Interview with Laura Reich
- How did your adventure with the Labradors begin? Why did you choose this breed?
Correva l’anno 1985 ed io volevo comprare una cane per la mia famiglia ed in particolare per mio figlio di cinque anni. Ho scelto un Labrador “yellow” dopo aver visto il film “Old Yeller”. Dopo soli tre mesi ha fatto i primi incontri e a sei ha partecipato ai primi concorsi. Ha vinto molto ma non è mai stata Campionessa.
- What problems, if any, of his early Labradors has he managed to improve in later generations and what features do he think he has lost?
My first problems concerned the elbows, they were suffering from progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and the lack of a type. Of the first three dogs I have not used any for breeding, as they were not suitable. After the first blow (being a big Labrador supporter) I finally improved my breeding in 1990 with the arrival of a "yellow" Labrador female who was perfect from the point of view of all the characteristics of the breed. It is thanks to her that I got here today.
- What is the type of Labrador you prefer? What is your idea of a perfect Labrador? What are your ideal Labradors from the past and which ones are today?
I like roundish Labradors, which have clean lines, without any type shortage. Never too heavy or with the awake bake. The perfect Labrador must have perfect attitude, balance and type, with a strong love for birds. My favorite Labradors from the past have been Ch Davoegs Silky Beau, Ch Chablais Myrtille, Ch Dickendall Arnold, Ch Lenches Teddy Bear, Ch Chocorua Seabreeze, Ch Ashways Coppertone Sadie, and Ch Guidelines Master Card. Today I struggle to find male stallions who please me. I don't want to risk being presumptuous, but I prefer my dogs to many of the ones I see around.
- What do you consider to be the most serious flaw for a Labrador? Which of these are the most difficult to correct?
I think the worst thing about dogs today is the tail. Many dogs here have the tuft at the bottom of the tail or what we call "banana tail". I don't even like an expression that is too harsh. Both are difficult defects to correct. Another fairly common defect here in America is the short neck.
- Based on what the male chooses for a specific female: his pedigree, his gender or what else? What type of coupling do you prefer between linebreeding and outcrossing?
I choose the male by observing him and generally take the type into consideration. Sometimes it takes me a minute to understand if I like the dog or not. I happened to use males that I didn't love because I needed pedigree. I would say that I take all aspects into consideration. I like that inside the pedigree there are also common dogs but I never limit myself to linebreeding. In the past I have refused, for my males, females that had only linebreeding behind them.
- What do you look for in a puppy when choosing the best litter? What can change in a puppy during growth and what will never change?
When I choose my puppies I look for presence, attitude and balance. An overflowing neck, sparse heads, lack of angles, shyness and lack of attitude are characteristics that will never change.
- In your opinion, which health problem (hip and elbow dysplasia, vision problems, EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse), allergies, etc.) is the most serious for this breed?
I am convinced that our most serious problem is elbow dysplasia. We do not use our dogs with hip dysplasia for breeding, but many do so if elbow dysplasia is still in the early stages, as if it were not a problem, thus prolonging the defect.
- What is the diet you use for your dogs, especially puppies? Do you use any supplements (glucosamine, vitamin C, etc.)?
For adult dogs I use Iams feed while for puppies and for competition dogs I use Eukanuba for puppies. For the younger ones, I also add some BilJac (frozen natural food): they are totally natural meat products, without preservatives,
- Is the magnificent coat of your dogs determined by genetics, by the fact that they live outdoors or do you use some supplement to favor the quality of the hair?
I think that the genetics and the fact that they live outdoors have a big impact on their fur. When the weather permits, they swim regularly every day. I don't use hair supplements: I think sleeping outside is the most determining element.
- What is your advice for novice breeders?
The best advice I think I can give is to keep in mind that you will never know everything. So try to get as much information as possible. Never use dogs that you have bred or bought if they are of low quality. If your dogs don't thrill you, then don't keep them. If you do, you will end up with a breeding full of indistinct and mediocre dogs. Learn how to get rid of dogs that don't satisfy you.