Update: Fat Labs at Westminster

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Last spring, we wrote a surprisingly controversial piece about the apparent overweight Labrador Retrievers shown at Westminster. Our goal was to call attention to the matter in the hopes of raising some awareness about how far the show Labs have diverged from the Labrador Standard and that judges of the breed seem to be rewarding the extremes.
We are happy to note that the Labrador Retriever Club, the standards body for the breed also took notice and wrote a forceful letter to the AKC Judges judging conformation shows. You can read it here.
They asked the judges to pay special attention to the standards around General Appearance and Size and Proportion, specifically calling out the same quote from the standard that we called out: LABRADOR RETRIEVERS SHALL BE SHOWN IN WORKING CONDITION, WELL MUSCLED AND WITHOUT EXCESS FAT.
In addition, they called out the specifications regarding height at the withers and the proportions – specifically the distances measured from the shoulders to the rump and from the withers to the ground – basically saying the dog should be as tall as it is long and the length of the leg should be 1/2 the dogs total height. If you look at the winner from last year, it certainly does not appear to meet that standard.
Best of Breed, Labs, 2014

In our post on why Labs never win at Westminster, we posted the following comparison of one of the most successful Labradors in history (Champion Shamrock Acres Light Brigade) and the current Best of Opposite Sex winner (comparing male to male). Another clear difference.


The LRC also made a critical point noting that the Breed Club’s responsibility is to preserve and protect the breed, but it is the judges responsibility to uphold the breed standard in the ring.
The 2015 Westminster show will be coming up in February. While we don’t expect miracles in one year, let’s hope the judges took this plea from the Labrador Retriever Club to heart and begin to judge more appropriately to the breed standard and not allow this continued rewarding of extremes.

Hat Tip to our friends at 2 Brown Dogs for providing the LRC Letter.

We are joining the Thursday Barks and Bytes Blog Hop Co-hosted by our friends at 2Brown Dogs and Heart Like a Dog. Grab the badge and join the fun!



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  1. I completely agree! And now, if they’d address German Shepherds and Collies next on the list, I’d be a happy camper.
    houndstooth4 recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 1/7 — Hiking HoundMy Profile

  2. Thank goodness, that was a disgrace last year! Once being fat is seen as being acceptable we are really in trouble!
    Emma recently posted…Music By Emma The GBGVMy Profile

  3. Thank you for taking a stand. It has gotten to the point that the breed could be divided between conformation labs and working/performance labs. This conversation comes up every year after the Lab Specialty. The agility labs in general look nothing like the breed winners.

  4. Most excellent. The difference in those photos is alarming.
    Flea recently posted…Hangin’ With the GnomiesMy Profile

  5. Let’s hope they will listen!

  6. BRAVO! Nothing attractive or healthy about obesity! I agree whole heartily about the dangers of rewarding an overweight dog.

  7. I will admit I was shocked when I read your post about how overweight dogs have gotten etc….it is just horrible!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
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  8. TY, Slim Doggy! Your posting on this last year was the reason I found myself so appreciatively drawn to your blog. It IS a problem!!!! I show my Lab and he is 22 and a half at the withers, barely height standard. I have had judges tell me “he is too tall.” As you adeptly pointed out, he is not and they are too short. I have also been told to put weight on him…..need we go in the reasons this is unwise?! I wish I could post you a picture of him, but I have no website and therefore your site will not let me. He IS what they are asking for – what the LRC (Lab Retreiver Club) wants shown. Did you know there was a lawsuit on this a decade ago? Height people won, and the shorter, fatter Lab people just became judges. Hence, our problem……

    • Would love to see your photo – email it to me.
      I really hope this letter has some affect. They are making a difference in the UK with some of the breeds, so let’s hope.
      mkob recently posted…Update: Fat Labs at WestminsterMy Profile

  9. Hopefully they will award good dogs, who are trim and fit. I can’t see a fat lab being much good in the field, which is what that breed is basically all about. The show dogs should at least look like a working dog.
    Mary recently posted…Ruffwear Front Range Harness and Flat Out LeashMy Profile

