Labrador Coat Quality

Questions and discussions on breeding your dogs
CockerCanuck
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Labrador Coat Quality

Post by CockerCanuck » Tue Jan 03, 2017 11:54 pm

I enjoy this forum a great deal but also participate in some North American gun dog forums. A few years ago I broached this subject on a NA forum and essentially got shot down. As background most of my experience has been with ESS but about 20 years ago I found most of my shooting had shifted to waterfowl. I decided I needed a Lab. I bought a pup from a friend she was nothing special in the way of breeding just a good gun dog bred to a good gun dog. She ended up being a great shooting companion, very calm and relaxed and a WONDERFUL COAT. There was no water too cold for her and she would often swim in the river here amongst the ice flows purely for pleasure without any retrieve offered. My next Lab was her son. I bred her to a retired field trial dog of a fairly calm nature. This pup was one of the best gundogs I ever had but he did not have his mothers coat. He would always go but I could tell he suffered in very cold water. My current Lab is an extremely well tempered and biddable bitch. She is of (on paper) far better breeding than my first two Labs with many FCh in her pedigree (American and British). However, when I went to see the breeder I was not at all happy with the sires coat. However I got the pup anyway (should never have taken my wife, she loved the pups bright red colour). Unfortunately she inherited her fathers thin coat and I can tell she really suffers in cold water.

When I broached the subject of what was happening with Labrador coats on the NA forum I was essentially chastised for not developing enough desire in my dog or not force training enough to make her go if she wanted to or not. To me this is not the point. She is a good dog and I am confident she does everything she can to please me but very cold water over extended periods of time hurt her. I know you can send a dog with lots of desire but badly crippled hips out to work and they will do their best but we all agree it is best to eliminate the bad hips through selective breeding. Why do most Lab breeders seem so unconcerned with preserving the thick double coat that was so much a part of the breeds early success and popularity amongst those who actually shoot over them in cold conditions.

I am pretty sure I know the answer but am interested to hear what those on this forum have to say and your experience with coat quality.

bird
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Re: Labrador Coat Quality

Post by bird » Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:58 am

You get what you breed for ;)

I have friends with show line labs. Without exception they have a good double coat. The same is not true of the dogs other friends have from working lines.

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Alice
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Re: Labrador Coat Quality

Post by Alice » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:40 am

I think I brought this up on another thread, possibly of yours CC? I too am concerned with the lack of double coats in trialling bred labs (well, 'concerned' might be putting it a bit strongly, as I'm not overly interested in labs or in wildfowling...) as I'd always understood it as an essential part of the breed standard.

Do Canadian/North American retriever trials involve much water work?
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munstyman
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Re: Labrador Coat Quality

Post by munstyman » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:00 pm

It just goes to show CC that working breeders can be as blinkered as show breeders, and that short sighted excuses are not limited by nationality :(

CockerCanuck
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Re: Labrador Coat Quality

Post by CockerCanuck » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:11 pm

Alice, I did not bring it up before but I also saw this topic mentioned in one of the other threads. Yes our typical Canadian retriever trial does involve a lot of water work. I suspect more than yours do. However rarely are these trials held in very cold weather. In fact it is damn hot at some of them in the late summer. Even if they are in pretty cool weather the dog is only getting a few retrieves and under the judges eye for 15-20 minutes. It is a long way from the challenges faced in 6-8 hours in an ice covered boat.

Obviously, the problem is there is no incentive for field trial breeders to select for quality coats. In fact I believe there is an unconscious tendency to select for the opposite with so much summer training and trials in warm/hot weather a dog which sheds heat actually has a slight advantage.

Incidentally, Bird, my first Lab who loved cold icy swims had some show stock in her background.

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Alice
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Re: Labrador Coat Quality

Post by Alice » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:34 pm

That's interesting to know- so do your trials not take place within your hunting season?

I think it comes down to the age-old complaint of a country's- be it UK, Canada or US- trials not reflecting the work done with the beasts. I wouldn't like to hazard a guess at how many people typically buy a lab to use for predominantly wildfowling in the UK, but it seems a bit mad that in the US and Canada where it represents a much bigger proportion of people's hunting activity that coats aren't a prioirity.

Do folk generally use Neoprene vests on their dogs over there too?
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Alice.

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Dawnrazor
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Re: Labrador Coat Quality

Post by Dawnrazor » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:59 pm

I've never had a labrador coat before, I did have a donkey jacket when I was at school though.

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Re: Labrador Coat Quality

Post by Judy » Wed Jan 04, 2017 1:34 pm

Dawnrazor wrote: ... I did have a donkey jacket ... though.


Figures! :lol:

Labrador coats all seem to be thin on the working side, otter tails have also pretty much disappeared, and I wonder if this is why I hear of so many Labs getting Limber / Swim tail these days?

Edited to add, I had a Lab Coat back in my working days...
If in the process of winning, you have lost the respect of your competitors, you have won nothing. Paul Elvström.

CockerCanuck
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Re: Labrador Coat Quality

Post by CockerCanuck » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:14 pm

Yes neoprene vests are very common here. I have mixed feelings if they really help much. I do use one but more because I like the protection it provides for the dogs chest and belly when leaping into stick filled waters.

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Alice
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Re: Labrador Coat Quality

Post by Alice » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:16 pm

Dawnrazor wrote:I've never had a labrador coat before, I did have a donkey jacket when I was at school though.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: I had a fox hat, my fella loved it, he was forever saying 'wear the fox hat' :lol: :lol: :lol: (er...you might have to read that one aloud...)
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Alice.

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