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-   -   dogs bread for show--rant (http://www.pets.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=71064)

Floppy Dog June 23rd, 2010 12:05 PM

dogs bread for show--rant
 
Cocker Spaniels are one of the oldest recognized dog breeds in Europe with origins as early as the 17th century in the UK and Spain. They were bred as hunting/gun dogs to point and retrieve small water fowl. They were intelligent, agile, energetic and excellent swimmers with large, webbed feet. Fast forward to the last 100 years, the dogs have been bred for show. Ears have gotten bigger and fur has gotten thicker and silkier and eye sight and hearing have been compromised.

The reason I'm ranting about it is that I have a CS (see gallery). Lady has all the intelligence, focus and agility, not to mention swimming ability, needed to be a really excellent gun dog. G-Man would love to train her and take her bird hunting. (Note, G-Man is NOT a sport hunter after trophies or bragging rights, he hunts for food and every usable part of the animal is used.) However, she has been so overbred that her eye-sight isn't that great, her ears are so big they impair her hearing and her fur! As soon as she jumps into the water she's soaked to the skin! Her fur is anything but water dog fur. If G-Man took her hunting, she could very possibly suffer from exposure and get very sick. Hunting is a fall and early winter sport and a 20lb dog just doesn't have enough of a metabolism to keep herself warm when she's soaking wet!

It's just so frustrating, because Lady is really coming into her own as a good candidate for a hunting dog. When we take her out for her daily wilderness hike, she's so focused on the stick that G-Man uses to train her, she'll ignore other dogs and people completely. She's tracking movement with her eyes, she's determined and using her nose to search in the brush when G-Man deliberately "hides" the stick so she can develop her tracking and scent skills and she fearlessly goes into the water to retrieve.

It peeves both of us off that Lady's opportunities to actually be the kind of dog she was originally bread to be are so limited by recent breeding programs to produce a "lap pet" as opposed to a hunting dog.:mad:

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Longblades June 23rd, 2010 12:26 PM

This is the case in several breeds. Were you unable to find a dog bred from hunting lines? I imagine there are not many in N. America but working cockers are hunted in the U.K. Is Lady an American Cocker or an English Cocker?

No matter her ability to withstand cold and rough conditions, you could still enter spaniel tests to get some of the feel of it with her. It's not quite the same thing but might satisfy the urge a bit?

I don't see why you can't hunt her anyway and just modify your expectations. Surely she can do bit of cold weather work if outfitted in neoprene? And not keep her out all day? Be able to dry her off in the field and have a warm place to lie down?

Floppy Dog June 23rd, 2010 02:01 PM

I know it's a problem with other breeds too. I have read in several places that if dogs weren't considered domestic animals they'd be put on the endangered species list because their DNA has been so messed up by breeding programs.

Lady is an American CS. When we got her (at age 5 months from a family that didn't know what they were getting into), we weren't actually looking for a hunting dog so the fact that she shows aptitude for it came as a nice surprise. I think G-Man will eventually hunt her, but as early in the season as he can so as to minimize the chance she'll get exposure. I'll suggest the coat to him, but it may be a hazard in the forest, especially when swimming. Lady could get snagged on a branch under water and possibly drown.

Longblades June 23rd, 2010 02:32 PM

[QUOTE]I'll suggest the coat to him, but it may be a hazard in the forest, especially when swimming. Lady could get snagged on a branch under water and possibly drown. [/QUOTE]My concern too and that's why I never did put a safety vest on pup for hunting season. Afraid it might snag on something. Lots of people use the neoprene though. They fit very closely. My field trainer does on his Labs but then maybe a bigger, stronger dog is not at much at risk.

[url]http://www.gundogsonline.com/Article/keeping-them-warm-Page1.htm[/url]

This is an article on exactly this topic, keeping them warm with neoprene.

cell June 23rd, 2010 03:00 PM

i knew someone who bred ckc labs for hunting, to look at them they didn't really even look like labs because I am so accustomed to the "show" lab look. A show lab would to too bulky to ever perform their original purpose though. To find a dog within the breed that will perform its original purpose you really have to seek them out before you buy.

NoahGrey June 23rd, 2010 03:07 PM

Floppy, Since your dog eye sight and other conditions that your dog has, maybe it is in the best interest for your dog..NOT to be a hunting dog. You don't want to make a mistake and put your dogs life in jeapority, just because you guys want her to be a good gun dog. Yes, spaniels were bred and they will always have that drive to hunt, however like you stated over breeding has deminshed the breed.

