The American Sentinel concept began in the early 1990's, and the project of the breed's development began in 2000. The goal of the American Sentinel has been to use performance selection in order to produce a breed (a line/strain) of dogs that excel in applications suitable for working bandogs, dogs that excel at protection work or catching dangerous wild game. A breed is not a species, nor is it a category of taxonomy. Instead, a breed is term that is used to describe a group of individuals that display the traits described in a "breed standard." Nothing more. Breeds should display a degree of uniformity, and have less genetic variation than what is seen in the general population of canines. Some breed standards focus on physical appearance, some focus on function, and some focus on both. We breed working dogs that fit the characteristics described within the American Sentinel breed standard, which addresses the physical and mental requirements required to excel at catch work and protection work.
The people that ask this question are typically under the impression that the American Sentinel is produced by cross breeding certain breeds of dogs, and simply put, that couldn't be further from the truth. As a result, to list what breeds we used to create the American Sentinel would be misleading; therefore, I prefer not to list the breeds used. If however you are asking because you wish to get a better understanding what the American Sentinel is, then I would recommend that you look at the traits of my dogs for your answer. I, H. Lee Robinson, have been teaching genetics for approximately 20 years, and simply put, genetics is a branch of biology, not chemistry. A breed is defined by alleles and traits, not percentages of various ingredients used in a "secrete recipe." Different breeders could start off with the same family of purebred dogs and end up producing very different dogs depending upon their knowledge of genetics and what selection criteria they use. I obtained two degrees in Animal Sciences (a B.S. & a M.S.) to learn about genetics and behavior, worked with some of the top trainers in the world, researched the work of some of the world's most notable breeders of canines, selected some of the finest foundation stock available, trained and evaluated many generations of dogs, and created a well respected international breeding program. My breeding program began in 2000, but my personal labors on this project are over two decades. I have invested an extensive amount of my time, education, training, work, and money (well over $200,000 if you add it all up) into the development of the American Sentinel. So, the answer to this question is...the American Sentinel is not a product of cross breeding, but instead is a product of using my knowledge and experience along with performance selecting to produce a population or "family" of dogs that display the traits we consider desirable.
It is a goal of mine to educate the public about performance selection in order to improve the health and working ability of canines. Kennel Clubs have foolishly promoted the idea of breeding selection on the basis of pedigree alone when they should be promoting quality performance selection to a working "breed's standard." A quick lesson here is...
- Conformation should suggest sound structure, but it doesn't actually confirm it.
- A pedigree suggests what a dog is suppose to be, but it doesn't always determine it.
- Only performance measures truly tell what a dog is, and testing requires the dog to work.
For this reason, identifying what breeds I used would not properly describe my dogs. In fact, the question "What breeds did you use," is one of the major reasons bandogs today are far too often of low quality, because many amateur "bandog breeders" think they can just copy some published "breed foundation recipe" instead of using performance selection to produce great results. Honestly, only an ignorant breeder would think success was that simple. I want breeders to successfully improve the health and working ability of canines today. To accomplish this, we need to properly promote the use of performance selection to capture the desired traits.
The American Sentinels are defined as a family of dogs with a high degree of mental stability, physical health, athleticism, fight drive, prey drive, defense drive, power, confidence with strong nerves, endurance, heat tolerance, a desire to please their master, and a short coat. Meanwhile, American Sentinel should NOT be high in rank drive as dogs that are high in rank drive are more prone to challenge their family, which is undesirable in a family protector. Thank you for reading.
When properly used, the word "bandog" is an adjective that describes a job, not a breed. The question "What is a bandog," is like asking "What is a guard dog?" Or, "What is a catch dog?" Many "bandog breeders" fail to understand this and mistakenly refer to the bandog as a breed, when it should be a job description. Additionally, nearly every "bandog program" has their own goal, and there are many "recipes" for such dogs, and therefore the diversity of such said "bandogs" is rather extreme...ranging from healthy and athletic working dogs to non-functional unsound and unfit pets. While there are some quality bandog programs out there, buyer beware, as most "bandog breeders" do not understand what a true bandog is, and without that understanding they cannot produce true bandogs. As a result, consistency does not exist in the "bandog."
This is why we refer to our dogs as "American Sentinel Canine," as the American Sentinel Canine is the "breed name" we use to describe our lines of working bandogs. We are developing the American Sentinel Canine as a modern breed that meets the high performance standards established by the legendary bandogs of history. Our dogs represent the "old world bandog," and should not be confused with the inconsistent and non-functional "bandogs" that are so commonly produced by pet breeders today.
