A LOOK AT THE “VALLEY BULLDOG” (September 11/12)

About eight or so years back a friend’s very determined Beagle, which was in estrus, escaped confinement, somehow scaled a fence and visited his German Wirehaired Pointer. A brief romantic interlude followed and nature being that way, some puppies eventually saw light of day.

The pups were Beagle-sized, but in coat and color all looked like their sire. After the friend had the tails of the puppies docked – “just to see what they’d look like,” he said – he had himself what appeared to be miniature Wirehairs.

More as a joke than anything, I dubbed the pups German Wirehaired Beagles. A new dog breed arrived I announced, tongue in cheek, in one of my outdoor columns. A few months later someone asked me where they could buy one of the Wirehaired Beagles, as if it was a real breed.

Now, scroll back to about 20 years ago. An acquaintance who lives down the Valley in Kingston informed me proudly about arrival of a new dog at his house. “What breed?” I asked. “A Valley Bulldog,” he replied. “Never heard of it,” I said. “I don’t think there is such a thing.”

The acquaintance was adamant that there was. “There certainly is,” he said, a bit miffed I doubted his word. “They originated here in the Valley.”

I thought about the friend’s “Valley Bulldog” when people took me serious about the German Wirehaired Beagle being a legitimate breed. Were some people convinced there’s actually a breed called the Valley Bulldog? Or like me with the Beagle/Wirehair pups, was someone breeding Bulldogs, English or whatever, and tongue in cheek, adding the “Valley” appellation to their dogs?

I figured this was the case and I didn’t bother checking it out. But recently I heard about Valley Bulldogs again. A neighbour showed me his dog last summer, a magnificent animal I assumed was an English Bulldog. This spring a mutual friend told me my neighbour was buying another dog like the one he had – “another Valley Bulldog,” he said.

“Valley Bulldog, Valley bullpuckey,” I thought to myself. “It’s a bulldog bred here and someone added “Valley” to the name to distinguish where it comes from.”

Still believing there was no such dog breed but now beginning to wonder, I googled Valley Bulldog and surprise, surprise! Wikipedia has quite a write-up on the Valley Bulldog, giving their origin as here in the Annapolis Valley. Not only that, the breed is recognised by the International Olde English Bulldog Association (IOEBA). On their website, which notes that the IOEBA is the registry for alternate bulldogs and rare breeds, there’s a lengthy write-up on the Valley Bulldog.

Apparently the breed originated here in the Valley, says the IOEBA, and it roots can be traced back to the 1950s and possibly earlier. According to the IOEBA the breed derives from a cross between the English Bulldog and the Boxer. This organisation is based in Missouri. A similar U.S. organisation, the United Canine Association, also recognises the Valley Bulldog as an established breed and like the IOEBA, publishes rigid breed standards on its website.

So, bottom line, does recognition by a couple of canine groups in the U.S. mean the Valley Bulldog is a legitimate breed? Not knowing, I turned to the Canadian Kennel Club, the association that has the final word on dog breeds, and asked a simple question: Does the CKC recognise a dog breed known as the Valley Bulldog?

The answer: “No, the CKC does not recognise a breed of dog known as the Valley Bulldog.”

This doesn’t mean the Valley Bulldog isn’t legitimate, of course. The CKC occasionally recognises and accepts new breeds and this may happen in the future with the Valley Bulldog. Apparently the Valley Bulldog is breeding true after generations of crossings. Looking at the countless photographs published on various websites, there’s a wide variation in Valley Bulldog color phases, which might suggest otherwise; but that’s typical of many dog breeds.

Anyway, in future I have to be careful about even hinting that the Valley Bulldog is, well, a mongrel breed. Really careful. The Valley Bulldog is described as gentle in temperament, but I wouldn’t want to rouse up some of their proud owners.

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