Let’s Talk Breed Education!
Labrador Retriever THE
BY FRANCES O. SMITH DVM PHD DACT VICE-PRESIDENT, THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER CLUB, INC.
T he Labrador Retriever is in a unique position as the most popular breed of dog in the United States. The Labrador reigns as number one in popularity and has maintained this position since 1991. The Labrador Retriever is a friendly, outgoing, athletic dog that possesses lots of love to go around to the whole family. Labradors are typically very friendly with other dogs and are renowned for their versatility. They serve humans as companions, as service dogs that aid in mobility and in the physical and mental needs of their owners, and as working companions that are capable of drug detection, explosive detection, and working as retrievers—finding and retrieving game birds on land and in the water. Part of the Labra- dor Retriever Club, Inc. Mission Statement is to preserve the Labrador Retriever as a working retriever and promote its multipurpose function. During COVID, the demand for dogs and puppies as companions has increased dramatically. Fortunately, there are many breeders of Labrador Retrievers to fulfill the demand for the breed. Potential owners may find that wait list times are longer than in previous years, and finding the right breeder can be somewhat of a challenge. It is important that potential buyers are aware of the health conditions that can occur in the Labra- dor Retriever, and select a breeder who performs the required and recom- mended health tests that are part of the CHIC requirements for the Lab- rador Retriever. CHIC, the Canine Health Information System, serves as an open guideline for breeders and owners as a resource for test results. For the Labrador Retriever, the required tests are as follow: OFA hip radio- graphs, OFA elbow radiographs, CAER eye examinations, EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse) a neuromuscular disorder, and testing for the presence of the gene for dilute (DNA based D Locus results from an approved laboratory). Recommended additional testing is for CNM (Centronuclear Myopathy) a neuromuscular disorder, the prcd form of PRA, and a cardi- ac examination, preferably including an echocardiogram. Many breeders do additional testing on their breeding stock. The demand for puppies has led to many casual breeders deciding to produce a litter of puppies without the benefit to the dogs of this health testing.
THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER IS A FRIENDLY, OUTGOING, ATHLETIC DOG THAT POSSESSES LOTS OF LOVE TO GO AROUND TO THE WHOLE FAMILY.
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THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER
THE TYPICAL LABRADOR POSSESSES STYLE AND QUALITY WITHOUT OVER-REFINEMENT, AND SUBSTANCE WITHOUT LUMBER OR CLODDINESS.
The yellow coat color in the Labrador Retriever may appear to be intensely red.
The Labrador Retriever comes in only three colors; black, chocolate, and yellow. Blacks are all black. Chocolates are brown, and can vary in shade from light to dark chocolate. Yellow may range in color from fox-red to light cream, with variations in shading on the ears, back, and underparts. The intensity of the yellow color is dependent upon modifiers that affect the gene for yellow. Some of the yellow dogs may appear almost white, and some may appear to be as intensely red as a Setter. For many years in the conformation show ring, chocolates had a tendency to lack breed type and were rarely awarded wins. This situation has changed greatly and there are many lovey chocolate dogs in the show ring. Likewise, some fox-red dogs tended to lack breed type and were leggier and more hound-like in the head. This situ- ation has also changed, and we now see beautiful fox-red Labra- dor Retrievers. Any other color—or combination of colors—is a disqualification. A small white spot on the chest is considered acceptable, but not desirable. Many chocolates do “sun burn” as they get ready to blow their coat; this should not be considered an abnormal coat color.
It has been said that the Labrador Retriever is head, coat, and tail. Yes, these are breed characteristics and are very important. The Labrador should be a strongly-built, medium-sized, short-coupled dog, possessing a sound, athletic, well-balanced conformation that enables it to function as a retrieving gundog. The physical features and mental characteristics should denote a dog bred to perform as an efficient retriever of game, with a stable temperament suitable for a variety of pursuits beyond the hunting environment. The neck should be of proper length to allow the dog to retrieve game easily. Distance from the elbow to the ground should be equal to one-half the height at the withers. The brisket should extend to the elbows, but NOT perceptively deeper. The dog should never appear low and long or tall and leggy in outline. The Labrador should have a short, dense, weather-resistant coat that feels fairly hard to the touch. The coat should have a soft, weath- er-resistant undercoat that protects from water, cold, and all types of groundcover. A slight wave down the back is permissible. Wooly, soft, silky coats and sparse, slick coats are not correct and should be penalized.
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THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER
THE LABRADOR IS BRED PRIMARILY AS A WORKING GUNDOG. THUS, STRUCTURE AND SOUNDNESS ARE OF GREAT IMPORTANCE.
