"Breeding Better Bulldogs"

This is the Mission of The American Bulldog Club in cooperation with The Irondog "DownUnder Bulldog Registry".   So how do we do it?  Through Communication, Community and Competition.  Breeding Better Bulldogs has been The Bulldog Club motto since the 1990's and we have seen much success.  In fact Irondog far ahead of the times pioneered health testing.  Twenty years ago the hip dyslaysia rate in American Bulldogs was 50% and the national average score "23".  The Irondog Shows saw a change of focus from "Form" to "Function".   Form should follow function.  The Irondog Champions had to be good at everything!  And very importantly they had to be able to move well.  What happened?  Everyone wanted to get puppies from the Champions.  The result the national average hip score lowered to "13".  Hip dysplaysia is no longer a serious common problem in The American Bulldog Breed in Australia.  Apparently we have lower scores than the USA.  Which is not too say that it has been eradicated.

Hip dysplaysia continues to be a problem in large dog breeds which is why we test hips and elbows but, importantly not forgetting Field Tests.  Xrays are helpful but they do not provide the full picture.   What about the ligaments and tendons.  What about the angulation and confirmation.  The Irondog Shows provide a comprehensive evaluation of a Bulldog (not just a trot around a roped ring).  This is just one of the positive changes in the American Bulldog Breed that Irondog and The American Bulldog Club has been a big part of.  These Champion Bulldogs are far back in the pedigrees now.  They can still be seen in Irondog Pedigrees because Irondog does the longest Bulldog pedigrees in the world.  

Over the last twenty or so years Irondog in cooperation with the American Bulldog Club have hosted dozens of shows and trials on the East Coast of Australia.  In promoting the Irondog Competition the focus of Bulldog Breeding - changed to a more healthy and athletic canine with a diverse gene pool.  A benefit of this has been an increase in longevity in American Bulldogs as a whole.  The Irondog Program has been designed with the input and "Checks and Balances" its Breeders.  Combining a top down management by "leading from the front" and a bottom up reality check of Breeder and Owner expectation has given us a Breed Test program second to none in the world I believe.  With most of the credit going to The Breeders!  Especially the competitors and pioneers of the Bulldog Breed.

Irondog Implemented the Tier system for Registered Breeders in 2012, now ten years ago.  The system was designed to inspired Breeders to reach for greater heights with simple and easy to understand  Tier system that rates Breeders in Australia.

All Registered Breeders start off at Tier 5.  This is the entry level.  The first step in Breeding Better Bulldogs is to Register as a Breeder with Irondog.  This way your Bulldogs progeny can be tracked and are easily identifiable.   You are helping the Bulldog Breed by building up the numbers registered with Irondog so that at a future date we can get them recognized in Australia.  

Rather than have a single rigid criteria for Breeders with Irondog we have five levels.   A pathway to glory works well with Bulldogger's who are fiercely independent; rather than expecting them to fulfill all kinds of requirements immediately.  This gives the recognition that's deserved to Breeders who do the best job of breeding American Bulldogs.   Each level of recognition comes with Privileges and Responsibilities. 

Each level of Breeder has privileges and responsibilities.  We prefer a sliding scale rather than a one size fits all in regard to ethics and responsibilities.  This is not just because Bulldog owners resemble their Bulldogs (stubborn).  It is at it's core an "Inclusive Policy"!  And at Irondog we like to be inclusive.  People achieve their best when they are inspired to do well - not punished for doing wrong.

                                 Tier One -

                                                      The Breeder must combine the features of the lower Tiers and must also have competed in                                                                                Irondog Shows and Won (this does not include non-club or confirmation shows).  That is having one of                                                              their Bulldogs titled as a Show Champion with Irondog.  Puppies must be sold with The Full Registration                                                          paid for by the Breeder (it can reflect poorly on the breed when purchasers are paying thousands of                                                                  dollars for a Bulldog puppy and then have to pay for its registration on top or only receive a token                                                                      certificate).

                                 Tier Two -       

                                                     The Breeder must combine the features of the lower Tiers and must be multi generational.  That is                                                                     having bred puppies from Bulldogs they have bred.  Giving them an in depth - experience driven                                                                       knowledge of the Bulldogs they are producing and how to manage them.  DNA Identification must be                                                               obtained for all Breed Stock.

