I arrived at Mr. Johnson’s farm at noon May 11, 1997 it was a very hot sunny Georgia day. I got out of the car
and all of his dogs are racing back and forth in their yards and barking at me. Mr. Johnson comes out to greet me and we walk throughout his yard looking at all his dogs. When we finish looking at all of his dogs I set up inside and got started.
First of all I would like to thank you for agreeing to do this interview. In doing research on the American Bulldogs I have spoken to many people about these dogs and I have to say that you have been the most gracious and the most helpful. I want to thank you sir for spending all the time on the phone and in person sharing your knowledge and experience with me. Let me state also for the record that to date I have not purchased an American Bulldog from you, nor do I own a pure Johnson dog. I consider you a good friend, but I think you will attest to the fact that when it comes to these dogs I take my research very seriously after all I’m from Missouri the Show-Me state. I need proof and I try to go on proven facts. I would also like to state for the record, that I like good dogs from every line, if they are good I can appreciate their soundness and athleticism. I just prefer sound, athletic American Bulldogs with Johnson type, in that way I am slightly bias. Having said that lets get started.
VAA: Mr. Johnson most American Bulldog enthusiasts have read your last interview with Dr. David Jackson, so they know your father had American Bulldogs, and that because of your father you obtain your first American Bulldog at an early age. What I would like to know is what was the American Bulldog used for in your father’s day? What reason would a farmer or rancher have for keeping one of these dogs?
JDJ: Well, in the olden times there wasn’t real good fences, when any of your livestock would get out you
needed a dog that was powerful enough and had the grit to catch. I know dad would always tell me a story of when he was a boy, that his mother was out there in their field, she was going to get some sweet potatoes, she was out there digging them and didn’t see that their big Jersey bull had gotten out and was heading straight for her. Their bulldog saw it and my dad saw it and headed in the house to fetch his gun, when he came out with his gun he saw his dog had met the bull before it got to his mother, and was fighting him good and finally whipped that bull away from her. Throwing a big bull that was one thing they were needed for, they also needed them for protection of the family and home. They also caught wild hogs with them there where a lot of wild hogs back then, that’s were they got lots of their meat was from wild hogs. I also remember a story he told me about a female bulldog they had once and she had puppies there one time, she would always go to the fields where they worked. Well one day they were working and she picked up and started for home, they just thought she was going home to check on her puppies, but there was a boy in the house stealing meal, corn meal, of course nobody had much to steal back then. Well when they came home they found corn meal and blood all over the kitchen, she had ate that boy up real bad. He made it home and his daddy came down and told my granddaddy about it, he explained to him what happened. Granddaddy said when the boy gets healed send him back. He said “No sir, he won’t be back here at all. None of us will. It took that boy two weeks before he could get out of bed. That was what the bulldog was used for, such as that, to protect you, your property and to catch with. Some people even used them for hunting and treeing
or even retrieve like a Labrador. They were useful in killing wild predators or wild dogs that may be after any
animal that you owned. That’s where they got the term gangbuster. They were a general all-purpose dog. Whatever you needed, they were willing to do it. My father also told me that a lot of men pit fought them in his day, although he never did anything like that with his dogs.
VAA: Did the American Bulldog of your youth vary a lot throughout the South in size and type?
JDJ: Not as bad as they do today. There was big ones, medium sized ones and what I call small 80 lb. and
under. They were of different sizes but they all looked alike, they were not like they are now where some have heavy bone, broad-chests, square heads like a bulldog and some have long muzzles, narrow headed and fine boned. The bulldog looked like a bulldog and anytime you saw one you knew what it was, a lot of times now with some of these dogs they look like some other breed. But back then, there was a variation in size. There were some real big ones, and some medium sized and then some smaller.
VAA: Growing up what did the American Bulldog took like in size, color, muzzle and bite?
JDJ: Well their was an awful lot of white, but their was some with a little color. Most of them had square heads and some had round. They all had a medium muzzle from 3″ at most down. I always preferred about 2 1/2″ muzzle. There were some big dogs then that went 130 lb. to 150 lb. and they were just straight bulldogs. For some reason they didn’t always come the same size like some breeds. It depended a lot on what part of the South and how different towns and areas bred them some bred only smaller ones and some bred only big. If you would get one that was smaller and got one that was big and breed them together you would get some of each, just like you do today. After W.W. II if I would have been a rich man, I would have traveled far and wide and paid any price for bulldogs that would only have been large that resembled the big bulldog of my childhood. Instead I wasn’t rich I was just a working man so I could only buy a few of the best from what I could find and afford, big, medium or small it was hard to find good bulldogs they were almost extinct. I was trying to preserve this breed as best I could, so I use only good Bulldogs that looked and reproduced good Bulldogs in all sizes.
VAA: Which of your dogs in recent times most resembles the American Bulldog of your youth?
JDJ: Well, there were some like the Machine line then but there were more like, Elrod, Johnson’s Bo Donald
(AKA Big Buck) and my dog JDJ Big Buck, King Kong, Incredible Hercules Hulk and the Collette’s. They were tall up on legs they had length, they had a square bulldog head, but back then they had to do things they don’t have to do today. They had to be big strong and active enough. The dogs had to run from 25 to 30 mph to catch those wild dogs or catch bulls. So they had to be big to do what they were doing and more or less if you found some that were smaller they would be in town, people wanted them more as just pets. But the old working bulldog was big.
VAA: Who was your first registered stud dog?
JDJ: Well, the first one I registered was with the NBC-Dick the Bruiser (Also known as Tiny)
VAA: Were most American Bulldogs of your youth white?
JDJ: There were more white than there were colored dogs. I think people liked them to be white for some
reason. They always had some with color with a patch or two on the body or on the head. Things changed and people started liking more color.
VAA: Did your dogs start showing more color after you bred to Ma the Masher or West Champs High Hopes?
JDJ: Yes. I began getting more color after I bred to Ma the Masher. But I was glad, because I was hunting
more color since I would get so many people asking for more color even a little bit more. Now fifty years ago, I hardly ever got anything except solid white, maybe with just color on the eyes or something or another. I increased more color in my dogs way back then by breeding bulldogs with more color to bulldogs with more color. Color does not mean anything in these dogs it is just some people like more color and some like white. When I pick a puppy to keep for myself color has nothing to do with my decision at all. If I have a preference it would be a white dog with good pigment.
