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Courtesy of Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog Breed Association
The Alapaha is a bull breed developed in the American South as a “catch dog” to drive or capture unruly cattle or other animals. Alapahas are alert, outgoing and self-assured. They tend to be aloof toward strangers and don’t welcome unknown dogs. In the home of an experienced owner, they are an excellent family dog.
The Alapaha is thought to have existed in the southern United States for approximately 200 years, but there is no documentation of the breed before 1979.
The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog is one of several breeds said to resemble the early Bulldogs of England. He is a “catch dog,” whose job it is to catch, hold and drive unruly cattle and hogs, but these days he is primarily a family companion and protector. The Alapaha is a large dog, weighing 60 to 95 pounds, and has a big square head, a solid and muscular body, and a short coat in white or other colors, including brindle, trimmed with white.
The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog is maybe not the best choice for an inexperienced dog owner. In some respects he’s a big lover, but he is also large, strong, intelligent, active and protective. An Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog needs a leader who can guide him with firmness and consistency and without using force or cruelty.
Early, frequent socialization is essential. Purchase an Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog puppy from a breeder who raises the pups in the home and ensures that they are exposed to many different household sights and sounds, as well as people, before they go off to their new homes. Continue socializing your Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog throughout his life by taking him to puppy kindergarten class, visits to friends and neighbors, and outings to local shops and businesses. This is the only way he can learn to be discriminating, recognizing what is normal and what is truly a threat.
Begin training as soon as you bring your Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog puppy home, while he is still at a manageable size. He is smart and trainable but has a mind of his own. A nothing-in-life-is-free program, requiring puppies to “work” for everything they get by performing a command before receiving meals, toys, treats or play, often works well with this breed. He also responds well to any type of positive reinforcement training using rewards such as praise, play and treats.
It’s always a good idea to take an Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog to puppy kindergarten followed by basic obedience classes, especially if you are working with a trainer who understands the Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog mindset. A well-socialized and trained Alapaha can get along well with other pets and should not be aggressive toward other dogs unless they are threatening.
The Alapaha has a moderate activity level and needs a job to do, which can be anything from being your on-leash jogging companion to daily training activities. Expect to walk or jog him at least a mile daily in addition to 20 minutes or so of training practice.
Always keep him on leash when you’re walking him. The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog has a high prey drive and a territorial nature, so he needs a strong, solid fence at least six feet high to keep him on his own property. An underground electronic fence is never appropriate for this breed.
Like any dog, Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog puppies are inveterate chewers and because of their size, they can do a whole lot of damage. Don’t give them the run of the house until they’ve reached trustworthy maturity. And keep your Alapaha puppy busy with training, play and socialization experiences. A bored Alapaha is a destructive Alapaha, taking up digging, chewing and other undesirable behaviors.
The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog should spend plenty of time indoors and outdoors with his family. Chaining an Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog out in the yard and giving him little or no attention is not only cruel, it can also lead to aggression and destructive behavior.
The Alapaha is thought to have existed in the southern United States for approximately 200 years, but there is no documentation of the breed before 1979. He probably descends from the various types and crosses of Bulldogs brought by early settlers to this country. Those dogs were taller and more athletic than the Bulldog we know today. They were never shown but were strictly working dogs, used to drive recalcitrant cattle and pigs, hunt varmints, and guard homesteads.
They’ve been known by such names as Otto, Cowdog, Silver Dollar and Catahoula Bulldog. In 1979, a group of Southern dog lovers set out to preserve the rapidly disappearing dogs. They gave them a name—Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog—founded the Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog Association, and wrote a breed standard.
The breed standard says the Alapaha is dutiful, possessive and attentive, protective of his property and territorial from a young age. He is a devoted and loyal family dog who demands attention.
The Alapaha takes his family membership seriously. He is suspicious of strangers and makes an excellent watchdog. He is, however, completely unsuited to being left out in the yard alone as a “guard dog.”
With children this athletic dog is an active and sturdy playmate. He loves their company, especially when he is raised with them. He can get along with cats and other pets when he is raised with them, but he’s likely to be aggressive to dogs he doesn’t know.
The confident Alapaha is best suited to a working home with an experienced dog owner. He is intelligent and highly trainable if he has an effective leader he can respect.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an Alapaha, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines. In Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldogs, potential health problems can include hip dysplasia, congenital deafness, entropion—an eye problem in which the eyelid rolls inward—and skin problems.
Not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it is impossible to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for common defects and deemed healthy for breeding. That’s where health registries come in.
A reputable breeder will show you evidence that a puppy’s parents have OFA or PennHIP clearances for hip dysplasia, an OFA BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) hearing clearance, and an up-to-date eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
Don't fall for a dishonest breeder's assurances. If the breeder tells you she doesn't need to do those tests because she's never had problems in her lines, her dogs have been "vet checked," or any of the other excuses bad breeders have for skimping on the genetic testing of their dogs, walk away immediately.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping an Alapaha at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog has a smooth coat that sheds. Brush him at least once a week to remove dead hair and keep the skin and coat healthy. Clean the ears and trim the nails as needed, and bathe the Alapaha on the rare occasions that he’s dirty.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Look for more information about the Alapaha and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog Association. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the ABBA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for the breeder to take back or help rehome a dog if there comes a time when the buyer can’t keep him. The ABBA recommends steering clear of breeders whose dogs aren’t registered with ABBA, don’t offer health or other guarantees, don’t screen breeding dogs for hip health and hearing ability with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, can’t provide a three-generation pedigree for both parents, and can’t provide at least five references.
Also avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of an Alapaha puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Alapaha might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy.
With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com can have you searching for an Alapaha in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Alapahas available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for an Alapaha. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Alapahas love all Alapahas. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog Association can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Alapaha rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring an Alapaha home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Alapaha, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, a breeder purchase or a rescue, take your Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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