The Game Test
Great article by the Bull Terrier Times Review
In my opinion, the Game Test is a very important part of breeding and matching
gamedogs. I think that the purpose of the game test is misunderstood by many
dogmen. I also think that a lot of poor advice has been written about game
testing. The stories that dogmen tell about the way they game test their dogs
are often exaggerations or lies. I am going to write about, why I believe dogs
should be game tested and how I would test them. If you don't agree with what I
have to say on the subject, feel free to skip this article or write your own. I
am writing my opinion of the truth, whether it makes the reader happy or
conforms to popular belief or not. I don't really care if some readers disagree
with me or not, but if my advice is helpful to anyone, then I would be happy
about that. I came to my opinions from twenty years experience of running a yard
of sixty dogs. I won't change my opinions for you and I don't expect any
experienced dogman to change his opinions for me. This article is for those that
are still learning and want to read an opinion that is somewhat different than
those they may have read before.
WHAT IS A GAME TEST?
I would describe a game test as a hard roll for your dog, usually, but not
always thirty minutes or longer. It is a roll in which your dog will get hurt,
tired and getting the worst of the fight. This game test will tell you what your
dog will do when he is tired and being handled by his opponent. Does he have the
gameness to keep trying to win against a stronger dog, when he's tired and on
the bottom most of the time? How does he act in his corner? How does he scratch
into a dog that's getting the best of him? The game test will answer all of
these questions and also tell you about your dogs stamina and fighting
abilities. A game test should never be against an opponent of the opposite sex.
To make sure that your dog gets the most out of the roll, their opponent should
be several pounds heavier, but do not overdo this!
WHY GAME TEST A DOG?
One reason to game test a dog is to see if they are worth a bet in a match. I
think that the better fighter a dog is, then the less game testing they require.
For instance, if you have a dog that easily handles dogs of his own size in
rolls, he would probably handle his opponents in a match as well. What is the
point in half killing a dog like this in a game test? He probably won't need
extreme gameness to win his match, because he will be the top dog most of the
time. A dog without much fighting ability will probably have to come from behind
if he is going to win. I would test this type of dog somewhat harder before
betting on him, because you must depend on his gameness and stamina to win a
match. The other reason for game testing a dog, would be if you were going to
use the dog for breeding. Any male or female I use for breeding purposes must
have passed a reasonable game test to demonstrate their gameness, stamina or
ability. If they could not pass this test, then I would not use them for
breeding purposes, no matter how well bred they might have been.
HOW OLD SHOULD YOU GAME TEST?
I think a dog should be at least two years old and mentally ready for a game
test. They should be fully started and have been rolled at least four times.
Some slow starters are nowhere near ready at two years old and you must go by
the way they act and not their actual age. Your dog should be in perfect health,
because the test will put a strain on their heart and system. I don't condition
a dog for a game test, but they should be lean and healthy, but not conditioned
as for a match. One of the reasons I game test a dog is to see how they act when
they are tired. If they are conditioned it will take longer before they are
tired, forcing the test to take longer and your dog to take more punishment. I
also use these tests to see how much natural 'air' the dog has and it hard to
tell this when you have worked them for six weeks. I try to roll the dog that
I'm testing into a bigger dog that wrestles well, but doesn't bite hard. I
believe that most dogs will quit, because they are tired and on the bottom, not
from being bitten hard. The idea is to test the dogs gameness, not to break its
bones. I also try to avoid rolling them into a dog that fights in the mouth, so
that they won't lose any teeth.
You should always be in control, remember this is a roll not a match. Have an
idea of how you are going to test your dog. Pick an opponent of the same sex,
that is about five pounds larger, a strong wrestler, but not a hard biter. This
dog should outfight yours, without cutting them up or breaking any of their
bones. Make sure to have a watch on, don't guess at the time, know how long the
roll has lasted. The game test is to find out if your dog is reasonably game.
You must use some imagination and make an educated guess as to their gameness,
by the way they act during a reasonable game test. If you insist on knowing for
sure whether your dog is dead game, or not, then you will probably end up
killing him. I can truthfully promise anyone, that a dead dog makes a poor dog
for future matches. A dead dog does not make much of a stud or brood b###h
Many game dogs are killed each year in game tests by dogmen that don't know what
they are doing. The story is always the same, "Gee!, he was the gamest,
toughest, best damn dog I ever saw; too bad we took him a little bit too far in
his game test, now he's dead..." Any fool can roll a game dog to death, it is up
to you not to take him too far. I can watch a dog in a hard thirty minute roll
and know about game they are. Sometimes I am confident in a dogs gameness after
watching him roll for only fifteen minutes. I have the experience and the
ability to know a dog is deep game without taking him to deaths door. I have
learned what to look for. I have used my method of judging a dogs gameness from
a medium hard roll and I have almost never been wrong. Yes!, a couple of times a
dog that I'd thought to be dead game did quit in a long, hard match, but 98% of
the time my judgement of a dogs gameness has been correct. This may seem like
bragging on my part, but I do have the ability to spot a game dog, without half
killing them in a roll and I do know other dogmen that have this ability.