The tail is a distinguishing feature of the breed. It should be very thick at the base, gradually tapering toward the tip, of medium length, and extend- ing no longer than to the hock. The tail should be free of feathering, and wrapped thickly all around with the short, dense Labrador coat, giving it a rounded appearance that resembles an otter’s tail. The tail should follow the topline when standing. While in motion, it may be carried gaily, but should not curl over the back. Both extremely short tails and long, thin tails are serious faults. The head should be clean-cut, with a broad backskull and moderate stop, powerful jaws, and kind, friendly eyes. Full dentition is preferred, with missing molars and premolars considered serious faults. A scissors bite is preferred—a level bite is acceptable, but not desirable. Eye color should
be brown in black and yellow Labradors, and brown or hazel in chocolate Labradors. Eye color should contribute to a kind expression. The skull and foreface should be of approximately equal lengths. You will see many head styles in the conformation ring. Long heads and narrow muzzles are incorrect as are massive, cheeky heads similar to Rottweilers or Newfoundlands. The Labrador is bred primarily as a working gun- dog. Thus, structure and soundness are of great impor- tance. The typical Labrador possesses style and quality without over-refinement, and substance without lumber or cloddiness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Frances O. Smith, DVM, PhD, DACT became a Diplomate of the College of Theriogenology in 1986. Since that time, she has been in private practice as a small animal practitioner, specializing in canine reproduction. Dr. Smith is one of very few board certified theriogenologists in private practice in the United States. Her expertise in genetic counseling, chilled and frozen semen, and reproductive infertility of the male and female canine is known throughout the US. Dr. Smith frequently speaks to breed groups, veterinary associations and students, and the general public. Dr. Smith obtained an Associate of Arts Degree from Normandale Community College and was accepted into the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1976. She obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1978 and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree in 1980. Dr. Smith was offered a residency in Small Animal Reproduction at the University of Minnesota in 1980 where she worked with Dr. Shirley Johnston and Dr. Ray Zemjanis. She completed her residency in 1983. Her PhD was completed in 1984 with a thesis
titled, “Cryopreservation of Canine Semen - Technique and Performance.” Dr. Smith grew up in a military family that bred German Shepherd Dogs. She breeds Labrador Retrievers under the registered kennel name Danikk. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., where she is the Health Committee Chair. She has served Minnesota as a member and President of the Board of Veterinary Medicine, and is the President of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals—the foremost animal health database in the world. She competes in hunt tests, conformation shows, obedience trials and, occasionally, field trials. She is an approved hunt test judge, and a nationally recognized lecturer and author. For fun, Dr. Smith rides horses, gardens, volunteers, and spoils her granddaughters.
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Labrador Retriever INTERVIEW WITH LABRADOR RETRIEVER CLUB, INC. MEMBER AND AKC BREEDER JUDGE MARGARET S. WILSON
Can you comment on the joys and challenges of breeding and exhibiting a Labrador Retriever that is competitive in the conformation, companion, and performance venues simultaneously, and share some comments with us from an AKC breeder-judge’s perspective? C onformation judges are required to place Labrador Retriev- ers in the order of their merit, in accordance with the parameters of the breed standard and subject to the opin- ion of the judge on the given day. Mary Roslin-Williams described this process as being “able to look into” the dogs. She’s written that in order to win, the dog should not be judged solely on which one is presented, con- ditioned, and showed the best, but that “make, shape, anatomy, suitability, and especially temperament and kindness must be taken into consideration as well.”
“Gus” CDX, RAE, SH, WCX, CGC, TDI. Best in Show, Best in Specialty Show, Multiple Group- Winning Champion Senior Hunter, Champion in Two Countries
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LABRADOR RETRIEVER INTERVIEW WITH LABRADOR RETRIEVER CLUB, INC. MEMBER AND AKC BREEDER JUDGE MARGARET S. WILSON
“Raven” AKC CH, UD, JH, RE, THD, CGC, WC, TDIAOV, OTCH Pointed Judges’ Remarks: Best Bred By Exhibitor, Winners Bitch, Best Of Winners at April 2001 LRCP Specialty, entry 1204. Judge: Janice Pritchard (Charway, U.K.) remarks: “This was an excellent class. With so many quality bitches I was spoilt for choice. 1st Wilson’s SHADOWGLEN DUNRAVEN. This bitch is a real beauty. She is so true to breed type, is perfectly balanced and is full of quality. Head is just lovely, good proportions, well shaped and with the kindest of expressions. For angulation she was so correct, both front & rear. She has super reach of neck, excellent layback of shoulders and good length of upper arm, her hindquarters are strongly made with well turned stifles & short hocks. She is a bitch of medium length that carries an ideal weight for the show ring, as well as being in firm condition. Has an excellent thick double coat of correct texture and has the desirable otter tail, which is very well set to complete a level topline She moved soundly with an effortless flow, maintaining her beautiful clean outline in profile. One I would love to have in my own small kennel. Winners Bitch & BOW I later heard she had also completed the second leg of her UDX obedience title at the show.” “She is SEAMLESS—she FLOWS.” “A real specialist’s bitch, Classical.” LRCP Specialty (Entry of 1,204) Barbara Gilcrist (Blackthorn, USA) Comments re 2001 LRCP Specialty: Best of Winners: ShadowGlen Dunraven, C.D.X. “Lovely black, feminine head with good length of neck into very well-made shoulders, good topline and well-angulated hindquarters. She has an elegant profile when standing and floated in her movement.” Titles are owner-trained and handled. Janice Pritchard’s remarks about “Raven”: “A Once In A Lifetime, To Die For Bitch.”
The Labrador breed standard describes some important breed traits and characteristics that cannot be evaluated in the confor- mation ring. As a judge, it is impossible to distinguish one entrant that has performance titles from another that may not have any. As a judge, I am charged to evaluate every dog entered against the breed standard, which describes a Labrador that should be able “to function as a retrieving gun dog.” To me, as a breeder, main- taining working ability is as important in a correct Labrador as is proper conformation. As a breeder-exhibitor, the two objectives are certainly attainable, but are constrained by time and opportunity. The usual strategy to title in both performance (or other venues that require athleticism and trainability) and in the conformation ring is to “finish” in one venue and then compete in the other. The problem with this is the huge time commitments involved in the training and competing process. However, proper condition for the conformation ring does not mean that the dog is not also in proper condition for performing in Hunting Retriever Tests or in any other AKC venue.
