Fate of The Flatcoat – Worker – Showdog or both.

- By Patricia D. Chapman 

from letters to the Editor, Shooting Times & Country Magazine, June 13 – 19, 1985.

Sir, I would like to reply to the recent article by Peter Moxon about Flatcoated retrievers.

In it he supports the efforts of the group of Flatcoated retriever owners who are attempting to improve the working ability of the breed. I support the principle in its entire type, but not the method.  The letter circulated by the group requested details of working dogs, placing great emphasis on working ability, trainability, temperament, general soundness and stamina – all essential attributes of any good working gundog.   Surely this is the point: it could be a Labrador, Golden Retriever or any gundog; the vital difference – which was not mentioned – was breed. This is the one element that separates the breeds. Bred type must be maintained otherwise the Flatcoat will go the way of many breeds where the working lines hardly bear any resemblance to the breed standard.  What is the point of an excellent working Flatcoat, described as a black retriever?

I do not accept that winning Crufts has had any detrimental effect on the working side of the breed.  How many people in the group have used “show dogs” in their working lines.  Not many, if any.  Therefore, this cannot have led to the dilution of the working ability.  I believe it is a poor excuse for a much more fundamental problem, the ascendancy of the Labrador retriever. If quantity causes a dilution of working ability, why is this not so in Labradors, as they are numerically far greater than the Flatcoat?

I obtained my first Flatcoat in 1974, which time the breed had already started to expand, not in 1980 when we had the Crufts success.  Few of the established breeders can run their dogs regularly in test, even fewer running in field trials. Of the established breeders, only Dr. Nancy Laughton, Read Flowers, Colin Wells and Peter Johnson supported both shows and trial. Dr. Laughton and Colin Wells have ceased to show their dogs.  Read Flowers and Peter Johnson still do so, but not as regularly. We do not have as many working owners who are prepared to breed for looks as previously, but we have more people than ever who show dogs and attempt to work them.

My own line is bred from Colin Wells’ “W” dogs, five have got qualifiers and I accept that the working fraternity frown on this qualification but our breed still has more full champions than any other.  My dogs have run in working test and Brett have run in fields trials and picks up regularly.  Surely it is more than a little harsh to blame him for the decline of working Flatcoats.

Let us unite to improve the working ability and looks of our breed.  Wo do not want a break-away group; Lets us through our breed society support the people, too numerous to mention who try to work and show their dogs, of which there are far more now than 10 years ago.  The fate of the breed is in the hands of the owners and breeders.  Let’s us all work together to create unity, not conflict.

 Patricia D. Chapman, Coleorton, Leicestershire.

    © Alex Faarkrog 2017


       © Alex Faarkrog 2017