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Ask The Judge - Volume 11 - March/April 2008


Question - When I stack my dog she throws one leg out to the side. I have had x-rays done and had it fully checked out. The vet says it is her stubborn bulldog nature. How will this affect her in the show ring?



It definitely will hurt her chances of success.  A judge can only judge what he sees, and it sounds like this 'leg problem' is not creating a pretty picture.  Yes Bulldogs are very stubborn, BUT you can win the battle if you perservere.  Repetition is the key.  Just continually moving the leg to the proper place over and over and yes over again until your dog will hopefully give up trying to win the battle.  

You're only asking your Bulldog to behave for you 3 minutes.  The rest of the 24 hours I'm sure he/she is spoiled rotten like mine.  It is not too much for you to ask for your to do this for you.  So keep at it,  my money's on you.  But be very patient and never 'lose it' with the dog or they will have won.



How bad is it if a puppy is excused from his first show if he/she is not letting the judge examine him/her?  When can a person feel that they can go back to shows again, especially if the dog has never shown shyness before?



As a judge, I make sure I am 'very ligh handed' with all puppies, especially the ones that the exhibitor tells me is their first time in the ring.  No matter how much you practice with your puppy, unfortunately you cannot duplicate the atmosphere that goes with a dog show.  

Practice matches are great fun and I encourage you to enter as many of them as you can,  this will help your puppy.  Also, play 'you be the judge' with your friends and get them to act as the judge and go over your dog.  The more you do this, the more your puppy will become accustomed to a stranger touching it.  


Don't get too upset over this.  It is not unusual for a puppy to act this way the first time.  


Another piece of advice I might add is to pick the brains of your friends in the breed.  Before entering to a judge , try and find out if they are 'heavy handed' or 'light handed'.  Believe me we have all had the bad experience of having a 'heavy handed' judge almost ruin a good prospect.  They will be only too happy to pass this information along.  




What are your feelings about bulldogs without black pigment around their eyes?  We have been to shows where judges treat this lack of pigment as a fault and we don't find anything about it in the standard.  



You are right, it is not listed as a 'fault' in the standard.  When choosing a puppy I always like to see that the 'mascara' has filled in.  Sometimes this takes a while and sometimes the black never encircles the complete eyelid.  


In this case it's about perception.  A dog having it's eyes outlined completely with the 'mascara', brings more attention to it's eyes and of course assuming the dog has excellent eyes, this is what the exhibitor wants.  The mascara also draws attention to the eyes from the judge.  


The opposite is true when the the dog is lacking in 'mascara'. It is rare to see a dog with no pigment at all, but especially in the puppy classes, it is common to see eyes at different stages of pigmentation.  


Judges are only human and judging is very subjective.  Always keep this in mind.  I think you will find that most judges prefer to see the 'mascara' completely circle the eye rim.  Don't give up on your dog though,  it normally just takes time for this to happen.   



I have a question regarding my show puppy that I have been showing for two months. She is 9 months old now, has great bone and a fabulous head. My question is about her size. She weighs 58 pounds.

She comes from a reputable breeder that has turned out many champions, and my breeder says that her size is fine.I would love to have your guidance. Thank you so much in advance.



Weight is always an issue in our breed.  The standard says 'mature bitches' should be ABOUT 40 pds. As in many standards, this was written over 100 years ago when Bulldogs looked a lot different than today and had other purposes besides being couch potatoes.  


I think if we are honest we realize that the days of the 50 pd male and the 40 pd bitch are long gone.  It's just a fact we have to accept.  Although there are still dogs out there in this weight, they are few and far between.


Unfortunately, the smaller dogs (the ones closer the standard) don't seem to do as well in the ring. When a judge (all rounder) looks at a large class and sees 10 dogs over 70 pds and one at 50 pds , the judge must be very knowledgeable in the breed to know NOT to penalize the 50 pd dog.  In fact this dog should be rewarded.  


Back to your question.  To me a 58 pd bitch is on the large side.  I would not disagree however with your breeder that she can be very competitive at this weight.  It is very hard for any of us to produce 40 pd bitches anymore.  We have had a couple of 45 pd bitches that have been great producers, but I can honestly say I don't think we ever had a 40 pounder.  


Bitches are meant to be feminine.  The larger they are the more they begin to look like males.  This is a real 'no no'.  A judge should be able to look at a dog and bitch from across the ring and tell which is of which sex.  When he can't do this, something is wrong.  


I'm sure your girl will look very feminine up against the 70-80 pd males but what about when she is beside a 60 pd male (quite common up here in Canada).  


'Doggy' bitches can do very well in the ring as has been proven in the past.  Especially with all breed judges.  This does not mean that this is 'correct'.  A bitch should always look feminine,  a male always masculine.



Is it to late in life to start a show career for a 8 year old bulldog?



I would strongly suggest you don't do it although the rules say you can.  Why not just get a new puppy and have some fun.  Leave your bully on the couch to watch TV with you and love him every day.

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