A few years ago, we flew to Scotland to (yes) buy a pug! Our beautiful Annie (Zobear's American Idol) flew home with us in the plane and she has been the happiest and most joy-filled pug to ever set foot in our lives. And, she's beautiful. She actually has a PERFECT diamond on the forehead. When I see handlers at dog shows literally "paint on" a blob of black dye onto pug's foreheads (who literally have blonde ears and no markings whatsoever on their faces) I have to be proud of our efforts to import this amazing pigment, AND temperament. Annie also moves out so amazing ... just like her dad, Tino (INT CH Tangetoppen's Take a Hint) in this video.
Tino's sire (father), Los Chatos del Turia I Spy Tangetoppen (James) was bred by the fabulous pug breeder Blanca Clothier. She lived in Spain at that time but has since moved to America and renamed her kennel to "Casa Blanca Pugs". I can't say enough about this breeder .... she supports health testing, she has incredibly high standards, and everything she does is to better the breed and not for self-serving purposes. We have never bought a pug specifically from Blanca, but she has ALWAYS been there for us when we have questions or need guidance. That's what this is all about if we truly want to preserve this amazing, ancient breed (of over 2,000 years!) from the time of Confucius to the 21st Century. The dam (mother) of Tino is another breeder we truly respect ... 2nd generation ... from Norway, Elisabeth Juverud and Tangetoppen pugs.
Annie's breeder is also one of a kind ... the type of breeder who makes sure her pugs and dogs are part of the family and cherished and not just a commodity. She was active on the committee to improve health and health screening for pugs, spearheading many campaigns. As they say, "the proof is in the pudding" as Annie is one of the best breathing pugs we have ever owned, for 30 years.
Julia is also an amazing handler and shows all of her pugs. She never sends them off with a handler. The photo above is her "Mr Darcy" who won Best of Breed in 2015 at the International Crufts. ("Marbelton What a Guy at Zobear JW SHCM". ). This photo says it all. When we were visiting, her pugs were quite at home in her house. They didn't have dog beds, though, or crates .... because they slept with her! She even designed her garden and yards to be pug friendly.
What's popular in the ring in America is different than what's in Europe. In America (though it's catching on all over the world now) the most popular pug is a barbie-doll type with a light, clear coat. However, all too often the gorgeous mask, dark ears, and soulful dark eyes is lost at the expense of always striving to produce a light coat. Unfortunately, I think some judges are not aware that handlers are PAINTING ON (literally just outside the ring sometimes ... blows my mind) black "blobs" of markings on to the foreheads of pugs with black dye. Too many of the show pugs in the ring now literally have BLONDE EARS and NO black wrinkles and expression. But a pug with true pigment will not always have a "bleached" Legally Blonde looking coat. There will be darker guard hairs (and, in fact, the breed standard states that there should be a "trace" down the back), and the coat will rarely look "bleached" (unless, yes, the handlers actually bleached the pug ... which is an entirely different story. Sigh.)
Julia explained to us that in Europe, a competitor would be disqualified from a dog show if they were caught "painting on" ears (and face). They are not even supposed to groom (trim) the coat. I've heard this from several European breeders and I truly respect these European standards. What you see is what you get. This helps breeders! If you are using a stud dog whose ears have been painted or coat bleached (or trimmed so that the coat is lighter, or bleached), you'll end up thousands of dollars poorer, plus a litter with vanilla ears. You'll wonder, what on earth happened? So, the best way to preserve the breed with integrity is by abiding by the standards held in Europe.
Here is Annie at the airport getting ready for her flight to the U.S. She was the perfect traveler!
Here she is enjoying dinner outside at Applebee's . . .She's probably thinking, "it's not Haggis, but it will do!"
Annie has a TRUE DIAMOND pattern! (Totally natural. I wouldn't even begin to have the skills to "paint" that! I doubt many humans would. Only God can paint something that beautiful and perfect.) As if this wasn't enough, Annie can move out, just like her dad. She moves like a bigger dog, and doesn't waddle like a duck ;)
And here she is enjoying a fluffy bed when she was staying with her handler, Kamiron. She stayed in their home with them and enjoyed being the only pug in the household for a few brief months!
Here she is with her handler after winning Winners Bitch . . .
And here she is waiting to see if the American Santa Claus remembered she had moved from Scotland!
Hopefully judges, breeders, buyers will start seeking out a more classic pug in the future, and not be blinded by the shine of the Reese Witherspoons in the ring. Hopefully they'll all agree that losing the gorgeous black mask, dark eyes, wrinkles, black ears, and black toenails etc. is NOT worth a Legally Blonde status. Until then, we are thankful to have this amazing girl and thankful to her breeder for allowing us to take "Zobear's American Idol" from Scotland to America!
Amy Aberg McLelland, co-owner Pickwick Pugs