FCRS Constitution and Rules - Revised March 2018

FCRS Constitution and Rules - Revised March 2018


The Ethics of Stud Work - Jenny Bird

First published in the Autumn Newsletter 2003 and written by Jenny Bird, Hon Secretary

Asked by the Committee to write an article on the ‘ethics’ of stud work, Jenny Bird wrote the following.

We feel it is not desirable to draw up a form of contract to be signed by both dog and bitch owner, but do feel that there are certain guidelines that should be adhered to. I would, firstly ask one question "Why are you mating your bitch?"  If the answer is any one of the following, please think again: 

It would be good for her· 

The children will enjoy it· 

We want another Flatcoat· 

We need a new stair carpet/cooker etc

Unless your bitch has done well in some sphere ie showing or working, you may find it difficult to sell the 8 or 9 puppies you are not keeping. There are more than enough puppies bred each year to supply the demand and if you are left with unsold 12 and 14-week old puppies, they become very expensive.

The use of a stud dog on a bitch is very much an agreement between the two owners but there are certain criteria that should be fulfilled.

No Flatcoat bitch should be mated before the age of 2, I would suggest that near 3 years is better.

Both dog and bitch should have been x-rayed and scored for hip dysplasia, both should have current eye certificates including gonioscopy. Failure in either department need not necessarily mean that the animals cannot be bred from. Take the dog as a whole, type, temperament, working/show success and seek advice.

The stud dog should be booked in advance. Study pedigrees and dogs and contact the owner of your chosen dog to request the use of the dog. If all the above tests have been completed and the stud dog owner is agreeable, this is the time to confirm certain things. Enquire about the stud fee.

The average fee at this time is around £600. Usually this is payable at the time of mating. Payment is for the actual mating of your bitch and it is the responsibility of the bitch owner to get her to the dog on the right day.

Most stud dog owners will offer a free repeat mating if the bitch misses, but this is a courtesy and not a hard and fast rule. On payment of the stud fee, a pedigree and signed KC Litter Registration Form should be given to the bitch’s owner.If there are other arrangements re the stud fee, it is best to agree on them before the mating takes place. Sometimes a puppy is taken in lieu of the stud fee. Sort out what sex of puppy and what number of ‘pick’ the stud dog owner is requesting.

I would suggest, unless the two owners are very good friends, that this is written down and signed by both parties.If it is a maiden dog being used I would not take a stud fee until the bitch proved to be in whelp. Again, this must be agreed upon before the mating takes place.I personally do not take a stud fee if we do not achieve a ‘tie’.

I feel that we have not had a proper mating and, indeed, on the odd occasion that my dogs have not tied their bitches, no puppies have been produced. In these circumstances, I do not sign a Litter Registration Form. Should the bitch subsequently prove to be in whelp, then the stud fee becomes payable and the form should be signed and handed over.

The owner of the bitch should inform the dog’s owner when she comes into season. It should then be possible for both parties to organise in advance so they are free to do the mating at the correct time, ie normal practice for the bitch to travel to the dog. Alternative arrangements should be agreed upon by both owners. It is polite to keep in contact with the dog’s owner and certainly to let them know on what day and approximately at what time you will arrive so the dog’s exercise and feeding regimes can be adjusted.

As a stud dog owner, I request that the puppies have their registrations endorsed ‘Progeny not to be registered’ and ‘Not to be issued with an export pedigree’. This gives some control over the puppies and the endorsements can be lifted at the discretion of the breeder and for the right reasons. This, hopefully ensures that the puppies have eyes and hips done before being bred from. If they have not, the progeny cannot be registered while the endorsements remain in place.

The owners of stud dogs share equal responsibility for the puppies that are produced. I like to keep in fairly close contact with people who use my dog. If there are problems I like to know. If possible, I like to see the puppies and be confident my dog is siring strong, healthy, typical Flatcoats. Owning a Stud Dog is not about banking cheques. Be selective in the bitches you accept to your dog.

If you have any doubts about the mating, do not do it. You may be able to suggest a better dog for that particular bitch. Remember, your dog’s reputation stands on the puppies he produces.

Finally all stud dog owners need to be aware of the opening up of the European and Scandinavian boundaries.Bitches can now come here to be mated to our dogs. This appears to be a great honour, but we do need to check that these owners are reputable in their own country.

