On July 1st, I had the good
fortune to be sitting at ringside at the Windsor Dog Show inEngland, watching the 213 boxers on exhibit. Under the watchful
gaze of glorious Windsor Castle, with cool weather and mostly clear skies, it was a great opportunity to draw some conclusions
in regard to breeder preferences on both sides of the ocean.
There are significant parallels
as well as differences between the English and the American Boxer. In general, there is a far greater consistencey of head
type in the UK. Unlike their American counterparts, the UK breeders seem to agree on ideal head type and there are not too
many "styles" in evidence—rather, they are variations on the same theme. Many shows offer competition for "Best Head."
There is an insistence on proper proportion (same as our own Standard), dark generous eyes, evident chin, and tip-up of nose.
Unpigmented third eyelids are in the great minority. Unfortunately many exhibits were showing very heavy wrinkle, which masked
the desirable chiseling and coarsened expression to a great degree. This tendency is understood among UK breeders and many
are trying to breed away from it. It was a topic of considerable discussion among them in my hearing. In general, ear sets
seem to be significantly lower than our own— but all in sympathy with the UK’s natural ear. I would imagine that
the high ear set called for in our own Standard would be inappropriate to good ear carriage in Britain.
The UK boxer is not nearly
so tall as our own (both sexes) and has much greater bone. I would say that the majority of males were under 25" and with
the exception of one tall puppy bitch, females were 23" or under. I saw 6 week old puppies a few days after the show—they
were far heavier and chunkier than most 6 week USA pups. British breeders are mystified at our use of the word "pretty" when
describing the individual dog---they told me again and again that "the Boxer is supposed to be a working dog and is NOT pretty."
Nor did I hear the word "elegant" spoken the whole time I was there. Perhaps the definition of "pretty" is a matter of semantics
but you get the picture. Very few dogs were long—they were mostly square, with those beautiful feet that we do not seem
to be able to duplicate here no matter what we try. Diet may play a part, but genetics seems to play a far greater role.
Movement in general approximates
that of our own dogs—some excellent, some not so fine—all depending on the individual structure. However, the
insistence of the UK handlers (mostly amateurs) on filling their dogs’ mouths with endless liver chunks—to the
point where the hand rarely left the mouth—caused some dogs to gait sideways while anticipating the resumption of the
liver-treats. At first I thought that handlers were trying to hide bad mouths—but not so—mouths were consistently
superb (as one might imagine in those strong heads), but I was told that the feeding was in order to "get the heads up" and
"have control." To these American eyes, the Brits would do well to use the lead a bit more and train the dogs to bait without
stuffing them. Even the professional handlers among them were employing this technique.
Since all champions in Britain
compete in classes against the "class" dogs and bitches, it is quite possible for a big winner to attain the coveted CC (equivalent
to WD or WB) in almost every event on the show calendar—thereby preventing many another worthy contender from ever winning
the 3 CCs needed for the championship title. British shows are far fewer in number than those in the USA, and usually there
is only one CC-level show scheduled in the entire country for a given weekend. Therefore, championships in the UK are more
difficult to achieve than our own. I would guess there have been very few "cheap champions" in the British Boxer ring, though
I heard the same griping about alleged political decisions that I would hear at home.
It was a grand trip and a
treat to see the best of the English boxers. If the day comes when the British quarantine is lifted to the point where a free
exchange of dogs might occur between our two countries, a wise breeder might surely reap a great reward.