Bullmastiff Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
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Official Standard of the Bullmastiff General Appearance: That of a symmetrical animal, showing great strength, endurance, and alertness; powerfully built but active. The foundation breeding was 60 percent Mastiff and 40 percent Bulldog. The breed was developed in England by gamekeepers for protection against poachers. Size, Proportion, Substance: Size - Dogs, 25 to 27 inches at the withers, and 110 to 130 pounds weight. Bitches, 24 to 26 inches at the withers, and 100 to 120 pounds weight. Other things being equal, the more substantial dog within these limits is favored. Proportion - The length from tip of breastbone to rear of thigh exceeds the height from withers to ground only slightly, resulting in a nearly square appearance. Head: Expression - Keen, alert, and intelligent. Eyes - Dark and of medium size. Ears - V- shaped and carried close to the cheeks, set on wide and high, level with occiput and cheeks, giving a square appearance to the skull; darker in color than the body and medium in size. Skull - Large, with a fair amount of wrinkle when alert; broad, with cheeks well developed. Forehead flat. Stop-Moderate. Muzzle - Broad and deep; its length, in comparison with that of the entire head, approximately as 1 is to 3. Lack of foreface with nostrils set on top of muzzle is a reversion to the Bulldog and is very undesirable. A dark muzzle is preferable. Nose - Black, with nostrils large and broad. Flews - Not too pendulous. Bite - Preferably level or slightly undershot. Canine teeth large and set wide apart. Neck, Topline, Body: Neck - Slightly arched, of moderate length, very muscular, and almost equal in circumference to the skull. Topline - Straight and level between withers and loin. Body - Compact. Chest wide and deep, with ribs well sprung and well set down between the forelegs. Back-Short, giving the impression of a well balanced dog. Loin-Wide, muscular, and slightly arched, with fair depth of flank. Tail - Set on high, strong at the root, and tapering to the hocks. It may be straight or curved, but never carried hound fashion. Forequarters: Shoulders - muscular but not loaded, and slightly sloping. Forelegs-straight, well boned, and set well apart; elbows turned neither in nor out. Pasterns straight, feet of medium size, with round toes well arched. Pads thick and tough, nails black. Hindquarters: Broad and muscular, with well developed second thigh denoting power, but not cumbersome. Moderate angulation at hocks. Cowhocks and splay feet are serious faults. Coat: Short and dense, giving good weather protection. Color : Red, fawn, or brindle. Except for a very small white spot on the chest, white marking is considered a fault. Gait: Free, smooth, and powerful. When viewed from the side, reach and drive indicate maximum use of the dog's moderate angulation. Back remains level and firm. Coming and going, the dog moves in a straight line. Feet tend to converge under the body, without crossing over, as speed increases. There is no twisting in or out at the joints. Temperament: Fearless and confident yet docile. The dog combines the reliability, intelligence, and willingness to please required in a dependable family companion and protector.
Approved February 8, 1992 Effective March 31, 1992
THE AKC STANDARD The American Kennel Club approved changes to the standard submitted by the American Bullmastiff Association, the parent club for the breed, on February 8, 1992.
The amended standard went into effect March 31, 1992. Geraldine Shastid , a noted Bullmastiff judge, explains and expands on the points made in the standard. Her comments are in italics, in between the pertinent sections of the standard.
OFFICIAL STANDARD FOR THE BULLMASTIFF
GENERAL APPEARANCE That of a symmetrical animal, showing great strength, endurance and alertness; pow- erfully built but active. The foundation breeding was 60% Mastiff and 40% Bulldog. The breed was developed in England by gamekeepers for protection against poachers. This introductory paragraph describes the overall physical impression of the Bullmastiff, the antecedents that gave it a unique type and the purpose for which the breed was intended. In other words, it outlines a strong working dog and emphasizes structure, type and function. All three of these elements were present in the early Bullmastiff, as they are in Bullmastiffs today. SIZE, PROPORTION, SUBSTANCE Size— Dogs, 25 to 27 inches at the withers and 110-130 pounds weight. Bitches, 24-26 inches at the withers and 100-120 weight. Other things being equal, the more substantial dog within these limits is favored. Proportion —The length from tip of breastbone to rear of thigh exceeds the height from withers to ground only slightly, resulting in a nearly square appearance. Not a giant dog; the ideal height of the Bullmastiff has remained generally the same over the years in most written standards. The weight, however, has been increased since the first Bullmastiffs were registered and is now also slightly greater for bitches than the current British standard permits. A premium is put on substance, within the limits of the standard, meaning muscle and bone rather than bulk and fat. This substance should never be at the expense of the required elements of power, endurance, agility and activity mentioned under General Appearance. Although not actually one of the square breeds, the ideal Bullmastiff should always have a square appearance. The closer a dog approaches a noticeably rectangular silhouette, the less correct it is on this point — an element that helps differentiate the breed from the Mastiff. A balanced Bullmastiff should have a deep body that is approximately one half of its total height at the withers (top of the shoulder). One should also remember that although width is not men- tioned in this part of the standard, to be a "symmetrical" and "powerfully built" Bullmastiff, a dog should possess sufficient width to balance its height and length when viewed from any angle. When viewed from above, the width of the front, the ribs and the rear should be equal. HEAD-EXPRESSION Keen, alert and intelligent. Eyes— Dark and of medium size. Ears— V-shaped and carried close to the cheeks, set on wide and high, level with occiput and cheeks, giv- ing a square appearance to the skull; darker in color than the body and medium in size. Skull— Large, with a fair amount of wrinkle when alert; broad, with cheeks well developed. Forehead flat. Stop— Moderate. Muzzle— Broad and deep; it's length, in
by GERALDINE SHASTID