I used to own a spaniel as well. I never hunted him. He did have that drive mentality...brought me some dead birds that he caught while out in the yard. I would still take him hiking, exploring, etc. He loved it.

hazelrunpack June 23rd, 2010 03:07 PM

What would Lady be hunting, Floppy Dog? If it's something that she can hunt without ranging too far, a hair trim and a vest or coat might be just the thing--if she's within earshot (we use bells on collars for when they're moving and a beeper collar set to 'point only' mode for when they're stationary), then having a vest hook up on something is not as big an issue. We also use vests that have velcro closures--which open if they're challenged by a strong enough snag. We've lost a couple of vests that way, but it's a better alternative than having our dogs hung up somewhere waiting for us to find them! The vests aren't even neoprene--they're nylon or cotton--and don't offer much in the way of warmth, but if Lady has an undercoat, it'll help keep her warm with a thin vest even if she's trimmed short to keep her bramble-free :thumbs up

Floppy Dog June 23rd, 2010 06:38 PM

To NoahGray, G-Man would never put Lady's life in jeopardy because he's way too fond of his "foot sitter" and he's got way too much experience with hunting dogs and hunting in general. He's been an active hunter for over 40 years (he started going out with his dad in New Zealand when he was just a little tyke, 5 or 6 years old). He also takes Lady out every day (near enough) into the woods behind our workshop/office for a good ramble and swim for at least 45 minutes, so she's getting lots of woodsy experience without the hunting.

To Hazelrunpack, Lady would be bird hunting which is not something that you can do at close range (I think). G-Man is an excellent marksman so it's not unusual for his target to be a few hundred metres away. In New Zealand it's open season on all mammals all the time because they are imports from Europe and very destructive of the natural habitat. G-Man had to be good, or he'd never have got anything.

The chances are that Lady's not going to be a dedicated hunting dog, just a sometimes hunting dog when the weather is good and G-Man can go out for a day of manly bonding with his dog. I'm just ranting about the general state of over breeding dogs to match someone's idea of what they are supposed to look like without too much regard for what they were supposed to do.

Floppy Dog June 23rd, 2010 06:40 PM

Longblades, thanks for the link, I'll make sure G-Man sees it.

Jim Hall June 23rd, 2010 08:04 PM

one of the best poiters i ever saw was a mutt
had a mutt shepard once thatwas an amazing retriever
knew a poodle x that was a really good pointing dog

dont breed or buy while shelter pets die

hazelrunpack June 23rd, 2010 09:47 PM

I think with cockers the problem was [I]Lady and the Tramp[/I]. No--seriously! :D They became a fad breed to own, which opened them up to overbreeding and bad breeding. There was [I]demand[/I] for a cocker, any cocker, and no regard for their original purpose. And as long as the public didn't care about the breed other than as a cute lap dog, the instincts that had been part and parcel of the breed were nearly lost. And because of bad breeding lots of problems cropped up in cockers.

Breeders who care about restoring the cocker to what it once was are making some headway, but it's going to be a long haul.

Having said that, bless you and your husband for wanting to help Lady refine her instinct even though she was not originally intended as a hunting dog. If she has the instinct, she'll be much happier if you can tap into it through some exercise, whether it be hunting or trials or even tracking.

Our dogs are bird dogs, too, btw, bred and trained to be close-range pointers for foot hunters. Half our dogs are from a breeder, half are rescues. Some hunt, some don't, though all were originally bred for hunting. Watching a dog follow scent is an exhilarating experience, and working as a team is something that just can't be duplicated. For us it's not about taking game but participating with the dogs, even if it's just a mutual walk in the woods. We love all of them whether they hunt or not.

With setters, the bench stock often have lost the instincts that made the breed good bird dogs. But it's possible to combine the beauty of bench with the instincts of good hunting lines and end up with a combination of both. Sometimes you end up with neither. :shrug:

But we [I]have[/I] noticed that those of our dogs who [I]do[/I] hunt seem to have a joy in life that the nonhunters lack. Especially come fall. :D

Floppy Dog June 24th, 2010 11:29 AM

Hazelrunpack, my sentiments exactly! What about dalmatians after the newest version of 101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close? I heard and read horror stories about the number of overbred dalmatians that wound up in shelters and rescues because people wanted a dog "just like in the movies" and had no clue about the work and dedication involved :wall:

Since you seem to be quite knowledgable about the issue of hunting dogs with less than ideal physical requirements, may I have G-Man chat with you about the ins and outs? Would it be better if I persuaded G-Man to create his own profile? or should he use mine?