“Ziva” AKC Grand Champion, CH, MH bitch, Co-bred and Co-owned from Shadowglen and Sue Puffenbarger
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LABRADOR RETRIEVER INTERVIEW WITH LABRADOR RETRIEVER CLUB, INC. MEMBER AND AKC BREEDER JUDGE MARGARET S. WILSON
I began my lifelong love affair with the Labrador Retriever by competing in obedience with my first two AKC Obedience Trial Champions in the 1970s and ‘80s, when the OTCH was extremely rigorous, designed by the AKC to accord the same status and recognition as the breed and field titles. Training and titling in AKC Hunting Retriever Tests at all levels fol- lowed when that program was initiated by the AKC in the late 1980s. For every obedience title, my dogs often competed concurrently in conformation. As an example, my girl, Raven, placed in both Open B and Utility B at the Potomac Specialty (entry of over 1,200) on the same day that she won Best Bred- By Exhibitor Bitch, Winners Bitch, and Best of Winners. I had to go in for final judging in my obedience clothes, Raven in her obedience collar and lead, and I baited her with an obedience dumbbell… LOL. As a judge, you have to look at the merits of the dog, not the ensemble of the handler or the beautiful bejeweled leash.
“Ford” Best in Specialty, Sporting Group One, Multiple Best of Breeds
Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. CELEBRATES IT’S 90TH ANNIVERSARY
“Raleigh” GCH CH Can CH Cedarwood’s Rollickin’ Good Thyme, BN, CD, MH, RE, WC CC
BY NANCY R. BRANDOW, SECRETARY LRC, INC. AKC HUNT TEST AND BREEDER JUDGE
The Labrador Retriever has a rich history in the United States. The breed’s intuitive nature and demonstrated ability to fill mul- tiple roles as the Labrador excels working one on one or in group settings with humankind, and often other animals, results in the breed’s popularity placement as number one. The American Kennel Club registered the first Labrador Retriever in 1917. Fourteen years later on October 24, 1931, a group of sports minded individuals incorporated the Labrador Retriever Club. The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. Is recognized by the AKC as the parent club for the breed. From its incorpora- tion, the LRC, Inc.’s purpose has been dedicated to protecting the integrity of the breed. The LRC, Inc. encourages the Labrador enthusiast, breeder and exhibitor to promote quality in breeding and performance and to bring the breed’s natural attributes to perfection. The Club seeks to support and advance the interests of the breed thru edu- cation, funding of canine health research, rescue and sponsoring breed specific events. The Club supports the Standard of Breed approved by the AKC as the standard of excellence by which the breed should be judged. Reflecting on recent accomplishments, the Club has received the AKC Canine Health Foundation’s Presidents’s Award (2015), the Distinguished Partners Award (2020), and contributes annu- ally to the AKC Pet Disaster Relief Program. Please join the Club in celebrating this milestone anniversary and this wonderful breed, www.theLabradorclub.com.
“Roxanne” SH, AKC major-pointed to championship. Shown in breed while winning the Best Hunting Retriever at Potomac, 2019
“Roxanne” Best hunting Retriever
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LABRADOR RETRIEVER THE
1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? 2. In popularity, Labrador Retrievers perennially rank at the very top of the list. Again this year you’re Number One! Do you feel this helps or hurts the breed in the long run? 3. Few of these dogs really “work” anymore. How has he adapted to civilian life? What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? 4. A big strong Sporting dog requires a special household to be a perfect fit. What about the breed makes him an ideal compan- ion? Drawbacks? 5. What special challenges do Labrador breeders face in our cur- rent economic and social climate? 6. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness (or lack thereof)? 7. We’re told a Lab’s loyalty is unquestioned, but that his hard- headedness can make him difficult to train. Is this your experi- ence? Does that make it more interesting, or exasperating? (Or both.) 8. What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? 9. What is your ultimate goal for the breed? 10. What is your favorite dog show memory? 11. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. LADANNA BOSTWICK
horseback riding and gathering cattle on our ranch. We also raise and breed Highland Cattle. Do I feel the breed’s popularity helps or hurts the breed in the long run? I feel it definitely helps the breed. There has been a lot of money raised and donated to support research for our beloved breed. Through continued research, knowledge and genetic insights will be obtained, that will enable affected dogs to be recognized earlier and enable breeders to know if they are producing an affected puppy. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? I feel they have adapted very well. The Labrador Retriever should have a very stable temperament, suitable for a variety of activities beyond working, hunting and outdoor activities. Training in the field, home or any- where always comes in handy. The Labrador is a very versatile breed! What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? Even temperament, trainability and desire to please make the Labrador the ideal companion. They are a breed that like to be inside with their family. Labradors thrive with their humans and should be an almost constant companions. They require daily adequate exercise to remain in good physical and mental health. They shed a lot more than most people realize. Labradors like to chew. They should be provided the proper oral stimulation—safe and healthy chew toys/treats/bones, to ensure their chewing needs are met. Also great for healthy teeth. What special challenges do Labrador breeders face in our cur- rent economic and social climate? Economic challenges are always something we must be conscientious of. To exhibit and breed prop- er health tested purebred dogs is not cheap. It requires extensive planning, budgeting and many other sacrifices. I feel our social climate is great. With the introduction of social media. We are now capable of expanding our gene pool by being introduced to a much broader selection of dogs from all around the world. I feel we have also been given a wealth of information through mentor and educational forums on social media. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? At eight week evaluations, again at six months. At 18-24 months is when I make my final decisions. However, if at any point dur- ing this time frame, I just don’t like what I see at all—then it’s a pet. There must be something that I really like about the dog from the start and throughout the growing/maturing process. Or I don’t invest into the dogs show career. Can the breed’s hard-headedness can make them difficult to train? No, they should be very easy to train, if you know what you are doing or seek the assistance a professional trainer to help you learn to train your dog. It all goes back to correct temperaments when breeding. Tem- peraments are paramount to me! If you have even temperaments, trainability and desire to please (I also like a bit of confidence)— this Labrador is so eager to learn and please. Look at the jobs many Labradors perform daily in therapy, ser- vice work, police work etc. Very smart and trainable breed. But they have to be bred correctly or it can be a totally different story! What is the most important thing about the breed for a nov- ice to keep in mind when judging? The written standard and breed type. My ultimate goal for the breed? To keep it healthy, pure and loved by so many.