VAA: What do you think of an American Bulldog with less that 20% white?
JDJ: Well, it is very rare to get that much color and not typical for an American Bulldog. An American Bulldog is supposed to have a good deal of white. If you get a really good colored American Bulldog in every way, then you should breed it to a dog with less color. You can work it forward and backward, just like your size or just like you do your head, if your dogs get to small you breed to your bigger ones, if you get to much color breed them to white ones. But I’ve never seen that much color on a pure American Bulldog. If they have a lot of color they usually have mainly white on the head some white on the neck and chest, white on all four legs and belly and white on end of their tail.
VAA: Most people will agree that the fore-bearer of the American Bulldog was brought to this country over 200 years ago most with early settlers from England. It seems impossible to me that no other breed was mixed in to any degree like possibly the Boxer, Bullimastiff, Pit Bull Terrier, 20th century AKC Bulldog or Great Dane. It is old news that you bred to a throw back AKC Bulldog. “West Champs High Hopes” in the early seventies. Do you think it could have been possible that breeders that came along years before yourself could have made one or more of these crosses?
JDJ: It’s possible, what happened before my time and before my dad’s time, I know nothing about. I can just say that in my time the bulldogs of the South were big and very much like my dogs of today. But what they did over 200 years ago, they could have been other things put in that I know nothing about. I do know that all of the Mastiff breeds of dogs and they called. the English Bulldog, and American Bulldog a Mastiff type dog. They all really came from the Alaunt, from the Middle East. They were war dogs and were the forerunners of the Bulldog type or Mastiff type breeds such as the Boxer, Bullmastiff, Great Dane, Bulldog, English Mastiffs, Pit Bull and Terrier type St. Bernard, Newfoundland, Douge De Bordeaux, Neapolitan Mastiff, Spanish Mastiff etc.
VAA: West Champs High Hopes what page was he on in the book “The World of Fighting Dogs?”
JDJ: West Champs High Hopes …. I don’t think he is in that book, but I believe Dave Leavitt is in there with a son of his, I think, out King’s Lady Grace on page 261. He is a big broad-chested white dog.
VAA: He looks maybe about 90 lb. or so?
JDJ: I’m not sure but I would think he would be at least that because his sister that I keep weighed about that much.
VAA: I have spoken to David Leavitt myself and confirmed everything you told me about how he used two of your females to breed to West champs High Hopes. Which two females were they?
JDJ: One was King’s Lady Grace the other was the original Sugar Doll, they called her Georgia Girl up there, they are both in the book “The World of Fighting Dogs” Sugar Doll is on page 5 1, her ears are cropped and her tail was docked and she looks like a male. King’s Lady Grace is in the book several times but she looked best on page 3 8 and 27 1, she was one of my greatest females we named her Grace after my mother.
VAA: So Bullmeads Queen and Sugar Doll 3 where the two pups out of West Champs High Hopes that I have found in old pedigrees were there any others you used?
JDJ: No, just those two.
VAA: Did you get any smash-faced, short-legged, screw-tailed, Cobbly pups out of your last or 2nd generation breeding from those two bitches?
JDJ: My daughter took one from my first breeding, that puppy got hurt as a small puppy, and she had a screw tail and she never had any puppies from her. That was the only one in the litter, but other than her tail and being hurt she looked like an American Bulldog except her nose was a little shorter than the rest about 1 1/2″ muzzle.
VAA: What convinced you to use those two 1/2 AKC Bulldog, 1/2 America Bulldog females?
JDJ: If you could have seen them you would have to. I don’t know anyone that had American Bulldogs that would not of love those two and used them in there breeding program. They were great! They were something else!
VAA: Why do you think that some people with this breed believe this one throw back AKC Bulldog cross was such a big deal. When it is a fact that Alan Scott and many others throughout the South bred American Bulldogs to Catahulas and Old Southern Curs or that many recent breeders have crossed Neapolitan Mastiff, Dogue De Bordeaux, American Pit Bull Terrier, Presa Canario and Dogo Argentina. At least you were honest and registered your dogs truthfully, plus it is now 6 to 10 generations back on most pedigrees? What changes or influences do you think that West Champ’s High Hopes has had on your line? And what influences do you think these other crosses will have on the breed?
JDJ: I have had people spread all kinds of bad things about me and my dogs that are totally untrue, and I guess this one cross is something true that they think they can make it sound bad. This has been happening for years, the more popular my dogs get the worse it has gotten. If I let it upset me I would have stopped a long time ago. I know that my dogs are true to what they were when I was a kid and my father told me they were the same as the dogs he had so I know I am being true to myself. I didn’t just start in this breed 20 years ago. I have been around these dogs my whole life and it’s really funny the people that spread those lies didn’t even know what an American Bulldog was 20 years ago. I can honestly say I am the only organized breeder of this dog that has been breeding non-stop since World War II. If anyone knows of someone that has bred these dogs longer let me know. I gave this dog its name and got it registered. My wife and I have worked very hard to get the American Bulldog to come back I helped and encouraged many people to breed and promote this breed some did good for awhile but gave up some did bad and gave up. But I have photos Vito you have seen them dating back to the 40’s and 50’s and those dogs look the same as they do today. Maybe some people don’t like the American Bulldog and think it should resemble those other breeds more. I just wish they would go to a different breed instead of trying to create another breed from the American Bulldog. As far as these crosses you mentioned I hope they have the same influence that my cross did because it threw some great bulldogs. That cross is what started my Machine line and my Sugar Doll
line. Those dogs were great American Bulldog they could do whatever you wanted done. They were bulldogs they were up on legs, big heads, wide chests, and muscled. I could have kept it a big secret but I registered him AKC English Bulldog. I’m proud of that decision and never have regretted it. It expanded my gene pool and gave me two new lines. And I used a bulldog to do it!
VAA: I know you have read the recent open letter to the Fancy in the American Bulldog Review by Tim Phaneuf, I have a feeling that’s why you aloud me to do this interview. What do you have to say about Tim’s letter?
