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Ask The Judge - Volume 5 - June 2007


What age is a bitch in her prime for breeding and would you show one who is expecting in a few weeks.  I can only offer my own experience in this matter.



A:  We NEVER breed on the first heat!  We have only ever bred once on the second heat and that was when the bitch was late (a year and a half old).  We typically breed on the third heat when she is mature.  This is what we do.  A lot of breeders do it differently and have valid arguments why they do.  


No, I would not show a bitch a few weeks before whelping.  Why put her through unncecessary stress when it is not needed?  The puppies are much more important than a win, and chances are if she's getting close to whelping, she isn't in her best show condition anyway. 


Do you feel the 15 point system on championship is good or needs to be higher/tougher.


A: I like the point system in the U.S.  Getting the majors can be tough, but that is a good thing.  It helps give credibility to the 'champion' label.  Like anything else in life,  the harder something is to get, the more meaning it has when you get it.  



What prep work is suggested prior to showing?  I'm new to this and want to make sure I do things correctly.


A: First thing is to speak to your breeder and hopefully they can give you advice as far as showing.  It is very very important that you have your dog HONESTLY assessed by someone you trust as to whether the dog is worthy of being a 'show dog'.  Most bulldogs in litters are 'pet quality' not the majority no matter what anyone tells you.  If you are lucky enough to have obtained that special 'show quality' pup from a litter then by all means proceed.  


Enter some handling classes to learn how to show a dog if the breeder can't help you.  It is important that you learn ring procedures too.  Attend a few shows both all breed and specialties to see the difference how the dogs are shown.  Watch and copy someone in the ring with an established reputation and try to copy them as best you can.  Take advantage of their experience.



Do you talk at all to the judge when he approaches you to go over your dog?


A: I normally do not speak to the judge unless they speak to me first.  It is not unusual for a judge to say hello, or how are you today when they approach you in the ring.  Anything more than that is uncommon.  Judges are only human beings like yourself.  There is no reason to be intimidated by any of them.  Just be polite and respond in a positive way if they speak to you.  



  Summer or Winter shows? 


Depends on the dog.  Our late Rodney won every best in show (13 of 'em) in very hot weather.  However he was exceptional and we haven't one since as good in the heat.  Showing in the summer demands extra precautions like packing ice,  wet coats, fans, and of course a/c in your vehicle.  The dog must be comfortable at all times.  If he gets stressed easily and begins panting quickly, summer shows are probably not for him/her.  


  Indoor or Outdoor, what's your choice and why as a judge. 


I actually prefer judging indoor shows.  The reason is that outdoor shows of course are in the warm and hot months of the year.  A dog in 90 degree weather cannot possibly show at his/her best due to the heat so as a judge you are not seeing the dogs at their best.  That being said,  a lot of breeds show much better in the grass rather than on matting and the ring sizes are generally considerably larger at outdoor shows too.   As for Bulldogs though, I think they show better on matting, inside where it is cooler and if your lucky the building is air conditioned for the summer months. 


  Ramp or no ramp, benched or un benched?


Having a ramp at any show is the option of the judge and if requested must be supplied by the hosting club.  I find at large specialty shows the ramp is an absolute necessity and stops all the bending over to examine the dogs.  If you go to a show, the club normally has the ramp in an open ring and allows you to practice on it, so your dog is used to it.  Make sure you do!  Don't be surprised.


There are not a lot of benched shows anymore.  Of course Westminster is the number one show that benches dogs.  I have shown  there twice and would never take a bulldog there again if I was showing it myself.  I found it to be extremely dog unfriendly to our breed.  Because of the tons of people that attend the show and the congestion that is truly unbelievable, the benching area heats up very quickly.  They do not allow you to even put a seat in front of your dog to watch (you are supposed to stand).  We were lucky that the spot next to us was empty, allowing us a place to put a fan.  We were really worried for our dog.  We were benched from the morning until after dinner and could not leave.  With all the spectators surrounding us all day, we had to constantly have the fan going on him and had to wet him down too.  


Now concerning this same show,  if I had to go there again I would use a handler as they have a separate section and don't have to bench their dogs.  Also, the public is not around them as much so your dog gets some quiet time.   




My father was showing his Bulldogs and Pugs for awhile he seemed to enjoy it but then his wife got sick and was unable to show him now we really want to get him back into it because they are really nice looking and he used to enjoy it. I was wondering if you may have any suggestions on how to get him back into it?



A: Assuming your Dad is showing a young dog, why not enter a couple of sanction matches (fun shows) first and see how he likes it.  Also a Bulldog sweepstakes match would be a good experience for him too.  




I was wondering since I am new to all this if you could try to explain the point system. 


A: This is a little complicated but I will try.  I'm again you are assuming you are speaking of the U.S. system. remember I am Canadian but I will try.  

U.S. championships require 15 pts before a dog attains it's championship title.  To get these points of course you have to enter AKC shows,  specialty or all breed shows ,   no difference in point system.  A dog must on it's way to the 15 pts win two 'majors'.  A major is attainable when there are enough bulldogs entered tomake the win worth 3, 4 ,5 pts.  The 15 pts can be attained by getting a bunch of single points (as long as you get the two majors along the way) or the quickest way is to get three 5 pt majors.  There is a lot more to this as well, and I'm sure the AKC would gladly send you a book with the system or any show secretary would be happy to explain it to you.  Good luck.  



Chris Neilson

'Bulldogs are my love, not my living'

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