The following extract of an artical writen on Chocolate Labs made me smile. Recognised myself in it...
Found it on Wylanbriar Labradors | Bred for Temperment, Type and Trainability
The fundamental thing that often gets chocolate Labradors a bad name is the experience and ability of the people who tend to choose to work them. After all, let’s be honest, very few people wake up and think “I want a really top class working dog…… I think I’ll go buy a show bred chocolate!” So the vast majority of those who DO work or train them, bought the puppy, and more importantly, RAISED that puppy as a pet dog. Then at some point thought, ‘I fancy working this dog…’ and so start training, often at 1 or 2 years old, with clubs or trainers, or worst of all, at home in their own inexperienced way. The result is exactly what would happen if that dog had a black or yellow coat. It is a pet dog in newcomer hands and the result is often, not very pretty.
His second dog, now he has the working bug, is almost always a ‘specialist’. A trial bred dog from a working kennel, usually black or yellow. He is a better handler (questionable?)by now and knows how to raise a puppy with work in mind, and, hey presto! The whole picture becomes prettier and the ‘chocolates can’t work’ stereotype is reinforced just that little bit more. Had his second dog also been a chocolate would it have ‘gone better’? – Almost certainly. Did its colour handicap it, or in fact did the handler and its start in life to a greater extent? Without a doubt.
Only a fool would not admit that a show bred dog ‘tends’ to have an upper ceiling of ability in almost any hands. I personally have found the show bred dog, even in reasonably experienced hands, starts to flounder a little at the higher end of the Open test or Novice trial scale when style, real drive, and natural problem-solving starts to need to come strongly into play. Up to this level, for me, they have never greatly set themselves apart from their working bred compatriots. They often ‘go’ slightly differently, and that can grate on ‘fast-dog’ handlers, but unfortunately, how many chocolates are IN experienced hands?….. very very few.
It’s important to remember, the mad, lunging, whining, panting chocolate is just a dog with bad manners and a lack of basic training and boundaries. It could have been any colour. Show bred dogs tend to be bred to have confident, sociable, outgoing temperaments. A huge bonus if raised well. A huge drawback if not. The quiet sensitivity of many of the working lines makes their confident show bred cousins look like mindless ‘act first, think later’ idiots. But that can be channelled into a really happy, buzzy, keen to please worker if tailored correctly, it does not HAVE to be a drawback.
The other important factor which is leaving many show bred dogs behind (not just chocolates) is the way they are trained. The show bred dog, undoubtedly, usually does not have the drive and pace of the working bred dog and, therefore in the early stages, needs training accordingly. You really wouldn’t expect to drive a Discovery they way you would drive a Ferrari, yet the two polar opposite bred dogs are almost always trained using the same methods. Understandably because the show bred dog at gundog classes tends to be very much a minority. Standard novice gundog training, in most quarters, especially at club level, involves a large amount of steadiness. Dummies thrown over the head and pick dummies by hand. ‘Stay, Stay, Stay, Stay…’ Sadly, for a show bred dog, not exactly spilling over with natural desire, this approach tends to be utterly un-stimulating and entirely boring. They need what drive and desire they do have, encouraged from day one with very upbeat, short sharp training sessions, keeping them bouncing and leaving them wanting.
I think sometimes it is a very misunderstood area, regarding the breed standard, showing and the Labrador. The Labrador breed standard was drawn up by shooting men for shooting dogs. Very little has been changed over the years. The Labrador was a Light to Middleweight hunter type of a dog, not a Cob and not a racing thoroughbred. These extremes have come about by individual breeder’s interpretations of the breed standard and neither end of the spectrum look like the dogs intended by the original BS writers. Just being lean does not mean a dog is healthy. Just being heavier of build does not mean a dog is unhealthy. Carrying too much weight for its own structure makes a dog unhealthy and that can be seen, not only in the show-ring, but as often in the working type in a thousand pet homes every day. The idea, for example that working bred Labradors have a better record of joint health, hip and elbow results etc. does not play out at all. In fact there are good and bad in every body shape of the breed.
There are as few chocolate Labradors shown in the ring as there are worked you may be surprised to know. The number in your average show class would be proportionate to the number in your average, say, working test field. One, maybe two, usually no more. We have not ‘given the Chocolate Labrador to the show ring’; we have, in fact, ‘given the Chocolate Labrador to the pet owner’. However, there are a dedicated few working to wrestle it back from them!
The future really is far brighter than the past for the colour in terms of being taken seriously. There ARE some good chocolate role models, albeit very few and all with a good dollop of working blood in them. There are some good stud dogs with proven ability now out there, and more importantly, they are not ONLY now being worked by pet owners and newcomers. So, hopefully, we can move towards giving them a helping hand to prove they aren’t the classroom idiot of the breed.