1998 BULLMASTIFF CLUB OF VICTORIA INC. 25th CHAMPIONSHIP SHOW RESULTS & CRITIQUES
Judge Mr Billy Brittle (UK)
Let me start by saying what a great honour it was to be privileged to judge this great show, it is certainly one of the highlights of my dog career so far. Before I move on to dog matters I must say how overwhelmed I was with the warmth, hospitality and friendship offered to me throughout my stay in Australia.
I could in writing this critique hide behind a wall of bland and meaningless comments, designed to ingratiate myself with the Bullmastiff fraternity in Australia and ensure no feathers are ruffled wither here or in the U.K. However, I know that from my point of view, if I was to go under a judge from abroad I would want an honest and comprehensive critique giving an overview from an outsider, of the state of my country's Bullmastiff's. So I can assure you that opinions I may express in this Critique are honestly felt.
Let me start by saying that in my opinion, the Bullmastiff in Australia is in a healthy, progressive and well cared for state. Compared to the static and less optimistic situation in the U.K. Don't get me wrong we still produce some exceptional animals in Britain, capable of more than holding their own anywhere in the world, but the overall gap in quality between Britain and the rest of the world has diminished from a vast gulf to a small jump in a matter of 10 to 15yrs. The thing that really struck me compared to when I judged in the USA last year, was that the animals put down in front of me were British! In type, movement and overall look, I could have been judging a show in the heart of England, apart from the weather! In the USA, albeit they have a modified standard, the Bullmastiff has a different "feel" about them. As imports from the U.K. to the U.S. have diminished over the last decade the Americans with their ability in breeding showy and aesthetically pleasing animals have, with the exception of a few anglophiles, gone off and done their own thing. Although there is little doubt that such kennels as Blackslate, Tauralan and Ladybugs have and are producing top drawer exhibits that could compete the world over. What I sense in Australia is the breed on the verge of self sufficiency but still retaining the original British blueprint.
All of my winners were of good quality and the Best in Show "Ch. Bullvalour Jack The Ripa" would be a champion anywhere in the world, as would several other fine looking animals entered under me. All Bullmastiffs have faults and I think it only fair to highlight those that struck me as occurring frequently and in a higher percentage than I would have thought safe. All of the following occur in the U.K. to a greater or lesser degree and have caused us considerable problems.
1. Light eyes.
This seemed to be a very common problem and one if not addressed will spread within a gene pool. I read with interest one lady's interpretation of why the standard calls for a Dark or Hazel eye, as a prevention against reflected moonlight whilst operating as a gamekeepers night dog, quite honestly this story is straight out of the same book as Hansel & Gretal. Firstly, there is no historical evidence to support this theory and secondly with our weather in England we only get to see the moon about three times a year! The main reasoning for a dark eye is that it is indicative of good pigmentation. You only have to look at the Dogue de Bordeaux, a breed very closely akin to the Bullmastiff, both in type and function, to realise that the argument holds little water as a lighter eye is acceptable. Breeding from animals with light eyes will, in my opinion lead to an eventual loss of pigment and one of the essential characteristics of the Bullmastiff.
2. Lack of adequate black muzzle.
This is a problem closely associated with light eyes, and is once again indicative of poor pigmentation. I have noticed that breeders who continually strive for a particular colour, be it red, fawn or brindle, will often find that after a certain number of generations the mask may diminish or become blue or brown in colour and thus loose the typical Bullmastiff look and a vital part of the standard.
3. Trembling Dog Syndrome
In my opinion, far more serious than the above, was the high number of dogs displaying what I call the trembling dog syndrome. Although not specifically mentioned in the standard as a fault, it nevertheless fails to meet the requirement for a "sound and active" animal, and seems to indicate that there may be a serious neurological problem. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what I am talking about, a dog with this problem may to the casual eye look perfectly normal on the stand, the animal may then after a few seconds commence to shake moderately in one or both of its rear limbs, the trembling may just continue without getting worse, or in more severe cases it may spread all over the body until the dog is trembling quite violently. Although the dog does not appear to suffer any side affects from this condition, it cannot be acceptable and must in some way be hereditary, as it appears to be something that runs strongly through certain lines. The only way to eradicate it is by careful and selective breeding. I mention it because it is relatively rare to see in the U.K. and I must have had a good 10 or so dogs exhibiting this condition at this show.
Although I have highlighted some of the problems that I felt to be more prevalent than is healthy, I think it only fair to say that they were in the minority, and that the breed as a whole demonstrated some particularly pleasing points. Temperament was superb throughout the day and I've honestly never judged such a well behaved group of Bullmastiffs. Movement was also very good and none of the dogs flagged in the heat as I would have expected, in fact I would say that movement was generally better than demonstrated in the U.K.
