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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