    • Exactly – I don’t know how some of those dogs could hunt all day…or even for 15 minutes!
      mkob recently posted…Update: Fat Labs at WestminsterMy Profile

  10. Great job. Changes might be slow, but hopefully they are coming!
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    • Chip away it it – it changed for the worse over time, so it won’t immediately change back.
      mkob recently posted…Update: Fat Labs at WestminsterMy Profile

  11. As a lab mommy, I am so happy to see this! Thanks slimdoggy for this good news!
    Noshers recently posted…Snow Time for Desert Doggies!My Profile

  12. Unfortunately, this happens in many breeds. My breed of choice, the Cardigan Corgi, is getting bigger and bigger. The judges reward the males that are way over standard. With a dwarf breed like corgis, excess size is not a good thing. Their backs and joints won’t last! And look at the difference between show Border Collies and working BCs….many structural differences! The BC people fought being accepted into AKC as they feared what would happen. And the sad fate of the German Shepherd….don’t even want to start on that.
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  13. Good grief – those “winners” look like they had one too many chicken dinners. No wonder people are convinced their dogs aren’t overweight when they see examples like that being rewarded!

    If people want to be overweight, fine, but don’t do it to your pets!
    Blueberry’s human recently posted…Let’s Talk PoopMy Profile

  14. I was just thinking about your “fat Labs” post last night and was actually hoping you’d do a followup on what to expect this year. Thank you! I sure hope the winning Lab is not as much of a “flabby labby” as last year.
    Lindsay recently posted…That Mutt’s 21-day dog walking and training challenge #ActiveMuttsMy Profile

    • I’m hoping too…we’ll see. I think it will be a long process to make these type of improvements since there is some resistance not only from the judges, but SOME of the breeders who are more concerned with winning.
      mkob recently posted…Update: Fat Labs at WestminsterMy Profile

  15. Great update! I remember the previous post very well. I also think German Shepherd standards need attention – their gait looks positively painful sometimes.
    Amy recently posted…Thoughtless Thursday: Three Reasons To Make A Watermark, And How To Do ItMy Profile

  16. Thanks for following up with the LRC letter, I do hope the judges in these dog shows take note and stop rewarding for any dog not conforming to breed standards.

    Besides not looking and representing the breed, it’s so damaging for the dog. I saw Houndtooth’s comment about the German Shepherds and Collies too. When did Shepherds get so sloped in the back? It looks uncomfortable and to me, it makes the dog look likes it’s crouching ready to spring.

    Thanks for joining the blog hop.
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  17. Thanks for including the Letter from the Labrador Retriever Club ~ hopefully it will help bring those judges back down to earth! It is beyond me why obesity would be rewarded and hence encouraged ~ both in K9s AND people too, by the way.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Our Pack is staying fit ~ Without the Shadow of a Doubt! #walkyourpetmonthMy Profile

  18. We have been seeing more porky Chessies in the ring at times. That is not a good thing. I blame that on people hiring big name handlers so the judge looks to the handler and not the dog. Another problem in the show ring. Anyway, I think it will be a while before labs get back to being fit dogs in the ring. A couple of the comments on your post on facebook were really discouraging. If lab breeders don’t see the problem, how will it every be solved? Thanks for joining the hop!
    2browndawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–Our Blogging Year In ReviewMy Profile

    • It is disappointing to see folks justifying it. But on the positive side, there were many more folks recognizing the health issues than there were on our original stories.
      mkob recently posted…Update: Fat Labs at WestminsterMy Profile

      • True and I do know people who show labs that also run hunt tests and they do very well in the ring. Not Westminster well, but they do take Best of Breed now and again. They also do not look like that brown dog.
        2browndawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–Our Blogging Year In ReviewMy Profile

  19. I wish the American Rottweiler Club would do the same. It’s not only “fat” Rottweilers, it’s Rottweilers with muzzles so short they can barely breathe. If a Rottweiler can’t breathe, it can’t work. It’s unfortunate that one or two breeders can have such a devastating impact on a breed. If more judges would truly judge the dog and judge to the standard rather than judging based on the handler, the dog show world would be so much better off!

