Breed Spotlight: Living With a Field Spaniel

FieldSpaniel2_head WebDAMAKC Gazette breed column, Field Spaniels—The Field Spaniel combines a lot of dog into a medium package who can enjoy a wide range of activities and is suited for a variety of conditions.

Our breed is noted to be “unusually docile, sensitive, fun-loving, independent, and intelligent, with a great affinity for human companionship,” and they have unique individual personalities, as is true for so many canines. Field Spaniels range from the serious stalwart to the downright goofball in attitude—and we often see a range of traits within one dog! Owners agree that life is sweet with our chosen breed, though the breed is not necessarily for everyone.

As an active sporting breed, the Field Spaniel likes to be a member of his family first and foremost. His sensitivity and desire to be with people serves him well as a medium-sized hunter companion. He is active in the home, busy with daily activity, and enjoys being part of your world.

Spaniel Field 5*Our dogs fare well having jobs—if made fun and using their natural abilities, it is highly satisfying for them. An active home companion, the Field Spaniel loves the games we play, from rally, obedience, and agility to tracking and fieldwork, as well as such things as nose work, barn hunt, freestyle, and lure coursing. Our dogs enjoy learning new “games” with us and train well when we use rewarding methods and a fun, positive approach.

As with all canines, proper socialization and basic obedience training are imperative for having a lifelong companion who is not only your best friend but also appreciated in public. Many Field owners enjoy the breed’s biddability, or ease of teaching. We find their problem-solving ability to be amazing and enjoyable throughout a lifetime. Know that Field Spaniels do best with work to do, be it within your community or through sport. When raised and trained with structure, a Field makes a lovely and sensitive canine friend.

Our breed has found its home in the city, the country, and everywhere in between—from walks on suburban sidewalks to hunting in rural fields. With responsible ownership and access to controllable exercise, the Field thrives with people and can do well with other animals as well.

Keeping a Field Spaniel groomed is a bonding experience and keeps our friends healthy and happy. Maintenance of the body coat is relatively simple with good nutrition. The coat is single and glossy in texture, never to be body clipped. Trimming and stripping are generally limited to the head and ears, and the feet and pasterns, with regular care required. Breeders are helpful in showing new owners the ropes of proper care.

Spaniel Field 3*While noted as a land spaniel, some individuals are known to enjoy water—whether outdoors, or in the drinking capacity. It is not always just their long, pendulous ears that dip in the water! Many are known to be sloppy drinkers, sometimes because of enthusiasm, and at times just not minding that they are being busy—dripping water from their lips as they happily trot by. Strategic placement of water stations will help, as will certain types of containers.

Another interesting trait is the occasional snoring some do. Still other individuals make interesting sounds, but this again may range from quiet peeps, to yodels, to warbling, outside of the typical dog bark.

When considering the lifespan of the Field Spaniel, it is exciting to see puppies and healthy young dogs in their prime. Many are living into their teens and remaining active as well. We are fortunate to have shared improved health and longevity with our breed over the years. It is important to note that reputable Field Spaniel breeders have been working on health testing for hips, knees and elbows, eyes, heart, and thyroid in their stock. Many say we have a “gene puddle” as opposed to a gene pool, so we must breed carefully to maintain genetic diversity.

One of the Field Spaniel’s best characteristics, besides being charming to behold, is their apparent silly nature, at times playing the jester of their home. Antics can be redirected and channeled into proper desired behaviors, and their humor is much revered.

Temperaments range from outgoing to reserved, and the breed should never be aggressive. This is a breed who may take time to socialize as a puppy and in younger years and may “size someone up” before bestowing trust and friendship upon them. They are a slow-to-mature breed, both in body and mind, but the payoff is an amazing journey of a lifetime together.

All the Fields I have known have displayed mellow moments and a spirit and joy in life that makes them fun and interesting to live with. Life with Fields will yield hair and an air of energy in your home, as well as water and humor!

Overall, the Field Spaniel combines a lot of dog into a medium package who can enjoy a wide range of activities and is suited for a variety of conditions.

A finer friend I have not found …

Shannon Rodgers, [email protected]

Further information about Field Spaniels can be found here and here and on the website of the breed’s national parent club, the Field Spaniel Society of America.