Make enquiries before agreeing to anything, as people here should know people in the relevant country, to help you make some enquires before you allow your dog to sire a litter you will have no contact with or any influence over.

Jenny Bird
Autumn 2003




Judges' Questions & Answers

Six UK Championship show judges were asked these questions for inclusion into the New Zealand Kennel Club's Flatcoated Retriever Breed Supplement; here are the questions and answers that have been kindly reproduced thanks to the New Zealand Kennel Club.

The chosen Judges were Jenny Bird (JB) Becky Johnson (BJ) Brenda Phillips (BP) Valerie Foss (VF) Val Jones (VJ) and Maureen Scott (MS).

1.  You have been involved with Flatcoats for over 20 years and are a Championship Show Judge.  How do you   think the dogs have changed in that period?

JB:  When I started showing my Flatcoat in 1980 the average entry at a Championship Show was about 90 dogs. Now it is usually nearer 200. I think overall the dogs have got bigger and we have lost type and soundness. We had more quality in depth in the 1980’s and early 90’s but I feel we have lost that today. It can be difficult to find five dogs in a class of 20 plus that fulfil my interpretation of the breed standard.

BJ: Although I have not awarded CCs for anywhere near that length of time I have been involved with the breed since birth and there is no doubt that the dogs have changed.  Heads are generally a lot better – gone are some of the heavy two piece Labrador head with jowls that you used to see.  However, fronts today are not good.  There are a few exceptions but in the main a dog with the correct layback of shoulder and return of upper arm is rare.  The dogs are almost settery in their appearance – narrow in body with fine silky coats.  This is not what is required in the standard.  They are also taller.

BP: I have been in the breed since 1967, judging since the mid seventies. The breed has developed in many different way depending where fashion has taken it.   The breed changed rapidly especially when the number of Gamekeeper owner/ breeder/ judges declined especially in the eighties.  At all times especially as a breeder I personally consider the breed to be a difficult breed on to keep to the “breed standard”.  The breed on a whole does not have many “pre-potent stud dogs”  in a way there are more “pre-potent bitches”.  Post war I believe the decade from the mid seventies to the end of the eighties was the time of optimum quality relating to breed type.

VF: I first judged Flatcoats with tickets in 1974 I have judged them pretty consistently since then including Crufts and top shows all over Europe. The top class dogs have not changed much they conform very much to the standard, of course in my country we have had over use of certain sires (Popular Sire Syndrome).

VJ: During the last 20 years the dogs have changed in body proportions, i.e. instead of having the long, deep ribcage with a short loin the proportions have become reversed, you now see dogs with short ribcages and long in loin, I cannot remember seeing those 20 years ago.

MS: Having been involved in the breed since the early Seventies ,I have seen a vast change in the breed .Registrations have risen, as have show entries ,but sadly I feel today the quality has deteriorated slightly .The height of the Flatcoat has increased and those dogs of the preferred height are classed as small .We are losing the lovely one piece moulded head ,with the almond shaped eye and intelligent expression ,eye colour is also getting light .We are seeing more broad skulls, with round light eyes ,upright shoulders and straight upper arms, and sadly lacking is the well defined brisket.As one would expect from bad construction ,movement in general is poor . my personel opinion, I would say the eighties and early nineties saw some outstanding dogs and bitches ,one was spoilt for choice when looking for a Stud Dog compared to today .One of the most predominant Stud Dogs was Ch Ir Ch Shargleam Blackcap born in June 1977, the most successful Flatcoat of his era ,his pinnacle was winning Best in Show at Crufts 1980 .He was a very predominant sire ,as were several of his Sons and Grandsons a very important factor in a stud dog .

2. Do you think some changes are to the detriment of the breed and why?

JB: The changes I have mentioned are to the detriment of the breed. “A medium size workmanlike dog”. That should always be remembered. A Flatcoat should not be glamorous. Flatcoat construction is unique in the Retriever breeds calling as it does for the dog to be slightly longer than it is tall. But that length must come from the ribs and not the loin and we now have a number that are long in the loin. Type within the breed is very mixed. Heads vary and the truly classical head is rare today. General construction and soundness does concern me. They must have the correct layback of shoulder and length of upper arm to be able to stride out and moderately angulated, well muscled quarters to drive them along. At the moment movement in general is not good.

