Monday, 6 December 2010

So now girl v girl...

There have been a couple of complaints that on my last blog post I compared a male US show labrador to a UK working female and that might have exaggerated the differences between the two types.

Fair point.

So here's a picure of a 3-yr-old US show bitch from the same breeder...
© Riverlane Labradors
..compared with the original working UK bitch:


  1. I would still say that the main difference here is that the first bitch is very very overweight.

    But I definitely prefer the working version!

  2. They dont actually look too different , apart from the top lab needs to lose a LOT of weight.

    I have heard from a dual purpose breeder that they have to feed their working dogs up for the show ring or they wouldnt win.

  3. That is an erroneous statemt.
    The structure of a working Labrador is totally different from a show Labrador. It is most certainly not only food. If you starved that top Lab it would still have much heavier bone, a thicker neck, a more massive head, a deeper chest and porportionally shorter legs than the working bitch.

    If Anonymous is a dual purpose breeder, I wonder how often her dogs get to pick up and whether they are shown only in spring and summer. Are these dogs subjected to a constant seesaw of weight loss and gain?

  4. No they do differ substantually. The difference in posture between these dogs says it all. The show bitch's top line is lower than the workin bitch's, her top line is slightly more arched even without all the fat. This would be impossible if the structure of the dogs did not differ. The show bitch has also a thicker head.

    The working bitch will always be more slender than the show bitch, I've seen the difference of these two types even when both dogs are at their target weight.

  5. I dont have labs but I have seen it mentioned more than once , those that try to work and show have to feed them up for the ring and slim them down for working.
    I mentioned it because I thought the same as you that the dog is on a seesaw of weight loss and gain.

    I still think that the top bitch would not be so shockingly different to the working if she lost some weight. Her head looks too small for her body there

  6. We all can clearly see that the US show bitch is extremly obese and there for unhealthy, thats disgracful for a labrador!! In the Kennel Club Breed Standard (UK), it states that the labrador should be - very agile ("which precludes excessive body weight or excessive substance"). On the AKC standard it states that bitches should weight 55 to 70 pounds (24 to 31 kilos) an also stating the Lab should be athletic! Now for me, a dog who is 21 to 23 inches should NOT be weighing in at 31 kilos!! Now, if they change the weight standard, there wouldn't be any problems like this!

  7. If there is going to be any change in the weight standard, it will be upward to accommodate the heavier dogs. And there we go again. What a vicious circle, breeding to a changing whim.
    But, I can't produce dogs that weigh in properly, so let's just make this little adjustment to the standard. It's not much, it's a tiny tweak. Oh, your dog isn't heavy enough? Sorry, lad, you know the rules.

  8. If that top show Lab was walking around in your local park it would be looked at as overweight, maybe even bordering on obesity. I don't see how that can be seen as "normal" within the show world. It's pretty plain to see what Lab is more appealing to the eye and healthier looking.


  9. From the AKC standard -

    "The underline is almost straight, with little or no tuck-up in mature animals."

    So they feed them until their bellies hang low enough to give you that straight underline. WTH? Why would you want "little or no tuck up"?

  10. Here's what it says in the UK standard:

    "Chest of good width and depth, with well sprung barrel ribs - this effect not to be produced by carrying excessive weight. Level topline. Loins wide, short-coupled and strong."

  11. I work in a kennel and we have working and show line(north american-I am in canada, but some of the working ones are from US kennels)that stay with us and the differnce is not even close to being just weight, in fact the show line labs we have are NOT overweight, you can feel their ribs perfectly and they have an obvious they look like the working labs? not even close. the basic pet breds vary a lot, the working lines are lighter all around and more similer looking to that UK working bitch, and those dogs most certainly can and do work just fine in the fridgid waters, I know I lot of working labs and they travel all over north america for hunting, they dont have any problems with the cold. the show line ones are shorter, blockier, and have incredably heavy bone.

    are the temperments differnt in the UK? I notice that the show and pet line labs I have met drive me insane because they are so high strung, when they was all I knew for a while, I absolutly despised the breed, they drove me nuts. then, when I got my retriever(Toller) and started attending classes with the local hunting club, I started to meet real working labs..then I started at the kennel and met more real working labs..and..I LOVE them, their temperments are so much nicer, athletic but not loony tunes, smart, easier to train, not as hard headed etc..

    1. Don’t know if this has any bearing on your perception, but Labs are very slow to mature. My non-hyper English-type Lab, NOT fat!, took a couple years to mellow out. What a great dog he was.

  12. I have always liked the "retriever" type of dog, and regarding labs I have known both 'English show' types and 'American working' types, and have known healthy, great looking dogs from both sides.
    However, the slpits in the lab and golden breeds is one of the reasons that I tend toward the flatcoats. Its nice to have the option of a breed of retriever that is gorgeous to look at, can do well in the showring, if you will...and still retains its working ability. They do have their health issues (cancers) but really, what breed doesn't?

