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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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New To Conformation

Long time dog owner and second time Golden Retriever owner here. Our dog is a 5 month old female pup named Rey (my son loves the Star Wars movies) and at the suggestion of our breeder, we are going to start Basic Confirmation classes tomorrow night. She's recommended that we dip our toes in the water through IABCA and UKC before we enter the "cruel" waters of AKC conformation Our breeder has offered to help in any way she can and is the training coordinator for the all-breed kennel club where we are starting conformation class.

I am new to the idea of conformation and have been voraciously reading on the 'net, including through these forums and have talked to our breeder and another local breeder whose dog has recently achieved her AKC CH title. There seems to be somewhat of a disocnnect between the AKC and UKC/IABCA ideas relating to this area and I find that interesting for sure. Our breeder has shown in the later two areas and hasn't been as involved in the AKC side of things which makes me wonder if Rey will do well in UKC/IABCA and not AKC?

I have two questions:

1. What books and/or videos can you recommend for specifically understanding the structure of a Golden Retriever? I'm going to attempt to pick the brain of some local golden breeders as well and *hope* to be able to visit with a breeder as she picks her show puppy in the near future from what seems to be a very nice breeding. (See here) I attended a recent AKC dog show and while it was helpful to see the types of Goldens shown, if I'm honest it didn't help in terms of understanding their structure and why a particular dog won.

2. Rey seems somewhat thin to me; she's 46 or so pounds at just over 5 months but is lean. I've attached some pictures and would love any feedback you can give on her "conformation." I know they are pictures and they are actually not great ones (I took the second one while trying to get her to stay still with no help!), so I understand if I haven't given the experts enough to work with here. I'm going to attempt to take some better ones tomorrow night when I have some help and she is stacked. Thanks for any help you can offer!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 02:00 PM
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I would get the Blue book by Marcia Schlehr: https://www.grca.org/shop/a-study-of...den-retriever/ and also the illustrated version of the breed standard: https://www.grca.org/wp-content/uplo...e-2017-rev.pdf . Others will probably have more recommendations, but those two area really helpful to start.

Also, 46 lb at 5 months is totally normal and is pretty close to what my show girl was at that age (which is a month ago). 5 months is a really awkward age, so it can be hard to tell if a pup will do well in AKC at that age. Give her another month or two and she will start to level out a bit. Hopefully others that are much, much more experienced than me will chime in and help!

I think @Prism Goldens personally knows the breeder for the litter you linked. :-)
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 02:45 PM
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I do know Penny- I lived in Chattanooga for years and Marietta for 7-8 years before my 25 in Chatt... so being in Goldens all those plus some I know most everyone who is in Goldens. Her breeding will be lovely I'm sure, and if you can watch her evaluate the litter it'll be a learning experience. But I suspect your girl is not from her? I say that not because of her looks but because Penny is a diehard AKC gal. I haven't ever known her to do any Int stuff.

The biggest difference in IABCA/Int and AKC is that pretty much everyone wins at the international events. If you stay for all 4 shows over a weekend, you can leave a CH. They're fun, casual, more like an AKC match. UKC has shows in Perry (not a big drive for you) twice a year and those are a bit harder to win at than the IABCA. AKC is the most difficult to succeed in - but also the place you will learn a lot re: styles..
AGRC has a CCA every August. If she'll be 18 mo old next year it'd be a valuable education... 2 AKC judges and (usually) one breeder but sometimes 3 AKC judges. 18 mo is the youngest that can enter.
There's also (dk where in GA you are) a good conformation class near Oxford, at the Horse Park- that's a weekly thing and totally AKC oriented. The gal who teaches it is a Golden handler.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
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I would get the Blue book by Marcia Schlehr: https://www.grca.org/shop/a-study-of...den-retriever/ and also the illustrated version of the breed standard: https://www.grca.org/wp-content/uplo...e-2017-rev.pdf . Others will probably have more recommendations, but those two area really helpful to start.

Also, 46 lb at 5 months is totally normal and is pretty close to what my show girl was at that age (which is a month ago). 5 months is a really awkward age, so it can be hard to tell if a pup will do well in AKC at that age. Give her another month or two and she will start to level out a bit. Hopefully others that are much, much more experienced than me will chime in and help!

