flat-coated retriever Q&A WITH KURT ANDERSON, JUDY GLADSON, CHERYL KISTNER AND BARB KRIEGER
CK: Heads. BK: I am new to judging so will base my thoughts on what I feel is important: the ability to judge the breed stand- ing and moving and assess what is correct and incorrect movement. The ability to feel proper structure with your hands and as well as see it with your eyes. The ability to see correct proportions of the body, especially the head piece and expression. If I was forced to select only one area from the list above it would be the headpiece. The shape of the Flat-Coat head is of critical importance, the breed’s headpiece does not resemble that of a Golden, Labrador or Setter. Perhaps the breed standard is at fault for not being clear enough on what a Flat-Coat head should look like: it appears that some judges are missing the “cast in one piece”, a muzzle that is nearly equal in length and breadth to the skull, a muzzle that not only has depth but is well filled in under the eye and moving forward towards the nostrils. When viewed from the top they need to think of it as a blunted wedge. The stop is barely perceptible when viewed from the side, with slightly raised eyebrows for a soft expression. 8. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. KA: In Flat-Coats, temperament is of paramount importance. Please don’t reward dogs that exhibit any signs of aggres- sion or excessive timidity. JG: We have some health issues like all breeds, longevity issues and I also believe we have some instability in tem- perament. If everyone was open and willing to discuss the issues with the dogs we have bred, we would all be better off. If you breed enough, you will produce prob- lems. It’s how we deal with those problems that make us good breeders and an asset to the breed. I am afraid, as small as a breed that we are, that not everyone is honest and open and that leads us down a slippery slope to nev- er being able to correct our issues. We have an awesome health database that is free for FCRSA members, but very few of us use it to the full extent which is unfortunate. BK: To me the Flat-Coat should have a superb temperament and truly be the “Peter Pan” of the dog world. 9. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? KA: I remember showing a 6-9 month old puppy boy who nervously “dribbled” when being stacked. The puppy was awarded winner’s dog and when being photographed, the ever-patient judge quipped, “Please don’t let him pee on my blue suede shoes.” There’s never a dull moment with a young Flat-Coated Retriever. JG: I think when you show long enough, everything hap- pens from having your dog pull your skirt down to your ankles to taking the wrong dog to the dog show! CK: Woman in the breed wearing skirt and slip. Slip fell down and she reached down and slipped it off without missing a step. BK: My waist band gave out while I was showing in Sweep- stakes at the Nationals. I must say I did a pretty good job of not revealing too much.
There are a very few breeders here that always had good type, character and structure, but we had a lot of generic looking long-haired black (and liver) dogs. I see some breeders, especially some of the newer breeders, not being able to move away from the “generic” style and that is unfortunate. I am hoping with some renewed educa- tional efforts on the part of the FCRSA, these new breed- ers will come to understand the Breed Standard better. CK: I am not a judge but I think the dogs are in general sounder than when I first started. BK: I can not answer this from a judges point of view but only from a breeders point of view. The definition of better is “of a more excellent or effective type or qual- ity”. One only has to look back into the Flat-Coat books or look at pictures from as far back as the 1930s to see excellent type and quality. Dogs that I would be proud to take into the show ring and use for breeding. It is up to us as breeders to carry that forward as we plan our breedings. Today we also have some excellent breed rep- resentatives. Perhaps one should look at this question as, are we as breeders being careful to breed within the stan- dard. We have a very small gene pool and we must breed with great care and be highly selective. Rushing to the latest top winning dog or using the latest foreign import is not always the answer. It is not up to us as breeders to create a better dog or change the appearance to suit our likes, but to improve what we do have to get closer to the breed standard. 7. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? KA: Echoing what I said above, I think new judges misun- derstand proper substance, which translates into proper silhouette. I also think judges don’t fully understand or appreciate the importance of one of the hallmarks of our breed, the unique long, strong, clean, “one piece” head, which is unique to the Flat-Coated Retriever. I see more and more generic heads being rewarded in the show ring. JG: They are not black Goldens. “WE HAVE A VERY SMALL GENE POOL AND WE MUST BREED WITH GREAT CARE AND BE HIGHLY SELECTIVE.”
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A UGUST 2018 • 257
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