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Mickey Mullen
Bullmastiff Breed Judge


Mickey Mullen

A veteran to the Bullmastiff breed, Mickey Mullen shares with us over 30 years worth of expert opinion of what she expects to see in the show ring when the Bullmastiffs line up for inspection.  Mickey is a member of the American Bullmastiff Association, the State Coordinator for the American Bullmastiff Association Rescue Service for Florida, and has been showing and breeding Bullmastiffs for several decades. When a Judge walks into the Show Ring to inspect the Bullmastiffs lined up before them, what are you looking for?

Mullen:  First, I look for the dog to conform to the standard of the parent club. I also look to see if the dog's temperament is stable and friendly.  I am very interested in the dog's movement, as a working breed [it] should be able to do the job for which it was originally bred. What guidelines are you going by to determine which Bullmastiff will win in what order?

Mullen:  The dog that is closest to the standard is the dog that should win. Occasionally, there is a dog who is close to standard in looks, but it is shy or reluctant to stand for examination, or the dog has severe movement faults or structural faults not noticeable until examination.
I would look to the next closest dog to the standard. Why do Breeders bring their dogs to the Show Ring for comparison? What does this accomplish for their kennel?

Mullen:  Our dogs are our product. Most breeders work hard to improve their breed, or should so do, and when they show their dogs, they are showing what their breeding philosophy has produced. It is the only venue that we can display our wares with pride. The Bullmastiff is one of few breeds whose physical characteristics can vary dramatically from one kennel to the next. The head shape of the Bullmastiff is a prime example of this. Although all seem to fall within the basis of the Bullmastiff standard - there is still a considerable and noticeable difference to the layman's eye. From a Judge's perceptive, do you think this is acceptable
and serves as a signature look for a particular kennel/bloodline? Or is this an item of improvement for the Bullmastiff breeding program  to move towards a more consistent looking Bullmastiff across all kennels?

Mullen:  It is not uncommon for one kennel to produce similar looking dogs year after year. But, in this breed there are really five types.  All correct. The more Mastiff looking dog, the slightly more Mastiff looking, the middle square dog, the slightly more Bulldoggy and then the much more Bulldoggy. Without all five types, the nice square -sturdy-impressive dog would never show up.

A good dog is a good dog, and since the standard calls for a dog that is 60 percent Mastiff and 40 percent Bulldog, that is what all breeders should strive for. But, when we get the dogs that a more one type or another, we should keep them, and breed them to keep the mix right. That is of course, if they are correct in other aspects. As a
judge, I am not prejudiced against any particular look. Just the dog that is most correct to standard and who presents himself well. The Bullmastiff is also prone to a few cosmetic faults, such as entropion, that can be corrected by surgery. Should a Bullmastiff that has had corrective surgery for these types of faults be allowed to compete in the Show Ring?

Mullen:  No, these are also genetic faults, and they should not be bred. Dogs that are shown and win are almost certainly bred. I would rather put up a dog with a bad mouth - since that is not uncommon amongst bull breeds, and is not necessarily going to be passed on to pups, then a dog that has had to have surgery to correct a genetic fault. If a corrective surgery has been performed on a Bullmastiff, would it be identifiable by the Judge? Would this be a cause for disqualification?

Mullen:  Sometimes the judge can easily identify a surgery that has been done to correct a dog cosmetically. If in his mind, he feels the dog should be excused, he has full right to do so.  Since we do not have any disqualifications in our standard, the best thing for the judge to do, is select another dog for the ribbon, and later, if asked, explain to the exhibitor his thinking.  Sometimes, a dog has had an accident, or gotten caught in a fence, etc, and the surgery was done to correct an injury. If that is the case, neither the dog nor the exhibitor should be
penalized. Working breeds can be shown with scars. So, a judge should proceed cautiously, but, if convinced that the scars are from cosmetic surgery, the dog should be excused. Are some corrective surgeries allowed? Under what circumstances?

Mullen:  No, cosmetic surgeries are not allowed. Only repair to dogs that have been injured. So an exhibitor can claim that the surgery is the result of injury, but judges soon learn which exhibitors have the habit of misrepresenting. Would these Bullmastiffs still be able to acquire their Championships?

Mullen:  Sometimes, if they are shown under judges that are not too familiar with the breed, or who have limited experience. In our mind, a "show quality" Bullmastiff also means dogs that are exceptionally healthy and temperamentally sound as well.  This includes more than looks, but also the ability to perform their intended use as well as be free from internal congenital defects.  The ability to perform, temperament testing, and health screenings are not part of the requirements for being entered within a Show Ring. Should they be? Why or why not?

