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Judges’ Questions & Answers

7.  Since the lifting of quarantine and the relaxing of the AI rules there has been a small influx of “foreign” blood in the UK.  Do you think this will help the breed?

JB: The Flatcoated Retriever is a British breed and as such breeders from other countries looked to the UK for their foundation stock and these exported dogs have had a profound effect on the Flatcoated Retriever worldwide. Foreign Flatcoats tend to go back to these dogs. Used sensibly and for the right reasons I feel these dogs have their place in our breeding programmes. I feel they could well be an asset given that they do go back to our older lines. But I do stress they must be used for the right reasons and not just for novelty value or to do something different. We have to be aware of any problems with these dogs i.e. health etc. We must look at the wider issue.

BJ: Like anything else, if used correctly.  However, it is no use rushing to the top kennel in Scandinavia just because other people have done well in this area.  Unless you know exactly what you are looking for and understand how this will compliment your lines it can do more harm than good.  It is very important to talk to the people who know the dogs in the pedigree and their siblings.  Sadly today most people are in too much of a rush to go out and win and not listen to those who have been around a long time.

BP: Yes I do if caution and care is taken.  All Flatcoats wherever were only exported abroad since the late sixties, but in the main the seventies & eighties. So they are genetically still strongly influence by their UK past.   As with every country at this time, it’s the skeletons in the cupboard as in every gene pool  that the new breeder/ owner may not be aware of. e.g. very few Scandinavian breeders test to Goniodysgenesis in their generations of breeding stock as does the majority of UK breeders since 1997, where as this condition is improving greatly, a popular foreign dog carrying this condition could put the breed back a decade.  Imported dogs can have improving influence of the counties breed population , but great care must be taken.

VF: Yes. The correct bloodlines from the UK have help world wide

VJ: At the present time the use of “foreign” blood does not appear to have given anything positive to the breed.   I think that the breed is in a fairly healthy state and having just closed our “health survey” in 2006 the majority of diseases are of very low incidence, however there is not any room for complacency and pedigrees and blood lines have to be looked at carefully at each generation, and only breed from those believed to be clear of hereditary disease.   Over the years British dogs have given Flatcoated Retrievers world wide a good base on which breeders can build their foundations and take the breed forward well into the 21st century.

MS: It is too early to say whether the relaxing of quarantine allowing foreign dogs to come into the country will have a significant effect on the breed in the UK.I feel that we will not know for a few years yet .Many breeders have had the insight to have semen collect from their own dogs within the past eight years ,with the relaxing of the use of A.I. ruling this will be good for us in years to come. Most of the overseas dogs have U.K.dogs behind them somewhere in their pedigrees ,I really don’t know enough of what is behind present day overseas dogs to comment .

