THE ZYGOMATIC ARCH AND MUZZLE
CORRELATION OF THE ROTTWEILER HEAD
by Steve Wolfson
Pictures added into by WCR/Bob Flynn
Notes added in bold type by WCR/Bob Flynn and is not Steve Wolfson's opinion(s)
"This is what all Rottweiler breeders should strive to make."
Rottweiler Judge Joe Hedl mid ring talking about WCR's Athena vd Tal at the ARV Nationals 2007
ARV Nationals Critique by Judge Joe Hedl
10 month old female, very well built; good bone and substance; good confidence calm and friendly; beautiful pronounced breed type feminine head with medium size ears; good stop, deep set dark brown eyes; beautiful short full muzzle; straight front legs with very good tight feet; very good depth and width of chest; good muzzle; sufficient front and rear angulation; good top and bottom line with medium croup; good short coat with very good markings; good fluid movement with scissor bit. Rating VP1
While ring stewarding for a recent US
Sieger Show, the ADRK judge commented to me that
most of the dogs and bitches were faulty in the heads and
muzzles. Asking him for clarification on his comment he replied, “They don’t have enough zygomatic arch”.
Discussing this topic further, we both agreed that it was becoming problematic for us in America.
WCR's Note: Yes, it is problematic to the point that powerful head pieces in the Rottweiler AKC Ring are considered over done.
(Exceptional head piece on a great young male at 10 months WCR's Diego vd Tal)
To appreciate the significance of judge’s comments, one must revisit the
section of the standard concerning the head, blueprint of Rottweiler head morphology. It is specific in this area stating, “Zygomatic arch and stop well developed with strong
upper and lower jaws...Muzzle is broad at base”. (1)
The Rottweiler head is unique; there is no other like it. The standard acknowledges this by
describing in detail the many impressive features of the Rottweiler head. These three elements, the
shortened broad muzzle, strong stop and zygomatic arch are anatomically correlated. The broad muzzle with strong zygomatic arch, so typical of the breed and a major factor in its popularity, is now becoming infrequent. Today, we see most Rottweilers with the correlation of the zygomatic arch and
muzzle appearing incorrectly. With greater frequency, both dogs and bitches in the show ring are shallow in the zygomatic arch and because of that, lack correct width of muzzle at the base.
(The outstanding head piece of 10 month old WCR's Athena vd Tal)
There is a fine balance between these elements. Changing the balance specified in the standard for the zygomatic arch and muzzle alters the symmetry and therefore, the uniqueness of the
It is important to know where the zygomatic arch is located on the Rottweiler head. Fig.1
shows the arrow marking the zygomatic arch. Visually, it is connected to the lower orbit of the eye.
When the zygomatic arch is shallow (also known as “lack of fill under the eye”), the muzzle at
the base is narrow. A broad muzzle requires a strong zygomatic arch. Conversely, accompanying a
strong zygomatic arch is a broad muzzle at the base . They are correlated.
There are three different shapes (see above figures) of muzzles presently appearing in the
gene pool. Only Fig. 2 is correct for the Rottweiler. The correct muzzle should be wedge shaped, forming a wide based triangle, as in Fig.2. Lately, we are seeing both a conical shape (Fig.3) and a rectangular shape muzzle (Fig.4). These muzzles types, Fig.3-4 are incorrect.
(A superb example depicting the above figures and what a CORRECT head piece looks like at week 6)
(The powerful and very correct head piece of Timo vd Scherau and his brother Tim vd Scherau )
(An incredibly powerful and ultra correct 6 week old male head piece Timo vd Scherau x Naja Earl Antonius)
When observing Rottweiler muzzles, you will notice that exhibits who fall into categories Fig.34 posses a shallow zygomatic arch. Conversely, Rottweilers possessing correct zygomatic arch also
have the correct muzzle width at the base specified in the standard (Fig.2 ).
To properly maintain the zygomatic arch and muzzle correlation, it is necessary to retain the
correct skull to muzzle ratio of 3/2 or 60/40. The skull must be measured to asses the ratio specified in
the standard. It cannot be done visually.
With a strong zygomatic arch and correct width of muzzle at the base, comes good width of
the top skull. However, the reverse is not always true. Often a dog will have good width between the
ears but not possess strong zygomatic arch or width of the muzzle at the base. Below are illustrations
of strong zygomatic arch and correct width of the muzzle at the base.
It is also valuable to show heads with shallow zygomatic arch for comparison. (Fig.9-12). Note
the top skulls are correct in skull to muzzle ratio (except fig.12) and width from ear to ear, but are incorrect for stops and zygomatic arch.
