Michigan is making history in the world of dog shows. Tommy, an American Bully dog owned by West Bloomfield resident Robert Thompson and his family, was recently the first show champion of his breed. He earned the title of the first United Kennel Club-registered American Bully grand show champion in Michigan after three years competing against other champions. He is also the third in the country and first in Michigan to achieve the Spot On Certification, a behavioral obedience merit.

An ambassador for his breed, Tommy is helping to shift the perception of bully breeds. Natural descendants of the pit bull, bullies can have an intimidating appearance. The American Bully has been engineered with other breeds to appear bigger boned, more muscular, and bulky. They also come in a wide variety of sizes, from pocket (12-17 inches) to XL (19-23 inches). The breed was recognized by the UKC in 2013 and is classified in the companion dog category. The American Bully is a family dog designed to be loved.

Thompson speculates that as time progresses, people will become more and more accepting of bully breeds, and their reputation will improve. He was a bit hesitant to get one because of the stigmas around bully breeds. In the end, he moved forward and added Tommy to his family.

Some home insurance companies increase rates for dog breeds labeled as aggressive, but much of any aggressiveness in pit bulls has been bred out of American Bullies. As for Tommy, in addition to being a certified show star, he’s 80 pounds of love (and also probably pizza crust, his favorite snack).

Tommy is adored by the kids of the family and has been raised alongside their youngest, who refers to him as her “dog brother.” He has been part of the family since he was a puppy and has always been nurturing toward her. Thompson says that Tommy is quite the athlete, too, acting as a fantastic goalie and football player with the kids outside. Of course, he has his lazy side, too. Thompson describes him as a “complete food magnet, almost a personal garbage disposal,” and described how he loves to lounge around. “I think I spoon with that dog more than anybody else,” he laughs.

One perk of owning an American Bully is that they’re generally low maintenance, according to Thompson, but they’re versatile in their energy levels and personalities, from lazy couch potatoes to dock diving dogs. Either way, they all thrive best in a home.

The American Bully was bred into existence sometime in the ‘80s and entered the dog show world in 2004 with the development of the American Bully Kennel Club. They are easily confused with other breeds such as the Alapaha Bulldog or American Bulldog. They are actually very different but have the common ancestor of the ancient Molosser and a similar stocky appearance.

As times are changing, the Thompson family is proud to be an ambassador for the evolving impression of the American Bully breed, and even more honored to have Tommy in their lives. Michiganders making history is always a thrilling achievement, even when that resident is furry with four legs.