  20. I’m going to be checking in this weekend to see the results from this year; I haven’t watched it in a few years. I really don’t understand the rewarding of extremes – I don’t think anyone in their right mind would think that a fat/obese dog is a good standard, I find it hard to believe there aren’t some nice fit Labs out there that should be getting better results in the ring. Love reading about this ongoing topic – and I’m glad to see the LRC has gotten involved. And it’s really great seeing the letter – and that they did update the breed standards listen on their front page with the “excess fat” line in bold. Thank goodness.
    jengabbard recently posted…Teaching Dog Bite Prevention to KidsMy Profile

    • I’m working on another story from a reader with a gorgeous Lab that has been told to ‘fatten him up’…now there’s good advice! Let’s hope we can change this mindset.
      mkob recently posted…Fitness Tips I Learned from my Dogs: Value of RestMy Profile

  21. This is good news, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out. I hope the letter helps. I still can’t get over those photos, it’s really unbelievable.
    Jan K recently posted…What’s in the Trees & #52SnapshotsMy Profile

  22. So great to heart hat change is slowly taking place.
    Jana Rade recently posted…Veterinary Highlights: Smart Harness for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia?My Profile

  23. Thanks for the follow up, can’t wait to see what will be at Westminster.
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  24. Good for them! I was completely appalled with last year’s Lab finalist. He never should have been in the Best in Show ring to compete. Hoping we will see a healthy Lab this year.
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  25. Can you get this started on the German Shepherd next? What they\’ve become in the show ring is just plain sad.

  26. beautifully said! I am not involved in or educated about dog showing, but I am a veterinarian and lab lover. I’ve actually been looking at breeders lately to get a pup, and have nearly been turned off from one of my favorite breeds because of the two extremes! You can get a needle-nosed, neurotic hunting lab, or a “show quality” english lab that look to my untrained eye like they’re about half dauchund! (I exaggerate, but still). What happened to the athletic, handsome family pet labs of my childhood?

  27. Wow, what a contrast between the two photos! Hopefully we’ll see some changes with the attention being brought to the issue. It’s also sad when other dog breeds suffer health issues because of breeding for extreme conformation standards.
    Elaine recently posted…Help! My Dog Doesn’t Come When CalledMy Profile

  28. Obviously a lot of the posters on this page do not know what correct conformation entails. There is a huge difference in the two dogs because one has better shoulders and rear angles which translate to better and more effortless movement and more than likely better hips and elbows as well which translate into a healthier dog over all. HINT: it is not the yellow one…….Please do some studying before you jump on this uneducated bandwagon…

    • The yellow dog (Briggs) is the one of the most most successful Labradors in history – winning championships both in the show ring and in field trials – exactly what a Labrador Retriever is supposed to be able to do. No Labradors in the last decade have been able to win in both arenas because many show Labs are now too fat to win a field trial. This isn’t an uneducated opinion – there are weight, height and proportion standards for Labradors, measure the chocolate and see. But beyond that – a dog with visible rolls of fat is carrying excess weight and that is NOT healthy.
      mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy Jack | Black & White SundayMy Profile

      • Briggs was a Show Champion, not a field trial Champion. Briggs is an American type show Labrador that was propelled to his big wins by being with a top handler of the day. Dog shows and type have changed dramatically since the early days. UK imports became big during that era for their type. One very famous show dog, Eng. Am Ch Sam of Blaircourt was a very different type of dog than Briggs (same era), yet very similar in type to what we see in the ring today.

        You are totally uneducated in your synopsis of the Labrador Retriever. You have no idea what condition these dogs are in because you have not seen them in person. You have not felt under the coat, felt their condition. You have no right to judge. Only the qualified breed expert has that right. I did put my experienced hands on one of them and they were not at all how you describe. It is their structure that makes them look heavier than Brigg. They have much better shoulder lay backs, broader heads, thicker double coats with thicker otter tails, stronger bone, and for me, the biggest improvement is their rear angulation. They have much better turn of stifle, more bend to the hock, nice substance and width in the thigh. They appear to have proper proportion in height/length, which should be square or slightly longer. I can see a clear indentation behind the rib cage (yes a waist). Our standard also states they should have little or no tuck up.