8.  Over the years you have judged many top dogs and bitches.  Which in particular stick in your mind and why?

JB: I have to start with a dog I never judged but as a very close friend of Pat Chapman’s I travelled to shows with him for many years. Twice I was honoured to be trusted to show him when Pat was judging abroad.  Ch.& Ir. Ch. Shargleam Blackcap. Brett. Probably the most famous Flatcoat ever as he was in the public eye when he went Best in Show at Crufts 1980. That he was a great dog is not in doubt, his show record testifies to that. But he excelled in another sphere which to me is as important as his show wins. He was a very pre-potent sire. He stamped his type on his offspring from a variety of different bitches. He was the sire of 16 UK title holders. Add to this an outstanding temperament and it is not surprising he is not forgotten by those of us who knew him.A top class dog that I did judge was a Swiss dog. Mr Gmur’s Ch. Camwood the Flying Dutchman. I was judging the Flatcoats at the Swiss Retriever Show in December 1997. When he came into the ring the hairs on the back of my neck lifted. Full of breed type, stylish, the right size and could he move. He went unanimously Best in Show that day and made a lasting impression on me.I much admired Joy Wallis’s Ch. Llecan Gambit. A son of Ch. Shargleam Kingfisher and a Blackcap grandson. He was a strongly made dog who sadly was not used much. I felt he had much to offer the breed in sheer type and soundness. He also had a wonderful temperament.Sh. Ch. Lacetrom Cardow of Bordercot was another favourite of mine. I gave him a CC from veteran at LKA in 1997. A medium size, workmanlike dog, he moved round the ring with style that day. He was also a lovely dog to know.Of the bitches I have judged the one who made a lasting impression on me was the beautiful Sh. Ch. Braemist Dusky Queen owned by Val Jones. I judged her as a veteran at LKAin 1997 and had no hesitation in awarding her the CC and Best of Breed. In my critique I described her as “one of the outstanding bitches of the 90’s” She was so full of breed type and just shouted quality at youCh. Wizardwood Water Witch, owned by Audrey and Peter Forster, was another outstanding bitch. She was so typical, full of type and the right size. She looked as if she could do the job she was bred for. I was lucky to have her older sister Black Magic and those 2 bitches had quite an influence on the breed.I judged Jill Saville’s Ch. Paddiswood Burnt Lobelia at her first show, an Open Show, and gave her Best of Breed over her titled kennelmate. She was, I felt, probably the best liver bitch since Ch. Belsud Brown Guillemot. She was so sound and typical. I remember her winning the CC at Crufts 1993 under Rosalie Brady from the veteran class and she was still outstanding.There have been many memorable dogs and bitches that I have been privileged to judge but just too many to mention.

BJ: I have only awarded CCs in the breed since 2002.  However, before that time I was a great admirer of Ch Exclyst Watchman, Ch Branchalwood Stroan and Ch Falswift Appartition.  In bitches I would have to name Ch Exclyst Victoria, Sh Ch Braemist Dusky Queen, Ch Riversflight Meig and Ch Wizardwood Water Witch as favourites.  Since awarding CCs my great favourites would have to be Sh Ch Lhaxys Yatzy at Exclyst and Sh Ch Shiredale Vanity Fair.  They are two such sound examples of the breed.  No bells and whistles, not flashy in any way but soundly made, well constructed Flatcoats who filled the standard for me.

BP: Ch & Ir Ch Shargleam Blackcap. A dog that had the special “whoa” factor  as well as being very close to the breed standard.   The further he went after BOB the more he could turn it on, but coming out of the ring he was a happy relaxed typical Flatcoat again.  He has been a great influence in the breed because his pedigree was so open that there were four different ways to go using it. I personally used it successfully going with the “w” breeding I had, plus later bringing in from Norway a Grandson/ Great grandson of Blackcap including the “W” breeding  from his one and only  AI export his pedigree also had many other important exported F/C’s.In bitches I always loved Sh Ch Braemist Dusky Queen, the lovely liver bitch Belsud Brown Guilimot, my own Sh Ch Exclyst Victoria, Ch Gemswin Perhaps Love and Ch Downstream Revisited  to Tacumshin, I have given this lovely bitch 4th in the Gundog Group at Bath Ch Show. In dogs  Ch Wizardwood Sandpiper,  the liver dog Brown Keston of Varingo, Ch Shargleam Kingfisher, Sh Ch Wizardwood Rough Water my own Ch Exclyst Watchman.

VF: Over the years I have given CC’s to many outstanding dogs, some kennels have produced and shown some top class specimens in the UK and Europe. And if only we could see some of S.E Shirley’s and Reginald Cooks famous dogs what a sight that would be.

VJ: The best dog/bitch that I have judged is Ch Downstream Revisited to Tacumshin (awarded her the CC Paignton 2005 and the CC Crufts 2007) for me she epitomises the breed standard, and comes very close to my own Sh Ch Braemist Dusky Queen, I would love to have seen them together.   In males the two best that I have seen but never judged was of course the legendary Ch & Ir Ch Shargleam Blackcap and Ch Stantilaine Rory of Branchalwood, both being dogs of substance without being coarse and both being good workers in the field, but still retaining type.

