a dog with an undershot jaw, good size wide head, solid body and I would really pay attention to athleticism and health. Finally and not lastly is temperament. I would look to breed dogs like Tiny and Jake, they would be great breeding dogs with respect to the temperament they have. You want dogs that are trackable. That will make the breed a pleasant breed for people of the future. We have got to get ourselves out of Medieval times – you don’t need a Dozer like dog. You just don’t.
Tim: When picking a puppy, what should people be looking for?
Dave: What I look for in a puppy is athleticism, when they are 5 or 6 weeks old you better make sure your puppy can get up on its back legs and jump around. If it can’t you better believe something is wrong with it genetically. That’s number 1. Number 2 is that you do not want a puppy that does not want to play. I’ve bred them, I’ve seen them, I’ve sold them, and I’ve given them away. A puppy that does not want to involve itself with its littermates or people is a massive accident waiting to happen.
Tim: Do you have any advice to give any potential Bulldog breeder / owner as far as how to raise your Bulldog to become a attribute to its family, and community? What type of training do you think these dogs require?
Dave: I am vehemently against protection training, I think it’s a huge mistake! I did it with Dozer and you don’t need to do it, if you have good Bulldog stock. Since the 12th century Bulldogs have been bred to protect and no training is going to make them any better (either they have what it takes or they do not). If anything it will just increase their ability to kill and these dogs just don’t need to do that. My advise is to always treat these dogs like a big puppy.
Tim: Dave thank you very much for the interview and I’m sure a lot of us will benefit from your knowledge.
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