        There is a long standing rift between the show and field people, especially when it comes to the powers that be at the LRC, Inc. They have an ongoing feud since way back when when the first UK show Labs began winning over their American style. They were the one who passed the current AKC standard that we are judged by in the ring. It met with great opposition by many long time breeders because of disqualifications, over wordiness, describing what a Labrador isn’t, etc. But like it or not, we still breed to it. But like all standards, it is simply blue print and open for individual interpretation. There are no disqualifications for weight as in the early days, the weight was just put as an approximate since no one was weighing dogs that were being bred. Even you quoted a portion of the standard about working condition and without excess fat. Any hunter will tell you that in the winter time, a thin layer of fat of the ribs helps to insulate their dogs during icy water retrieves. How much is considered excess? Open to interpretation. Also, Labradors, being water dogs, tends to have looser skin over its back and body, why? Because when they shake the water off after a water retrieve, the loose skin jiggles or intensifies the shake for maximum affect. But I’ll tell you what, you could starve these dogs for weeks to make them fit your slimdoggy agenda and they will still look heavy from the side as taking off weight will NOT change their structure.

        So you want to know why there aren’t any more dual Champions, true Show Champions as well as a full Field Trial Champion? Because the two venues over the years have become more and more competitive. It truly does take two different breeds to compete. But saying that Brigg was one of the last duals, is totally false and misleading. He is from all show lines. But you know what, many show bred dogs compete in hunt tests and become titled in non-competitive tests like Junior, Senior and Master hunters. Of all the CH/MH, not one single dog is from solid field trial champion lines.

        As for top winning Labs, you might want to look up Ch Aquarius Center Court Delight, JH. He beat Brigg’s record and had a hunting title. He did a quite a bit of winning in the early 2000s. Also, the bitch that won at Westminster in 2014, also won her English Championship just prior to this as well as won Best of Breed at the largest Labrador show in the world with over 1000 dogs! She also has a hunting title as well.

        Would you like to also know why Labradors never win top honors at Westminster? I’ll let you in on a little secret. The level of competition, having the top dogs from all over the country with the top handlers in country showing them, well it really doesn’t leave a lot of room for the owner handler. Yes, most Labradors are still shown by their owners and/or breeder. Labradors are not flashy moving Weimaraners or Viszlas. They are not covered in long flowing hair of the setters or spaniels and they lack the elegance of the pointers. They are just a good honest dog that after the shows, their owners are just as happy, love their dogs just as much as the next person, and just enjoy representing their breed. Their years of hard work, the blood, sweat and tears they put into their breeding program. It’s expensive, it’s can be heartbreaking, but to have a dog achieve top honors in its breed is any breeder’s crowning achievement. It just saddens me to have a site like this, an agenda driven site (buy my products, buy my programs, I’m a self proclaimed expert on breeding, showing and handling) blogging their “expert” opinion, when someone like me who has years of experience breeding dogs, laughs at all the misinformation this blog contains. Seriously, they do not have a clue! But it just adds to the heartbreak when people unfairly criticize your dog that they know nothing about personally. Then to see all those jump on the band wagon and blindly follow in with the cheap shots and hear hear comments. Shame on you all!

        • Edit: The bitch who won Best of Breed at Westminster, who also won Best of Breed at the world’s largest Labrador show, won at Westminster in 2012. She was owner handled and also made the cut in the group. She was shown in fit condition. I also had my hands on her too.