BJ: Certainly some are.  The fact that the heads have improved is wonderful, however on the construction side we really do have a problem.  The problem is also acerbated in that dogs with the same faults are bred to each other thus insuring the problem goes on for another generation.  Certainly looking around the rings today there are a great many dogs in the ring which are just not show quality.  This is not doing the breed’s reputation any good at all. 

BP: In the eighties the UK  K/C modernized  and standardized all the “breed standards, the Flatcoats certainly lost very important breeding & judging pointers, they are just a few words but as the example of the original standard they say so much. One of the universal problems in the Flatcoat today is “open coupling” this displays itself in overlong dogs with weak backs and poor toplines or the other phenomena  short barrel chest and overlong loins, these are the hardest to see from the ringside as these dogs can look balanced. Sadly both these structural faults are been forgiven by judges in the ring today.   The old standard ask for: “Forequarters - The chest should be deep and fairly broad, with a well defined brisket on which the elbows should work cleanly and  evenly.  The legs are of the greatest importance, the forelegs, should be perfectly straight, with bone of good quality carried right down to the feet, and with the dog is in full coat the legs should be well feathered.Body- The fore ribs should be fairly flat, showing a gradual spring and well arched in the centre of the body, but rather lighter towards the quarters. Open couplings are to be ruthlessly condemned. The back should be short, square and well ribbed up.Hindquarters-  Should be muscular. The stifle should not be too straight or too bent, and the dog neither be cow-hocked nor move too widely behind; in fact ,he must stand and move true on legs and feet all round. The legs should be well feathered.

VF: We must remember that the Flat Coat is a medium sized dog and that open coupling are highly undesirable.

VJ: The above is of obvious detriment to the breed, as the ribcage houses the vital organs, lungs and heart in which they need room to work efficiently, if you shorten the ribcage to have enough room for these organs the ribcage will have to become wider and thus the Flatcoated Retriever will lose its racy appearance and become compact and type will become lost

MS: I do feel some of the changes are detrimental to the breed ,particularly the increase in litter registrations and show entries,for example in 1977 the Crufts entry was 99 compared  to 440 in 2007. Despite large entries, it is sad to say that sometimes, the quality is just not what I am looking for .I do wish breeders would put more thought into their breeding programmes and try and correct the faults their bitch has instead of doubling up on the same faults .The same could be said for Stud owners. They need to look at their dog and ask themselves is he of good enough quality to be used at stud

3. When judging Flatcoats at Championship show level what are the key factors that you are looking for in your C.C.winners

JB: Type. I must have type. Equally important is temperament and soundness. We are judging to the breed standard and I am looking for a dog that fits my interpretation of the standard as closely as possible. I am judging the whole dog but my own personal “things” are front and feet. I am not a head fanatic as long as it is typical. I must have the distinctive outline with length of rib to a short square loin. I am looking for correct front construction showing the desired pronounced sternum. The topline must be level with the tail coming straight off the back. Quarters to be moderately angulated and short from hock to heel. Movement should be powerful, showing reach and drive in profile and should be straight and true both going away and coming back. Good, tight feet complete the picture but a really good foot is rare. Coat and condition is important and can decide the CC. I like a sensible coat with moderate feathering and to see a dog that has been tidied and not barbered. Temperament is so important. A Flatcoat should be exuberant with a mischievous expression in its dark brown eyes. The tail to be constantly wagging. I also like to see that extra “something”. Showmanship? Style? It is easily recognised and it makes a very good dog a great dog

BP: Breed type as close to the breed standard as possible in relationship to construction, size [ we must remember we are looking for a medium size dog] bred character in temperament and deportment. All this hopefully will add up to a “ bright active dog of medium size with an intelligent expression, showing power without lumber, and raciness without weediness.”

VF: A bright active dog of medium size, confident and kindly, the head never having a down or dish faced appearance, small ears,good shoulders, bone of good quality, loin short and square, moderate bend of stifle, free flowing movement.

VJ: The key factors that I look for are type, it does not matter how sound a dog is if it lacks type then it is just a “black dog” breed unknown, even a mongrel can be sound.