  13. There was a court case over this in the US in 1994. 6 dog breeders (last names: Jessup, Vaughn, Kelly, Owen, Watkins, Love) sued the American Kennel Club and the Labrador Retriever Club because the clubs made a change in the standard for the breed.

    The height was not changed, it was still, 22 1/2 - 24 1/2 inches for male dogs, but bitches an inch less. But the height was changed from a desired height to a required height.

    The 6 breeders who sued had smaller sized Labrador Retrievers.

    Also, there are many Labrador Retrievers in the US: our field types (which are different from your field type, ours being more competitive sport types than your hunting types), as well as show types, pet types, hunting types, and heirloom types.

  14. I believe that the easiest way around any problems, legal or social, concerning changing the standards is this:

    Leave the stodgy stick-in-the-mud breeders behind breeding in their own little gene puddles, and move forward, with the younger and the younger-at-heart breeders of all ages, to form new, health tested, gene pools - under new breed banners with new-style breed clubs.

    For example: If the current (insert breed name here) breeders wont breed dogs with a coat that the people who buy their puppies can handle, good health, and a temperament suitable to family life, or they refuse to change their standards - then let them have the breed club name.

    What is a name? It will quickly be known as "the old name". Don't waste effort fighting over it, move on. Get the good breeders. who can improve the breed, into the KC under a different, breed name.

    Let the older ways gently age out. But make a good path for the next batch of dog breeders.

    For example: Let Cavalier King Charles Spaniels keep their standard, their club, and whatnots, but, instead of the KC waiting for some of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breeders to produce healthier dogs for the KC to recognise, let the KC write up a new breed, and welcome fit breeding stock into it.

    If the KC found a handful of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breeders, or people willing to become breeders of the same, they could form a breed club and call it, maybe something like, King Charles Spaniels, or KC Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, or King Spaniels (maybe ask the person, whose name it is closest to, which name he would like, since it does sort of sound like it could become his name? Wouldn't want to offend.)

    Then, write into this new spaniel breed that all puppies must be micro-chipped, by the breeder, before sold, that all breeders must microchip all puppies, even ones they keep, by 8 weeks old.

    That (name the health tests) must be done, with the microchip number and results recorded with the KC before any of these spaniels can be bred or shown.

    Add that, before breeding or showing, all possible tests must be done for diseases found in a dog's line or breed (this gives the KC power to let go of any dog that has a genetic disease not yet listed for the breed).

    Add allowable out-crosses, and a system of letting them in. For example: a show class for 3/4 CKC Spaniel, 1/4 Cocker or 1/4 Maltese, with approved 3/4 breed spaniels allowed to register puppies if breed to an approved full blood.

    Just write up what you need in the breed, have solicitors/barristers/lawyers go over it, re-write up the bits needed, find breeders, and would-be-breeders to join, and leave the old ones who don't want to change sitting on the side lines.

    Who wouldn't want a puppy from health tested lines instead of a puppy from untested stock?

    Then the KC could go right through the breeds, maybe adding the initials "KC" to each breed to form a breed only of those dogs micro-chipped and tested. Make sure to forever allow tested old stock and judged 3/4 cross-breds (from allowed outcross breeds) to migrate into the new "KC" gene pools.

    It is pointless to try to fight the old ways, if you can just ignore them, and walk around them.

    I am NOT a solicitor/barrister/lawyer of any type. I do not know the legal problems; it is just my own best guess to a path through this mess.

  15. I am so happy that you are doing this Jemima.

    I would hope dog breeders recognise your efforts and bravery, but I don't find many breeders who want to think about ways to improve how they breed dogs.

    I believe that greed is a big motivator for the breeders of many puppies. I favor limiting the number of breeding dogs one person can own - which makes me unpopular with the puppy mills.

    I favor health tests for show and breeding stock, which makes me unpopular with many show breeders, and some small breeders too.

    I favor change, which makes me unpopular with people who are enjoying things as they are now, and who don't want to change to improve the future.

    At least the KC has listened. And it is making some changes. It appears to be trying.

    Perhaps the KC can make the needed changes, and the UK can export healthy dogs for generations to come.

    It might even be worth the (tax write off) trip to the UK for some dog breeders to get healthy dogs, if the KC can make the changes, and if the KC dog breeders will be determined to breed healthy dogs with good temperaments.

  16. We often read about the differences between dogs bred for dog shows and those bred for work or sports, but what of the future lifestyle that most puppies will live?

    Pet dogs. Most puppies are bought and kept to be pets. Shouldn't dog breeders feel for the future happiness of their puppies, and the happiness of the families who buys their puppies?

    Most Labrador Retrievers aren't hunters or show dogs, where are their photos? Have they been forgotten again? I feel that dog breeders should remember the pet Labrador Retriever too.

    This explains it well, although it is about sled dogs, not retrievers:

  17. I do not think that creating new breeds is the answer to anything frankly. That would be shooting oneself in the foot through increased inbreeding.

