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I'm curious how breeders decide if a puppy has show potential. I know that it's impossible to know for sure if a puppy will be show quality, but what do you look for to help decide? Thanks, Golden:).
 

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As a relative newcomer to conformation a few years ago, I'm trying to learn as much as I can. Hands on at a puppy evaluation and asking questions and feeling what the long time breeders are feeling is most helpful. Ideally and hopefully the structure of a puppy at 8 weeks +/- a few days will be what the dog comes back to as an adult. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Most breeders know the optimal time to evaluate their lines. I've heard from friends that they like their pups to be over angulated as puppies. In addition to structure, attitude can also play a factor.

To learn more about structure, you should order the Blue Book available on the GRCA website which is illustrated by Marcia Schler.
 

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I'm curious how breeders decide if a puppy has show potential. I know that it's impossible to know for sure if a puppy will be show quality, but what do you look for to help decide? Thanks, Golden:).
Will your friend with the pregnant golden be doing litter evaluations? Might be a great opportunity to see a breeder (and whoever she brings in to assist) in action evaluating the pups.
 

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That's a good question. I bet after their show puppies get into the gangly stage they're like, OH NO WHAT DID I GET???? :D
 

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It sounds like their are a lot of good resources, but could anyone explain in simplistic terms what characteristics or traits the puppy needs to possess in order to be considered show quality? I know that it's not a simple evaluation by any means, but just a few things the breeder is looking at would be great...
 

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comparison

I wish I had better baby puppy picture. It is hard to see her neck in the first shot due to the frumpy puppy coat and the collar. Also she is not in a solid stack but pretty close for a little one. Here a comparison of Jinx at 7 weeks and 5 days, 4 1/2 months and again at 12 months and 4 days. Hopefully, you can see what we mean by growing back into the same proportion. Even though Jinx really did grow at a fairly even rate, she is definitely shallower in the body and longer in the leg at 4.5 months. She kind of looked like a Giraffe baby.
 

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The breeder is looking at exactly the adult standard, but at 8 weeks old. *most* puppies at about 8 weeks are just what they will be as an adult. So they are looking at overall height/length ratio, forechest, front and rear assemblies including angles, topline, tail set, ear set, skull, and so on.
They also need a confident, outgoing personality.
It's an art, not a science. So many times you hear breeders comment that they kept the wrong puppy out of a litter as a show prospect.
 

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Well, first off, the dog must have parents who are show dogs. You will not find a gem in a backyard pedigree.
Barb said it right, looking at puppies is an art. It's also really hard. I used to think there was some great mysterious magic about it, but all the little tricks of the trade that breeders seem to know were lost on me and really hard to grasp, and it became a lot easier looking at puppies when I just judged them as little adults, like Barb said.
However it's very difficult to assess them as little adults, when they don't stand still and coat and attitude can really get in the way! Usually comparing them to their littermates, you can start to see differences.
It's no guarantee either. One of Fisher's litters, had three boys and two girls. One of the boys went to my parents, we obviously wanted the pick so I could show it. Another boy went to my very good friends that live here in the same town as me. Well of the three boy puppies, one stood out absolutely as THE pick. He had tons more bone, more headpiece, more front, more everything. The other two boy puppies, well they both looked very similar to each other and just had a whole lot less going on than the big puppy. It was obvious who to pick.
Fast forward three years. #1 the "big puppy" was cryptorchid and is now neutered. He is also 25" tall. He has gorgeous head and bone and front angles but roached topline, which we DID see at 8 weeks and dismissed (thinking, when's the last time you saw a dog with a roached topline in the ring!). He is a gorgeous golden but even if he wasn't neutered, wouldn't be competitive in the ring. He was beautiful as a puppy, even at the gangly stages always had the head, bone and coat.
His brother that my friends kept, oh gosh, talk about an ugly duckling. When we got the two brothers together when they were 3, 4, 5 months old, it was embarrassing. Here's my parents' puppy with big plush headpiece and coat and huge feet, and here's his brother who is reedy, no head, no coat, weighing 10 lbs less. Well by 9 or 10 months of age, he started to come out of it. Even now, every time I see him every other month or so, he gets better and better. He has a lovely headpiece, perfect straight topline, beautiful coat, yes there are things that could be better but overall a much better fit for the show ring than his brother. I have shown him exactly once, at a golden specialty where he won AmBred over dogs who have gone on to finish. I hope to show him next year.
Moral of the story....you can do your best to pick em at 8 weeks but it's no guarantee!
 

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This is an interesting discussion. I am in a golden puppy class with 5 pups from the same litter. They are now 6 months old. As they have developed its been interesting to see not only the differences in bodies/heads but in personalities. You could easily tell at 4 months of age that the pups were all related. Now they are diverging and it's harder to tell at 6 months old. The breeder has been excited to see the photos of how they look over time so she can see how her puppies have developed and if its different than she anticipated. So in the next 6 months we will see what the results will be. Out of the 5 pups, our group has agreed that my girl is the only one worth showing. But we will see in 6 months. Who knows.
 
