Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog

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Introduction


The Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog is a rare breed that boasts having a distinct and unique look about them which is thought to be very much like the bulldogs of times long past. There is quite a bit of controversy as to how the breed first came about, but what is known is that these charming dogs are extremely versatile and make wonderful companions and family pets. However, anyone wishing to share their home with a Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog would need to register their interest with breeders because very few well-bred puppies become available every year.


History


It's thought that the Alapaha has existed in the United States for around 200 years and more especially in the southern part of the country. However, there are no records of the breed prior to 1979, but many people believe they are the descendants of several Bulldog breeds and other crosses that were taken to the States by early settlers. Those dogs tended to be taller with lighter and more athletic builds that the dogs of today. They were bred to work driving cattle and other livestock as well as to guard and keep vermin under control.



The Alapaha has been known by several other names which includes Cowdog, and Catahoula Bulldog. Thanks to the endeavours of breed enthusiasts based in the American South, these handsome dogs were saved from extinction when a serious breeding programme was set in place and they were given the name Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog before the club established a breed standard.



They have always been referred to as "catch dogs" because they were used to drive quarry or livestock towards hunters so they could capture them. These powerful dogs have always remained a popular choice in America, but they are still thought of as a "rare" breed even in the States. Up until now, the Alapaha has not been recognised by The Kennel Club and the breed remains a lot less popular in the UK as compared with other native Bulldog breeds.



As such anyone wishing to share their home with an Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because so few well-bred puppies are available every year.


Appearance


Height at the withers: Males 48 - 66 cm, Females 48 - 66 cm at the withers



Average weight: Males 30 - 45 kg, Females 25 - 30 kg



Alapahas are powerful dogs and they boast having large square heads and compact, extremely muscular bodies. Their heads are broad with a well-defined stop which adds to its square appearance. Foreheads are wide which is typical of the Bulldog breed. They have thick, broad muzzles that taper ever so slightly to a large, black coloured nose. They have a reverse scissor bite and their eyes are medium in size being anything from round to almond shaped and set well apart on a dog's face. Eyes can be any colour, but a dark brown is the preferred colour and eye rims should be black too. Ears are either small or medium in size and set high on the head. They can drop down, be semi-pricked or rose ears are acceptable too.



Their necks are muscular and powerful with a slight arch at the crest before tapering gently from the shoulders to a dog's head. Dogs often have a slight dewlap on their necks. Shoulders are extremely strong and well-muscled with shoulder blades being well laid back. Front legs are heavily boned and muscular.



An Alapha Blue Bood Bulldog has a compact, muscular body with a deep and moderately wide chest. Ribs are well sprung and the topline slopes a little from the wither to a dog’s broad and well-muscled back. Loins are broad, slightly arched and short, merging into a sloping croup. Flanks are moderately tucked up and very firm. Back legs are very muscular with dogs boasting well developed lower thighs. Their feet are medium in size and round with dogs having well arched, tight toes. Tails are thickest at the base and set low before tapering to the tip. Dogs carry their tails upright when alert but between their back legs when they are relaxed.



When it comes to their coat, the Alapaha boasts having a short, dense, close lying and stiff top coat with a much softer undercoat. The most commonly seen colours include the following:




  • White with other colours in their coat

  • Any colour with white running through their coat

  • Brindle with white in their coats


Temperament


Alapahas are known to be confident, self-assured dogs and ones that are always very alert to what is going on around them. They form strong bonds with their owners and families, but tend to be quite wary and aloof around strangers. They can be quite "off" with other dogs they don't already know too. With this said, in a home environment, they make wonderful family pets and excellent watch dogs because they are territorial by nature which is a trait that's deeply embedded in their psyche. As such, this protective side of a dog's character has to be gently curbed when they are very young before things get out of hand.



Because they form such strong ties with their owners, they can be quite demanding not liking to be left on their own for any length of time. As such, they are better suited to people who lead active, outdoor lives and in households where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out of the house. They are not the best choice for first time owners because the Alapaha needs to be handled and trained by people familiar with the specific needs of such a powerful and often demanding dog.



It's really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too. An Alapaha is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of a dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle, something that must be avoided at all costs.



Their education has to start as soon as puppies arrive in their new homes by teaching them the "basics" and that there are boundaries that must not be crossed. It is far easier to teach younger Alapahas the "rules" than it is to teach a dog that’s much older and therefore a lot bigger and more powerful. It's essential for these dogs to know their place in the pack and who is the alpha dog in the household so they remain manageable.


Intelligence / Trainability


The Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog is an intelligent dog and one that's a fast learner with the downside to this being they are just as quick to pick a lot of bad behaviours and habits as they are the good ones. As such, their training has to begin early and it has to be very consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so that dogs understand what their owners expect of them.



They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods which could end up bringing the worst out of these powerful and sometimes strong-willed dogs. However, they do respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these intelligent and powerful dogs, especially when there are high value rewards involved. It's also essential to gently curb any protective and guarding traits a dog displays to avoid problems when they are older.



Training sessions need to be kept short and interesting which dogs find easier to cope with. Longer more repetitive sessions do not work because an Alapaha would quickly get bored and look for something more interesting to do rather than stay focussed on what is being asked of them. It's always a good idea to enrol a dog into puppy classes once they have been fully vaccinated like this they get to meet lots of new people and other dogs while starting their training in earnest in a safe and controlled environment.


Children and Other Pets


The Alapaha is known to be gentle around children they have grown up with. However, they can become a little too over-protective of their families which means care has to be taken when they are around kids they don't already know. As such, any interaction between children and a dog should always be supervised by an adult to make sure things stay calm.



When they have grown up with other pets in a household and this includes cats, the Alapaha generally gets on well with them. However, they can be aggressive towards dogs they have never met before which means care has to be taken as to where and when they are allowed to run free off their leads especially if there are other dogs about. Any contact with smaller animals and unfamiliar pets is best avoided because an Alapaha might just see them as "fair game" because of their high prey drive.


Health


The average life expectancy of a Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog is between 12 and 13 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.



The Alapaha is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these powerful dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:




  • Hip dysplasia - Breeder should have stud dogs hip scored

  • Congenital deafness

  • Entropion

  • Skin issues


Caring for a Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog


As with any other breed, Alapahas need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Grooming


The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog boasts having a smooth, close lying, short coat and therefore they are low maintenance on the grooming front. A weekly or twice weekly brush and wipe over with a chamois leather is all it takes to remove any loose hair and to keep a nice sheen on their coats.



It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections.


Exercise


Alapahas are not high energy dogs, but they still need the right amount of exercise every day combined with as much mental stimulation as possible to prevent them from getting bored. They need anything from 20 to 40-minutes exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible, but only in areas that are extremely safe and secure. It would be a mistake to let an Alapaha off their leads in a public area where there are other dogs because they can be aggressive towards them.



If Alapahas are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, they would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty. A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these powerful dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.



With this said, Alapahas puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.


Feeding


If you get an Alapaha puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.



Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog


If you are looking to buy an Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £600 for a well-bred puppy.



The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog in northern England would be £53.79 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £120.54 a month (quote as of August 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.



When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Alapaha and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1500 a year.



As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog would be between £100 to £180 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred puppy.


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