                                Tier Three -

                                                    The Breeder must have completed extensive health testing.  Including a full DNA Breed Profile.                                                                          Hip and Elbow Scoring on breeding stock (or a combination of spot testing and field testing).  And all                                                                breeding stock must be free of disease and be non carriers of genetic markers for disease.  Guarantees of                                                        puppies must be provided.  And replacement puppy given where the puppy is born with an innate flaw.                                                            This should be a "Replacement Guarantee" but could be a monetary one if replacement is unsuitable to                                                            the puppy buyer and acceptable to the Breeder.  Bulldog Puppies must be sold with Health Proven                                                                   Generation Papers that include information on health testing that has been performed on the Sire & Dam.  

                                 Tier Four -

                                                    The Breeder must have performed Breed Tests on all breeding stock.   And all breeding stock                                                                              must be free of disease and be non carriers of genetic markers for disease or all puppies must have full                                                            DNA profiles and those puppies carrying genetic markers for disease must be registered with a "Not for                                                            Breeding" condition on their registration paperwork.  

                                 Tier Five -

                                                   This is the entry level.  All Breeders begin at Tier 5.  Breeders must provide and obtain registration                                                                     paperwork for all American Bulldogs they own.  Breeders are required to purchase Irondog Registration                                                           papers for ALL puppies that they produce.  All puppies sold or given away must be provided with                                                                       registration paperwork (these can have conditions such as (Not For Breeding).  Breeders must comply with                                                     National and State Laws regarding the ownership and care of their Bulldogs and puppies that are                                                                       produced.  Registered Breeders are subject to audits where complaints have been made about them - and                                                     must comply within a reasonable time frame having been given notice of same.  This is not a dictatorial                                                             oversight, but rather the Club working with Breeders to provide a measure of transparency and                                                                           accountability that can only benefit our breed.  The presumption of innocence and benefit of the doubt are                                                    given to breeders in such situations.  Having a third party stakeholder like this can help bring resolution.

What are the 5 Tiers of Breeders about

   Register with Irondog - The First Thing!

The first cab off the rank is registering with Irondog, and this gets you in the door as a Tier 5 Breeder.  This is part of our inclusive policy for breeders.  Rather than exclude breeders and shun them to the realm of unregistered and cross bred dogs, it makes better sense to create an "entry level" registration.  From there let the Breeders choose where they want to stand on the podium.  With adherence to a set of common sense principles that brings with it privilege and recognition of achievement.  Your responsibility then is to register all your breeding stock with Irondog.  And second to register all of your puppies with Irondog.  This is how we get Bulldogs recognized in Australia!  This is the Primary goal at this time of The True American Bulldog, Original Club of Australia.

There is little accountability with over seas registries.  With Irondog where there is a legitimate complaint we will conduct an audit.

Bulldog  Breeders  Code of Ethics


Making the Pledge to "Breed Better Bulldogs"

Having made a pledge to "Breed Better Bulldogs" which is The Club motto you have bound yourself to a commitment to strive for excellence within the terms of that definition.  Who's definition?  That of the Clubs and Irondog's - in fact that is who you have made the pledge to.  However they are just vehicles for the American Bulldog Breed.  The Bulldog is the real target of your pledge.  And on that proviso you have been issued with a Breeders Certificate which is basically saying the Club and Irondog approve of the strategies and methods you have employed in your American Bulldog Breeding program.

All registered Breeders have made the commitment and expressed it in their own one liner.  The following principles outline a common sense code of Ethics for Breeding Bulldogs that Breeders should meet.  The Code of Ethics was not designed arbitrarily but with the consensus of The Breeders, who represent The Club.  The goal of The Club is to educate for the well being of The Bulldog Breed.

Giving American Bulldogs a Black Eye

Registered Breeders are responsible for the impression they give of the breed, club and Irondog Registry.  It's a reasonable expectation that their conduct will not recklessly or knowingly cause embarrassment; or miss represent The Bulldog Community.   It is incumbent on us all to enhance the reputation of Bulldogger's and Bulldogs and not be a cause of mischief, apprehension or even violence for the community.  Discipline of Bulldogs should not be excessive and training and working activities should not be cruel - complying with law.  Breeders should refrain from behavior that is unbecoming of such.  In advertising breeders are responsible to be honest and forthright in all their dealings and sales.  It should be noted that commercial considerations should not be of primary concern to the breeder.    The Goal should always be "Breeding Better Bulldogs" and improving the breed.

