Posts Tagged ‘working type golden retrievers’

This litter was bred by Djanick Michaud of Zomarick golden retrievers in Quebec.

You can really see the intelligence in their eyes!



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This is Sir Hobson.  He belongs to Djanick Michaud of Zomarick goldens in Quebec.

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(Source for image)

Working-type goldens are generally darker in color and more lightly built than show-type dogs.

The puppies look more like little red antelopes than teddy bears.

Perhaps not little red antelopes. Lop-eared, long-haired dingoes might be a better description.

But you can see the intelligence in their eyes already.

I think they’re much cuter.

But that’s just my opinion.

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The dog in the foreground is Ft. Ch. Holway Dollar. They are standing “at the line” in a British field trial, which requires dogs to be very well-behaved and patient while waiting to be sent for a retrieve.

She is handled by June Atkinson, her breeder, and the woman who founded the Holway line of working-type golden retriever. Her line is perhaps the most influential in working type goldens in the world.  It is very hard to find a field-type golden retriever in the US or Canada that doesn’t trace to Holway Barty.

I found a very good site about June Atkinson and the Holways at this link.

If one looks at the photos on that site of the various Holway dogs living today, one can see they strongly resemble the field line dogs we have always had in he United States and Canada. Part of this is because of Holway Barty, but also because the field line dogs tend to evolve a particular conformation that is a bit distinct from the dogs that tend to do well in conformation shows. It is not that show dogs cannot do field work or regular hunting work. But because the economics and the intense competition in both areas, the lines have had to specialize. Specialization and divergence in type and behavior are very bad things to happen within a closed registry breed, for these issues further Balkanize the gene pool, creating something like two separate breeds within a single registry.

It’s not particularly good thing, and if there were some way to stop it, I’d be very happy. I don’t think a golden retriever club anywhere likes that this divergence has happened. Knowledgeable people tried to stop it when the split started to become obvious, but it could not be stopped.

Unless the culture and economics of field trialling and dog showing change, I don’t see this divergence being reversed.

Doing dual purpose is very tough in this breed, especially when it must contend with very specialized trial lines of Labrador.

One thing about the Holway dogs: They were and are still noted for their very strong noses, which is a great asset in the European retriever culture. It is important in the American retriever culture, but marking is more important than nose here.

Robert Atkinson, June’s son, is still trialling the Holway dogs in the UK. He won the 1982 International Gun Dog League’s Retriever Championship, which his mother also won in 1954.  Goldens have not won this trial very often. I believe the last one to do so was in 2006.

This is the same a championship that Don of Gerwn, a liver flat-coated retriever whose sire was a “golden retriever” from the Guisachan kennels, won in 1904.

June Atkinson’s line continues to be influential with working-type goldens throughout the world. Dogs from this line have always been in demand, which feeds some of the popular sire problems in working goldens. So it is very important for the continued welfare of the breed to see new lines developing from relatively unrelated stock.

We should certainly celebrate June and Robert Atkinson’s achievements, but we need to be careful about the long-term viability of the working-type golden.

I’m sure that the Atkinsons would not like to see this breed disappear as working gun dog, which was the main focus of their breeding program.

We have real issues with genetic diversity in the working type golden retriever. This problem is mostly the result of the popular sire effect. Just a few stud dogs have been very influential in producing puppies per generation, and part of this problem, at least in American goldens, can be traced to Holway Barty through his grandson, AFC Yankee’s Smoke’n Red Devil. Nearly half of all MH and All-Age goldens that have been born since 1980 descend from one breeding between that Barty grandson and FC Windbreakers Razzmatazz.

This type of breeding might be good for producing good working retrievers, but it is not so good from a population genetics standpoint.

That’s why breeding between the “show” and “performance” types is something that should be encouraged every now and again.

At the very least, it keeps the gene pools a bit more diverse.

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