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Discussion Starter #1
Kindof going into a new "body part" thread...one that has briefly been discussed before here I think... I would like to open up the conversation on heads since we all have varying opinions on how a labrador head should look according to the standard. There was some conflict in the rearends thread about heads being "lab" or "non-lab" according to the standard. That reminded me of an experience I had last year...

One of my mentors and friends attended a UKC show last summer with me to kindof "see what it was all about" (there aren't many of these in CA). When sitting around aaaallllll day long (it was hot and miserable), we had the chance to see a couple of the dogs who were competing in labradors. One of them, my mentor actually questioned whether or not it was a flattie or a labrador based on its head, slight structure (very similar to a FCR), and coat. Either way, it was not a good representative of *either* breed based on the written breed standards of any kennel club I've ever read. ;) (It took WD/BOW in one of the shows, by the way...or the UKC equivalent to that)

From the AKC labrador breed standard (I'm sure you've all read this numerous times):
The most distinguishing characteristics of the Labrador Retriever are its short, dense, weather resistant coat; an "otter" tail; a clean-cut head with broad back skull and moderate stop; powerful jaws; and its "kind" friendly eyes, expressing character, intelligence and good temperament.
Head
Skull - The skull should be wide; well developed but without exaggeration. The skull and foreface should be on parallel planes and of approximately equal length. There should be a moderate stop-the brow slightly pronounced so that the skull is not absolutely in a straight line with the nose. The brow ridges aid in defining the stop. The head should be clean-cut and free from fleshy cheeks; the bony structure of the skull chiseled beneath the eye with no prominence in the cheek. The skull may show some median line; the occipital bone is not conspicuous in mature dogs. Lips should not be squared off or pendulous, but fall away in a curve toward the throat. A wedge-shape head, or a head long and narrow in muzzle and back skull is incorrect as are massive, cheeky heads. The jaws are powerful and free from snippiness the muzzle neither long and narrow nor short and stubby.

Nose - The nose should be wide and the nostrils well-developed. The nose should be black on black or yellow dogs, and brown on chocolates. Nose color fading to a lighter shade is not a fault. A thoroughly pink nose or one lacking in any pigment is a disqualification.

Teeth - The teeth should be strong and regular with a scissors bite; the lower teeth just behind, but touching the inner side of the upper incisors. A level bite is acceptable, but not desirable. Undershot, overshot, or misaligned teeth are serious faults. Full dentition is preferred. Missing molars or pre-molars are serious faults.

Ears - The ears should hang moderately close to the head, set rather far back, and somewhat low on the skull; slightly above eye level. Ears should not be large and heavy, but in proportion with the skull and reach to the inside of the eye when pulled forward.

Eyes - Kind, friendly eyes imparting good temperament, intelligence and alertness are a hallmark of the breed. They should be of medium size, set well apart, and neither protruding nor deep set. Eye color should be brown in black and yellow Labradors, and brown or hazel in chocolates. Black, or yellow eyes give a harsh expression and are undesirable. Small eyes, set close together or round prominent eyes are not typical of the breed. Eye rims are black in black and yellow Labradors; and brown in chocolates. Eye rims without pigmentation is a disqualification.
Now, compare this to, say, the golden retriever standard (which is probably by far one of the most defined standards I've ever read...check out the entire standard sometime at http://www.grca.org/StandProgs/standard.htm -I feel like even though it says many of the same things as "our" standard, the wording leaves the standard for goldens much *less* up to personal opinion- thoughts?):

Head -- broad in skull, slightly arched laterally and longitudinally without prominence of frontal bones (forehead) or occipital bones. Stop well defined but not abrupt. Foreface deep and wide, nearly as long as skull. Muzzle straight in profile, blending smoothly and strongly into skull; when viewed in profile or from above, slightly deeper and wider at stop than at tip. No heaviness in flews. Removal of whiskers is permitted but not preferred.

Eyes -- friendly and intelligent in expression, medium large with dark, close-fitting rims, set well apart and reasonably deep in sockets. Color preferably dark brown; medium brown acceptable. Slant eyes and narrow, triangular eyes detract from correct expression and are to be faulted. No white or haw visible when looking straight ahead. Dogs showing evidence of functional abnormality of eyelids or eyelashes (such as, but not limited to, trichiasis, entropion, ectropion, or distichiasis) are to be excused from the ring.

