Recently we bred our female with a really great FT dog. This is the first time I've ever bred a dog, and so I was reflecting back on the traits that I had been looking for in a stud dog: I didn't care much about color, but I wanted a dog with immense desire. I wanted a dog that was rock steady, and took direction well with it's handler. I wanted a dog with great prey-drive and one who had a reputation as a great marker. Our female is really a looker (who doesn't think their dog is handsome?) and so we wanted to produce puppies that would have that American Field-Bred labrador look to them: muscular body intense gaze, and strong bone structure.
While I was doing research a few weeks ago, I looked high and low. I looked at almost every labrador in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Louisana. There was a ton of talent out there. Occasionally though I'd run into a dog listed "at stud" whose breeder would brag about immensly - as a show dog. Some of these animals almost didn't look like Labradors. They were short, stocky, and sometimes obese. In talking to other dog folks I know, I'd find out that many of these show people were incredibly happy with a dog that could pass an AKC JH test - in other words, some of these Labs, didn't posess the desire to hunt or the ability to do field work beyond a few single retrieves.
Now, I'm certainly not trying to knock on the Show Dog people. Personally, I have no desire to ever show a dog in a ring, but I understnad that people have dogs for all sorts of different reasons - and that Labs can be sucessful in a variety of disciplines. But the original intent of the breed was to retrieve dead birds. How can we claim that a short, squatty, blockheaded dog, is the same breed as a dog as the incredibly high-powered, very lean atheletes that compete in sporting events?
Are we splitting the breed?