AKC CH Title – what does it mean today?

I used to love showing my dogs in conformation. In the beginning I went to the dog show just for fun and to spend time with my pet. I attended handling classes every week for many years. I went to handling seminars. I watched professional handlers and picked up tips. I went to UK and AU and watched how people there presented their Staffords I helped friends in other breeds to gain more experience. I showed to any judge without caring what they normally preferred because I was working on honing my own skills. My first show win I was told by other exhibitors that I won because I simply out handled them. It’s true. My dog was a pet. That is the point of this blog entry.

As time went on I became a lot pickier what I would walk into the ring with. I first stopped showing other peoples dogs if I didn’t think it could win BOB. Then I decided not to show dogs I had bred unless I felt they were worthy of a Specialty win under a Stafford breeder judge. I know where my dogs meet or fall from meeting our breed standard. I see all the nuances. I feel no need to ‘hide’ or ‘cover up’ faults I am not keen on just to win a ribbon or fake congratulations from other fanciers. It’s not important.

I feel strongly that unless you can dissect and see these faults and virtues in minute detail in your own dogs then you honestly have no business breeding. The exception is if you are working with mentors and you are learning still and if this is the case then you MUST have an open mind. You must be willing to see the issues pointed out to you, research those for yourself, determine whether or not they do exist and then work to change these faults in the future. None of that is done in a show ring.

In the show ring the best you can do is to understand how to present your exhibit to a judge who hopefully knows and understands the breed and how it relates to the written standard – and is willing to actually JUDGE to that standard. Most of the time the judge has 2 minutes to do that and many of them aren’t willing or able too. It seems it is easier for them to go with what they think is ‘safe’ and assume the professional handlers must have the best ones – right? That was in sarcasm font by the way.

There are times when a handler has a good dog. Sometimes it could be the best dog in the show ring. Many times it is not. There are other breeders like myself who only present their very best. Its not often these dogs are rewarded on a consistent basis. Oftentimes they are overlooked for handlers dogs. Handlers have a lot of skills. They get to practice 4-5 days a week all year long. They are skilled at showing statues and generic movement and flashy handling – ever see them hold the end of a long lead by two fingers while the dog stands perfectly still at the end of it? Looks so pretty doesn’t it. But…..how does that meet that dogs standard? Maybe it does. Maybe not. Maybe it’s just pretty.

Many of us serious Stafford breeders are growing weary of wasting our time, energy, education, and money on bringing good dogs into the ring. I personally have attended shows and looked around seeing a couple very competitive dogs and (wrongly as it turns out) thinking – that’s my competition – and more than that – that’s a dog to follow and he could be a good prospect to keep up my high standards in my breeding plans…..but most judges won’t find these superior dogs. They seem blinded by flash.

Why are entries down? Why are breeds going downhill? Why are poor temperaments rewarded? Why is fat and soft rewarded over fitness and strength? Lazy judges and political games. Thats why. Never mind the general lack of knowledge of canine structure. never mind the serious disinterest in learning breed type. Never mind not understanding good powerful effortless movement. What is the point of showing our best dogs? We already know what we have. We don’t need a stranger who lacks this knowledge to know what we already know.

I show because I am expected to show. Puppy buyers expect me to only breed from Champions. Champion titles in America mean nothing. NOW in sharp contrast – making a champion from ONLY showing in HUGE classes under only other breeder judges means a LOT and this is what we do. HUGE difference to beat 100 dogs under breeder judges and a handler dragging a dog show to show to show barely beating 5 dogs a weekend to title. Think about that.

AKC is a joke. There I said it. Most of us understand why I would say this too. What will it take for AKC to also see this and GREATLY improve their judge education and requirements? I suggest ongoing requirements of judges to continue to meet breeders and visit kennels and talk with breeders and find out the nuances. Most judges simply do not care and I have even been told condescending opinions by judges such as – “You don’t get where I am without knowing the breed” when I look at the dogs they selected and shake my head….walking away wondering what on earth they DO know.

Worse than that recently I overheard judges talking about how Stafford specialties bring over judges from UK and AU and how in their opinions this makes the Stafford breeders snobby. Worse than being called snobby (who cares, more sarcasm font) they went on to then say how these overseas judges don’t know anything at all and how they are terrible at judging. Why do they pick up feet? What are they doing with the coat? What are they doing with their hands on the head and muzzle and shoulders and rears? Why would they kneel down to watch movement? Why do they need to watch the entire down and back? Why are they making funny noises or dangling keys or dropping a ball? OH do you mean why do they ACTUALLY judge the dogs to the written breed standard? Is this the question?