(The very powerful head piece of a young WCR's Deigo vd Tal at 2 years of age)
(6 week old head piece of WCR's Puff Daddy, this is what Breeder's should attempt to make. Puffy's uncle Tim vd Scherau bears a very strong resemblance)
What is the significance for this correlation? Does this really matter one way or the other? The
significance is great and important when you consider how a shallow zygomatic arch and narrow muzzle impacts on the breed type of the Rottweiler. The Rottweiler is a masculine, working breed and its
head is its icon. This softening effect i.e., from the powerful, robust masculine appearance for the muzzle and upper jaw that the standard specifies, to the shallow, narrow based muzzle is feminizing and
affects the breed negatively. From the standard:
The ideal Rottweiler is a medium large, robust and powerful dog, black with clearly defined rust markings. His compact and substantial build denotes great strength, agility and endurance. Dogs are characteristically more massive throughout with larger frame and heavier
bone than bitches. Bitches are distinctly feminine, but without weakness of substance or structure. (2)
(The very powerful head piece of our Stablemates Cora vd Tal)
(6 week old males already meeting the standard of powerful and robust, a typical WCR pup. These pups hail from completely different parents, further proof we make the best regardless of the parents)
This is the general blueprint for the appearance of the Rottweiler and more importantly, how
the standard wants to accentuate it. Although the standard mentions that bitches should be distinctly
feminine, these words are included to safeguard against reversal of sex characteristics in dogs and
bitches, rather than providing an excuse for softness of appearance, since it reiterates, “without
weakness of substance or structure”.
Both Subtle and Profound
The departure from the full zygomatic arch and wide based muzzle is both subtle and profound. It is subtle, since alterations in breed type do not occur abruptly, but over long periods. Some
years will transpire before we begin to notice that something has changed. Unfortunately, this has already taken place and its effects are being demonstrated in the show ring. Now, when a newcomer to
the breed sees the exhibits in the show ring, he or she is inclined to identify the exhibits present as
correct. If the observable head type is shallow in the zygomatic arch and the muzzle is cone shaped,
then what is seen is thought to be typical. There is no basis for comparison. For example, a dog enters
the ring that is very close to the standard. However, in many ways, all the other dogs entered are lacking in breed type. The unknowledgeable judge and spectator may look upon the correct specimen as
incorrect simply because it does not conform to the rest of the bunch; it stands apart. The ribbon goes
to the specimen that best conforms to the group.
(We say what we make and we make what we say, 14 month old WCR's Atlas vd Tal. Naja Earl Antonius x Timo vd Scherau. This is a typical WCR male head piece, exceptional)
WCR's Note" This is all too true, a correctly bred Rottweiler with a correct temperament is seen in the ring as being very different in total type and temperament. What was once very correct is deemed "freakish, over done, too masculine, too built, not the Standard," yet is those in the ring that are well under the Standard and are now deemed the "New" Standard. Newbies to the breed stand little chance of truly seeing and understanding what the Rottweiler is supposed to appear and act like.
(Profile of our Naja Earl Antonius, one of the best head pieces on a bitch)
Since changes in type can be irreversible, it is profound because this subtle alteration can be
disastrous for the breed. Once fundamental changes in head type make their way into the gene pool,
finding the stud dog, or brood bitch that has the great head type specified in the standard becomes
rare and perhaps impossible . We wake up to discover what once was, is no more. The dogs that had
the right stuff are no longer in the gene pool, they are long gone and their genes are not retrievable.
WCR's Note: This is why we keep preaching that "no single stud is suitable for all females," A lot of European Rotts make their way here because they where not to the "Standard" in Europe to compete or did not produce a type that was seen as the "Standard." How many breeding's did this male have in Europe? Where they outside of their own kennel? What did they make? Damn few make it here that are capable of producing high quality, but breeders will use that male because access is easy, cheap and it requires no effort or thought...the term "import" in their mind(s) dictate quality, which is far from the truth. We use males from proven lines, we go where ever we deem the appropriate male is for our girl and what we want to achieve in the pairing. Our pairings are made for the generations down the road and not specifically for the "now."
The Wake Up Call
Where are the masculine, powerful heads spelled out in the standard?
How did the strong zygomatic arch and full, powerful muzzle, so typical of the
Rottweiler head, begin to fade from view? This change certainly did not happen
overnight. It occurred a as metamorphosis, slowly over the years. Many breeders placed their accents for a breeding program on areas other than type or not
placing accents in a hierarchal order; they took a detour.
It is easier to breed for reasonably good Rottweiler gait, great hips, health clearances, great
top lines, or other specific areas. Type however, is fundamental, most difficult to attain and infuse into a
breeding program. If that were not true, than all breeders would have type perfectly set in their dogs.
All dogs in the show-ring and out would be reasonably uniform in type. Currently, they are not.
WCR's Note: How true, how true, how true. Start with the best, breed to the best.
(The powerful cheek and eye fill of a 1 year old bitch Osi v Brukroft)
How can we avoid this trend, a dramatic negative shift in the zygomatic arch and muzzles?
First, be knowledgeable about the standard. Read it and learn it verbatim. Understand what type is and
what it is not. Be most critical of your own dogs without making excuses or rationales. Set fundamental goals that are long term and lasting. Set type as your first priority.
WCR's Note: You want Type, it requires going where Type is prevalent. As Mr. Wolfson is pointing out, Europe dominates Type and Temperament.
(The legendary head piece of our Petra Earl Antonius)
"West Coast Rottweilers is HEAVILY COMMITTED to the preservation of the Rottweiler as it was intended. Using only the finest males in the world to our outstanding females, we will settle for nothing less than to exceed the Standards of the Breed; we have proven that over and over." -Bob Flynn/West Coast Rottweilers
The above comments are solely that of WCR/Bob Flynn
Steve Wolfson sits on the board of the American Rottweiler Club (ARC) and is actively judging, lecturing and writing articles on Rottweilers
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