If I begin at ‘about the author’ then I’d have to compose a book. By no means should the reader misinterpret the time frame I launch my story to a lack of experience with dogs in general. I like to start out by telling everyone I didn’t begin where I am now. It has been a long evolutionary process for me and the dogs. Just because you start off on the wrong foot doesn’t mean you can’t make it right.
In my early career as a veterinary technician I had a completely different mindset than I do now. My inspiration came from show breeders and the common perception of dogs. I liked the short bulldog muzzle and great substance. I payed no attention to sound movement or performance. I did attempt to breed my first Bullmastiff bitch that I acquired in 2009 to a huge 150 pound stud. Poor dog would get so tired of his attempts he was unable to mate. The bitch was not able to hold his massive weight either. We did several artificial inseminations without luck. The next season I bred to a pet/farm dog. He produced some very sound dogs. I kept a female with outstanding temperament out of the litter, she’s now 8 years old and has produced my current adults. I didn’t have time to raise her back then, I was a young adult with a 12hr job. Without time there was lack of dedication. I later found out the big male I had once attempted to breed to passed away from heart failure.
I’ve always been active with my dogs but at that time it was simply a weekend activity. It wasn’t until I detached myself from that job that I began to focus on the dogs more and more. I began researching and informing myself about diet and how it affects health. From there I started experimenting with what food works best for them and convenient for my pocket. My research lead me to the current practice of nutrigenomics.
The next step that followed was breed history and cynology. I must admit there were many many things I didn’t quite understand without the experience I have now. It all makes sense now. One of the questions I asked myself is what type of Bullmastiff am I aiming for. I was absolutely dumbfounded as to what to produce and the necessary steps to get there. It has taken me 3 years of extensive research and field time to know what I know now about the Bullmastiff. Arguably, I am the only person in the world that specializes in the Bullmastiff breed. But the most fascinating part of running this project is that the learning never ends, training never ends, experiences and the challenges never end. It is a lifelong endeavor.
My greatest inspiration has been Colonel David Hancock. I found out he has a deep passion for the breed but never had the time to breed them true. I got in touch with him a few times through email but It was difficult for me to understand a lot of what he was trying to tell me at the time. I completely understand it now.
I have dedicated countless field hours to observing breed behavior in a natural state, and in a modern city setting. I have tested Bullmastiffs I have produced in mental stability, weight pulling, scent work, endurance, courage, intelligence, agility and hunting. it has been a long, slow process but each observation takes me one step closer to developing a sophisticated program that works to help select ideal candidates at an earlier age. Early or properly timed exposure to specific exercises or tests can help significantly advance the selection process. I have found out what works and what doesn’t work through trial and error.
I search far and wide for Bullmastiffs to add to the program. Each dog added to the program is a giant step towards breed improvement and expanding the gene-pool. But finding candidates is no easy task and when I do find them the greatest challenge is to obtain the owners cooperation. The greatest danger to the extinction of a breed is owner mindset.
The Bullmastiff has a long history, more than I can cover in a mere article. I’ll go over it briefly but I must warn the reader I have developed some skepticism through extensive research. A mastiff is a broad mouth dog used in the hunt to catch, pin, seize or hold large dangerous game. It requires a huge, determined and courageous dog. It is said Gamekeepers in England didn’t need a huge savage dog to catch poachers, but I always question if this is true or just a fairytale. Poachers risked their lives catching game that belonged to the wealthy, punishable by imprisonment, that can only mean a poacher would do anything to get away, and so they posed a great danger. Poachers were armed and dangerous, why would a keeper need a dog to merely pin a dangerous man when his own life is at risk? Keepers crossed other breeds to mastiffs to obtain the required traits and soon subdued their savage nature. The history of the Bullmastiff commonly read in books and on the internet is only partly true. The Bullmastiff has been long in existence.
On the subject of type. I have given it great thought and I have come to an answer that many people will not understand. The tests candidates are subjected to help me select the best performers. Type is determined by what works; what is demanded of the dog. I have my share of historical examples such as Sir Roger of Fens I can share with you but I’m not sure that’s where well end up because those dogs were not tested or proven to be top performers. There isn’t enough data to tell me the conditions the dog was subjected to, appart from tackling a man down, or details to prove their performance. I don’t require a cookie cutter dog either. The aim is to increase health, performance, intelligence, keenness, longevity and versatility of the breed. I developed the formula, environment + function = form. Since we practice exercises for epigenetic influences there are many elements involved than merely breeding two dogs of the same type to produce the same.
I require a dog with endurance. One that is capable of running atleast 11 miles and has a high heat threshold, because heat induces Heat Shock Proteins. It must be a sound dog that moves fluidly, because healthy locomotion improves performance ability. He must be versatile to tackle any task asked of him, such as, hauling goods, fetching, retrieving, guarding and hunting; farm or city tasks. He must be intelligent so that he may discern when great courage or an amiable nature is required. Improving their resume increases placement. I don’t want to spend my days at the vet, I want a reliable companion that can live out a healthy life and be by my side for as long as his sound body allows him to. I don’t want my dog to suffer from heritable or developing diseases and pass away at a young age. I breed for the betterment of breed type.
This article was written by Karina from Project Guerrero Bullmastiff.