Newfoundlands | But I Don’t Need a Show Dog ! Why do people recommend choosing a breeder (who shows and titles their dogs) to folks who are just looking for a pet and have no interest in showing? Why should breeding to a breed standard be important to a pet home? Does it seem excessive or “snobby?”
It’s not excessive or snobby, and here’s why…
Dog shows are a means of evaluating dogs against the breed standard, to evaluate soundness, movement/gait, type, and temperament.
Soundness: This is the state of physical and mental health when all organs and faculties are functioning properly, each in its rightful relation to each other.
Type: Breed type encompasses appearance, character, condition, bone structure, temperament, and movement; “breed type is all of these things.” Breed type also includes a character that is specific to each breed, a combination of behavior, temperament, and carriage that demonstrates an “essence” of the breed.
Gait: The gait of a dog is its quality of movement. You want to see ease of movement, unimpaired by illness or poor structure.
Temperament: This is the general attitude a dog has towards other animals and people. From the Newfoundland Breed Standard: “Sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the Newfoundland; this is the single most important characteristic of the breed. The Newfoundland is a sweet-dispositioned dog that acts neither dull nor ill tempered. He is a devoted companion.”
So, that’s a very basic intro to what is considered at a show… why does this matter? You want a pet, a companion, not a show dog, right? Well, you chose Newfoundlands for a reason. You’ve done your research and have read that they’re great with kids and other animals, they’re gentle giants, are not aggressive, and they make excellent companions and love spending time with their people. Their good and kind nature predisposes many Newfoundlands to be excellent therapy dogs. They’re large, and STRONG too. Good, responsible breeders seek to preserve these definitive and positive characteristics.
Here’s an example: There are aggressive and aloof Newfoundlands. An aggressive dog is no joke, and a 140-pound aggressive dog is even less so. Aggression can run in lines. Wouldn’t it be difficult to show an aggressive, reactive, fearful, or excessively shy Newfoundland? Do you want to take the gamble and “trust” someone about their dog’s history, or would you rather buy from someone who has taken their dogs into the ring and had the dog’s temperament proven over and over—consistently?
What about type and structure; how the dog is put together, able to move freely and comfortably? Would you rather buy from someone who has proven, publicly, over time, that the dog they’re breeding can move well, free of limp or structural problem, or would you rather just trust someone who has no interest in “proving” their dogs? It’s your puppy’s quality of life and comfort (as well as your wallet) that’s at stake.
Not every dog in a well-bred litter is going to be show quality; there will ALWAYS be pet-quality puppies. These are well-bred, but maybe with a slight imperfection, and they are the puppies placed in pet homes. You don’t have to want a show-quality puppy to get a well-bred puppy!
Here’s the bottom line: Every day, Newfoundlands rescue is seeing more and more aggressive Newfs; Newfoundlands in pain because they were poorly bred; Newfoundlands requiring extensive vet care and expensive surgeries. People are having to remand their dogs to breed rescue because they can’t manage the dog, fear the dog, or have found out that the dog needs costly vet care they can’t afford.
This is not about being snobby or elitist, or thinking that one dog is “better” than another. It’s about ensuring that you get a puppy that acts and looks like the breed you fell in love with. It’s about ensuring that all Newf puppies have the best start in life, and will grow into a loving family member. It’s about loving our breed enough to want to see everything that’s good about them preserved for future generations to enjoy. If you want a healthy dog, with a properly sweet temperament, choose your breeder wisely.
Copyright 2017, Terri Lewin. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to publish on privately owned websites.