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Posted in AKC Gazette, AKC Gazette breed columns, Breed Spotlight, Breeds, Sporting Breeds

There Is No Substitute for Good Breeding

Chi silo crop*AKC Gazette breed column, Chihuahuas—Don’t be in a hurry for that great one. It is far better for a breeder to move slowly toward an eventual goal by tackling one problem at a time, collecting virtues into the genotype and breeding away from faults through careful selection.

We all start at the same place, but it doesn’t take long before we think we know everything. Eventually we admit to ourselves this is probably not the case, and we begin again. It is at this point that we really start learning, and hopefully we continue learning for the rest of our lives.

People tend to learn only their immediate interest. As breeders, we need to broaden our horizons beyond our immediate boundaries. A championship title does not guarantee perfection. Knowing and understanding your breed standard is all important. With that, you also need to know canine anatomy, animal husbandry, and the understanding of genetics, health screening, and DNA testing. Once all these puzzle pieces are gathered, we put them together to begin a breeding program.

It is always good to make it a habit to look at virtues first, and faults last. If you are a “fault-finder,” the faults will override the total perspective and leave a lingering impression.

Always weigh the faults against the virtues. Do the qualities outweigh the faults? Because of the complexities of genetics and the many variables of inherited characteristics, a breeder must be willing to gamble with nature, taking the worst along with the best. With conviction and courage, triumph will eventually emerge, and a great dog will be born.

A breeder must realize that every puppy, in reality, is two different beings and therefore cannot be bred with any degree of certainty. Phenotype is what the animal looks like on the outside. Certain genes have come together to create his physical appearance. What a dog looks like on the inside is his genotype, a blueprint of inherited traits from his ancestors.

If you like jigsaw puzzles, you will enjoy putting your genetic knowledge to work—but remember, 75 percent is luck, and 25 percent is skill.

Now that we know so much of the dog is determined by what he has inherited, even such things as his show spirit or ability to perform tricks, we can make better choices. Many faults can be eliminated from a bloodline, and superior qualities introduced, through selection and understanding of the laws of heredity. Therefore, a dog’s true qualities are not necessarily evidenced in his physical appearance but are also concealed in his genetic framework.

Chi LC*As breeders, we all understand that there is no perfect dog. Don’t be in a hurry for that great one. It is far better for a breeder to move slowly toward an eventual goal by tackling one problem at a time, collecting virtues into the genotype and breeding away from faults through careful selection, and including health screening. The overall dog must be kept in mind. For success in the show ring, not only does this require a quality dog but also a dog who is properly raised, conditioned, trained, groomed, and handled. This is hard work, and there are no shortcuts.

Understanding of the pedigree should never be ignored. What a dog transmits to his progeny depends on the genetics and actually has little to do with the number of champions we see in the pedigree. The idea that an inferior dog will produce something greater than himself because he has an impressive pedigree is a fallacy. Unless he carries in his genetic makeup a combination for a desired quality, he cannot pass it to his progeny.

Probably one rule stands out above any other, and that is “breed only the best to the best, and don’t be satisfied with anything less.” —Virginia (Jenny) Hauber, [email protected]

Further information about Chihuahuas can be found here and here and on the website of the breed’s national parent club, the Chihuahua Club of America.

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Golden Gate Kennel Club Hosts Annual Dog Shows This Weekend

The Golden Gate Kennel Club hosts its 115th and 116th annual dog shows this weekend! If you’re in the San Francisco area, stop by to meet more than 100 different dog breeds (including very rare ones!), watch a Hollywood-themed doggie fashion show and see blazing fast dogs run Flyball! All info is available at www.GoldenGateKennelClub.com. It’s a fun event for the entire family!

GoldenGate

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In Defense of Well-bred Dogs

BassetHound lyingAKC Gazette breed column, Basset Hounds—Dedicated breeders work to produce healthy, well-adjusted, quality puppies because these puppies become the foundation for our next generation and for the breed’s future.

Recently a father and his children saw me walking a Basset puppy at the dog show. After the kids spent some time with the puppy, the father asked questions about the show and the different breeds. Then he asked, “What’s the difference between a shelter dog and these dogs?”