THE AKC STANDARD: OFFICIAL STANDARD FOR THE BULLMASTIFF
comparison with that of the entire head, approximately as 1 is to 3. Lack of foreface with nostrils set on top of muzzle is a reversion to the Bulldog and is very undesir- able. A dark muzzle is preferable. Nose— Black, with nostrils large and broad. Flews— Not too pendulous. Bite— Preferably level or slightly undershot. Canine teeth large and set wide apart. The standard gives its greatest emphasis to the section on the head for two reasons: because the head is composed of so many individual parts and because a good head iden- tifies the dog as a Bullmastiff rather than a Bulldog, a Boxer or a small Mastiff. Taken as a whole, the head should have a square appearance, just as should the overall body structure. One of the characteristics the breed legitimately inher- ited from its Bulldog ancestors is a broad, shortened skull. The Bullmastiff lacks what is known in other breeds as backskull. This means that the occipital bone on a Bull- mastiff is set between the ears, rather than extending to some point behind them, as in the Mastiff. Viewed from the top, the portion of the head from the stop to the occiput should roughly equal the width of the head from cheekbone to cheekbone, but not including the cheek muscles which should also be clearly present on a good representative Bullmastiff head. For symmetry, the head should be approximately as deep as it is wide, thus forming a padded cube. An old rule of thumb was that the circumference of the head, mea- sured from a point in front of the ears, should be equal to or slightly greater than the height of the dog from ground to withers. Ideally, the muzzle is to be broad and deep with a length in profile that is one third of the entire head from tip of the nose to the occiput—in other words, one-third muzzle, two-thirds head (skull length). The width of the muzzle should be approximately the same as the length and the depth, forming a padded block that is securely attached to the square head. Some slight wrinkling across the muzzle may be per- mitted, but a Bullmastiff should never have so much nor so little wrinkle on the forehead that the expression and wrinkle pattern on the head does not change when the dog is alert and comes to full attention. This point is functional as well as aesthetic, because it serves as a form of commu- nication between dog and owner and has been prized since early gamekeeper's days. The dark, medium size eyes are set wide apart to allow a full range of vision and to avoid injury to both at one time in a skirmish with man or beast. Cosmetically, they square off the center area of the face and contribute immensely to the keen, alert and intelligent expression. Few faults are mentioned in the AKC standard, so when a particular characteristic is pointed out, it should be carefully noted" "Lack of foreface with nostrils set on top of the muzzle is a reversion to the Bulldog and is very undesirable." This is not to be confused with a pugnacious chin resulting from an undershot jaw. To differentiate between the two, look at the angle of the nose as it departs from the bridge of the muzzle. In profile, if the front of the nose forms a 45-degree angle with the top line of the nose, it should not generally be considered a reversion to the Bulldog. A far more common nose fault in Bullmastiffs are small or pinched nostrils.
BIS BISS Ch. Ladybug Shastid Brahminson, a Gold Register of Merit producer.
The mouth is broad and the canine teeth set wide to square off the jaw. It has been argued that the level bite is not normally considered functional. In the case of the Bullmastiff, which was developed to knock down and hold a man without mauling or inflicting unnecessary injuries, this type of bite is indeed suited to the purpose. The very "inefficiency" of the level or slightly undershot bite allows a person to be held without much of the ripping or slashing often encountered with the scissors or pincer bite found in many of the herding or guarding breeds. Excessive flews would be a hindrance to a dog attempting to securely hold a struggling felon. Aesthetically, the deep, square lower muzzle should come from strength and depth of underjaw and not from an illusion created by floppy flews. Ears are V-shaped and darker in color than the body. Although a dog may be forgiven for not possessing black ears, the darker coloring should be preferred by breeders to prevent loss of pigmentation on this point. When alert, the ears come forward slightly and frame the top half of the face. The ears should not be large, but rather in proportion to the head. Well set ears of correct size and shape greatly enhance the expression and contribute to the overall square look. Although the AKC standard only remarks that the dark muzzle is preferred, it is probably best for breeders to strive for the black muzzle and masking con- sidered essential by the British and Canadian standards. A Bullmastiff with a faded or absent mask departs from accepted breed type for showing or breeding and ranges uncomfortably close to the coloration of the Dogue de Bordeaux. The head is therefore one of the signature characteristics of type in the Bull- mastiff and should never be such that there could be the slightest confusion with the Mastiff, Bulldog, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Dogue de Bordeaux or any other breed. NECK, TOPLINE, BODY Neck— Slightly arched, of moderate length, very muscular and almost equal in circumference to the skull. Topline— Straight and level between withers and loin. Body— Compact. Chest wide and deep, with ribs well sprung and well set down between the forelegs. Back— Short, giving the impression of a well balanced dog. Loin— Wide, muscular and slightly arched, with a fair depth of flank. Tail— Set on high, strong at the root and tapering to the hocks. It may be straight or curved, but never carried hound fashion. This section of the standard describes a thick, powerful, compact dog that is capable of working. Compactness and a short, level back are the keys to the ideal, well-balanced Bullmastiff body. The tail is set on high and should be an exten- sion of the topline. Low-set tails have become common-place, as well as equally incorrect rounded croups more appropriate to coursing dogs. A sudden drop in the croup ruins the square outline and weakens the stability needed for the dog to keep its balance when subduing an intruder.
THE AKC STANDARD: OFFICIAL STANDARD FOR THE BULLMASTIFF
“THE DOG COMBINES THE RELIABILITY, INTELLIGENCE AND WILLINGNESS TO
PLEASE REQUIRED IN A DEPENDABLE FAMILY COMPANION AND PROTECTOR.”