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Today, at the training center I own, we had 4 springer breeders come to evaluate a litter. I decided to listen in, bc there is always a nugget of wisdom from longtime breeders who have proven themselves successful at choosing show pups over 20 or 30 years. One thing I heard was the idea that it is easy to get carried away by a pup who has an outstanding feature, especially if it is something that has been weak for you in the past.Say I have dogs who are too long in the hocks and it drives me crazy; I might be biased to the pup with nice short hocks, and hardly even see the too high tail set and lack of bend in the stifle etc. The breeder who owned the litter had a theory that more than 3 faults equals too expensive to show, lol.

I have been lucky to have amazing people help me. For example, an owner of the stud dog of one of my puppies gave me weekly quizzes on conformation, and we went over dogs over and over and over. Lushie's breeder will patiently answer any question, even if it is what exactly makes an excellent shoulder lay back for the 100 th time.

Over time, I have gained confidence in my own eye and taste. For me the idea of overall balance is key in selecting a puppy to show, and I like to see the "arm pit" be very level with the bend of stifle "pit"when you look across the pup's body. When I see those far off, I know the angulation rear and fore will not be what I personally want in an adult. That is how I chose Copley and Lush- they were both immensely balanced in that way. However, that is only the first baby step, bc from tip of nose to tip of tail, there are precise ideals. You have to get to know them so well, they are in your subconscious. Also, there is a personal interpretation component of picking a show puppy. Certain key words like "moderate" have different meanings to different people, including judges. One person's show puppy can be another person's overdone or "not enough dog".

It doesnt work to ignore the overall picture, and nitpick but it also doesnt work to get caught up in one showstoppingly awesome feature, like a perfect headpiece, and excuse a host of things like a big roll a long loin etc. A show puppy can have a fault or two- bc no dog is perfect. You do see dogs finish who are too straight in the front or too long in body or whatever, but they have several other wonderful things to offer like fantastic breed type. A puppy doesnt have to be perfect, but also a puppy cannot have a critical mass of faults.

The truth is just that most golden puppies on earth have too many faults, or a fault too glaring, to really be show prospects. It is no fun to have an "almost", bc you bang your head against a wall and it costs more that your mortgage and is discouraging. The dog is too nice to quit on, but not nice enough to truly compete. I think it is a kindness to all when breeders who are in doubt say no, this is not a show puppy ( unless it is theirs).
 

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So I have a question then, what about the pup's movement? How does that factor in? I look at my latest pup and she moves so effortlessly, does that change how a judge may overlook some other short coming? Or maybe I'm bringing this thread into a different direction than originally intended?
 
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It is a great compliment when your puppy looks great at 6 months. A few of mine have looked like coyotes! Just kidding, but some pups do go through awkward stages and might not even look good at 12 months, but be fantastic at 24 months. Have a great handler take a look at the pup and give feedback.


I absolutely think that you are right that movement is important. Certain judges prize a dog's movement( as they should). Other judges might prize something else more. However, the springer breeder's 3 flaw or 4 flaw rule applies in theory. Nothing can make up for a lack of bone, a weedy chest, a huge roll , a gay tail, and missing teeth all in the same puppy.

That puppy can still do the most important thing: be the best pet ever.

There are so many beautiful dogs, and none are perfect. The dog who moves beautifully but is missing teeth? The dog( mine, lol) who moves beautifully but swims in the ocean and has a less that shimmering coat that day? The dog who is near the top of the standard heightwise, but moves well(mine!)? Some judges will take a dog who moves wide, but is impeccably turned out with a ball gown of a coat, but most do know the standard.

There is much debate about goldens who move properly( which is a ground covering movement with good reach and drive, as well as a good sense of foot timing) versus those who have relatively short legs and thus look very showy & flashy, but in reality cover little ground with each step.

However, it is a different thing to debate these nuances, and to truly have a dog in the ring who is not show quality.

The worst thing as a novice is to have that dog who is close but no cigar bc you get in limbo- can't give up, can't finish the dog.

Your eye will start to understand what to look for if you look and look and look at many goldens along with a mentor or judge etc. When you watch these goldens, you see many that make the impression or first impression of a golden, but then as your eye takes in the pieces, you will see some weakness like one of the goldens is so straight in the stifle it is really glaring, one is way overweight, and one is sloped like a GSD bc of overangulation in the rear end. http://www.dogchannel.com/akc-eukanuba-videos/golden-retriever-best-of-breed-video.aspx
 

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I think the worst thing, Jill, is to have a puppy who *appears* close to perfect in every way and then doesn't pass a clearance.
 
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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Thank you LJack for the pictures. Jinx is gorgeous! I can really see what you mean by growing back into the same proportion. Thank you! :) Thank you to everyone else who has contributed. I think I am starting to understand. :) Merry Christmas!
 

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I think the worst thing, Jill, is to have a puppy who *appears* close to perfect in every way and then doesn't pass a clearance.

Now that is true. As the bermuda triangle for that, I have to agree. Too bad you can't see that at 8 weeks.
 
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