I heard one judge say how breeder judges don’t even know movement or structure and only award heads and friends. 😂 Okay, so to you all breed judges who only award friends and handlers (don’t forget many judges were also once handlers) that’s different why??? Soo you mean for me to believe that a breeder judge from UK who has lived with Staffords for their entire lives, many of their parents also lived with Staffords, they see Staffords daily in the street, at ringcraft and at shows where the entries can get into the 100’s at times – you mean to tell me those people don’t know this breed? Seriously? Sorry – I simply cannot stop laughing except its not funny.

Are we truly preserving this breed?

We do not breed often. We do not show in conformation as often as we used to. We mainly travel to the bigger specialty shows to show to breeder judges and breed specialists when possible. We also never require a puppy we sell to be shown. If we sell a show prospect, we may encourage the dog to be shown after full review between 10 months and 2 years. We always offer to show the dog ourselves and we offer to pay the expenses as well as mentor and teach ring procedures and handling skills. We help find classes and shows if the owner is interested. It’s not in our contract as mandatory.

That all being said the rings today are filled with pet quality Staffords. Yes, I said it. Many are thinking it but nobody speaks out. We must be choosier if we wish to truly be preserving the breed as we like to say we are. An American CH title means much less than it once did. It means so much more if the title is earned mainly from the large specialty shows. It means even more if ALL points earned are from breeder judges and specialists. And it means even more than that to me personally if the title is also earned from the BBE class at specialties, against a lot of competition.

So often today breeders require new owners to show their new puppy to its title under contract. This means some owners have the added expenses of paying handlers if they are not interested (or lack confidence) in doing it themselves. Staffords are paraded around rings 2-4 days a week for months on end in order to fulfill these contracts. This also means that oftentimes these dogs lack the temperaments, structure and type which makes a true Stafford champion. Once the title has been earned….well awarded….as earned means its deserving…then these contracts require the dogs to be bred and puppies often going back to (or names added as breeder/owner) the breeders. And the cycle begins again . . .

How on earth do people NOT see how this is damaging the breed, not helping it?! How can they get on FB and watch a live video each week and see all the out of balance, soft toplines, low on leg, overweight, out of condition, roach, no breed type, terrified, timid, sad or out of control dogs being strung up and sculpted into position to win that ribbon? Seriously? How can you not see this is a farce? And now AKC judges see so many of this type they think it’s correct. You cant even have a conversation with many of them these days to help them see the error of their ways. You cant even offer them a copy of the SBTCA Illustrated Breed Standard or the TSK Illustrated Breed Standard because they think they know all there is to know about this breed! How insulting!

Many of us have worked hard over many years to educate, learn, teach, read, study about the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. We live with them. We get hands on 100’s of them. We travel great distances to see as many as we can. We study pedigrees, we do rescue, we understand correct temperament, we own libraries filled with books on the breed. We live and breathe Staffordshire Bull Terriers . . . and yet the arrogance of some judges (and handlers) sadly now shapes the future of this breed.

Sad. Pathetic. Shameful.

Best Family

I made the following suggestion to the SBTCA National Specialty Committee that I am currently serving on  –

There should be an extra nontraditional class at the national specialty called the “best family” or similar where you have to enter a minimum of three generations, preferably four.

The purpose would be to show the direction the breeder has taken over the generations. It would be a non-regular class so that only perhaps one of the three or four entries would be required to be entered in a regular class in order to participate. At least 2 of a three generation entry or 3 of a 4 generation entry must be bred by the person entering.

Maybe not offer every year but maybe every few years to give people time to be able to meet the conditions of participation. If breeders are working together this isn’t so daunting.

I can see where this would be very helpful to get a bigger picture on how we are doing as a whole in this country as far as making good breeding choices. Are we really improving? Sometimes I think not. Sometimes it seems we are struggling and not working together. 

The judging would encompass mostly type but also structure and how the dogs meet the standard. The focus would be on consistency and improvement.

 It also could just be presented as a showcase not a competition – a prelude to a seminar. Can you imagine seeing 4 generations in a ring from 5 breeders? Especially if they were working together?

I have always thought that breeders in this country needed to work together more. If we share similar goals then why AREN’T we working together? How can a breeder such as myself who can’t keep a lot of dogs or who spends so much money on each litter move forward very easily? Without a larger number of resources its not possible. Perhaps that is why in this country we do not see a lot of improvement and also why finding the right stud seems so daunting.

Thoughts?

Who would ever know?

In the days prior to Facebook we had Bullbreeds Online. Before that Yahoo groups. Prior to that there was Compuserve chat rooms. Even before that, before the internet, people actually called on the telephone to speak to one another. The phones usually were attached to walls or at least a base unit was. Those who did rescue could have ‘telephone tree’ calls to arrange assistance to the dogs, the breeders, the owners. People actually SPOKE, in real works, out loud or sometimes even in person. HORRORS! You mean people actually looked one another in the eye and had conversations? Yes, my young readers. This is how it was ‘in the old days’ before FB.