Ears -- rather short with front edge attached well behind and just above the eye and falling close to cheek. When pulled forward, tip of ear should just cover the eye. Low, hound-like ear set to be faulted.

Nose -- black or brownish black, though fading to a lighter shade in cold weather not serious. Pink nose or one seriously lacking in pigmentation to be faulted.

Teeth -- scissors bite, in which the outer side of the lower incisors touches the inner side of the upper incisors. Undershot or overshot bite is a disqualification. Misalignment of teeth (irregular placement of incisors) or a level bite (incisors, meet each other edge to edge) is undesirable, but not to be confused with undershot or overshot. Full dentition, obvious gaps are serious faults.
When looking at the labrador breed standard with reference to heads, it really does seem to leave a lot of it up to personal preference...which perhaps is why we see such a wide variety of dogs doing well in the ring (especially comparing all-breed to specialty dogs)? There are several points which I can imagine in my mind exactly what is meant by the wording, but most of the rest of the standard (eye shape, etc.) is very limited in "direction" if you will.

If the breed standard is written to where someone from another planet can, without seeing a specimen of the breed described, draw a picture of what that breed looks like according to the standard's description alone (which is how I've been told a breed standard *should* be), how many "forms" of labrador heads would different people draw according to the labrador standard and still be well within said standard?

Just thinking "outloud" and hoping for constructive criticisms and feedback about this very broad (no pun intended) subject. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
One other thought that intrigues me...
I would guess that virtually EVERYONE here would be able to look at a piece of jewelry with a labrador head on it, and know EXACTLY what breed is depicted...not necessarily based on what we have at home, but what the "generic" labrador head looks like. Others have tried to put together labrador pendants that look like rottie heads or labrador trailer-hitch inserts that look like beagle heads, but these aren't typically going to be correct according to most labrador breeders or judges. How would we better define what a "typical" labrador head looks like in our written standard?

Oh, and by "generic" (not as in "plain," but as in "everyone knows what it is") I am thinking something like this-
http://www.tundradesigns.com/dogjewelry-labradorretriever.asp
To me, while perhaps not "ideal," there really isn't any way to think that this is anything *other* than a labrador retriever?

Again, sorry to be so verbose...just in one of those "pondering" moods, I suppose. ;) LOL
 

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I don't know if this is going to make any sense, but I can tell that I like a head without knowing exactly why. I know I like a wider rather then tapering muzzle, and I like a lot of skull plate with a definite stop. And I know I really hate a domed head, and don't like the look of a zipper, no matter what the head structure.

I have a bumper magnet on my car that says "Labrador Retriever" (creative I know) and it is the ugliest labrador I have ever seen...and I laugh everytime I load the groceries. (what an awful sloping croup, unparallel planed head and fine boned labrador example she is!)

That said, with my Roo girl, I have been taught several lessons in patience in regards to her head. Once a very scarey and overdone beastie she was, and now, the beautiful gal she has become, has only taken near to three years!

This was her at 5 months...good grief! And yesterday in my signature. They look like completely different kids!
 

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I don't know if this is much help either, but I think perhaps the standard does leave certain things open to interpretation for a reason or on purpose. Kind of like I said in the "other thread", how boring would it be if everyone's "ideal" was exactly the same or if that "ideal" was so clearly defined as to be handed right to you? There would be no challenge in attempting to breed that "ideal" because every dog would be exactly the same.

I guess, myself, I'm glad such things have a bit of a window for interpretation. It certainly makes things A LOT more interesting and challenging, doesn't it? Breeders spend a good portion of their lives chasing what they think of as their "ideal". This is part of what makes a good, responsible breeder (breeding for a specific purpose). If everything was the same, well then, anyone could breed the "ideal" Labrador. Perhaps the writers of the standard were thinking after all...