G-Man also agrees with you about the joyfulness of hunting dogs. He says he remembers that his and his father's dogs would go wild with joy when they heard the sound of a bullet being loaded into the breach or when they caught the scent of gun oil. It meant a day in the fern forest hunting boar! Absolute bliss for dogs.:thumbs up

Floppy Dog July 6th, 2010 04:17 PM

Just a quick update on Lady's fur and getting soaked to the skin when she goes swimming. She's in between trims so her fur is about 4-5cm long. We took her out on the weekend and of course she went swimming. Surprise, surprise, only the outer 2-3cm of fur got wet, the inner fur stayed reasonably dry. Her legs got really wet once they got sandy and muddy, but her back and chest were ok. I've also found a spray-on mink oil conditioner that I've been combing into her fur for the last few days. It stinks (the alcohol used to keep the oil in suspension, I think, I may add lavender oil to it, will help repel fleas and mosquitos) but not only does it make brushing easier, it also seems to be soaking into the fur and possibly making it shed water better. Will update again once I've used it for a week or 2.

mona_b July 6th, 2010 10:42 PM

[QUOTE=Floppy Dog]However, she has been so overbred that her eye-sight isn't that great, her ears are so big they impair her hearing[/QUOTE]

Do you mean poorly bred? You say you got her from a family at 5 months. Well that tells me that family got her from a BYB. If it was an ethical breeder, then the contract would have stated they returm the dog if they can't keep her.

I have a co-worker with 2 Labs. They are titled in Field. Parents are Ch and Field/Hunting titled. My cousins hubby hunted(years ago). He had beagles. These dogs came from a farmer who did not show or hunt. But cousins hubby "trained" them for hunting. A Husky can be shown, and could also be a good sledder. A Cocker can be shown, but could also be a good fielder/hunter. My niece has a Black Russian Terrier. He comes from champion lines. But he is SchH III titled. The point I am trying to make is, it's the training you do that makes your dog. If the family who had Lady was looking for a hunting dog, then they would have started the training early. My co-worker started training his labs at 10 weeks old. And at an age this young, they can get used to the gunshots.:)

Floppy Dog July 7th, 2010 12:42 PM

[QUOTE=mona_b;934836]Do you mean poorly bred? You say you got her from a family at 5 months. Well that tells me that family got her from a BYB. If it was an ethical breeder, then the contract would have stated they returm the dog if they can't keep her.[/QUOTE]

Actually, Lady has a pedigree longer than my arm and is registered with the AKC. She became a "pet" I suspect because she is undersized and has too much white on her by AKC conformity standards. I also suspect that the family from whom I purchased her did not realize the amount of grooming she would require and that her laid back nature did not tolerate the antics of a very young family and a mature doberman. I also suspect they might have been too embarrassed to return her to the breeder or the hassles of crossing the US-Canada border with a dog were unappealing to them.

When I said "over bred" I was making a general statement about Cocker Spaniels, especially Americans, in general. Since the release of Lady & the Tramp, CS's have been increasingly bred for looks and to supply the demand of people who wanted a "dog just like in the movie". I suppose the increasing urbanization of the North American population has also contributed to the loss of CS's hunting traits since most urban dwellers are not usually the type to go hunting. I know this is an issue with other breeds of dogs, Dalmations for example.

Lady herself is a very healthy and active dog with no real issues other than allergies, which are common in many dogs, let alone purebreds.

erykah1310 July 7th, 2010 09:51 PM

[QUOTE=Floppy Dog;934981]Actually, Lady has a pedigree longer than my arm and is registered with the AKC. .[/QUOTE]
Really though this means nothing more than that Lady is purebred. Papers dont make the dog.

thing with show breeding and dog purchasing you have to realize is, it is thought that the only way to have a reputable breeding program is to have CH titled dogs for it. Many retrieving breeds (take poodles for instance) are not shown in any working venues, breeders get their conformation title (as to many people this is the be all and end all of breeding) they then get their "reputable breeder badge" and keep breeding for conformation.
Any dog can be a good gun dog, my man has used his border collie and his brother uses his rough collie for ducks. Sure neither dog would come anywhere near obtaining a working title for this but the duck makes it from the pond or lake to our dinner table every time.
For some dogs its bred into them, for others, its not and some patience and positive training to make the retrieval the funnest game on the planet to your dog can get you the same results.
As for the frigid temperatures you are asking the dog to swim in, its common sense really, Come end of duck season the water is just too cold here and instead of bringing dogs the guys just grab their canoe.:shrug:

Longblades July 8th, 2010 07:29 AM

[QUOTE]Really though this means nothing more than that Lady is purebred. Papers dont make the dog.[/QUOTE]So, so TRUE. We had a post a few months ago from an unsuspecting dog owner who seemed to think her pooch's CKC registration somehow meant something about the quality, (think what ever means quality to you, health, intelligence, conformation) of the poor dog. Registration is simply among the first things to look for and is by no means the only thing.

