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    1. #11
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      If we prove certain lines of labs in the Ob. ring... we're probably enhancing biddability (speaking very generally, here.) Same with agility (throw in athleticism with biddability.) And so on and so on.

      One thing that I absolutely think is essential in a working retriever is marking ability. And though you can improve marking as a part of a training program, the depth perception required of a good marker is very much passed on in the gene pool. And there really is a difference between a great marking dog and an average to poor one. So for this reason... the hunting/FT/HT lines should never be neglected (IMHO).

      A great FT/HT line will also produce dogs with exceptional noses. All dogs experience their environments by their olfaction. But it is just different (I can't explain it) when you see great HT/FT dogs. Their scenting ability is extremely acute and they are driven to "solve" the scent trail, to determine what the various scents are telling them.

      Another quality is birdiness. They get totally jacked on feathers and will do ANYTHING to get the bird.

      I will not criticize the standard or dogs that succeed in the ring. But to the degree we neglect these important qualities... are we doing the breed any favors? What good is it to breed dogs that look a certain way IF (and this is argumentum ad absurdum) they are indifferent to birds, can't find a food dish with their noses and don't look OUT and calculate distances in their spacial reasoning.

      AND NOTE... I am not saying CH's are like that. I'm just saying it would be tragic if they became that way. Thus FT/HT's serve a useful purpose for the breed.

      Could that even happen to labs? I think it's theoretically possible. I know a few Curly Coat show folks who are trying to bring some HT titles into their show lines. And I've seen these poor Curlies in training and it's... well, it's amazing, but not in a good way.

    2. #12
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      In the past I've commented on the divide between show and FT lines. I watched/worked British championship field trials. Amazing watching what these dogs were capable of, but they really didn't look like Labs per the breed standard. I've seen "show" Labs with little to no drive to retrieving and I'd say Sophie is a prime example. Good looking dog, but couldn't care less about actually retrieving. Bruce was a very handsome Lab, and had good drive, very eager to please. He's what I would consider a "true" Lab, much like others I've had who would retrieve all day long. Brooks is also a good looking Lab, and he has drive, the kind of drive that once properly harnessed,I think he could work at top levels with the right trainer and training environment, which I can't provide. He is very birdy, will stop and watch a sparrow fly over, and a flock of geese will mesmerize him. Hell, he watches airplanes too.

      I've said this before. Labs at their core are the jack of all trades and masters of none. It's the breeders who are breeding them for what THEY want from them that has created this divide. Competitive field trials have evolved into a competition on just how far one can push the envelope. It pits handler against handler and dog against dog. The things these dogs are asked to do are well beyond what the average hunter needs from their dog. Hunt test are more realistic in that the dogs and handlers are confronted with scenarios that they can/would expect in the field. It's the handler and dog against the test.

      "Show" breeders breed not necessarily to the standard, but what the judges are putting up as winning dogs. This is an issues affecting many breeds, not just Labs. Go back 20, 30, 40, 50 years and many breeds winners will look nothing like they do today. I've got a copy of the British Labrador Retriever Clubs' 100th anniversary book, which shows the winning dogs at their shows over this time. I can tell you thins, it's an interesting study on the evolution of the "show" side of the breed.

      This link is to a speech that Mary Roslin William made at the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Lab Club back in 1986. It's pretty long,and not the greatest recording, but very interesting to say the least. I had the pleasure of meeting her, and conversing with her several times, including a talk she gave at a club back in 1988, which also included Gwen Broadley of Sandylands. If you've got some time to kill, listen to it, it will be time well spent.

      Mary Roslin Williams - Complete speech LRC 1986 - YouTube
      Last edited by barry581; 03-12-2017 at 10:03 AM.

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    4. #13
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      We can turn it around and say what good is it to breed an extreme version of this breed to succeed in field trials at the expense of any adherence to the written standard?

      There are breeders who care about preserving the natural hunting ability of Labs in a package that is similar to what you would see winning in the ring in the 50s/60s. Their Labs can't win a field trial, but can compete in hunt tests to SH, MH and titles in the breed ring.

      There is nothing positive about breeding to the extreme of either field or show. Being a top winning show dog who won't work is just as bad as being a top field trialer who looks like a generic black, brown or yellow dog.

      I get that some people here see zero value in show dogs -- ANY dog can be led around the ring and stand around like a dummy, am I right? Zero skill, zero training, zero usefulness to the breed.