Everyone asked me about mouths, "are they a problem?", are U.K. mouths better?". In my opinion they are at least on a par with the U.K. and are generally good. What I did sense was the beginning of a mouth obsession, somewhat akin to that of the French (sorry about the comparison!!) where the mouth becomes all important and you are left with an animal with a perfect level bite but ends up looking like cross between a labrador and a mastiff. Remember an undershot mouth is no sin as long as it not excessive or exaggerated. More attention should be given worldwide to the breeding of strong even teeth, well placed and without any suspicion of a wry or crooked dentition.
I have made no mention of breed type, as it is as diverse in Australia as it is in any other country in the world, ranging from the Dogue de Bordeaux type of animal to the lighter framed snipey Hungarian Vizla type. It is apparent that compared to other breeds recognised at approximately the same time, the Bullmastiff is extremely difficult to consolidate and a variety of type exists the world over. However the aim must remain the same to breed an animal that meets the requirements of the breed standard and type.
Baby Puppy Dog
(9 entries, 1 absent)
1st: Bullmaster Kennels' - Bullmaster Mdnite Special
Lovely fawn pup of 4 months, excellent angulation and well up on pasterns. The mouth on this pup was very good. Moved exteremely well and handled with great competency. I liked the overall balance of this animal and felt that his "style" and superb temperament belied his very young age.
2nd: Bullmaster Kennels' - Bullmaster Black Knight
A very nice compact brindle dog pup, litter brother to 1st. Once again a very nicely put together animal exhibiting the virtues of sound construction good movement and excellent temperament. The head type on this one was probably superior at this age to his brother however, he lost on maturity and overall balance.
Minor Puppy Dog
1st: Miss M Kingma's - Bulltiful Against All Odds
A well put together apricot fawn of just six months, exhibiting excellent movement and unity with his handler. A good square head and excellent angulation. Despite being in the midst of that gangly period that most puppies go through I felt that his overall construction and touch of class pushed him to 1st place.
2nd: Ms F Clarke's - Bullspirit Heartbreaker
A nice fawn pup on nearly nine months exhibiting all the attributes of a well constructed bullmastiff. Good angulation, excellent movement and a good rapport with his handler. Correct muzzle length and good width of underjaw.
1st: Miss P Mullen's - Bullspirit Mr Vain
A well balanced pup of just over 8 months. Although pasterns are a little weak at this stage, the overall type of this animal was very pleasing. Good angulation at the rear, a well set tail and good width to the pelvis. A nice width to the chest with a good deep brisket. Pigmentation is not a problem in this animal. Movement although adequate, was not as good as 2nd, but breed type was superior.
2nd: K & K Cannon's - Oldwell Assassin
A good upright pup, also just over eigth months. Strong on pasterns with a nice straight front. Good rear angulation with the beginnings of a strong well developed 2nd thigh. A pleasing heas and good mouth. Ear placement was a little wayward on the day, but I am sure it will improve as the dog matures. Movement was excellent and the dog's enthusiasm for his day out whilst moving was apparent.
(9 entries, 1 absent)
1st: P & N Abela's - Pryderi Glyndwr (Imp. UK)
Never having seen or met Mrs Abela before, I was interested in looking at the catalogue after the show to see the origin of this animal. Although I am sure that there will be those reading this critique who will be very sceptical of my knowledge of this animal, I can assure everyone, hand on heart, that I was totally unaware of the breeding , ownership or even the existence of this young animal, let alone that it is an import from the U.K. until after the show. However, even if I was, this twelve month old animal would still have taken top spot in this class. A good sized fawn dog with a strong square head, excellent ear carriage and text book pigmentation. Shoulder placement is superb, with good spring of rib and depth of brisket. I recognised that stifle angulation could be better, but movement remained unaffected. This animal oozes type, and I will be very surprised if he does not have a very beneficial impact on the Bullmastiff in Australia.
2nd: Bullmaster Kennels' - Bullmaster Storn Trooper
A strong red dog of 15 months, unlucky to come up against 1. Good size coupled with strong bone. Muzzle in proportion to head size with good pigmentation. A well-arched neck attached to a strong level back. Tail set high and strong. Well muscled rear end promoting a strong and purposeful movement. Although only 15 months this dog has an air of maturity and self confidence about him that gives him a natural advantage as a show animal.
1st: Mr & Mrs P Johns' - Manorwatch Armstrong
An attractive brindle dog of 14 months. Excellent pigmentation throughout. A well proportioned square head, with a superb stop. Mouth good and not overly undershot. A good reach of neck and well placed shoulders. Strong bone and well sprung rib carriage. Good tail set and powerful and muscular loins. Nicely angulated stifles and movement that flows. Once again a very typey animal that has a great future.
