Breeding and hunting

Breeding and hunting

Postby Payce » Sat Jan 12, 2019 5:03 pm

Kept the title generic and do hope the following doesn’t offend. After a fairly long life have come to believe we often make decisions that result in “unintended consequences” later on. Just thinking about the dog world and for me, how it relates to hunting. We have seen the historical impact on many breeds how going after one aspect, like conformity, can lead to a breed losing its ability to accomplish its original purpose. Spaniels, Poodles, Irish Setters, and some lines of Labs/Golden’s come to mind. There seems to be another trend developing as well.....breeding to compete in FT and HT games. Tied to a growing number of owners in both dog games that never or rarely hunt and their kennel of dogs is primarily for entering the games. Our local club is full of great people training for the dog games and few hunt ever. There’s a chance that my Chessie retrieved more birds hunting this year than the rest of the club combined and I don’t hunt all that often.

I’m not saying anything is wrong with people doing so. I’m not judging or critizing any breeder working hard to provide a better FT or HT dog. Just wondering where this is leading with our remaining breeds that are still hunting dogs. Earlier while posting on other Chessie issues we also discussed how the coonhound games had really changed and the impact of certain breeds of hounds. Is there a chance that we are heading down a path that could change the abilities of our breed to fulfill its original purpose or at the least reduce its ability to do so?

One last comment. I believe there is no intent to breed away from hunting abilities. Many actually are focused on a better dog for both hunting and games with both complementing each other. In addition the games were set up as a way for us to stay engaged, train and enjoy our dogs off season. Just feel there is an underlying trend developing and 20 years from now we could see some “unintended consequences”. What do the more experience experts on this forum think?
Last edited by Payce on Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Tim Carrion » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:53 pm

Your concern is timely. Preservation of breed function/ breeding for purpose is on the AKC HT/FT Committee agenda for the March meeting. The AKC Mission statement which appears in every rule/regulation manual reads"The AKC is dedicated to upholding the integrity of the Registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and FUNCTION."

The purpose of FT/HT for all hunting breeds is to have a method to evaluate and record the function of the breed and enhance their traits for future generations of dogs. We can debate whether or not we have taken retrieving abilities beyond their intended functions and if this is a positive or negative trend but we still need a scale.
The CBR gene pool is small and we do not have much of much a "deep end". In the games you mention we have very few dogs to objectively point to as excellent retrieving stock. In 2018 CBR represented: 0% National Open Qualifiers, 0.6% of National Amat. Qualifiers, 1.4% of Master National Qualifiers and 1.2% of Master Amat. Qualifiers.
To increase the number of dogs that breeders can identify as having the retrieving abilities they would like to perpetuate for hunting and games(it is not an either /or) now and 20 years from now there does need to be changes.

if anyone has any suggestions to better identify, preserve and enhance for future generations lets hear them.

Tim
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Sharon Potter » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:47 am

I've always said that the "games" are good....when they are used to sort out the best dogs of a breed. But when the pendulum swings the opposite direction and dogs are being bred just for the "games" and the breed standard is not a consideration, there is a problem. It happens in the show world...dogs are bred to almost cartoonish extremes, because extremes stand out compared to a well rounded and balanced dog....and especially in our breed, a lot of judges really don't know the breed all that well, sometimes the dogs they put up aren't the best representatives in the ring that day.

In the field trial and hunt test world, it's a lot like baseball. If every batter that came to the plate was knocking the ball out of the park, they'd move the fences back. If you look back to some of the early field trials, back when a dual Labrador was possible, even the National was more like a Senior hunt test. Things continue to become more and more technical, which swings the pendulum far from hunting.

Yes, marking is important. And yes, we've all had those birds in real world hunting that have sailed several hundred yards as cripples. The difference is, the dog saw that bird at 25 yards when we shot it and then marked the whole flight out to that 300 yard landing spot. Marking in a hunt test or field trial situation isn't the same as marking in the real world of hunting. Blinds: In hunt tests and field trials they are tests of teamwork and control. In the real world, they are tests of teamwork and instinct.

What we train for in trials and tests...with the gunshots coming from a great distance away and the dogs having to go toward that sound....is like telling our dogs to run to the next guy's blind downriver when hunting...run to where the shot came from.

Instinct takes a distant backseat, which I find sad. In real world hunting, the dog's job is to recover the bird as fast and efficiently as possible, which is sometimes in direct opposition to requirements in some of the games.

I think the change needs to happen in the games...both show and field...and it won't, because of that huge contingent that rarely or never hunts but spends huge amounts of time and money to win ribbons. It has become the end game for many.

Breeding for events rather than breeding for the breed standard (they are not mutually exclusive) is the problem, at least to me. Events should find the best of a breed, as they were originally intended to do. Now, the tail is wagging the dog. ;)

Change the games...the pendulum can swing back to where it should be. But that's not going to happen.
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Sharon Potter » Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:30 pm

Just a look at the Labrador tells the tale. Yes, the show ring is guilty of rewarding short legged, Rottweiler headed dogs that huff and puff their way around the ring and would die of old age before they caught up with a running pheasant....and the field trial/hunt test world is just as bad, with some small, wiry dogs that have long whippy tails and narrow heads and poor coats with no undercoat. Yes, there are some moderate, middle of the road dogs that do meet the breed standard that do well. Neither side looks seriously at the breed standard...they breed for what will win.

Just for fun, here's a video of the ninth series of the 1957 National Amateur Retriever Championship. The dog running is the famous King Buck. The marks are all at JH distances. Compare to today. ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNR4eVP9M8Y
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby jdavis92 » Wed Jan 23, 2019 5:05 pm

:shock:

This discussion has really got my head in a bit of a spin. It was super interesting to see that video of King Buck.

