The posting of this pic has prompted a humdinger of a scrap on the Purina Pro for Professionals Facebook page.
"Holy fatness!" says one camp.
"You haters!" says the other.
His breeder claims: "I can assure you that he is solid muscle and great coat! A Labrador should not have a visible tuckup (per the standard) and there should not be ribs seen but only felt. He's a gorgeous boy and I'm proud of him and his accomplishments in the care of his wonderful owners and handlers!"
Have a look at the difference between Trouble and the 1964-born Am Can Ch Shamrock Acres Light Brigade ("Briggs") - one of the biggest winning American Labradors of all time.
This is what 50 years of the show-ring has done to the Labrador in the US. And I am at a total loss to understand how anyone could think the dog on the right is any kind of improvement.
I live in a part of the UK where we see mainly working-bred Labs - although we did have a show-bred Lab in the village who wheezed, waddled and limped his way into old age. It distresses me to see what the show-ring has done to the breed. My vet told me recently that they are doing an increasing number of laryngeal tie-backs in obese Labs.
Now I am sure that Trouble is a loved dog with a good quality of life. He is not brachycephalic; he's not achondroplastic; he isn't plagued with fester-pit wrinkling.
But he certainly looks fat to me - and fat is a welfare issue for dogs, particularly Labradors who are so prone to joint disease in older age - whatever their hips scores when they are younger..
There's a considerable irony in Purina using this dog to flog their dog food because the company itself produces this body-condition-score graphic featuring the yellow Labrador. Trouble would score a 7/8... way too heavy.
And, of course, one of the most compelling studies ever on Labrador weight came out of Purina's own laboratories. It found that keeping Labradors slightly underweight extended their life by two years. In also found that the age when 50 percent of the dogs required treatment for a chronic condition was 12 years among the lean-fed dogs, compared to 9.9 years for the control dogs.
The dogs in the UK show-ring are not so obese. This is this year's Crufts Best of Breed.
But they are still nothing like the gloriously-lithe dogs that actually do the work the breed was developed to do.
Here's what Labradors looked like 100 years ago - this is Horton Max who in 1916 won the Labrador Dog Challenge Certificate at the National Dog Show in the UK.
Now as it happens, Max wasn't purebred - he was three-quarters Flatcoat, and only one quarter Labrador. Despite what many people think, dog breeds have not been trapped in closed gene pools since the beginning of time. For the first few decades of the Kennel Club (founded in 1873), stud books were not closed and the Kennel Club was happy to register dogs on the basis of how they looked. Flatcoats and Labs were pretty commonly interbred and as the short-hair gene is dominant, many of the flatcoat-lab crosses were registered as Labradors, with no restrictions on their ability to compete in KC events.
Indeed, Max's maternal grandmother, Vesper Belle, wasn't even KC-registered.
This wasn't universally accepted though and after a fuss about the "half-breeds" the Labrador Club was founded and the KC stopped them competing in conformation shows (although they were still allowed to compete in KC field trials).
For some time after this, Labradors remained dual purpose. This is Bramshaw Bob who won Crufts in 1932 and 1933 - a working gundog.
And this is Cheveralla Ben of Banchory, who won Best in Show at Crufts in 1937 - a far cry from today's show dogs.
Today, dogs like this are only seen in the Gamekeepers classes, and they don't win outside of them.
There was a glimmer of hope last year when the Labrador Retriever Club of America wrote a strong letter to AKC judges urging them to pay special attention to the standard which asks that "labrador retrievers shall be shown in working condition, well muscled and without excess fat" (a letter that I note has now been taken down off the Club's website)
So it is depressing that Trouble won Best Veteran at the biggest Labrador Show in the US. And he wasn't the only chubby chops at the Potomac show.
This dog won Best in Show - in flagrant disregard of the standard that asks that the length of a Labrador's legs are half the height of the dog. This dog has loose lower eyelids, too, not ideal in a working breed (see here).
There is a pet obesity epidemic in the US and UK; our perception of what is normal in dogs has shifted considerably - as it has in humans too.
Seriously. It's delusional.
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