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Garden State of Mind

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

(Interview with Juan A. Gomez of Garden State Bullies)



1. 1. (especially of a person) thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom.

There are plenty of words that could be used to describe Juan Gomez of Garden State Bullies. Breeder, hustler, pioneer, OG, but few describe the man better than visionary. What else would describe an individual that was able to forecast a change in a breed during the highest point of popularity of that breed. A little over a decade ago the American Bully scene was at an all-time high, shows were sold out months in advance.

There were magazines, major corporate sponsorships and dogs that were popular from coast to coast. Instagram had yet to take off, and Facebook was just starting to be the vehicle of the dog breeder. It was also the time of the Miagi controversy and Dax had yet to be embraced by all. There was a storm coming and one man started building an Ark and his vision changed the game, and what would become the Exotic Bully.

K9S-  First and foremost I appreciate you sitting down with us today! The Dog World moves in a crazy way, when I hear Garden State my mind still jumps back to some of the bulliest dogs I’ve personally seen from 2008-2011… I am always thinking Kurupt blood… tell me how you got your start in the Bullies?

Juan (GSB) - Appreciate the interview my brother, how I first got into the bullies, was through the Pit Bull. I was breeding my Pits the same as I did the Bullies, before we knew the term Bully. Breeding for looks, biggest head, chest, thicker dogs with color. While others were breeding for their ability, or matching them, I was about the look.

I remember checking out magazines, I don’t recall the name of the mag, but they were measuring heads and the like. Most of those dogs were in California, so I started checking websites and simply fell in love with that style dog.

I remember buying my first dog from Cali, and I was expecting like a Cane Corso, mastiff sized dog, with crazy bone and head. When it got here, I realized these were the same dogs I was creating, just with a crazier color. So I was creating the same, just wasn’t taking pictures like the dogs on the internet.

I knew I was on to something, I purchased a couple more, and I had already linked with my partner Jun and the rest became history. I have to of course show respect to Big Hern of Kurupt blood, I consider him a friend and mentor, and I fell in love with Kurupt because he was so extreme, so we brought that blood to the east coast.

K9S- Now the next phase has to be Predator and taking a risk creating and pushing dogs that were different yet desired, with the phasing out of the extreme class how did you think ahead that that style of dog would still be desirable?

Juan (GSB) - Well what happened was, we loved the Extreme style dog, with exaggerated features, and of course they were bigger dogs back then. Then we started to see that the size started shrinking into more low rider style dogs. The pocket class was just becoming popular.

So, we linked up with 817 Gottiline Joel. He had Predator over there and we just stayed on him until he finally sold him to us. I never saw a dog like him at the time, he was one of the most muscle ball looking dogs I’d seen. Now comparing him to today's dogs is hard, but at the time he looked like a 10 inch dog with a 25 inch head!

I saw him and knew this is what we wanted to breed, so we went on a manhunt to find dogs that complimented him, and it was hard! They didn’t exist at the time so finding them was difficult. So, we started looking for dogs that had shorter muzzles, with the extreme features we needed, and matching them up.

We bought a space on the American Bully World website, owned by Dave Wilson. The board had different groups and we created our slot, which had Elite Edge, Kingpinline and others. We were going to name it the Extreme Bully board and some guys that showed heavy in the ABKC were like you can’t call them extreme, because they didn’t fit the class.

First ever exotic banner made

So, I said I’m going to call it the Exotic Bully, and folks hated it, they thought it was lame, or wack. They thought I was stuck on the EX in extreme, but I thought about it and the more I did I knew exotic was the right term, so I hit up Crunch Pits out of Chicago to do the banner and it was exotic from that point.

About the same time Facebook jumped off and the hate was real, we were getting bashed left and right, so we left the forum due to the feedback from the American Bully crowd and went strictly to Facebook. That’s a longer conversation, but that’s how it started.

K9S- Once it took off and others started pushing the exotic title and promoting a style that you pioneered what was your initial feelings about the dogs?

Juan (GSB)- In the beginning it was hard, you can ask Joseph Ward, I would come out of my pocket and find exotic dogs and get permission from the owners and then pay Joe to make the banner to promote the exotic dogs I liked. It was tough because only a few made the cut, there were a lot of dogs that I told people were not exotic.

