Game, Gameness, or “Game-bred”

The term "game" in dog temperament refers to a dog that seemingly has a disregard for injury, exhaustion, and death when in an aggressive state, particularly when hunting and fighting.  The term has historically been used to describe the temperament of fighting dogs that have derived from the old bulldog of England that was used to bait bulls for sport.

It was common practice to dismember these bulldogs by cutting off a front limb, as they remained clamped onto the faces of an exhausted and defeated bull.  Bulldogs that would endure this practice and remain in a fighting state became valued breeders.

Although this practice ended with the outlawed sport of bull baiting this trait was passed along and tested in other ways, such as fighting rings against other dogs, during the development of the pit bull style dogs that derived from these early bull dogs.  According to formal rules of most fighting rings, which were legal for some time, it was not the most domineering dog that won a fight, it was the dog that stopped fighting that would lose.  So it was possible and common for a very injured dog with broken limbs to win a fight because it didn't stop fighting a "stronger" dog that eventually gave up due to exhaustion.

The trait was also interestingly passed along to the greyhound who were crossbred with bulldogs to make them more persistent on their rabbit hunts.  It was reported that some greyhounds would run themselves to death if they didn't catch the rabbit after this cross took place.

It is important to note that NO breed of dog is automatically game just because the trait was historically encouraged through breeding.  The term "game bred" is used when a breeder is making an effort to maintain the trait through carefully breeding "game" parents.

These two videos show some reality of "game bred" out of the mouths of the type of people that have bred for gameness for centuries:

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Another video:

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  1. This is probably the most difficult article for me to digest by far. Took me literally 3 days to finish the videos because I had to constantly pause it and put it off for another time.

    But I am thank for this article/video and thank you Mike for not shying away from posting these kind of things. Covering our eyes and ears won’t do us or the breed any good, and it sure as hell wouldn’t help stop such stupidity from continuing to happen.

    1. Thank you for the kind words Davis. I love the bully breeds and have owned and loved many of them. Along with the working breeds, the fighting breeds are the most common dogs I work with. I am a true believer that understanding them is the first step to being an effective advocate. Most of the bully breeds that get into trouble in modern times are owned by people who truly don’t understand them. This is the same for the guardian breeds.

  2. I skip over most of the vid as it stress me out knowing this is still happening behind close doors. I couldn’t watch it all as it was too cruel… what is wrong with those people to call it a sport. What I did see of the vid I can understand why the public fear the breed… shame as I also know these dogs can be very loving. (My decoy/trainer owns one that his trained in protection work and its very friendly/safe dog when bred and trained properly). I will eventually try to watch as much as I can handle of the vid… even though it stress me its important we don’t walk around with close eyes. At least it is banned and the laws are trying to stopped it… Thanks mike for opening my eyes.

  3. Hard to watch but informative. Thanks for putting this on there Mike. The second video is not live at the moment. The bully breeds are such great animals, let’s hope this kind of bs gets stopped, but I doubt it will soon be fully eradicated. Too much money in there and people are always looking for ways to make money with minimal effort. If they wanna fight, they should fight themselves – idiots.