The term Bandog (also known as Bandogge) originated around 1250-1300 in Middle England, referring to a mastiff type dog that was bound by a chain during the daytime and was released at night to guard against intruders. In 1570 Johannes Caius published a book in Latin which in 1576 was translated into English by Abraham Fleming under the name Of Englishe Dogges, in which he described Bandog as a vast, stubborn, eager dog of heavy body. Many people believe these dogs to be the perfect protection dog and working class guard dogs. Various programs have used American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Neapolitan Mastiff crosses. A few programs have also used other bully type breeds as well as other mastiff type breeds. Regardless of which program a breeder selected, breeding dogs for guarding purposes requires selection of dogs suitable for that work.
Dogs were bred from strains that have the temperament and phenotype, to do home guardian or personal protection. The Bandog is a rugged dog, heavily boned and muscled, intimidating when seen and is ferocious when provoked. Bandogs of all types are strictly working dogs and should be a result of serious and dedicated planning, starting from careful selection of parent breeds and more importantly, appropriate representatives of those breeds, with the health and temperament testing being on the top of the list of priorities, while the uniformity in appearance is the last of the breeders' concerns. The intention in each case is to combine the courage and tenacity of an American Pit Bull Terrier with the large size and guarding instinct of a Mastiff.
The breed ideal is a broad skull, a strong muzzle that is medium to long muzzle depending on the strain, wide shoulder, a powerful chest, great agility, and overall an intelligent and very well controlled dog.
DNA sequencing has been confirmed that all dogs originated from the wolf ; however, the exact development of the original Bandogs still remains a mystery. Although it is impossible to say exactly how the Bandog originated, it is certain the original Bandogs were bred with a functional purpose, as were all working breeds, and for the Bandog this purpose revolved around guarding and protecting.
Early incarnations of the Bandog probably had bloodlines from bull baiting dogs and the Guardian Mastiffs or the cross of both like the war dogs used in the Crusades.
William Harrison, in his description of England during 1586, first mentions the type in his statement, "Bandogge which is a huge dog, stubborn, uglier, eager, burthenouse of bodie, terrible and fearful to behold and often more fierce and fell than any Archadian or Corsican cur." It is assumed that the word "Bandogge" originated from the use of strong bonds and chains to secure the dogs.
In 1576, Dr. Caius states that, among others characteristics, the "Mastiff or Bandogge is serviceable against the fox and the badger, to drive wild and tame swine out of meadows, and pastures, to bite and take the bull by the ears, when occasion so required."
The Bandogs of old were strictly working dogs, often of various crosses and various sizes. Usually these dogs were coarse-haired hunters, fighters and property protectors without a strictly set type, developed from eastern shepherds and mastiffs crossed with western Bullenbeissers and hounds, with a few local bloodlines eventually being established as specific types in some regions, such as Britain, Spain, Germany, Poland and elsewhere in Europe.