As I am preparing for my first JH test in a couple of weeks, and (re-)read the AKC rules/regs for hunt tests, I have wondered why the tests (on paper at least) don't seem to be more reflective of a hunting situation. It seems like small-ish changes could have a big impact on the representation of a real world hunting situation.

If the clubs (AKC, NAHRA, etc) are really testing to a set of standards and not necessarily a competition among dogs, why did (are) the standards changing? Are they afraid everyone will pass, like the baseball analogy Sharon used? Standards are standards right? Hunting birds hasn't changed in the last 60 years right?

I've joined the local NAVHDA group and I find some of the work they do in training to be very beneficial to enhancing the hunting instincts of my pup, but it's arguable that the work I do with them will help me that much in a hunt test.

On another note, I struggled mightily when picking out my pup last year because I felt like it was SO hard to know whether a set of parents would produce good hunting dogs. I remember reading in Butch Goodwin's book about old timers wanting to hunt over a dog before deciding whether or not to breed it, or buy from a litter produced by the dog. It seems that test titles now take the place of that, which is better than nothing, but not the whole picture in my view.

Edit: Speaking of Pigadors and Spasmatronic Labs, it seems an outfit like Southern Oak Kennels might be succeeding at bridging that gap.

Jeff in Flagstaff
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby RShockley » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:31 am

The standard changes to allow for the trainers and breeders to have something to shoot for. As the dogs get better the standard goes up. If we where still running the same old test situations there would be no reason to improve the dogs and no progression of a breed. I do agree that test setups are still very different then real hunting situations and there are a few reasons for it. Most get boiled down to safety which is why handlers no longer shoot from the line. The other reason is to create a repeatable test making it fair for all dogs running. Also I think UKC does a slightly better job in that department as at least the handler is firing a popper and no calls are given from the throwers. It allows for seeing which dogs were trained to mark off the gun and which dogs just look in a general direction because someone blows a duck call. Titles for dogs are nice form a breeding standpoint as it is something a person can visually see. I would still only breed dogs that I feel are going to provide an improvement or at least maintain the breed. I have seen plenty of dogs with a master title that I would never want a dog from. Something to help pick a litter is to search the parents to find results from their test entries. If a dog has a master title but had to run 30+ tests to get it I don't personally want a pup from that breeding. It is a bit more work but finding those that have high pass rates is worth the effort.

As far as breeding for a single purpose our purpose needs to be for the betterment of the breed. Our breed is better off when bred to include hunting ability and conformation. At one time other breeds where the same way but somehow went in vastly different directions. One of the better field labs I have seen looks like a giraffe while show labs get more winded jogging around the show ring. It is noticeable in goldens as well. As long as we continue to keep both aspects in mind they will continually improve in both areas. Also we need to never allow for the breed conformation standard to change in a direction that does not suit a true working dog.
Richard Shockley
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Erik Borg » Fri Jan 25, 2019 7:39 pm

I asked a very well known pro Field Trial trainer to name the most important genetic traits that affect field trial dogs. Number one on his list was superior vision and number two was the natural preference to run in a straight line. I think there is room for all sides of the debate to live happily ever after if we just focus on the most important stuff and leave all the hyperbole to the ones that have nothing better to do.
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Sharon Potter » Sat Jan 26, 2019 2:45 pm

Erik, very interesting comment from the pro. That works for their game. :) But is it in the best interest of the breed....or the game?

For me personally, I'm looking for a good nose, high prey drive and a team player attitude. (along with sound structure, of course). But my world consists of 99% gun dog training and 1% games.

I think this all alludes back to Payce's original point: Are we breeding to win ribbons or are we breeding for the dog's original purpose? Running a straight line and eyesight to see 400 yards away wouldn't even make my list of the top 20 genetic traits I'd care about. But if those are being bred for as the top priorities, it would eventually change that segment of any breed and lose some of the foundation.
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Tim Carrion » Sat Jan 26, 2019 8:52 pm

Sharon Potter wrote:For me personally, I'm looking for a good nose, high prey drive and a team player attitude. (along with sound structure, of course). But my world consists of 99% gun dog training and 1% games.

Sharon,
My world is the flip side of yours being a 99% game player but I am looking for the same things plus I would add intellect. I have had some dogs that had all the drive and physical traits you could want but just could not " put it all together" one day to the next. They need a brain!
Titles are a means of measuring and recording the physical and performance attributes you want in a dog. Standard levels and competition are due to owners wanting to say "my dog is better than yours". A great gun dog would be: steady, deliver to hand, be able to mark multiple birds, handle towards a bird and trail a cripple. That is an AKC Senior test (minus the tracking due to time). So why do Master entries far exceed senior and junior and All-age exceed D/Q's? Owners and breeders like to say "my dog is better than yours"!

Tim
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Sharon Potter » Sun Jan 27, 2019 4:40 am

Tim Carrion wrote:Sharon,
Titles are a means of measuring and recording the physical and performance attributes you want in a dog. Standard levels and competition are due to owners wanting to say "my dog is better than yours". A great gun dog would be: steady, deliver to hand, be able to mark multiple birds, handle towards a bird and trail a cripple. That is an AKC Senior test (minus the tracking due to time). So why do Master entries far exceed senior and junior and All-age exceed D/Q's? Owners and breeders like to say "my dog is better than yours"!

Tim


Tim, exactly! And I think in our breed we are fortunate that most people are breeding for the breed itself, and then use that toward the ribbons without discarding the intense natural abilities that make up a Chessie (even if that also means they occasionally flip us the paw and say "I'll do it my way" when their instinct overrides our control.) :D

-Sharon
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