From the standard: "The disposition should be equable and kind, resolute and courageous (nor vicious or aggressive) and demeanor should be pacific and dignified."
In three shows I attended in my area, I noticed a bulldog who kept
barking (when outside the ring). It may have been the same
bulldog each time, but it definitely was from the same kennel.
The barking was constant, steady, and loud. It stood out to me
because all the other bulldogs were so quiet. What are your
thoughts about how temperament is judged in the ring?
A: Although it is definitely unusual for a Bulldog to constantly bark as their quiet demeanor is definitely one of the selling points of a bully, it is not uncommon. Over the years we have had a few noisy ones, but never in excess. When judging the Bulldog, I have never seen or heard one actually barking away while in the ring.
I don't believe that even if the bully was barking in the ring, that it should be faulted unless it is upsetting the other dogs at which time the judge should either ask the exhibitor to try and control their dog or perhaps have them move to a different position in line. Sometimes of course, some bullies just don't see eye to eye with their neighbour in the ring.
Besides the barking issue, which I do not believe is a temperament issue, other temperament issues as snarling, snapping or dogs actually trying to fight with the dog in front or behind should be excused from the ring.
Question - Do you feel that there is bias against European lines by US breeders/judges in terms of breeding and judging? I feel that if we would "tear down the walls" and breed strictly for quality,
many of the existing US lines could be dramatically improved by outcrossing to the top UK kennels. Generally speaking, I think that many of the US lines lack in head and bone.What are your
thoughts on this topic?
A: I would really hope that no judges hold it against a dog because of where they are born. I have no way of knowing if this is ever done, but I can tell you that no other judges I have spoken too would do this with any breed never mind the Bulldog. I have noticed several people in the U.S. and in Canada have chose to go to the U.K. for an outcross from reputable kennels. I have done this also in the past at great expense. Personally, we did not have success with the bitches we brought over, but I have seen many breeders achieve great success in their breeding programs. From time to time, it is important for any kennel to bring in an outcross. We choose to get stud services from the U.S. and occasionally have purchased a bitch that is comepatabull with our line. This is necessary to strengthen your line and keep it strong.
I would not agree that U.S. lines are lacking in head and bone. Yes there are dogs that are, but speaking for the ones in the show ring, I don't see this as a problem in the U.S.
Question - I am troubled by the number of U.S. show dogs I see that are
very noisy breathers. Can you comment on this?
A: Tight nostrils and small larynx's are a problem in North America. I cannot speak for other countries. I have noticed at many shows, even when the temperature is cool, that some bullies pant excessively and are very 'throaty'. I believe that in many cases this is due to an elongated pallet on the dog and that with minor surgery it could be corrected. The same could be said about tight nostrils. They too can be enlarged with surgery. Dogs needing this type of corrective surgery are probably not good candidates for the ring and definitely not for breeding purposes.
On hot days, experienced exhibitors always take precautions like ice, wet blankets, fans etc to keep the dog comfortable. When the heat goes up, the Bulldog is probably one of the first to pant. This is not wrong and definitely not a fault when being judged. In fact on a hot day, I would expect the dogs to pant, and would also expect them to be brought into the ring damp as to keep them comfortable at all times.
Question - As a brand new owner in the bulldog world and one who is preparing to show, do you have any advice as I start out on my journey in the show ring?
A: The first thing I would suggest is to have someone assess your dog. This has to be an experienced exhibitor in the breed that you trust. You don't want someone to say 'he's a nice dog'. That normally means they just don't want to say anything negative about your dog that will offend you. That's why you need a friend to be very honest with you and one that will point out both the good and bad qualities of your dog. You have to keep an open mind when listening to their opinion. They are just trying to help you. Remember, when you go to the show, your bully is the same dog when you go home, win or lose. Never blame your dog if he/she doesn't win. We all lose more than we win. That's the nature of the game. A judge is only giving you their opinion nothing else. All you are paying for is an honest educated opinion, nothing more, and that opinion could change the very next day with a change of judge. If you do not win, DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. It's only an opinion!
If you believe your dog is worthy of the show ring the next step is to get help! Take a handling class, as many as possible. Watch a bulldog specialty and try to pick up hints from fellow more experienced exhibitors. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your dog and learn to show off the strengths to the judge.
Chris Neilson - "Bulldogs are my love, not my living"