Mullen:  I, personally, take note of a dog's temperament when examining the dog. Bullmastiffs should be people friendly, outgoing, confident dogs.  If they do not show that to me, I hesitate to give them the winner's ribbon.

To answer the last part of the question, it would be almost impossible to require all the testing, behavior supervision, and performance activities that would guarantee a dog to be perfect. A judge can, by movement. pretty well tell if a dog can do the job it was bred to do.  We have to rely on the ethical behavior of the exhibitors to produce the testing and temperament. I think that breeders who do not apply ethics to their breeding, should be penalized by not being allowed to register or exhibit their dogs. Dog shows would not be policed activities, but breeders should be recognized for good quality dogs. So judges can help that by being absolutely fair when judging. A noticeable change in the Bullmastiff is that the breed seems to be becoming larger and heavier. There have even been reports of Bullmastiffs reaching 160 to 200 pounds - well above the constraints of the Bullmastiff Standard. Are these weight extremes acceptable in the Show Ring?

Mullen:   As a breed judge, I regret the tendency for bigger and bigger. These dogs walked the English estate, and had to work all night. Massive Bullmastiffs will tire too easily, and will not be able to get through the hedge rows, and do their job. I have sadly noticed the tendency to larger and heavier. It is also very hard the hearts of the breed, and we will see huge dogs with shorter lifelines, and that would be a shame. Do you think these larger and heavier Bullmastiffs that are being produced are truly "purebred" Bullmastiffs throughout their pedigree?

Mullen:  In some cases, maybe not. In most cases, yes. Most breeder just breed larger dog to larger bitch and increase size and mass that way. Since it also breeds more health problems, I find it regrettable. Following the career of a Breeder and/or Handler, one of the most prominent and respected positions in the dog world is to become a Breed Judge. For novices just coming into the dog profession, what steps do they need to take if their ultimate goal is to become a Breed Judge?

Mullen:  Honesty - in breeding, in selling, in health care, and presentation. Do not cut corners in your kennel or your relationships with buyers, other breeders, and in the show ring.  Respect from your peers, and from your clients will do more to help you than anything else. You also sleep better! Are there any certifications, examinations, etc. that are required in order to qualify as a Breed Judge?

Mullen:  Yes, you should have time in [the] breed, experience in all phases of breed development, and be aware that when you apply to judge, you will be required to take written exams, even in you own breed, go to specialty shows, and to work with dog activities to the best of your ability.  Judges must be multi faceted, or they cannot move forward in that phase of their dog career. Would you describe the point system for finishing a Bullmastiff in the Show Ring.

Mullen:  Your dog will need 15 points to finish in AKC. Of that fifteen, two majors must be awarded to the dog. The majors must be under two different judge's. 

That means your dog will have to compete against several dogs of its own gender and breed to get a major. Points are awarded to the winner's dog and winner's bitch depending on their competition. If there are enough dogs in the ring majors are awarded. That number changes each year, based upon the number of dogs in that breed that are shown the previous year.

Each day is a different show, judge and presentation, so learn to enjoy the camaraderie [of] the dogs, and the people, and you will find [that] the winning comes easier, and the losing does not seem to be quite so hard. Is there a minimum number of Bullmastiffs required in each show category in order for the category to remain open?

Mullen:  At least one, most of the time. If the parent club requests a new or separate category, and the AKC board approves, then the category is kept open until the parent club - along with AKC - decides to eliminate. What future would you like to see happen with the Bullmastiff breed in general?  Do you think it this future is reachable?

Mullen:  I should like to see the parent club address temperament - officially - as a requirement of the standard.
Then general health. After all, a happy , healthy dog is usually a beautiful dog. There are beginning to be too many situations where stories of Bullmastiffs being people aggressive are becoming too frequent. We truly do not need to be breeding these dogs unless they are the loving, gentle affectionate and stable dogs that they were originally bred to be.

Closing Thoughts:
The job of the judge is to pick the best male and female so that ideally, they can be bred together and produce better quality pups in the breed.

That must be done objectively, and with ethical attention to the dogs in each ring. The judge's mission is to do what is
in the best interest of each breed. There should be no other goal for a judge when he/she steps into the show ring. would like to personally thank Mickey Mullen for taking the time to share her thoughts and experience with our readers!  If you would like more information about Judging Bullmastiffs, please contact Mickey Mullen at

Crossbow Bullmastiffs
Mickey & Dick Mullen



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