The breed has traditionally had a struggle with coming and going movement. Sometimes poor training and the exuberant personality is the cause, while often the fault is indeed structural. Moving the dog rapidly while show- ing off the side gait does not highlight great movement. Often a poorly angulated front paired with a poorly angulated rear can appear to show reach and drive when the dog is floating off the ground. Retrievers should be judged at a moderate trot. Excessive coat groomed like an Irish Setter is unacceptable in this breed. AY: Two traits that I see of concern are first the head that either is blocky or exaggerated and extreme. Both are incorrect and perhaps misunderstood. The other is the interpretation of the word “racy” that is part of our standard. The FC is not cobby or weedy. He must possess the strength of jaw and body and bone to pick up a wet, heavy bird and swim or come through the brush or cover with it. Even though he is racy he still must be retriever type. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? KA: On average, I think the dogs I see now are roughly equivalent to what I saw 15 years ago, neither better or worse. Certain aspects of the breed seem to go in cycles. Early on, I saw a lot of weak rear assemblies. These then got better but lately I’m starting to see weakness again in this area. An area of concern lately is proper bone and substance. Our standard calls for “power without lumber and raciness without weediness.” I see too many of both sexes in the ring lacking in proper bone and substance. The breed should have good bone with moderate tuck- up, not acres of daylight. MD: I think we are in a very strange place right now. The good are very good and the bad are bad. I don’t believe that some breeders are putting their best dogs out there. I saw some promising dogs a few years ago and was hopeful. What happened from there, I don’t exactly know, but there seems to be a lack of breed knowledge even amongst breeders. We, as judges, are in a constant learning mode. It isn’t easy judging. I always say it is easy to be an arm chair quarterback. Go out and try it, judging that is. Every time we enter a ring, touch a dog, or work to apply for a new breed we are in a learning state. Breed- ers need to be continually learning as well. Look out into your own ring or at the end of your own leash. Be objec- tive and do your best. Even if that means not showing or
breeding a particular dog. That doesn’t mean you can’t move forward, just do it with a better representative of the breed.
CH: Yes, I think the FC is better now. As breeders we should always strive for the ideal FCR. No dog is perfect but that is what we should be striving for. Studying the breed and learning what is correct is what we are aiming for. KL: Actually, yes, I do think that the breed is going in the right direction for the most part. More and more breed- ers are paying attention to the standard and taking it seriously. ShM: They are not better than when I started judging, but we have improved health and longevity while losing soundness since I started in the breed. SiM: I think the breed—which I love—is losing soundness. DW: I am a founding member of the Flat-Coated Retriever Society of Canada, attended both the first American and first Canadian National Specialties. I have also had the honor of judging both National Specialties. I feel that generally the animals being exhibited today are much better quality than those being shown in the mid 1970s. Movement—both side gait and coming and going—has improved considerably. The conscientious breeders are doing a good job; however, there is still much room for improvement here. Heads are still an issue although there are many good heads being shown. Silhouette is still a major issue. The Flat-Coat is a longer bodied dog than either a Golden or a Labrador Retriever; however, the length should be in the rib cage and not in the loin. The rib cage should taper to a moderate tuck up. AY: I don’t know if dogs now are better or not. I see both in the ring but most old time exhibitors know me pretty well. There are certainly more animals being shown and more families to look at. There has been quite a move to import from UK and Scandinavia where the FC is quite popular. Like everything, sometimes a little goes a long way! When I first brought my puppy in only one other gentleman had done that so times have really changed. I would like to note that the FCSA has been very instru- mental in health and has worked very hard for the breed. 5. 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,
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