The stench of cognitive dissonance is never so pungent as it is when a bunch of Neapolitan Mastiff show breeders and owners get together.
Last month, there was a UK get-together of the UK branch of CACEP.
CACEP is a group of Neapolitan Mastiff breeders and owners "devoted to the revival of the true Neapolitan Mastiff", as Sheila Atter reported in last week's DogWorld.
There, she gave CACEP's mission statement:
“'The Neapolitan Mastiff of the future will be a dog chosen from individuals with strong muscle tone, dryness and muscularity of the trunk, athleticism with balanced type, general wrinkles, divided dewlap that best represent the unique expression of our breed.
"“CACEP will demonstrate to the latest generations of fans, who often have a distorted idea of Mastino Napoletano, made up of excess hypertypical dogs, that the Neapolitan Mastiff is not done with too much skin and too much weight, but of muscle, power, strength and physical endurance. This is the Neapolitan Mastiff that our ancestors gave us. This is the Neapolitan Mastiff that we have a duty to choose and leave a legacy to our children.”Oh, and....
“...the Mastino Napoletano must have the soul, the psyche of the true Neapolitan Mastiff, an indomitable dog, indifferent to pain, with a powerful bite, with courage. A dog capable of being an incorruptible, unsurpassed guardian of humans and defender of property. A terrible opponent for anyone."Goodness! Well, I suppose they could sit on a burglar... suffocate them with their wrinkles?
Drown them in slobber, perhaps? But at least it's a relief to hear that they're breeding them to not feel pain given the state of their eyes.
You think I'm joking?
The UK arm of CACEP is the initiative of Kim Slater, former health rep for the main UK Neapolitan Club who gave up the health co-ordinator's job because...well, various reports, but essentially I think her frustration with the resistance within the breed club to embrace real change.
Slater talks a good game when it comes to health. She has done a lot to encourage breeders to health-test their dogs - and that is something. There was even a vet and Philippa Robinson of the Karlton Index at this event, the latter doing a health survey. But pin Slater down and she confesses to liking "typey" dogs (i.e. dogs that anyone outside of the breed would consider overdone). And, in truth, if she was really that concerned about Neapolitan Mastiff health, she would ask the KC to de-register the breed on the entirely valid grounds that the show-bred version of this breed is a disgrace to dogdom.
But no. Slater wants to be seen to be proactive on health while still embracing a dog that is very over-exaggerated. That this is somehow justified because of the dogs' "ancient" roots is laughable.
Now there were certainly Mastiff-type dogs on Roman murals. But they looked like this:
Not like this.
But then the show-ring really got hold of them. And before long, we ended up with a dog that couldn't even see an intruder, let along intimidate one.
Oh. And every single one of the modern dogs above was bred by or belongs to the man that Kim Slater invited over to judge at the CACEP event in the UK. Here he is, on the right at the CACEP event - Nello Vacarro of the Della Rupe Mastino Kennel.
Vacarro is from Rome and looks rather scarier than his dogs, so hope I'm not risking life and limb by calling him out here. His Facebook page is open (well, as I write this) so you can see for yourself what kind of dogs he likes. Now there are one or two recent more moderate dogs there but, really, way, WAY too many that look like the ones above - and this one below with red pits for eyes.
Have a look, too, at the "magnificent"trophy awarded at the CACEP event. As I pointed out in the Comments section on Sheila Atter's DogWorld piece - all I see is a sad, mutated, mutilated dog. And, boy, those roses....!
The whole thing is completely delusional.
If the 2014 KC Health Survey reports findings as bleak as I expect with this breed (it isn't just the hideous conformation, it's that they're lucky to make five or six years old before keeling over), I will be breaking a personal rule and launching a petition - to persuade the Kennel Club to de-register them until breeders can demonstrably show the dogs can lead longer, less-encumbered lives.
Seriously, anyone who buys into the current sleight of mouth should be ashamed of themselves. And that includes those facilitating this nonsense by trotting round the CACEP event with clipboards.
Sure, the KC registers only about 60 a year. But these are almost all show-bred and if there wasn't a show-ring for them to lumber round, there would be no incentive to breed them.
The absolute quickest and kindest way to cure the Neapolitan Mastiff's problems is, quite simply, to not breed them.
Watch this space.