May 1996

AKC Gazette

May 1996

WILLIAM ANDREE

A HEAD BREED?  

 

 

I wrote “Head First” (November 1995) at the request of former Bulldog Club of America (BCA) breed columnist Richard Maze, who has asked to be relieved of the assignment. I was appointed by President Dr. Robert Church on the recommendation of the former longtime editor of “The Bulldogger.” The task of replacing this Texas icon of the Bulldog world is well beyond my capabilities, but I shall try to represent him and the BCA to the best of my ability.

Maze suggested my earlier topic. I felt it was appropriate to discuss the term “pear-shaped body” as well as the commonly used term “brick-shaped head.” It is difficult to discuss Bulldog conformation without discussing both head and body, since the two are so related to the ideal specimen and our breed standard itself.

In evaluating the Bulldog, it is important to remember that the desired head and body properties are given equal weight (39 points) in the standard’s 100-point scale.

But are they really equal? Is it accurate to describe the Bulldog as a head breed? The remaining 22 points, considered general qualities, include two points for expression, which is undeniably a head property, although the authors of the 1896 standard curiously considered it a general characteristic instead. If you add two points to the 39 points for the head, the head is now worth 41 points versus 39 for the body. This may suggest that the Bulldog is, indeed, a head breed, despite the long-accepted concept among breeders that head and body are of equal importance in the standard of excellence.

The fact that expression is not a head characteristic in the standard may be an oversight. It may also have been intentionally excluded in order to preserve the notion that head and body are of equal importance. Yet there is no question that a proper Bulldog head is probably the breed’s most distinctive characteristic. French Bulldogs and certain terrier cousins of the Bulldog have similar bodies, but the correct Bulldog head is like that of no other breed. I can only speculate about what as intended 100 years ago. The authors may have thought the head and body were equally important, but felt obligated to award points for proper expression somewhere in the scale.

Gait must also have been a problem in developing the scale of points. After all, it’s characteristic of body structure; except perhaps for the carriage of the head, dogs gait on all fours, not their heads. If you add the three points for gait to the body column of the scale, the body is worth 42 points, versus 41 for the head. Unless the scale is somehow changed, the question of whether the Bulldog is a head breed can never be answered with certainty just by reading the standard.

  1. William Andree, 204 S. Beach Dr., Monticello, IN 47960.