TOO MANY CHAMPIONS?
Over the past two or three years, almost 20 Bulldogs finished their championships each month. The BB classes at all-breed shows should be loaded with specials, but they aren’t. Has the quality of Bulldogs being shown in this country reached an all-time high, or are too many undeserving specimens becoming champions?
I lean toward the latter explanation. Speaking as a breed specialist who has judged an average of two specialties a year since 1978, I’m not convinced the overall quality of Bulldogs being exhibited justifies such a high number of champions. Some observers use the term “cheap champions” to describe questionable champions. Since I’m also a breeder and a fairly frequent exhibitor, I feel safe in saying there is no such thing as a cheap champion, at least not in a financial sense.
I’ve owned and finished one or two Bulldogs I thought were just slightly above average. Neither ever won major points at a specialty. Although they were shown at specialties, all their majors were under multibreed judges at all-breed shows. Neither dog was shown as a special, but because of their impressive pedigrees, they were used at stud on a selective, very limited basis. To my knowledge, only one of their get finished its championship for another breeder, and that dog went on to establish a rather impressive record of breed wins. I’m proud to say that most of our other 12 homebred champions were later shown with a fair amount of success in BB competition at both specialties and all-breed shows.
There is no virtue in finishing a so-so champion simply for the satisfaction of breaking some breed record or other honor. In my opinion, attaining a marginal title is a vast waste of everyone’s time. Exhibitors who campaign mediocre dogs to their titles, knowing they will never be able to compete for BB, are simply fooling themselves.
I recently asked several breeders and breeder-judges how to improve the quality of Bulldog champions. Nearly all felt breeders and judges are responsible for the problem of too many mediocre champions. Breeders who breed and show mediocre specimens need to be education on the standard. Judges, especially multibreed judges, need to be urged to withhold purple ribbons more often, especially when there is a small, mediocre entry.
Hardly anyone felt that the AKC rules should be changed to make it more difficult to finish a champion, that there were too many dog shows or that there was a problem with our breed standard.
Several exhibitors felt there were too many incompetent or handler-biased multibreed judges, and some said breeder-judges tended to be too “political” by putting up other judges’ dogs. Many felt certain judges should be retested on the standard, but were uncertain about how to fairly identify incompetent Bulldog judges.
I heard three good suggestions for improving judging quality: periodically retest all judges; have exhibitors rate judges’ performances at each show; and require new judges to attend seminars using live show dogs to demonstrate how to correctly evaluate Bulldogs. I would add two more: mandatory public judges’ critiques on all class winners, BB and BOS; and eliminate the BW award to prevent so-called “throwing the points” to create majors in both sexes.
- William Andree, 204 S. Beach Dr., Monticello, IN 47960.