White markings are a fault in all Bullmastiff standards and should be penalized to the extent of the marking. A large amount of white is a larger fault, but unless extensive, it should never be con- sidered with the same severity as splayed feet, cowhocks or a rever- sion to the Bulldog. GAIT Free, smooth and powerful. When viewed from the side, reach and drive indicate maximum use of the dog's moderate angulation. Back remains level and firm. Coming and going, the dog moves in a straight line. Feet tend to converge under the body without crossing over as speed increases. There is no twist- ing in or out at the joints. The gait described is the simple, correct movement expected from a working dog with moderate angulation and a compact, nearly square body. Occasionally a Bullmastiff will single track but the breed should not be expected to do so. The single tracking Bullmastiff should not be confused with a dog that crosses over in its movement. This view differs from the current Canadian standard which asks Bullmastiffs to track in two parallel lines and makes no mention of convergence or single tracking. Many novice owners mistake speed for good movement. A smooth, moderate trot reveals much more about a dog's soundness and struc- ture than the racing speed often seen in the show ring. As a judge, I am always skeptical when a dog is presented at what I consider excessive speed. Although good movement should be prized, it should receive no extra recognition if it comes as a benefit of a fault of type. Specifi- cally, a Bullmastiff should get no extra credit for outstanding move- ment if it lacks the essential compactness and nearly square outline or if it achieves that exceptional movement as a benefit of incorrect type and structure. TEMPERAMENT Fearless and confident yet docile. The dog combines the reliability, intelligence and willingness to please required in a dependable family companion and protector. Fearless and confident yet docile. To put it in very simple terms, a Bullmastiff must own the ground it stands on. Docile means to easily teach or manage, not dull or spiritless. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Geraldine Shastid is a lifetime member of the American Bullmastiff Association, an international judge and a breeder/ owner-handler of National Specialty Best of Breed/All-Breed Best in Show/Register of Merit Bullmastiffs. Gerry was a member of the standard revision committee in 1992 and serves as a parent club approved mentor. Along with her late husband, Jack Shastid, she is an author, historian and devoted fancier of over 50 years.
FOREQUARTERS Shoulders— Muscular but not loaded and slightly sloping. Fore- legs— Straight, well boned and set well apart; elbows turned neither in nor out. Pasterns— straight, feet of medium size with round toes well arched. Pads— thick and tough, nails black. HINDQUARTERS Broad and muscular, with well developed second thigh denoting power but not cumbersome. Moderate angulation at hocks. Cow- hocks and splay feet are serious faults. Although these opposite ends of the dog are treated separately in the standard, they must be considered together to achieve the proper bal- ance and symmetry. Shoulders are slightly sloping to go with the strong, straight pasterns and the moderate angulation at the hock. It is reason- able to assume that if the hocks are moderately bent, the stifles will be moderately angulated as well. Cow hocks and splay feet are designated as serious faults and should not be tolerated. Although splay feet are men- tioned under the heading of hindquarters, they are an equally serious fault on the front feet. Similarly, thick, tough pads and black nails are not just requirements on the front feet. The dog is the sum of its parts and the way they fit together. COAT Short and dense, giving good weather protection. A short, dense coat is less likely to collect mud and debris and is less exposed to the elements than a longer, slightly open one. The British penal- ize long, silky and woolly coats in their standard and require the hair- coat to lie flat against the body. The AKC standard simply states what is acceptable and expects common sense to exclude the occasional longhaired Bullmastiff from the show ring and the breeding program. COLOR Red, fawn or brindle. Except for a very small white spot on the chest, white markings are considered a fault. Although brindle was the color preferred by early gamekeepers, for many years brindle dogs were at a disadvantage in the show ring. But in the past decade, many serious breeders have made concentrated efforts to produce outstanding brindle Bullmastiffs. As a result, they are seen in increasing numbers every year. Solid fawns and reds should ideally have clear, even colored coats. BIS BISS Ch. Ladybug’s Lady Caitlin, TD. Pictured winning her second national specialty under the late Jack Shastid.