Just my 2c

Edited to add: I do agree that you should be able to tell that a dog is a Labrador though; perhaps not your or my personal "ideal" but a Labrador.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
luvmydogz2much said:
I don't know if this is going to make any sense, but I can tell that I like a head without knowing exactly why. I know I like a wider rather then tapering muzzle, and I like a lot of skull plate with a definite stop. And I know I really hate a domed head, and don't like the look of a zipper, no matter what the head structure.
Boy, what I've seen around here in the 5-month range makes Roo look like she has an incredible head at 5 months...it certainly looks like she has the "wider rather than tapering muzzle" for you, lack of a zipper, and "a lot of skull plate with a definite stop!" I was laughing at the label you gave that photo- "scary head." LOL ;) What were you so worried about? She looked like she was well on her way to a nice head from the get-go.

luvmydogz2much said:
I have a bumper magnet on my car that says "Labrador Retriever" (creative I know) and it is the ugliest labrador I have ever seen...and I laugh everytime I load the groceries. (what an awful sloping croup, unparallel planed head and fine boned labrador example she is!)
Is it this one?

If so, I have thought the same thing, and actually have this sticker, but the lab was cut out of it because I was embarrassed to drive to my lab club meetings with *that* on my car, so it just reads "Got Labs?" LOL ;) Definitely not a great example of a labrador. I've since seen much better on these stickers!

LabLady101 said:
I don't know if this is much help either, but I think perhaps the standard does leave certain things open to interpretation for a reason or on purpose.
I get the feeling that The AKC Parent Club (The LRC, Inc.) is actually led and quite dominated by a group of people who are very field-trial oriented. This is especially after it seems that its members received a book distributed that was "sponsored" by The LRC, Inc that had a number of anti-conformation-dog sentiments within its pages this past year.

When this breed standard was revised through The LRC,Inc, I think it was left open to personal interpretation quite purposefully because they probably didn't want to be told that perhaps they weren't adhering to the standards they helped to write. JMHO- I hope that those who have been in the breed longer chime in here to voice their thoughts on this.

The other thing that The LRC did was have each and every member sign an agreement that stated they wouldn't advertise any dog as a "Champion" without at *least* a WC behind his/her name as well, in an attempt to stick with the "all-purpose, working labrador" (ie- brains and beauty). I think that, while this is a great idea (and one that, as an LRC member, I intend to uphold), I also think it is extremely hypocritical...if under the membership rules, the conformation CH has to earn at least a WC to advertise its incredible title, then I think that a JH/MH/ or yes, a FTCH should have to earn at least a CC to advertise its incredible title as well.

Anyhow, just my thoughts and questions about all of this... :)
 

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I do not like the look of Field Labs. I think they have to long of a muzzle and the stop slopes too much. I find that they are wirey (not necessarily coat, but body style). I like a big block style head and well defined eyes. I also love the "Otter" tail, because I think it defines the breed.

http://www.woodhavenlabs.com/english-american.html

That website basically shows the difference between the two better than I can explain. If the "English" type Labrador is what I like, than so be it. I think they appear more capable of doing the job they were bred to. And isn't that the whole idea of selective breeding?
 

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I think the standard is "loose" in some areas for several reasons. First, human language is not precise; as a lawyer, I deal almost every day with contracts, statutes, precedent caselaw that is usually written by smart and educated people who try to make it precise, but consistently fail because of the limitations in our language. There are as many interpretations of "moderate" for example as there are people interpreting it.

Second, I believe there should be certain variation in the standard to allow for "building" a functioning dog (Labrador in our case) suited to our circumstances. MRW is one of her books was talking how when she judges, she might select a dog that was leggier than what she preferred in her kennel if there was a purpose behind this legginess, ie, different terrain. Taking this back to the head topic, the standard is very wishy-washy about the length of the muzzle ("he muzzle neither long and narrow nor short and stubby"). I think one has to decide based on function of the dog what length of muzzle is "ideal." Most Labs (of yesterday or today) can pick up a duck of a pheasant, IMO, which is what the Lab is supposed to do. But if in your area, you hunt to snipe or doves, then a Lab can do just fine with a shorter muzzle. However, in my area, many people hunt Canada geese, which are very big birds. Having longer jaws/muzzle make it easier to pick up and carry birds of such large size, so the "ideal" muzzle for a Canada geese hunter would be longer (than average I guess).

