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Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Labradors: English (Bench) and American (Field)
A registered Labrador is a registered Labrador...right?
Yes. With qualifications.
All Labradors are not built the same.
The Labrador known as the "British type" is what is typically seen at bench trials, i.e. the show ring like Westminster Kennel Club. What is sometimes called the "American type" is the hunting field trial Labrador.
Sometimes the two types are referred to as British and American Labradors. When I was much younger this distinction wasn't made. Over the years however, as hunters who used their Labs more for upland game hunting then water retrieving began to adjust what they bred for, the "field" Lab became a longer leg, longer tailed, narrower headed dog.
Compare these two yellow females for example.
Notice the longer legs and lighter build of the one, the shorter, stockier overall build of the other.
These are two more examples of the difference between a field Lab and a bench Lab. The chocolate above is of field breeding, the black Lab is of bench lines.
Even when they're sitting down you can see some basic differences between the two types. Notice the narrower build of the chocolate compared to the husky build of the yellow Lab. From longer leg, to longer, narrower neck and slightly longer, more slender muzzle...these two Labs are not built the same.
Notice there is also a shorter, stockier tail on the bench trial version of a Labrador, compared to the longer, thinner tail on a field lab.
With each type prone to being too extreme in some bloodlines -- far too heavy with mastiff type heads in the extreme bench lines, too over sized tall in the extreme field lines -- more breeders are interbreeding the two distinct lines trying to once again recreate the kind of Labs that were around when I was a child - dogs that were fit for bench or working.
Lil comes from this kind of inter-mixed blood line. Her dam, on the left in the above picture is of field lines and of a visibly taller line than her sire, on the right, who is shorter, stouter, and heavier from tip of tail to snout.
Lil is beginning to show more of the outcome and purpose of this kind of line mixing - an attempt to breed a moderate Lab that is neither too heavy nor too leggy.
She's starting to fill out although she still has a way to go - at still under a year she will continue to physically mature until about the age of two. When she's sitting down, her appearance can literally change depending on the angle of her head.
Notice that from above and down you can see the field Lab in Lil, but from straight in front and up you can see some of the bench influences. An increasing number of Labs are once again starting to show both parts of their heritage rather than just one or the other.
For the Lab owners out there, if you want to share photos of your own labs just send them in and I'll post them.