The American Bully: A History

Thursday. May. 1968
Males at 38 pounds.
Cajun Rules, Howard Tee, Referee
Pete Sparks, Timekeeper

Jack Smith is using a red dog called Bozo. Across from him stands Floyd Boudreaux with a black dog called Eli. 

Eli starts off by mauling Bozo around his throat. Bozo tries to grab Eli’s ear and shoulder. A roaring crowd makes bets, jeering both dogs on. 14 minutes have passed and Eli continues to press into Bozo’s throat. Bozo throws off Eli, but Eli instantly comes back and goes for his throat. More bets are made. 25 minutes pass. It looks like Eliis fatigued. Bozo has opened up Eli’s front leg. 38 minutes pass. Eli comes back and once again goes into Bozo’s neck. Over the next twenty minutes, both dogs will fall to the floor from their injuries – both dogs close to death – both still fighting. After one hour and 1 minute, Eli is crowned the winner. 

If you own an American Bully, there is a likelihood that you can trace its lineage to a dog that’s been bred from one of Floyd Boudreaux’s champion American Pitbull Terriers. A dog bred to be a champion fighter. While the above account was from the late 60s, Floyd Boudreaux would be involved in dog fighting until the 2000s – even arrested by the state of Louisiana in 2005 (although later acquitted due to a lack of evidence.)

If you bought a dog related to MBB Camo (a dog whose offspring also killed 38-year-old Megan Milner in Canada despite growing up in a loving home) you can trace the lineage back to Floyd Bordeaux’s Maverick – bred in the 80s or 90s. Within MBB Camo’s pedigree, you also find Garner Frisco, a dog who’s offspring account for 34 wins. There are a number of other fighting dogs you can trace the lineage back to.

The Director of the UK Bully Kennel Club sells dogs which descend from MBB Camo. Dogs from dog fighting pedigrees. Dogs related to those which have killed. 

This is the history of the American Bully. The history of the men and the dogs they chose to breed from. 

The origins

The American Bully breed was initiated by a small group of breeders in the late 1980s to early 1990s. Perhaps the most notable among these breeders is David Wilson, often credited as the founder of the American Bully. He established Razor’s Edge Kennels alongside his friend Carlos Barksdale. Their aim was to breed stockier, more muscular game-bred pit bulls with larger, block-like heads.

During this period, there were two primary types of pit bulls in the United States: the game-bred pit bulls registered with the UKC (United Kennel Club) and ADBA (American Dog Breeders Association), and the show-bred pit bulls registered with the AKC (American Kennel Club) as American Staffordshire Bull Terriers. The AKC first recognized pit bulls in 1936 but, to distance the breed from its association with dogfighting, renamed it the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (later changed to American Staffordshire Terrier). Interestingly, the dog used as the standard for this new breed was Colby’s Primo, one of  the  prized fighting pit bulls of John Colby – who pioneered the modern American Pitbull Terrier. 

The AKC would continue to register UKC-registered American Pit Bull Terriers as late as the 1970s. Over the years, the appearance of the “show” American Staffordshire Terriers diverged from that of “working” American Pitbull Terriers. 

Razor’s Edge – the creators of the American Bully 

What Dave Wilson sought was not a show-bred, larger pit bull, but rather a pit bull that retained the tenacity, drive, and muscle structure of a game pit bull. He envisioned a dog that was larger, more muscular, and more extreme in appearance, yet still resembled a game pit bull in essence.

To achieve this, Wilson and Barksdale travelled extensively to acquire breeding dogs that fit their specific criteria. They established their breeding operation, Razor’s Edge Kennels, in Maryland. By the early 1990s, they were successfully breeding distinct-looking, stocky, muscular pit bulls. Wilson even travelled to the West Coast to showcase his dogs and collaborated with Greyline and Gottiline kennels, who were also breeding similar types of pit bulls. These early breeders didn’t set out to create a new dog breed; they simply aimed to breed the kind of pit bulls they admired, which they referred to as “bully-type” pit bulls. Razor’s Edge, along with other breeders, began selling more and more dogs in the Los Angeles area, where the breed first gained popularity.

