AMERICAN BULLMASTIFF ASSOCIATION, INC. Q&A
seems to cause the most questions about what they are. Honestly, I am relieved that the Bullmastiff is still somewhat flying under the radar of American popularity. I would hate to see what kind of rare colors and rare hair lengths could become popularized through mass breeding. I don’t feel there is a color bias in the ring on purpose, but I think that the brindle color does lend itself to being more difficult to judge from just looking at the dog. The brindle pattern can lay at such an angle as to make the shoulder appear straighter than it is or that the dog has more rib spring than it does. Brindle dogs need to have a good physical, hands-on examination to really feel the structure under the coat pattern. I also feel that the brindle pattern doesn’t look as brilliant under artificial light, like at indoor shows. They seem to really shine and stand out more in the natural sun- light of the outdoor shows. The deep black mask and dark body can make it more difficult to distinguish their expression so they may be unknowingly overlooked by the judges too. I feel like it is easi- est to judge the expression of a fawn dog and it is the most striking color of Bullmastiff with the lovely contrast of inky black mask and lemony fawn body. Maybe this is why we see more of this color in the ring? Or it may be just that it is a favorite of many breeders. We do have more depth of quality in the fawn color dogs, so if you are to reward one, it should be exemplary. We don’t normally see as many brindle dogs being produced as, say, fawns and reds, so the number of quality dogs coming into the show ring is a smaller percentage than the other colors. Recently, in the last few years, there have been more American breeders focusing on the brindle Bullmastiff and trying to actively increase the quality of brindle dogs. Only by increasing our numbers of brindle puppies will we as breeders be able to increase the awareness of the brindle Bullmastiff. That being said, if a typey, sound brindle Bullmastiff should enter your ring, I would reward that as a judge. The biggest misconception of the Bullmastiff is that they are gentle giants. All of them! Yes, they are big. Yes, most of them have stellar temperaments, but they are giant Working Dogs and you can get accidentally hurt if you should treat them like a teddy bear. Like many smart dogs, they can be stubborn and can take advantage of you if you do not set clear boundaries and rules in your home. Training is vitally important to living peacefully with a Bullmastiff! A misconception that I would like to dispel is that these dogs are community dog park dogs. As breeders, we always ask that our pet homes steer clear of dog parks for a variety of reasons, but people still believe that their dog is sweet at home and wants to meet and play with others. Besides the obvious about dog parks, Bullmastiffs can be physically intimidating to other smaller dogs. When playing, Bullmastiffs are very physical, often body checking other dogs. If playing with unknown smaller dogs, the smaller dog may react out of fear of the Bullmastiff’s size or physicality. That is when our beloved breed can then garner a bad rap by correcting the smaller dog. Special challenges that breeders face today are producing dogs with temperaments that can live in an urban environment peace- fully. While many of our breeders today are doing just that, we still need to work towards a temperament that is true to the Bullmastiff, but can live in the modern day. The quiet guardian that is the Bull- mastiff is what needs to be kept, but the reactive dog with a strong prey drive is not needed anymore, in my opinion. Some breeders may argue that this temperament that I describe is not true Bull- mastiff, but the temperament of yesteryear is not needed in today’s society. I think that most American breeders are currently breeding towards this new type of temperament. I think that placing puppies in today’s COVID-19 environment is going to be challenging. Everyone is wanting a puppy because
they are all home more, but what is going to happen when we all go back to work? This is my biggest worry as I look to place a litter this summer. I will continue to screen my potential homes for time and resources available for the puppy now and in the future. I feel this is the best thing that we can do for our pet homes. Help them have a back-up plan or a plan B in place should things change. The age that I can reliably see the puppy’s show worthiness is usually around 12 months of age. They have gone through their super awkward growthy stage and are usually starting to return to the lovely puppy that you saw at eight weeks. There are always those stand-out puppies that are amazing at every growth stage, but one of my most successful puppies was jokingly taken ‘out of the toss pile’ because he was maturing so nicely even at six months old. Those sleeper puppies that you want to keep your eyes on, I usu- ally try to evaluate them at around a year. I will see enough at that time to know if I would like to get them out, or if they can stay on the couch! The most important thing for a new judge to know about this breed is that they are a guard breed meant to travel, possibly for quite a while. Soundness is vital, both structural and visual. It’s obvious that the dog should travel efficiently without any paddling, crossing or excessive flashy motion, but it’s equally important for the Bullmastiff to see the intruder. The eyes should be free of any disease, including entropion. One of the best ways that I have found to help newcomers to our breed is to mentor pet homes that have either my puppies or from other breeders about the fun things they can do with their dogs other than in the show ring. While my love will always be in the conformation ring, I see more and more people enjoying the sport of nosework, agility and obedience. I am lucky that one of my puppy homes, co-owner, and now co-breeder with me (Jill Roman) is a wonderful resource for me to introduce others to the sport of nosework. My ultimate goal for the breed? Wow, I still have so many I want to attain! Having owned Bullmastiffs since 1994, but only having bred/exhibited them since 2007, I enjoy the challenge of breeding typey, healthy Bullmastiffs. Breeding dogs that are structurally sound, correct in type and still able to pass their breed’s heath clear- ances is important to me. I find it’s a balancing act of not throwing the baby out with the bath water, and producing healthy puppies that will not be a financial burden on their new homes. Being a vet- erinarian, I feel there is an extra burden of health in the puppies that I produce. I have owned many Bullmastiffs that have ruptured their cranial cruciate ligaments and worked hard to identify the dogs in my early dogs’ pedigrees to breed away from. Knees and TPLO sur- geries are expensive and devastating to the owners, let alone the dogs. I am also proud that many of my dogs have gone on to become therapy dogs with steady, even temperaments that are also healthy. I feel leaving a legacy of health for other breeders will be my most important gift to the breed. My favorite dog show memory? I actually have two favorite memories. My first was when a puppy bitch that I bred finished her AKC championship on her seven month birthday, making her one of the youngest–and possibly the youngest—Bullmastiff to finish in the history of the breed. She went on to be the #1 bitch and the #4 dog in the country for the following year. She has now transitioned into the whelping box and her first litter is making her, myself, and her co-owner very proud! The second one is a lovely brindle bitch I bred that went on to win the National Best Brindle award and an Award of Merit under a long-time breeder judge. She was a light on her feet, sound girl and I was so very proud of her and her owners for all that they accom- plished in her career.
156 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MAY 2020
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