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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