Firewater Lab- radors is located in the mountainous region of North- ern Arizona. Our small town is nes- tled in the beauty, serenity and pri- vacy of the Kaibab National Forest. I was born and raised in Broken Bow, Oklahoma to a working com-
mercial farming and ranching family. I’ve been involved in some form of animal husbandry my entire life. I started learning about the Conformation of animals and showing at six years old, when I showed my first of many Hampshire pigs at our local county fair. I made the sale with my pig that year. Awarded Best Junior Show- manship, I was hooked! I also have shown sheep and horses, and have appreciated a beautiful well-bred animal my entire life. Any animal doing its job is a beautiful thing to me. My husband, Tom, and I have six children and three grand- children. I had a wonderful 20 year career working as a Registered Nurse, specializing in pediatric critical care for special-needs chil- dren, and retired in 2017. Tom is a Veteran and served 25 years in law enforcement before retiring. I am thankful that Tom also enjoys and supports our amazing dogs and the journey they continue to take us on. We travel as much as possible- something Tom and I truly enjoy. We love the spending time in the mountains where we live. Enjoy
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Labrador Retriever Q& A
“I was once told that every dog that comes into your life is for a reason and he is here to teach me something. When I struggle to understand one of my puppies or dogs, I have always remembered that.”
ment. You may not find that dog until later in your assignment. And most importantly, find a breeder who you respect and admire. Ask them to become your mentor, sit with them at ringside, ask them to explain to you what they like and what they don’t like about the dog as it is being judged. Ask lots of questions and always keep learning. My ultimate goal for the breed? That we stay true to the Labra- dor Standard in all areas; whether conformation, hunting, agility and/or obedience. My favorite dog show memory? Oh where do I start! There are so many memories I could write a book. It was last year at the National Labrador Specialty when Theodore won Best of Breed. It was an emotional and overwhelming moment for me. A year of my hard work and my husband’s time and energy on helping keep in condi- tion along with the knowledge and experience of our Handler truly made it a rewarding experience. ERINMCROBB & DIANEMCCLURG I live in a small town called Sanger, Texas on the north side of Ft Worth. I have been involved with my family in the breed since the age of ten. Our first show Labrador was shown beginning in 1989 at which time I also showed in Junior showmanship. For my outside job, I am actually a sales rep in the pet food industry. I work for Smuckers and we have a variety of brands including but not limited to: Natural Balance, Nutrish, Natures Recipe, Milkbone to name a few. Diane — I live just north of Erin in Gainesville, Texas. We got our first Labrador in 1987 with the intent of showing her in confor- mation and for Erin in junior showmanship. I work as the Director of Laboratory services for Medical City Plano hospital in Plano Texas. Do I feel the breed’s popularity helps or hurts the breed in the long run? I have been in the breed so long with it being number one I honestly don’t even notice it anymore. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? We actually take great pride in our dogs trying to get titles on both ends of their names. We currently have a young boy in training for his JH, and some that are ready to compete starting in Rally soon. I really feel that is provides balance not only in the breeding program, but for the dog as well. I think if you train your dog to work- you gain a dog who has obedience that can really make a difference in your home. No one wants to live with an unruly dog! What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? A Lab- rador is a dog that should be able to walk into any household and assimilate to daily life without any major disruptions. Sure, you are adding a new family member, but the breed itself is biddable and easy going. While they may be big and strong, with proper train- ing, the Labrador should not overpower anyone in the household. They should be calm, willing to please, and easy going. These quali- ties in itself make the breed desirable. I commonly hear and joke about shedding. Labradors definitely shed and sometimes we do vacuum daily!
I live in Loudon, New Hampshire where my husband and I have lived for the past 25 years. I currently work for USDA-Food Nutrition Service. Do I feel the breed’s popularity helps or hurts the breed in the long run? I think it’s a combination of both.
How has the breed adapted to civilian life? While our Labradors compete in the show ring, my husband also is an avid bird hunter. I as I mention below, I really believe their temperament and how you raise them allows for its true Labrador qualities come out. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? The temperament of the Labrador is so important. As with any breed it’s important to socialize and train them when they are young. If you don’t provide that foundation early, spend time with them, then the dog is not easy to live with. Which means you won’t be able to enjoy them and most importantly, it’s not fair to the dog. What special challenges do Labrador breeders face in our cur- rent economic and social climate? Social media. I think social media has had a huge impact not just with Labrador breeders but with all breeders. While I feel it can be positive, I also feel it’s negatively impacted our breed. Breeders are more likely to reach out to that social media breeder, who has is always posting their dogs on Insta- gram and/or Facebook, to either buy a puppy or breed to their stud dog, without doing their research. I have been mentored to research pedigrees and the health of the pedigrees when selecting a stud dog or purchasing a puppy and most importantly physically see and put your hands on the dog. At what age I you start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I think it’s an individual decision for each dog. Some pedigrees mature fast and other pedigrees mature for three to four years. I think you need to assess each dog on its own. As we know, not all dogs are considered “show-worthiness”. In our kennel, we keep dogs to improve the breed and our kennel, not just to compete in the show ring. Can the breed’s hard-headedness can make them difficult to train? I wouldn’t say that a Labrador is “hard-headed”. Labradors are very smart and intellectual dogs. Like people, some are very smart. I think as a breeder and owner you need to adjust your train- ing styles to accommodate the dog’s needs. I was once told that every dog that comes into your life is for a reason and he is here to teach me something. When I struggle to understand one of my pup- pies or dogs, I have always remembered that. It seems to work for us. What is the most important thing about the breed for a nov- ice to keep in mind when judging? When I have judged sweep- stakes, I always think to myself “which dog would I like to take home today?” and stick true to it. Don’t fault judge. Find a dog and use that dog to compare the other dogs to throughout your assign-
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Labrador Retriever Q& A
“The Labrador Retriever is the most sought after breed to work as guide dogs and therapy dogs as the temperament lends itself to be the most adaptable to the owner’s needs.”
