Some say the biggest problem in the dog world today, or any other point in the last 100 years for that matter, is kennel blindness. I say that’s very close to correct, but not exactly how I see it. The biggest problem I see among the enthusiasts of all experience level is misuse of a few select terms that get thrown around by members of the dog community of all experience levels. Some may indeed understand the terminology they use but the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people watching them on social media may not understand and then use the terminology to other low level or inexperienced individuals, further pushing the misuse along.
Terms like breeder or kennel are both used way too much and misused more than anything else dog people say. The term breeder is attached to every Tom, Dick and Harry who own a dog, or two or three who all live in the house and the oldest one is 2 years old. The term I would use to describe that scenario and many other like it is PET OWNER. Just because you own a few dogs and they happen to get pregnant when you allowed them to be in the same room while the female was in season does not in any way make you a breeder. The same way having 4 crates in a garage lined up with 6 month old discount priced puppies in them who never see the daylight does not in any way mean you run or operate a kennel. Is there anything wrong with having a few dogs and being a pet owner who also happens to have quality puppies available once a year? Not at all, but know your lane and play your role. You can produce some very nice breeding stock with a few thought out and well planned purchases and the respect will be there if its earned, but there are levels to everything in life from novice to master you must know where you fit in and what the requirements of each level are.
Another term being misused, for the 20 years, is structure. The generic use of the word structure has been used and passed dow through the years and generations so now most people literally think structure has three components, feet, tail and topline. The most common answer I see when people are being asked what they prefer in a Bull Breed dog is “structure”, when I ask people what they mean by the term structure they most commonly say, “tight feet”, “no kinks” and “flat topline” followed by “I hate easty westy feet and high rears”. Without taking into consideration anything but those three things that’s where it ends as far as structure for most people. It seems without knowing it most people automatically focus on what they see to be the faults of the dog, may picked up from a judge they admire or passed down from a breeder they look up to they see nothing but certain traits they consider to be flaws and wot consider the rest of the dog because of those things. Maybe they are reading the written standard and seeing the traits that are written down as faults are some of the same traits they had in their mind as faults already so the its easier to focus on those things. Focusing on the faults comes primarily from a school of thought called “fault judging” where the value of the dog is based on the what you consider to be faults, however most of the time these are “structural” faults that people focus on because they are the easiest to see. The more important thing to focus on is the details in the traits that dog needs to carry to fit its individual breed type, for bull breeds in particular there are certain traits dogs are expected to carry. Speaking directly about American Bullys it is easy to be able to read the written standard and see that a certain has “structural faults” like weak pasterns or splayed feet or an underbite, these are all things the standard is clear about. What is more difficult to understand is that every breed has certain characteristics required of the breed also made very clear in each breeds written standard. Again, referring to the American Bully, traits like blocky head or deep stop or barrel rib or large round bones are called for in the standard and sought after in the ring. Without carrying these necessary traits that these written standards call for in each individual breed the “structure” of the dog means very little assuming all dogs being presented are show quality. What good are tight feet if they are attached to anything but large round bones? What good is a straight full tail if you question the breed its attached to? What good is a perfect topline on anything other than a barrel body with heavy muscular shoulders in the front and a heavily muscled wide rear in the back. The misconception that “structure” is more important than these details of breed type is the reason why Bull Breeds as a whole have such a wide range of looks and are generally losing some of the what made them the breeds they were intended to be. Olde English Bulldogs losing the mass and bone that the founding fathers had intended. English Bulldogs losing the square head and front and the pear shape body with the rolling gait they are known for. American Bullys losing the sharp edges and blocky heads and huge bones and bodybuilder muscle the breed was founded on. Without all these traits that define each breed, without these details that separate one from another, whatever you consider to be perfect “structure” doesn’t even come into play.
Finally, the term Kennel Blindness is misused almost as much as any other word this dog community uses. Kennel blindness is not just the inability to see what your stock is lacking, although that does seem to be quite a epidemic as of late. Kennel blindness can be anything that hold you back from seeing the truth about your breeding program and breeding stock. Kennel blindness can be you not wanting to acknowledge a great dog because of the owner or who produced it or because you didn’t produce it. It can be you not wanting to admit when your stock does not produce a vital attribute called for by the standard. Blindness can also be following the rainbow with little regard for the actually breeding program, chasing the color green or whatever designer color the market calls for at the time can be the most blinding thing of all. The key to not falling victim to kennel blindness is to educate yourself as much as you can and find a mentor that cares enough about you and your program to tell you the truth, no matter how sour your milk gets.
If we could ever just get people to start using this terminology the right way we might be able to start moving in the right direction. Trying to understand that 3 dogs in crates in your moms house does not mean you are a breeder or operate a kennel, and that “structure” does not make or break a dog and being blind only hurts yourself, is imperative to being successful in whatever endeavor you delve into in this debauchery we call the world of Bull Breed Dogs. When we can finally put these terms into the correct context and start educating people as to what they mean i think will start to understand its ok to be a loving pet owner or one dog owner show enthusiast and still care for and have passion for your breed. This world of sensationalized media and trendy fashion or music has led all of humanity to focus less o the truth and allow themselves to be blinded by the hype surrounding these low quality products. I challenge every one of my readers to speak out the truth and search for a waulity product no matter if its popular to do so or not, no matter if the rest of the world cant see through the smoke screens and mirror tricks these breeders, rappers, politicians or larger corporations use to distract your attention from the product itself.
“Breed to build better dogs”. -Ty Lumley