I think this is how interpreting the standard should work in the ideal world and why there is some variation built in. I think most parts of a dog's/Lab's body can and probably should be adjusted to a certain degree to allow the dog to function most efficiently in its terrain. Eventually, the deviations to fit the terrain will become so pronounced that you might as well call the dog a new breed, which quite a few believe happened with Labradors. I still believe that we have one breed with some extremes. I think both sides should make steps in trying to bridge the gap with WC and CC requirements going in the right direction. But somehow, it seems that there is no cross-over of people between show and field. Time and money are a big factor I think, which is unfortunate.
 

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CaliforniaLabLover said:
LabLady101 said:
I don't know if this is much help either, but I think perhaps the standard does leave certain things open to interpretation for a reason or on purpose.
I get the feeling that The AKC Parent Club (The LRC, Inc.) is actually led and quite dominated by a group of people who are very field-trial oriented. This is especially after it seems that its members received a book distributed that was "sponsored" by The LRC, Inc that had a number of anti-conformation-dog sentiments within its pages this past year.

When this breed standard was revised through The LRC,Inc, I think it was left open to personal interpretation quite purposefully because they probably didn't want to be told that perhaps they weren't adhering to the standards they helped to write. JMHO- I hope that those who have been in the breed longer chime in here to voice their thoughts on this.

The other thing that The LRC did was have each and every member sign an agreement that stated they wouldn't advertise any dog as a "Champion" without at *least* a WC behind his/her name as well, in an attempt to stick with the "all-purpose, working labrador" (ie- brains and beauty). I think that, while this is a great idea (and one that, as an LRC member, I intend to uphold), I also think it is extremely hypocritical...if under the membership rules, the conformation CH has to earn at least a WC to advertise its incredible title, then I think that a JH/MH/ or yes, a FTCH should have to earn at least a CC to advertise its incredible title as well.

Anyhow, just my thoughts and questions about all of this... :)
I do agree that field dogs should be required to earn a CC, just as conformation dogs are required to earn a WC. I won't dispute that, it's only fair.

Now, I'm not trying to get everyone riled up and believe me I'm not "picking on" conformation folks, but you do need to consider a few things. Implying that the revision was written by field people to benefit themselves, well that's probably a far cry and inaccurate. I mean, take a look at the membership of the LRC (and particularly around the time of the revision), what was the membership more composed of- field or conformation folks? I tend to lean towards that the membership is comprised of more conformation folks (as it still is) because for some odd reason most field folks look at the LRC as a "show people's organization/club" and therefore membership to that organization as unneccessary- don't ask me why, they just do (I'm not saying it's right, and I personally don't look at it that way, but they do). Could be why field dogs aren't currently required to have a CC- because there isn't very many field folks who are members, and the requirements for a WC are for LRC members only. If the members of the LRC want to band together to change that, then by all means, do it- I'm all for it! Although, it most likely won't do any good if the field folks aren't members and won't join, right? ;)

Now, I'm not saying that there are no field folks who are LRC members, but they are fewer and far between than you would think. I do wish more field folks would join as they would be just as much an asset as the conformation folks, and then the CC rule would definately be of benefit. Perhaps, more of the extreme field folks could also learn a thing or two by gaining membership. I'm probably preaching to the wrong choir here though.

I've also never heard of the "booklet" that supposedly was handed out to LRC members that contained "anti-conformation sentiment" (you're the first to mention it). Just what does "anti-conformation sentiment" imply? That, perhaps, there were a few things to work on or keep in check? I suppose that would be taken as criticism of conformation folks even if none were implied...I don't mean any criticism myself, but I do think that perhaps things are taken the wrong way by a lot of folks- and therefore they "fly off the handle" and immediately start chanting that it's "anti-conformation sentiment" before they actually look into the issues presented. I'm just saying that is a possibility...and I'm not for or against either side of the issue. I'm just presenting a possible reason for those types of feelings.