        • There’s no cheap shots being taken here and our sole agenda at SlimDoggy.com is to promote health and fitness for our dogs. We sell nothing and do not promote any products on our site. We promote nothing other than health and fitness for all breeds of dogs. We even have a companion site for cats called SlimKitty.com. Obesity is a real problem in the United States with over 50% of all dogs and cats overweight or obese. Our goal at SlimDoggy is educate dog owners, whether they are show dogs, working dogs or family pets, to properly feed and exercise their dogs so that they are the healthiest they can be. We feel it’s unfortunate when obviously overweight animals are held out as ideal because then more and more ‘regular’ pet owners feel it’s okay to have a fat Lab or a fat Rottie or a fat Bulldog…the breed doesn’t matter – it’s the exaggerated proportions of the dogs that impact their health and longevity. Many professional show dog owners have a vested interest in promoting the “look” that is winning in the ring – understandable. We however promote health and fitness, so we prefer to see dogs in good condition, strong, health and fit. Many of our readers feel the same.

          I did mistakenly say that Briggs was a Dual CH, he was not, but he was the winning-est Labrador in the SHOW ring for over 35 years, winning 12 BIS even though he competed for only one year. There is no question he is a fine example of a Labrador. The difference in conformation between him and the chocolate from last year is undeniable.
          mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy Health Check : Heartworm Pt.2My Profile

          • Your comments certainly do fit your agenda and your quest to make all dogs adhere to *your* perception of what is healthy.

            You simply fail to understand that you cannot possible judge a dog’s weight simply by looking at a photograph, unless it’s terribly extreme. These dogs are not. I’ve worked for Veterinarian’s, I’ve studied small animal nutrition. The weight charts also show the dogs from over the top which also helps determine proper weight. You can not see over the top of the these dogs like I have. You are sorely mistaken that last year’s winners were “obviously overweight”. You are unable to understand the difference between being a more substantially built dog vs one that is just over weight. And again, they should have a layer of fat over their ribs, just not in excess.

            Granted there are a lot of pet dogs that are overweight and their owners should be your intended audience. But what is the percentage of dogs that are just overweight vs. obese? What percentage are purebred vs. mixed? Just throwing out a number is misleading too.

            There are far more experienced and educated people in the show world who know what their dogs should weigh. Labs are notorious eaters and will gain weight easy. It’s also easy to cut back on their food and know when and how to take of weight. I know this from my experience, my fellow breeders know this. We do not need unsolicited opinions by someone pushing an agenda and making false assumptions about how fat these dogs are. By posting their photos over and over again and degrading their accomplishments is cruel and out right nasty. Stick to your intended target, your uneducated opinion is not welcome.

            As for Briggs, he was born over 50 years ago, very few breeds resemble their early ancestors. The whole goal is to improve the breed. The standard was written up to describe the ideal dog and how it should look in order to allow the dog to function more proficiently in the field. We’ve improved fronts, rears, toplines, added more substance and coat. Our dogs are health tested for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, PRA (DNA test), EIC (DNA test), CNM (DNA test), HNPK (DNA test), annual eye exams, thyroid, RD/OSD, EKG w/color doppler, and so on. They are healthier than ever. They are also living longer, healthier lives due to health testing and the best veterinary care than ever before. We don’t need outside influences to tell us what we need to do with our breeding program. If you don’t like the current winners of the day, don’t buy them or breed to them, but to put them down by saying they are obviously overweight and having your followers pat you on the back, is taking shots. Calling them “fat labs” is highly offensive and derogatory. I would go as far as to say you fat shaming dogs. I’m just glad the dogs don’t know/understand.

            And as I’ve said before, while Briggs’ record was impressive, his grandson came along and beat it and so have others, in the modern style of today. But in order to get a top winning dog, you need money and a good handler. There is so much that goes into campaigning a dog that few Labrador breeders care to even venture into it. They are more than happy to win at a Specialty show than to play the politics of the all-breed shows. But with that said, we have some amazing Labradors that are doing quite well in the all-breed shows today that are picking up BIS, Group wins and placements. Kudos to their owners and breeders. Also, in today’s shows there is an ever growing list of breeds being AKC recognized. Many more than there were when Briggs was being campaigned. So again, today’s shows are even more competitive than ever.

