Bullmastiff Breed Magazine - Showsight

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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