November 1995

AKC Gazette

November 1995

Richard R. Maze

HEAD FIRST           



Guest columnist G. William Andree has been breeding Bulldogs since 1939 and has judged them since 1978.

Head First

For many years the ideal shape of the Bulldog head has been the source of considerable debate among fanciers. While our standard goes to great length to describe the various head properties, it does not clearly answer the question of whether the headpiece should appear to be square or brick-shaped. Many are convinced the standard describes a square head. Others contend it describes a head that is more rectangular.

The word “brick” has never been used since our first standard in 1896. Nevertheless, it has persisted for a long time as part of the breed lexicon. Exactly when the term “brick-shaped” was first coined to describe the shape of the head is also subject to debate. It has been used for at least five decades that I know of and is very much a part of our breed conformation repertoire today.

The term “pear-shaped” is also used authoritatively to describe the shape of the Bulldog body. Like brick-shaped, this term never appeared in our 100-year-old standard.

I can trace both terms to the early or mid-1940s. My father, who was a licensed AKC judge of the breed during the late ‘40s, used the terms quite casually and so did other veteran breeders of that era. I was barely a teenager then, but I distinctly remember my bewilderment the first time I heard the terms. Is the head supposed to look like a brick attached to the body by a neck? Is the body supposed to look like a pear with legs?

Every experienced breeder and judge pretended to know exactly what the terms meant and used them often around people less knowledgeable. Not until my parents showed me what both terms meant, using good live specimens, did I understand they were meant to illustrate the general profiles of the Bulldog’s head and body.

In my opinion, both terms were then and still are a shorthand way of describing the Bulldog’s head and body without being too precise. Since I do not have the luxury of using live animals in this column, I can only hope to clarify these concepts in words.

The ideal head is neither perfectly square like a cube nor rectangular like a brick. Neither should the ideal body look too much like a pear.

The profile of the head should appear square only when viewed directly from the front. The head should only resemble a brick when viewed in profile, i.e., it should appear somewhat longer from the top of the skull to the tip of the lower jaw than its depth from the top of the forehead to the underside of the lower jaw.

The shape of the body should resemble a pear only when viewed directly from above, i.e., the body should appear much wider and deeper at the shoulders and rib cage than it does at the loin and rump.

Brick-shaped and pear-shaped condense vast portions of the standard into as few words as possible, but these are abstract terms and should not be taken literally – GWA

Mr. Andree, thank you. Insights like these can’t be found in the standard.

Richard R. Maze, 45 Carolane Trail, Houston, TX 77024-5120.