Erin McRobb & Diane McClurg continued
At what age do we start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? We start to look at the puppies running in the yard as soon as five weeks. We may not put them on the table to evaluate as I think puppies running in the yard certainly give a different look and per- spective. Show worthy puppies can start as early as six weeks and as late as ten weeks, if you are choosing some and placing others in pet homes. I have changed my mind when choosing a puppy as late as the day before a pet family comes to pick up the new family member. We then grown them up and do basic clearances to see if it will be worth the time and money investment to make them a show dog completely. Even as late as a year—with clearances—we may decide to place a dog as it isn’t quite what we were looking for. Can the breed’s hard-headedness can make them difficult to train? Most of the labs we have bred aren’t hard headed. In fact very few that we have bred have been difficult to train. Labradors are easy going, willing to please, biddable, and ready to do a job for their owners. (I think we may be on a different level for this ques- tion.) Labradors shouldn’t be hard headed at all. Diane: The Labrador Retriever is the most sought after breed to work as guide dogs and therapy dogs as the temperament lends itself to be the most adaptable to the owner’s needs. What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? There are a lot of different types in the Lab ring. Find a mentor with a type you prefer and learn. Learn- ing also means looking at other breed to learn proper movement and structure. Trust your mentor—they have been doing it a long time and probably have encountered nearly everything. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater—look at the whole picture. There will be some things you can forgive and some thing you know you cannot stand to look at—those are the moments you will learn the most. My ultimate goal for the breed? My personal goal is to breed and own (and handle if I can) one of our own dogs to BIS and BISS status. We have bred, owned and shown dogs to BISS, but have not achieved a BIS. My favorite dog show memory? I have three actually. Winning best junior at the Lab national under breeder judge George Bragaw. That win qualified me for my first trip to Westminster. Then win- ning BISS from the 12-18 class with a bitch we had bred, owned, and handled. The third being the most proud breeder moment—we took a yellow boy to the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac. I showed him to a class win. It was at that moment that I realized as I was showing him I was in a ring full of people I looked up to and helped mentor me and my mom to where we are now. Diane: My favorite dog show memory is at the first Labrador Retriever Club National show held in Arlington Texas in 1989 where we showed our first Lab, Aquatdots Good Golly Ms Molly, as a puppy and she made the cut to the last six puppies in large sweep- stakes and regular classes under “ famous’ breeder judges—it was a thrill like no other to the novice dog show exhibitor.
I have bred and shown Labra- dor Retrievers for 45 years. I am proud to have bred and owned over 75 champions, including multiple group winners and plac- ers. I have shown multiple BISS Labradors as well as having many Labs win points at specialties. I am proud of the Champion Master Hunter that I bred, along with the SH’s, JH’s, and multiple Obedience titled dogs, and the many hunting and companion dogs that I hope have brought
fun and happiness to their owners. I have judged Labrador Retriev- ers, Golden Retrievers, Flat-Coated Retrievers and Norfolk Terriers since 2004. I live in Conifer, Colorado. What do I do outside of dogs? Noth- ing! My husband and I own a boarding and grooming kennel and have for almost 29 years. Do I feel the breed’s popularity helps or hurts the breed in the long run? With regard to the popularity of Labradors, Labs have been very popular for several decades, so that is nothing new. Labs are so versatile that it really isn’t surprising. Labs as a breed excel in field work, scent work, obedience, as service dogs, guiding the blind, tracking, police work such as finding drugs or accelerants, and they are just the best family pets. Being popular helps a breed like Labradors because there are lots of them available for the many jobs they’re good at. On the other hand, this popularity can also hurt the breed when less than critical breeders produce lots of poor quality puppies that are easily sold to the unsuspecting. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? Labs will really find a job if left to occupy their own time. In order for them to be the best dog they can be, they need training, exercise, and inclusion in the family. A Lab’s natural inclination is to please and serve (such as retrieving a bird and giving it to the handler). This natural instinct of a retriever is the basis of pretty much all the jobs that Labs are trained to do. In the home, this retrieving and wanting to please makes for a fun and involved family pet. The Lab’s willingness to please makes him relatively easy to train. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? With proper socialization and training, a Lab can be the perfect family dog. Most Labs are and should be friendly, biddable, and able to get along with children and other pets. It goes without saying, however, that puppies do not come pre-trained; they can be teenagers for a long time. Labs are big and, as they can be very strong for their size, early and continued training is essential for a long and happy family relationship. What special challenges do Labrador breeders face in our cur- rent economic and social climate? In my opinion, every serious dog
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Labrador Retriever Q& A
“I want a sound and beautiful Labrador Retriever that can do the work asked of it, with a sense of humor!”