          • “We sell nothing and do not promote any products on our site. We promote nothing other than health and fitness for all breeds of dogs. ”

            Perhaps you haven’t been to your own store lately? http://shop.slimdoggy.com/

          • LOL…okay, sorry we sell SlimDoggy T-shirts and hats, not really an “agenda”.
            mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy Health Check : Heartworm Pt.2My Profile

          • “LOL…okay, sorry we sell SlimDoggy T-shirts and hats, not really an “agenda”.
            mkob recently posted”

            You also sell consultations and your app too. Sorry that sounds like someone with agenda.

            Taking cheap shots at prominent show dogs is just so wrong. Ever hear about the term “Cyber Bully?”

          • The App is free and to be honest, we’ve had very few takers on the consultation since we offer so much of it for free on the site. This is our blog and we don’t force anyone to read it or agree with us so I’d hardly say we are bullying anyone.
            mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy Health Check : Heartworm Pt.2My Profile

      • “The yellow dog (Briggs) is the one of the most most successful Labradors in history – winning championships both in the show ring and in field trials – exactly what a Labrador Retriever is supposed to be able to do. No Labradors in the last decade have been able to win in both arenas because many show Labs are now too fat to win a field trial. This isn’t an uneducated opinion – there are weight, height and proportion standards for Labradors, measure the chocolate and see. But beyond that – a dog with visible rolls of fat is carrying excess weight and that is NOT healthy.”

        He was a big winning dog of his “day”. Other Labs have been more successful in modern days. What’s your point? You lied saying he is a field champion too. Why should we believe anything you say? Are you an expert on Labs? Do you show, hunt, trial or even bred Labs? Me thinks you are just, as others say, an animal rights person inciting your cyber lynch mob.

        Uneducated opinion? Very much so. Field trials are a whole different game these days. How many have you been to recently? You know they use training methods such as force fetching and shock collars that are now commonly used these days right? To each their own just wanted to educate you a little there.

        Show dogs can’t work? Really? Have you see the number of show champions that earned hunting titles these days? Show Champions earning the highest honor of Master Hunter? Still going off your uneducated opinion? Me thinks so.

        I hope all these responses help the give you more education……

    • Amen Barb — thanks for calling it like it is. Also, do not mistake a CORRECT double coat for fat.

      • Please don’t miss the point of our article – if The Labrador Retriever Club was happy with this winner at Westminster and thought the dog was a good example of the breed standard, then why did they feel compelled to write the letter to the AKC judges. Let’s not close our eyes to a health hazard for our beloved Labs – a double coat doesn’t jiggle unless there is a layer of fat underneath.
        mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy Jack | Black & White SundayMy Profile

        • As I stated in my above reply, there is a rift in the LRC between show and field. The LRC has not liked our show dogs since the 60s because we imported a lot of the UK dogs. They changed the standard in 1994.

          Don’t be so quick to pat yourself on the back and think you had some impact. This same discussion about the fat overdone show dogs come up EVERY year after Westminster. It’s just sad to see breeders who work so hard to win top breed honors disparaged by nasty, agenda driven comments.

          • I believe the reason to have a standard is for it to be upheld and adhered to by all, not selectively. We are all too aware that this discussion goes on each year, our only hope is that overtime and with more attention and voices joining in the AKC and their judges will take a lesson from the Kennel Club in the UK and begin to pay more attention to the health of the animals than their exaggerated appearance. This is not a Lab problem, this is a pedigree dog problem with many other pedigree dogs having health issues being perpetuated by breeding practices that focus on appearance over health and function. Many of our commenters have brought to light issues with GSDs, Bulldogs, Pugs, Dalmations, etc.
            mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy Health Check : Heartworm Pt.2My Profile

          • Ok, you want to talk about the standard again. The standard was revised in 1994 to address the influence of some of the UK imports of that day. The standard is owned by the LRC, Inc. and not the AKC. They are the ones who revise it, not the Kennel Club. LRC is run and has been run from the beginning by field trial people. Guess what? Field trial breeders do not adhere to the standard! So do you think it is wrong that they are breed primarily for performance and rarely, if ever, care if their dogs conform to the standard? You just said that the standard should be upheld and adhered to by all, not selectively.

