Mastiff Breed Magazine - Showsight


Properly bred Masti ff s are like no other. They are funny, charismatic, thoughtful, loving, sensitive, intelligent, trusting, gentle, devoted and completely unaware of their size. And yes, intelligent was one of the traits I mentioned. They are problem solvers. They will figure things out; how to achieve the desired result with the least amount of e ff ort.

TAMMY SHOLES I live in North Carolina and have 40 years in dogs. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Gardening, renovating, and antiquing. How did I first become involved with the Mastiff? My first year of college, I was at a mall and saw a gentleman there with this huge dog and a little Doxie. I asked him what the breed of the dog was and he replied that it was an English Mastiff. I told my mom, that is the breed I am getting. So, a year later, I got my first Mastiff. She was just a dog from the newspaper. It was after getting her that I started researching pedigrees. She had some interesting dogs in her pedigree. That was how I met Merle Campbell. I spent some time learning about the breed from him, visiting his kennel, etc. A while later, I went to my first dog show held at the Portland Coliseum, where I met Joanne Williams. After that show, I decided that my girl was not show quality. I spent more time researching and learn- ing. Shortly afterward I acquired my first show dog when I saw the Deer Run Wycliff cover of Dog World . I said, “Now that’s a Mastiff and that is what I want.” I contacted Tobin Jackson who said that he had a litter due in August. That is when Deer Run Sinder came into my life and the rest is history. Are there any special requirements for breeding and showing such a large breed? Breeding: Quality above all else. Everything will cost more, but cutting corners to save money will only cost you in the end. Food, medical expenses, etc.—providing the best wins in the long run. Showing: Thick skin. Being an owner-handler will require thick skin; bringing the best to the ring; proper condition- ing and training. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness? Eight weeks gives you a good idea and again at six months you know what you have. But, you have to know what you are looking at. Can I speak to the importance of soundness in the breed? They are a working dog and should be physically able to do the job they were bred to do. With the breed standard comes a good blueprint on how to achieve this through their structure. The front assembly is very important and easy to lose. The dog should have balance with no one feature overpowering the rest. With that proper structure will come the soundness needed to do their intended job. In the show ring, is the Mastiff a “showy” dog? Showy, no. Confident, yes. They should have a presence that speaks volumes. They shouldn’t need to be jumping, leaping and racing around a ring. They should be a grand presence. At home, does the breed make a good family pet? Yes, the best. They are very loyal, calm and easy-going in the home. They do not always understand their size. That should be taken into consideration around small children and I wouldn’t recommend having breakable items down low. They will always be there for you when you need a buddy and have an uncanny ability to know when that is. So, if you are up for a giant breed dog in your home, you can’t go wrong.

For the sport: I would like to see championships mean more. When I started, it took seven dogs and 11 bitches for a three-point major, if memory serves me. Now you need four dogs and five bitches. Entries are deplorable. In the quest to keep peo- ple engaged and showing, we have lost the “specialness” of that championship certificate. Do I have a funny story I can share about showing Mastiffs? Oh, man, there are so many. If you have had this breed for any length of time, they are bound to humble you. I would have to say that one of the highlights was showing a six-month-old puppy in Rally at our National. We were the very last dog to compete. I had forgotten to change my shoes prior to going to the ring and was wearing a pair of Crocs (the kind with the holes in the top). Well, I made sure that I put the straps on the back so I didn’t accidentally step out of them. I was very nervous as my nemesis sign, the spiral, was towards the end of the course. I had been given some great words of advice ear- lier and was focused on applying those sage words. It was our turn and things were going perfectly! Going into the spiral—nailed it! All that was left was a right turn, slow and normal—that’s it. Well, coming out of that right turn, my dog looked up at me then reached down and grabbed my Croc in her mouth and started shaking my foot. It was all I could do to remain vertical. The crowd was laugh- ing hysterically—which wasn’t helping. They were yelling, “Kick it off!” which would have been easier if I had not put the strap on the back! Then P!nk, my dog, spit my shoe out and grabbed the drawstring of my pants and untied them. She then grabbed the spit rag that was on a retractor at my side, then back to my shoe. By this time, I had tears running down my face and was trying hard to not topple over. The judge was holding the clipboard in front of her face and trying to maintain her composure. Needless to say, we did not “Q.” But, we certainly provided a good time for all who had remained to watch Mastiffs do Rally. I’d also like to share that over the years, I have owned many different breeds and mixed breeds of dogs. Properly-bred Mastiffs are like no other. They are funny, charismatic, thoughtful, lov- ing, sensitive, intelligent, trusting, gentle, devoted and completely unaware of their size. And yes, intelligent was one of the traits I mentioned. They are problem solvers. They will figure things out; how to achieve the desired result with the least amount of effort. They can be easily “crushed” by harsh words. “For shame” is usually the extent of any reprimand in our home and rarely needed. However, when acquired from breeders who don’t take great care in their breeding programs, you see a rise in poor tempera- ments; more aggression, more fear or anxiety problems. No matter what the dogs look like, being sound in mind and body is so very important. Only after taking the most sound in mind and body into consideration should those dogs that are at the top of the breed standard for conformation be used in a breeding program. Breed- ing to a dog with lots of ribbons doesn’t mean that it is the right dog. Breeders must be brutally honest with themselves. They are the guardians of the guardians. It is up to them, the breeders, to protect this magnificent breed.


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