SHE’S the ‘Queen of the XL Bully’ dog facing a ban in Britain.
Glamorous American Renee Castleman sells puppies to Brits for up to £4,800 and breeds from three giant dogs called Buster, Chop and Whopper, who weigh in at around 8st each.
Hundreds of her dogs’ offspring live in family homes across the UK – and dozens more are on sale on TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram for as much as £900.
The mum-of-three, who owns a huge ranch in Mississippi, charges up to £8,000 to rent her dogs out to stud.
Despite XL Bullys terrorising Britain, Renee, 32, insists the breed are “gentle giants”.
The breed has been linked to nine deaths in the UK in the past two years including that of 10-year-old Jack Lis in 2021, who was so badly injured that he had to be identified by his shoe.
But Renee, who lets her children play, feed and brush her XLs, told UK Times: “All of my dogs are very kind and we breed for temperament.
“I have a two, six and 11-year-old who help us with all our dogs. Even the neighbours’ kids help.
“It’s all about how they are bred and raised.”
She has previously admitted cropping her dogs’ ears – a painful process which is allowed in America, but illegal in the UK under Section 5 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Renee said in 2020: “We take our dogs to the vet to get their ears cropped. I don’t think it’s cruel.
“It’s one of those things when you are breeding or showing dogs. It’s a better look, in my opinion.
“They’re running around right after surgery like nothing ever happened.”
Renee’s diminutive stature is in stark contrast to her job as a legal breeder of oversized bullys – a pitbull cross – at the family’s home in Caledonia, where ranches cost up to £1million.
We take our dogs to the vet to get their ears cropped. I don’t think it’s cruel
Her Instagram shows how her ‘GatorHead Bullies – GHB’ business affords her a luxury lifestyle with pictures of sun-soaked holidays, festival trips and family horses.
Renee previously appeared in YouTube videos showing off her successful enterprise and boasted how her two biggest dogs – Buster, who weighs in at 7st 8oz, and Chop, over 9st – can fetch up to £8,000 at stud.
The puppies are then sold all over the world, including the UK, where breeders on TikTok and Instagram boast of their #gatorhead credentials.
UK Times has also seen YouTube clips of owners showing off purebred XLs descended from another dog at the kennels, named Whopper.
Renee and husband Patrick say they have no qualms about letting their young kids kiss, wash and snuggle up with the beasts.
She said in 2019: “I let my kids play with all my dogs. I watch my kids but at the same time I don’t really worry about it.
“This breed is so special because you can see our kids around our dogs. We trust them. You kind of know what you’re getting.
“Our daughter is one [now two] and when she sees a puppy she just squeezes it while my older son is like my right hand man, he helps me take my puppy pictures and he always helps me.
This breed is so special because you can see our kids around our dogs. We trust them. You kind of know what you’re getting
“Everyone asks me, ‘How are my puppies going to be, I have kids?’ I always tell them they should be great because my [six-year-old] daughter is there with them as soon as they’re born, so she’s picking them up, loving on them, holding them like babies.”
Husband Patrick said: “There are so many misconceptions about the Pit Bully and American Bully breed because of their size and reputation.
“They can be intimidating to look at but they are big gentle giants.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said XL Bully dogs will be banned by the end of the year, branding them “dangerous”.
The news came after the death of businessman Ian Price, 52, who was attacked trying to defend his elderly mother from two dogs that jumped out of a neighbour’s window in Stonnall, Staffs.
Local residents said the savage attack lasted up to 20 minutes as the dogs bit him and ripped the clothes from his body, leaving him dying in a pool of blood in his boxer shorts.
Campaigners have been calling for a ban on the dogs for months, but animal welfare groups including the RSPCA, Blue Cross, The Kennel Club and British Veterinary Association say banning specific breeds will not work.
They want the government to focus on bad owners rather than ‘bad’ dogs.
Meanwhile the mother of dad-of-five Jonathan Hogg, 27, killed by an XL Bully in Leigh, Greater Manchester, in May this year called for the dogs to be muzzled before the law comes in.
In an emotional post on Facebook, Jonathan’s mother Carole wrote: “Only my family and I know the massive void that Jonathan’s early death has caused.
“We miss and love him every day and his beautiful children shouldn’t have to lose their daddy in these tragic circumstances. Our lives will never be the same.
“I know Rishi wants to ban these dogs due to all the devastating injuries they have caused but surely now should be the time to make sure these dogs are definitely on a lead and muzzled for the safety of everyone.”
But Renee, who has sold dogs to American basketball and football players, says she can’t imagine herself doing anything else other than breeding American Bullys.
She said: “I am doing what I love. I plan on doing this for the rest of my life.”
Dog expert Stan Rawlinson said Bullys in America may be more mild mannered than in the UK because the gene pool is larger.
UK Times previously told how illegal breeders in Britain are mixing the Bully with other animals to make it more aggressive.
Stan, known as the Doglistener, said: “In America, this breed is described as being ‘gentle giants’, a welcoming friendly companion dog that is full of vigour.
“Unfortunately the record of this dog’s behaviour in the UK matches none of the characteristics and behaviour.
“I would imagine the gene pool in the UK is far smaller than in America.
“It could be that the writers of these glowing testaments are talking about the behaviour of their dogs and not the breed as a whole.”