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Thread: How Labradors are Supposed to Look? (pics)

  1. #1
    Senior Member AmiableLabs's Avatar
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    Default How Labradors are Supposed to Look? (pics)

    A brief reminder. According to all records, Jay Carlisle was responsible for first popularizing the Labrador Retrievers to the U.S. As a matter of fact in the 1950s, the LRC itself recognized him as "singly the most important person responsible for the Labrador's popularity in America."

    Jay Carlisle got his first Lab in 1933 and founded Wingan Kennels. To operate the kennel and train the dogs he imported a master dog trainer from Scotland named Dave Elliot. Dave was revered by his peers for his understanding of every element about dogs -- how they think, how they learn, how they work, how they should look. (Trivia: It was Elliot that introduced whistling and handling to retriever trials).

    Three years later Elliot wrote and Carlisle published a book called The Labrador Retriever. The book contains four short chapters and is illustrated with photos of the champion Labradors of the time. The first chapter is the breed standard. The second chapter are some insights into training the breed. The third chapter is a presentation on why there should never be a split in the breed between dogs used for trials and dogs used just for hunting. The final chapter is advice to judges for finding the best dogs at trials.

    So what can we extrapolate so far. The Labrador Retriever was, is, and always was intended to be a WORKING animal. That was their function.

    Form follows function. When the football coach needs someone to protect his quarterback, he looks for a very big, strong man. When he looks for a running back, he looks for someone with speed and quickness. Similarly when beauty contest judges are looking for a winner, they look for exaggerated beauty features like big toothy smiles, large breasts, slim waist and toned legs.

    According to Richard Wolters in his book Duck Dogs the split in the breed between field and show began in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the guardianship of the conformation side of the breed was turned over to people who paid lip service to the working side but had no actual involvement, in particular Helen Warwick. Under her powerful tutelage as the breed columnist for twenty years of the AKC Gazette, the show side of the breed became anglophiled -- enamored with how British show Labs (the split had already occurred over there) looked, importing studs and dams from England, and importing judges from England to judge at Labrador specialties.

    So what do we take from this? When the function of the Lab became winning conformation shows (read "beauty contests") those fanciers moved the form of the Lab to accommodate that function. It was the show side that derivated from the original breed type, not the field side.

    And so now I show you scans from Carlisle's and Elliot's book The Labrador Retriever.
    Kevin Walker

    Drive is the manifestation of Desire, and measured in Style.
    Thank you judges who score Style, you are preserving Desire!

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    Senior Member AmiableLabs's Avatar
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    I look at these pictures and I see where we breeders could improve on the structure of these animals, but should we have changed their type? This is from a time when the breed's form matched its function!!







    Kevin Walker

    Drive is the manifestation of Desire, and measured in Style.
    Thank you judges who score Style, you are preserving Desire!

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    Senior Member AmiableLabs's Avatar
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    Kevin Walker

    Drive is the manifestation of Desire, and measured in Style.
    Thank you judges who score Style, you are preserving Desire!

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    Senior Member AmiableLabs's Avatar
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    To me, these dogs, these conformation champion dogs of the 1930s look like our field dogs of today! It is the show side that changed the look and type of the breed, not the field side. It is the show side that changed the breeds function so they changed the form!

    I hope those of you who have field Labs, can now hold your head a little higher about the way your dog looks.
    Kevin Walker

    Drive is the manifestation of Desire, and measured in Style.
    Thank you judges who score Style, you are preserving Desire!

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    maybe its just me, but i see these dogs as in the middle, some from each side. i think the fields have gone thinner and more athletic that these examples and the show piggier. the difference is the show end did it deliberately, and the field line did it accidentally while focusing mostly on performance.

    equal blame regards....

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    Senior Member Warren Flynt's Avatar
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    great thread! They look def. more 'field bred' than 'show bred'. Maybe thats b/c there not fat

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    I tend to agree with David. I think the second set of pictures reflects, the most, what the standard is supposed to look like.
    There is no better conservation tool than a well trained retriever.

    HRCH Peacock's Brutus Augustus (Augie) 04/06/93 - 12/10/05 Still in my heart.
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    Senior Member Jeffrey Towler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmiableLabs View Post
    To me, these dogs, these conformation champion dogs of the 1930s look like our field dogs of today! It is the show side that changed the look and type of the breed, not the field side. It is the show side that changed the breeds function so they changed the form!

    I hope those of you who have field Labs, can now hold your head a little higher about the way your dog looks.
    Hi

    I always hold my head up. I know how great my Field Labs look.I have a couple of show lab people who I consider friends ( I know of one on this site). They are great people, my dogs are just different then what they have.

    Thanks for posting the pictures, it just confirmed to me what a lab use to look like.

    Regards
    Jeff
    www.marshhawkretrievers.com

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    I think the show labs are bred the way they are because that's what the general public wants most of them just want a house dog so for the breeders it's all about selling puppies.

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    Interesting bit of history. I have NEVER thought the Lab "Breed Standard" found in today's show ring was an attractive dog. Much prefer an athletic dog which the show ring does not encourage or represent. AKC can take the current Breed Standard and stick it......er......on the dark side of the moon. And the history of how the show ring got away from athletic dogs to short tails, short legs, big heads and over weight animals is very interesting. I'll take a dog that looks like Super Chief everytime. Now that was a nice looking dog!
    What its prominence suggest, and what all science confirms is that the dog is a creature of the nose- A. Horowitz.

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