By Cole Maxwell
ARF Certified Breeder

 

 

All dogs pictured owned by Cole Maxwell / Altamaha Plantation Kennels

 

My humble attempt to introduce the most honorable dogs I have ever known, is like describing devotion without question, or blind devotion.  They are companions willing to give up their lives in an instant, without hesitation, for your protection, or simply upon your asking.

 During the peak of the rice industry, in the 1850’s, local plantations along the Altamaha River Valley branches, and Cathead Creek, west of Darien, accounted for the bulk of the rice being exported from Georgia, during the “antebellum” period (a time in American history, just prior to the U.S. Civil War).  These plantation rice fields, averaging from 300 to 600 acres in size, produced hundreds of thousands of pounds of rice; at its 1850’s peak, Mr. Pierce Butler, and Mr. P. M. Nightingale, the two largest rice planters, often produced more than a million pounds of rice annually.   


However, since the early 1900’s, the plantation that was once owned by Mr. Pierce Butler, was sold to my family, and, now, I and my family live on this same piece of land.  But, in the years following the 1850’s, wild hogs and wild cattle devastated the rice crops overnight.  To rid these destructive beasts, out of the rice fields, rice growers introduced a breed of dogs that had a strong drive, and could catch, and had large paws, for a sure sense of balance, in the swampy lowland marshes of the Altamaha River region.  These dogs that were described by the old-timers, as being loyal, having large heads, and being predominantly white in color, have all but disappeared.  

Darien, Georgia, being near the Atlantic Ocean, and located less than 50  miles south of Savannah, was devastated during the Civil War, by Gen. Sherman’s troops of the Union Army.  However, after the war ended, in 1865, the first thing that revived in Darien was the timber business.  Sawmills were restored and reopened at Lower Bluff, and at Cathead Creek; timber began to be rafted down the Altamaha River, from the upcountry, as early as 1866, and commercial ships began calling at Darien to load logs and sawn lumber, bound for both U.S. and foreign ports-of-call.  By 1868, timber brokers reported that the industry was shipping twenty-million board feet of pine timber and lumber a year.   

During the timber era, which lasted to about 1914, or about the time of World War I, the sawmills at Darien, Doboy, and Union Island, turned out massive quantities of sawn lumber, from the timber rafts that floated down the Altamaha River, from the interior of Georgia.  My Great-grandfather rafted timber on the Altamaha , and worked for the Saw Mills, and, during that time, he always traveled with a large white bulldog.  My grandmother described her father’s bulldog, in many stories that she told of her childhood.  During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, 1875 to 1899, timber drifting on the Altamaha was at its zenith; thousands of rafts, each covering up to a quarter acre of river surface, were moored at the docks, in Darien, each year.  These rafts extended for miles along the Darien waterfront, and, they were so jammed at times, it was possible to walk from raft-to-raft, for a mile or more.  Further, bulldogs were often seen with the rafters, and, at night, their white coats could be seen running along the river banks, providing protection for their masters, in every capacity.  

To recapture the memory of the Altamaha Plantation Bulldogs, my sons and I have followed a breeding process that is familiar to some; it is described as the “Clockwise Breeding” process.  Therefore, to introduce the “Antebellum Bulldog”, of McIntosh County , to the bulldog world, I refer to my kennel as the “ Altamaha Plantation Kennels”.  In our kennel, we produce a breed of bulldog that is known in our region of southeast Georgia , as being the “ Altamaha Plantation Bulldog”, or “Antebellum Bulldog”.



 



 

HISTORY:

A Mastiff-type dog of the British Isles :  A partial ancestral history of the “Antebellum Bulldog” dates back beyond the arrival of the Roman soldiers, circa 50 A.D., who reported the ferociousness of these war-type dogs.  With the arrival of the Normans , in 1066, also came the Alunts from the continent, which, in turn, were bred to the indigenous Mastiff-type dogs of Britain .  Therefore, from those early years, it is the Britons who are given the credit for producing the “bulldog” of England .  Further, as an interesting side note, the coats of the above-mentioned “Alunts” were described as being “all white”, or “almost entirely white”; something only the “Antebellum  Bulldogs”, “Dogo Argentinos”, American Bulldogs, and “White English Bulldogs” still have.  Today, the “Antebellum Bulldog” is a direct result of finding one “great” foundation hub sire, and eight unrelated “great” foundation dams.  The breeding process is never ending, and takes constant care to prevent breed corruption. 

