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Tim Hutchings - UK

by Tim Hutchings, WINUWUK Boxers, UK

Editor’s note: TIM HUTCHINGS has been a full partner in Winuwuk Boxers for nearly 15 years, and has owned, bred and handled many notable Champions both in the UK and in seven countries worldwide. Winuwuk Boxers were the Top Breeders in the UK in 1996, 1997, 1998 and they are currently leading for 1999.

Tim judges the breed at Championship Show level and has judged at 10 Championship shows in five different countries over the past five years. He has also been Secretary of the Cotswold Boxer Club for the last 10 years and serves as a delegate to the UK Boxer Breed Council. Tim is joint owner and editor of the Boxer Quarterly magazine, and the author of The Complete Boxer, published by Howells/Ringpress in 1998.

It was certainly a pleasure to be invited to write an article for The Boxer Underground, where my remit is to give everyone some idea of what the Boxer scene is all about in the United Kingdom. Needless to say, this is quite a tall order, but I will be concentrating on several key areas. As the readership of this publication is predominantly North American, I will also be trying to point out the main differences between us when in comes to Boxer breeding and Boxer showing.

Section One

In the annual Kennel Club rankings, the Boxer is usually about the 10th most popular breed in the UK, with just under 10,000 new registrations annually. It is also a very popular show breed and its entries at the all-breed Championship shows are usually anywhere from 170 to 250. The Breed Club Championship Shows attract between 250 and 500.

There are only 38 Championship shows for Boxers each year in the UK, and there are never two on the same day. When you think that there are about 1,500 shows a year in the United States where points are available, you begin to get some idea of the complete difference in scale.

The way our show scene is set up, coupled with our smaller geographical area, means that all shows are accessible to all exhibitors and (depending on the judges!) your top kennels will be represented at every show. You cannot escape from anyone on different circuits; you will all be at the same shows all year, every year.

At a Championship Show, there will be two "Challenge Certificates" available to the breed and these are awarded to the best dog and the best bitch on the day. To make up a UK Champion, you need to win three of these CCs (or ‘tickets,’ in show-speak) and one of them must be awarded after the dog is a year old, though in reality, it is VERY uncommon for a puppy to win a CC anyway. However, the critical point to appreciate here is that the competition in the UK is completely open. This means that all class winners get to challenge for the CC, including the Champions from the Open class.

When signing the CC, the judge has to confirm that he is "clearly of the opinion that Boxer X is of such outstanding merit as to be worthy of the title Champion." But, in fact, the judge is really saying a lot more than this. He is actually saying "I am clearly of the opinion that BOXER X is of such outstanding merit as to be worthy of the title Champion AND I CONSIDER THAT BOXER X IS BETTER THAN ANY OTHER BOXER OF THE SAME SEX PRESENT TODAY." And remember, there will usually be a 100 other Boxers of the same sex present on the day.

Let me give an example of the impact this show system would have if it were translated onto the US Boxer scene and let me take you back to the time when Ch. Hi-Tech's Arbitrage and Ch. Kiebla's Tradition of TuRo were being exhibited in their prime. Under the UK system, these two outstanding Boxers would have been at EVERY SINGLE Championship show (unless a judge had previously awarded them a CC) and to gain any award towards its Champion title, an up and coming Boxer would have to beat them for the CC in open competition.

A few years ago in the UK, Ch. Tonantron Glory Lass, the current breed record holder, won 22 CCs in one year. This left just 16 CCs for any other bitches to win. Indeed, over a five year period, Glory Lass and our own Ch. Roamaro Scotch Mist of Winuwuk (the runner up to the breed record holder) won 90 CCs between them. This obviously made it very difficult for other exhibitors to make up bitch Champions. That is the nature of our system and I suppose that, on average, only about 10 Champions are made up each year. So out of 10,000 registrations, 10 will become titleholders. I always think that this statistic sums things up nicely - all of us involved in exhibiting are looking for that one in a 1,000 Boxer!!

I do honestly believe that this means that UK Champions are usually excellent examples of the breed. In saying this, I am not stupid enough to believe that bad ones never get through, but it is very difficult for a sub-standard exhibit to get a title.

Other differences between our two show scenes are also worth a mention: The UK is dominated by owner/breeder/handlers. There are no professional handlers of the type you routinely see in the US. Consequently, handling and presentation overall are at a lower level, but our best handlers are certainly on a par with their American cousins. Serious breeders will usually run about 8 to 15 Boxers in their kennel and there are probably 20/25 kennels that currently fall into this category. In addition, like everywhere, you get the dedicated individuals who show just one or two dogs. These individuals often make up the backbone of any show entry.

As far as judges are concerned, these are predominantly breeder-judges (roughly 80% per year) as opposed to all-rounders (the remaining 20%). In addition, we often have overseas judges and the Breed Clubs will often pull in foreigners. This is largely due to the ‘unknown quantity’ factor, which usually guarantees the foreigner a very large entry. It is also interesting to note that the Challenge Certificate rather than the Best of Breed award is the one that really means something to an exhibitor. It is not quite true to say that no one really cares whether they go Best of Breed once they have got the CC in their hands, but it is almost the case! The CCs are what really count.

The Reserve CC is also well prized. This is awarded to the second best dog or bitch who would be promoted to the CC if that dog happened to be disqualified. In a recent edition of Dog News, I noticed that the "Question of the Week" concerned Awards of Merit at National Specialties and whether they were worth having. One of the respondents said "No - it's like a reserve win .... why bother at all!!" This is certainly not the attitude in the UK where a Reserve CC, especially with a promising youngster, is a great achievement. Though I have to be honest and say that once you have won three or four reserves, you begin to get very hungry for your first CC, since reserves do not help towards your Champion title.