Those are just my thoughts. I do think that folks did see what was happening with the breed and therefore revised the standard to prevent it from going further in that direction- a direction that was never intended in the original standard. Yes, the standard says "medium sized". However, I hardly think by "medium sized", they intended Labradors to be the size of say Cocker Spaniels or Shibas- hence the revision. Maybe they did go a little overboard (I don't prefer a dog at the top of height scale either), but maybe that's the failure of human nature- more is better? ;)

Edited to add: Great post Tatyana! I'm working on doing both conformation and field (yes, it's expensive- particularly on the field side! $50-65 to enter a hunt test, not to mention the training equipment $$$$, compared to about $20-25 to enter a show) so, to me, there should be fairness to all (WC and CC requirements). It's also why I like that our standard does leave some things open to interpretation- and therefore variation.
 

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Ears should ... reach to the inside of the eye when pulled forward.
I love MRW's explanation of the length of a Lab's ear in one of her books: it should be long enough to wipe eye gunk off using the dog's ear. She had a couple explanations like that which I thought were just wonderful. So, I guess using that reasoning, it's less of a fault to have a slightly longer ear than a slightly shorter ear.
 

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I personally like a nice head with backskull. Not an over done head--Rottweilerish. If I want a Rott head, I'll get a Rott. Along with the head I don't like Labs with "hound ears" either. Eyes are an important feature of the head/face.
 

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I don't think it "defines" a labrador but head shape is a hallmark in any breed.

I would show a lab that had a head that was "acceptable" to me if the rest of the conformation was outstanding. However I probably wouldn't bother to show a lab that had an outstanding head if the conformation was considered by me to just be acceptable.

I have a desexed male here with a stunning head but the rest of him is not acceptable. Not acceptable to perpetuate his faults by breeding from him. Nicely put together and moves beautifully - just not correct for a labrador. His head would never make up for what he lacks in other ways.
 

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Those are all good points. I don't know how to describe what I'm trying to say, so I hope you'll all bare with me. I like a dog that has a good head about him (like I originally stated). I think that it should be broad with a semi-defined stop. I don't like jowly dogs (and I've seen quite a few Labs with jowls). I think I have seen a greater influence on the breed and some heads do look like Rotts. That's not the type of head I'm speaking of. I think the muzzle should be long enough to carry whatever kind of waterfowl (be it Mallards, Geese, Pheasant etc.) I think the Field Lab has accented the length of the muzzle, but there are some show dogs that have a short muzzle.

A perfect example of this would be to look at a Field Coated American Cocker to a Show American Cocker. Their bodies are completely different . My ACS is Field, her muzzle length is a bit long, her skull is broader. Her body is leggy and slightly longer. Her coat texture is different. A Show Cocker has a tiny muzzle, a smaller skull, you'd almost think they were getting to be Toy dogs. Compared side by side, I think you would find that they almost looked like different breeds. Could a Field Coated go in the ring and win? I'm sure, if you read the Standard to a T about Coat length, and could a Show coated go out in the field and flush and retrieve game? I'm not so sure. Their bites are so tiny that I couldn't imagine them being able to carry back anything.

Same thing with Labs. Do I feel that a Field should be mated with a Show (or bench, whichever you prefer?) I don't think so. The structure is too different. You wouldn't have a consistent litter. You might even wind up with a dog that might not have a double coat, doesn't have a broad chest. Your dogs face might be leaner or bulkier. He could be taller, or smaller. But, I don't think that in the ring you should have a "variety" Lab class either. Because in the end, breeders are going to exentuate what they interpret the standard as. Broad skull....how broad? That's why you see some dogs with heads like Rotts.
 

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I've also never heard of the "booklet" that supposedly was handed out to LRC members that contained "anti-conformation sentiment" (you're the first to mention it).
Are you a member of the LRC, Inc.? If not, then you would not have one or you might not have heard about it, although on breeder forums it was discussed at great length when it was published. I have one and the bias of the author is quite evident. In fact I wrote a letter to the Board that "the booklet" was not appropriate and it was indeed biased against conformation based breeders. My letter and several other people's letters who were not happy about it were published in the LRC, Inc. Newsletter. Again, if you are not a member, you would not get the newsletter.