2nd: B Dawson's - Aust. CH Kangala Johann O Oldwell
A well built red of quality. Strong powerful bone coupled with a well-balanced frame, head is square with correct length of muzzle. Neck is well muscled and is attached to a strong topline, loins are wide and muscular and rear end is powerful and well angulated.
Australian Bred Dog
1st: Miss C Jenkins' - Bullalryll Red Rebel
An exceptionally strong and well balanced smart red dog of 2yrs. Beautiful condition and handled with skill. This animal has an extremely good mouth, a well defined stop and good width of muzzle cut off square at the end. The neck is well muscled and of good length. Shoulders are well placed and muscular. The rear end is powerful and well angulated and when on the move this dog conveyed a sense of power and drive.
2nd: Mr & Mrs P Abela's Aust. CH Powerbulmas Pezaz Obargo
A very impressive dark dog, powerful and well balanced, correct skull with a good dark eye and excellent overall pigmentation. The bone on this animal was of excellent quality without being cumbersome. Angulation of the shoulder, stifle and hock was good, and moving he was the picture of power and efficiency. I liked this dog very much and feel he compares very favourably with the best brindle's in the U.K. & U.S.A.
(7 entries, 3 absent)
1st: Spice & Klok's - Aust. CH Bullvalour Jack The Ripa
There are dogs around the world that refuse to be categorised as "British type", "American type" or even "Australian type" and transcend those limitations to become "international". Bullvalour Jack The Ripa is one of those dogs. In my opinion, this dog if it were possible to overcome the logistical problems, would be a champion in any country. Powerfully well built, balanced and with "attitude" this is a dog that commands the ring. Well up to size with strong bone and plenty of substance, excellent angulation both front and rear. Straight forlegs with good width between and a well let down brisket and good spring of rib. Top line firm when on the move and both front and rear legs in harmony. The head is square and broad with a good dark eye. Mouth is excellent with strong well placed teeth and broad underjaw. No matter how good a dog is structurally without that in built showmanship it is very difficult to show the animal to its full potential. It is therefore extremely satisfying to find a dog like this one with both looks and personality!
2nd: W Gooding's - Aust. CH Treebrook Raywood
An exceptional fawn dog of nearly 4yrs, powerfully built, balanced and up to size. Head is of correct proportions with a good stop and superbly pigmented. Ears are dark and well placed. Neck of good length and circumference. Shoulders powerful and sloping but without any exaggerated musculature. A good level topline with wide powerful loins. Angulation of stifle and hock both very good. On the move this dog powered around the ring. Just a shame that coat was not in better condition on the day. Once again this is a dog who could hold his own anywhere and it was a pleasure to award him Res. Challenge.
Challenge Dog: Spice & Klok's Aust. CH Bullvalour Jack The Ripa
Reserve Challenge: W Gooding's Aust CH Treebrook Raywood
Baby Puppy Bitch
(11 entries, 2 absent)
1st: Mr & Mrs M Lewinson's - Karabul Midnite Silver
A delightful baby of approx. four and a half months, that took the whole day in her stride. A good frame with excellent angulation, both in the shoulder and stifle. Well up in pastern with nice strong, tight, well arched feet. Head of good size and shape with a very good mouth. Pigmentation excellent. Moved extremely well. A very impressive youngster that has all that one would desire in a pup of this age.
2nd: Ms P Franks' - Karabul Pirates Gem
A red litter sister to first, having all the attributes of her sibling but at this age slightly weaker in head. However, at 4 months you are far from the finished article and I see no reason why, with maturity, this one will not do as well or even exceed her sister.
Minor Puppy Bitch
1st: B Dawson's - Bullmighty Behold XTC
An excellent specimen, of good size and proportions. Pasterns straight and strong. Good bone throughout. A very pleasing spring of rib with a good depth of brisket. A strong well made head attached to a powerful neck of good length. A well set tail of correct length and thickness. Well handled and moved with real purpose. Overall a very promising puppy of just seven months.
2nd: D Duncan & H Marley's - Kervilees Miss Charmer
A well constructed animal of eight months. A very pleasing head with well placed ears, an excellent well defined stop and a well developed and wide underjaw. Very good pigmentation. A strong level topline that was retained on the move. A classy animal that will hopefully attain her full potential.
1st: Mrs J Bullock's - Grasslock Memory Lane AI
A classy fawn youngster of just nine months. Well put together with a typical and attractive head. A well muscled neck of correct length. Shoulder placement of correct angulation and not over muscled. Well sprung ribs and a well let down brisket. A nice short back with a good level topline. A wide functional pelvis and a powerful well defined rear end. Moved with purpose. An excellent prospect and one I was happy to award Best Puppy in show.
2nd: Mr & Mrs M Maskery's - Kennilcrest Tireine
A very nice brindle pup of 10 months. In excellent condition, with excellent pigmentation throughout. A lovely level topline that retained its shape on the move. Nice angulation at shoulder, stifle and hock. A set of good powerful thighs that drove movement from the rear. A very attractive animal.
