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I was wondering, with both labs and goldens being such fantastic breeds why aren't crosses between them much more common? Both breeds individually are virtually in the top handful of most popular breeds in almost every country. They're also both such great family dogs and exceedingly friendly along with top-notch hunting dogs. I'm not into promoting designer dog breeds or anything, but you would think that you'd be seeing crosses of these two breeds all over the place. I wonder why you don't?
 

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The Guide Dogs For The Blind started using Labrador x Golden's for a number of reasons, one of the most important being size. Golden's by and large are slightly taller than Labradors and with Labradors being maybe a little small for tall men it was thought this cross would help. Also it was thought that combining the two "Might" help with the more bouncy Labrador. To an extent this did work, but interestingly only on first generation crosses. Second generation seemed to lose any advantage!!

As to the gundog working side, interestingly the two breeds work totally differently in that Labradors are ground scenters where Goldens, in common with Flatcoated Retrievers air scent. Flatcoats are a far older breed and were the gamekeeper's dog of choice until the Labrador arrived, when it replaced the Flatcoat for a number of reasons, not the least being that Labradors grow up much faster and are ready to go into the field on average a year to 18 months earlier. Goldens fall somewhere mid way between the two. One of the problems with Goldens is they are easier to put off if you make mistakes in handling. I've spend a lot of time working with owners of both breeds, both having their fans. But as for handling a dog into an area the Labrador is supreme.

In days of old, before the gene pools were closed, the various types of Retriever were not classed as individual breeds, rather they were listed as "Varieties of Retriever" hence the names, Flatcoated Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever and Curly Coated Retriever and as such interbreeding between the varieties was allowed UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. Rather obviously Flatcoats and Labradors being the older breeds were the most interbred with dogs going both ways, some into the Flatcoat breed to try to make the breed better handling, and some into the Labrador line, often to try to improve the hard mouth which was prevalent in the 1870's through to around 1920. Soneleigh Quality is probably the best known Flatcoat at the back of Labradors, but there were many others including Filleigh Jet, Pitchford Mart, Esmonian and Beechgrove Peter. Goldens being the newest benefited from both Labradors and Flatcoats, as you would expect during it's formative years, but very few Goldens came the other way. In fact in my database, which goes back to 1870 I don't have a single Golden. It was considered they had little to give the Labrador, which by that time was the premier working gundog.

I've actually been a member of The Flatcoated Retriever Society and The Labrador Retriever Club for many years. I'm not a member of The Golden Retriever Club though I have stewarded Obedience for The Berkshire Downs Golden Retriever Club and was called upon to act as door steward for the parent club's Extraordinary General Meeting, so I've spent a lot of time with all three breeds.
 

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A friend of mine showing one of her Goldens, at Windsor dog show. Her husband used to trial them.

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And of course, the Labrador who we all know and love. My Amy retrieving from water in a gundog working test.

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Isn't this why the Labrador is yellow, and not golden John? So as to distinguish between the two different breeds? And also why we don't have yellow FCRs in the UK, just black and liver, so as not to confuse them with golden retrievers?
 

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Isn't this why the Labrador is yellow, and not golden John? So as to distinguish between the two different breeds?
Yes. The Labrador people applied for acceptance by the Kennel Club around 10 years before the Golden people. But the Golden Retriever was starting to get around in the country, so the Kennel Club, mindful of the fact that the golden would soon be applying for recognition, decided that to have a Golden Retriever AND a golden Labrador Retriever would be confusing, made it part of acceptance that the Labrador colour would not be called golden, but hence fourth would be known as yellow.

And also why we don't have yellow FCRs in the UK, just black and liver, so as not to confuse them with golden retrievers?
Not exactly Joanne. I discussed this at length with Cerein Dugdale back when she was the chairman of the FCRS. The view was that just like Silver Labradors, (which never existed at that time,) they were the result of an outcross. I remember one year a Richmond Show. I was there with a friend and around lunch time it started to rain, so Steph and I went into the dry in the benching tent to eat our lunch. We sat on a bench and out of sight behind us there was a collection of the doyens of the breed, and the conversation went something like this. "So where do you think it came from?" "Well, we never had any in the breed until old ** ** had a yellow Labrador in his kennel!" Exactly the same comment which has been said about Silver Labradors. :)
 

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Cheers John, I knew you would know whether they were accurate or not. I got told the latter by an FCR person, but wasn't sure whether it was accurate or not.
 