Linda Vaughn continued
years. During this time I have produced many breed Champions and several Champion Master Hunters. Also many dogs with high level performance titles. Probably best known for my chocolate dogs (they are not crazy!). I have been judging Labradors and several of the other sporting dogs for over 15 years and really enjoy this as well. Special thanks to my husband, Leeds, and my kennel part- ner Robin Magee and her husband Jim for all their help when I’m traveling. I have lived in New Hampshire for 30 years. I work in the Veterinary Industry educating and selling Veterinarians Natural Supplements. Do I feel the breed’s helps or hurts the breed in the long run? It potentially hurts the breed as it can be seen as an “easy” money maker to those not truly committed to the betterment of the breed. Point to fact—the “silver” Labrador. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? The Labrador has always been a dedicated companion to people, when not “working” so they are easily adapted to family life, however active or sedentary their life style may be. What about the breed makes him an ideal companion? Although the Conformation Labradors have great performance abilities (hunting, Obedience, agility, etc.), their main goal in life is to be part of the family. They are a sturdy dog that can fit into most families as they have a great ability to adapt when given proper attention and training. What special challenges do Labrador breeders face in our cur- rent economic and social climate? The uneducated policy makers of state and nation are continuously introducing bills and passing laws that will have negative impact on the dedicated breeder. Many of these bills/laws are directed toward puppy mills and pet stores but the way they are written, they all effect the true stewards of our breed. Organizations like PETA mislead the public to believe they are trying to save the dogs—far from it. They represent a danger to us as well. Organizations that bring up “stray” puppies from the South and outside of the US are selling them as rescues and play on people’s emotions. These too impact the true breeders. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I start watching the pups when they are on their feet and continue to watch them as they grow and develop. We’re told a Lab’s loyalty is unquestioned, but that his hard- headedness can make him difficult to train. Is this my experience? I find it is usually the owner training the dog that misses the signals to train the dog. There is not just one way to train a dog. What is the most important thing about the breed for a nov- ice to keep in mind when judging? The judge represents just one opinion and their own interpretation of the breed standard. Best learning tool is to work with an experienced and respected breeder to be mentored. Be especially open to constructive criticism and suggestion. What is my ultimate goal for the breed? To maintain the integ- rity of the Labrador in their confirmation and temperament that the breed is traditionally known for. My favorite dog show memory? There are so many. One of my favorite was when my chocolate boy, GCHB WIllcare to Fly Under the Radar, WC, RN, was awarded Best Puppy at the LRC of Potomac when I did not think I had any chance at all! I’d also like to share about the breed that in all my years in dogs and in the Veterinary field, I still enjoy my Labradors more than any breed I have owned or worked with.
breeder of any breed faces difficult challenges. It’s just part of it, I’m afraid. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I look at my puppies at five, seven, and nine weeks. I personally pick the pups that I don’t think are going to make show prospects first so that they can go to their family homes. I can usually tell by nine weeks if they have show potential. Can the breed’s hard-headedness can make them difficult to train? I don’t think that Labs are any more hard headed than any other sporting breed. They might want to do something that they find more interesting than what you want them to do, but is that hard headed? What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Look at the entire dog. My order of importance is outline, then balance of front and rear angulation (fronts in Labradors have been a problem for a long time.) Having a lot of front without the rear to match isn’t balanced any more than a straight front combined with a nice enough rear is balanced. Next, I want a kind expression. I don’t think round or light eyes look kind. Then I look for a proper coat and a well carried tail, with the tail as close to being carried straight off the back as I can find. Yes, Labs can be in and out of coat, but a thin coat and tail should be examined closely. The dense undercoat of a well-coat- ed Labrador is designed to insulate the dog when swimming and retrieving in icy waters. It gives a rounded appearance, and softens the angles of the dog. Have a breeder show you a good coat, feel it, learn it—it is the hallmark of the breed and creates the classic otter tail. It can add visual substance, but a hands-on examination will easily reveal the difference between a Labrador with dense under- coat and one that is poorly conditioned or overweight. A Lab should move fluidly. A correctly made Lab will not hold his head up high when on the move; his head will be somewhat in front, which is made possible by a well-made front assembly. Think about the dog when swimming: he wouldn’t have his head straight up out of the water. His head would be down close to the water to help him move through the water efficiently. Don’t get hung up on things that don’t really matter. I see even experienced judges get all involved in things that do not make a great Labrador. Look for correct outline, soundness, correct coat and tail, and kindness of expression. Try to see through the han- dling. Sometimes you may have to work to find the best Labs and to disregard the handling. My ultimate goal for the breed? I want a sound and beautiful Labrador Retriever that can do the work asked of it, with a sense of humor! My favorite dog show memory? Showing at the Westminster Kennel Club show when Mr. Thomas Bradley escorted my 81year- old father-in-law to ringside so that my father-in-law could see me show my dog. No one outside of the official photographer was sup- posed to take pictures from the show floor, but Mr. Bradley (the chief Steward) made way for Mr. Robert Vaughn, Sr. to take his cherished pictures. It was so kind, and I will never forget it. One thing I would like to say is that the people in the Labrador world are some of the best you will find anywhere. And they are really good cooks! SUSANWILLUMSEN I grew up in the dog world through my aunt, Carol Willum- sen, the “original” Willcare. I have been breeding Labradors for 38
342 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , N OVEMBER 2019
LABRADOR RETRIEVER BY FRANCES O. SMITH DVM PHD DACT Vice President, The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc, Health Chair, The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc THE T he Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog in the United States where it has maintained its popularity as number one in registration for the past 20 years. This is certainly due to their phenomenal temperament and temperament suitable for a variety of pursuits beyond the hunting environment. The most distinguishing characteristics of the Labra- dor Retriever are its short, dense weather resistant coat; an “otter” tail; a clean-cut head with broad back skull and moderate stop; powerful jaws; and its “kind” friendly eye, expressing character, intelligence and good temperament.