JDJ: As far as I was concerned, Tim was a friend of mine. If he comes down here I’ll still be nice to him. I
never badmouthed him to anyone. I understand that he is just a different type of person than I am akin to. It’s okay that he has his own opinion and all, but most of his so called research came out of that last interview I did with David Jackson, because it was listed in there about West Champs High Hopes, there was nothing hidden. Tim brags on the Red Machine, who was a good dog, not my best but he lived a long time and was a good dog. The Red Machine came out of that line. The Machine line started with the cross to West Champs. So why would you kick one part of it and brag on the Red Machine? I can’t see it making any sense to me!
VAA: One of the issues he brought up about the Red Machine being dead in 1989, I knew immediately that he was mistaken. A friend of mine, Jeff Dailey has been telling me the story of when he bought his dog Johnson’s Rosalee from you. He has told me repeatedly that he bought Rosalee in late May 1990. To make a long story short, he said you had two female puppies to choose from, one from the original Red Machine and the other (Rosalee) was from the Mean Machine. He said that he looked at the Red Machine and although he was bigger than the Mean Machine he was not as good of a dog, so that’s why he choose Rosalee who is out of Mean Machine. So when did the Red Machine die?
JDJ: I think he died in the late part of 1991 or it could have been early 1992 in that neighborhood. I don’t really record when my dogs die; it is just kind of in my head. It’s usually not a good time for me so I don’t record the exact day. I can tell you where they are all buried just by memory, because that’s the last time I say goodbye to my old buddies. But as far as recording when one dies, I just don’t do that, I do know that around late 1991 or early 1992 was when the Red Machine died.
VAA: I think the whole business about the Red Machine being dead was to say that it was impossible that he sired the Rebel Rouiser line. Could you clear up the circumstance behind the Johnson’s Rebel Rouiser?
JDJ: Rebel Rouiser came out of a litter of ten, December 2, 1989 I believe Tim said it was 11. I did only register one. Tim I didn’t know I was supposed to register dead puppies, I never had before and I never have since, but I’m going to have to start if you say so. Suzie-Q was old and she only had that one male to raise, the rest died. Louis G. Denis from Jackson Heights NY got him and carried him up there and made a man killer out of him. At 18 months he went out the window of his car to attack someone at an intersection. Louis made him mean, where no man could be around him. Finally, Louis’s wife Gloria had an incident on the elevator with a man that Rebel ended up attacking and they had to get rid of him quick. Gloria called me crying and saying that the law was coming to take Rebel and asked if I could take him back, I said okay. Over all these many years, I have had this happen many times, I’ve always been able to handle them. That’s how I got Elrod from Dave Farmetti, only Elrod was still young and I got Elrod to love me. Gloria told me “John D. you be careful he will kill you.” ” I said no problem, I’ll put him behind a chain link fence and she said he will destroy the fence and get out. I said well I will have to put electricity around that fence. When I picked him up at the airport with Andrew Robertson, we loaded him on a wagon and at home we put him in a big pen, unlocked his crate and got out of there quick. Collette the 10th was just coming ready to breed and we had put her in there with him. They were together in there for two weeks I didn’t know if they even bred at the time because every time he saw me he wanted to kill me. Mildred was okay with him, but he wanted to eat me. It was time to get her out of there, so I had to give him tranquilizers till he started walking wobbly like I do. We pulled her out and put another female in that was ready. About a week later we got her out by just distracting him and he went nuts and attached the gate, he did eventually break it. If you’ve ever been in my yard you know that my big pens in the back have second gates at the front of the other pen so thankfully he had another gate to pass through, so I called my neighbor to shoot him. I still have that gate out
behind my house if anyone wants to see it. I wanted that dog real bad he was something else, muscled from one end to the other and walked around with his head high in the air proud as a peacock. I wouldn’t have taken anything for him, if he weren’t so crazy! Collette the 10th had 12 puppies and they are Rebel Rouiser’s because Louis wanted to register him as John D. Johnson’s Titan AKA Rebel. He lost the papers on him and so I registered him in my name Tim as Johnson’s Rebel Rouiser. Because I liked the name Rebel, being down here in the south and all, we’re a bunch of nuts anyhow, and that name stuck with him. That is where my Rebel Rouisers’ came from.
VAA: What did they do to make him so mean?
JDJ: If you attack-train a pure bulldog wrong you will create a man killer, I have said this for years and people still don’t believe me. Over the years, I’ve seen many of my dogs get returned because of this. Most recently, Jack Peeler bought a dog just like that he paid a good deal of money for him and he ended up the same way. If you insist on protection training get a professional trainer that specialized in bull breeds, first you’ve got to socialize your puppy with people and train him in basic obedience. Most cases they didn’t do that, they just beat on the dog and taught him to bite. You never want one of my dogs to love to fight a man it will spell danger fast. My dogs have a strong protection drive already, they are very friendly to everyone but they love their owners and if something comes up they will protect you naturally.
VAA: I thought you and Tim were good friends, I know you two drove to the first ABCA Show in Oklahoma
together and I know you let him have two older females. Why do you think he wrote the letter?
JDJ: I really can’t understand it except that other people have told me that he does that to any body he feels is
in competition with him. Maybe he thinks by trashing me he will sell more puppies? He would come down here,
every time Bob Baxter would bring him, and his mother brought me down after we came back from the show in
Oklahoma that was the only time she had been down here. She is a real nice lady, Mildred and I just love her, my
great grandson Brandon, loves her she had shown him all of her animals on a recent trip we took up there to get
some older female of mine from Tim. I don’t know why but Tim would beg me to give him Tiny-Dick the Bruiser
the II he would beg me to give him, not buy him but give Tiny to him, every time he called. David Jackson wanted
him and he was willing to give a good deal of money but I wouldn’t sell him, so why would I give him to Tim.
In all the times he’s called me, and he used to call a lot, he has never said he wanted to buy anything. I had two
old females that he said he wanted they were to old and I thought he would take good care of them, which he did,
so I gave them to him for free. I went up to Tim’s mother’s house where Tim lives, to pick up those two females
with Mike Farley, that was in early November. Mike and Tim worked out a deal to take those old dogs to a
specialist to get them breed. I told them they were wasting their money, but that was between Mike and Tim as
far as I know those two old females are up there with the Farley’s. As far as why he would say such things about
my dogs and me, I don’t know why!
