Yesterday people asked me what differences I found in the USA and the UK dogs , first of all I thought back to my first visits and how much the ears were needing improvement, this sounds to new exhibitors a small thing but I quickly learnt that the ears play a large part in the expression , my first bulldog was lovely and from a top kennel , I kept wondering why everyone commented it was a shame about the ears , well it’s just that ! the ears although just a tiny bit of the dog can create totally the wrong look and however perfect with ears that fly, fall forward ,or are tulip or too close together then that’s a fail .. so that’s what came to mind in 1999 I thought ears let the dogs down, however the improvements were so much over the years I think the USA ears compare well with ours now, I had some beautiful rose ears in front of me .
Rose ears , no they are not just for looks and cosmetic they are healthier if open to the air, remember I’ve worked in Rescue for 18 years and the ears that are closed over are often neglected sore and full of mites so the rose ear has a purpose for healthy ears !
The size of the dogs was rightly visibly smaller than ours which of course they should be as the BCA standard is 5lbs lighter in dogs and bitches ,particularly I thought small bitches compared to ours at the moment , I say that because the size of the breed very much varies ,popular studs can make a visual difference to what’s in the ring and it can change from year to year, a look at our minor puppies can be a surprise sometimes ,some lines mature fast but stay there , and smaller ones overtake them. But I was very happy with the size of the exhibits kindly brought under me.
One thing I much admired and I always have is the top lines ,which I believe is the result of the featuring them for the judge to compare along the whole line up , and exhibiting them side on , and the extra moving that’s done in the USA ring , and in this respect I loved the top lines I’m talking about the ‘roach’ in this comment , the tail sets however really need some work, very high some of them which leads me to the tails which were not as good as at home .The tails in my opinion do not have to be perfect ,straight etc but they do need to be mobile and cleanable under for the general comfort of the dog .
Movement , that was very good , I think your rings are bigger and movement is placed high on the breeders agenda , taking them around gives the judge ample opportunity to see and compare the dogs on the move ,I remembered the ones who I was smitten with their movement on first seeing them and was anticipating the going over them to find my winners and places .Very few had any signs of unsoundness I was impressed by the quality of all .
Heads , you will all know that I like length of skull, a brick shaped head with good layback and upsweep mean a lot to me ,just from seeing the dogs I placed it should have been obvious , the face viewed from the front I like to see the width of jaw and the upsweep and I like to feel the correct curve not a straight jutting jaw ,eye placement is very important as it can create a ‘downface’ which can be incorrect, as the correct round shaped eyes and deep colour change the expression a lot. Some eyes were very wet which made me think there might be a problem , but only one dog had a visible eye problem causing the eye to close , I did speak to the owner as I could see an ulcer , not being a vet it’s hard to say something but I do think it’s a condition that’s needs superfast attention as it’s so uncomfortable for the dog
Width of jaw was in some exhibits disappointing as this is the same in the UK , but generally I think you do have width of jaw and very few wry .
A major difference is that some exhibits definitely have heavier over nose roll than we are selecting for here in the UK , these have been a very criticised element of the standard when the Kennel Club made revisions to the UK standard in 2009 , so a lighter nose roll is required in the UK .The dogs with heavy nose rolls generally had too many folds and wrinkles ,this is where our standard has taken out extremes so when we judge in the UK we are told not to reward these features as they consider them ‘exaggerated, it’s a small difference but I could see that clearly this time .
I paid particular attention to the neck , I believe a good balanced neck to be very important as are shoulder placements ,deep chest , brisket all in the right places, good stifles ,not too short in back all make for me the complete picture of which I found lots of examples , colour doesn’t matter much to me as long as its standard I don’t have a favourite , first and foremost its conformation and outline ,I think you have some very pretty marked dogs in the states. I love the red brindles of which you have far more than us.
The presentation of the dogs was immaculate , whites were white and colours were bright ,the way the exhibitors dressed up has always impressed me , nowadays the UK have this idea but you have always pleased me with the complimentary way you dress to exhibit the dogs , giving them the best shot as it really does complete the picture the judge sees .
On the plus side for both countries no-ones dogs were audibly breathing loudly or showing any signs of respiratory distress this is a great testament to the work being done on breed health in both countries.
I may add more to this as I think of things , I hope you take all of the words in the context I mean them I loved the dogs on both sides of the Atlantic this year and I feel that the Show world should be duly proud of what we are achieving , keep on going , protect the Bulldog…. Show the world they are a great dog!