"Ideal" conformation of the working Labrador

Discussion in 'Labrador breeding & genetics' started by JulieT, Apr 9, 2016.

  1. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    I think this is somewhat departing from what I had hoped would be the subject of the thread - if we could get back on track....

    So, what can we learn, and hopefully define or at least articulate, from the conformation of working dogs that can give us some guidance in terms of what a true performance dog looks like?
     
  2. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I dunno, but I like the term 'performance dog'. Much better than 'working'. 'Performance' implies a much broader range of activities (none of which are really 'work' but are all sport/recreation, including gundog stuff).
     
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  3. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I guess that the ideal conformation for performance might depend on what's being performed. e.g. running fast versus jumping versus swimming versus carrying... Thinking of humans, the ideal canoeist (long torso, short legs) is different to the ideal long jumper or high jumper.

    And of course being able to do it without wearing out joints etc at too young an age - that's important. Maybe that's where the angles thing matters most as it means muscles and tendons etc can take the impact, not the joints and bones.

    Slight aside... The recovery time the dog is allowed to have will be important in longevity too, of course... Some recent research on showjumpers found that a week between competitions is not long enough to recover from soft tissue wear and tear and I see no reason why it wouldn't be something similar for dogs. I expect some dogs get worked very hard every weekend or even more often and it's probably too much, no matter what the conformation.
     
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  4. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Good points, @Oberon.

    My own dog has too straight angles, front and back. He is a right old enthusiastic hooligan, and looks like an athletic dog, dashing about energetically. But, because in fact he has had joint problems, I've monitored his gaits and actions very carefully.

    He jumps with his legs tucked under him, where - I observe - dogs with better angulation extend their legs behind and sort of 'follow through' the jump with their hind legs. He still manages to jump just fine though. Repetitive short retrieves, where he uses his front to slam to a halt, can make him a bit stiff (I am not sure that people who are not videoing their dogs everyday like I am would see this!). Again, I think that is due to inadequate front angulation.

    I see a lot of 'working' dogs with as poor angulation as he has...so....
     
  5. Emily

    Emily Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Personally I think that, in an ideal world, there shouldn't be two lines within the breed. In theory, if a dog is bred to match the standard then it should be fit to perform the tasks that we would tradionally expect of that breed. Obviously whether or not their temperament/drive/personality makes them a good gundog (in the case of labs) is an entirely different matter.

    Gee, I'm glad we don't analyse our own confirmation like we do our dogs! :eek::eek:
     
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  6. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Yes, the people who founded the breed definitely did not have two sub-types in mind. Just one type.

    Humans do have conformation shows, (Mr/Miss World/Universe etc) :) ;)
     
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  7. MaccieD

    MaccieD Guest

    When researching breeders in France I never came across this difference between 'field' and 'show' Labradors, they breed Labradors to the conformation standard. The French system is that a puppy is registered by the breeder after birth (LOF) with the French equivalent of the Kennel Club; however to be fully registered a dog must undergo a conformation examination against the breed standard at 15+ months. These examinations are held around the country at various times of the year. The conformation against standard, with all faults highlighted, is recorded against the dog and is available for breeders to review (as are the required health and x-rays results). If a dog has poor conformation it is unlikely to be popular for breeding purposes, and if a dog does not have the conformation examination any offspring can not be registered as LOF, or pedigree as we would term it and can only be advertised as 'non-LOF'.
     
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  8. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    That's interesting, Rosemary - are you sure the breed isn't split in France as elsewhere? It's not unusual for countries to have conformation exams for all dogs (I've looked at Germany, for example) and that doesn't seem to stop a wide variation in Labradors.

    Charlie has as a Grandfather, an extremely popular French dog (Ole), and even I would say that dog had a touch of...er....tank like characteristics! Although a head and face I like very, very much. The French show champions look pretty much in line with international trends. While the pictures on the website of the association sportive des utilisateurs de retrievers, shows pretty much typical working line Labradors.
     
  9. MaccieD

    MaccieD Guest

    Can't comment on photos on the ASUR website or whether all the dogs on there are 'pure' as the website is for 'retreivers' not solely Labradors. There are no conformation statements on the site as it seems to be solely interested in field and working trials, they are however affiliated to the SCC as an organisation. If you go to the Retreiver Club de France, which covers Flatcoats, Labradors, Goldens etc., they do have a conformation for the breeds, which is virtually word for word the same as the Société Centrale Canine (SCC = French Kennel Club)

    http://www.retrieverclubdefrance.com/

    It would seem to me that there is only one standard, although that standard will logically produce some difference in how a dog looks. I would imagine if you were to breed a dog with a 5 for conformity (the highest mark, like Juno's dad) with another 5 conformity dog, the resulting offspring will have a different conformity to those derived from 1 conformity breeding.
     

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  10. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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  11. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    A good find! I enjoyed reading that and now know more about why good angulation is so important.
     
