304 – Bulldogs, professionals and imprinting type with Jay Serion

Bulldogs, professionals and imprinting type with Jay Serion

Jay Serion and Brix… Photo by Ryan Estrada Photography

Specialist Jay Serion talks about bulldogs, having pride as a handler, starting in the trenches and establishing a vision of type from understanding the standard.

“At my first dog show, my dog was third out of three,” Serion said. “I came out of the ring thinking, ‘we need to remedy this.’ Cuz I was competitive. I learned a lot.”

Serion’s recipe for success:

  • Do the work outside the ring.
  • Fix it in the whelping box not the tack box
  • Start in the trenches. Success is not an overnight thing

“My mentors were honest,” Serion said. “They told me to read the standard. Learn the standard. Study pedigrees. Ask people. Ten people will give you 10 answers. There will be a common denominator, that’s your truth.”

Professional handlers all have a bar set of the quality they want to present, Serion noted.

“Especially if you are a specialist, it is part of your responsibility to campaign a good one,” he added. “I don’t want to waste money and time. And it takes a lot of both. I’d rather wait for a great one than push one that people that know *know* isn’t.”

A Bulldog Club of America approved mentor, Serion shares his knowledge about the breed’s outline and appearance.

“They’re supposed to be athletic. In my breed, the standard was written to save the breed from an influx of “Spanish dogs” that were huge,” Serion said. “The perfect bulldog must be of medium size. This was not arbitrary.”

Layback isn’t just for shoulders

The Bulldog standard is unique in that the term “layback” refers to the head structure.  Serion describes this very specific construction as being from the tip of the lower jaw, tip of the nose, through the forehead to the occiput, should be a 45 degree angle in a straight line.

Illustration of the Bulldog then and now courtesy of the Bulldog Club of America.

“The dogs were used in bull baiting. The jaw needed to be strong enough to grab on to a bull and hang on, while the nose was pushed back so they could hold on and still breathe,” Serion siad.


“Our dogs are just as healthy as other breeds,” Serion said. “We’ve created an Ambassador of Health program in the national club encouraging health clearances.”

The program was created to provide proof of healthy dogs, testing everything from tracheas, to cardio, patella, spine, hips, elbows and more, Serion noted.


Bulldogs originally were an aggressive animal to do the job, Serion observed. The original breeders wanted to keep the type features but eliminate aggression. “I’d never breed an aggressive animal no matter how pretty it is.”

For more on the genetics of temperament: https://puredogtalk.com/dr-karen-overall-temperament-vs-geneticspure-dog-talk/