Page 344 - ShowSight - November 2019
P. 344

                Labrador Retriever Q & A
“I want a sound and beautiful Labrador Retriever that can do the work asked of it, with a sense of humor!”
 Linda Vaughn continued
breeder of any breed faces difficult challenges. It’s just part of it, I’m afraid.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I look at my puppies at five, seven, and nine weeks. I personally pick the pups that I don’t think are going to make show prospects first so that they can go to their family homes. I can usually tell by nine weeks if they have show potential.
Can the breed’s hard-headedness can make them difficult to train? I don’t think that Labs are any more hard headed than any other sporting breed. They might want to do something that they find more interesting than what you want them to do, but is that hard headed?
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Look at the entire dog. My order of importance is outline, then balance of front and rear angulation (fronts in Labradors have been a problem for a long time.)
Having a lot of front without the rear to match isn’t balanced any more than a straight front combined with a nice enough rear is balanced. Next, I want a kind expression. I don’t think round or light eyes look kind. Then I look for a proper coat and a well carried tail, with the tail as close to being carried straight off the back as I can find. Yes, Labs can be in and out of coat, but a thin coat and tail should be examined closely. The dense undercoat of a well-coat- ed Labrador is designed to insulate the dog when swimming and retrieving in icy waters. It gives a rounded appearance, and softens the angles of the dog. Have a breeder show you a good coat, feel it, learn it—it is the hallmark of the breed and creates the classic otter tail. It can add visual substance, but a hands-on examination will easily reveal the difference between a Labrador with dense under- coat and one that is poorly conditioned or overweight.
A Lab should move fluidly. A correctly made Lab will not hold his head up high when on the move; his head will be somewhat in front, which is made possible by a well-made front assembly. Think about the dog when swimming: he wouldn’t have his head straight up out of the water. His head would be down close to the water to help him move through the water efficiently.
Don’t get hung up on things that don’t really matter. I see even experienced judges get all involved in things that do not make a great Labrador. Look for correct outline, soundness, correct coat and tail, and kindness of expression. Try to see through the han- dling. Sometimes you may have to work to find the best Labs and to disregard the handling.
My ultimate goal for the breed? I want a sound and beautiful Labrador Retriever that can do the work asked of it, with a sense of humor!
My favorite dog show memory? Showing at the Westminster Kennel Club show when Mr. Thomas Bradley escorted my 81year- old father-in-law to ringside so that my father-in-law could see me show my dog. No one outside of the official photographer was sup- posed to take pictures from the show floor, but Mr. Bradley (the chief Steward) made way for Mr. Robert Vaughn, Sr. to take his cherished pictures. It was so kind, and I will never forget it.
One thing I would like to say is that the people in the Labrador world are some of the best you will find anywhere. And they are really good cooks!
I grew up in the dog world through my aunt, Carol Willum- sen, the “original” Willcare. I have been breeding Labradors for 38
years. During this time I have produced many breed Champions and several Champion Master Hunters. Also many dogs with high level performance titles. Probably best known for my chocolate dogs (they are not crazy!). I have been judging Labradors and several of the other sporting dogs for over 15 years and really enjoy this as well. Special thanks to my husband, Leeds, and my kennel part- ner Robin Magee and her husband Jim for all their help when I’m traveling.
I have lived in New Hampshire for 30 years. I work in the Veterinary Industry educating and selling Veterinarians Natural Supplements.
Do I feel the breed’s helps or hurts the breed in the long run? It potentially hurts the breed as it can be seen as an “easy” money maker to those not truly committed to the betterment of the breed. Point to fact—the “silver” Labrador.
How has the breed adapted to civilian life? What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? The Labrador has always been a dedicated companion to people, when not “working” so they are easily adapted to family life, however active or sedentary their life style may be.
What about the breed makes him an ideal companion? Although the Conformation Labradors have great performance abilities (hunting, Obedience, agility, etc.), their main goal in life is to be part of the family. They are a sturdy dog that can fit into most families as they have a great ability to adapt when given proper attention and training.
What special challenges do Labrador breeders face in our cur- rent economic and social climate? The uneducated policy makers of state and nation are continuously introducing bills and passing laws that will have negative impact on the dedicated breeder. Many of these bills/laws are directed toward puppy mills and pet stores but the way they are written, they all effect the true stewards of our breed. Organizations like PETA mislead the public to believe they are trying to save the dogs—far from it. They represent a danger to us as well. Organizations that bring up “stray” puppies from the South and outside of the US are selling them as rescues and play on people’s emotions. These too impact the true breeders.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I start watching the pups when they are on their feet and continue to watch them as they grow and develop.
We’re told a Lab’s loyalty is unquestioned, but that his hard- headedness can make him difficult to train. Is this my experience? I find it is usually the owner training the dog that misses the signals to train the dog. There is not just one way to train a dog.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a nov- ice to keep in mind when judging? The judge represents just one opinion and their own interpretation of the breed standard. Best learning tool is to work with an experienced and respected breeder to be mentored. Be especially open to constructive criticism and suggestion.
What is my ultimate goal for the breed? To maintain the integ- rity of the Labrador in their confirmation and temperament that the breed is traditionally known for.
My favorite dog show memory? There are so many. One of my favorite was when my chocolate boy, GCHB WIllcare to Fly Under the Radar, WC, RN, was awarded Best Puppy at the LRC of Potomac when I did not think I had any chance at all!
I’d also like to share about the breed that in all my years in dogs and in the Veterinary field, I still enjoy my Labradors more than any breed I have owned or worked with.
 342 • ShowSight Magazine, noveMber 2019

   342   343   344   345   346