I think @Prism Goldens personally knows the breeder for the litter you linked. :-)
Thanks- I just ordered the Blue Book yesterday. Yes, it does seem to be an awkward age.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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I do know Penny- I lived in Chattanooga for years and Marietta for 7-8 years before my 25 in Chatt... so being in Goldens all those plus some I know most everyone who is in Goldens. Her breeding will be lovely I'm sure, and if you can watch her evaluate the litter it'll be a learning experience. But I suspect your girl is not from her? I say that not because of her looks but because Penny is a diehard AKC gal. I haven't ever known her to do any Int stuff.

The biggest difference in IABCA/Int and AKC is that pretty much everyone wins at the international events. If you stay for all 4 shows over a weekend, you can leave a CH. They're fun, casual, more like an AKC match. UKC has shows in Perry (not a big drive for you) twice a year and those are a bit harder to win at than the IABCA. AKC is the most difficult to succeed in - but also the place you will learn a lot re: styles..
AGRC has a CCA every August. If she'll be 18 mo old next year it'd be a valuable education... 2 AKC judges and (usually) one breeder but sometimes 3 AKC judges. 18 mo is the youngest that can enter.
There's also (dk where in GA you are) a good conformation class near Oxford, at the Horse Park- that's a weekly thing and totally AKC oriented. The gal who teaches it is a Golden handler.
No, our girl is not from Penny/Pendery. We were looking for a pet when we started our search and somewhere along the way my wife decided she would love to get into dog sports, confirmation and possibly breeding. At that point we were locked in with a breeder, and discussed the possibility of confirmation and breeding in the long term future if clearances and confirmation to breed standard were confirmed. We knew the breeder had shown but with our nascent and elementary level of knowledge, we didn't understand the complexities involved and the nature of the different competing/registering/showing bodies.

The test litter I linked above is actually from Montere Farms and the breeder Monica was super helpful in understanding the complexities of the differences between the different levels of competition. I'm going to link the test litter above with the corrected name so its not confusing

We are hoping to get a pup from the litter, but it will depend on the number of females and of the number of show prospects from it. I'm *hoping* if we get a pup that we can go through how she evaluated when we visit and/or pick up the puppy. From my limited understanding it seems as if this would be a nice litter from which to get a pup bred for AKC confirmation and future breeding. Of course, I know there are no guarantees on how a puppy will turn out in terms of confirmation or clearances.

As for our current girl, if she isn't AKC confirmation material it won't break out hearts; we will still show her at the other bodies to help gain an understanding of the process and get experience in the show ring. This is a long term process for us and we want to make sure that as we enter the world of confirmation and possible breeding we have a great mentor/mentee relationship with multiple breeders in our area. We aren't in this to make money or to sell puppies, but want to help better the breed that has impacted our lives so richly.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-28-2019, 01:45 PM
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I’m sort of in the same boat as you. New to conformation and trying to learn everything I can! Here is what I’m doing (just to give you an idea of my plan given that I have similar goals)

1. Denver (11 mos) has already earned his CGC and we are continuing his obedience training and competing in our first rally and beginner novice events in October. Denver loves having a job to do and having dogs titled in obedience events showcases the lovely golden temperament and trainability that needs to be there, and shows that you are active in various venues, and it’s FUN!!

2. We take drop-in handling classes whenever possible and LOVE them. We have learned SO much. We are going to start conformation showing in UKC when Denver is a bit older, he still has a lot of growing up, physically, to do. Plus he had some unfortunate parts of his coat shaved due to two vet visits...so growing back his coat as well.

3. Getting his eye/heart clearances done in September when he’s 1. I want our breeder to know that we are absolutely serious about going about this the right way and obtaining all clearances before we even think of breeding. (Hips/elbows obviously when he’s 2). When he’s 18 mos doing a CCA (can’t wait for that!!)

4. I found a mentor who has invited me to go to shows with her, give me hands on advice and demonstrations about structure. She’s helping me learn pedigrees and start to be able to recognize kennel names and popular dogs etc. she also has a litter on the ground and it’s been fun to learn about proper development and why she chose that particular pairing.

5. Attend shows as as much as possible. Network with other owners, handlers and breeders. I want people to come to recognize me and trust that I have taken time and put in effort to learn when/if I decide to breed one day.

I have had a lot of fun learning and I know I have way way more to learn. I’ve heard it said on this forum and by others that we need more young/new breeders who are committed to bettering the breed and doing things the right way from the start.