A POTTED BULLMASTIFF HISTORY
BY BILLY BRITTLE
T he plain truth is that when examining the facts around the history of the Bullmas- tiff, there is little that we can say for certain. We do not know when and where the breed first appeared, nor do we have any concrete evidence how it first evolved, but throughout history there have been references to Bulldog and Mastiff crosses. Dur- ing the medieval period there is much mention of the Mastiff and its use as a guard, but it is unclear if the word is used to describe one type of dog, or a more general term to describe a group of dogs with the same characteristics including the Bulldog and Mastiff cross. Later Buffon, a French naturalist, made clear reference in 1792 of the merits and results of crossing a Bulldog with a Mastiff, and there are many other simi- lar references recorded during the 18th and 19th century. It seems the Bull and Mastiff type was recognized in a similar way to that of the Lurcher today—that a Bull and Mastiff was a recognizable type with animals that shared a similar appearance and similar attributes, but was not a distinct breed as we would accept today. Britain, and England in particular, is a temperate country with no real extremes in weather. It is an island and, unlike the rest of Europe, was pro- tected from migration of both people
20TH CENTURY PROGRESS The Bullmastiff as a breed con- tinued to increase in popularity and, more importantly, be recognized as a breed in its own right. Serious breeders emerged and well–respected dog fanci- ers, such as Count Von Hollander. Writ- ing in 1911, called for recognition of the breed stating that he did so consciously knowing that this dog is the: “bravest the most perfect guard and protector in the world.” PIONEERS The best–known breeder of the 20th century and perhaps father of the mod- ern breed was Mr. Samuel Mosley of Farcroft fame. A small full–time breeder and smallholder. He was first known for breeding Mastiffs and Cocker Spaniels as well as GSD’s, and had been breed- ing Bullmastiffs under both the Farcroft and Hamil prefixes since about 1910. His formula to produce a Bullmastiff still remains the basis for our under- standing of the breed today and is loose- ly based on a 60 percent Mastiff and 40 percent Bulldog mix. However, some of the dogs he produced were far from attractive and appear to have little or no real Bulldog characteristics, resembling very light framed Mastiffs. I am not con- vinced that other breeders of the time were particularly impressed and, given Mr. Mosley’s somewhat cavalier attitude
and animals. Its development as a nation has been markedly different from its immediate neighbors. This isolation has, in my opinion, generated a relative purity and richness in the development of livestock and animals. The number of breeds of cattle, horses and especially dogs, that Britain lays claim to, makes a nonsense of its size. There is no doubt that island isolation encouraged breed- ers to utilise and modify those breeds available to meet particular needs. The Bullmastiff is a typical example. Large estates and its protected game proved an attractive lure to a hungry and desperate people, and a game- keeper with a gun and a Spaniel was little or no deterrent to a determined gang of poachers and their dogs. There- fore, the need for a highly mobile, aggressive and, above all, brave dog to accompany the gamekeeper became more paramount during the 18th and 19th century. Clearly a great success, the demand for the Bull and Mastiff cross increased and the money required to purchase such a dog became quite consider- able. By the end of the 19th century the breed had become fairly well estab- lished and was known generally as the bullmastiff or gamekeeper’s night dog, as both Idstone (Rev. Payne) and Stone- henge (J.H. Walsh), dog writers of the time, made clear in their writings.
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towards pedigrees, it puts his much vaunted formula into some doubt. Nev- ertheless, Mr. Mosley continued to have great success and carried on breeding for some time, exporting dogs across the world and, in particular, to Mr. John Cross in the USA who later produced the first American Standard utilizing Mosley’s 60:40 ratio. In 1924, after much campaigning and support, the Bullmastiff was finally recognized by the Kennel Club of Great Britain and in 1925 classes were made available for the breed. The two clubs of the time argued for some time over the standard and both clubs adopted vary- ing weight and height requirements. However, despite differences over size, there was uniformity in many areas and there was agreement that the tem- perament of the Bullmastiff should be courageous and bold but with a docile and intelligent disposition. I would sug- gest that some of the other differences were dictated by the politics within the breed and perhaps the varying types the main breeders of the time were pro- ducing. The following years generated more changes to the Standard until the height was standardized and the 130 lb limit finally agreed. However, many breeders of the time expressed concern with this trend and warned of the con- sequences of continuing to increase the size limit of the breed. A warning that is every bit as relevant today. Remem- ber the original working dogs were far smaller than the dogs we see today. Thorneywood Terror, for example was a dog of 90–lb who was able, without exception, to bring a man down and keep him down. Osmaston Daisy was a bitch of 88–lb who, undoubtedly, saved her master J. Biggs’s life when he was attacked by three poachers. These were dogs that did the job—but would clear- ly be thrown out of today’s show ring. In the USA, the Breed Standard was finally settled in 1992, and is probably the most independent Bullmastiff Stan- dard in the world, in that its construc- tion and wording is totally different to that of any other country, most of whom adopt the current UK Standard. THE BULMAS LINE With the breed now firmly estab- lished, the years leading up to the Sec- ond World War saw the emergence of a number of breeders who made signifi- cant contributions to shaping the breed
as we know it. Without doubt, the most important of these was Cyril Leeke and his world famous Bulmas line. Follow- ing on from a very disappointing Far- croft bitch purchased in 1924, Cyril Leeke then went on to purchase a bitch from the Midlands named simply Sheila. Bred to one of the top winning dogs of the day, Ch. Peter of the Fenns, Sheila produced the first ever Bulmas Cham- pion, Ch. Wendy of Bulmas. From then on, Cyril Leek’s success and influence on the breed was, for the time being, unsurpassed and, certainly, Ch. Beppo of Bulmas, bred by Cyril but owned by Mr. and Mrs. J. Higgin- son, made a significant contribution to the type and progress of the breed and helped to relegate the rather insignifi- cant and weak head types of the early dogs. In addition, Beppo went on to win 22 Challenge Certificates, which, considering the rather limited number on offer at the time, was a tremendous achievement. The success of the Bul- mas line continued for many years and the type became more and more estab- lished, with numerous Champions both in Britain and abroad. The Bulmas dogs, above all others during this period, made the most significant contribution to the breed in the USA. Cyril Leeke’s own fortunes were mixed. Following on from his unpar- alleled success in the UK for over 30 years, a promising move to the USA in 1957 sponsored by R. L. Twitty turned sour and Cyril returned to the UK a dis- illusioned man. He was never to recap- ture his previous success. Without dogs and a shadow of his former self, he last judged at Crufts in 1963. Although he never owned Bullmastiffs again, he was, up until his death in 1971, a regular visi- tor to Harry and Beryl Colliass’s Oldwell Kennels, where Harry said he would sit for hours on the floor playing with puppies, oblivious to everything else. It is he that we perhaps owe the biggest debt for producing more standardized and well–constructed dogs that are the foundation of what we have today. THE WAR YEARS AND AFTER The outbreak of war in 1939 obvi- ously reduced Bullmastiff activity in the UK but, interestingly, and quite unlike the Mastiff which virtually ceased to exist, the Bullmastiff continued to prog- ress, and a healthy pool of very good
animals remained. Registrations were 461 in 1939, and while they reduced to over half of that during the war years, in 1946 the total number of registrations rose to 598. Some observers of the time even argue that the war improved the breed by ensuring that only the best was retained and bred from. “SOME OBSERVERS OF THE TIME EVEN ARGUE THAT THE WAR IMPROVED THE BREED BY ENSURING THAT ONLY THE BEST WAS RETAINED AND BRED FROM.” Following the war the breed con- tinued to gain further recognition and popularity not only in the UK but around the world and in particular the USA. The influence of Mr. John Cross and his Kennels, and his almost obses- sive one man push to both promote the breed and gain recognition is a key fac- tor in the development of the breed in the US. TODAY The Bullmastiff is now a popular and established breed around the world and is admired and rightly famous for its steady and dependable nature. It is a breed that has a rich and sometime vio- lent heritage, but has managed to over- come the paranoia that surrounding some Bull breeds. It is a breed capable of winning at shows, but also retaining the unparalleled guarding ability that established it in the first place. How- ever, we as owners and judges need to remember that heritage and always respect the standard that is the soul of the breed.
