The blocky-headed Lab is cute, but it’s really not functional.
However, when you read ads for stud dogs in local classified, there are at least five or six Labradors offered for stud. Usually, there is a brag for how big the dog is or that it has a blocky head. The big size is just another way of saying that the dog is too cumbersome in the field, although there are some 100 pound Labs that are really well proportioned and can do their work. The blocky head, though, is a modern abstraction of what the breed is supposed to look like. Virtually none of the top field Labs, the retriever of all retrievers, has a blocky head. And virtually none of them are over 80 pounds. Most are 55 to 70 pounds, with a few 45 pounders thrown in. And the dogs are lithe and svelte with smooth coats that can cut through water like a hot knife through butter.
Granted, I know that some field type Labs have gone too far. They have bodies like whippets and are so full of energy that they can’t focus. But the blocky English-type Lab, well, is too far on the other extreme, a dog that so ponderous that it can’t move and so mellow that it doesn’t even care if a dummy is thrown for it. Many weekend hunters really have no use for the field trial dog, simply because of those whippet type field dogs.
In North America, the show and field Lab will continue to be split, and these fissures will only deepen. The golden retriever has a similar split, but it’s not often acknowledged that field type goldens exist.