I had a long answer, but I started to realize that dedicated breeders need a 30-second “elevator speech” ready to answer this question. The general public doesn’t know the real answer, and right now animal-rights extremists are providing the popular answer.

Basset - blog 2One difference is predictability. Those who obtain their dog from a responsible breeder get to see their puppy in advance and can meet many of the puppy’s relatives. These puppy-buyers have immediate access to all of the breeder’s knowledge and experience. The breeder becomes a ready reference for a whole range of dog-related questions, from health issues to vaccine protocols and flea and tick control products. And if the puppy turns out not to be the right fit for the new owner, the responsible breeder will take him or her back without question.

Dogs have lived with humans for more than 10,000 years. During this time humans have bred dogs to perform tasks that helped in day-to-day life. Dogs were bred to hunt food for the table or to kill vermin. Some were bred to guard livestock or guard the home, and others to move a flock. Some were bred to turn a spit, some to retrieve in water, and others to be companions or lap-warmers. Purebred dog breeds were each developed for a purpose, and most maintain much of the original instinct to do the jobs for which they were originally bred.

Take Bassets, for example. They were bred to hunt in packs independent of human command. That explains a lot about life with a Basset. Bassets are stubbornly independent and capable of amusing themselves. Training is a challenge because the breed doesn’t look to humans for commands or praise. Bassets are not stupid, but they are easily bored by human games. They understand pack behavior even if their owners do not. They were not bred to kill prey, and they get along with everyone. Because they are scent hounds, they will find exactly where the dog cookies are hidden.

Dedicated breeders are the keepers of a living museum. We keep alive standards that were in many cases first written hundreds of years ago. We work to produce healthy, well-adjusted, quality puppies because these puppies become the foundation for our next generation and for the breed’s future. Though most of our puppies are sold as companions only, they carry the same genetics as our show dogs.

Dog shows are not beauty pageants; they are tests of breeding stock judged by knowledgeable people who study breed standards and understand each breed’s history and function.

Basset - trickPressures on dedicated breeders and the sport of dogs are enormous. Restrictive ordinances are proposed in many locales, and it seems that fewer people want to take on the challenges of learning a trade than was the case in past decades. Kids are interested in other things, and it takes real skill to properly groom terriers and many other coated breeds.

Unethical or casual breeders and producers of “designer breeds” don’t fund research to identify and cure canine diseases; dedicated breeders do. Dedicated breeders breed not for monetary gain but for the love of dogs in general, and their specific breed in particular.

If current trends continue, in the future there may be no reason to ask what the difference is between a purebred and rescue, as there may be only “rescues”—dogs produced by irresponsible breeders and then dumped into the rescue/shelter system.

Predictability, health, history, an experienced and knowledgeable support system, and a lifetime return policy are all available only through dedicated hobby breeders.

That should be enough to get everyone started on their own elevator speech to explain why purebred matters.

Jacquelyn Fogel, [email protected]

Further information about Basset Hounds can be found here and here and on the website of the breed’s national parent club, the Basset Hound Club of America.

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AKC GR Resources: Wow, Can I Get a Copy of That?

By Patty Van Sicklen, AKC Legislative Analyst

DeedNotBreedThat was a frequent question by visitors to the AKC Government Relations booth at the 2014 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Orlando, Florida.

We’re glad you asked!  The AKC Government Relations (GR) department provides a variety of materials on legislative and regulatory issues that affect dogs and dog owners—available right on the AKC website for you to view, download and print.  Click here for a complete list of resources.

If you need:

  • Data on the positive economic impact of AKC dog shows
  • Issue analyses on hot topics to discuss with your lawmakers
  • Handouts on effective advocacy and public outreach to share at your next club meeting
  • Customizable letters to the editor

It’s all there and more.  And if you’re interested in information on a specific issue, such as the negative effects of mandatory spay/neuter laws, ideas on how to build support for a public dog park and other topics, click here to view GR materials sorted by policy issue.

New federal and state bills that affect dog ownership are being drafted and filed as Congress and all 50 state legislatures convene their 2015 sessions. You can click here to stay up-to-date on dog-related legislation tracked by AKC GR.