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THE NIGHT DOG... HIS STORY
By Pam McClintock
n tough, tight feet and well-developed legs, he treads softly across the marshy ground. He is lighter framed and leaner at
spectre emerges several yards further along the pathway, his inspection of the immedi- ate area seemingly complete. At the edge of the trail he stands motionless, watchfully casting glances to right and left, drop ears folded haphazardly and lifted, easily distinguishing the allur- ing smells of the roaming wildlife from the other presence. Th at pungent smell, when it comes, will permeate his nostrils and deep within his brain an unforgettable memory will emerge. For the moment, the gentle winds hovering over the manor land are harmless, carrying a mixture of ani- mal odors, rotting vegetation, and newly leafed stately trees soaring upwards to the available light. Twisting his body slightly, he surveys another sector, peering into the underbrush. Th en, with practiced deft- ness, he steps soundlessly into the thick invasive growth, to examine the region on the opposite side of the path. Only the slightest crack of a twig belies his location and never does he give voice to indicate his position. He is strong, determined and self assured, independently able to scrutinize the vastness of this land. When he materializes once again far down the path, an enormous body shake causes ears to flap crazily, scattered water
droplets glistening briefly in the wan- ing rays of the sun, that streak earthward through the heavy overhead canopy. Scan- ning the track, he breaks into an even light footed trot, retracing his steps along the well worn path, intent on the familiar fig- ure walking towards him. Th e gamekeeper too, honors the distinctive trait of steady but muted footfall. High topped leather boots and somewhat thread bare breeches are testimony to his ever vigilant guardian- ship of the master’s forest. A long barreled rifle is carried easily, slung over one arm and safely pointed downward. A coarse, woolen, jacket and protective cap, com- pletes his durable but less than fashionable appearance. Th is man in his hunting garb might well be a saint, so delighted is the dog to be in his presence. Th e two exchange the pleasantries of friends that are acutely tuned to one another. A scratch, a special pat, the battering of a tail gone wild, a few murmured good boys joining the raspy low growls of contentment and the joyous moment is over. As day slips easily into night and in a synchronized instant, gamekeeper and Night Dog return to the task at hand. Pro- tecting the vast arboreal forests from the unscrupulous poachers who would kill
ninety pounds than his descendants will be in the years to come. Large, vigorous, blocky headed and powerful, he is an intimidating fierce adversary to those who would invade his domain and challenge him. Th e blood of many dubious ances- tors flows in his veins, but soon, this one they call the Night Dog, will be unique, an historically significant breed, taking his place amongst the finest in the world. For now, he is a capable hunter and tracker. He inhales deeply, thoughtfully filtering the scents that drift on the breeze as it rustles through the trees and bushes. He is tense and alert. Th ese grounds are his realm and he has established a complete authority to wander freely and without restraint. Well used muscles surge as he slinks between trees, leaping e ff ortlessly over windfalls and quietly dipping into shallow creeks and boggy lowlands. His short dark coat, intriguingly stripped, fades easily into the shadows as late day turns gently into twilight. Th en, quite suddenly, the silent
“The blood of many dubious ancestors flows in his veins, but soon, this one they call the Night Dog, will be unique, an historically significant breed, TAKING HIS PLACE AMONGST THE FINEST IN THE WORLD.”
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treats the lacerations on the doe’s leg while the dog maintains his dominant stance over his victim. Th e wire is cut and the doe is released to join her dappled youngster, standing trembling some distance away, frightened and bewildered by a seem- ingly mad dog and a man who somehow extricates his mother relatively unharmed, from this horror that he has witnessed. As the pair nuzzles each other for comfort, the doe glances over her shoulder once and then leads her baby deep into the protec- tion of the forest, white tails flashing as they quickly vanish. Th eir freedom is elu- sive. It will be jeopardized again. At the appropriate moment, the dog steps away and unnervingly fixes menac- ing eye contact on his captive. Th e game- keeper, with the able assistance of his night dog, will lead the poacher at gun- point to the local law enforcement and subsequent imprisonment. Th e poacher has met the Night Dog. His family will su ff er the consequences of this fateful night. As the years progress the Night Dog will become a breed with a name, maintaining his development and proud heritage with England. Imposing, majestic and extraordinary, the Bullmasti ff will come of age. He will captivate, charm, and amaze us with his magnificence. His protection and security for the future will be our passion and purpose.
