American Bulldogs in the dog show

There is plenty of ABRA shows in Ontario – Canadian Rumbull in the Spring, Bullicious Summer Breeze in the Summer ns Great Canadian BullBQQ in the fall. Please follow the website for current schedules.



The Rare Breed Club of South Western Ontario was formed to provide American bulldog enthusiasts with a venue in which they can exhibit and compete in the conformation and obedience rings. As the name suggests, shows are designed for the  breeds that are not eligible to compete in Canadian Kennel Club shows. In 2002, we began offering an ‘Altered Class’. Any registered CKC or Rare Breed may compete in this class, provided it has been spayed or neutered. Entry in our shows is open to all Rare Breed enthusiasts.



Preparing Your American Bulldog

A show dog needs to be trained. Though you may train your American bulldog yourself at home, conformation and handling classes are beneficial for both you and your American bulldog. The classes also serve to socialize your dog. This gets him accustomed to being around other dogs in conditions similar to what he’ll find at shows. Very often, a show dog is the only dog in a household. Therefore at the show, he may be anxious or in awe of a thousand other dogs. Socialization will make showing a better experience for you and your American bulldog.



Every show dog – no matter how big or small – needs conditioning. For some dogs, this means a strict exercise regimen; for others, it means regular walks. Some handlers have a treadmill for their dog, ensuring proper regular exercise no matter what the weather might be like outdoors.

Nutrition. A good diet and the right foods keep your American bulldog fit and trim, and keep his coat shining.

Grooming. All show dogs need to be clean – with clean teeth and clean, trimmed toenails.

How to Enter

Once prepared, it’s best to enter your dog in the show by contacting ABRA or Rare Breed Club of South Western Ontario or UKC ahead of time to enter by filling out forms and paying fees.

What the Judge Looks For

Written Standard. Dog shows began as a way of comparing top dogs and identifying superior breeding stock. Each breed has a written standard describing the ideal specimen of that breed; breeds were developed by man to perform specific duties. As such, a dog’s physical characteristics relate form to function.

Breed History. Every judge must know the history of a breed and what he was bred for to best understand how form and function must come together in the show ring. They must also know the standard for each particular breed being judged and apply that to each individual animal. At conformation shows, a dog doesn’t get the chance to perform his duties, yet the judge must envision the dog doing so.


The Judge’s Routine

The judge’s routine is fairly straightforward and similar for most judges.The judge will stand back and look at a dog from a distance to get general impressions about balance, type and movement. Then the judge begins individual examinations by putting her hands on the dog. She usually begins by looking at the eyes, ears and teeth and then proceeds to ‘go over’ the entire dog, nose to tail. By handling a dog in this manner, she checks for bone structure, musculature and conditioning.

The judge should be comparing what she sees with what she feels. When this exam is complete, she’ll ask the handler to move the dog in a pattern that allows her to see him from every direction. At the conclusion, the judge will note in her mind how the dog’s structure and movement all came together and if the dog can truly perform the functions for which he was bred.

Three Levels of Judging

In competition, dogs are judged at three levels: within their breed, by group and, finally, by best in show. At the breed level, dogs of the same breed are examined and, ultimately, one will be named Best of Breed (BoB). That dog advances to the next level – group competition.

The Handler’s Job

Through all of this, the handler’s role is to present his or her dog in the best light, to show off the dog’s strong points and disguise his weaknesses.

Tips for Showing Your American Bulldog

Know your breed well. Know the proper way to show your breed. Train your American bulldog and get him in his best condition. Work hard to be a good groomer.


The American Bulldog is an average shedder with a short, harsh coat. This breed is easy to groom, and a firm bristle brush should be used. A bath should be given only when necessary. If you are exhibiting your American Bulldog he needs a bath before he goes to the show. A show dog in the ring should be squeaky clean.

Where do you bathe an American Bulldog? Any place you want to and can! Some Bulldoggers have a big deep sink, some use the bath tub, some use the kitchen sink, in the summer some wash the American bulldog on the lawn. You need a place where you can control the dog, where you can easily control the water supply and where you can rinse the bulldog thoroughly. It’s a good idea, especially with an American bulldog puppy, to take the dog outside to ‘do his thing’ just before you bathe him.

Gather up all the things you will need before you start. You will need: shampoo, any rinses you plan to use, cotton balls, Q-tips, mineral oil, Vaseline, wash cloth and towels. You will want a mild, no tears shampoo. Most Bulldoggers use a dog shampoo.Some use a baby shampoo. Most use a special whitening shampoo for white American bulldogs Many use a special shampoo for red American bulldogs You may on occasion need to use a flea shampoo but since these are quite harsh, don’t use one unless you really need to. Put a couple of drops of mineral oil or a bit of eye ointment in the eyes and place a cotton ball securely in each ear before you wet the dog. Wet the dog thoroughly from just behind the ears to the tips of the toes on his hind feel. Be sure his underside is wet, too, not just the top and sides. Apply the shampoo starting at his neck and working back. Work the shampoo in to be sure you get all the way through his hair to the skin. Pay special attention to his paws (wash between the toes), his tail (clean all around the base), and the genital area. On a bitch, be especially careful to clean the vulva. Wet the wash cloth and use it to dampen the dog’s face and ears. Put some shampoo on the washcloth and wash the American bulldog’s face. Wash the wrinkles over the nose, on the forehead, around the nose and under the eyes. Wash his nose. Wash his ears, inside and out. Now rinse. Rinse until you are sure every bit of the bulldog, especially in the wrinkles and tight places, is thoroughly rinsed and there is no shampoo any place

Dry the dog with towels. Take the cotton balls out of his ears and remove any wax carefully using a dry Q-Tip or one with a dab of Panalog. Rub a dab of Vaseline onto his nose to help keep it soft. You can then let him air dry or use a hair dryer to finish the drying. It’s best to keep the dog inside until it is completely dry – about two hours.

Tear stains

A sizable number of American Bulldogs have ‘tear stains’ of varying degrees of color. If the stain is bad, in addition to cleaning you may want to try to remove the stain. There are many treatments – you may have to try several before you find one that works for you. Some of the commercial products used are Showes ‘Pretty Eyes’ Stain remover, Bio-Groom cream (to prevent re-staining) and Diamond Eye. Alternatively, you can make a paste of 1 Tbs. Hydrogen Peroxide and enough corn starch to make a thin paste (some Bulldoggers add 1 Tbs. Milk of Magnesia to the hydrogen peroxide and mix the cornstarch into that mixture). Apply to the stain, let dry and then brush off the excess. Apply on a daily basis until the stain is gone, then weekly to keep stain from returning. Another method is to rub the stain with a cotton ball soaked in Boric Acid daily until the stain is gone, then weekly. Or use NM Boric Acid ointment (10%) which can be purchased at Payless or most drug stores. Another remedy is rubbing a dab of Desitin into the stain to help dry it. Another way to eliminate tear stains and keep them off is adding a table spoon of bee pollen to your dog’s food every day.