Interview with Erica Jayes, Sandylands

1. What are the main distinctive features of Sandylands dogs?

They usually have a gentle head with a kind expression, a good level topline and well set tail, good overall balance and they simply love life.

How can we recognize them among other labradors?

They are usually recognised by their attractive head and their distinctive type, and are usually very outgoing with a lovely temperament, wanting to greet everyone and everything with enthusiasm – sometimes a little too much ! It is not just the owners who recognise the type, but on many occasions they will meet strangers who say ” that must be a Sandylands dog ”

2. You have been breeding and judging labradors for many years. How does a modern labrador differ from a labrador of 30-40 years ago?

Modern Labradors generally tend to have more bone, be shorter on the leg and are heavier than they were.

In your opinion, has the breed improved over the years?

I really do not think we now have as much quality in depth as there was years ago, and there is not the range of quality stud dogs who are both stallions and good producers – particularly in blacks. Not enough attention is paid to temperament.

3. What type of labradors 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 dog to look masculine and a bitch to look feminine, with correct head and general overall balance, with level topline, correct tail, tailset and tail carriage and to move soundly.

A perfect Labrador ?

One that is very close to the breed standard and has all the main features of a Labrador- head, coat, tail and sound movement.

An ideal Labrador ?

A question I have been asked many times. I have seen many great Labradors and it is difficult to name them all so this time I will list :- Ch Cookridge Tango, Ch Ballyduff Marketeer, ShCh Sandylands Mercy, Eng & Am Ch Sandylands Tanna, Ch Sandylands Truth, ShCh Croftspa Hazelnut of Foxrush, Ch Sandylands Geannie, ShCh Beltarn Diuma Of Newinn, ShCh Rocheby Polkadot, and ShCh Bradking Hugo.

Present day:- ShChTapeatom Ginantonic At Sandylands, Ch Warringah Bungle Bungle, ShCh Silver Suede Over Rocheby, and ShCh Sandylands Pressed For Time.
These have all given me that indescribable feeling of excitement that comes with an outstanding dog.

4. What problems of your first labradors, if there were any, you were able to improve in the next generations, and what features you might have lost?

I would like to answer this slightly differently. As for the word Problem – if there was a problem that occurred they were never bred from.
If you mean slight fault then that would be corrected by using a male who excelled in that area. Years ago when we were losing pigment we went to the Garshangen kennel as they were very strong in pigment.

5. What faults do you consider the most serious in a labrador?

Without doubt any form of aggression, straight shoulders, incorrect tailset (high or low) light eyes, and anything exaggerated away from the Breed Standard.

Which of them are the most difficult to get rid of?

Bad temperament is very hereditary and is best dealt with by not breeding on from it. Bad temperament is not just a problem for the breeder as most puppies end up in pet homes with a family where temperament is so very important. Incorrect shoulders are also difficult to breed out, as are light eyes..

6. As a judge, do you pay attention to a dog's presentation?

Most definitely, it is a type of beauty show and I expect dogs to be presented in clean condition, nails trimmed, the whisp at the end of the tail trimmed, and the dog to be in good hard condition.

Do you think good/bad handling can influence a dog's result in the ring?

Most definitely. A good handler can make a mediocre dog look better than it is, whereas a poor handler will not get the best out of any dog.

7. How do you choose a stud dog for a bitch, do you look at his pedigree, his type or something else?

Look for a dog that can improve where the bitch fails. He must also be a known producer with few problems, of the correct type and temperament and obviously the pedigree has to be suitable.

Do you prefer to use linebreeding or outcross?

We prefer to line breed as that is where you produce type and continued type. There have been times when we have used an outcross for a specific purpose but we always come back to line breed in the next generation in order to maintain type. We never outcross consecutively.

8. At what age do you choose the best puppy from the litter? Do you believe it is really possible to see if a puppy has "show potential" at the age, say, 8 weeks?

As soon as they are able to stand we begin assessing our puppies by standing them on the table. This continues on a weekly basis to enable us to assess the puppy and the way it is developing. It also helps the puppy to become used to being handled. By the time they are about 8 weeks old we are usually able to assess their construction and know whether or not they are good enough to run on.

9. What do you think is the most important in rearing a puppy?

Here we may differ from other people. We begin with ground beef at about 14 days and continue on a natural diet........... for the rest of their lives. We do not confine puppies, leaving them to develop and strengthen in their own way. Mrs Broadley always said ”It is 50% breeding and 50% rearing that produces a dog successful in the show ring”.

10. What would you advise to novice breeders?

Listen and learn – even experienced breeders do this. Don’t be afraid to seek the advice of successful long term breeders as the majority will be there to help you. Don’t leave a show as soon as you have finished showing – sit and watch the judging, never be kennel blind and always see the faults in your own dogs, look for the good things in other people’s dogs. You may not always agree with everyone but just remember, as I was taught, that your own opinion might not be the right one.