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  12. heidrun

    heidrun Moderator

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    What makes you think that most field trial dogs are not good real-world working dogs? What is a real-world working dog anyway? It is also not quite right to say that most of them have never seen a real life shoot, in my opinion. You can't train a dog to field trial standard without shooting over it a lot.
     
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  13. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Happy for the purpose of the discussion to assume all Field Trial dogs go shooting.
     
  14. Ski-Patroller

    Ski-Patroller Cooper, Terminally Cute

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    I tend to like the taller, American style dogs. As most of you know, the AKC changed the Lab height standard in 1994 at the request of the American Lab Club. I think the taller, leaner American Field style dogs look more athletic. They definitely do better in snow which is a concern for me, but not so much for most people. Most of the breeders in Oregon are breeding American Style dogs, not English. Initially I liked the English better, but over the years I've come around to the American Style dogs.

    I think that the wide variety of Lab lines, raised for a lot of different purposes helps maintain a healthy population. Labs have been the #1 dog in the US for 25 years now. I think that is the longest that any breed has been #1, and I also think they are one of the few breeds that became #1 for the right reasons. People like them for their temperament, their hunting ability, trainablity, and friendliness towards people and other dogs, etc.

    Many of the breeds that have been very popular in the US have done so because of some celebrity status. Lassie for Collies, Rin Tin Tin for GSDs, Checkers for Cockers, 1001 Dalmatians etc. Many of these breeds were exploited by poor quality breeders who were just in it to make a buck, and perhaps by breed standard that encouraged a poor quality dog. GSDs and Cockers particularly. GSDs have recovered a lot, and don't have the degree of hip dysplasia that seemed to be breed into them in the 50s and 60s. IMHO American Show Cockers don't even look like working Spaniels any more. The leg and foot fur is ridiculous. In addition it seems that lots of them have nasty dispositions.
     
  15. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    I've always loved the broad head of a show-lines Lab. They look so benevolent. I always thought I'd have a Lab at some point, and it would definitely be one with that kind of head (I didn't know anything about Labs at all at that point, just the chunky head). I ended up with my two through happy accident, and obviously I love how they look. The "type" that I didn't find attractive now seems absolutely beautiful to me. I mean, look at them. They're gorgeous :D

    I'm under no allusions that they conform to any breed standard at all, and I don't think that's a good thing for the breed as a whole. But it doesn't stop me loving them, and it doesn't stop me thinking they're just perfect in every way. Well, almost every way!
     
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  16. Ski-Patroller

    Ski-Patroller Cooper, Terminally Cute

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    The US Labrador Club, is one of the organizations that says you can't use the CH before a dogs name, if they don't also have a field or hunting title. Note that it only applies to Lab Club members, and most owners and probably most breeders are not members of the club, but they are the folks most responsible for keeping the breed on track.

    Most Lab breeders in US, Northwest, advertise the working characteristics of their dogs, not the show ring accomplishments. Hopefully they still look like labs, and they almost all seem to have great personalities.
     
  17. Sim

    Sim Registered Users

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    I've really enjoyed reading through this thread, sorry for not being able to add too much to the discussion as my knowledge of the lines are nowhere near as good as some of the posters here.
    Enzo is from working lines and similar to another thread regarding fox red labs my vet questioned is parentage asking if I had seen both parents, implying they were not both labs. She said he was awfully long legged and also long in the body, this thread has shown me at there is a lot of variety in these breeds.
    Enzos fathers side has a long history of ftch and his grandmother on his mothers side ( my breeder said the mother is from American lines) In 2012 placed 1st in the Gamekeeper Ring at Crufts, so. I'm fairly sure of he is from good lines even though I will only ever use him as a pet.
    I'm looking forward to seeing how he matures and what his final looks will be like.
     
  18. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    There is definitely a huge variety in purebred, registered Labradors. I think that most people, unless they have a really solid looking dog, get the 'oh, what is he crossed with?' thing (at least when their dog is young). My dog is 100% show line and unmistakably a Labrador now that he is 4, but when he was under 18 months I was regularly asked if he was purebred or not. I had one woman tell me adamantly that he could not possibly have X kennel's dogs in his ancestry because he was too lightly built. So, if people say that kind of thing to you, just smile :)
     
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  19. Karen

    Karen Moderator Forum Supporter

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    I'm sure he'll be beautiful - and completely and utterly a labrador! You get so used to the 'is there a bit of labrador in there' remarks.. As Rachael says, just smile beatifically and if you have the time or inclination you can explain to them kindly...
     
  20. Sim

    Sim Registered Users

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    Thanks both, I agree about the smile and nod approach and it's the way I have approached such questions, I've even been asked "his he a staff puppy? He looks tall" so I'm already learning to take things with a pinch of salt.

    I should
    Have made more clear in my original post I'm eagerly awaiting to see how he develops, a happy excited, not daunting it.
     
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