I was around and showing at conformation events, hunt tests and obedience trials when the standard was most recently revised. It was NOT a good time. People who are new to the breed have no idea what it was like. The LRC Inc.'s Board of Directors is made up mostly (but not completely since some play in both arenas) of field people and it was those people who came up with the wording for the latest revision of the standard.
 

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nwlabs said:
I've also never heard of the "booklet" that supposedly was handed out to LRC members that contained "anti-conformation sentiment" (you're the first to mention it).
Are you a member of the LRC, Inc.? If not, then you would not have one or you might not have heard about it, although on breeder forums it was discussed at great length when it was published. I have one and the bias of the author is quite evident. In fact I wrote a letter to the Board that "the booklet" was not appropriate and it was indeed biased against conformation based breeders. My letter and several other people's letters who were not happy about it were published in the LRC, Inc. Newsletter. Again, if you are not a member, you would not get the newsletter.
You are 100% correct Peggy, the Name of the book is A History Of The Origin and Development of the Labrador Retriever written by Dr. Bernard Ziessow. It was mailed to all the LRC members and like Peggy my letter of indignation was published in the quarterly LRC Newsletter. It was published, distributed, and paid for by the LRC without the Boards approval. Currently there are only two board members who are conformation people. Dr A. Nelson Sills is the president of the LRC and a long time field person. It has just been in recent years as a result of an officer change (who also was a field person) that many breeders who participate in the show ring have been encouraged to join. Show or Field, membership is restricted to those that have been active in AKC events, members of regional Labrador Clubs, to have bred several titled Labradors certainly is a plus, then you must be recommended by two current members in the form of a personal letter from each. The requirements basically exclude the newer people just getting started or have only been involved for a few years.
In looking over the current membership, it is now pretty evenly split between field/show but the board is controled by field people.
 
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Admittedly a pretty head is very important to me. I see far too many "buttafaces" ie great body but the face - Ewwww!" For me I can't separate the two but I know many who do - they are okay with a dog or especially a ***** who has a fantastic typey body with good coat, bone, etc but has a not so pleasing head. I look at the head first. It has to be sweet and melting yet relatively large and broad. I dislike the Mastiff look which is coarse and unflattering as much as the head that lacks backskull or the dreaded small and/or high set ears.

Believe it or not it's tough for me to find a head that I really love. I adore this guy's head:
http://www.buckcreeklabs.com/OurBoys.htm

And of course this guy's:




 

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CaliforniaLabLover said:
I was laughing at the label you gave that photo- "scary head." LOL ;) What were you so worried about?
Did you not see the size of her head? What I had was a gorgeous body, well proportioned etc attached to THAT head. I remember being worried and Peggy (in her infinite wisdom) said something along the lines of 'be patient'. ;)

I am glad I was, because now I don't see that harsh, overdone head at all...maybe my siggy picture a bit, because she was panting and squinting. But THAT "scarey head'' has mercifully not made a reappearance.

When I found out who Ruby's dad was going to be I was TERRIFIED about the huge Marty head. Then I picked Ruby and she grew the Marty head. It would have looked great, on a four year old boy!

Another scarey head shot, I get a kick out of going back and looking at these!
 

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Gregg said:
It was published, distributed, and paid for by the LRC without the Boards approval.
Ok, maybe I'm just playing devil's advocate here...Maybe I don't know a lot about what was going on at the time...And, believe me, I'm not trying to drag this on or stir things up and cause a big ruckus, but this statement REALLY confuses me.

Peggy and Gregg, you both said that the board was mainly made up of field people at the time, correct? Now, if the board, which you both say was mainly field people, didn't approve of this booklet, why is everyone pointing the finger and saying that it's the sentiment of the "field led" board when, in fact, the board never approved it and in reality that makes it just the sentiments of ONE person? That's just confusing to me, and it seems a bit unfair to do amongst all this talk about making things fair. I mean, ONE person took it upon himself to write, publish, and distribute this booklet (yes, I realize it was with LRC funds, but obviously that's something they need to tighten up their control over) and everyone gets upset at the board about sentiments displayed that didn't approve it? Just think about that for a minute...IMHO, that just doesn't seem right to me- and it doesn't really matter what orientation the majority of the board was, although being a "field led" board I'm sure did make it look like a pretty darn good scapegoat at the time ;).