VAA: His letter stated that you were very vague about your involvement with Dave Leavitt I have spoken to
Dave Leavitt and he confirmed everything you have told me. What could you have said that was vague?
JDJ: I don’t know what he was talking about. He used to call all the time and ask me all kinds of stuff and as
far as I know I answered everything he ever asked me without insulting him.
VAA: I was going to ask you about the part in the letter that was bought up on the weights of some of your old
dogs, but you know what, there is no point, those dogs are long gone, their weights cannot be proven. It has
nothing to do with improving or preserving the dogs today. Shouldn’t we be spending more time on what our dogs are today, how physically sound and mentally correct for a bulldog instead of basing our breeding program on some old stud dog that is 3 to 4 generations back from what you are producing. What sense does it make to line breed from a certain grand sire or great grand sire when the two dogs you are using are not sound or correct for a working bulldog, say for instance they may have weak hips or too short of a muzzle?
JDJ: If you breed dogs that are unsound to each other you will get more that are like that. I can’t see breeding
bad dogs no matter what great dogs they are out of, not all dogs in a litter are breedable. If you want to line breed
you should use good dogs to good dogs and your chances will be better that they will throw good ones. And as
far as weights on my dogs, I don’t remember ever giving Tim an information. I don’t know who all these experts
are that have been sneaking in here at nights for all these years weighing my dogs, but they sure are good, they
sneak in and out without a dog barking. Those friends Tim’s got should be working for the Government as spies,
because they are good. If Tim thinks my dog King’s Bruiser Bo the 4th weighed only 115 lb., then his dogs must
only weigh 50 lb. You don’t have to take my word for it there has always been big American Bulldogs. If you
don’t care for a dog that is big that’s something else altogether, or if you wish your dogs were bigger, well that’s
your problem. I have had some great dogs in all sizes, none of the sizes of the bodies ever compared to the size
of their HEARTS!
VAA: There was a claim in the letter that insinuates that Collette the 3rd threw dogs that were larger and showed
some Mastiff influence. Wasn’t Collette the 3rd out of the Red Machine? And wasn’t she bred exclusively to Elrod who was from Dozer Bruno any Ruby Fametti?
JDJ: Yes Collette the 3rd was a direct daughter of the Red Machine and the original Collette who was 75 lb.
Tim, she was the smallest Mastiff I’ve ever seen! I have her on a tape that David Fametti took when he was down
here in the early 90’s. And yes, she was bred almost exclusively to Elrod. She was the reason Elrod threw such
great puppies she was the Momma. So all Collettes’ are 1/4 Red Machine, the dog that Tim has based his line on
so he says and Elrod who is Dick the Bruiser the II Tiny’s brother and they were out of David Farnetti Dozer Bruno and Ruby. So my modern Collette line is 1/4 Red Machine and 1/2 Elrod. My Collette female are sometimes my bigger females they have run any where from 90 to 120 lb. females with 2 1/2′ to 3″ muzzles they are taller and
up on legs they are the best females of my line. They are the strongest and most athletic. Not just prettiest, they
can get the job done. I take it as a compliment that they don’t look like an AKC English Bulldog or like any of
your females, Tim. Collette the 10th was probably one of my all time favorite dogs male or female, if I could have
a yard full of females like her, I would be thrilled she and her mother Collette the 3rd were great American
VAA: Could you answer for me what the term bulldoggy means, is it a dog that would resemble a long legged
AKC English Bulldog. How could this dog be a farm utility dog? How could this dog have worked long hard
hours in the hot South catching -herding-and guarding?
JDJ: Well a dog of that type cannot, an AKC English Bulldog cannot even run across your yard
on a warm day to play with their owners. Their nose is too short, they are too short and compact so they can’t take the heat. David Leavitt called the dog he created the Olde English Bulldogge, I don’t know if that’s where that came from it’s just a name. It doesn’t matter what you call it Bulldoggy, Mastiffy, Hog Dog, Mountain Bull, whatever. If they don’t show pure old time southern Bulldog, if they look Like a White Pit Bull, Hound or Mongrel they may be good working dogs to some. If they keep breeding for English looks with short legs he cannot run, which a shortlegged dog can’t run like a longer-legged dog, it can’t catch at all and it can overheat. That is not a farm utility dog. An English Bulldog of today is only good as a pet to sit in your lap and to be a pet. A dog with any exaggeration like a short nose, or extreme wide low slung body, he is not correct the dog should be proportionate all over. If people keep breeding smaller to smaller, shorter to shorter, wider to wider, smash-faced to smash-faced then it won’t be to long that they will have an AKC English Bulldog. I hope that never happens. In the old days it couldn’t happen because if your dog didn’t work it wasn’t around for long. We need to watch this very close.
VAA: Old time Johnson! In my estimation the Red Machine is not old time Johnson. Bobo, Bobo Jr. Toppie,
Dick the Bruiser “Tiny”, Sandman the Great, King Kong, King’s Aristocrat, the Incredible Hulk, King’s Flaming
Corky, King’s Lady Grace or Sandman’s Golden Lady those I would call old time Johnson. Those old dogs to me
resemble your Collette line more than the Red Machine does. The Collettes’ like your old time Johnson dogs have
longer legs, have a longer 2″-3″ muzzle and thick boned heavy muscled bodies. I can’t say exactly how large your
old dogs all were, but if you pick up that book “The World of Fighting Dogs” and look at the old photos where
there are people in the photos to compare the dogs to. For instance, page 68 you see the Incredible Hulk with your grand daughters and yourself you will see a taller dog with a 3″ muzzle that is moderately undershot. He looks a lot more like a Mastiff that an AKC Bulldog! Also with the photo on page 233 of King’s Bruiser Bo the 4th, with your granddaughter, he wasn’t a smash-faced small squatty dog. King Kong on page 223 and page 235 Sandman the Great on page 220 and page 231 or Dick the Bruiser on page 239 or King’s Lady Grace on page 271. If you look at these dogs, they have long legs a medium muzzle 2″-3″ they all have heavy bone and muscled bodies. They had balance they all looked more towards a Mastiff than an AKC Bulldog. What do you think of the people that are breeding to exaggerate your dogs and calling them old time Johnson?