Breeding Age

What is the appropriate age to breed an American Bulldog?  In simple terms breeders should not be interested in breeding what are effectively children - that is "Puppies".  The general consensus is that an American Bulldog is a puppy until it turns 18 months old (as with other large breeds).  Then it becomes "Intermediate"- I guess you could say a teenager or young adult.  At 3 years old a Bulldog has fully matured so this is the best age to breed.  Having said this the general rule of thumb is not to breed a Bulldog until it is 2 years old and this has been the guideline with large dogs in general for donkeys ages.  Why You ask?  Because you don't really know what you have until around that age.  But 18 months is the minimum age for a female to be bred according to The Bulldog Club.  With two years being recommended.  And although a male can be bred from 12 months (or earlier) 16 months is the Club Guideline with two years  recommended.  Laws will vary from state to state and you need to check these laws before breeding your Bulldogs.

Some problems with a dog can be evident from early on and other take time to appear.  Breeding a Bulldog at 2 years of age is a sound decision and fair to the dog because you have given it time to develop unhindered and observe its progress over a suitable period of time.  Is it better to wait till 3 years, certainly.   But Irondog uses a Tier System to rate Breeders rather than have a single black and white rule.  Adherence to different criteria allows Irondog to rate Breeders.  This then inspires Breeders to strive to be better and do better with their Bulldogs - and this is the goal - to Breed Better Bulldogs.  It is important to note that the Irondog Registry does not issue Certificates of Pedigree (required for breeding registered Bulldogs) for Bulldogs under the age of 18 months.  18 months is the minimum age to breed American Bulldogs.  However if there has been a mishap before 18 months please contact us to discuss options.

Can you physically breed a Bulldog while it is still a puppy?  Yes of course they come on heat twice in that time.  Which is why you must make efforts to ensure that your Bulldog female does not get mated whilst it is still a puppy.   The onus is on you as The Breeder!  Proper care must be taken to ensure fencing is adequate; supervision thorough & with knowledge of the cycle to prevent premature breeding.  

Healthy Bulldogs

Only healthy Bulldogs should be used for breeding.  Dogs that possess undesirable genetic traits must not be bred to produce registered American Bulldogs.  These include but are not limited to NCL; ICH; Hip and elbow dysplaysia; entropion and ectropion.  Bulldogs used for breeding must have the relevant Veterinary, DNA and Field tests.  The American Breed Profile Test (At Orivet) is the next place to start after having the health check by your veterinarian.  The Breed profile test checks for a number of common disease problems within the breed.  In breeding within immediate family should not be conducted.   Generally speaking a bitch should not be mated more than 5 times in her lifetime and a vet check is appropriate before breeding Bulldogs 8 years and over.  The Breeder should maintain an ongoing relationship with puppy buyers where possible as they are and will remain a stakeholder in the Bulldogs health and welfare.  Members are encouraged not to cross breed and are instructed to not breed a Registered American Bulldog to an un-papered American Bulldog.  Unregistered Bulldogs are a massive problem leading to all kinds of health and temperament problems because best practices and histories of the canines are not maintained.  These dogs often go to unprepared homes where they can bring the real American Bulldogs into disrepute.  Breeding with these is facilitating the spread of health problems, in-breeding and irresponsible ownership.


Regular Vet Audits should be carried out by Breeders.  The True American Bulldog Original Club of Australia reserves the right to audit Breeders where complaints have been made, given reasonable notice to the breeder.  Audits are also conducted when Breeders have applied to upgrade their Breeder Tier.   Breeders must keep records of vaccinations and parasite treatments and all veterinary services acquired to present to The Club if and when an audit occurs.  Are there consequences to breaking your Breeder's Commitment?  Yes.  In the worst cases Breeders are de-registered, and even banned for life.  This has happened on two occasions.  Where there are breaches that are low level, do not demonstrate a course of conduct or serious but there are extenuating circumstances a verbal warning or "Cautionary Notice" will be given to a Breeder.

Compliance with Law and Common Sense with Bulldog care

Breeders must comply with National/State laws regarding the treatment and care of all their Bulldogs, not to mention the application of common sense.  Dogs should have appropriate shelter and water always available; food; parasite control; grooming; veterinary care; exercise and quality time with owners.  Bulldog owners should ensure their animals are appropriately confined, safe and free from distress.  Where Bulldogs are left with others the owner remains responsible for their maintenance.  

