Monday 1 August 2011

The pedigrees' chum?

I have, in the main, a good relationship with those who work their dogs. That is because those who use their dogs for sport, catching or retrieving their supper, herding or guarding their stock, home or family, understand implicitly about breeding for function - and, particularly, how form follows function, not the other way round.

That's not to say that there aren't problems in working dogs - there are. But conformation issues are rarely an issue.

This article, by David Tom, was published in Shooting Times a couple of weeks ago. To pre-empt the inevitable comments, I am pretty sure that is a Komondor, not a Hungarian Puli, on the bottom left of the article (rap ST's knuckles not mine, please!).

I love this picture of my flatcoat Maisie. She often turns her right ear like this when you talk to her. It makes me laugh every time. Which is am sure at least partly why she does it.

PS: for overseas readers, the title is a play on Pedigree Petfoods' 'Pedigree Chum' brand of dog food - sold only under this name in the UK, I think.

Click to enlarge


  1. MOre self seeking publicity, and about as accurate with facts as you are, which aint great!!

  2. Lovely article.
    Especially liked the description of how Maisie's natural working instinct kicked in on the shoot.
    My parents had THE most gorgeous rescue yellow lab called Jake. Physically he was somewhere between a taller slimmer working lab but his head looked more like a show/pet type (if that makes sense). In the house he always brought you something be it a slipper, toy, welly boot. On walks if he spotted water that was him gone for ages, swimming, picking up rocks from under the water even diving down.

    I have friends that have labs that are quite different. The working types are more "hyper" compared to the stockier smaller pet (?) types.

    It does worry me that some people get the working bred dogs as pets and do not provide them with the active stimulation mentally that these dogs need, and that this could lead to behavioural problems?

    Do you think there is a difference behaviourally in working versus show types?

    Could a happy medium be found between the two, or should it be down to the breeders to find the right homes for their dogs?

    ps. the dog bottom left.......imagine just one flea in its coat!

  3. I too had a lab (black) many years ago who loved water and behaved just the same as the dog in the above post. When he had retrieved his 'rock' he would then bring it out of the water and roll on it. The first time he did this I thought that he was drowning as he slowly disappeared underneath the water, only for him to reappear with a large stone in his mouth.

    I have been involved with training dogs through running training clubs and in teaching individuals for many years, so feel that I can give my own thoughts on the above question. Many breeds were originally bred to do some sort of work, so I think stimulating the mind by training for work or just performing 'trick's will keep that dog happy, as long as the training is reward based.

    I had a show bred golden retriever who was shown but also worked obedience and reaching advanced level at open/champ shows, so can be done. I have to say that he was harder work than my two following goldens that were bred for obedience, but maybe by then my own training techniques had improved.

    Keep up the good work Jemima!

  4. The sad thing is that so few dogs find employment these days. Many breeds love to pull (Rotti's come to mind . . . fantastic, strong cart dogs). But dog carts, thanks to the early work of the RSPCA, were banned in as cruel in the late 19th century and have all but disappeared. Only a small fraction of gun dogs will ever work beside a shooter. With Labs, half a century ago, the norm among breeders was to try for Dual Champions, meaning titles in both showing and retrieving. Obedience, agility, dancing with dogs . .. better than nothing . .. but not a real substitute for herding, field retrieving, or pulling. Tracking is great fun for many dogs, but it's SO time consuming to set up a scent trail.

  5. Great story. No offense, but at least over here, "chum" is a slang term for "fish bait". When I first saw the title to the article, I thought that maybe the Pedigree dog food company was branching out. --- Rod Russell, Orlando, Florida USA

  6. As someone who hunts, hunt tests, and shows are flatcoats it was wonderful to read of your experience in taking your flatcoat and seeing them come alive. In fact, that is the whole reason why I started training our dogs more actively for hunt tests and even got my own hunting license.

    And I must admit that the more I work our dogs and see other dogs work, the more I understand and see what kind of form is best suited for a retriever.