JDJ: Well, I hear about that a lot that people are breeding my dogs in an exaggerated direction and calling them
old time Johnson. But old time Johnson didn’t look like that. My dogs today don’t look like that. If you look at
my dogs today, you will see the same look as my old dogs going back several generations like you mentioned and even like dogs’ farther back than you even know about, Vito … Ha! Ha! HA! Before you were born back in the
40’s and 50’s 10 or 20 years before you were born. They look the same as they did 60 years ago when I was a boy,
and my father had them when he was a kid and that was over 80 years ago. So how Tim could learn in a couple
of years of messing with these dogs how all my old dogs looked and learned how to breed them better, even though he’s only bred one generation I guess it takes a boy form up North to teach a dumb old Southern red neck like myself how to breed these dogs. Well sorry Tim, if I just don’t understand what you are doing, I’m just some old hillbilly. I never though I would live to see the day a 30 year old Yankee that’s been messing with these dogs for a few years is going to tell a southerner that was born with these dogs and is a 74 years old what they should look like!
VAA: In my research on Bulldogs, I have found that many historians believe that the Mastiff and the Bulldog
were both descendants of the Aluant. Down through the ages until about 300 years ago, the word Mastiff was used to describe all large or massive dogs. Writings have shown this as early as 1707 when a man named Guy Miege wrote the following statement “Our Mastiffs especially those we call Bulldogs are of unmatched courage. One of these dogs will fight anything alone, bear, tiger or lion and will not quit his hold till he gets the victory or loses his life.” This came from a bulldog book by Colonel Bailey C. Hanes, a well-known Bulldog historian. Another excellence book probably the best on Bulldog history is “History of Fighting Dogs and Fighting Dog Breeds by Dr. Dieter Fleig. They show what the Bulldog really looked like from many old artifacts. They show a wide range of big dogs with heavy bone, wide muzzles and muscular bodies. Many of the dogs before the late 19th century and early 20th century looked a lot like the modem Johnson type dogs, especially the Collette females. These late 19th century early 20th century bulldog started to take on the freakish looks of the modem AKC Bulldog because the breeders were breeding for exaggerated features. Have you ever bred for any one feature like size and ignored the others?
JDJ: Well yes. I have bred for size when my dogs needed it. I have only bred for the size the big Bulldogs
were when I was a kid. Some people have spread rumors that I bred St. Bernard or Mastiff to increase the size of
my dogs. I will say this; once and for all I never bred to a St. Bernard or Mastiff. It is silly to think that I could
without getting black masks, long hair, longer muzzles and many dogs that are 180-250 lb. My last really big dog
was Elrod. I didn’t breed him, David Fametti did. He was 150 lb., his brother Tiny was 100 lb., his mother Ruby
was 80 lb. and his father Dozer was 125 lb. Elrod was an American Bulldog and a very good one at that So no
I have not bred for one characteristic, because when you get away from the complete dog you will hurt the breed.
You need to look at him from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail and you have to take into consideration all
his characteristics including his heart and courage. If you breed for any one feature like wide, low-stung bodies or
a real short muzzle or a long slim head, you will be getting away from the American Bulldog. If you get away from
the muscles in the front and rear you are going to get away from the American Bulldog it has to be a complete dog all the way, or you don’t have an American Bulldog you will have something else.
VAA: Who are Taylor, Barnett and Nations did they buy dogs from you?
JDJ: Well, there were a lot o f people that bought dogs form me, I’ve bred American Bulldogs for a lot of years.
Thirty years before Tim was born, 20 years before Joe Painter and Alan Scott were born. People would buy the
dogs and ask if they could put their name first instead of Johnson just as they do today and I’ve always said it’s your dog call it as you want I would watch and if they bred something that I could use I would use it. That helped me down through the years and I still get dogs back that way. I got Tiny and Elrod from David Fametti I’ve got two Tuffie females form Ben Read down her right now. Tim’s dogs carries his name, but you can look back one
generation on his dogs and he hasn’t bred those dogs that doesn’t mean they can’t be called his. I did that with a
lot of people we worked with the Nations a lot and a lot of us did it that way. I tried to get Alan to work like that,
but he never listened he would just get a bunch of throw away dogs and breed them dogs that didn’t show Bulldog at all. He did things different than I did. It’s just like now, people are breeding good straight Bulldogs and some are using any dog they can pick up cheap, just to breed and sell dogs, it will catch up with them too, it takes more time and effort to do it right. The Nations they live down here at Cedar Town that’s down below Rome Georgia, 35-40 mile form here. They would come up every weekend or two. They were always visiting and always with us. I knew them and their dogs, I knew what they had and they were just good friends.
VAA: Tim stated in his open letter to the Fancy that if you claim to have a 100% Johnson dog that you’re a
village idiot. When I did some research and found Tim’s dog has been advertised 100% Johnson. Note: Page 122
in the June, 1996 issue of Dog World “Great Whites Landshark-Duncan (100% Johnson X linebred Johns Hog
Head)” or page 112 September, 1996 issue of Dog World “I am not trying to create anything new, just preserve and improve upon the ONLY STRAIN of American Bulldogs that has withstood the test of time …. OLD TIME Johnson dogs”, or page 113 May, 1996 issue of Dog World “100% Johnson GWK Duncan 27″ head-108 lb.” When do you believe you can start to identify a dog 100% one line after 3, 4, 5, 6 generations?
JDJ: I think if you have been breeding a line for 5 or 6 generations, it should be identified with your kennel
name, it doesn’t matter if you didn’t breed every dog in your line pedigree. After 5 generations it should be your
line you have maintained that line with your decisions to breed two given dogs. You have done all the work, made all the decisions, so a person ought to be able to call that line by their name. Just because 5 generations back someone else’s name appears doesn’t mean your line isn’t pure. 100 years ago there were no Johnson dogs. 150 years ago there was no such thing as a Doberman does that mean they are not pure, even though they breed true to type. My dogs breed true to type, you won’t wonder what you will have when they are grown, that’s ‘ more than what I can say for any other line of American Bulldog. After all my years of breeding, I have bred them steady without ever stopping since I returned from W.W.II so I can’t understand why someone would be upset if I called my dog Johnson.