I also know other experienced dogmen, who cannot tell if a dog is game unless
they see the dog take his death game. If you don't have the experience or
ability to tell if a dog is game during a reasonably hard roll, then I suggest
you have a trusted friend, who does have this gift, with you when you game test
Here are some of the things I look for when I'm testing a dog for gameness:
1. A game dog always thinks he's winning even when he's losing. He enjoys the
fight and has a confident look on his face. He always keeps trying to win.
2. When a game dog is taken to his corner, there's no doubt that he's going to
scratch. He is always looking at his opponent and trying to get at him.
3. He scratches straight and hard, without hesitation.
4. He will stay in holds if he can
I breed and match dogs under the Cajun Rules. The Cajun rules is a scratching
contest and scratching is the name of the game. A dog can make every 'bad move'
in the book. He can turn, yelp, cry, drop his tail and put the hair up on his
back, but if he makes his scratches in time, he can win the match. On the other
hand, your dog can fight like an ace, throw his opponent all over the pit and
cut him up, but if he fails to scratch, then you lose. I have seen many fight
end up with the winner being a beaten up mess and the loser with hardly a
scratch on him. Why?, because the beat up dog made his scratch and the other did
not. Your dog can have all the ability in the world and be a mile ahead, but if
he doesn't scratch, then you lose! This is why, the way in which my dogs act in
the corner, between scratches and the way he goes across on his scratches, is so
important to me. If he hesitates to bite the other dog when he gets there, then
I lose confidence in the dog. Hesitation on the scratch or slow scratching is
just a step away from not scratching at all. When I have the pleasure of
watching a truly game dog in action for thirty minutes or so, and then see him
screaming and struggling to get back to the opponent, at the end of a roll, I
feel in my bones, that he is game. Matching a dog is always a gamble anyway. No
test that you can give a dog will guarantee that he will win his match. The idea
is to find out if he is reasonably game, without 'rolling' the life out of him.
This is no joke!! I have seen great dogs ruined by unbelievable game tests.
These dogs passed their tests, but they were never near as good after the tests
as they were before it. I have noticed in rolls and matches, that dogs usually
got hurt when they could no longer fight back. As long as they were able to push
for a hold they usually didn't get hurt too bad, even when they were badly
outfought. But, when a dog could only lay there and take it, the other dog could
push into the bites and shake out his holds. It's like the boxer that's been
stunned by a hard punch and can't keep his hands up to block or punch back. The
other boxer can now hit him clean and with full force. The hurt fighter cannot
block the punches or roll with them, so he takes it full force, blow after blow
and can be seriously hurt.
It's the same thing with a dog that's too tired to fight back, he can be badly
injured. Watch the game test closely and if your dog gets so tired that he can't
fight back, you should stop it right then. Scratch your dog and call it a day.
If you are an inexperienced dogman and have a more experienced dogman helping
you to test your dog, then make sure that he has your best interests in mind.
After all, he didn't buy you dog or raise it from a pup. He has nothing invested
in your dog, and unless he is really your friend, it's nothing to him if your
dog is ruined.
When I was first starting in the dog game, I had a so-called friend 'help' me
test my dogs. This man had much more experience than I did, so I listened to his
advice. Every time I tested a dog, he would tell me to roll it harder or to
bring in a second dog on the one I was testing. Even when I was satisfied that
the dog I was testing was game, he would try and get me to keep the test going.
Then it dawned on me, that when this man tested his own dogs, he didn't roll
them for that long or that hard. It was only when MY dogs were tested, that he
encouraged such long. hard tests. He was not my friend and he only wanted me to
ruin my own dogs, so that he could sell me some of his own 'game' dogs.
I believe that some of the game tests suggested by some well known books are far
too hard. The Armitage book "Thirty Years with Fighting Dogs" has a severe game
test that Mr Armitage recommends. He says you should use two rough, hard-biting
dogs, much larger than your own dog. He says to roll your dog for twenty minutes
with the first big, rough dog and then immediately put the second dog on him for
another twenty minutes. He says that if your dog will scratch after that, then
he's worth a bet. I agree that a dog which lived through that and scratched,
would be worth a bet, if you ever got him healed up. If you tried that Armitage
test with todays dogs, you'll kill the dog you're testing more often than not.
