Sunday, 22 April 2012

Victorious Vaoila

Normal service will doubtless be resumed shortly, but apart from a sharp post on the Canine Alliance yesterday, it's fast turning into a good news weekend on the PDE Blog.

I am delighted to report that Neapolitan Mastiff Nukualofa's Vaoila (pictured at Crufts, above, where she won Junior Bitch and Reserve Best Bitch) won Best of Breed at the Working and Pastoral Breeds Champ Show at Builth Wells yesterday - and passed her vet check with flying colours.

Vaoila does have ectropion, but with an otherwise clear eye with no inflammation or discharge, she was cleared to go on to compete in the Group. Although disputed by some, it has been made clear by the Kennel Club that ectropion (or indeed an old healed eye injury) in and of itself is not a reason for disqualification; there has to be some accompanying clinical sign of soreness or discomfort.

This is real vindication for breed health rep Kim Slater who resolved to run the gauntlet of the vet check should her dogs win at a champ show as she wanted to produce dogs that could pass the vet check. This stance provoked one or two nasty comments on Facebook from those who felt she should make a stand and refuse to subject her dogs to veterinary scrutiny.

Well done to Kim for standing her ground. Although I was disappointed to see her write this on the Exhibitors' Noise Facebook site today:
" can see quite clearly that this particular example is a plainer dog than all have become accustomed to seeing. She is 17 months old, but the important thing for us as a breed is that this dog clearly has what has become known as 'ectropion' and she has passed. The door is now open for dogs of heavier type with the same eyes to also pass if they also have the same strength in movement and skin." (my bolding).
I am hoping this is just Kim trying to soothe those in the breed who believe Vaiola is not "typey" enough to qualify as a top Neapolitan Mastiff.  The breed is deeply divided between the reformists and the diehards who want their Monster Mastiffs.

Interestingly, Vaiola came last in a class of three at last weekend's Club Show - under a judge clearly in the diehard camp.  An open show, not a champ show, so no vet checks there... evidence, perhaps, of how effective the vet checks are in encouraging judges to put up less exaggerated dogs; the exact reason they were introduced of course. In fact, I think I'm right in thinking that there hasn't been a single DQ since Crufts. Soft vets? Or better judging...? Time will no doubt tell.

I don't have a pic of the Best in Show at last weekend's Neapolitan Mastiff Club Show, but here are two pictures of the Reserve Best Dog when he won BOB at Crufts 2011 - the difficult-to-look-at-without-wincing Belkeiminter Marquinn.  I hear there were several people ringside shaking their heads in dismay.


  1. The bitch looks so much more comfortable than the dog. I'm not sure why anyone thinks she is not "typey" enough. Since when does typey mean looking like a cross between a dog and an elephant?

    Vaoila surely is heavy enough to be imposing and has enough wrinkling to distinguish her as a Neapolitan, rather than a more generic "Mastiff." The dog is a perfect example of how some people latch on to a distinguishing characteristic in a breed standard and push it to the nth degree, to the point that the dog stops looking like a dog with a feature and starts looking like a caricature.

    She is also proof that it's easy enough to get very nice dogs that are capable of passing with the revised standards in short order; it must be as hard as heck to keep the extremes in conformation, ear, skin, coat etc IN the gene pool to begin with (I found a show Cocker breeder who said on her site that the field-type coat is the "original" coat and that even show-line Cockers don't always get the show coat; since dogs tend to revert to "medium brown dog" without careful breeding, it stands to reason that the farther from natural type you get, the harder it is to keep that look in your line). Common sense would dictate that breeding for a less extreme look would allow more dogs to stay in the breeding pool, and therefore serve the dual purpose of slowing down the narrowing that typically occurs in a closed stud book.

  2. Very nice bitch. I will be interested to see how well she ages. She is proof you can have type wihout unhealthy exaggeration as I would instantly recognise her as a Neo.

  3. I am disappointed to observe that the photo of Vaoila previously posted on your blog in March

    .....shows Vaoila with a total lack of haw. The picture looks as if it has been photo shopped. It is quite different to that which you have presented today. I sincerely hope this is not the case. If it is then you need to stop this practice. I've spotted one other example (the man with ectropian. A quick search of google images reveals the gentleman has only one afflicted eye. The example you use has been edited to give him ectropian in both eyes.This is sadly sloppy journalism and does the cause you are fighting and those who support you (including myself) no favours.

    1. I suggest you have a slightly slower search of google images, then, Anon. There are two pictures of the same chap - one after he'd had one eye corrected.

      As for Vaiola - I've used the same picture as I used in March. There is another pic of her on my March post which looks like she has no haw, but that I think is because her head is tipped up.

      I do not re-touch photographs. What on earth would be the point?


    2. Thanks you for clearing that up and happy to hear it, Vaoila's eye does look very different in that March photo.

  4. Do I wish this dog had no haw?...yes. My personal view is that there is no good reason to breed dogs with ectropion. We can all preach perfection but COME ON this is a vast improvement on what we've been seeing in the show ring for the last couple of decades.
    Jemima is right, there is a clear direction of travel and it's towards healthier pedigree dogs. "Early days, long way to go, lot's still to do"...let's hold back on the cynical cliches and just give a bit of praise where it's due.
    Kevin Colwill

  5. Jemima, thanks for the slew of great posts today. I missed your posts. And the Neo bitch is great. I agree there's no reason for any dog to show haw, but at least this bitch looks like a dog instead of a mutant alien. I agree that this is a good sign that breeds can self-correct quickly if the vet check scheme is continued.

  6. Really a nice bitch, this dog are good breed. Nice Post.

  7. Not sure if this is apropos to this blog, but as far as BOB winners not getting health checked... I keep reading that people are doing it to "Make a stand" about the checks. IMO it would make a lot more sense to prove a dog is healthy enough to pass the test, then pull from the group as protest. The people who refuse the vet checks just make it seem they have something to hide. I am in the US so maybe I am missing some logic here... Pam

  8. People should remember (or maybe learn!) that ectropion often worsens with fatigue and with age and photo's taken with the dog in different positions/light etc can alter how a dog looks in different pictures.
    Perfect eyelid conformation should be the aim of all breeds but it won't happen overnight without creating genetic botlenecks so for now the least bad must be rewarded and bred from, taking into account the health and conformation of the rest of the dog too.

  9. Let's just hope this very junior bitch doesn't develop as per normal into a grotesque monstrosity. Keep an eye on her development - females of this breed are often very late bloomers...

  10. an ancient breed