Finally, I would also say that all-breed competition is not half as important in the UK as it is in the States. Over here the dedicated exhibitors are after primarily after CCs and Champions. Any Group success is a bonus!

Entry fees for our Championship Shows are not dissimilar to yours at around 16 per dog (about $25) but unlike yours, most of our Championship shows are benched.

Section Two

What a difficult task it is to try and sum up where our Breed is strong and not so strong at present ... but I will have a go!

In the UK we do have a slightly different style of Boxer to the one commonly seen in North America, and our range of style is probably greater - reflecting a wider, more recent, range of imports.

Overall outline and balance is generally pretty good. I also think that the UK Boxer scores particularly strongly on quality of rear musculation and development - not so much as to make the Boxer look like Mr Universe - but strong, sturdy and smooth. Rear angulation is also reasonable. Forehands are more of a concern (aren't they everywhere?), but you will still find a good number of Boxers who have nicely laid back and sloped shoulders and decent length of upper arm, giving the required forechest.

If I can digress here for a moment, I think that an understanding of forehand angulation was given SO WELL in Annie Clark's recent Westminster critique (and although she was describing a Standard Poodle, the Boxer comparison is obvious). She praised her winner's "well-made shoulder that placed his front back under him, where it belongs". What a great expression! A Boxer's front legs should be back under him - that's where they belong and you certainly do see this proportionately more often in the UK than you do in the US. However, on the negative side, I have also noticed that Boxers which excel in forehand angulation in profile often cause concern coming and going since they do tend to be looser at elbow. We all know how difficult it is to get the Boxer forehand correct and, unfortunately, it is not one of those virtues that seems to breed true - you cannot take your eye off it for a minute!

UK heads can tend to be a bit fleshy and certainly do not have the refinement of skull that you invariably see in America, but I do think that we score heavily on expression and eye shape. This is undoubtedly helped by a fairly ‘black and white’ attitude on unpigmented third eyelids - we don't like them and we breed away from them. Thankfully, this is not difficult and they are usually not a problem. Having them removed, shaved back or tattooed is certainly not an option over here!

UK mouths are a problem. Too many people still subscribe to the "I don't know what the problem is, the dog can still eat!" type of argument. In my opinion, we need educating that the mouth is a FUNDAMENTAL breed characteristic and mouth faults PREVENT THE DOG FROM DOING THE JOB THAT IT WAS ORIGINALLY BRED FOR.

Temperaments overall are good, but I always have half a feeling that we could use some of your extra showmanship.

Finally, the old chestnut of bone and feet must be mentioned. The fact that it is always said does not make it any less true, the bone and feet on the UK Boxers are universally excellent. As one old-timer always says: "I always look for lovely round bone, straight down to the floor," and I know exactly what she means.

Section Three

In conclusion, I am just going to whip through a medley of other facts that you may find interesting. These are straight off the top of my head:

UK Boxer life expectancy: ten is young, 12 is old.

Whelping: invariably uncomplicated. Caesareans are uncommon and elective Caesareans are unheard of.

Cropping: not allowed in the UK and no cropped exhibit can be shown here.

Artificial Insemination: puppies born by AI cannot be registered and cannot be shown (except in the most exceptional of circumstances in breeds with minute gene pools).

Docking: currently legal ONLY if carried out by a qualified vet. The problem is that the ‘official line’ of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is that it does not support docking. This makes getting Boxers docked ‘difficult’ but we all manage somehow (!) and you never see Boxers exhibited with natural tails. On a depressing note, I think we can all see a time when the laws of the European community will outlaw docking completely. It is slowly spreading throughout Europe.

Hearts: a breed control scheme is in place and all breeding stock should be subjected by their owners to a test for Aortic Stenosis - either by stethoscopic examination or by Doppler echocardiography. Only dogs who score 0 or 1 on a scale up to 6 are considered suitable breeding prospects. Every so often, you hear whisperings about Cardiomyopathy, but this does not seem to be a UK problem. Our control scheme is centered on Stenosis and as a result of the scheme, the incidence appears to be waning.

UK Boxer Exhibitors: a sociable lot who generally get on very well. A comparatively ‘non-political’ breed, where a newcomer with a good dog stands every chance of winning at the highest level.

UK Breed Clubs: fifteen in number and all but one holds a Championship show annually. All Clubs are represented on the UK Boxer Breed Council.

Publications: Boxer Quarterly is the only UK breed magazine circulating to over 25 countries throughout the world, with a subscription list roughly the same length as Boxer Review's. The South Western Boxer Club produce an excellent annual ‘blue book’ and many other clubs produce news letters of interest.

Imports/Exports: importations have certainly slowed down in recent years, partly because of the mandatory six months’ quarantine, which costs up to 2,000 ($3,000 equivalent). However, in the last 10 years dogs have come in from Holland, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada and America. Indeed one of the top winning males at present is an Australian import (albeit born to two English-exported parents). Exporting remains quite buoyant with Scandinavia and Australia / New Zealand - probably top of the list. However, UK Boxers have also won well in Canada, America and Germany.

I will sign off now with the hope that you have found some of this interesting. Most of all, I hope that I have been able to raise your interest and awareness in the UK Boxer. If any of you ever find yourself over this way, please do look us up beforehand and make sure that your visit coincides with a few of the major Championship Shows. Many of us travel to the American Boxer Club National Specialty every year and we are always pleased to enjoy your hospitality. It would be our pleasure to return the compliment.


Bobtail Update
Aortic Stenosis
Handout on Boxer Heart Murmur
The UK Boxer
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Musings & Idle Thoughts
How to Purchase a Show Prospect
Karla & Harpo

Editor: Virginia Zurflieh
Webmaster: Pat Mullen

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