Pet limit laws, breed bans, and other restrictive legislation are often proposed by local governments, and AKC GR relies on concerned dog owners to let us know when problematic laws are discussed at the city and county levels. We can help you in supporting good proposals that positively impact dogs and opposing problematic and overly-restrictive legislation. Please contact or call 919-816-3720 to let us know when dog-related laws are discussed in your local community.

Exhibitors and guests at the 2014 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship view AKC Government Relations advocacy materials. Photo by Katie Rudolph.

Exhibitors and guests at the 2014 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship view
AKC Government Relations advocacy materials. Photo by Katie Rudolph.

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Posted in American Kennel Club, Government Relations

A Dog Is Not Like Your Sister

“They understand your heart.”

“They understand your heart.”

AKC Gazette, “Times Past”: In our June 2003 issue, we asked fanciers, Pulitzer Prize–winners, and the world’s leading authorities—kids—to describe the dog-and-child bond. Here are a few responses.

“I have heard people say that it’s more difficult now for a child to take care of a dog, that a child’s day-to-day life is quite different from that of children years ago. But the bond between children and dogs has not really changed over the years. The world has changed, we have changed, but the dog-and-child bond is much the same.”

Vicki Bratton

“My stepfather was a great man, and the greatest thing about him, as far as I was concerned, was that he wasn’t afraid to bring home a puppy. He didn’t ask permission of my mother, he didn’t worry about the details. He just brought home the puppies, set them on the living-room floor, and he knew they would be taken care of. And they were.”

—Jane Smiley

“Dogs and kids get along because kids like to take care of something, and so do dogs.”

“I like dogs because they’re fun to play with, not like my sister.”

“If you’re nice to them, they’re nice to you. And they understand your heart.”

Second-graders, Dows Lane School in Irvington, New York

“I spoke to that dog all the time. I think this is how dogs first seduce us. They are the rare good listeners in a world of talkers. … and I’ve yet to meet one that could not keep a secret.”

Robert Olmstead, on his childhood German Shepherd Dog

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The Purpose of Canine Events

Whippet5AKC Gazette breed column, Whippets—For serious, dedicated, and ethical dog breeders, exhibition in numerous competitions devoted to purebred dogs is not a whim but a proving ground.

Historians like to claim that the manipulation and selective breeding of purebred dogs is a fairly recent phenomenon that began in the Victorian era. I suggest that they are wrong. I believe that once the earliest cave-dwellers saw the value of domesticating dogs, purposeful breeding began. Whether for the most proficient hunting companion, the most loyal and protective guardian, or the most efficient vermin-killer, man has engaged in trying to perfect dogs, like the rest of his livestock, since earliest times.

What the Victorian fanciers did was to popularize the exhibition of purebred dogs and to promote the diversity of the breeds. Much has been written about the social aspect of their “idle pastime” of showing dogs, but the truth is, the Victorians “invented” very few breeds. Instead, in that age of travel and discovery they found many of those existing breeds in their native lands, brought them to Europe and America, and popularized them. I submit that historians, geneticists, and we, as purebred dog lovers, owe the Victorian fanciers a debt of gratitude for celebrating and cementing the legacy of the diversity of our breeds.

Whippet_Historians and geneticists also like to claim (as seen on several recent telecasts) that the preservation and advancement of our breeds has been done on a whim, or in the interest of “fashion.” There is no doubt that over the last two centuries individual breeds have fallen in and out of fashion—some for arbitrary reasons such as being featured in popular books, movies, and commercials, and some for economic reasons. Certainly, there are “breeders” who have sought to take advantage of these fad breeds for purely financial gain. However, here I use the term breeder in the loosest definition. Anyone who mates two dogs regardless of purpose can technically be called a breeder, but in the context of doing the mating with only profit in mind, I define them as such with contempt.

For serious, dedicated, and ethical dog breeders, exhibition in numerous competitions devoted to purebred dogs is not a whim but a proving ground. It is not about fashion or fad, and it is surely not about money. It is an effort to preserve and protect the rich history of each breed. The goal is to honor the past and look toward the future. It is to guard the type and temperament and improve the health and soundness of our dogs.

Phoebe J. Booth, [email protected]

Further information about Whippets can be found here and here and on the website of the breed’s national parent club, the American Whippet Club.

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