AMERICAN BULLMASTIFF ASSOCIATION, INC. Q&A
are Working Dogs, a guard breed, dogs with independent intelli- gence, prodigious strength, and strong will. We all know that there are exceptions to that description, but most Bullmastiffs require early socialization and training and thrive if they have regular exer- cise and jobs to do. Whether guarding the property, showing in the conformation ring, working in agility, obedience, or tracking, Bullmastiffs form strong bonds with their owners and want to have something to occupy their minds and bodies. The old saying that “a tired puppy is a good puppy” can be true for the life of a Bullmas- tiff. Inactivity does not suit their nature. They do love their couch time and their people, but they need to be given routines, rules, and put to work. We also often hear that “Bullmastiffs are naturally good with children.” We are quick to point out that the Bullmastiffs and the children all need to be trained about appropriate behavior and boundaries and always supervised in their interactions. Even as puppies, Bullmastiffs are large dogs and can easily knock down children if not given the necessary training they need to develop house manners and methods of interacting with people large and small, young and old. If that advice is followed, Bullmastiffs are excellent family companions and are prized for their willingness to please their people and to protect them. What special challenges do breeders face in our current econom- ic and social climate? All breeders face challenges when it comes to breeding according to the Breed Standard and improving upon the previous generation. Economically, it is a fact that large dogs are more expensive to feed, house, and to keep healthy. They are a major investment in terms of time and money, not to mention emotion. Physically healthy dogs are less expensive and also less stressful, of course, and good health with proper health testing is important in any responsible breeding program. It is crucial to test animals used in a breeding program and to strive to eliminate health problems that can interfere with quality of life and add unnecessarily to the expenses involved in owning large dogs. When it comes to societal acceptance, we want to ensure that our dogs can live full lives as good citizens. We need to be particularly careful, especially with large, guard dogs, about not only physical health, but also about temperament. We strive to breed dogs with correct conformation, of course, but nothing is more difficult to live with than a dog with an incorrect temperament, a dog unusually aggressive and/or fear- ful. As breeders, we must breed with all facets of the dog in mind, physical and mental, and we must be prepared to take responsibility for our dogs, always, and for any reason. The shelters are full of dogs that were once adorable puppies. Now, more than ever, we need to be responsible for the dogs we bring into the world. At what age do we start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? That depends upon which of us you ask! We often end up keeping a couple of puppies, most often because the one who catches the eye of one of us is not the keeper identified by the other. Sometimes a show prospect is evident right away, as was the case with one of our boys in a recent litter. He is fulfilling that very early promise, grow- ing up well and doing some winning. Sometimes, though, we keep a puppy for a very different reason and that puppy ends up surprising us. We had a large litter and a couple of the girls were several days behind and much smaller than the other puppies. One little girl was somewhat overlooked in early evaluations. We worked really hard to get her caught up and thriving, but kept her mostly because she was so tiny. We wanted to be sure she continued to develop well. She has grown up beautifully and just won a BISS before the age of two, breeder/owner-handled by Vince. Over the years, we have, as everyone has, kept the wrong dog and also sold the wrong one, more than once. The best part about those kinds of mistakes is that the dogs have wonderful lives as family companions and do not miss being part of our program at all.
on mapping out genome markers for DNA sequencing and research is funded in part by contributions to them. It’s only through this type of honest and voluntary participation by breeders and owners that we will be able to identify the maladies that are taking our dogs way too early.
VINCE GRLOVICH & LINDY WHYTE
We are Vince Grlovich and Lindy Whyte, Tryumphe Bullmastiffs. We live outside of Washington, Pennsylva- nia, which is approximately thirty miles south of Pittsburgh. Vince is currently Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a local company and has worked in marketing for more than 30 years. Lindy is a retired teacher and librarian. We breed, raise, train, rescue, live with, and love Bullmastiffs. Our family also includes a few Frenchies, a Clumber, a cat, and a couple of horses. We were
married and got our first Bullmastiff in 1996, while living on the southside of Pittsburgh. We chose a Bullmastiff for several reasons, in part because Vince’s work took him out of town and out of the country quite often and we wanted a dog who would protect us and our home. We soon moved to ten rural acres outside Washington, Pennsylvania, where we have been for more than 20 years. We breed only occasionally, in order to move our breeding program forward, are members of the American Bullmastiff Association, volunteers with the American Bullmastiff Association Rescue Service and have served the club in a number of volunteer roles. How important are head and body proportions in the Bullmas- tiff? Anyone reading our Bullmastiff Breed Standard will note that the Bullmastiff can be considered a “head breed” and that a great deal of detail is utilized in describing the size, shape, and propor- tions of a correct Bullmastiff head. The dog is not a Bullmastiff without a proper headpiece, which evolved as did the Bullmastiff’s job. While that part of the animal is important, the headpiece does not do the whole job the Bullmastiff was bred to do, a job that requires a nearly square and substantial dog capable of a burst of speed and the strength to take down and hold an intruder. Balance, bone, and back are so important in this working dog. Form really does follow function and the Breed Standard has to be our template. Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? Many people do recognize a Mastiff breed, but most do not immediately differentiate between a Bullmastiff and, say, a Boerboel, Dogue de Bourdeaux, Mastiff, or even a Neapolitan. We take the opportunity to educate folks and to point out the characteristics of our breed. We enjoy answering questions about the Bullmastiff and explain- ing the similarities and differences when it comes to mastiff breeds. Is there a color preference/prejudice in the show ring? We have been showing our Bullmastiffs for about 25 years and we have noticed fads or trends when red dogs are more popular, or when fawns become more prevalent. We began with a couple of brindles and both of us still have a soft spot for them. Brindle was the origi- nal preference for breeders of the “gamekeeper’s night dog,” as it served as effective camouflage. Brindles can be challenging, espe- cially when it comes to a campaign. We have found that the con- sensus is that brindles can be more difficult for judges to evaluate. The biggest misconception about the Bullmastiff? There are several misconceptions we could address, but probably the most dangerous and the most difficult to dispel is the preconception that “Bullmastiffs are big, smushy couch potatoes.” Bullmastiffs
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