I’m not sure if I were you I’d rush into getting another puppy when the one you have is 5 months. Enter her in handling classes, do some obedience training. Earn some rally titles, get clearances, try UKC to see how she stacks up and why not try AKC when you’re ready. IMO it is valuable to take the time to LEARN all that you can with the dog you have before making that leap. At least that’s how I look at it.

Best of luck!!



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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-28-2019, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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Iím sort of in the same boat as you. New to conformation and trying to learn everything I can! Here is what Iím doing (just to give you an idea of my plan given that I have similar goals)
Thanks for all of that! I'm reading all the materials I can on canine structure at the moment and I'm hoping to connect with at least a few locals who can walk me through the hands-on part of it. Our breeder has been happy to help, but again she's not super involved in conformation and definitely not with AKC, so that makes it somewhat limiting as relates to conformation in AKC specifically.

It does seem like we will be taking it slow and letting Rey develop physically as well before jumping into the show ring. We completed what would amount to an AKC Star Puppy Class and are almost finished with our off-leash class. I'm hoping we can complete her CGC by the end of the year as well. The main obstacle to completion is getting her to contain her excitement when someone wants to pet her; she will sit until they pet her but then she unleashes a fury of jumping and kisses about 50% of the time!
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-28-2019, 03:56 PM
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I’m sort of in the same boat as you. New to conformation and trying to learn everything I can! Here is what I’m doing (just to give you an idea of my plan given that I have similar goals)
Thanks for all of that! I'm reading all the materials I can on canine structure at the moment and I'm hoping to connect with at least a few locals who can walk me through the hands-on part of it. Our breeder has been happy to help, but again she's not super involved in conformation and definitely not with AKC, so that makes it somewhat limiting as relates to conformation in AKC specifically.

It does seem like we will be taking it slow and letting Rey develop physically as well before jumping into the show ring. We completed what would amount to an AKC Star Puppy Class and are almost finished with our off-leash class. I'm hoping we can complete her CGC by the end of the year as well. The main obstacle to completion is getting her to contain her excitement when someone wants to pet her; she will sit until they pet her but then she unleashes a fury of jumping and kisses about 50% of the time!
If you’re going a handling/conformation class, I would bet the instructor is probably well versed in AKC conformation. They will be able to help you SO much even if they aren’t a golden retriever handler. My instructor breeds & shows English mastiffs and one Havanese, but she has been SO helpful in giving me tips, pointers, telling me all about AKC and her experiences and being honest about the challenges that come along with owner-handling.

So, because your breeder isn’t involved in AKC conformation, finding a good handling class will more than likely lead you to someone who is and can help you. (Our breeder isn’t really either FWIW but that’s not stopping me.)



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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-28-2019, 08:44 PM
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Could not agree more about the Marcia Schlehr blue book and illustrated guide - excellent resources! I am learning, too - I learned enough about handling to put a UKC CH on my last golden. I was a total novice with my first golden. For that dog, that was a nice accomplishment. I'm planning to do some UKC with my current 16-month-old boy, but decided to try some AKC first, as I believe this pup has a bit better potential in AKC...biggest goal right now is to teach him what is expected and HAVE FUN!!! He may have had TOO MUCH fun at his first couple of shows, but he is slowly learning that gaiting is not heeling and now he has some class 1st and even a RWD. I am also training him for obedience competition, so he is a busy boy!

UKC is definitely more relaxed. I really think they are a fun place to start. I don't have the guts to show mine in AKC myself just yet - I let a handler take him in...yep, I'm chicken! They do have an owner-handler class you could try in AKC - maybe go watch first and see what you think. Your little girl is very cute, but five-months-old is a funny age for goldens and a hard time to assess - I think the focus is on fun and learning the game at this age. I think CCAs are also excellent tools (planning one myself in the future). If you are working on your CGC, conformation classes, and attending some shows to check things out - you are doing plenty! Have fun with your cute pup!

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Orion https://www.k9data.com/pedigree.asp?ID=114323 (always in my heart 7/13/03-11/30/17)
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-29-2019, 02:11 PM
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This is a question for the more experienced breeders here... Would Pagey Elliot's "Dog Steps" be of use to the OP? I own a copy (probably on VHS - it's about 30 years old) but haven't watched it in years. I can't remember if it would be helpful in this context or not.

It IS still available on Amazon...

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