Cheating on Your Molosser
True confession from a Bullmastiff fancier who took on a creature from a planet far, far away
Up until now, Molosser breeds have been all I have known.
For 35 years, I have owned, shown and judged Bullmastiffs, and have been very fortunate to be closely connected during that time with the Oldwell Kennels, the most successful Bullmastiff kennel of all time. My only foray into other breeds was as a founding member and first chairman of the Neapolitan Mastiff Club of Great Britain and a founding member of the UK Dogue de Bordeaux Club.
So why would I want to make the transition to a completely new breed and one that outwardly has no significant connection to the one I am so used to and comfortable with?
A Scottish Deerhound, no less?
Well, for that the blame ... or credit ... lies with my wife. For more than 30 years she has accommodated my love of Bullmastiffs and adopted one puppy after another without any fuss, loving each one without reservation. However, for her 50th birthday, she informed me that she would like to pick our next breed of dog, and I could not really argue. I foolishly assumed that she would go for a Frenchie or a Bulldog, which other Bullmastiff owners seem to favor. But, no, she announced it had to be a Deerhound. Her father had been a long-time owner of racing Greyhounds and her childhood had consisted of a stream of retired dogs, and she had always had a love of the Sighthound type of dog.
Looking back, I can see that there was a huge amount of fate involved here, as for the previous three years I had built a good relationship and friendship with Hector Heathcote and his partner Sue Finnet in their capacity as vets running the UK Clone franchise, which we had used very successfully to impregnate a number of Bullmastiff bitches with frozen semen imported from the U.S. Quite coincidentally, Hector and Sue are also the owners of the Hyndesight Deerhound kennel, one of the most successful in the U.K. Having been to Hector and Sue's premises a number of times, I had developed a fascination and curiosity for this elegant and ethereal breed. So the prospect of owning one was very exciting, and my wife was delighted when Hector and Sue agreed to let us have a dog pup.
My expectation was: Pick a pup, bring him home at eight weeks, and make my wife very happy. However, this was when I began to realize that a Deerhound is not a Bullmastiff: Hector put the block to our expectations by telling us that we could not take the pup until 11 or 12 weeks. As I was quite used to letting robust, fat and advanced Bullmastiff pups go at eight weeks, I thought that Hector and Sue's caution was perhaps a trifle over the top.
It was not until I saw the litter at nine weeks that I realized how accurate Hector was, and how far behind a typical Bullmastiff litter of the same age they were -- all legs, fragile and certainly not as boisterous as Bullmastiff pups of the same age. There was no way that an 8-week-old Deerhound pup would be ready to leave its mother or the litter. My initial reaction was to be reminded of Bambi attempting to walk on ice, and we realized that this was a whole new ballgame to what we were used to. Eventually, Moth, as we called him, came home, and the real differences kicked in.
I think that a lot bull-breed owners tend to think that their breed is at a higher level of canine intelligence than the typical hound, and I must shamefully admit that I was one of those. How wrong I was: Moth was clean within a week, able to open the door leading to the garden within three, and ruler of the house instantly. This was a revelation. The nice but dim dog I was prepared for was suddenly running rings around us all.
© Modern Molosser Magazine. This article may not be reposted, reprinted, rewritten, excerpted or otherwise duplicated in any medium without the express written permission of the publisher.
Fri, 08/07/2015 - 6:35am