Interview with Young Breeder • Vincenzo Pontone
Published in Best in Show Annual 2020
Q: Thank you for doing this interview with Best in Show Magazine. Please tell our readers how you got involved in dogs?
A: First of all, I would like to thank you for choosing me for this very prestigious interview.It is a great honor. My story with dogs started when I was very young, when my only games were stuffed animals and farm animals. My parents were not “dog people” , so for them this passion for animals was very strange. They only gave into my requests for a puppy when I was 11, a male fawn Boxer puppy called “Argo” arrived. He had no pedigree, but for me he was the most beautiful dog in the world. At the age of 16 I went to Naples for a walk with friends, by pure chance I entered a pet shop that also sold puppies. I saw in a box a very strange puppy with a Boxer face and funny ears. I asked the owner what breed it was and found that it was a French Bulldog. Needless to say that this small funny beauty came home with me, she was called “Satie” . She was bought with the money saved from a summer of work and from then on I never stopped with this beautiful breed. Throughout the past 20 years I have also owned other breeds, but always in small numbers. These breeds included : Rhodesian Ridgeback, Bassethound (with whom I also bred 2 litters and produced 2 Italian Champions). I also co-bred Papillon and Pekingese. At the age of 17 I started going to dog shows,helped by my father and then when I was 18 I got my driving license and continued by myself. From 20 to 26 years old I showed dogs of different breeds with good results (I have never called myself a “professional handler” even if everyone does it today.). At 27 years old, I was pushed and helped by my “dog master” Alberto Cuccillato. I started on my judging career. First as a secretary of rings for about 5 years and then with the process it led me to become an ENCI/FCI judge in January 2018. I love all dogs indifferently, but I have a soft spot for all the brachycephalic breeds that I look at and judge with particular joy.
Q: Why have you chosen your particular breed?
A: I chose to concentrate on the breeding of French Bulldogs after the first litter I had with my female. This litter gave me a nice feeling. It showed me how nice it was to watch puppies grow and follow their development. At that time I of course had no idea how hard it was, how long it takes to get some nice results and breed nice and healthy dogs. Study pedigrees, watch dogs , drive for many kms , sleepless nights.All of these are a mix of feeling which I liked. That’s why I decided to start to breed.
Q: What are your priorities when breeding.
A: This is a nice and difficult question for me. I need to separate my self when I breed and when I judge, sometimes it’s not very easy. My priority as a breeder is to get typey dogs with good health. I like when looking at the face how you can recognize a very nice French Bulldog with a super head and expression.
Q: How many dogs do you keep in your kennel? Do you co-own dogs in some other households or families?
A: All of my dogs are family members and they all live in home and I do not have a big house. The number of dogs I keep is more or less than 10. For this reason I often keep some interesting females or males with family/friends which I keep under control and follow them for all their life.
Q: How do you evaluate your breed quality in your country and other countries in Europe and the rest of the world?
A: In Italy, at this moment we have good quality Frenchies in general. Different breeders are doing a good job of mixing together quality and healthy dogs. In the short time I have been judging, I have judged in 7 different countries and while there I also found good quality of dogs compared some years ago. In my opinion the best dogs at the moment are in China, Japan and Russia.
Q: Which achievements in the ring are you most proud?
A: I have been showing my dogs almost everywhere in the past 20 years and I had many successes, which always make me so proud. If I have to mention a few of them I have to speak about Crufts. There I won 3rd place in a huge open class in 2016 with my Perfect Lady. There was also the res. class win at the WDS in Liepzig 2017 with about 30 bitches with Ramona. Euro Puppy Winner 2019 with Smith at EDS in Wels and many club shows where I got BIS. I also won 2 BIS all breeds in IDS in Italy that is not very common for a Frenchy. I have to say that I mentioned the big shows but often the small wins under the well known and breed specialist judges for me are the best.
Q: Of which achievements in the breeding are you most proud?
A: Well for me the best achievements for a breeder is to sell dogs all over the world and not because of the business but because it means people appreciate what you are doing for the breed and they like your dogs. I have sold dogs in 3 afferent continents and almost in every country in Europe.
Q: Which 3 dogs showing in recent years, not from your kennel do you most admire?
A: This is a hard question. There are different dogs that I have liked in the past, but if I have to choose only 3 I will say: Friend De La Parure At Kingfriend, A’ Vigdors Amant De La Liberte, Vanity Fair’s Back All Inn. These 3 dogs are not only big winners at show but also produced a lot of quality pups, which for me is even more important.
Q: What do you think are the strong points and weak points in the breed today?
A: In my opinion the strong points in the breed nowadays is that we have compact bodies, which is very important and in general good typey dogs with correct expression. It is very hard to find many of them in the ring long in body or with a-typical head. Instead the common problems I found judging and watching dogs are: Big ears and incorrect ears/set, low legs and narrow underjaw.
Q: Do you think judges generally understand your breed well?
A: As the French Bulldog nowadays is very popular breed, we have so many at dog shows and judges are almost all prepared to judge them. In my opinion many of “us” have a problem to recognize a good top line or roach back as the standard calls it. It’ s not an easy job I know, but we have to work hard as a team to do the best for our beloved breed.
Q: Finally, please share with all of us what makes your breed so irresistible?
A: This for me is a very easy question. This breed has so many wonderful points, especially about character which makes a Frency a unique dog.They are a friend for the life, a joy for home and a family member 100%. He loves everybody and can be so funny in every single action that you can’t image. Sweet like a candy but strong like a molosso. To conclude I want to say that if in life you try a French Bulldog you will not be able to be without one anymore