Don't get me wrong, if the case was that it truly did have a "slanted" approach, I do genuinely feel bad. It is not the way I would have wanted it either. However, I do think that perhaps instead of blaming people who didn't approve it (i.e. the "field led" board) anymore than you did, your anger and indignation should be focused at the person who caused the problem (the author of the booklet) and not immediately taken as the sentiments of a whole section of membership (i.e. the "field" people). Did the board have anymore fore knowledge of the final edition of the booklet than you did if it never crossed their desk for approval before it was distributed? From the sounds of it, they didn't and, therefore, should not be the scapegoats for the real culprits. Now, I'm not going to say the board should escape blame-free. They did unwittingly allocate the funds for such a horrible project and they should be held accountable for that. They obviously need to make wiser decisions about where & to who the whole club's money goes as well as tighten up control over the club's funds. IMHO, the club treasurer probably could have used a new job too! ;) I also think they should have done something to "appease the crowd" if you will. I believe making an official statement (at least to the club members) regarding their actual stance on the booklet would have gone a long way instead of their silence giving everyone the impression that they endorsed it. In reality, no one will ever know the board's real feelings on the issue as they never shared them.

That's really a shame...because I bet the majority of the board members, even the "field" people, didn't agree with it. I say that because, even the "field" people who are members, had to know *something* about conformation and the standard in order to become a member. As far as I'm aware, you need several years in the breed as well as contributions of time and energy of promotion and education of the breed to become a member. Even the "field" people had to put in the same amount of time and effort and you can't do that without learning at least *something* about the conformation and standard of the breed along the way. You just can't- it goes hand in hand. There's no exceptions to that- unless the club has become so political as to make membership more about who you know than what you have done (?). So, I hardly think the members who wrote the revision of the standard were new to the breed and knew nothing about it- IMHO being "field" or "show" has nothing to do with it.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts however fitting for the time there are or aren't...

Now, to get back on topic, I have to agree with YBM and Sharon. I, too, see too many overdone heads (i.e. Rotty or Mastiff heads) and, if I didn't know any better (which I do), I would think that was the norm for the breed. I was actually very excited to see a few very nicely moderate Labby heads at the show I attended this last weekend- one of which did really well, WD and BOW I believe. However, the dog with the Rotty head was still put up BOB, which was equally disappointing. His head was so overdone and so huge that it looked like it outweighed the rest of him- I was amazed that he didn't topple over on himself, lol. IMHO, he was not what I would think of as a good picture of overall balance. So, I guess my answer (to the original question, do heads "define" a Labrador?) is maybe/yes-no. No, in the sense that it's not considered one of the key features of the breed according to the standard. I mean, it's not exactly pointed out as one of the "hallmark" features. Yes, in the sense that if it's not correct (i.e. overdone or underdone) or nearly correct it can destroy the whole picture as well as limit the dog's ability to do the work it was intended to do.
 

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Darcy, you seem to be confusing the 2 circumstances I was originally talking about in one of my original posts.
1- which happened back in the 1990's when the most recent labrador breed standard was approved (and that was when I initially stated that I believed at the time that The LRC, Inc. board was made up primarily of field lab breeders)
2- that last year a booklet was released and sent to every member in good standing of The LRC, Inc. which was very biased *against* conformation dogs.

As far as #2- YES it was one person's opinion written down (probably the opinion of several on the board from what I hear), but its release and distribution was not voted on by the general membership as it would be with so many other issues...

Why focus "anger and indignation" at that one person? It is every person's right to publish a book with his/her opinions...heck, one of the authors of another very well-known book, MRW, has been quoted extensively in a number of threads in this section (the conformation/showing section), and that is a book written according to her opinions, too.