VAA: Is there anything else you would like to say about the open letter?
JDJ: Yes. I would just like to say, Tim wants my dogs DNA tested. I know what is in my dogs he didn’t need
to sneak around behind my back with a plastic bag pulling hairs off Tiny to send away and secretly have tested.
Meanwhile he acts like my good buddy. I thought carpet baggers were long gone. If Tim really wants to know
he can pay my vet to pull the hairs and send them off an have them tested. Then Tim will know what I do that
my dogs are pure bulldog. There’s a friend of mine that lives about 25-26 miles away from me here, he’s a friend
of sorts he comes here like Tim and he tries to get me to give him dogs, give him two puppies, give him this, give
him that, for some reason or another these two remind me of each other. The thing is now he told me that at 14
years old, he blew his mind on drugs, what’s your excuse Tim. You two act like brothers both begging. Tim if
I lived in a glass house, I certainly wouldn!t throw rocks. Because Tim … I’m going to burst your bubble, your big
Jake dog according to the man that owned, him said his grandmother was half Neapolitan Mastiff and half Pit Bull
she was bought at a dog fight. Later James Elerby bought her because she was black and he told me himself that
he wanted a black bulldog, he bred Champaign to Muscals who was Johnson and got Muscals Jr. who looked like
a Pitbull to me. Muscals Jr. had a black brother that they kept. So Tim your still breeding Pitbulls and even
Mastiffs. Your Big Daddy Cool dog that you kept telling me he’s got a 1 1/2 inch undershot bite, well Tim that’s
nothing to be bragging about, that is to much especially on a small round headed dog like him. Your Duncan dog
has a crippled leg or hip, he’s been like that since the show in Oklahoma two years ago, when you blamed it on Bob Baxter for pulling him out of his crate to quick. If its just his knee, why don’t you get it operated on, I think its
because he is inbred so close his grandmothers are the same dog and his grandfathers are litter mate brothers. I
know John Blackwell used my two males as grand sires, but I never would have let him breed to either one if I
knew he was going to inbreed that close. Your Sharky dog is very cow-hocked, he is throwing that in his puppies
as I’ve heard. So who are you to throw rocks at people, look at your own dogs. I looked over all your dog last
time I was at your mother’s house with Mike Farley picking up those old females and I can’t understand why you
accused so many good Bulldog people of stealing one. You didn’t have a dog there that you could give me. The
only buzzards I see flying around me is you and my friend from Rome GA. You two are the only ones begging
me to give you something. Other people have paid for their dogs. I understand now that that’s just part of your
character. But Tim you can still come down here I will still try and be just as nice as I’ve always been to you,
unless you start mouthing off, then I’ll ask you to leave and if you don’t want to leave, then I will get one of my
Rebel Rouisers out and they will teach you what kind of Bulldog they are. So good buddy let me give you some
advice, because I’ve been at this a long time, way longer than you’ve been born, if you want to sell your dogs start breeding great dogs take your time and you will have no trouble. But if people aren’t buying your dogs don’t start spreading lies about your competition, people aren’t that dumb they will figure you out, I did.
VAA: How did you come to know Alan Scott?
JDJ: Some of his kinfolk came here with his daddy’s sister and her husband they came here way back when Alan
was a small boy still in school. They became good friend of ours they had Angus cows and we had Angus cows,
they bought a bull form us and they got to coming and visiting and they kept wanting us to come over there and
visit so we did. That’s when I met Alan’s grandmother and granddaddy, Martin’s wife Mary Jane they were
wonderful people all of them were real fine Christian people we loved them. We met Alan’s first wife’s parents they were also good Christian people. When Alan graduated from high school, we brought him a present and got to know him. You could say we watched him grow up say from the age of 17 on up. Then he decided he wanted
some bulldogs, he was talking to Warren Martin his uncle, he called him uncle Jr. and aunt Jane, he found out from Warren how to get over here he wanted to get some Bulldogs. We knew him and his family so I thought he would be a good one and all to have American Bulldogs, so we let him have some. We wanted him to breed them and to have them right and we needed more breeders. It was different then, we needed more breeders and so different people we tried to help, it just didn’t always work out. We helped a lot of people that way some got tired of breeding and some just tried shortcuts just breeding whatever. Alan had different ideas about breeding, I couldn’t ever convince him that just because it had cropped ears and a docked tail didn’t make it a bulldog. He bought a lot of dogs much later, cheap give away dogs or dogs he would get for free. He liked doing things different than I did. He liked Dixie Man or Buster he was from my dog Dick The Bruiser and his Dixie female. He said that was a once in a lifetime dog, he said he was his best, but except for him being small he was very much like my dogs not like what they call a Scott dog nowadays.
VAA: Did you and Alan Scott write a standard together?
JDJ: No. I wrote a standard but not with Alan Scott.
VAA: Did Alan Scott have any other Bulldogs before he got some from you?
JDJ: I think he had two females from somebody. I didn’t know were he got those two, I never paid much
attention to them because they didn’t look that well. We gave him some dogs more than I care to ever admit
because we wanted to help him get started.
VAA: Was J.M. Ashley, a catch man for hire-did people actually make a living catching hogs or cattle?
JDJ: He was a farmer up there on Big Sand Mountain. He caught with his dogs as a side line no one ever made
a living catching hogs or cattle, there wasn’t enough work to keep you working steady. I caught with my dogs also for years. I remember a dog Alan got, I don’t remember what he called him, but he was beautiful, he was small,
but when he brought him over to show me I noticed that all four of his canine Tushes were broken off. He was
smooth mouthed. I told Alan his canines were broken and his mouth looked sore. He said he was supposed to be
a real good catch dog and I bet he was. Alan had told me he was hired to catch a domestic hog, the man told him
the hog was about 200 lb. and when Alan got there he said the hog was 300 or 350 lb. and had short Tushes on
it. He said that dog would catch that hog and he would get slung loose and finally caught him and held him. Alan
told me himself that when it came time to get paid he told the guy that he would charge him one dollar per cut on
his dog, his dog had eleven cuts so he got $11.00. Later he told people that, that dog died holding on to a wild hog. That dog died jumping over a fence with his chain on and hung himself. I was over there just after it happened, Alan was crying about it and the dog was still warm, he had him chained next to a fence and he jumped the fence trying to get to another dog and there wasn’t a wild hog anywhere around.