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    6. #14
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      Quote Originally Posted by ZEKESMAN View Post
      All dog sports are for humans. Training is for humans. Pure breed dogs are for humans. LOL Dogs just want to be dogs. Vic
      Of course. But field trials are above and beyond what any dog needs to do to fetch dinner for a human, what they were bred for. There is usefulness and then there is sport. That is my point.

    7. #15
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      Quote Originally Posted by TuMicks View Post
      If we prove certain lines of labs in the Ob. ring... we're probably enhancing biddability (speaking very generally, here.) Same with agility (throw in athleticism with biddability.) And so on and so on.

      One thing that I absolutely think is essential in a working retriever is marking ability. And though you can improve marking as a part of a training program, the depth perception required of a good marker is very much passed on in the gene pool. And there really is a difference between a great marking dog and an average to poor one. So for this reason... the hunting/FT/HT lines should never be neglected (IMHO).

      A great FT/HT line will also produce dogs with exceptional noses. All dogs experience their environments by their olfaction. But it is just different (I can't explain it) when you see great HT/FT dogs. Their scenting ability is extremely acute and they are driven to "solve" the scent trail, to determine what the various scents are telling them.

      Another quality is birdiness. They get totally jacked on feathers and will do ANYTHING to get the bird.

      I will not criticize the standard or dogs that succeed in the ring. But to the degree we neglect these important qualities... are we doing the breed any favors? What good is it to breed dogs that look a certain way IF (and this is argumentum ad absurdum) they are indifferent to birds, can't find a food dish with their noses and don't look OUT and calculate distances in their spacial reasoning.

      AND NOTE... I am not saying CH's are like that. I'm just saying it would be tragic if they became that way. Thus FT/HT's serve a useful purpose for the breed.

      Could that even happen to labs? I think it's theoretically possible. I know a few Curly Coat show folks who are trying to bring some HT titles into their show lines. And I've seen these poor Curlies in training and it's... well, it's amazing, but not in a good way.
      A breeder that produces a dog with zero drive should be ashamed of him or herself. And a breeder that produces a dog that is all drive but broken down at seven years old should also be ashamed. There is a middle ground in both temperament and type that should be adhered to. A Lab should not be pissing itself and screaming at the line, running back crushing the bird with a mouth as hard as Malanois nor should they be sitting at the line like a complete dufus wondering why in the hell they are even there in the first place. The conformation/standard of the dog should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose. There is a purpose behind the standard's double coat, otter tail, heavy bone, broad chest, etc.

    8. #16
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      Since I've got one of those very "hot" field bred dogs... I can say that a lot (most) of the issue with their craziness is handler induced. They are definitely prone to line issues. (Labradorks... you would be pleasantly surprised by her steadiness now. We've come a long way and not by using pressure... just by upholding standards.) I think that the article did a disservice to hunters by implying that a "hot" field dog is too crazy to handle.

      I agree with everything that's been said here about field trials. The marks now can be up to 400 yards away. That is nuts. I'd still go to FC/AFC lines for my next dog because I want the drive and marking ability.

      I never got a chance to see Rocket Dog's sire or dam. I just looked at clearances and pedigree. I talked to some folks who'd seen the sire and dam run. So watching her body develop from puppyhood was a bit of a shock. I can't say I was aesthetically pleased with how she turned out. But everything else she has and is... for me she's just perfect.

      Barry is right... the Labrador is the jack of all trades. But they are cleaning up in the FT/HT arena. Goldens, Chessies... no breed is even coming close. So I would not say they are Master of none.

    9. #17
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      The picture is Banchory Bob who was a Dual CH and BIS at Crufts in the 1930's. My question about him is honest and sincere... I'm not trying to be snotty. I'm expressing something that I don't understand and would like to know more about.

      I am in the corner with the conformation people when they say that breeding of field labs is often done with no consideration for looks. Rocket Dog is a perfect example. On the other hand, this dog would look absolutely normal at a HT/FT, but I don't think (correct me if I'm wrong) I don't think he could make it in the ring today.

      My guess is that this picture represents the "moderate" lab we envision today. How/why did the ring labs deviate from this look?

    10. #18
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      Quote Originally Posted by TuMicks View Post
      Since I've got one of those very "hot" field bred dogs... I can say that a lot (most) of the issue with their craziness is handler induced. They are definitely prone to line issues. (Labradorks... you would be pleasantly surprised by her steadiness now. We've come a long way and not by using pressure... just by upholding standards.) I think that the article did a disservice to hunters by implying that a "hot" field dog is too crazy to handle.