I have seen two dogs used to test one dog many times. I personally don't think
it's a good idea. If your dog has been fighting with the first for twenty
minutes or more, he will usually be too tired to stay with a fresh dog. The
second dog will give him a beating much worse than he would take in a match. He
only has to fight one dog for money, so why use two dogs for a test? Some dogs
that would be dead game to one dog will get confused and quit against a number
of different dogs in a row. If you pick the right opponent for your dog to roll
with, then one dog is all it takes to test your dog. Test your dog once only to
your satisfaction. Many times I have seen dog men roll their dogs very hard.
When the roll is over, they think that he's game, but they're still not sure. So
two or three months later they roll him hard all over again. I've heard of some
dogs being tested four or five times over. This is crazy! Test your dog one time
only and never test him again. A game test is harder on a dog than are most
matches. The dogs that are tested four times could have won four matches, but by
the time his stupid owner finally gets up the courage to match him, He's all
used up from game tests and his chances of winning are decreased.
Test your dog the same way, regardless of their breeding. Many dog men will test
a dog to within an inch of its life, if it's breeding is different to their main
line. They 'baby' the dogs of their own bloodlines and look the other way or
make excuses if they look bad. School them all correctly, give them all a
reasonably hard test and let the chips fall where they may. A well known dog man
is famous for the insane game tests he puts dogs of other bloodlines through. He
is out to stop the dog and prove that this line is not as good as his 'family'
line. He rolls the dog he wants to stop very hard and then the next day, when
the dog is still too sore and swollen to get out of his doghouse, rolls him hard
again. He continues to roll the dog hard everyday, until it quits and then says
he knew it was a cur all the time. This only proves that any fool can quit any
dog that has hair on it, if that's what he wants to do. This guys own bloodline,
his family, are not game dogs, but he babies them in their rolls. His dogs
wouldn't take 1/10th of the punishment he hands out to dogs of other bloodlines.
Some dog men, although not as extreme as this guy. do tend to test other lines
much harder than their own.
I believe many dog men flat out lie about how hard they test their own dogs.
After all, you weren't there when they tested their dogs so you have to take
their word for it. If one dog man is saying he rolled his dog into a five pound
bigger dog for thirty minutes, then the next dog man has to top him. He says he
rolled his dog with a ten pound bigger dog for an hour. Then another dog man
comes along with the story of using three different dogs on his dog for an hour
and thirty minutes. The harder the game tests are in these stories (lies), the
gamer it's supposed to make their dogs look.
Many times I hear of a dog that has been through an unbelievable game test,
never made a bad move and scratched like a rocket. This dog has been with three
or four rough ones, off the chain for almost two hours. Then this same dog is
matched and he quits in less than an hour after taking very little punishment.
How could this happen? Simple! The dog was never tested that hard. The game test
was a Bulls**t story. I have been at some game tests and seen what really
happened and then heard about the same test some time later. The test that I
hear about is absolutely nothing like the test I witnessed.
Let's say a guy is testing his dog with his fellow dog men and drinking buddies.
They're all a bit high, but they check their watches when they start the test.
The dog rolls with the first dog for maybe fifteen minutes. Then, to make the
test a real good one, he has one of his friends go home and get another dog. It
takes twenty minutes to get back with the second dog, during which time his own
dog has had a good rest. Then he rolls his dog into the second dog for ten
minutes and his dog scratches. Then to make sure that no-one can doubt his dogs
gameness, he has another friend go and get a third dog. It takes another
twenty-five minutes for this third dog to get back. His dog goes another five
minutes against the third dog and scratches again. The owner checks his watch
and sees that one hour and ten minutes has passed. "WOW"!! he says. Over an hour
and ten minutes with three dogs in a row; can anybody doubt the gameness of his
dog? He has taken a rather mild test and turned it into something it was not.
His dog never went anymore than fifteen minutes with any one dog and got plenty
of rest between each new dog. So!, don't believe everything you hear about how
game dogs are tested. Most of it is Bull. If you roll a lean, healthy dog off
the chain into a slightly bigger dog for thirty to forty minutes, you should
know plenty about his gameness, if you know what to look for. If you are
careful, you can learn about his gameness without taking too much out of him.
Then you can match a fresh dog with all his teeth.
Many of the dogs from my yard have proven their gameness for my customers in
two, three and four hour matches. I have never found it necessary to roll a dog
for more than forty-five minutes or to use more than one dog against him. If you
plan to test a dog that's over six years old, please remember that they can't be
tested as hard as a youngster without putting their health in danger.