ADBA Conformation Standard
Ideally, he should be Square when viewed from the side. That is,about as long from the point of the shoulder to the point of his hip as he is tall from the top of the shoulder, to the ground. Such a dog will stand high and have maximum leverage for his weight. This means that standing normally with the hock slightly back of the hip, the dog's base, (where his feet are) will be slightly longer than his height. Using the hip and shoulder as guides will keep the viewer from being fooled by the way the dog is standing.
Height to weight ratio is critical. Since dogs were fought at nearly identical weights, the bigger the dog you have at the weight, the better your chances. Hence, stocky dogs with long bodies, heavy shoulders and thick legs usually lose to taller, rangier opponents. Nature usually blesses a tall rangy dog with a fairly long neck which is a tremendous advantage in that, it enables him to reach a stifle when his opponent may have his front leg, take an ear to hold off a shorter necked opponent, or to reach the chest himself when the other dog is trying to hold him off. The neck should be heavily muscled right up to the base of the skull.
HEAD AND APPEARANCE
He should have a deep rib cage, well sprung at the top but tapering to the bottom. Deep and elliptical, almost narrow is preferred to the round or barrel chest. The rib cage houses the lungs which are not storage tanks, but pumps. The ribs are like a bellows. Their efficiency is related to the difference in volume between contraction and expansion. A barrel chested dog, in addition to carrying more weight for his height, has an air pump with a short stroke. He must take more breaths to get the same volume of air. Depth of rib cage gives more room for large lungs. Shoulders should be a little wider than the rib cage at the eight rib. Too narrow a shoulder does not support adequate musculature but too wide a shoulder makes a dog slow and adds unnecessary weight. The scapula (shoulder blade) should be at a 45 degree or less slope to the ground and broad and flat. The humerus should be at an equal angle in the opposite direction and long enough that the elbow comes below the bottom of the rib cage. The elbows should lie flat, the humerus running almost parallel to the spine; not out at the elbows which gives a wide English Bulldog stance. This type of shoulder is more easily dislocated or broken. The forearm should be only slightly longer than the humerus and heavy and solid-nearly twice the thickness of the metatarsal bones at the hock. The front legs and shoulders must be capable of sustaining tremendous punishment and heaviness can be an asset here. The relationship between front and back legs should be, at first appearance, of a heavy front and a delicate back. This is because in an athletic dog, the metatarsal bones, hock and lower part of the tibia will be light, fine and springy. The front legs will be heavy and solid looking. The experienced bulldog man however, will note the wide hip, loin and powerful thigh, which makes the back end the most muscular.
BACK END OF DOG
The drive train of any four legged animal. A Bulldog does 80% of his work off his hips and back legs. A long sloping hip is most important. By its very length, it gives leverage to the femur or thigh bone. A long hip will give the dog a slightly roached backed appearance. Hence the "low set" tail so often spoke of. The hip should be broad. A broad hip will carry with it a broad loin and permits a large surface for the attachments of the gluteal and the biceps femoris muscles, the biggest drivers in the power train. The femur or thigh bone should be shorter than the tibia, or lower leg bone. This means that the stifle joint will be in the upper one third of the hind leg. It is not uncommon to see dogs with a low stifle. They are usually impressively muscled because of the bigger biceps femoris, but are surprisingly weak and slow on the back legs because of leverage lost by the long thigh. A short femur and long tibia usually means a well bent stifle, which in turn leads to a well bent hock. This last is a really critical aspect of wrestling ability. When a dog finds himself being driven backward, he must rely on the natural springiness of the well bent hock and stifle to control his movement. Dogs with a straight or the frequently seen "double jointed" hock of many of the Dibo bred dogs, will wrestle well as long as muscle power can sustain them, but if pushed, will tire in the back end more quickly and soon lose their wrestling ability.
TAIL AND COAT
Skin should be thick and loose, but not in folds. It should appear to fit the dog tightly except around the neck and chest. Here the skin should be loose enough to show vertical folds even in a well conditioned dog.
The set of the tail is most important. It should be low. The length should come just above the point of the hock, thick at the base and tapering to a point at the end and should hang down like a pump handle when relaxed.
The feet should be small and set high on the pasterns. The gait of the dog should be light and springy. Most of the above relates to the skeletal features of the dog. When we look at muscles, from the breeders standpoint, it is much more important to look at the genetic features of musculature than those features due to conditioning. A genetically powerful dog can be a winner in the hands of even an inept owner, but a genetically weak dog needs a good matchmaker to win. Conditioning won't do much for him. Think of bones as levers with the joints as the fulcrum and the muscles being applied to the power source. The power being applied to the lever is more effective the farther away from the fulcrum it is applied. Muscles should be long, with attachments deep down on the bone, well past the joint. Short muscled dogs are impressive looking but not athletic. A muscle's power value lies in it's ability to contract. The greater the difference between its relaxed state and it's contracted state, the greater the power.
The coat of the dog can be any color or any combination of colors. It should be short and bristled. The gloss of the coat usually reflects the health of the dog and is important to an athletic American Pit Bull Terrier.
Remember conformation is important, but gameness is what made your breed. Try perfecting the two together.
A good way to get your dogs ready for a conformation show. Both mills were homemade. One is electric and the other is manual. Their are plenty of exercises to do with your dog to get them in good shape.
Chewy & Chance love to do mill work.