Labrador Champions or Show Champions
1983 - 2007
At a Kennel Club SGWC Seminar, in 2004, a paper was presented entitled “The Rise of Show Champions in Golden Retrievers (and the Fall of Champions). The paper showed, as the title suggests, that there had been a steady decline in the number of Champions. On reading this my initial reaction was that there would not have been a similar decline in the number of Labradors Champions. However after some initial research it became clear that regrettably a similar state does exist.
The main period reviewed is the last 25 years (1983 to 2007 inclusive), this came about more from the fact the KC computer records start from 1984,and the data for the missing years comes from the records in the Midland Counties and Labrador club year books. The data for the period 1946 – 1982 comes from Gary Johnson’s book Post-War Labrador Bench Champions 1946 – 1990. My apologies if I have incorrectly counted the numbers.
Reading the Rules of any Labrador Breed Club reference is made in the opening few lines to maintaining the working ability of the
In 1958 the Kennel Club introduced the ‘Show Champion’ title, prior to that date a dog had to be tested in the field to gain the title of Champion. Today some European countries still require a dog to be assessed twice in the field to enable it to become a Champion, otherwise it remains without its title. Interestingly, dogs eligible for their Field Trial title have to be assessed by two judges in the show ring! Perhaps the introduction by the Kennel Club of the ‘Show Champion, did a disservice to the breed.
In the post war period 1946 – 1982 there were 220 Champions and 133 Show Champions, i.e. 63% were Champions. In the years 1946 – 1982 the dominate kennels was Sandylands, with 18 Champions and 31 show champions: other kennels with a number of Champions include Reanacre, Mansergh, Ballyduff, Holton, Blaircourt, Kinley, Kupros, Landyke, Lawnwoods, Poolstead, Follytower, Priorise, Timspring and Trenow.
Table 1 shows the number of Champions and Show Champions in 5 year blocks for the past 25 years; there is a marked decline in the number of Champions with average number being just 19%.
Table 1 Champions and Show Champions 1983 – 2007
For the period 1988 -1992 and 1993 – 1997 there is a small increase in the number, this in part is due to the fact that one kennel made up 5 Champions in each of these periods.
Table 2, at the end, shows the number of Champions and Show Champions by Kennel for the period 1983 – 2007 inclusive and includes all the
In the last 25 years there is just one kennel that has more Champions than Show Champions, whereas in the period 1946 – 1982 the number of Champions exceeded the number of Sh Champions by almost 2 to 1.
It is disappointing to note that since 2003 there have been just 8 Champions and 50 Show Champions. There is evidence that whilst those with Show Champions are not taking the Show Gundog Working Certificate (SGWC) there are others that are. Since 2003 there have been 22
What can be done to encourage more of our Show Champions to take their SGWC? On asking some of the owners the replies have ranged from ‘no interest in working the dog’, to ‘I haven’t the time or the ability’. The first reply is sad, as one is left to ask why choose a gundog and not work it.
Time is free and one can always find time, it will take little more than 10 – 15 minutes a day, 3 – 4 days a week to get up to the required standard. Attending Gundog training classes will help and there are a number of Show Gundog friendly clubs around now. There are a number of people in the breed who show and work their dogs will always be pleased to help out.
The Labrador Retriever Club runs a training day every year for show dogs in conjunction with their water Test day. This is held at different venues and with specially selected trainers
I have been fortunate to handle one of our dogs to Best of Breed at Crufts and with another win the Charway Trophy for the Best Retrieve at the annual LRC Show Gundog Working Certificate day and I have to say I got more pleasure out of the latter. Show dogs can work and working them will not only improve the breed but will make them more biddable for showing, so have a go, you might enjoy it!