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Remember, even a black Labrador can carry the yellow gene, but as the black gene is dominant it would not be expressed, but could still be inherited by it's offspring. But in the days talked about in the article above the genetics of colour inheritance was not known. But over time the number of dogs carrying the yellow gene increase until one day a black Flatcoat unknowingly carrying the yellow gene gets mated to another black Flatcoat again unknowingly carrying the yellow gene, and a pup inheriting the yellow gene from both arrives in the litter as a yellow pup! Sadly it is in the breed, and too late to eliminate it so sooner of later some money grabbing fool will start breeding for "Rare" yellow Flatcoats and charging three times the going rate for them as is happening with silver Labradors, and gullible people will pay the asking price. 😢
 

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I have to say, I have seen yellows crop up in litters where it shouldn't have been possible, and where previously no yellows have been produced, so I'm sure there is some jiggery pokery going on with some breeders. It was a few years ago now and I can't remember where they were except they were in the UK in the North of England somewhere, but some people will do anything to get whatever lines they want in there.
 

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There was a yellow Flatcoat doing very well in Gundog Working Tests a few years ago. Watch dogs working often tips off their ancestry. Do they ground scent or air scent? A ground scenter will follow a line where an air scenter will be a little on the downwind side of the line. Labradors are ground scenters where the rest of the retriever group are air scenters. (But this is only when following a scent trail. A good Labrador will pick a scent out of the air and follow it to ground. My Chloe has a wonderful nose and can pick up a scent on terrible scenting days)
 

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When I'm out doing fun retrieves with Rhuna, Zasa and Branta, I can see where they visibly 'knock' as it used to be called in working trials, you can see the moment they scent the ball rather than see it, and give a visible cue. Branta is coming along nicely, she's got the flat coated retriever to show her and her mother to show her how to do it her own way!
 

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You often see the tail start to go when they have hunted high and low, then suddenly pick up the scent. It's interesting though when you send them for something they have never retrieved before. Some decide, "It's where I expected it to be. I don't recognise it but I guess it's what I came for." and bring it straight back, others can be quite hesitant. I remember my friend's dog was sent for her first duck last year, went straight to it but did not recognise it so carried on hunting. But she did retrieve the second one she was sent for. Chloe did not get a chance at a duck until the last day, but never hesitated. When I used to take the puppy class for the United Retriever Club I used to collect a dummy from everyone taking part, and made a point of always using somebody else's dummy for each dog, so it was always a strange dummy they went to find. I got the dogs use to retrieving different scents. If you watch Chloe here you can see the instant she picks up the scent. She was still a baby at that time.


 

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I've done a few fun retrieves with the terrible threesome this afternoon, and Branta really does mark well, and then hunts well, the cover is thick heather so the ball can end up right down tucked in vegetation and they have to hunt around for it. The only problem is that she chases Rhuna a bit too often for my liking, so I will have to up the single training sessions, I just don't like going out too much during this lock down.
 

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I like these dummies for working in cover. They are heavier than a tennis ball so drop to earth better. Also I like to use different size dummies, these, puppy dummies, standard 1lb dummies 2lb and 3lb dummies. Variety being the spice of life. :) Dummy Ball - Dummy Ball - Sporting Saint
 

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I like these dummies for working in cover. They are heavier than a tennis ball so drop to earth better. Also I like to use different size dummies, these, puppy dummies, standard 1lb dummies 2lb and 3lb dummies. Variety being the spice of life. :) Dummy Ball - Dummy Ball - Sporting Saint
I use dummies as well, but I like tennis balls as they don't behave predictably, they bounce randomly, and seem to get down into the bottom of cover. That gets them using their brain and their nose, sometimes it's sat on top of a thick clump of heather, other times it's landed well down into a clump of sphagnum below the heather, and they have to really work to find it.
 
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