trainability which allows the Labrador unusual versatility. The breed dates back to a least the 1830s when it was introduced from ships trading between the Labrador region of Canada and Poole in Dorchester. Early fans of the breed include the Earl of Malmesbury, the Duke of Buccleuch, the Earl of Home and Sir John Scott. At first the dogs were not referred to as Labradors. The first Labrador was described as not being larger than the English Pointer, more often black than other colours, long in its head and nose with a deep chest, fine legs, short and smooth coat and did not carry its tail as highly as the Newfoundland. In 1887, the Earl of Malmesbury wrote a letter, “We have always called mine Labrador dogs and I have kept mine as pure as I could from the first that I had from Poole.” There is a stud book of the Duke of Buccleuch’s Labra- dor Retrievers which make it possible to work out pedigrees of the two dogs that contributed most to produce today’s Labradors. The Labrador was first recognized as a separate breed by the English Kennel Club in 1903. The American Kennel Club registered its first Labrador Retriever in 1918 Brocklehurst Nell who was import- ed from Scotland. The first yellow Labrador on record was born in 1899 (Ben of Hyde). Chocolate Labrador Retrievers appeared in the late 1800s with brown puppies documented at Buccleuch kennels in 1892. From the Labrador Breed Standard, the essence of the breed can be described as follows: General Appearance The Labrador Retriever is a strongly built, medium-sized, short- coupled dog possessing a sound, athletic, well-balanced conforma- tion that enables it to function as a retrieving gun dog; the sub- stance and soundness to hunt waterfowl or upland game for long hours under difficult conditions; the character and quality to win in the show ring; and the temperament to be a family companion. Physical features and mental characteristics should denote dog bred to perform as an efficient Retriever of game with a stable
Above all, a Labrador Retriever must be well balanced, enabling it to move in the show ring or work in the field with little or no effort. The typical Labrador possesses style and qual- ity without over refinement, and substance without lumbering or cloddiness. The Labrador is bred primarily as a working gun dog; structure and soundness are of great importance. It is inappropriate to judge Labradors strictly on the ever nuanced idea of type. Movement is a critical element of the Labra- dor Retriever given the emphasis in the Labrador standard on struc- ture and soundness. There are differences in the breed standard from country to country. In the United States, as in many other Sporting breeds, there has been a divergence in physical appearance and in energies and aptitudes. Conformation Labradors or as John Q Public identifies them: “British” Labradors tend to be bulky, and stockier with broader heads, heavier coats, big otter tails and calmer dispositions. Our conformation bred dogs need to be differentiated from the British field dog which is an additional style that is heavily marketed in the United States—these dogs are smaller than their US counterparts—tend to have longer bodies, longer muzzles and very slick coats. These dogs are famed for their natural hunting skill and low energy as family pets. Our “American” Labradors: i.e. dogs from field and performance pedigrees tend to be lankier, lighter framed, longer muzzled and often do not have the classic “otter” tail. These American dogs have tremendous intelligence and stamina, a great work ethic and great courage. They tend to have more energy than the typical conformation bred dog. It has been many years since the last Dual Champions, i.e. a dog that is both a Show Champion and a Field Champion. The differences seen today in our Labradors make it very unlikely we will see one again. In the United Kingdom dogs bred for hunting and field trial work are selected first for working ability, whereas the conformation >
“The first Labrador was described as not being larger than the English Pointer, more often black than other colours, LONG IN ITS HEAD AND NOSE WITH A DEEP CHEST, FINE LEGS, SHORT AND SMOOTH COAT AND DID NOT CARRY ITS TAIL AS HIGHLY AS THE NEWFOUNDLAND.”
344 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , N OVEMBER 2019
The Labrador Retriever
BY FRANCES O. SMITH DVM PHD DACT continued CHAMPION DOGS WITH MASTER HUNTING TITLES
dogs are selected for their conformation to the standard and other characteristics sought by show judges. A similar selection process occurs in the Labrador in the United States although the purpose of a breed standard is to select for breeding animals and for dogs that embody the breed’s function. The Labrador Retriever is pleasant, outgoing and tractable enabling it to serve the public in a multitude of venues. They are excellent family dogs that are trainable and need training. They generally love children. Labradors do shed and it may be wise to match the coat color of your dog to the colors in your home. Labradors are the most commonly used breed as guide dogs for the blind and they excel as assistance dogs and as therapy dogs. Lab- rador Guide dogs have successfully guided their charges to safety in extreme situations. These dogs also work successfully as detec- tion dogs and tracking dogs both for the military and our police forces where a strong indefatigable retrieve drive is needed. The Labrador Retriever has served the US as military working dogs in multiple arenas. Labradors are powerful and enthusiastic swimmers that can tolerate cold water. They are capable of remaining quiet, mark- ing falls and retrieving both dead and wounded birds. Many are also outstanding upland retrievers who work in the field and are eligible to compete in AKC Hunting tests and AKC Upland test for Retrievers. The Labrador Retriever is overall a healthy breed. The CHIC requirements for the breed are OFA hips, OFA elbows, OFA eyes, EIC testing and testing for the dilute gene. Recommended addi- tional tests are the prcd PRA test, cardiac testing, and CNM test- ing. While other testing is available, the tests should be selected based on Parent Club and veterinary advice. The breed deserves the popularity it has attained and it is the mission of the breeders to maintain the qualities that make them the most desirable dog in the United States.