VAA: How long did Alan Scott have Mac the Masher and was he bred a lot?
JDJ: He bred him to big Dixie and those puppies had long slim heads, they were real big pups but the heads
didn’t look like a Bulldog head. That combination just wasn’t good. I can’t think of but 3 or 4 more that he bred
to him, because he was so old when he got him it wasn’t that long till he died.
VAA: Did you work together with Alan Scott, Louis Hedgewood, George Lee Williams, WC Bailey trading
breedings back and forth?
JDJ: No, Louis Hedgewood kept my dogs. I didn’t trade dogs with any of those fellas there. Alan breed several
times to Dick The Bruiser that’s where he got Dixie Man and he bred to him again later and kept a brother to him
also. And he had some females he kept from him. I didn’t trade dogs with any of them, because they didn’t have
anything I wanted.
VAA: Did Alan Scott test all of your stock for you?
JDJ: (Mr. Johnson laughs) He never tested any of my dogs and very few of his. He did catch some cows and a
hog or two but he didn’t make a living at it, no one did. He was just like the rest of us back then, in debt or needing money, he worked for a man on the mountain on his cattle farm, he lost that job, then he worked for some golf club out fit over there I forget what they called that place. Then he worked for the bakery there in Fort Payne and what he’s doing now I don’t know. But there was just not enough catch work for a man to make a living..
VAA: How many times did you breed your females to Mac the Masher?
JDJ: One time, Louis Hedgewood in Layfette was keeping a dog for me and he wanted to breed her to Mac,
and he bred another female of mine to a dog, I thought they called him Bob, he had a bobbed tail and was killed
by Bruiser Rhoe Ho.
VAA: Dixie Man was out of Dick the Bruiser and what bitch?
JDJ: He used to call her Big Dixie but I think she was registered Scott’s Dixie or maybe Dixie Bell I’m not sure.
VAA: Would you say Dixie Man looked a lot like a Johnson dog, undershot, with a wide chest?
JDJ: Yes. He was a good dog he wasn’t as big as I would have liked, what caused him to be so small I don’t
know. But he was a good Bulldog he looked 100% pure American Bulldog. I was supposed to have bred to him
when ever I wanted, but I never did, I don’t know how long he lived but he was nice.
VAA: Why do you think Scott dogs today look so little like the Johnson dogs he started with or his dog Dixie
Man, they seem thinner boned longer muzzled and are often scissors bite?
JDJ: Well, I know that most of the dogs that are registered as Scott dogs are just mixed up cur Bulldog that
people got from up in the hills and registered with some made up Scott pedigree. It was easy, you just send it away to the NKC and you would get papers. They don’t care I have been hearing for years now that my dogs are in the back in some NKC pedigrees that I know for a fact are not true. A person sent me a copy of their so called Scott dog and one quarter Kings Aristocrat, well that dog was born, lived, and died here and he was never bred to anything but Johnson females so if that is in your pedigree it is a lie. Alan didn’t breed nearly as many dogs as
people think he was not in it that long. The dogs he did buy were cheap or give away dogs. Some were okay,
some were good and some were just mongrels. Alan had a red Pitbull bitch he called an American Bulldog and
he also had some Catahoula’s running loose. He also bred Catahoula’s to Bulldogs with a fella I think his name was Howard Camathan.
VAA: In Casey’s interview with Alan Scott in the American Bulldog Review, he asked why John D. doesn’t want
to admit he ever got a dog from you or you ever got one from him, Alan Scott answered I don’t know?
JDJ: Alan Scott got a lot of puppies from me some he shipped and all. He had a female he bought in
Gunnersville Alabama, she was a nice bulldog she was just real poor with mange and it was real cold out. I asked
Alan to let me take her for the winter and fix her up so she won’t die. He said I’ll sell her to you. I said what do
you want for her? He said $36.00. So I bought her. That is the only one I ever bought from Alan. She died, but
she wasn’t out of his breeding, he rarely ever raised anything of his own he liked just picking up cheap or give away dogs. I got a pair of female puppies out of Dick The Bruiser and Big Dixie I gave one to Mildred and she sold it and I kept one. That is the truth and it is a lie that I got a lot of dogs from Alan Scott.
VAA: In an issue of the American Bulldog review, Casey published a historic photo from Alan Scott’s personal
collection of a dog called Bruisers’ Rhoe Ho. He looks exactly like some of your dogs today and with a name like
Bruiser I figured he was a Johnson dog. Did you breed him and what was he out of?
JDJ: Yes, I bred him. He was out of Dick the Bruiser and Lady Tuffie. My neighbor out here wanted him and
raised him, he had a couple of my Bulldogs, he also had some horses behind his house and Rhoe Ho got kicked
by one as a puppy and it messed up his back. But he would get in there and fight wild dogs, but on big dogs he
couldn’t stay on his feet, so he’d get on his back and cut like a coon, he could lay on his back and fight up a storm. I heard one day that Bill Pursly had given him to Alan Scott so that’s how he got Rhoe Ho and Rhoe Hoe is the one that killed Alan’s daddy’s male and he was a Johnson dog not a Scott dog.
VAA: Did Mr. Ashley ever say what Mac The Masher was out of?.
JDJ: No, he didn’t know the pedigree on Mac the Masher, it’s just made up.
VAA: Did Alan ever bring Mr. Ashley down to see your dogs?
JDJ: No, he never did.
VAA: Why do you think Alan Scott stopped breeding American Bulldogs?