 

BREED DESCRIPTION:  

The “Antebellum Bulldog” is a breed of working dog, developed for catching livestock, and for protecting family and property.  Though he is larger than the American Bulldog, he is closely related, and has most of their traits, with the exception of large paws, and occasional blue or marbled eyes.  

APPEARANCE:  

The “Antebellum Bulldog” is a long-bodied, stocky, muscular-looking dog.  Its coat is short, and can be either “white”, or “white with colored patches”.  It is a combination of the two types of American Bulldogs [Standard & Classic], as well as the infusion of Dogo Argentino, Perro de Presa Canario, Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog, Catahoula Bulldog, and Ameristaff.  The dogs weigh between 80 and 150 pounds; and, size, 25 to 30 inches at the withers.  

CONFUSION WITH OTHER BREEDS:  

The “Antebellum Bulldog” is considered a “new breed”, not a “rare breed”, by today’s standard.  They can resemble the “Classic” Johnson and the “Standard” Scott, American Bulldogs, and, the uneducated have often mistaken them for their distant cousin, the “American Pit Bull Terrier”.  But, because of its extra-large appearance, dog-friendly demeanor, obedience, and loyalty, the “Antebellum Bulldog” is distinctly different; it is a “bulldog”, with a “bully head” (weighing 80 to 150 pounds), not a “terrier”, without a “bully head” (weighing 30 to 50 pounds).  Further, the “Antebellum Bulldog” is massive, in comparison to the “English Bulldog”; however, it still resembles the “English Bulldog”, but never was bred to be a lap dog.  The outstanding characteristics of an “American Bulldog” can best describe the “Antebellum Bulldog”, having tightly controlled breeding considerations, to produce a non-aggressive canine.    

TEMPERAMENT:  

The “Antebellum Bulldog” makes a great family dog despite its extra-large size and intimidating looks.  He is a typically laid-back and friendly bulldog; however, he is an assertive bulldog that is at ease with family, and fine with strangers who are welcomed by the family, or as they get to know the stranger in question – just ask our UPS, Meter Reader, and Postman.  

All of the dogs that we have used in our breeding program are socialized with other families, and are fond of children; however, with babies and small toddlers, close supervision is necessary. This is due to their large size and weight; just stepping on or rolling over, a baby, or toddler, could cause an unintentional injury.  Our dogs have been obedience trained to sit when small children come around.  

The “Antebellum Bulldogs” bond strongly with their masters, and have strong protective (guarding) instincts, which, if not kept in check, could develop into a dominant attitude. A dog is a “pack” animal; therefore you must be the dominant leader, or the dog will!  

It is highly recommended, that all dogs, including the “Antebellum Bulldog”, be socialized and have obedience training, by exposing them to other dogs and people, to ensure that they can be controlled around visitors, as they get older, and larger.  In my experience, I have seen these dogs bond deeply with one family member, or another.  I refer to this as “heart-locked”, and you can tell when it happens.  

Also, they need room to release their “pent-up energy”, and, so, they do best in a home with a big backyard, or acreage, where they can run and jump.  If left alone in an apartment, you may come home to find they just “ate” up the carpet, the drapes, or the furniture, while you were away.  Further, these dogs can become very aggressive if left chained for long periods of time, or without socialization (human contact).  Further, they are not always friendly towards cats, and other small pets, but correct socialization, at an early age can greatly increase the chances of them accepting these smaller animals.  They can be stubborn, but, with patience, affection-training, and treats, they will obey their master fully and faithfully.  

DISQUALIFICATIONS:  

No ear-cropping, tail-docking, or dewclaw-removal is permitted.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:  

If you do not have time to obedience-train your pet, seek out a professional dog trainer who can accomplish this task for you.  However, if you do not do this necessary training and socialization, I can assure you, something unpleasant will happen!  And, afterwards, instead of facing our own negligence of duty, we want to blame the dog, by saying, “Bad dog!”, when the dog-owner is actually the one at fault.  Therefore, if you plan to be a dog-owner, be a responsible owner, so that our dogs are not given a bad name in the community.  Thank you! 

 

Cole Maxwell
ARF Certified Breeder
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

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