[QUOTE]it is thought that the only way to have a reputable breeding program is to have CH titled dogs for it.[/QUOTE]Yep. In my breed, Labrador Retriever, the disparity between field and bench is high. Probably like CS though I am guessing as I am not familiar with CS. In CS do the working and the bench actually look different? Labs do, mostly. A highly titled field champion likely would not win a conformation title. Reverse is true too though of course there are exceptions. Best bet to get the dog you want for the venue you want is extensive research into past titles and history of the lines and the breeders.

P.S. I believe English Springer Spaniels may be about the worst case of disparity between field and bench. Many, many folks used to seeing the bench types, which were used a lot in advertising when we got our girl, did not believe our girl was ESS. She was field bred.

[QUOTE]Many retrieving breeds (take poodles for instance) are not shown in any working venues,[/QUOTE]I think they are making a comeback though. We see some winning field titles. Google hunting poodles and you'll get several hits. Here is one for curiousity: [url]http://www.lakelandhuntingpoodles.com/[/url]


[QUOTE]Sure neither dog would come anywhere near obtaining a working title[/QUOTE] LOL. I bet that's because they aren't allowed in the retriever tests. I bet if the border collie folks set up their own tests the BC would ace 'em. That thought has been expressed on a positive gundog site I visit. :D

VizLuv September 19th, 2011 10:58 AM

First, Cocker Spaniels are Spaniels, which are flushing dogs, not water retrievers. They were not bred for duck hunting but rather to seek out and flush small upland birds such as woodcock, and quail. There are unfortunatly very few of these birds around in the wild now, so hunters must go to game farms to get them. Second, most Spaniel breeders I know just trim down the dogs if they do not want to spend hours grooming after the hunt, but the hair is there for a reason, to prevent scratches from brush and brambles that the dogs run through, sort of like a built in coat. Think of the herding dogs that were developed to work in overgrown areas, lots of hair!

Cockers are not know to have a water repellant coat, simply because in their home country where they were developed, it was not needed. All Cockers come from the same original stock, many years ago when they started to become popular in America, the breeders of the original dogs didnt like what the American breeders were doing to the breed, so they demanded to have them seperated into different breeds, the English, and American Cockers. The American Cockers were mainly developed as pets, where the English breeders kept more to the original standard, and a new standard was developed for the American Cocker.

The same thing pretty much happened to the Irish Setters. There are now 2 different breeds even though they started out as one. You have the Irish (the dark red ones), and the Irish Red and White. The Red and White were the original breed, but when a few solid red dogs showed up some breeders kept them and worked on promoting them as more of a status symbol, instead of a working dog. Most serious hunters would tell you that if you want a setter for a hunting dog, dont get a Red! The same could be said of the Cockers, and the Springers, (English vs Welsh). The Americans (no offense to any US friends here) really like flashy dogs, and have not done any favours to many of the breeds.


Mary-Ellen

Floppy Dog September 20th, 2011 01:09 PM

Thanks for the history update, seems I missed a few things in my reading. Or perhaps, since I was concentrating on American Cocker Spaniels, it just wasn't covered in the material I have. It does explain a few things about Lady, though. Now I know why she's not afraid to dive into thickets or hurl herself down a steep bank pell-mell.

Choochi September 20th, 2011 10:25 PM

Floppy your rant is so dear to my heart. Show and pet breeders have absolutely ruined and demolished so many working breeds it's really depressing. Part of the problem is that in many instances the opportunity for the dogs to do the jobs they were created for has been greatly diminished or just isn't there any more. Another part of the problem is that people fall in love with an image of a breed and then breeders breed for that image alone and breed out all good working traits in favour of a dog that will more easily conform into an average pet home.

I find it very disturbing when I see a dolled up working breeds prancing around the show ring. I do think there is great value to conformation and in an ideal world the conformation should also help maintain physical traits that aid working ability BUT when that is the only venue and the sole purpose for a breeding program and working ability of the breeding stock is never tested (or as in some breeds there aren't even any standards to do so), you only end up with pretty shells of what many of the working dogs once were.

In some cases the show line dogs and the work line dogs of the same breed look almost nothing alike. In some cases the show standards call for confirmation (or are interpreted) in such way that the dog's confirmation actually hinders their ability to work and function. The GSD is probably the most prominent example of this. You see this to some extent in pretty much every other working breed in the show ring. Boxers with noses so short they can barely breathe, bulldogs so grotesque they can barely move and can't even birth naturally, doxies with legs so short they can barely run... never mind things like instincts and proper temperament for the work.

