Showsight Presents The Bulldog

JUDGE PRIORITIES, NOT POINT SCALES

Point scales were originally designed to be applied to positive fea- tures. In other words, assessing the dog was started at zero with points added for each trait. However, human nature tends to do the reverse, starting at 100 and subtracting. While most of the older standards described the point scales as positive, the Kerry Blue standard had both positive and negative point scales for many years. On the nega- tive, 10-point deductions were to be assessed for “bumpy cheeks” and “yellow or gooseberry eyes.” The Kerry no longer has a point scale, but it still faults bumpy cheeks and yellow eyes. “Gooseberry” has dis- appeared from the lexicon, and no reasonable person imagines today’s judges mentally deducting 10 points per fault, but rather, judging the whole dog in relation to the entire standard of perfection. In Bulldogs, one might think that gait is relatively unimportant on the point scale at only 3 points. However, all the points of body, and fore and hind leg construction that contribute to gait, add up to 39 points. The additional 3 points is a bonus. This is especially true per the written description of gait. The Bulldog breed stan- dard describes practically all traits as “should be.” Gait, on the other hand, is one of the few “musts.” Specifically: “The action must, how- ever, be unrestrained, free and vigorous.” POINT JUDGING IN ACTION Years ago, the Detroit Bulldog Club had a point match. All of the participants were given score sheets, and each examined and gaited all the dogs. When all of the scores were tallied, everyone had a good laugh at the final winner because it was universally agreed that she was not the best Bulldog there. How did this happen? This was a nice enough bitch of correct size. She seemed to have most of the features of type, but not to a great degree. In other words, she was quite generic. But how much do you deduct for eyes that could be a little darker, ears that could be a bit smaller, not quite as much rib spring as she could have, and so on? The answer is, “Not much in each area.” On the other hand, the dogs we all agreed were superior were subject to personal bias. If you are a breeder of perfect jaws, those with less than your ideal can expect to be hit hard on the score sheet. Further, these dogs may be superior in other areas that are not necessarily your top priorities as a breeder, so they might not be scored high enough. And the big problem with judging on points is that each dog is scored individually, without relationship to the other dogs in the ring. Lack of major faults is not a virtue, but it might get you higher up on the point scale overall. And the best part of the experiment was that our winner did have a major fault—her tail went straight up in the air when she gaited. But, the tail is only 4 points. And in the real world of judging, a Bulldog would have to be as close to perfect as possible to overcome the standard’s admoni- tion that “no portion of the member should be elevated above the base or root,” if it were going to be placed first. CONCLUSION Points scales are interesting historical documents. They show what the original writers of each breed standard considered to be the most important points of type. And that is how they should be used today: To understand breed priorities, but not to judge on points.

JUDGING ON POINTS The problem with judging on points is that, frankly, it cannot be done. All judges have inherent biases for certain features. This is certainly heightened among fanciers in their own breeds. And even with only a written standard to work from, these breeder preferences (and judge preferences) must always be kept in check. Otherwise, they lead to the worst of all judicial sins—fault judg- ing. This becomes even more obvious when dogs are judged only on points.

SCALE OF POINTS GENERAL PROPERTIES PROPORTION AND SYMMETRY

5 3 2 3 3 2 4 5 2 4 3 5 5 6 2 5 2 3 2 5 3 3 2 2 5 4 3 3 4

ATTITUDE

EXPRESSION

GAIT SIZE COAT

22

COLOR OF COAT

HEAD SKULL

CHEEKS

STOP

EYES AND EYELIDS

EARS

WRINKLE

NOSE CHOPS

JAWS

39

TEETH

BODY, LEGS, ETC. NECK

DEWLAP

SHOULDERS

CHEST

RIBS

BRISKET

BELLY BACK

FORELEGS AND ELBOWS

HIND LEGS

FEET TAIL

39 TOTAL 100

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anne Hier, JD MFA, has been involved as a breeder and exhibitor of Bulldogs (and later French Bulldogs) in conformation and obedience since 1975. Since 1988, she has been an approved judge and adjudicates 12 Non-Sporting breeds. She is a member of the Bulldog Club of America and, among other things, previously served as chair of the Judges Education Committee. Hier is a Life Member and current President of the Detroit Bulldog Club and AKC Delegate for the Companion Dog Training Club of Flint, Michigan. She is a professional artist and writer, and her articles and illustrations have appeared in numerous books and magazines since 1977. She is the author of Dog Shows Then and Now: An Annotated Anthology, and has won three Maxwell Awards from the Dog Writers Association of America.

200 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2021

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