            I don’t have anything against Field Trial breeders. I respect their passion for what they do. I don’t think they’re ruining the breed anymore than anyone else has. In fact I think the breed is in good hands. We just went two separate ways and that’s fine. We are all passionate about our dogs and all mindful when it comes to what we feel is best for our dogs.

            As for what the KC is doing in the UK, they are being led by the nose by Radical Animal Rights masquerading as animal welfare at the moment. If they are not careful, they will lose their rights to breed dogs. What you present in your blogs are highly anecdotal and do not provide accurate statistics from properly verified sources. Nothing is perfect, but as a whole, we’re in good shape here in the US. The show breeders, with whom you say are ruining the purebred dogs, are actually the ones who are doing the majority of health testing. The Dalmatian breeders actually did a cross breeding in the 70s to a pointer to bring in a normal gene for hyperuricemia. Through DNA testing, Dalmatians have an option for eliminating this disease. The AKC has donated more than $24 million to its Canine Health Foundation to develop DNA tests, research and find treatment/cures for diseases. As for the problems in purebred dogs, again, the Animal Rights movement has focused on vilifying breeders and our dogs. They are going after all animal enterprise. They start with one group and move to the next. They gather sympathy under emotive arguments like, “health and well-being”. Of course that’s what we all want, but they find a few dogs or a few AR leaning “experts”, and they make propaganda videos. They take things out of context, they don’t show the whole picture and only show one-sided stories or heavily edited comments by the other side. No one wants to see suffering and no one condones it, but over all, there isn’t as big of a problem as you’re trying to make it here.

            I was horrified to see those dogs disqualified at Crufts a few years back for stupid, debatable issues. Their breeders/owners crushed. The dogs had nothing wrong with them, but in the opinion of a vet with an agenda, they were out. Top winning, healthy dogs suddenly a problem. Nope, I don’t ever want see that here in the US. I am glad the AKC stands up for our rights. I also like that they don’t have the ability to go in and change a standard due to pressure from the Animal Rights Fanatics.

            As for how your readers feel, they are just being fed your biased opinions. They are emotive arguments that you present and they are simply replying based on their emotion instead of getting a true picture of what is going on. Same with what the Animal Rights Groups. Show a sappy commercial of sad animals and send us your 60 cents a day. We will work hard to end all animal use and ownership.

        • “Please don’t miss the point of our article – if The Labrador Retriever Club was happy with this winner at Westminster and thought the dog was a good example of the breed standard, then why did they feel compelled to write the letter to the AKC judges.”

          The LRC is made up primarily by those who run their dogs in Field Trials. They don’t give a fig about the standard when they breed. If it can run in the field and be controlled by a shock collar, who cares!!!!!!!!

  29. I have a 58 lb yellow female, not an ounce of fat on her — Vet approved. Full double coat and it waves and jiggles as she moves. Let’s also not forget the original purpose for the Labrador Retriever — to retrieve the fishing nets off the cold waters of Newfoundland, Canada. FYI – I am a member of the Labrador Retriever Club.

  30. I wrote a long comment supporting all you said about the fat Labs winning Westminster. I was appalled to see that some disagree with you. I feel sorry for those dogs… there are so many health risks associated with obesity. Yes, I think last year’s Lab was *obese*. I hope the pendulum swings back the other way so athletic Labs can do well in these shows.
    KB recently posted…Black and White SundayMy Profile

    • The Kennel Club in the UK was greatly influenced by the Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary produced in 2008 and they are making changes. All of the standards are being revised and they have instituted health checks for the winners. We can only hope the AKC in the US takes notice and takes control of this.
      mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy Health Check : Heartworm Pt.2My Profile

      • Oh please PDE was nothing more than Animal Rights propaganda garbage aimed at vilifying purebred dogs in general, just as you’re doing.

      • “The Kennel Club in the UK was greatly influenced by the Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary produced in 2008 and they are making changes. All of the standards are being revised and they have instituted health checks for the winners. We can only hope the AKC in the US takes notice and takes control of this.”