      I agree with everything that's been said here about field trials. The marks now can be up to 400 yards away. That is nuts. I'd still go to FC/AFC lines for my next dog because I want the drive and marking ability.

      I never got a chance to see Rocket Dog's sire or dam. I just looked at clearances and pedigree. I talked to some folks who'd seen the sire and dam run. So watching her body develop from puppyhood was a bit of a shock. I can't say I was aesthetically pleased with how she turned out. But everything else she has and is... for me she's just perfect.

      Barry is right... the Labrador is the jack of all trades. But they are cleaning up in the FT/HT arena. Goldens, Chessies... no breed is even coming close. So I would not say they are Master of none.
      When they say a hot field dog is too crazy to handle, since they were talking about the original purpose of the breed, I believe they were talking about the average real life hunter and not the person who sends their dog away to a pro and trains a number of times per week, receives lessons, etc. Of course, the gentleman's hunter requires some training, the basic obedience stuff, and the rest should come relatively naturally in a well-bred Lab, as part of the package.

      I think this is the same with obedience. It often does take certain breeding/temperament to obtain the precision and motivation required to be at the very top. Like hunting, obedience competition is above and beyond real life requirements. The dogs have to be trained, exposed to the different elements, etc. but there are certainly dogs that have a leg-up in this area due to their temperament (often due to purposeful breeding). If a top obedience dog does not meet the standard, they will still breed him or her to produce that temperament. Top obedience Labs do not generally meet the standard.

      I also agree that Labs are not the master of none. Not only do they clean up in HT/FT, but also in obedience (though Goldens right are there with them, if not a leg above), SAR, dock diving, nose work, guide dogs and there have been some really great agility Labs, too (especially if they are above the BC in size). I'm sure I'm missing some things. But, if a person only did these things with a dog that met the standard, would they be as successful? Probably not today. We breed for these traits to win at these sports despite what is best for the dog or the standard.

      I think that you can interpret the written standard in several ways which allows for flexibility in the look of the animal. Though I cannot remember the standard word for word, there is not much that is absolute. You have height, which can be measured. The rest, or at least most of it, you can argue if it's not completely obvious. Just like with anything else, form and function remains pretty much the same, but the look of something changes over time, generally following success. Then, whatever we were doing becomes extreme and we bend the other way. Rinse and repeat. The dog you have today wasn't been bred 50 years ago nor will she be bred the same way in 50 years because things will change. The trainers in 50 years may want something more biddable because who knows, maybe FF and e-collars will be illegal and we'll have to bend and find a new way to play the game? Or maybe they'll be bred with more fire because the game will change because it's become too easy to win? We just don't know, but we do know that humans will breed the dog that wins.

    11. #19
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      Quote Originally Posted by TuMicks View Post
      The picture is Banchory Bob who was a Dual CH and BIS at Crufts in the 1930's. My question about him is honest and sincere... I'm not trying to be snotty. I'm expressing something that I don't understand and would like to know more about.

      I am in the corner with the conformation people when they say that breeding of field labs is often done with no consideration for looks. Rocket Dog is a perfect example. On the other hand, this dog would look absolutely normal at a HT/FT, but I don't think (correct me if I'm wrong) I don't think he could make it in the ring today.

      My guess is that this picture represents the "moderate" lab we envision today. How/why did the ring labs deviate from this look?
      The picture represents an early example of the breed, who was great for his time. Why deviations? For the same reason the "normal" look at field trials doesn't look like the standard -- some breeders are breeding to what some judges are putting up and then perpetuating that look via popular sires.

      A few points to consider: should breeders simply be breeding to preserve the structure of early examples of the breed even if those structures could be improved upon from a functional perspective, as outlined in the standard? Should all breeds just be about creating carbon copies of the first recorded AKC CH in the breed? Sometimes, I feel that's what people are saying when they point to a dog from 1920/30 and say, "Why don't show dogs look like this?"

      Could any of those 1930s dual champs be a field trial champion in today's trials? My guess? Most likely, no.

      Are show champions today really all wildly different from early show dogs? Some are, but many are not. You will not witness this unless you get out to a lot of shows. You can google pix of all the top 20 Labs, and guess what? You'll have twenty examples of show dogs out of how many that are shown to their championships in the US?