When you have to look a person in the eye to speak it makes it more difficult to tell lies. Don’t get me wrong – there are those who are especially talented in this area who can still do this. Well seasoned at bending the truth, some people can make the world sound like just about anything they desire. Sometimes people lie for the sport of lying and sometimes they are ashamed of their actions and guilt makes them lie. Sometimes they feel no shame, and lie because its what they feel is expected of them. Lies simply flow easily out of their mouths any time they speak.

In dogs, here is the problem with being dishonest. There is always somebody paying attention who knows you are not truthful. Today’s blog entry is about breeders who routinely tell lies and think they get away with it. I want to begin by telling you that I have never in my life been associated with so many wonderful people who are passionate about a hobby they spend 24/7 living/breathing/enjoying. In contrast to that, I also have never met so many cold hearted fake egotistical sociopaths either. How can these opposing groups continue in harmony doing the same hobby? Well, my theory is that many of the passionate happy positive people aren’t aware of the other type – mainly because why would you seek that out? Sometimes it is best/easier to ignore those miserable, cold hearted, selfish, controlling, shit stirrers. Sometimes that’s all you can do. Today I am blogging because I am sick to death of those types and I feel strongly they are why breeders and dog show folk have such a negative reputation with the rest of the population and also why the few doing purebreed rescue get so burned out and disgusted. The loudest people get the attention. The angry loud few are what people remember most. And on top of that, when a person who normally is NOT like that gets fed up and becomes angry, loud and attention seeking – that’s what they will be remembered for as well. Thats a shame. What should be remembered – what SHOULD be spoken about are the others – those who ruin it for everyone. It’s those people who make us ALL look bad. I can totally understand why so many people, especially in rescue, HATE breeders. I get that!

Here is what I know as someone who has been devoted to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in both rescue, re-home, fundraising, volunteer work, breeding, mentoring and educating – people tell me things. I listen. Now I will speak.

  • I know of a breeder who left a dog she bred knowingly in a kill shelter.
  • I know of a breeder who has had dogs they bred returned to them and chose to  euthanized rather than take the time to train/socialize/rehome the dogs.
  • I know of a breeder who euthanized a dog that was returned and then lied and told people it was placed in a wonderful home.
  • I know of this same breeder who has done this routinely.
  • I know of breeders who import so many dogs then sell them on like one might buy shoes.
  • I know of breeders who are pyramid sales type breeders – you buy a puppy and sign a contract stating the Stafford must be shown (maybe even by them, maybe for a handling fee), bred from and puppies given back to the breeder and that then you must carry on in the same manner…and on and on and on.
  • I know of breeders who would just as well breed on the 1st heat just as easily as taking 7 litters from a bitch.
  • I know of breeders whose dogs live in kennel runs on abandoned properties not where anyone lives and the dogs are visited once daily for a scoop of kibble and some water.
  • I know breeders who routinely keep non refundable deposits no matter why the puppy didn’t go to that home – even when its the breeder who turns the buyers down.
  • I know a breeder who makes their buyers use their stud dogs and charge the stud fees anyway.
  • I know a breeder who charged the breeder of their stud dog a stud fee even after being given free Staffords from the same breeder in the past.
  • I know breeders who lie about health testing.
  • I know breeders who lie about puppy enrichment protocols they claim to use but don’t.
  • I know breeders who care more about ribbons, specialty wins or how many champions they have bred than they care about the lives those dogs lead.
  • I know breeders who think they are the center of the universe and that all others are below them and must respect anything they say no matter how absurd their words are.
  • Sadly, I also know breeders who are hoarders and get in over their heads and cannot find a way out but are not able to ask for help.
  • I know breeders who lack so much confidence that they need a pat on the back for anything they say or do in order to feel okay and accepted.
  • I know breeders who collect semen like some collect coupons.
  • I know breeders who collect dogs like some collect coupons.
  • I know breeders who pay their bills by selling puppies but wouldn’t ever admit that they need the money and the puppies are how they earn it.
  • I know breeders whose actual self worth is based upon dog show wins.
  • I know breeders whose puppies are born and raised in stalls or basements, mostly unattended.
  • I know some breeders who may read this list and not see themselves on it.

I know a lot of things and I also know that for the most part, nobody really cares. Knowing all these things makes me sad if I think about them. In today’s world of having all your ‘friends’ made by a click of a button on FB, telling lies seems to be much easier. After all, who would ever know?