1. How did you start out in labradors? Why did you choose this breed?
It was 1985 and I wanted a family dog for us and our son who was just 5 years old. I chose a yellow Labrador after watching the movie "Old Yeller". Within three months I had her at matches and in the show ring at 6 months old. She won a lot but never finished her Championship.
2. What problems of your first dogs, if there were any, you were able to improve in the next generations, and what features you might have lost?
My first failings were bad elbows, PRA affected, and just no breed type. I placed or returned three dogs that didn't turn out. I didn't breed any of them. After the hard knocks of being a Labrador enthusiast I finally improved my kennel in 1990 with the purchase of a well bred yellow bitch that was perfection in breed characterists in every respect. It is because of her that I am where I am today.
3. What type of labrador do you like most? What is your idea of a perfect labrador? Who are your ideal labradors of the past, and of today?
I like a well rounded Labrador. Clean lines without loss of type. Never too heavy or sloppy headed. The perfect Labrador would have perfect attitude, balance, and type, with a fierce love for birds. My favorite Labradors of the past are 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 have a hard time finding stud dogs that please me. Without meaning to sound conceited, I prefer my own boys to alot of what is out there today.
4. What faults do you consider the most serious in a labrador? Which of them are the most difficult to get rid of?
In my opinion, the worst fault in our dogs today is the tail. Many dogs here have a scoop or what we call a banana tail. I also really don't like a harsh expression. Both are hard to get rid of. Here in the States we lack length of neck on most of our dogs also.
5. How do you choose a stud dog for a bitch, do you look at his pedigree, his type or something else? Do you prefer to use linebreeding or outcross?
I choose a stud by seeing the dog normally and I usually go for type to type. I sometimes know within seconds if I like the boy or not. I have used a boy or two that I have never seen just because I wanted the pedigree. I guess you could say both. I like to have a few common dogs in his pedigree but I don't ever tightly line-breed. I have refused girls coming to my males that are too tightly line bred.
6. What do you look for in a puppy when you choose your "pick of the litter"? What things can change in a puppy as he grows and what never changes?
In picking my puppies I must see presence, attitude, and balance in that order. Stuffy necks, poor heads, lack of angle, and certainly a shy puppy or poor attitude never changes.
7. Which health issue (hip&elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, EIC, allergies, etc) is the biggest problem in the breed, in your opinion?
I am convinced our biggest issue is elbow dysplasia. We don't breed our hip dysplastic dogs, but many do still breed grade 1 elbows as if it isn't a problem, therefore prolonging our defects.
8. What food do you feed your dogs, especially puppies? Do you give any supplements (glucosamine, etc)?
I feed Iams adult food and use Eukanuba puppy for youngsters and dogs that I am showing. I also mix in a bit of the all natural frozen food called BilJac to the youngsters. It's an all natural meat product with no preservatives.
9. The wonderful coat of your dogs is due to genetics, living outside or do you give any supplements to improve coat quality?
The coat is genetics and living outside. They swim daily when the weather permits. I do not supplement for coat, but the sleeping out is a lot of it.
10. What would you advise to novice breeders?
The best advice I can give is to know that you never "know it all" so take in all the information you can from the pros. Never keep mediocre dogs that you have bought or bred. If you aren't thrilled with your keepers, then don't keep them. If you do, you will end up with a kennel full of generic unexciting dogs. Learn to cull (place in pet homes) what doesn't please your eye.