      Many of the great Labs from yesteryear absolutely would finish today in the show ring. English vs American Breed Standard


      This girl is now a GCH (not just an AKC CH) MH, she might not be your preferred look, and won't be a FC/AFC, but this dog excels in the ring and is enough of a hunting dog IMO for anyone except the most intense trialer. CH Boynes Avian Investigator MH WCX CGC

      This moderate girl went winners bitch at Potomac in 2015 -- Potomac, the world's biggest Labrador show, literally more than a thousand Labs compete (counting performance sports, closer to 1500). I was there all week, saw her win, and the girls she beat. What's so radically different about her vs. many conformation bred dogs of 50 years ago? Atlantic Labradors - Atlantic's Haut-Brion

      Here's the judge's critique of her from Potomac -- and lest anyone think this is written by some biased US judge who likes big fat Labrapigs, Gary Johnson is a breeder judge from England, our breed's motherland: "My find of the show! Beautifully feminine bitch, moderate and unexaggerated and exudes classic breed type. Her head piece and expression are just gorgeous, giving a soft melting expression. Everything just flows, from her well placed neck and forehand, through correctly shaped ribs and over a short and strong loin, through well developed quarters. I liked her length of leg to body ratio and the fact that she was not carrying any excess weight. In super coat with a true otter tail. She moved like a dream at the correct pace. At this age there is nothing I would change about her, except perhaps her ownership to me. She was everything I was looking for and I was so pleased to award her Winners bitch. I thought her outstanding and she should have a great career ahead of her."

    12. #20
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      Quote Originally Posted by dxboon View Post
      We can turn it around and say what good is it to breed an extreme version of this breed to succeed in field trials at the expense of any adherence to the written standard?

      There are breeders who care about preserving the natural hunting ability of Labs in a package that is similar to what you would see winning in the ring in the 50s/60s. Their Labs can't win a field trial, but can compete in hunt tests to SH, MH and titles in the breed ring.

      There is nothing positive about breeding to the extreme of either field or show. Being a top winning show dog who won't work is just as bad as being a top field trialer who looks like a generic black, brown or yellow dog.

      I get that some people here see zero value in show dogs -- ANY dog can be led around the ring and stand around like a dummy, am I right? Zero skill, zero training, zero usefulness to the breed.
      I think a lot depends on the individual dog as well. Maverick comes from working lines of bench bred dogs. He was supposed to be more birdy, but has less than zero drive. In fact, we say that he is a failure as a labrador as he HATES being outside, getting his feet wet, swimming and has no interest in birds.

      Bear, on the other hand, who is strictly bench bred LOVES outdoors, swimming, and although we don't hunt is extremely interested in the birds (small and larger) in our area. He was introduced to water for the first time just a few weeks ago and it was like he'd been doing it forever. He even flushed a bunch of birds for us.

      Quote Originally Posted by dxboon View Post



      This girl is now a GCH (not just an AKC CH) MH, she might not be your preferred look, and won't be a FC/AFC, but this dog excels in the ring and is enough of a hunting dog IMO for anyone except the most intense trialer. CH Boynes Avian Investigator MH WCX CGC

      This moderate girl went winners bitch at Potomac in 2015 -- Potomac, the world's biggest Labrador show, literally more than a thousand Labs compete (counting performance sports, closer to 1500). I was there all week, saw her win, and the girls she beat. What's so radically different about her vs. many conformation bred dogs of 50 years ago? Atlantic Labradors - Atlantic's Haut-Brion

      Here's the judge's critique of her from Potomac -- and lest anyone think this is written by some biased US judge who likes big fat Labrapigs, Gary Johnson is a breeder judge from England, our breed's motherland: "My find of the show! Beautifully feminine bitch, moderate and unexaggerated and exudes classic breed type. Her head piece and expression are just gorgeous, giving a soft melting expression. Everything just flows, from her well placed neck and forehand, through correctly shaped ribs and over a short and strong loin, through well developed quarters. I liked her length of leg to body ratio and the fact that she was not carrying any excess weight. In super coat with a true otter tail. She moved like a dream at the correct pace. At this age there is nothing I would change about her, except perhaps her ownership to me. She was everything I was looking for and I was so pleased to award her Winners bitch. I thought her outstanding and she should have a great career ahead of her."
      This bitch shares a gigantic portion of her pedigree with the aforementioned Maverick. The one that fails at being a labrador. While it is in both of their genes, Maverick got the short end of the stick as far as drive goes. Again to my point, yes pedigree and breeding matter, but each dog individually will fall within a wide range of that spectrum. This is true as far as visually pleasing looks, correct type, color, drive, and personality go. The only time it really matters is when you are looking to perform a specific job.

      Realistically, there is a lab for everybody

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