Many, many years ago, I was given a book that gave me an insight to
the thoughts of a notable Labrador breeder from England. Mary Roslin-Williams is the author of Advanced Labrador Breeding.
It is no longer in print. Her daughter added a section to her
mother’s book and had it republished as Reaching for the Stars.
I think this book is a “must-read” for anyone who is breeding any
breed of dog. While it is about her Labs, it is also
about how she was able to breed them so successfully and with
As breeders we are constantly evaluating breeding “stock”. As
judges we do they same thing.
That was the purpose of dog shows, the evaluation of breeding stock.
What we do as breeders is to try to select the best phenotype to
produce the genotype we want to produce in our individual breeds.
We cannot tell the genetic makeup of a dog from the outside.
However, you can improve the odds of producing correct TYPE by
breeding dogs that exhibit correct TYPE.
When we look at our litters, we are acting as judges, trying to find
the best. The one with the most quality, the overall best
balanced and most correct in type. So you see how judging and
breeding go hand in hand.
Mrs. Roslin-Williams advocates knowing the difference of FAULTS from
FAILINGS, necessities and bonus qualities. Faults are of
construction, failings are cosmetic. Faults are specified in
Failings are those things that are not faults, but those things we
prefer not to see in our breed.
Breeding and judging is a series of compromises, what you are
willing to “forgive”. Believe me, you will rarely, if ever, in
breeding or judging find the “perfect” dog. We all have
different FAILINGS we are willing to forgive just as we have
different STYLES that we prefer. That is what separates one
line’s “look” from another or the decision of one judge from
another. However, we should never forgive FAULTS. Not
paying attention to faults is what will cause a breed to
To keep our breed TRUE TO TYPE you must know the faults and improve
on them, wrestle with the failings and improve on them and then you
will be rewarded with quality. This takes time and planning.
In this world of instant gratification, we must not settle, but work
hard to keep improving.