“THE DOG DOES NOT WAIT FOR A SIGNAL. All of his senses are heightened, instinct awakens, and bright images flash intensely in his mind, as he rockets into the woods.”
and steal the master’s wildlife is a daunting challenge, but one easily faced by these two companions. Both are intuitively aware of each others gestures and body language. Moving aggressively now along the trail, they search and listen for the clues that will warn them of the danger and trespass of a stranger. Th e poacher is often a desper- ate man. Penniless and with many hungry mouths at home, he must invade the sanc- tuary of the estate lands to find and kill game to feed a starving family. Th e unfor- giving manor lord is not willing to share his bounty, the wild creatures being his for sport shooting. Ignoring the inevitable tragedy of the situation, the pair forges onward, listening and probing the forest for signs of an intruder. Shortly, they both detect the obvious sounds of an animal in distress. Th e bleating and thrashing in the distant thickets is unmistakable. Th e dog does not wait for a signal. All of his sens- es are heightened, instinct awakens, and bright images flash intensely in his mind, as he rockets into the woods. With incred- ible fleetness and agility, combined with a remarkably stealthy footfall, he interrupts the impending butchery. Th e poacher is unaware of his assailant, he being crouched over the body of a young doe caught in a wire leg snare. Th e doe thrashes helplessly on her side, moaning, ribs heaving, and with one knee on her neck for control, the poacher raises a dirty, encrusted knife pre- paring to sever her throat. Without warning, a dark projec- tile slams the thief to the ground with enormous force, the knife thrust from
his hand. Th ere was no sound and there was no time to flee. On his back, rotting teeth exposed as he attempts a ragged scream, the poacher stares straight into the black eyes of a demon. Th e dog mas- terfully straddles his opponent and heavily breathes hot moist air from his huge lungs onto the terrified face. Wide panting jaws slowly drip saliva, mixing with facial grime and forming ragged streaks of filth that crisscross the disheveled features of his vic- tim. Large teeth are defined behind black lips and a pink tongue hangs precariously close to exposed skin. Panic obliterates the poacher’s mind and leaves him breathless with fear. A moment later, the gamekeeper has reached the scene. He extracts a special potion from his knapsack and skillfully
“Without warning, a dark projectile slams the thief to the ground with enormous force, the knife thrust from his hand. THERE WAS NO SOUND AND THERE WAS NO TIME TO FLEE.”
200 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A UGUST 2014
JUDGING THE BULLMASTIFF By Chris Lezotte HappyLegs Bullmastiffs A nyone who has spent any amount of time observ- ing the Bullmasti ff will undoubtedly remark upon the inconsistency of type in the breed. Th is acteristics as ear set, shape and size, the width of the underjaw and eye shape and placement. Rather than think of each of these attributes separately, base your assess- ment on the degree to which they contrib- ute to the nearly square appearance of the Bullmasti ff head.
a shock to those who have spent any time with the breed as it is quite probable that the majority of Bullmasti ff s encountered have been more rectangular than square. How- ever, it is important to keep in mind that it is not only size, but also proportion, that distinguish the Bullmasti ff from the larger and longer masti ff . In pro fi le and from all angles, the Bullmasti ff should appear square. Th us when considering the Bull- masti ff , an important point to remember is that long is always wrong. Th e overabundance of long-backed dogs in the ring is not due an inherent misun- derstanding of the standard on the part of Bullmasti ff breeders, but rather, to the di ffi - culty of breeding a short-backed dog that is balanced. Breeders compensate for a lack of balance front and rear by producing a long- coupled dog. Excessive length of body can mask a multitude of structural faults that a ff ect how a dog covers the ground. Remem- ber that a Bullmasti ff does not require a long back to move well; rather, it is balance - mod- erate rear angulation and complementary shoulder layback—that makes a good-mov- ing Bullmasti ff . A square Bullmasti ff that is structurally correct will move smoothly with power and drive making maximum use of its moderate angulation, just as the standard recommends. Th e concept of squareness also applies when considering the Bullmasti ff head. In the Bullmasti ff ring, you will undoubt- edly fi nd a variety of head types as the liberal Bullmasti ff standard allows for a range of interpretation. However, it is important to remember that each indi- vidual element that comes together in the Bullmasti ff headpiece should contribute to its square appearance. Th is not only applies to traits such as the broad, deep muzzle and the large skull with well-developed cheeks, which Bullmasti ff breeders often refer to as a “cube on a cube,” but also to such char-
is not only evident when comparing dogs from one area of the country to another, but is also a fairly common occurrence at regional specialties and local weekend shows. Th is disparity is not due to the lack of attention or due diligence of Bullmasti ff breeders, but rather, can be attributed to a fairly liberal breed standard as well the dif- fi culty of breeding “true” in a breed with a genetic makeup that includes the extremes of the nineteenth-century Bulldog and the Masti ff . Yet as Adele Pfenninger writes in the Bullmasti ff Handbook, “Interpretation of the standard by each breeder accounts for the di ff erences in each strain, but ultimately and ideally, all [Bullmasti ff s] should look more alike than they look di ff erent.” Th us while judges unfamiliar with the breed may fi nd variation in type to be somewhat dis- concerting, a recognition and understand- ing of the quintessential characteristics of Bullmasti ff breed type will lead to sound, appropriate and intelligent assessments when judging the Bullmasti ff . It’s Hip to be Square A cursory reading of the Bullmasti ff standard reveals a number of terms or con- cepts repeated time and time again. Th e continued reference to a particular attri- bute is indicative of its importance to breed type. Th e most frequently mentioned con- cept in the Bullmasti ff standard has to do with proportion. Th e standard alternatively refers to the Bullmasti ff as “symmetrical,” “nearly square,” “compact,” “short” backed and “well balanced.” Th is suggests that an essential Bullmasti ff characteristic is a nearly square appearance. Th is may come as
