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Split Decision

Bifid, or split noses, surface occasionally in Bullmastiffs


By Denise Flaim


When is more not more? When you’re talking about a bifid nose in Molossers, for starters.


Also known as “double noses,” “split noses” and “cleft noses,” bidfid noses are divided, resembling the double barrels of a shotgun. Bifid noses are desirable in a handful of pointing breeds, among them the Old Spanish Pointer, or Pachón Navarro; the Turkish Pointer; the Catalburan, and the double-nosed Andean Tiger Hound (I’m not making that up).


Those exceptions aside, many breeds perceive bifid noses as an unwanted anomaly, such as in Great Danes, where a split nose is a disqualification according to the American Kennel Club standard, though judge and breeder Nikki Riggsbee of Valrico, Florida, says she has never seen one in more than 35 years in the breed. Bidfid noses do surface in some traditional Molosser breeds, including the Bullmastiff, where they are equally as unwelcome.


“I think bifid noses are fairly uncommon in Bullmastiffs, but they do happen,” says veterinarian Teri Winston of Icon Bullmastiffs in Canby, Oregon, who knows firsthand, because she bred one.


“No other puppies in that litter were affected, and the affected puppy did not have a cleft palate or lip,” she says, adding that he was structurally very sound. Aside from having a very rounded maxilla, or upper jaw – Dr. Winston likens it to the shape of a spoon – he had no nasal-sinus issues. “But due to the possibility that there was a genetic cause, he was sold as a pet, never to grace the show ring or to be used for breeding,” she says. “As a veterinarian and breeder, my affected puppy was my inspiration to learn more about this defect and to spread the word so others are aware of it.”

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