Just because we don't agree with the anti-conformation sentiments that this author writes doesn't mean we need to focus "anger and indignation" at him when it wasn't him, that I know of, that agreed to distribute this with club funds without any input or awareness from the general membership. It may as well have done the same thing with one of the Harry Potter books, but though some would have probably been angry due to the fact this took away from club funding without approval, it doesn't trash others' ideas about breeding with the standard in mind. That is where everyone is angry, I think...it was not only distributed to everyone in the club using club funds that they didn't agree to be spent in this way, but it also basically undermines one of the key parts of the breed- its written conformation standard.

This fits in well with this thread being that the AKC parent club itself, The LRC, Inc., was the group that basically "wrote" the breed standard (which describes conformation, not necessarily working ability), yet we have a club that is not nearly as conformation-based as you appear to think.
 

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CaliforniaLabLover said:
Darcy, you seem to be confusing the 2 circumstances I was originally talking about in one of my original posts.
1- which happened back in the 1990's when the most recent labrador breed standard was approved (and that was when I initially stated that I believed at the time that The LRC, Inc. board was made up primarily of field lab breeders)
2- that last year a booklet was released and sent to every member in good standing of The LRC, Inc. which was very biased *against* conformation dogs.

As far as #2- YES it was one person's opinion written down (probably the opinion of several on the board from what I hear), but its release and distribution was not voted on by the general membership as it would be with so many other issues...

Why focus "anger and indignation" at that one person? It is every person's right to publish a book with his/her opinions...heck, one of the authors of another very well-known book, MRW, has been quoted extensively in a number of threads in this section (the conformation/showing section), and that is a book written according to her opinions, too.

Just because we don't agree with the anti-conformation sentiments that this author writes doesn't mean we need to focus "anger and indignation" at him when it wasn't him, that I know of, that agreed to distribute this with club funds without any input or awareness from the general membership. It may as well have done the same thing with one of the Harry Potter books, but though some would have probably been angry due to the fact this took away from club funding without approval, it doesn't trash others' ideas about breeding with the standard in mind. That is where everyone is angry, I think...it was not only distributed to everyone in the club using club funds that they didn't agree to be spent in this way, but it also basically undermines one of the key parts of the breed- its written conformation standard.

This fits in well with this thread being that the AKC parent club itself, The LRC, Inc., was the group that basically "wrote" the breed standard (which describes conformation, not necessarily working ability), yet we have a club that is not nearly as conformation-based as you appear to think.
Nope, I think you misunderstood what I said. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion and to write any book they please- when they're doing it on their own time and funds. However, this person was writing this book with club funds (which weren't properly approved to begin with) and for the purpose of being distributed and representing the opinion of the general club membership and therefore should have known better and taken more into account of what the club was all about- i.e. the written standard. That is why I said the anger and indignation should be placed with him. It is unlikely the club's board ultimately knew what the final edition of the book would entail if they didn't officially approve it. Don't you think they (as members themselves) were just as angry about the inappropriate allocation of funds for such a horrible venture?

Also, how do you really know for sure that this one person's opinion was the opinion of several persons on the board? Have you ever asked those board members themselves what they thought of it? I think the truth is, that none of the "conformation" people ever actually asked those board members they *suspected* of being even remotely "field" people for their opinion on the issue- which, in itself, presents a "slanted" picture, doesn't it? Isn't there the possibility that those "field" board members did not agree with the book just as much as the "conformation" people? Yet, everyone assumes they agreed with it because, of course, hearsay says they did...all I can say is WOW! :-X

I can tell you I certainly wouldn't have agreed with it and I guess I'd have to consider myself a "field" person since obviously you can't be considered just a plain old "Labrador" person these days- just as apparently you couldn't back then (when the standard was revised) either I guess...I mean, after all, what does a "field" person know (or apparently care) about the standard (which apparently they helped write) and conformation when all they're ever interested in and know about it performance, right? I'm sorry to be so sarcastic but, really, I think those "field" board members deserve far more respect/credit than a lot of people have given them. A lot of people have made them out to sound very stupid, ignorant, foolish, frivolous, etc. They had to know something about the standard and conformation to get to the positions they are in- especially the President. They did have to be voted in by the general membership (who had a chance to vote for someone else), and they had to put in all the time and effort as any other member to gain club membership- unless, like I said, the LRC has become so political as to make membership more about who you know than what you have done.
 
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