As many of you know, Riley competed in the Licking River Kennel Club's “Land of Legend” All-Breed Dog Show last weekend. While we have spent time competing in the Obedience Trials, this was our first time in the Conformation Ring, where she was evaluated by how well she meets the breed standard.
Why is Conformation Important?
As Labrador Retriever breeders, we have a tremendous responsibility to the breed. Our goals are to create healthy, well-tempered Labradors that conform to the breed standard. Who doesn’t think their dog is the best dog ever? However, we have a duty to take an objective look at our dogs’ strengths and weaknesses before making breeding decisions. The Conformation Show is an event where we can do that as dogs are evaluated on their appearance, structure and assessed for their overall ability to produce quality, purebred puppies when it comes time to breed.
What are the Judges Looking for in a Labrador Retriever?
There are distinctive characteristics of a Labrador that all judges are looking at in the Conformation ring. Here are some highlights:
Head/Face: The head should be broad and clean-cut with a well-defined stop and a powerful, not pointed muzzle.
Eyes: The eyes should be medium in size and express intelligence and good temperament. Acceptable colors are brown or hazel.
Bite: They have a medium length jaw with strong teeth and a complete scissor bite.
Body: Their bodies are wide and short-coupled, with a straight topline. Their forelegs are straight and well boned, and their hindquarters are well developed with a well turned stifle, and not sloping towards the tail.
Paws: They have compact and round paws.
Tail: Their tails are often described as an otter tail, and it should be thick toward the base and gradually taper to the tip.
Coat: They should have a short, dense coat with weather-resistant undercoat. Acceptable colors are black, yellow or chocolate.
Gait: Their gait should cover adequate ground with a straight and true stride from front to rear.
Here at Ashling Place Labradors, we make it our priority to focus on the whole Labrador package in our breeding practices: the health of our Labs, the temperament of our Labs, and how well they conform to the breed standard - in that order. Who doesn’t believe their dog is perfect, right? However, we recognize that there truly is no such thing as a perfect dog and as responsible breeders, we must objectively look at our girls strengths and weaknesses so that we can diligently find the right match when choosing a partner for future litters.
Check back next week as we will be talking about genetic testing and why it's important to choose a breeder who values that in their practice, finding the right dog food for your canine companion, and some helpful training tips.