    I believe strongly that the KC's arguments about the breeders are going to keep breeding and just do what they want, is a load of bull. These breeders do not have the fundings or sponsors to hold popular shows such as Crufts. They do not have the funding to hold any quality show at all. They would be excluded from all kind of KC activity, no tests, no register over pedigrees, no shows, no help, no nothing. They would even get suspicious looks from puppy buyers that don't understand why the dog isn't registered with the KC and still a "purebred".

    The KC is far too valuable for the breeders to cease their membership.

  18. Regarding the person who mentioned started a new cavalier king charles breed .
    I have done rescue for cavaliers ( rehomed around 200 ) Just looking at the kc reg rescue dogs we got it is obvious The breed is already secretly mixed with cockers and springers ( larger litters more money ) papillons to make them prettier.
    maybe even a bit of beagle ( they must of got the greed factor from somewhere !)
    also american cocker or lhasa to add coat in show lines
    They are still just as unhealthy. we even had a red cavalier with cocker rage syndrome

    as a note the original cavalier was the marlbrough spaniel. a much lighter prettier dog than today's "chunky" breed.

  19. I had to laugh at one of the comments on here saying that show/pet bred Labs had high-strung temperaments vs the field bred variety. You are kidding, right? Show labs are notorious for being calm couch potatoes while American-bred field Labradors are the most neurotic, high-strung hunting dogs. It's gotten to the point where most American field Labs must be trained with shock collars versus their UK working cousins that are still bred for biddable/calm temperaments as well as drive.

    I love working-bred Labs but give me a UK bred working Lab over an American one any day. UK working stock have dogs that exhibit type and proper temperament.

  20. You could start a new breed, called The British Beardie, The Welsh Beared Collie, or whatever.

    This could be a KC breed, of the new type, which would now require: micro-chips, health tests, fresh hip scores within the past 6 months prior to being allowed to show or be bred, and breeding restrictions.

    I like the Beardie photos you used. You could write the standard using photos - but beware, people like their own dogs photos used, and that of their dogs' relatives, and photos from their friends, or photos from people like themselves.

    If you are going to re-do the whole of KC standards, maybe import help, someone who doesn't know anyone in Britain, and who doesn't care about who's who, so they can make unbiased choices, based on the dogs' photos, not the other end of the leash.

    Yeah, avant garde thinkers might seem a bit forward or upsetting, but nice people have trouble telling other people to go jump in the ocean.

    To be able to choose individual dogs' photos to be in the standard as examples, a person needs to be free to choose what is right, not who is saying it. But the public wants illustrating photos, not words alone. Choose wisely.

    You could use the photos on this post as an example of how to split field type British Labrador Retrievers into a new breed - one which requires micro-chips, health tests, etc, and passing a hunting test.

  21. In my opinion, giving the KC more power to control people's breeding is not the solution.
    Give independence to breed clubs and individuals, remove the 'peer pressure' and politics of all-breed dog shows and make dog breeding a smaller scale affair where people with different breeding values and goals can more easily change things without becoming pariahs to the system (as is the case now), and it will be a big improvement.

  22. Pai, you have a good point, to paraphrase: There is more than one way to swing a cat.

    Any of several route will take me from here to the nearest beach, but all of then require that I get up and do something to make the trip there.

    Same with improving dog breeding - many different paths could be used to reach the same goal - if the powers that be in dog breeding would just get moving.

    One way, is for the kennel clubs to die. There are people fearing this, and other people wanting this.
    Perhaps what would take their place, would be like in horse breeds where each breed is it's own club, or like in North American cat clubs where there are more than one big cat club, or maybe even as a newer web network of breeders each going directly to the public through something like OFA (famous for hip and eye records).

    I hate to say this, but the easiest way to end the decline of unique genes, to slow inbreeding, and to encourage dog breeders to focus on breeding for health and temperament is to end competitive events using dogs.

    But in all such goals, one must consider, not just the dogs, but the people too, both the people who buy the puppies, and the breeders who produce them, as well as all of the people into canine competitions.

    Compromise doesn't have to be ugly or painful, but it is often slower than forced changes, but compromise tastes better than force - and, whenever possible, that is the path I look for.

    The KC doesn't have to die to save dogs, but it needs to re-boot, or when it does go down, it will take the dogs with it, because by then the breeds might be too inbred to change or save.

    I agree, especially in North America, it would be easier to make the improvements if/after the kennel clubs are gone, but it doesn't have to be that way, if they can change.

    The KC is not the only animal club, or even the only dog club, having trouble modernizing. America has the same problem, and seems to me, to be showing nil ability to improve or update. If it weren't so sad, I would laugh.

    If you haven't taken the quiz yet, it is worth a minute or two of your time, pay attention to the different options that were available to the clubs, but what route they actually took: (Oh, and Jemima, should definately be listed amoung the brave):