A Breeder Information Center for Labradors
by Marshall Simonds
The continuing popularity of the Labrador Retriever raises some interesting questions about the responsibilities of a parent breed club. The Labrador Retriever, the most popular breed for a decade with well over 100,000 new registrations each year, is known for its remarkable versatility. Treasured as pets and family companions; talented working dogs that excel as retrievers in field trial competition; hunt tests and the recovery and conservation of game in the field; widely supported in the show ring; competitive in obedience, tracking and agility; often used to assist the blind and the deaf; valued as therapy dogs; prized by law enforcement for the detection of drugs and explosives; superb at rescue work-the Labrador does it all!
How can our breed club help to assure that this level of versatility and achievement remain in place? One suggestion that seems timely and appropriate to explore is-what our club can do to provide the best possible information to the breeders who are ultimately responsible for the preservation of the best qualities of our breed? The following ideas are intended to stimulate discussion on how the LRC can better serve Labrador breeders. It seems timely to address this subject now because the AKC is currently discussing the establishment of a breeding department.
My first suggestion would be to create what I have tentatively labeled as a Breeder Information Center. The primary goal would be to identify and collect information available from outside sources which would assist in making the often-difficult choices an informed breeder must make. Some obvious examples of the kind of information that would be valuable to breeders are easy to identify. First and most basic perhaps would be the sources of information about canine health and genetic problems important to the Labrador breed. The thought is not to duplicate what is already available elsewhere but to inform the breeder about the sources of that information, how to gain access and how to use it. Examples in the area of health would include use of the OFA website, the CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) data base, the state of current research and publications on Labrador health issues, breeding practices and so forth.
Another example of information that might be gathered and provided to breeders would be to list the sources of available information about Labradors that are performing successfully in various roles. This would involve much more than a listing of bench champions, field champions, master hunters, titled obedience, tracking and agility dogs. For example, what information about breeding choices is available from various groups that breed and train dogs for the handicapped? Where can the breeder go for information and advice about issues of temperament?
Again the Club would not collect and distribute the information, but rather would identify the sources for such information and explain the procedure to obtain and use the information in breeding decisions.
Is this a proposal worth study? The Club would like to hear from its members regarding this topic. What information would you like to see in a breeders educational program?