Planning a Litter

Advertising and networking are key when planning a litter.  A good rule of thumb is that half the litter should be sold before the mating even takes place.  This way you only have to find homes for half the litter.  You should also have plan A,B,C in your pocket.  That is alternative stand by homes in case for any reason you are not able to make puppy sales.

Socializing and Temperament

There is only really one way to know what you will produce with American Bulldog litters and that is to get to know your Bulldogs.  Get them out in the world with lots of different experiences.  This will reveal their strengths and weaknesses. This is especially important with Johnson Bulldogs who can be dog aggressive and are generally dog dominant.  

Over Breeding

Registered Breeders should not breed any American Bulldog bitch three times in 18 months.  Veterinarians have different opinions as to whether it is better to breed a female twice in one year and then rest for a year, or to breed just once per year.  In any case the two options both conform to the three times rule.  Further Breeders should comply with the law in their country and state regarding the number of litters that should be had with any one particular female in her lifetime.

                              The Process for Resolving Breaches of Ethics 

A gentle but firm approach is taken by the Club to resolve breaches of ethics.  It is recognized that Bulldog Breeders are a fiercely  independent, geographically dispersed group involved in the ownership, care and promotion of a "Rare Breed".  So care and respect are taken in dealing with them.  A strategy of escalating measures are taken to inspire breeders to adhere to common sense ethical standards.  Just as we have a 5 Tier Rating system for Kennels we have 5 levels of response to reported breaches.

First Response: A member of the sub-committee for Ethical Standards will contact the Breeder in question, evaluate the situation and                                  give them fair warning verbally where appropriate.  This is reported to the Club and recorded in it's next meetings                                            minutes.  This is warning is given privately and in confidence.  No further action is taken.

Second Breach: A written warning is given to the breeder (by a member of the sub-committee with guidelines provided to rectify the                                    issue or issues at hand and a 6 month time period to resolve them.  This written warning is not disclosed to the public                                  and is given in private correspondence in confidence.  

Third Breach:  This matter is investigated for the Club by the Ethics committee and a report prepared for the Club.  This report is sent by                            registered mail or hand delivered as well as being emailed to The Breeder in question.  The Breeder is given 30 days to                                reply to the matters raised.  The Club is given another 30 days to discuss and perform due diligence on the matter.                                        Following this a meeting is scheduled with the Breeder.  At the conclusion of the meeting guidelines will be issued                                        regarding the matter of concern.  If found at fault the Breeder will be demoted a level on the Tiers and a tag                                                    posted publicly in respect that a "Caution" has been given.  This will remain in force for 12 months.

Fourth Breach: This matter is investigated for the Club by the Ethics committee and a report prepared for the Club.  This report is sent                                by registered mail or hand delivered as well as being emailed to The Breeder in question.  The Breeder is given 30 days                              to reply to the matters raised.  The Club is given another 30 days to discuss and perform due diligence on the matter.                                    Following this a meeting is scheduled with the Breeder.  At the conclusion of the meeting guidelines will be issued to                                  rectify the situation of concern.  If found at fault the Breeder will be demoted to the 5th level on the Tiers and a tag post                              publicly in respect that a "2nd Caution" has been given and importantly "What that caution is for".

Fifth Breach: This matter is investigated for the Club by the Ethics committee and a report prepared for the Club.  This report is sent                                by registered mail or hand delivered as well as being emailed to The Breeder in question.  The Breeder is given 30 days                              to reply to the matters raised.  The Club is given another 30 days to discuss and perform due diligence on the matter.                                    Following this a meeting is scheduled with the Breeder.  At the conclusion of the meeting guidelines will be issued to                                  rectify the situation of concern.  If found at fault the Breeder will be de-registered with the possibility of being banned for                            life.   The reason for de-registration may also be posted online.

Historical Breaches: Events that have occurred prior to the registration of The True American Bulldog Original Club of Australia will not be pursued.  Retrospective investigations are not constructive or in the best interests of The Breed.  We must look forward.  Breaches prior to the posting of The Club Breeder Ethics will be dealt with by discretion taking into account the nature and volition involved.

Breeding Unregistered Bulldogs

Registered Breeders must not breed their dogs to unregistered Bulldogs.  This is a core principle.  Breaching it is an insult to the breed.

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