MS: When judging at Championship Show level, I am judging for breed type first. If they don't have type they are not Flatcoats, just black dogs.Second is soundness ,then temperament .I look for a Flatcoat with a lovely one piece moulded head ,with the correct eye shape and colour and a soft, gentle expression .It is the head of the Flatcoat that makes it so different from the other Retriever breeds .I then look for a  good lay back of shoulders and length of upper arm and well defined brisket.They should have a good level topline which is held on the move, well muscled hindquarters ,moderate bone and good feet.If all this is in place,it enables the dog to move effortlessly ,driving from the rear with a good length of stride and should be finished off with the characteristic ever wagging tail.

4.  In the UK prior to 1957 all Gundogs had to qualify in the field before they could hold the title of Champion.  In 1957 this was changed and the title of Show Champion came about.  Do you think this has been to the detriment of the breed and why?

JB: I don’t personally. They are such a versatile breed and perform in many spheres. Many owners who show their dogs do go picking up during the shooting season and many take part in working tests during the summer. Field Trialling is a very demanding hobby and not everyone has the time to train a dog to the very high standard required. Interestingly, a Flatcoat bench champion won the Gamekeeper’s classes at Crufts this year.

BJ:  Well, I wasn’t born when the rule came about but it is a shame because on the continent it still stands.  It also stands in reverse in that when a Field Trial dog gains its title it can not carry the title of FTCH until it has won an award in the show ring.  At the end of the day form follows function.  The dogs have to look and move as if they can do a days work and since the ruling in 1957 I think that the majority of people have been content to have a SH CH, rather than a CH.  The standard was written with what the dog had to perform to in mind.  Unless you work dogs you can not possibly begin to appreciate it. 

BP: As I have said before in the Flatcoats it was more the decline of the Gamekeeper through the eighties, because in the main most Flatcoats were still “Full Champions” working full time for their owners on shoots as well as being show dogs”  Although today the breeder/ owners still work their Flatcoats to a degree, soundness and stamina is not such a priority as it was to a working

VF: Not really. As long as its remembered you are breeding a dog to do a job of work.

VJ: I can only talk about since I came into the breed which was 1977, when the breed was much smaller than it is now, and nearly everyone then worked their dog, either picking up a couple of days a week or entering working tests.   Now most fanciers are interested in showing only, which I believe is due also to the fact that most Flatcoat owners have to hold a full time job down and there is not time to do both, however, for those dogs/bitches that still have retained their working ability they can become a Full Champion (by qualifying in the field), or they can take their Shooting Dog Certificate which is run by the Flatcoated Retriever Society for dogs which have ability.   Like all things in life some dogs are better at working than others, and some owners are better trainers.   I genuinely believe that if the show or working side whichever you are interested in encourages you to become a better owner then it all has to be in the best interests of the dog concerned.

MS: No I don’t think the change in 1957 has been to the detriment of the breed.Fortunately, Flatcoats are one of the few remaining Gundog breeds with no significanct differences in type between working and show dogs .Many present day Flatcoat breeders still participate successfully in both activities and endeavour to maintain the natural working ability in the Flatcoats should it be in Obedience or picking up on shoots throughout the working season, or working tests.Flatcoats are happiest when doing the work they were intended to do and in recent years have increasingly participated in other activities such as Agility adding versatility to their DUAL PURPOSE reputation .

5.  Do you think that the exhibitors of today really understand the breed standard and what they are trying to produce?

JB: I think they try to but do not always succeed. I feel that “hands on” experience is lacking today. I started judging match meetings in the late 70’s when I was showing Irish Setters. They were informal affairs where you had to assess many breeds. Before I was passed to award CC’s I had to make up 2 Champions as well as my stewarding and open show judging. Now it is all about seminars and exams. There seems to be a general reluctance to seek advice from the older, experienced breeders and I think the breed is suffering because of this. To use the fashionable big winner just because he is winning is not good for the breed unless he is a pre-potent sire, as was Ch. Shargleam Blackcap. The pedigree should be as important as the dogs themselves and the knowledge of the preceding generations and any problems there may be. This is when it would be beneficial to seek advice. Many of the older exhibitors will probably have seen most of the dogs in a 5 generation pedigree. It should always be remembered that we are trying to improve the breed.