We made a lot of friends and lost a lot of friends. I never did it to copy write the name, or get rich, I never did it for that. I did it so that it would take off, so I didn’t just use my dogs, or my name, I figured people would hate and people wouldn’t go with it. We started with Predator, and others, but then Miagi came!

Mr. Miagi a true legend in the exotic community produced and owned by Jorge Luis Soto

Miagi came on the scene and he was blazing, I mean even to this day he’s a beautiful dog, blue, beautiful head… something we had never seen. He was the Lebron James, the Michael Jordan, I knew he could help this thing take off. Obviously there was a lot of heat with Miagi, and it was a big discussion with a lot of people. I remember a conversation with a lot of breeders wondering who would be the first to use exotic in their kennel name. Eventually we all started doing it and the next thing you  know it exploded… never in a million years did I think it would be what it is today.

K9S- You’ve never been loud and boisterous, as people move with the movement, how much responsibility have you felt towards the dogs created?

Juan (GSB)- I’ve always tried to be humble, low key, my style has never been about showing off money, cars and jewelry. Our culture has always ran hand in hand with the hip hop culture. Being flashy can be good for business, especially with the younger crowd, but it’s just not my thing.

I feel we had a responsibility to the dogs, and we obviously influenced the culture. Paintball came along and blessed us, we have Paintball kids all around the world and people that follow our influence. I feel responsible for the good, but with that comes the bad. This dog game is hard, it’s like people are constantly pushing to have the next big thing, and it’s hard to still push for the breed and better it.

It’s like a NASCAR race at times, it’s moving so fast and you’re trying to take time to fix a flat, put oil in the car, while people are lapping you. The keeping up with the hype and constantly running allows for the bad to be showcased more than the good. There are definitely breeders doing it the right way, but it’s a fast-paced world, and that’s just a breeder's life.

K9S- As the breed progressed what are your personal feelings on the direction of the exotic?

Juan (GSB)- I feel like it’s progressing in a better direction. In the beginning people were adding all kinds of things to advance the look. Now we have a more refined look, the dogs are more muscled up, tighter skin, more tone. Its direction is more apparent.

Some of the breeds we are compared to are hundreds of years old, we are only a few years old. It might take 50-70 years to truly be mastered. I might not even be here when it’s finally finished. People want to rush it and that’s not possible. Look at the breed 5 years ago to the top ten dogs today, we have improved a lot. There of course is a lot of trash in any breed, but you can see the improvement.

Obviously, there are rotten apples when it comes to breeders, that don’t know structure, or movement. Back in the day most people came from a show world. If you came from Pits you came from a breed that was already structurally correct. It wasn’t until I got into the Bully dogs that I saw easty westy dogs, or high rears. I didn’t see that in Pit Bulls, because conformation was almost automatic.

A lot of our new breeders didn’t come from that world so their breeding ideals will be different. Most won’t last the test of time, so let’s not judge the breed by the people here today and gone tomorrow. It honestly should be judged by the ones that have lasted and gotten better generation, after generation.

Crown owned by Goldenline is one of the most sought after Exotic Bullies right now

We can look at a dog like Crown, that’s an Exotic Bully! That boy is bad, he has the color, head shape, body, full tail, muscle… definitely shows the breed is going in a better direction.

K9S- You are one of the original bully dog men how would you say the exotics creation and the American Bullies creation are the same and how would you say they are different?

Juan (GSB)- I feel like the American Bully was less tampered with, it was more show based. Flaws were not accepted, there was a standard. The exotic wasn’t really controlled, we wanted to get it going. The original people really didn’t follow rules and when most people don’t follow rules it’s hard to police it with a standard. A lot of people just took to it and it was an explosion.

The other aspect is the exotic was smaller, the American Bully was a bigger dog, people needed kennels to breed the American Bully. The Exotic Bully was smaller and could be had in a one bedroom apartment, anyone could have a bunch of exotics. You’d have people with 15 dogs in cages, some love dogs, some wanted money. It’s hard to tell these people that it’s wrong. The American Bully was definitely more governed.

I see dogs sometimes that I would never personally breed, or even post, but you get 100 people saying that the dog is fire. Who am I to say it’s not, I want to, but that’s embarrassing to see dogs promoted as great that are by definition bad. I let it be and promote the good over the bad when I can.

K9S- If you had to give one piece of advice to someone coming into the dog game what would it be?