Only the Strong Survive Another concept that appears with some regularity in the Bullmasti ff standard is substance. Th e Bullmasti ff is described as “powerfully built” and “showing great strength.” Its neck is “very muscular” and almost equal in circumference to the skull; its chest is referred to as “wide and deep,” with ribs well sprung and well set down between the forelegs; the loin is “wide and muscular;” the hindquarters “broad and muscular;” the forelegs are “well-boned;” the shoulders are de fi ned as “muscular but not loaded.” And as the standard reads, oth- er things being equal, the “more substantial dog” is favored. Th ese points of empha- sis provide a fairly vivid image of how the Bullmasti ff should appear: strong, thick, sturdy, muscular, substantial and powerful. Th e determined focus on muscle and sub- stance convincingly removes any doubt as to the incorrectness of dogs that are weedy, rangy, tubey, or fi ne-boned. It also suggests that it is not enough for the Bullmasti ff to be solid, but that substance should be an indication of muscle and bone rather than sheer mass attained by too many trips to the food bowl. Because the Bullmasti ff has a short coat, there is rarely a need to run one’s hands over the dog to ascertain whether or not it is well-muscled; it should be visible for all to see. It is interesting to note that, other than a reference to weight range, there is no di ff erentiation between dogs and bitches in the Bullmasti ff stan- dard in reference to substance. Th us a bitch is a scaled down version of the dog;
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she is not petite, but substantial relative to her slightly smaller size. More is Not Always More Th e emphasis on substance often leads to the false assumption—among judges and fanciers alike—that when it comes to the Bullmasti ff , bigger is better. Th is notion fails to consider another recurring and cru- cial concept in the Bullmasti ff standard: moderation. A focus on moderation tempers the tendency to breed the extreme charac- teristics of either the Bulldog or the masti ff into the Bullmasti ff . It takes into consider- ation the purpose for which the Bullmasti ff was bred—to knock and hold down poach- ers on nineteenth-century English estates— and the corresponding need for a dog that was strong, powerful, agile, quick and mod- erate. Th e call for moderation in the stan- dard is evident in both the size parameters as well the description of physical charac- teristics. Th e top of the standard for males is 130 pounds; females are to be no larger than 120 pounds. Th is is signi fi cantly less than the recommended sizes of giant breeds such as the Great Dane, masti ff and St. Ber- nard. A correct Bullmasti ff should never approach these weight categories; unfortu- nately, many of them do. Th is meandering into “giant” territory is often the result of a long back and the extra weight necessary to produce substance in a long-coupled dog. A compact, moderate dog that weighs 130 pounds is all the Bullmasti ff necessary to handle the job it was bred to do. Th e standard also calls for a moder- ate stop, moderate angulation, a slightly arched neck of moderate length, a topline
that is “straight and level” and fi rm when moving, fl ews that are “not too pendulous” and a skull that exhibits a fair amount of wrinkle “when alert.” Th ese character- istics—individually and collectively— describe a dog that is not exaggerated in any manner. It depicts a dog that is clean, solid, tight and sound. Th inking of the Bullmasti ff as a moderate rather than giant breed will help you to disregard the dogs that are too big, too sloppy, too long and too overdone. Confidence is Key As Richard Beauchamp wrote in Solv- ing the Mysteries of Breed Type, “Every- thing in the Bullmasti ff standard assures us of a dog that will stand its ground and protect at all costs.” Th us temperament may be considered the ultimate indicator of Bullmasti ff breed type. Th e standard describes the Bullmasti ff as “fearless and con fi dent, yet docile.” Bullmasti ff expres- sion is referred to as “keen, alert and intel- ligent.” Breed function is de fi ned as “a dependable family companion and protec- tor.” Th ese collective traits were necessary for the job the Bullmasti ff was originally bred to do and are appropriate for the duties it instinctively takes on today. Th ese qualities should be taken into consider- ation when assessing the Bullmasti ff in the ring as well as when approaching the individual dog for examination. Do not let the friendliness of most Bullmasti ff s dissuade you from thinking of the breed as a formidable guard. Although much of the “sharpness” has been bred out of the modern Bullmasti ff , one should never for-
get the original working function of the breed and treat the Bullmasti ff with atten- tiveness, courtesy and most important of all, respect. Th us you should never get in a Bullmasti ff ’s face, nor should you give it a playful slap on the rump. As it is not uncommon for males in particular to be dog aggressive, one should not pack the dogs in the ring too tightly. Despite the briefness and liberal nature of the Bullmasti ff standard, it is not in any way inadequate or incomplete. By examining it closely for recurring themes and points of emphasis, one can get a very secure sense of what to look for when judg- ing the Bullmasti ff . If, after reading the standard, you are able to picture a dog that is con fi dent and alert, square in head and body, moderate, powerful and substantial and balanced front and rear, you are on your way to recognizing the quintessential characteristics of Bullmasti ff breed type. BIO Chris Lezotte, with husband Alan Kalter, has bred or owned over 150 Bull- masti ff champions since 1986 under the HappyLegs prefix. Chris has served the American Bullmasti ff Association as sec- retary and Bulletin editor. She is cur- rently on the board of the Great Lakes Bullmasti ff Association and Ann Arbor Kennel Club. She has judged Futurity and Sweepstakes at regional and national spe- cialties and was the breeder judge at the 2012 ABA National Specialty Top Twenty event. Chris and Alan and a dozen Bull- masti ff s reside on 18 acres just outside Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“Although much of the ‘sharpness’ has been bred out of the modern Bullmastiff, ONE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THE ORIGINAL WORKING FUNCTION OF THE BREED and treat the Bullmastiff with attentiveness, courtesy and most important of all, respect.”