ASK FOR CONSISTENT PROOF!!! There are some bandog programs out there that have high standards, but unfortunately most "bandog breeders" are parasiting off the name and do not work their dogs. Such breeders seldom even know what a true bandog is suppose to be, much less own one, and are even less likely to consistently produce such. A breeder cannot consistently produce working bandogs unless they CONSISTENTLY work and test their stock, and then only reproduce the individuals that work well. I have seen several programs make false claims about their dogs being of "working type" when said breeders do not test the performance of their dogs. If they claim their dogs to be protective, ask for proof. If they say their dogs can do catch work, ask for proof. And, finding one specimen in a hundred (owned by some client that had a brief evaluation) after putting hundreds of dogs on the ground doesn't make a working bandog program. They need to be able to provide CONSISTENT PROOF for such work...including not just the dogs being bred, but also their relatives too. For this reason, ASK FOR PROOF. If a breeder is not willing to provide you with evidence that they consistently work THEIR dogs, I recommend you disregard any claims they make. I say this because it is far more common to find a "bandog breeder" that says they work their dogs than it is to find one that really does so...much less does so consistently. Look for quality work. Grips should be full. Dogs should be athletic and conditioned. Do NOT be fooled by unsupported claims.
If you want to breed American Sentinels that are registered with the ASCR, then you will need to prove the working ability of your dogs. If you do not have any desire to breed American Sentinel, then I recommend doing whatever it is that you want to do. Training the dog to do protection work can be very beneficial when it comes to enhancing your dog's potential. Catch work can be potentially dangerous, so know that before you get involved in such. Should you wish to get involved in either, know the laws in your area and be sure to only work with professionals. If you do not wish to train, that is fine. Your dog should have a basic instinct to be protective in a clear threat, but know that good training will improve the dog's effectiveness."Are there any major differences between American Sentinels and other protection breeds?"
Yes. There are different types of aggression. Review our article on animal behavior to get more understanding on the different types of aggression, but briefly speaking, there are three major differences between our dogs and most traditional guard dogs/protection dogs. Nearly all quality protection dogs display reasonably high prey drive and this is true for our dogs as well. Defensive drive should also be present to at least some degree, and again, this is true for our dogs as well. Most trainers are aware of both of these drives. The differences with the American Sentinel however can cause some difficulty for some trainers that are inexperienced with working non-traditional breeds of protection dogs. These three differences are..."Does protection training make my dog more dangerous?"
- The American Sentinel tends to be much more capable physically than traditional protection breeds, but this generally speaking is not a problem for most experienced trainers.
- Our dogs have less rank drive than traditional protection breeds, which can be a problem for some trainers that lack experience with family dogs and are primarily versed in training patrol type dogs, where defensive training often begins with dominant posturing instead of active aggression.
- Our dogs have higher fight drive, so using active frustration tends to be an effective method to use when starting our dogs. Once a proper foundation is established in training, the dogs will work effective through any challenge, but understanding what motivates these dogs in the beginning allows the trainer to be more efficient in the dog's development.
Not if done correctly. Firearms are "dangerous" when they are in the hands of those that do not understand them properly, but they are not dangerous when they are properly used. Protection training is somewhat comparable to that analogy. Training with firearms should make you a safer person around firearms and training with your dog should also improve your management of your dog by enhancing your knowledge and also by improving the communication between you and your dog. Your ability to read your dog's expressions should improve as you gain experience in training. If you fail to understand what is going on and why, then you should stop training and ask your trainer to explain to you what is going on. If your trainer cannot explain to you what they are doing, or if you are not able to understand what they are doing, then we recommend that the training is placed on temporary hold until this can be properly corrected. Also, since our dogs are low in rank drive, you really should have no legitimate reason to be concerned about your dog ever challenging or threatening a trusted member of your family unit. Your protection trained dog may however require more from you in terms of restraint or obedience when it comes to managing them around those outside of your circle of trust.
The idea that protection training makes a dog more dangerous is true when one is irresponsible, works with the wrong temperament of dog, or works an unprofessional trainer. All dog owners need to practice responsible ownership and good judgement with their pets. With good management, there is no legitimate reason for a protection dog to be "dangerous." Irresponsible ownership, incompetent ownership, and a lack of understanding canine behavior is what makes a dog dangerous. When people say, "he just snapped and never did anything like that before," an experienced dog person knows that either the dog was put into a very stressful situation OR the owner failed to see the warning signs. Training does not teach a dog to bite; dogs already know how to do that. Instead, proper training should should focus on teaching the dog not to engage, but when and how to engage.
A bandog is a job description of a dog suitable to be released for the purpose of catching quarry. It is not a breed; therefore, no one can say if a dog is or is not a bandog by looking at it. One has to test the dog's drives, confidence, nerves, and structural soundness to answer that question.
1) Define your goal, be responsible with your dogs, accountable for their care, learn basic canine behavior, how to train, and basic genetic principles.