Juan (GSB)- if I was going to give someone advice, first thing I’d say is don’t get into dogs unless you’re really into dogs. Don’t get into the dogs if you think it’s a get rich quick scheme. Do your homework, if you really have the time and the love it’s fun. You can meet a lot of good people. I love my dogs they bring me happiness it’s therapeutic, like a koi pond. Now I see more people getting in primarily for business.

The money is the motivation for most now. That’s what makes me sick the love for only the money, selling franchises, posting pictures of stacks of money. I didn’t get into dogs for the money, of course it made some money, but that wasn’t the reason I got into it. It’s not my business, but for me that’s what looks bad.

K9S- What do you want the Garden State Legacy to be 50 years from now?

Juan (GSB)- 50 years from now I won’t be here hopefully, well I hope I am. Honestly, I hope we get our flowers. I used to read the old pit Bull books with all the old timers and read about the old famous dog breeders. It would be cool for my grandkids, my great grandchildren to read about pop-pop and him being that guy in dogs, in exotics.

Sometimes I lay back, I don’t go to shows so sometimes you realize that the new guys don’t know who I am. It would be cool to be a part of documented history. That would be really cool to leave that legacy for my future generations.

K9S- The northeast is often slept on when it comes to dogs, credit often going to California, the South, Texas and currently the Midwest… why do you think the Northeast is so often slept on, or not considered as a dog hot spot?

Juan (GSB)- I feel like the Northeast is a lot of small states, which leads to a lot of division. Whereas Cali and Texas are huge. The Midwest also has a lot of big states as well. I think because we are so close together it plays a part in the lack of unity. This kennel is from this state, this guy is from this state. With the states being so bundled together it plays a role in how kennels compete.

Garden State was about having the best dogs in the world, not having the best dog locally, or in our state. We wanted to compete with the world, not just compete with our neighbor, but show that we are bigger than just where we are at, because we could go anywhere and have the best dog where we stood at the moment. The northeast has a lot of good dogs, but without unity it gets slept on.

K9S- When you look at dogs now, what do you truly love… is it the breeding, the competition, the business, what still gets you going today when it comes to dogs?

Juan (GSB)- I truly love breeding! Jun and I try to create something that no one has ever seen before. That’s with every breeding we do! Like right now we have a dog named Splatoon that’s chocolate roan tri, and he might be the only one that color in the world. That’s what keeps me going, that’s our motivation. I can’t just breed and make the same thing over and over, I always want to create better.

I know a lot of people that consider a true breeder one that stamps their look in every dog. That’s not what I get caught up in, we always want to create something you’ve never ever seen before! Jun has the same energy, he keeps that excitement for every breeding. Of course there are times where you are burned out, but for me..

It’s the moment of the c-section and seeing what colors come out. It’s at 4 weeks seeing the faces developed and seeing what was created! These are the moments as a breeder that keep me going and excite me. It’s the love of creation and creating something that has never existed before.

K9S- we appreciate you, and without a doubt you deserve your flowers! Salute!

 - This interview was eye opening in a number of ways, first and foremost as an individual who started as a proponent against the exotic bully it’s refreshing to hear one of the founders speak about the passion and love his team had for the dogs when the term exotic was coined. It’s also good to hear the respect for the breeds it descended from in recognizing the differences and going with another name.

The fact will always remain that regardless the breed a good breeder is a good breeder, what they see as beauty may differ from you, but if the passion and respect is present then the love will always show in the results. Respect to Juan and Jun of Garden State Bullies for pushing the envelope, and giving the world a peek into their process of creating.

Leave a comment in the comment section and let us know what you think of this interview...........

486 views3 comments

3 ความคิดเห็น

01 ก.ย. 2566

Dope interview, and educational!


31 ส.ค. 2566

Salute Garden State for all your contributions over the years. You were pioneers in the feild and going strong still today. Youve put on alot of miles doing what you love and thats commendable in itself. Its clear to see you truly enjoy your dogs. Enjoying the dogs is more important than so many other things that can knock a breeder off course. Continued success to you and yours Garden State! Much respect!

K9S- well done interview!


31 ส.ค. 2566

Always nice reading the history from the prospective of the person whom helped write it. I do agree Garden state does not get their flowers as much as they deserve, coming from the northeast and watching it all unfold in front of my own eyes. Great interview and way to go Juan and Jun on all the effort and huge effect you had on the development of the moment. Respect!

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