BJ: I think some do but in general the answer has to be no.  I feel that there are many people who rush to use the dog in fashion without any regard as to whether the dog suits the bitch in question.  I was once told that it is more important to use a dog that you like than a pedigree that you like.  At the end of the day one does not show paper.  Largely the owners of today are not stock people – they have not been brought up around stock.  I think that whereas people may read the standard they do not understand it and how it relates to the breed.

BP: Sadly no. I do not believe they understand the anatomy and physiology of their dogs under their jacket,  few understand how poor construction effect their dogs ability in so many ways. We as judges today are advised by the UK KC that obvious “health issues” must now be taken into account when judging. To me this includes in the Flatcoat, poorly constructed forequarters, bodies with incorrect ribcages & open coupling, also over angulated and poorly angulated hindquarters as all these put stress on limbs spines etc. 

VF:  I wonder if everybody understands its a dog to do a job of work and that's what the breed standard is all about.

VJ: No, I do not think that the newer exhibitors of today understand the breed standard, they are clearly only really interested in winning at any cost, and rush to the latest top winner regardless of blood lines.  It will be interesting to see  how this progresses.

6. What is your general opinion on current presentation and handling of the breed and what changes if any have you seen over the years?

JB: Presentation varies. A correctly presented Flatcoat who is clean and has been tidied for the ring is a joy to see. Sadly, we are now seeing the Scandinavian style of presentation in the UK showring. All the hair is stripped out the front of the neck to the breastbone and tails are sculptured. A Flatcoat should look natural and attempts to glamorise the breed should be condemned. When judging in the UK I do penalise this sort of presentation.Handling also varies. Some handlers, especially the young ones who have come up through the ranks from junior handling, are excellent. The other extreme are handlers who seem to forget that they have a dog on the end of the lead and very little attention is given even when the dog is moving. I do sometimes wonder if owners watch their dogs when they are free running. That is the time to assess side movement and to watch them move away and come back. Observe the optimum speed for each dog when it looks its best and try and move it at that pace. Study the dog when it is free standing . This is what the judge is seeing.

BJ: Now that has improved about 500%!  Even I remember the days when the dogs just had the dirt knocked off them and were taken into the ring untrimmed and unbathed!  Read Flowers used to used a knife to get the excess hair out prior to going in the ring!  Nowadays all that has changed.  The presentation of Flatcoats is generally top class.  However I would say that the style of stripping down their necks which originated in Scandinavia and has trickled across to the UK should be nipped in the bud sharpish.  It is NOT the way to present a Flatcoat.  The handling side of things.  My advice to anyone would be watch the juniors – my goodness they are professional.  So many handlers ruin their dogs chances by letting it stand badly, or move round the ring with no sense of purpose.  Yes, we judges ARE judging the dogs but it does help if the dog is handled to advantage.  The junior handlers of today are super and should consider themselves fortunate to have had the benefit of the Young Kennel Club and all the other opportunities open to them.

BP: I am looking for sympathetic handling  which brings out the best in each individual dog. We are not there to judge the handler but the “Best Dog” to the breed standard for the “future of the breed”

VF: Over the years handling and presentation has improved on a showmanship basis, but again please remember that a well made dog must always go over the (showy flat catcher).

VJ: In the main presentation has improved, the majority look as if their coats have received a great deal of grooming, and they are clean and tangle free, teeth are clean and nails kept short, handling is not always good as many newer exhibitors lack rapport with their dog.   I abhor the stripped out look that is fashionable in some overseas countries, the neck feathering is there for a purpose, to protect the dog, when out working in heather or bramble.   The standard was laid down by those who were trying to evolve a moderate dog for use in the field

MS: The trend in presentation nowadays seems to be that of over trimming, particulary neck and fronts , this is how the Scandinavians trim their dogs and is being copied here.  .I personally would penalise excessive trimming in the U.K.as I feel it spoils the look of the dog Handling is all too often spoilt by the over use of tit bits.There is nothing worse than trying to go over a dog when it is greedy for food and it also spoils the expression.  Quite often we see a good dog over stretching its front to get a treat making it look very upright  in front and standing like a rocking horse.

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 . 


The Flatcoated Retriever Type & Function - Edward J. Atkins

   Originally posted in the New Zealand Kennel Club Flatcoated Retriever Supplement 06

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