However, their initial success within the UKC (United Kennel Club) led to a rift. Breeders who favoured the smaller, more traditional game pit bulls—those that adhered closely to the UKC breed description—argued that these stockier, more muscular dogs were not true-to-type game pit bulls. This disagreement escalated into an unfortunate incident where some disgruntled breeders of the traditional American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) called the police to have Wilson and other like-minded breeders of “bully-type” dogs removed from a public park where a UKC show was being held.

Following this incident, David Wilson and a few other like-minded breeders decided to part ways with the UKC and pursue their own breeding goals. They formed their own community, which initially included Razor’s Edge, Greyline, Gottiline, Muglestons, and a few others. Their collective aim was to create a more robust, muscular version of the game pit bull, featuring more pronounced muscles on the neck, back, and withers, as well as a wider chest and a larger, block-like head. The breeders often said, “Let’s bring the bull back into the pit bull,” hence the term “bullier pit bull.”

By the late 1990s, Razor’s Edge began selling an increasing number of dogs in the Los Angeles area, where these bullier dogs quickly gained popularity. Suddenly, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, these dogs began appearing in music videos. Celebrities, including basketball and American football players, also started expressing interest in them. The breed’s visibility in music videos and among celebrities led to a sudden surge in demand.

This moment marked a crucial turning point in the story of the American Bully breed, and it’s important to consider the implications of this explosion in demand.

The Bully Explosion

As the new millennium dawned, the demand for these dogs skyrocketed, and so did their prices. Until this point, only a handful of breeders had been cultivating this specific line of pit bulls, resulting in demand far outstripping supply. Aspiring breeders looking to enter the lucrative bully pit bull market faced two options:

  • Travel across the country to source and build up their breeding stock, much like the original breeders, and then breed them for multiple generations to produce the larger, “bullier” type of pit bulls.
  • Purchase dogs from the few established kennels and start breeding them immediately.

Clearly, the second option was the more viable route for those looking to quickly enter the profitable bully breeding business. This is why most American Bullies can trace their lineage back to a few original kennels, resulting in a limited gene pool. In fact, all American Bullies share the same few ancestors, far fewer than most other dog breeds. David Wilson himself has spoken about the challenges this early surge in popularity posed for the American Bully breed.

Muscle is King 

It’s crucial to understand that the primary goal of early bully kennels was not to produce larger dogs, but rather to create dogs with more exaggerated muscle structure. Essentially, they aimed to breed a pit bull that resembled a game pit bull but appeared as if it were “on steroids.” The ultimate objective in bully pit bull breeding was, and still is, to achieve extreme musculature. The larger size of some variants, like the XLs, emerged as a byproduct of breeding for more robust builds, while others, like the pocket version, remained smaller.

Until the mid-2010s, the most popular Bully sires, such as Kimbo, his son Juggernaut, and Kurupt Kennels’ The Panic, were known for their extreme features. These dogs were legendary sires that epitomized the desired type at the time. Despite being relatively short by today’s XL standards, they were enormous, wide, heavy dogs with extreme muscle structure and large heads—a key characteristic sought by all Bully breeders.

The emphasis has always been on exaggerated muscle structure and large heads, making these dogs highly fashionable and desirable. This focus on musculature is precisely why we feel there is a strong case that no other dog breeds have been mixed into the American Bully lineage. Introducing Mastiffs, for example, would have increased size but compromised the breed’s defining muscular build. 

The Debate on Crossbreeding

Some argue that crossbreeding must have occurred to produce the American Bully’s unique characteristics. However, even well-known bully breeders admit that while there might be Mastiff and Bulldog blood in the lineage, they themselves have never crossbred these types, nor do they know anyone who has. The only “evidence” of crossbreeding comes from instances where breeders were caught “paper hanging” (falsifying pedigree papers), which doesn’t prove crossbreeding but rather highlights the unreliability and amateur nature of some bully kennel clubs.