Unfortunately in a lot of working venues, if you want a dog that has the best chances of performing the way they should, you need to not only pick the right breed, but also a breeder who specifically breeds for working ability and regularly tests for it. In the case of some working breeds, there are only a handful of breeders dedicated to restoring or maintaining a true working ability of their favourite working breed. Dogs like the Bullmastiff and the French Mastiff come to mind, good luck finding a quality working breeder of one of those.

There are still breeds and venues out there where function and working abilities of the dogs are the top priority to most of the breeders involved in the breed. In some of these cases the breeds still have open stud books or in fact no breed registries as most know them at all. These are for the most rather rare breeds that most people have not heard of.

Longblades September 21st, 2011 08:17 AM

And to add to Choochi, in my breed, Labrador Retrievers, in some European countries a dog cannot achieve a top title in conformation without a title in a hunting venue as well. Don't ask me for details, it's just something from a European on another board. That's not the case here in N. America but I do see more conformation type Labs competing in field events.

Somewhat ironically, back to the spaniel needing protection in cold water (that was what started all this wasn't it?) a lot of field Labs have a thin, single coat, are leaner and rangier and truly cannot withstand the cold, particularly the cold water, as well as their heavier double coated, bulkier show bred companions. My trainer put vests on his field bred dogs for hunting in cold water in November. In Labs I see just as much corruption of the breed in the field breeding as in the show breeding. Because, as my field trainer put it to me, field trials themselves are not what you'd want the dog to do in actual hunting.

Choochi September 21st, 2011 07:59 PM

[QUOTE=Longblades;1024767]And to add to Choochi, in my breed, Labrador Retrievers, in some European countries a dog cannot achieve a top title in conformation without a title in a hunting venue as well. Don't ask me for details, it's just something from a European on another board. That's not the case here in N. America but I do see more conformation type Labs competing in field events.

Somewhat ironically, back to the spaniel needing protection in cold water (that was what started all this wasn't it?) a lot of field Labs have a thin, single coat, are leaner and rangier and truly cannot withstand the cold, particularly the cold water, as well as their heavier double coated, bulkier show bred companions. My trainer put vests on his field bred dogs for hunting in cold water in November. In Labs I see just as much corruption of the breed in the field breeding as in the show breeding. Because, as my field trainer put it to me, field trials themselves are not what you'd want the dog to do in actual hunting.[/QUOTE]

lol and I will add to your two points as well!

Working titles are also required for the GSD and Dobermans in Europe. There is some controversy with that as there are politics involved (as with any thing) titles being bought, judges bribed, but the idea is there a working breed must not only look the part but act the part as well.

Point two, sport often imitates work but often with limitations. Take the GSD once again and Schutzhund, a protection sport developed in order to test the working ability of the GSDs (now also used for other breeds). The rules of the sport have changed a lot, many purists argue to make it easier to grow the sport and let dogs earn passing scores, which by default waters down the usability of this sport as a breeding test. There are breeders that breed for sport and a protection sport dog may not necessarily (in fact often) translate well to a working environment. So with some working breeds you now see an even further split of pet vs show vs working sport vs work. Mind you the sport and work dogs have far more in common and some times a good sport dog can make a good real life work dog and vice versa, but the split exists none the less.

erykah1310 September 21st, 2011 09:13 PM

If you want to talk about "bought titles" the biggest one is conformation titles IMO. Atleast in sport your dog has to be able to do something. In conformation with enough money anyone can title a dog, depending on the breed. Its stacking in your favor especially if you have a less than popular breed.
I could theoretically put all my guys in and botch grooming on who ever has their CH to put the points on the other dogs, competing with 1 of the breed does nothing to get me points but if I put all 3 in together someone will get 2 points each show and another will get 1. In no time i would have 3 Canadian Ch's.
Back on topic sorta though, this is why I was focused on getting corgi's who had herding instinct. It was what they were bred for and I am a HUGE advocate for working dogs to be able to do the job they were bred for (clearly with the exception of fighting dogs, bull baiting ect)

Floppy Dog September 22nd, 2011 03:41 PM

Though you all might like to know that we seem to have found some ways for Lady to make use of her talents in a reasonably safe way. G-Man has started mountain biking to get fit for the snowmobile season and is taking Lady with him. Since he goes off-trail a lot, Lady can charge through the underbrush and chase the bike to her heart's content. She really seems to enjoy doing it and her aerobic fitness has increased dramatically in just 2 weeks.

Also, Beena has started taking her to dog agility classes. By the end of the first class, Lady was circling cones and climbing up and down ramps like a little pro. Perhaps, in time she'll be a SuperDog at the PNE here in Vancouver, BC!


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