        So you do have an agenda? In your fanatical “fitness” belief, you think by writing disgusting, defaming blogs such as these that you’re going to influence the powers that be to force the AKC to take notice? Take notice of what you perceive as a problem? As has been pointed out already, the LRC owns the standards, not the AKC, so they won’t be able to do what the KC did and change standards from the influence of the Animal Rights Nuts. So please stop trying to incite your cyber lynch mob. Thank you!

  31. In reading through these replies, there is one thing that really really bothers me. People are making judgements purely based on photographs, and no offense to the dogs, but horrid ones at that. Even the one of Briggs is taken from an angle that shows a dog who is incredibly upright in the front/shoulders and with no prosternum/forechest. Perhaps he looks better when a photo is truly from the side and not at an angle such as this? Regardless, I think both photos are terrible and of course they lead to knee-jerk responses from those uneducated about the breed, and quite likely, any breed.

    As a veterinarian, I have learned one thing…over and over…whether working “popper” stations or planting blinds at area Master Hunt tests, or watching ringside at dog shows then “meeting” those competing first hand outside of the ring: You can NOT make an educated judgement of a double-coated dog based on a photograph. They virtually ALL look fat when in good, full coat. It doesn’t matter whether or not it is a pomeranian or a toller or a golden or a malamute or a Chessie or a labrador. The latter breeds tend to be heavier-boned as well, so it truly does make for a misleading photograph. Shoot, when was the last time you looked at a malamute and tried to even consider making an educated judgement about the dog’s weight? YOU CAN’T SEE RIBS ON A THICK, DOUBLE-COATED DOG. Period. Even those field dogs who carry less bone (not as “thick” of a body structure- think arabian vs. quarter horse) and are just a generally leaner body style do not have visible ribs when they carry proper, thick, double coat. Weight is a huge issue in any breed- and like is discussed at numerous veterinary conferences around the nation, it tends to mirror the obesity in the human population. Veterinarians are taught to tapdance around weight since quite often those with obese dogs have weight problems themselves. That is a completely different topic however.

    Basically, a good, thick, double-coat will absolutely cover up any sign of a ribcage in the labrador breed and like in other breeds, the standard also calls for “little to no tuckup” when following the bottom line along the abdomen. I would definitely say that many show breeders ARE starting to breed for longer, wavier, and more “open” coats than the standard calls for which does alter the appearance from afar even more. I have been astonished to see what appears to be a… well… to be blunt… FAT dog from across the show ring, or the field, or across the exam room from me, only to put my hands on the dog and have them sink through that coat and rest on a hard, muscled underlying body with more than my recommended 3-4 of the last ribs easily felt.

    Far too often what we see in veterinary practice are the middle-of-the-road back-yard bred dogs who are not bred with any thought as to whether or not they adhere to the breed standard… whether those being bred are of proper temperament or have any health clearances is again a different topic altogether. When we see 95% of these dogs (and without taking health and health clearances into consideration before breeding, many of what we see have orthopedic issues or skin conditions/allergies, ear infections, epilepsy, you-name-it) who are bred only to produce more pets for the world, we do not see those who are outstanding examples of the breed. This goes for any breed. However, unless involved in reproduction work, rarely do veterinarians see field trial champions or conformation champions compared with “Billy” or “Roxy” out of the local housing development. Much of this is likely because those field or conformation champions are not only a very small percentage of the total population of labradors out there but they are also typically from generation after generation of health-cleared pedigrees and are far less likely to require repeated visits due to allergies or hip/elbow dysplasia than the rest.

    Anyhow, even as a veterinarian, I think it is sad that so many feel the need to bash dogs (show or field- as they both get it from the opposite side) that they’ve never seen in person and most certainly have never actually felt the coat, ribs, or any other body part of. This goes for ANY breed, and anyone whose ideal may not be someone else’s ideal (whether breed or type or whatever). The ignorance just echoes through so many comments from many who aren’t educated enough to know any better.

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