#80 CH Briarwood’s Jumpin Jack Black Flash MH (bm, 2018) CH Bidwell To Hiddensprings Covey Buster MH (bf, 2018) CH Mar-Jo’s Major Attitude MH CGC (bf, 2018) CH Wiscoy’s Carnival MH (bf, 2018)
CH Pathways Tygrrsaurus Rex Of Fair Haven MH WCX CGC (ym, 2017) GCH Seawind Fergmar Bells and Whistles MH UDX OM1 BN (ym, 2017). The ONLY GCH, MH, UDX Labrador Retriever in the world!! GCH CH Boynes Avian Investigator MH (bf, 2016) CH Falline Telemark CD, RN, MH (yf, 2016) CH Rockycreeks Jack Daniels CD PCD BN RN MH (bm) CH Duckback Armbrook’s Indigo CD MH (bm) GCH CH Watersedge John Quincy Adams MH SHU CGC (bm) CH Cedarwood’s Rollickin’ Good Thyme CD BN RE MH (cf, 2015) CH B And M Meinhold Col. Hawker RN MH CGC (ym) CH Klassic’s High Voltage F-18 MH (bm) CH Oasis Diamond Del Rio MH (yf) CH Deep Run Casablanca MH (ym) CH Spirithawk Let It Ride MH (yf) CH Mar-Jo’s Rough-N-Ready MH (ym) CH Wiscoys Midnight Train MH (bm) CH Kohlercreek Radiance At Honorbright MH (yf, 2013) CH Briarwood’s Luna Brillante MH (yf) CH Grampian Bedizened Viking RA MH (bf) CH Briarglen’s Celtic Caper MH (yf) Am/Can CH ReiMur Juz Fulla Myself CDX RE MH CGC (bm) CH Sonlight’s Nachusa Storm Chaser MH (yf) CH Topwater Hiddenspring Yuletide RN MH (bd) GCH CH Lobuff Major Yeager At Asquam MH (yd) CH Seawind’s Fergmar Edubard UD OM1 MH (bm) GCH Am/Can CH Poplar Forest Topp Gunn MH (bm) GCH Viking Hil’Die Tanzbarin CD RA MH (yf) CH Nachusa’s I Walk The Line MH (ym) CH Dickendall Buckstone Deck The Halls MH (bm) CH Kerrybrook’s Vince MH (ym) CH Yellow Roses Rio Bravo MH (bm) CH Hollyhill Password To Bidwell MH (bf) CH Raintree Wooly Bully RN MH (bm) GCH CH Hidden Springs Blue Goose MH (ym) Am/Can CH Poplar Forest Play It Again Sam UD RE MH (bm) CH Ridge View No Fear MH (ym) CH Lands End Whatever She Wants CDX RN MH (bf)
CH Caer Bren Superhero CD RN MH (ym) CH Ransom’s I Wanna Be Good CD MH (bm)
Am/Can Ch. Lor-Al’s Got Our Power Play CD MH (bm) CH Ransom Armbrook’s Hole In One CD MH (bm) CH Pembroke Blk Mist Poplar Forest MH (bf) CH Ransom’s Armbrook Indigo Hue CD MH (bm) CH Bayview’s Aliho Denali MH (bm) Am/Can Ch. Fawnhaven Hard Act To Follow CD MH (bm) CH Waterbound Locke On Laddy MH (bm) CH Sundance’s Paddy’s Irish Cream CD MH (ym) CH Danikk Leap of Faith MH (ym)
CH Belle Tradition O’Broad Reach MH (bm) CH Marit’s Slippry Round the Bend MH (bm) CH/MACH Prospect’s Slam Dunk UD MH RN MXP5 MJP5 PAX (ym, 2002) CH Winnie’s Block Buster MH (ym) CH Ashridge Captain Wentworth MH (ym) CH Naiken Indian Temple MH (cm) CH Campbelcroft Peppermint Paddy CDX MH (ym) CH Ashway’s Willcare Impression CD MH (cm) CH Bayside’s Mark West CD MH (bm, 2000) CH Avalon’s Regal Buck MH (bm) Am/Can Ch. Clarion’s Bad As I Wanna Be CD MH CKC MH (bm) CH Westwind’s Chilkoot Charlie MH (ym) CH Brandywine’s Westdale Duggan MH (ym) CH Franklin’s Pickpocket for Kerrybrook MH (ym, 1999) Am/Can. Ch. Brookland’s Mischievous Sealion MH CDX NA (ym) CH Ruthless Blazing Brentley CDX MH (cm) CH Aliho’s Igloo Iggy UDX MH (ym) Am/Mex/Int’l Ch. Cook’s Midnight Bandit MH (bm) CH Topform’s Edward MH (bm, 1995)
CH Willcare’s Gypsy Talkeetna CD MH (ym) CH Willcare’s Gypsy Chitina CD MH (yf) CH Devon’s Rough Magic CD TDX MH (bf) CH Harbortop’s Redwick Valhalla MH (bm, 1993)
CH Broad Reach Gripper UD MH (bf) CH Duckback’s HiHope CD MH (yf) CH Plantiers Ruthless Ruthie MH CD (cf)
CH Broad Reach’s Trace Of Grace MH (bf, 1991) CH Buddy of Cedar Bush Creek UD MH (bm, 1989)
Fergus is registered with AKC, CKC and UKC and his official name is: GCH CH Can CH UKC CH HRCH UH ReiMur’s Juz Fulla Myself CDX RE MH CGC Can CD/JH/WCX.
CH Simerdown Royal Canuck MH (ym) CH Romany Sun Jester CD MH (ym, 1988)
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