Boxer seminar educates and entertains
The Merseyside Boxer Club held a breed seminar on Sunday 6th January with 78 people entertained and informed by the speaker Margaret Wildman who addressed the Boxer with special emphasis on the head, writes Dave Bennett.
Margaret is a very easy speaker who imparts her obvious extensive knowledge of the breed in a fun filled way, which did not surprise those who know her. She said there were some very well known breeders and judges in the audience and obviously the more knowledgeable they were, the harder her task would be, the less knowledgeable would be the ones to gain most from her talk that day.
Margaret said she married into a dog showing family in the 60s, which was when she was introduced to Boxers her first breed, not long after she started working in obedience and along with husband Frank did some Tracking and Working trials. She started showing in the 70s and has done reasonably well over the years, breeding Champions in a number of breeds including the one she was talking about that day, she said she had judged extensively all over the world and to date had judged in 23 countries.
Margaret said the Boxer is a medium sized, smooth coated, squarely built, powerful dog of great nobility with a unique head, she said most judges had no problem understanding the construction or the body of the Boxer, but even some very experienced judges had great difficulty understanding the head, this was not surprising as the head is very complex. She said the Boxer was a German breed and evolved around the latter end of the 1800s, the first Boxer to be registered and shown in 1895 was called Flocki, and the breed standard was adopted a little later in 1902.
Some of the earlier Boxers into our country were brought back by soldiers from the first world war where they were used for escort work and guarding military sites etc, she explained that the breed dated back much further than that and evolved from various molossoid or mastiff- type dogs of earlier times and was made to measure, so to speak, for a specific purpose, which was bull and bear baiting. It was for this reason he had to be courageous, ferocious, and agile, he also had to have a very high tolerance to pain to enable him to continue to attack even when seriously injured, tails were docked and ears were cropped for this reason, so that the bear could not get a grip.
The Boxer needed to have a specific type of head to accommodate what was necessary to enable him to carry out his duties as a bear or bull baiter, he had to have a powerful strong jaw, without this he was completely useless as he would be easily flung off, he had to have the ability to hang on tight to his victim without his teeth cutting through the flesh like a pair of scissors. The most effective and efficient for this purpose was in fact the undershot jaw as this enabled the dog to grip comfortably and "lock on" to the bull without being flung off.
Margaret went on to explain in great detail the various parts and functions of the Boxer head and how each complemented the other, she said the most important feature of the head was the muzzle, if the muzzle was wrong the head was wrong, one could have a good head with obvious faults and it would still be a Boxer, without the correct muzzle, type was lost. She said the Boxer today of cause was not used for baiting, he was not used as a carriage dog or escort dog either which was another of his duties in days gone by, over the last century he has been bred mainly for guard and companion, to live in the house as part of the family and to guard them and their possessions.
You could hear a pin drop when Margaret spoke of the various breeds that were put together and blended so as to bring out only what was wanted by them at that time to achieve the wonderful temperament that we all know and take for granted, she said it got her thinking and it may get some of us thinking too.
Margaret showed us some diagrams and dimensions on the overhead projector that many had not seen before, and went on to explained how to measure the dog, she said if a straight line measured from the ground to the withers was equal in length to a line from the chest to the buttock then the dog was square, it also told her that the shoulder angulations was correct and that the rear angulations was correct, it also told her the length of neck was correct, she went on to explain in great detail her reasoning saying she was talking about normally and usually and that there was always the exception to the rule.
She said the length of muzzle should equal one third the length of the head, the depth of muzzle should also equal one third the length of the head, the distance from the ear to the eye should equal the distance from eye to front of muzzle, the width of skull should be two thirds the length of the head, the width of the muzzle should be two thirds the width of the skull and not as wide as the skull as is often thought.
Margaret went on to say the width of the front, measured at the elbow, should be two thirds the measurement from the ground to the elbow and the width of chest must not be greater than the width of skull, nor the width of skull greater than the width of chest, she explained her measurements in easily understood great detail and one thing that came over more than others was that there is no perfect dog, keep looking but don't get disappointed, she said she always judged a dog on his good points, the better the good points were, the less she noticed the poor.
Margaret talked us through and explained the head using the beautiful bronze Boxer head study by Patsi-Ann the very talented and famous sculptress; Patsi-Ann donated the piece to the raffle, which was drawn by John Farrell and won by a very delighted Marion McArdle. Most of us had a lump in our throats when Margaret explained that the head sculpture was modelled by her beautiful Champion bitch Dinneke who had died a couple of days earlier, feeling the mood Margaret quickly put up a photo of herself half naked to explain why you should look further than your nose when judging.
Margaret was a relaxed and easy speaker, she had the ability to make us cry, the ability to make us think, and the ability to make us laugh, which we did frequently, she kept every ones attention right to the end and she did not dictate or talk down to us, she told us to think for ourselves and not to be disappointed if our dogs were not perfect because the perfect dog has not yet been born, not to get upset about small faults as these could be corrected as we went along, to look at the dogs good points first and retain them when breeding, she showed lots of photos on the over head projector and explained the good and bad points on each and how to assess them.
Every one agreed it was a very worthwhile day with all the proceeds going to charity. Margaret definitely kept every ones attention for the duration of the seminar, if the day was anything to go by I think Margaret will be in great demand as a speaker in the future.