2) Read the first question at the top of this page. If you think your success will depend upon what breeds you use, don't even start. What you need to focus on are the traits, not the breeds. Also, starting a program with a foundation from traditional breeds requires a significant long term investment, and it will be years and perhaps even a decade before you will find yourself consistently producing what you desire. So, instead of starting a program from scratch, I would recommend you contact a reputable breeder that consistently produces the types of dogs with the traits that you like and work on continuing their program. In doing so you will become part of a successful program rather than trying to start something new from ground zero.
We do health test our dogs, and our dogs are very healthy. While health testing is beneficial, I am confident that most of our success with healthy offspring is a result of significant performance testing and selection. While I do health test my breeding stock, typically speaking I will see such problems prior to health testing. This is because I work my dogs and I pay attention to their movement and their recovery time from such work. The most fit breeds of dogs are working breeds that are selected on the basis of performance. I know some people say they can't see structural soundness without health testing, but I understand canine movement and pay attention to detail...and as a result I see things a lot of people do not see. While common in many mastiff type breeds, hip dysplasia is very rare in our program (seemingly less than 5%); however, for our client's peace of mind we guarantee against hip dysplasia or other genetic disorders on our working class dogs with a full replacement as long as the dog has never been bred, although the client is responsible for any necessary shipping costs.
That said, every dog we breed has had their hips x-rayed by our vet and is rated as "excellent," "good," or on the upper end of "fair" by our vet, with most being excellent or good. I do not breed dogs with fair on both sides, low scoring fair, and certainly never breed dogs with poor hips. I have the x-rays to prove this when needed. We do not test thyroid, entropian, elbows, etc because we have never had a reason to.
Yes, we now have dogs in 10 countries and over 35 states."Why do you crop the ears on some of your dogs?"
Domestic shipment within the continental US is not a problem and we do that regularly. In most cases, domestic shipment of an 8-9 week old pup is around $450 dollars by the time one pays for the air fare, the crate (with required bowls and bedding), and health certificate.
Unfortunately, exporting to other countries has become much more difficult in recent years. If you are interested in having a dog or pup shipped to another country, you need to check the requirements on importing a dog to your country.
I cannot think of a single predator in nature...canine, feline, or whatever...that has a floppy ear. The erect ear hears better by channeling sound into the ear canal. Cup your hand like a satellite behind your ear lobe and form a cone with your hand and pay attention to how much more you can hear. This works for the dog as well. Additionally, a floppy ear is more prone to both bacterial infections and fungal infections as moisture gets trapped in the ear and it doesn't ventilate properly to dry out. The cropped ear prevents this. We however don't crop the ears on all the dogs. Most dogs need to be cropped around 8-12 weeks of age. Some can be done much later if the ear is thin or perky...but heavy, thick ears are less likely to stand and need to be cut too short to form a satellite. As a result, we don't always crop such ears. Also, cropping ears is costly, especially when one keeps several dogs from a single litter.
Yes, but this is done at the vet clinic, which we pay for. Our fee is $250.
Our dogs are bred to be protection dogs, family companion guardians, a type of stable minded gladiator so to speak. I do NOT do short tail dockings. I like the longer dock because it allows for the dog to still use its tail for communication and also to protect its anal and genital regions; however, I do not like living with large dogs with full length tails for several reasons.
- In a natural setting, a full length tail is fine, but in a domestic setting a long tail is more easily injured. Not only can the tail can get slammed in a door, but even wagging a full length tail in confined spaces often damages the tip repeatedly getting whipped into things, causing it to become injured and bloody.
- Criminals often work in groups, and a second person can grab a full length tail to manipulate a dog that has apprehended a first person.
- The claim that docking a dog's tail interferes with its balance is pretty much nonsense for a gladiator type of dog. Perhaps in light framed, high speed coursing predators, such as with greyhounds or cheetahs that corner at high speeds the tail may have some rudder like benefit, but for heavier framed gladiator type of predator this argument does not seem to hold much merit. For example, in the feline world we can see the stocky built bobtail and lynx cats both have short tails. Both bobtail and lynx cats are known to have exceptional balance in trees and outstanding combative gladiator abilities, but neither is a high speed courser. My dogs are not built like racy greyhounds or cheetahs. My dogs are to the canine genus what the bobtail cat and lynx are to the feline genus. Our dogs excel at protection work and also dangerous game catch work, and balance has never been an issue because our dogs are selected on the basis of performance, which includes athleticism.
Yes, but ONLY if you have first pick on a breeding and ONLY if you are willing to commit to picking a given pup when the pups are 5 days old. I dock the tails the first week of their life because they hardly feel it at that time, and this also requires them to develop their nervous system properly. I don't want the dogs to learn to use a tail and then take it away. Instead, I prefer for them to develop their nervous system the same way a bobtail cat or lynx would. As a result, to get a dog with a full length tail, you have to select and pay in full for a certain dog before the pups are 5 days old. I am not going to leave the tails full length on an entire litter so you can purchase one pup.