Fabracken Interview with Anne Taylor titolare dell’allevamento
- What are the main characteristics of Fabracken dogs? How can we distinguish them from other Labradors?
Spero che siano riconoscibili come i veri e propri Labrador e non come i cani dei concorsi di oggi. Per la loro conformazione generale e la loro costituzione non esagerata. Per il loro pelo e le loro code corrette. Infine, per la loro capacità di lavorare sul terreno di caccia tutto l’inverno e per essere dei compagni ideali per le famiglie.
- You breed and have been a Labrador judge for many years now. How is a modern Labrador different than a Labrador from 20 or 30 years ago? In your opinion, has the breed improved over the years?
Today's Labrador is quite different from that of 20-30 years ago. Today's labrador is more robust, has shorter legs and a bigger chest. These changes caused less flexibility and agility, which are necessary characteristics for a working dog. Its expression has also changed, being determined by a wider skull, a shorter muzzle and rounder and darker eyes. I honestly can't say that the breed has improved. The standard level of dogs may be more uniform, but their characteristics from the point of view of working dogs are indeed uncertain. Many are able to bring a ball or a puppet back to the plain, but would they be able to work, day after day, month after month, on any type of terrain, bringing back heavy birds and retracing distances again and again?
- 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 prefer a Labrador that is somewhere in between, with not too much of anything! A dog that has agility, the typical tender expression, a thick coat and an otter tail, and whose general constitution allows him to work hard and effectively during the hunting season. I admire every Labrador that meets these requirements. As for farms, I like them because they can produce a well-defined type of the typical Labrador, such as Mary Roslin Williams' Manserghs, and Bridget Docking's Ballyduffs. I've always loved Janice Pritchard's Charway too.
- 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?
Certainly there were so many things about my early Labradors that I wanted to change. For each generation I focus on the female, her flaws and virtues. Subsequently I try to find a male who is able to compensate for his shortcomings, both as regards his appearance, but above all referring to his pedigree. In an attempt to remedy certain deficiencies, it is difficult to manage not to lose other characteristics that we have tried to maintain between one generation and another.
- What do you consider to be the most serious flaw for a Labrador? Which one is the most difficult to correct?
Good physical and mental state are very important for a Labrador, as well as his working skills. Subsequently, the relationship that the dog has with the standard characteristics of the breed. If we talk about the defects and weaknesses of the breed standard, then the type is more important: the dog must look like a Labrador and nothing else. The expression must be correct (which at the moment is not), and the dog must have the correct tail and coat. These are the three characteristics that make a dog a real Labrador. In the current structure we have many problems with the front. This is too straight, especially having short forearms. In addition, some specimens hallo the back too angled.
- As a judge, do you pay close attention to the presentation of a dog? Do you believe that training a dog can influence how he behaves during the competition?
Personally I am not very interested in the presentation of a dog, both from the point of view of their toilet and from that of how the owner presents his dog. The competitions are not simply about beauty, but are mainly used to find dogs suitable for breeding for future generations. Obviously, a well-presented dog is beautiful to look at, proof that his owner takes good care of him, but does not influence my judgment of the dog. In any case, I am sure that many judges are influenced by the presentation instead.
- 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?
The one hundred thousand dollar question! Choosing the stallion is a real nightmare! It means improving certain characteristics but maintaining others as well. After choosing the female, I focus on evaluating several dogs. I am looking for dogs with characteristics very similar to the breed (not necessarily dogs that have won competitions) and that do not have the same shortcomings as my female. Then I take their pedigree into consideration. On some occasions I happened to choose the male based on his pedigree, even if the dog itself was not particularly exemplary. But it must necessarily have qualities and must be healthy. A good temperament and, possibly, good working qualities, or at least some kind of skill behind him. I prefer linebreeding but occasionally use outcrossing to insert new features, although I prefer that the dog is of the same type as mine, possibly.
- Do you think it is more difficult to breed Labrador Chocolate? If yes, why?
Yes, I think it is. Among the most obvious difficulties, there are maintaining a beautiful eye color and good pigmentation. The first specimens of Labrador Chocolate / livers, were certainly a minority, and were not particularly appreciated either. Then, gradually, they became more and more in demand and are now considerably more sought after, especially as companion dogs for families. Given this increased demand, unfortunately people began to breed and reproduce them, thinking only of the color and not paying enough attention to other details such as the good physical and mental state of the puppies they were reproducing. There is a lot of talk about their fur. Think of yellow and even black and all the variations in the color tone. So why are people absolutely determined that Labrador Chocolate should be as dark as possible and that their undercoat should be the same color as the fur? After judging many dogs around the world, I think I can say that dogs with totally dark fur often have little under fur. The consistency of their fur should be much more important than its hue.
- At what age do you choose the best copy of the litter? Do you think it is really possible to determine if a puppy has "competition potential" at an age, for example, of 8 weeks?
Normally I start watching my puppies at six weeks. From that moment up to eight weeks I watch them continuously, as they play and as they run, I watch how their proportions change. In the eighth week or so, I let most of the litter move to new homes and maybe keep a few puppies. Between eight weeks and six months my puppies can grow in any way, but generally I look for the puppy that grows steadily. I don't mind a little long legs and I definitely don't expect a "finished product", that is, a six-month-old puppy who participates in competitions resembling a twelve-month-old dog. I think it's possible to look at an eight-week-old puppy and see if he has competition qualities. But in no case can I say if he will be a champion. Today's Labradors tend to be too mature too early. This is not good for them, nor for race in general. It would be very positive if we could go back to teenage dogs with long legs that seemed so normal to us. Maturity should be achieved gradually and the dog should not reach its maximum splendor until it has reached middle age.
- What do you think is the most important aspect for a puppy's growth?
Let the puppy be a puppy. Don't strain anything, let it mature physically and mentally gradually. Let him play and exercise sensibly and mentally stimulate him.
- What is your advice for novice breeders?
Don't run before you can walk. Don't take too many dogs too fast, especially low quality ones. Take some time to watch beautiful dogs and talk to experienced breeders. You can only learn by collecting a bit of information at a time, it can't all happen from day to night. In fact, the more time you spend in contact with dogs the more things you will discover you don't know. Aim to have the best quality dogs in your kennel. You will only be able to do this if you are extremely critical of your dogs. It is not good to ignore their shortcomings and shortcomings and, in order to recognize them, you will first have to learn what they are. Then you can improve. Finally, in general, be patient in everything you do and enjoy your dogs. This is the main reason why we have them with us.