(12 entries, 1 absent)
1st: Mr & Mrs S Mazoudier's - Regallion Jewel O Eachan
A good honest bitch of 12 months. A good square head with a very nice mouth, dark ears and eyes. Strong upright pasterns attached to firm straight legs, excellent bend of stifle. Good tail set with both correct length and thickness. A good firm topline unimpaired by drive from the rear.
2nd: B Dawson's - Kangala Hana Of Oldwell
A good size fawn bitch of 15 months, correct shaped head with good mouth, dark ears and nice dark eyes. Well sprung ribs attached to a firm level topline. A powerful rear end giving the animal a firm purposeful movement. Handled extremely competently.
(8 entered, 3 absent)
1st: K & K Cannon's - Aust. CH Kangala Amber Of Oldwell
A nice quality animal of nearly 2yrs. Good sized and with a well constructed body, excellent shoulder placement and a good spring of rib. Topline firm and retained when moving. Backend powerful and with good angulation at stifle and hock. Head although well constructed, lacks a little strength but this may come with maturity. Overall a well balanced bitch with time on her side.
2nd: K Sabatino's - Nightmaster Red Sunset
A good quality red bitch of 2yrs, constructed well with good angulation at the shoulders, hocks and stifle. A good square head with good mouth and pigmentation, spoilt a little by ear placement. Although skittish she moved well and with purpose. A very feminine animal that has a lot to offer. Weight needs to be kept under control or balance and movement may suffer.
Australian Bred Bitch
1st: Mr & Mrs B Marion's Aust. CH Treebrook Coral Gum
A superbly constructed bitch of nearly 4. This bitch has one of the best frames I have seen. An excellent well muscled neck flowing down to well angulated shoulders, the chest is both wide and deep and is attached to a good level topline. The rear end is both powerful and well angulated and on the move this bitch powers around the ring. The head is of good size and of the required shape, ears are well placed and dark. Mouth is of a good standard. This is a high quality bitch that can hold her own with the best.
2nd: Mr & Mrs J Morrissey's - Lilacglen Penelope
A lovely brindle bitch of 3 years and full of quality, excellent conformation. A good square head with correct ear placement, mouth good with a wide functional underjaw. Strong neck, well angulated shoulders and good wide pelvis, powerful and correctly angulated rear end. Moved well and obviously has a good rapport with handler, unfortunately lacked a little sparkle on the day.
(9 entries, 1 absent)
1st: Abela's - Eng. & Aust. CH Pryderi Simasana (Imp. UK)
In England it is not customary to award top honours to an animal twice, with the exception of Crufts, and as I have already awarded a Bitch CC to this animal in the U.K. I was a little concerned about awarding a further award, albeit several thousand miles from home. However, I am aware that this is not the case in Australia and so I felt confident in judging the bitch on the day. What can I say? Quite simply this is one of the best Bullmastiff bitches that I have even seen, she has everything, strength, quality, superb construction a text book head and a superb temperament. Alright, her topline is not what it was, but who can deny what a superb example of the breed she is. A beautiful feminine head on a powerful and athletic body. She moves with power and style but despite her obvious strength you are never in doubt of her femininity. I judged this bitch at her first show as a pup and awarded her Best Puppy in show, I was then able to award her a Challenge later in her career. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the privilege to judge her again at this show. In my opinion England's loss is Australia's gain.
2nd: Mr & Mrs B Marion's - Aust. CH Treebrook Satinwood
A worthy Champion of 6 years, well up to size, once again combining strength with femininity. Good clean head of correct size and shape, well placed ears and good pigmentation. Well up on pasterns with a good straight front, well laid back shoulders and a level topline. Rear end both powerful and well angulated, moved exceedingly well and handled superbly.
Challenge Bitch: Abela's Eng. & Aust. Pryderi Simasana (Imp. UK)
Reserve Challenge Bitch: Mr & Mrs B Marion's Aust. CH Treebrook Coral Gum
Best Exhibit In Show: Spice & Klock's Aust. CH Bullvalour Jack The Ripa
Runner Up To Best Exhibit In Show: Abela's Eng. & Aust. CH Pryderi Simasana (Imp. UK)
In conclusion I would like to thank all the exhibitors for their patience and superb hospitality shown to me throughout my stay. I can only hope that the experience of an English judge was not too painful.
I firmly believe that the U.K. cannot stand alone and continue in a falsely held belief that we can dominate the breeding of top Bullmastiffs without anyone's help. I believe that we need the influx of a few imports to the U.K. and from the look of the dogs in Australia, we could do worse than to start from here.
P.S. I also hope that by the time you read this England have stuffed Australia in the Ashes!