The debate on crossbreeding isn’t just academic; it has practical implications. If the American Bully is considered a unique breed with a diverse ancestry, it becomes more difficult to justify breed-specific bans. However, if it’s seen as merely an inbred variant of the pit bull, its unique status—and the arguments against banning it—become less compelling.

A Muscle Arms Race

In the early 2000s, bully-type American Pit Bull Terriers were still relatively rare, keeping their prices high and making them sought-after status symbols and fashion accessories. As more breeders entered the scene, they realized that the more exaggerated the dog’s muscles and build, the more valuable the dog would be. This led to a competitive race to breed increasingly extreme dogs.

The quickest way to breed for specific characteristics and ensure those traits are passed down is through inbreeding, often euphemistically referred to as “line breeding.” While inbreeding has been practiced since the domestication of animals to “fix” desirable traits, it also carries significant health risks. Unfortunately, many breeders who jumped on the lucrative American Bully bandwagon lacked both the expertise of seasoned breeders and ethical considerations about large-scale inbreeding.

This race to breed the most intimidating pit bulls led to dogs like UKC’s Most Wanted Kimbo. Despite warnings about his offspring’s human aggression, breeder Gustavo Castro continued to breed Kimbo—even after one of Kimbo’s sons killed a four-year-old child. The financial gains clearly outweighed any ethical or safety concerns. Kimbo’s inbred lineage meant he reliably passed on not just his size and proportions, but also his propensity for human aggression.

The Rise of the American Bully Kennel Club

Recognizing the soaring popularity of these dogs, David Wilson founded the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC) in 2004. At that time, there were still relatively few breeders specialising in these dogs. Initially, they were still considered pit bulls, but the name “American Bully” was adopted to distinguish them from other pit bull types and give an identity to what was termed the “bully breeding movement.” It wasn’t long after the ABKC’s foundation that the American Bully began to be recognized as a distinct breed.

It wasn’t until 2014 that a major kennel club, the UKC, recognized the American Bully, largely due to its increasing popularity. However, most dogs are still registered with the ABKC, especially those imported into the UK, as UKC paperwork identifies the dogs and their ancestors as pit bulls.

The Result: A Limited Gene Pool

The American Bully breed originated from a limited number of kennels, and since 2004, fewer dogs from different bloodlines have been accepted as American Bullies. This means that the few foundational dogs have had a significant influence on the breed today. If you trace back the pedigrees, you’ll find recurring names like Notorious Juan Gotty, Chain Gang Barney, Next Level Show Stopping Ace, Tony’s Showtime, and Iron Cross Tyson.

New bloodlines invariably trace back to the original kennels that started it all. While pit bulls can be cross-registered as American Bullies with the UKC if they meet the breed standard, fewer and fewer pit bulls meet the increasingly extreme bully standards. Even with the infusion of new blood through cross-registration, the breed remains dominated by its original bloodlines.

Some foundational dogs, like Laura’s Envy of Hoff, have fighting ancestors. Her descendants are heavily present in today’s Bully pedigrees, appearing in lines like Steelhead’s Giant Q Ball and Whitten Maximus. Another fighting line gaining popularity comes from Bordeaux’s Maverick, found in MBB Camo’s pedigree. Despite producing known aggressive dogs, these lines continue to be used in breeding, especially in the UK.

We believe most American Bullies in the UK can track back to either fighting bloodlines or alleged human-aggressive bloodlines. While it may be a few generations back, it is repeated in their pedigrees, often multiple times, due to the very small number of foundation dogs.  

Before we start asking if it’s the dog or the owner – we should have asked – what exactly is the dog?

One response to “The American Bully: A History”

  1. My opinion is that the distinction can be made first and foremost by the breeder themselves. Aggressive traits should not be the dominant when breeding, nor should dogs with health problems. Again my opinion rests with the breeders and their intelligence, or lack of, when it comes to the American Bully. My experience has been that of a loyal dog who maybe loves to cuddle a little more than other breeds. Honestly.

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