MS: Over the years I have judged many top quality dogs.Two males in particular come to mind,  Ch Ir Ch Shargleam Blackcap and Ch Puhfuh Phineas Finn. I had the dilemma of sorting these two out in 1986, both outstanding males with true breed type and hard to fault ,to watch them move round the ring was a joy . Blackcap won on the day and Finn reserve .In bitches, Ch Leahador Dusk of Tonggreen is a bitch whom I never  actually judged but admired greatly.Just looking at her from the ringside, she shouted Flatcoat with her ever wagging tail and super construction .Ch Wizardwood Water Witch was a lovely bitch, her head and expression were good and her movement was effortless due to her excellent construction .Of the current dogs I have judge the bitch Ch Downstream Revisited of Tacumshin and Sh Ch Vbos The Kentuckian I found them to be  both outstanding dogs so typically Flatcoat with super construction with great ring presence.9.  Do you have anything else you would like to say about the breed, and how breeders can help to improve things?

9. Do you have anything else you would like to say about the breed and how breeders can help to improve things?

JB: At the moment we seem to have lost our way somewhat in the UK. We are losing both type and soundness. I feel we have to look at the matings that are being done. I read the Breed Record Supplement every quarter and what people are doing worries me. We are the custodians of this breed and it deserves better. Please think about what is being done and talk to the older, more experienced breeders. We must strive to improve the breed and with careful breeding I hope we can get back on the right track.

BJ: Having just judged the Flatcoated Retriever championship show I do think that breeders need to re-assess their stock and what they are producing.  A dog show is the shop window of the breeder and sending second rate stock into the show ring is not doing the breed any favours – or their reputation.  As I said earlier care must be taken when selecting a stud dog and look back into the pedigrees and ASK those people around at the time what the dogs in the pedigrees produced in the way of stock.  Research does take a lot of time but properly done it can be very rewarding.  Having studied pedigrees look long and hard at your bitch – what are its good points and where does she fail?  If you breed upright shoulders to upright shoulders you will get upright shoulders.  Select a dog that suits your bitch.  Also learn construction – look at dogs and learn them.  Watch movement and if a dog is moving on a short stride – ask yourself why.  If a dog is out at the elbows – ask yourself why.  You learn a great deal about the way a dog is constructed when watching it move. 

BP: Only one thing my concern for the future Flatcoat breed type. I see it becoming a very flashy black & liver dogs. Sadly very little relating to the unique retriever that it should be.  Many judges today are influence especially with the male by flash and big coats not asked for in the breed standard. One must always remember they are “A WORKING BREED” who need a good “waterproof jacket plus leg and tail feathered for protection.  Remembering full furnishings on maturity complete the elegance of a good dog. To barber  a Flatcoat is honestly destroying that elegance and protection. Add tidied not barbered to  “A bright active dog of medium size with an intelligent expression, showing power without lumber, and raciness without weediness” you have the full workman- like picture with that special touch of elegance asked for in the oh so important breed standard that must ! be the breeders and Judges bible.

VF: Please do not confuse animation with correct movement, and remember in the standard what it says under General Appearance and Characteristics.A bright active dog of medium size with an intelligent expression, showing power without lumber, and raciness without weediness.  Generously endowed with natural gundog ability, optimism and friendliness demonstrated by enthusiastic tail action. 

VJ: Breeders must remember why the breed was evolved and strive to breed for the correct type and not just use studs because they are fashionable but breed to improve on the dam, again this means carefully studying pedigrees and bloodlines.

MS: All  I would say here is that I wish more people would put that little bit of extra thought into their breeding programmes and  don’t go to the nearest dogs.for convenience .They should be aware of the faults in their own dogs and try to correct them if possible.Every dog has a fault but some faults are worse than others and hard to breed out the worst fault I find at the monment is upright shoulders with straight upper arms, this was in evidence when I judged dogs at the Society Show 1/04/07 We have such a lovely breed in the Flatcoat and it would be a shame to waste it .If in doubt, ask other more knowledgeable breeders for advice, and also look at the dogs in the third and fourth generation in the pedigree .