Labrador Specialty 19th November in Moscow, Russia

Thank you so much for the invitation to come and judge Labradors in your show!

In all show was extremely well organized, place was wonderful with nice carpets and good lights. If I understood correctly, you might not have this place available in the future. That will be a pitty. I want to give my super thanks to my ring secretaries, hugs to you all for helping my day so much, special hugs to my writing secretary who surely did her best to cut short my “word flow” and to translate my words to those who got something else than excellent.

 This was my first official show in another country and what would have been nicer than see Labradors of our neighbor country. Also judged first time in English, I tried also use my hands to show what I was looking for from each dog. I hope someone noticed that and found out the good or lacking points if following from the ringside.

In the Specialty Show it is my responsibility to be honest to the breed and honest to myself doing the judging with heart and soul. While we do have this scale from excellent to satisfactory and even disqualification, I think it is absolutely necessary also to use it. For me the dog who gets Very Good is still A VERY GOOD DOG. I don’t think it is very fruitful to award every dog with excellent. We have to remember that NO DOG IS PERFECT ( if yours is, congratulations, mine are not). When understanding own dogs faults, it is easier to understand why this or that affected to prize grade. And if not happy with the prize I gave in this show, remember, it is just MY OPINION from that dog at that day.

For me the habit to give several CACs in each class was very strange, my honest opinion is  that’s making too easy champions. In some classes I gave CACs, in same classes not. That might have been upsetting to some dog owners. (тут я должна пояснить, что Пиа имеет ввиду ССшки. Она слышала про нашу систему на монопородках – титул победителю и СС для расстановки. Поэтому мне пришлось ей объяснить, что 1 место получает титул (КЧК), а расстановка – на усмотрение эксперта СС. Видимо, на слух она это перепутала с САС. Я ей объяснила, что СС – это еще не титул, но лучше, чем просто Отлично – как-то так. Все-таки, мне кажется, надо как-то унифицировать это объяснение для экспертов. Т.к. слышать они слышали о нем, спрашивают и оценивают, а понять наши российские реалии – не могут).

I’m very impressed that I did not hear any fights in the ring, in Finland they seems to be more common. The dogs, most of them, felt comfortable in the ring. They were showed nicely, handlers did really their best to support the dogs. Thank you for that !! Overall quality was nice, I was thrilled with some of my class winners ( both in males and in females ). I founded slightly difficult to read the catalogue when I later tried to check some names, since I’m not an expert in Russian text. So I need to be Sherlock when I will have time…

I’m very pleased with my Best Of Breeds ; BOB-puppy and BOB-junior are full of promises in the future as they are correctly built and movements are for the age nice ones. I wish all the best for these yellows !

What a Show Lady the Best Of Breed – Veteran was !!! Just brought tears in to my eyes with all that attitude and movements, not forgetting classical beauty in lines and proportions. Best Bitch-lineup really made my day , four nice movers with beautiful outlines. There is the TYPE ! The best bitch was so classic with lovely neck and topline, excellent balanced angulations in both ends, coat was not at it’s best, but of correct structure and she had flowing sidemovements. How ever, even the Ladies making my day, the BEST OF BREED was strong yellow male, who had masculine proportions, excellent strength in bones, nice paws, beautiful head, tail and superb quality coat, honest mover. With these attributes he took the trophy, even while is not as flashy mover than the best bitch. But this boy was oozing the quality. We have to remember that the head, coat and tail are very important to this breed. Gentle expression, proper doublecoat with harsh topcoat and tail, which should look like ottertail and is carried about the level of the back….

The tails, the tails. This seems to be the problem nowadays, not only in your country, but as well in Finland. I do have a chocolate male who tends to be proud of his tail, but I do not need to love that. The breed standard says that “the tail MAY be carried highly”, it  is not forbidden, BUT I read the standard the way that the classical outline demands the tail on the level of the back, both standing and moving. That is THE IDEAL TAIL. It is dangerous to let our eyes to get used to thing that will affect the outline so much. I saw some nice tail among some other that I would hope to be lower ones. I did some compromises during the day, you surely noticed that. What I found very interesting was that there were quite many shorter type of tails also. Maybe there is some studmale or brood bitch behind this phenomenon ? I have not met that in Finland.

In heads I saw very nice ones and some instead were stopless, some with also round eyes. This again makes the head and expression strange. Expression should be intelligent and soft. Also lightness of eyes do effect that. In chocolates the color usually developes by the age.

Before I stop this report I ask you to take an eye on the bone strenght in legs and the shape and quality of paws. You have good bodies, that would benefit if the bones would be stronger in legs. In paws there were too many flat and wide paws, remember that this still should be a working dog. In difficult seashores or reeds the dog needs all the help from his structure, good bones and paws, not forgetting proper front angulations. Remember that balanced outfit is made of balanced angulations( in both ends), neck and topline !! Balanced outfit shows beauty in the ring and is essential need for working as well.

If you take time to look the pictures of the lineups for the day and read this report, I hope you will understand what I was looking for. No matter if you agree with me or not. This breed needs that we keep our mind open for the standard avoiding the “fashion winds” and more importantly we must be honest to our own dogs. They must be the most important ones for us and they surely are, despite of the fact if they are or are not as close to the standard or not. There is always the next generation which we must try to put up with the knowledge we have. Try to improve the lacks and maintain the benefits.

Not an easy work to do.

Once again that you for your interest on that show,

Pia Itkonen