JDJ: Well, he got to where he couldn’t sell his dogs. He kept picking up these throw away dogs and cheap
females. He kept breeding these dogs that didn’t show Bulldogs at all. We would run across some dogs he bred
growing up and he would tell me himself they were the ugliest things he’d ever seen. People quit buying them and
he started taking them to the flea market to sell them and he couldn’t make dog feed that way. Later when the
American Bulldog got more popular and would bring a better price he started loving them again. I don’t know what he’s breeding now.
VAA: I purchased a video from a breeder down in Texas in 1993 and on his video he said Alan Scott was old
plantation man that has long been dead now and that he had the money to enjoy the things he liked and he liked
Bulldogs that could perform, if a dog wouldn’t catch the hog Alan Scott would kill it and bury it out behind the
barn. Where did this story come from?
JDJ: I don’t know, Alan never owned a plantation and he is maybe 47 or so now.
VAA: It has been said by many people that like cross dogs that Symmes Rip-N-Woody was the greatest
contributor to the breed and the best Johnson dog ever. Woody was out of Red Machine (Who is 1/8 West Champs High Hopes) and Tosh who was out of Kings Bruiser Bo the 4th your biggest American Bulldog ever. Kyle Symmes has even said he could put the bite into a beagle if bred to one. I would also have to say he produces some great dogs Like, Mountain Gator Red, Watch dogs White Fang and Freddie Kreuger of all those dogs favored a Johnson type dog. What did you think of Rip-N-Woody?
JDJ: He was a good dog, most people don’t know he was a Johnson dog and came from here. I sold Kyle
Woody because he called me complaining about Bulldog Drummond who was a dog I got from Joe Painter for a
stud fee. I knew Kyle was telling me the truth because I had two females that I also got from that breeding and
I gave them away because they looked like stright Pit Bull. Kyle was disappointed with him and said he only got
to 80 lb. So I sold him Woody who was out of Red Machine and my Tosh female and he grew up to be 115 lb.
just skin and bones. Kyle said he’s never seen a big 125 or 130 lb. American Bulldog well he had one Woody,
he just kept him real poor if he would have fed him better he would have been 125 or 130 lb. Rip-N-Woody was
a good dog, but he wasn’t the best I’ve ever produced. He was as good as the Red Machine but he wasn’t my best But I guess he was a good producer because he did produce some good Bulldogs even though he was bred to some terrible mixed up mongrel bitches. Gator, White Fang and Freddie Kreugger and some of his grand-kids looked good to, they are nice Bulldogs.
VAA: Have you ever seen the movie Homeward Bound?
JDJ: Yes, I liked it well, but the Golden Retriever was the star that was a bit far fetched.
VAA: I recently came across a five generation pedigree on the dog that starred in that movie Chance or Rattler
and I was shocked to find out that he is 15/16 Johnson the only ancestor in five generations that wasn’t Johnson was Mabelle. Did you know that?
JDJ: No, that surprises me because Kyle has told so many people that pure Johnson is not good. That dog
looked good but he could use some more bone. It’s funny Kyle brags on him and he is mainly Johnson!
VAA: There are a lot of people that do protection work with American Bulldogs that are now saying that if your
dog doesn’t have a good deal of Johnson blood in him they don’t make a good protection dog. What do you think of that?
JDJ: Well, I’ve said it before my dogs are naturally protective, a true Bulldog is protective they love their people
and will even make a fuss over a stranger but they will defend you. But there is a difference between protection
and attacking. If you don’t teach these dogs right, you will create a man killer. The Bulldog has always been the
most courageous dog in the world. It was developed to work automatically, to think on its own in a fight. I just
worry how that will transfer to attacking people. As far as needing Johnson blood its not the Johnson blood, it’s
the pure bulldog blood and even if it is mixed with other blood it can still give it courage. But a impure dog with
let’s say hound or Catahoula cur or cattle dog they are not like Bulldogs they will act like a herding dog nervous,
skittish, or shy. I would just like to say please be careful and don’t make a man killer out of your Bulldog, I’ve seen
it done time and time again.
VAA: In researching this breed I’ve found that down South the American Bulldogs have been being bred to the
Catahoula and other cattle dogs to make a Catahoula Bulldog for years. When I asked why, I’ve been told that when the two are crossed it creates a better dog. They say that is called high bred vigor. What is high bred vigor?
JDJ: Well, high bred vigor is a term used by ranchers. They believe that when you cross different types of cattle
they will mature faster and bigger. The only reason people crossed Bulldogs to Catahoula’s was to make a cattle
dog with courage to catch when it needed. Also, many people felt that they were easier to train to let go than a pure Bulldog. It probably was easier to get a 1/2 Bulldog to let go. I never had that trouble, it just took time to train them right. Dick the Bruiser would catch and let go on my command no problem, lots of my old dogs did. Of course if you need to mess with a big cow or bull you need a dog that can hold on as long as you need or you will be in big trouble. In the old days no one would ever think of making that cross but as the numbers of good Bulldogs came way down after the war, people crossed American Bulldogs with whatever. The Bulldog has been crossed for years to give courage to other breeds. My daddy told me that they were used to cross to hunting dogs. They also bred to cattle dogs, Greyhounds and several other breeds to give them grit, courage, stamina and determination. I guess people were trying to do the same for cattle dogs such as the Catahoula. The bad thing is many people came along and thought that the crossed Bulldogs were pure. Alan Scott and many others did.
VAA: I have seen old advertisements from Alan Scott from 1978: Owl Hollow Kennels, American Bulldog,
Southern Cur, Australian Cattle dog and Catahoula Bulldogs. Did he have a big kennel to keep stock on all of
those different breeds?
JDJ: No, not unless he expanded after I quit messing with him. He just kept most of his dogs chained out.
I guess if it didn’t look like a Bulldog he had something else to call it. It wasn’t much longer after that, that he went
out of business.
VAA: Years from now what do you hope will be your legacy?
JDJ: I hope they say great things about my dogs, but I don’t care a thing in the world of them saying anything
about me. The only thing I want people to say about me after I die is that I was a good Christian that’s the main
thing. I would love for the Johnson dog to live just as long as the earth goes on. Because my wife and I have spent our lives preserving the true type old time Southern Bulldog and I would like them to go on. Because I know they are the greatest dogs on earth!
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