BullmastiffInfo.org: When a Judge walks into the Show Ring to
inspect the Bullmastiffs lined up before them, what are you looking
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
BullmastiffInfo.org: 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.
BullmastiffInfo.org: 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.
BullmastiffInfo.org: 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.
BullmastiffInfo.org: 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.
BullmastiffInfo.org: 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.
BullmastiffInfo.org: Are some corrective surgeries allowed? Under
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
BullmastiffInfo.org: Would these Bullmastiffs still be able to
acquire their Championships?
if they are shown under judges that are not too familiar with
the breed, or who have limited experience.
BullmastiffInfo.org: 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
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.
BullmastiffInfo.org: 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
BullmastiffInfo.org: Do you think these larger and heavier
Bullmastiffs that are being produced are truly "purebred"
Bullmastiffs throughout their pedigree?
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.
BullmastiffInfo.org: 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?
- 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!
BullmastiffInfo.org: 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
BullmastiffInfo.org: 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.
BullmastiffInfo.org: Is there a minimum number of Bullmastiffs
required in each show category in order for the category to remain
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.
BullmastiffInfo.org: 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
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.
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.
BullmastiffInfo.org 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
Mickey & Dick Mullen