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JUDGING THE BULLMASTIFF by HELENE NIETSCH
I magine nineteenth-century Eng- land before industrialization. Picture a rural, agrarian society composed of large feudal estates surrounded by small tenant farms. Think of the gamekeeper, whose duty was to prevent the desperate and deter- mined poacher from illegally taking the wild game that roamed the land- owner’s property. And envision a large, powerful and agile dog, as dark as night, with the ability to sneak up on the poacher unaware, knock him to the ground, and hold him without harm until the gamekeeper arrived the next morning. This “gamekeeper’s night dog,” fearless yet not ferocious, was the predecessor of today’s Bullmastiff. Twenty-first-century America bears little resemblance to the English coun- tryside of two centuries ago. The Bullmastiff, which arrived in the US during the first half of the twentieth century, has adapted easily to his new environment and duties. Without an estate to roam and protect, the Bull- mastiff has evolved into a reliable fam- ily guardian and pet. Yet he retains the courage, intelligence, discrimination, as well as the independent spirit, of his formidable ancestors. Walking into the Bullmastiff spe- cials ring should be an impressive sight, your first sense of the breed as a sym- metrical nearly-square dog, showing great strength, endurance, and alert- ness; powerfully built and active. They are a working breed and should be sound structurally and moving in all directions, balanced front to rear, with heavy hindquarters, depth of body with
pro sternum and good bone-to-body proportion. Silhouette is the first thing we see when looking over the lineup, and along with correct head type (cube on cube), soundness moving and struc- turally, temperament and health, all should be included in your order of priority. The physical examination of the breed should not be unlike any other working breed. “What you see, is what you get” and a cursory hands- on examination is sufficient. However, don’t stoop down in front to examine the head or stare at a Bullmastiff. No need to check for full dentition, and a perfunctory look at the bite will suffice. Grossly undershot, overshot and wry bites are serious faults but can be easily
observed in your quick mouth exam. Discourage any barking in your ring, as this could incite aggressive behavior in your entry and don’t overcrowd the ring, allow sufficient space between entries, particularly between dogs. Bull- mastiffs are generally well behaved and even the owner-handler has a capable hand when showing this breed. The breed is usually friendly with wagging tails and overzealous puppy behavior. They can be guarded with strangers, but should never lack confidence or shy away from the judge, or not recover quickly if startled by loud noises. But what makes the Bullmastiff a less popular choice in the Working Group or Best in Show ring? Not a
“THE BREED IS USUALLY FRIENDLY WITH WAGGING TAILS AND OVERZEALOUS PUPPY BEHAVIOR. THEY CAN BE GUARDED WITH STRANGERS.”
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‘sexy’ breed, the Bullmastiff might be less understood and not as flashy as oth- er dogs in the final lineup. As a serious working breed, although their silhou- ette would suggest a “look of eagles” their gait is not and should not be flashy but rather a more powerful, deliberate breed-appropriate gait, not tremen- dous reach and drive. With their breed- appropriate side gait, many lack the showy attitude of other working breeds and with correct head type might be less commonly understood, which in turn can shake a judge’s confidence in awarding the prestigious honor. A rectangular Bullmastiff, with heavy pigment and a level bite does not make a great Bullmastiff, only a generic dog. Perhaps these dogs may achieve their championship, but they should not be winning groups and bests in show! While we applaud judges that reward soundness, it should not come at the expense of incorrect body proportion, length of back, or head type. Many judg- es also seem to focus on cosmetic flaws rather than structure, which includes correct nearly square proportion, prop- er shoulder layback (difficult to find in this breed) and moderate front and rear angulation, as well, of course, correct head type.
hole in the fence, would you absolutely identify it as a Bullmastiff? If you don’t, it is the most serious fault of all. If there is a Mastiff and Bullmastiff stand- ing on a hillside in the distance, one is rectangular the other square, which is the Bullmastiff? If a Bullmastiff needs to look like a Bullmastiff, it must be nearly square. You need to read and study the standard and engage in other means of education to best understand Bullmastiff breed type. The most frequently mentioned con- cept in the Bullmastiff standard has to do with proportion. The standard alternatively refers to the Bullmastiff as “symmetrical, nearly square, com- pact, short backed, and well balanced.” This suggests that an essential Bull- mastiff characteristic is a nearly square appearance. It is important to keep in mind that it is not only size, but also proportion that distinguishes the Bullmastiff from the larger and longer Mastiff. In profile, and from all angles, the Bullmastiff should appear square. Thus when considering the Bullmastiff, an important point to remember is that long is always wrong. Nearly square proportion every bit defines breed type as the squareness of the head and muzzle. Proportion and size is what
Type is misunderstood, and we can have a variety of types in the ring, which include Bullmastiffs that look like Mas- tiffs (too big, too much flew), Shar Pei (too heavily wrinkled), Rhodesian Ridgebacks (too refined and snipey), Staffy Bulls (short) and Dogue de Bor- deaux (round heads, incorrect topline, red color and coat texture). Bullmastiffs are a compact, deep, square dog. A long, rectangular Bullmastiff is incorrect. SILHOUETTE From the Bullmastiff Standard: “That of a symmetrical animal, showing great strength, endurance, and alert- ness; powerfully built but active. “Body should be compact. Back—short, giv- ing the impression of a well-balanced dog. “Proportion—The length from tip of breastbone to rear of thigh exceeds the height from withers to ground only slightly, resulting in a nearly square appearance.” These are some of the most important words defining type in the Bullmastiff Standard. The “general appearance” in our standard gives one a good sense of Bullmastiff type—“symmetrical (nearly square/ balanced), great strength (sound), pow- erfully built (substantial).” But if any Bullmastiff sticks his head through a
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