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Ask The Judge - Volume 4 - May 2007

Question: Is a large female considered a bad trait for showing. Both the sire and the dam were very short and stocky but the pup turned out to be a moose. She has beautiful color and markings and a wonderfully shaped head and jaw, she is just large. She weighs 68 lbs at nine months, but is still built like the average bully just a little taller and longer.



A: If you are talking about showing her, I would advise you not too.  She is way over the standard of 'about' 40 pds.  This is exceptionnally large for a bitch.  She sounds beautiful and probably is going to make the nicest pet in the world.  



QUESTION: I have only shown Bulldogs for a couple of years now. I have a question that has been on my mind for a long time. My first bulldog was a male I was very proud of the fact that i took him to his CKC title. When he was a mature his weight came in at about 49 to 50 pounds! We did have the pleasure of going up 

against the number one bulldog in Canada at the time Good time Charlie! even thought at one point we could beat him ( But his weight was twice what the CKC standards calls for? 

Being very new to the sport i was afraid of asking the owner about the weight of her dog! Can you tell me why we see so many bulldogs over the CKC standard for weight?? I myself prefer the 

CKC standard in the weights.


A: You are correct, the standard does call for a 'mature' dog to weigh, 'about' 50 pds and bitches

'about' 40 pounds.  Like many standards, the Bulldog Standard was written many years ago back 

when the present day Bulldog hardly resembles the one in it was initially created.  The breed has changed

in many ways over the years, and even in my relatively short time in the breed (35 years) I have

noticed significant changes in the breed. 


The most dramatic change is the general size of the breed.  Without actually weighing a dog we have to be careful before making assumptions as to the weight of a competitor's Bulldog.  However, I think we can all tell the difference between a 50 pd male and a 70 pd male.  I have seen both in the ring, but would say from my experience judgingthat the average weight in the breed (males) is a little over 

60 pds.  


Now the question is what did the standard mean by 'about' 50 pds.  This is subject to interpretation and thus provides us with an argument of philosophy of the weight in the breed.  


To answer your questions:  " Why do we see so many bulldogs over the CKC standard?".  I believe that the natural evolution of the breed has just produced a larger Bulldog, but most of all, I think the show aspect of the breed has also greatly influenced the size.  I think if anyone were honest they would admit that a 50 pd male could finish it's championship in either country (U.S. or Canada), that this same bulldog will be at a great disadvantage in the ring especially if specialed.  The fact is that most judges seem to go with the larger dogs.  It is only natural that if your dog is 10-15 pds over the standard, that it will also have more substance & more bone.  To the eyes of the judge (speaking mostly for all rounders now), they are looking for a massive dog, and it is unlikely that the 50 pd bulldog, although correct, can compete in this aspect with the larger dog. 


At the Nationals in Florida last year, I did see a beautiful to the standard bitch in the classes.  I felt she was good enough to compete for the winners ribbon.  She was gorgeous.  In the 3 days I saw her place in her class consistently, and when I commented to the exhibitor that she was small, the lady told me that she was 38 pds and  knew it would be tough to finish her, but that she was confident that she would.  There are enough judges out there that will recognize the smaller to the standard Bulldog.  


Unfortunately, to compete with a 50 pd special I think you would have two strikes against you before you started.  I for one would never hold it against a bulldog to be 'about' 50 pds and I would hope no other judges would either,  but that is in a perfect world, and the fact is many judges would hold the size against the dog.



As a fairly new spectator to dog shows, I am confused about how they work. I was told that conformation means comparing each dog with the established bulldog standard. In several days of shows there was a dog that placed high one day, lower the next, and the next, with a larger number in the ring, didn't place at all. Lets say this dog represents 95% of the standard. The first day he got

an A, the second day a B, then after that a C. This looks to me like dogs are compared to each other, which results in "grading on a curve". That individual dog remained 95% of the standard all

week, but the competition caused his placement to change each day.If we really are comparing each dog with the standard, wouldn't we have some shows with several winners in each category, and other

shows with no top winners? 


A: That is the beauty of different opinions, subjective judging.  Of course no two judges are likely to grade a Bulldog with the exact same marks.  Each judge puts emphasis on different points, that being, movement, head, top line, balance etc.  This is human nature and can't be avoided thank goodness.  This is also what makes dog shows so much fun.  It's the difference of opinion that gives several dogs a chance to win instead of the same dog winning all the time... ...



Do you often see what is a near a perfect Bulldog by standard comparison?


A: I have never seen a perfect Bulldog, but the drawing of the one in the standard is pretty darn close and that is what I keep in my mind when doing comparisons.  We all hope and strive to get the perfect bulldog, but I think we all know that even we achieved this in our mind, what are the chances others would agree?  Not too likely.



Do you think that Canada is successful internationally with their bulldogs?  Do you see a lot of export 

to other countries that have  made a real impact?


A: I think if more Canadians competed in the U.S. they probably would achieve relative success, but there don't seem to be many that want to show in both countries.  I personally always felt that if you thought your bully was that good in Canada, that you should show in the states as well.  That is where the real competition is and that is where the proving ground is.  



What age do you feel is perfect in life for showing a fully matured dog at his prime.


A: Personally, I feel the dog is in prime show shape between 2-4 depending how quickly they mature.  Here I am talking about specialing a dog.  When going against specials competition I don't think one can afford to give any advantage away, like showing a puppy for example that still needs maturing.  Showing in the classes is a different story.  If the dog is maturing quickly,  the sooner the better get him/her out there, but remember when you show a puppy,  you probably are going to have to get by a mature dog in the open class.  


So make sure if your dog is young that he is really good so you can still compete,  otherwise wait till he grows up and show him after he is over a year. 



Chris Neilson

'Bulldogs are my love, not my living'

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