An Overview of the Partners Program &
Since publishing this article to the
website, there have been over 500 visitors in a 1 week period to
I have also received numerous questions
(over 100) and request for
In order to keep the relevance on-going, I
will be updating the essay throughout the article as needed
Thank you to all those that have visited
from the Labrador forums
Since there are so many within the Partners Program that have a penchant for furthering their knowledge of the breed and in particular their participation in Chambray Labradors, I have written this essay in hopes of sharing some of the history of how our dogs have come to be and the inner workings of the breeding program. With this knowledge at hand, each owner may discern where their own dog fits into the scheme of things as well.
The success of any breeder is measured in the quality of their produce, that quality is assessed in many ways, of which health, soundness and temperament are paramount, and rightly so! At Chambray Labradors, there has never been a compromise with the preceding, as those great attributes are the ones that keep the program going into succeeding generations. For the vast majority of dog owners, that is the hallmark that measures the worthiness of a breeder and kennel. So, needless to say, those enduring qualities are always foremost when considering any dog for inclusion into the breeding program.
Having passed the muster for those highly sought after qualities (health, soundness, temperament), we then turn our collective attention to producing the most competitive dogs for the conformation ring. For that is the ultimate claim to fame for any serious breeder participating at dog shows. Having dogs compete at venues such as Westminster; qualify for the Eukanuba National Championships; rank in the AKC’s Top 25 for the year; or hold the record for the most bred by champions in an area or state are all the result of producing the very best in conformation and those accolades, awards and wins are the validation of successfully producing at the top levels of conformation year after year.
A successful breeding program is one that encompasses a tremendous amount of knowledge amassed in many areas of the breed. Knowing the breed inside out, would rank as the number one tool for success. Having a working understanding of the breed standard from the first sentence all the way to the very last word of that document is an absolute for achieving any type of success.
The written standard for each breed is the blueprint that must be utilized when building the next generation and the process of understanding or not understanding it may be likened to building a house and not knowing how to read the blue print! So having a working knowledge of that blueprint; the breed standard, will aid greatly in producing the next generation of competitive conformation dogs.
The second most important aspect that a breeder should possess is to know about the dogs in the pedigrees of the breeding stock. I am not talking about just knowing the names of the dogs in the pedigree as many people can actually recite as if memorized poetry every ancestor in the background of their dogs. These “memory collectors” take great pride in the recollection of all the champions in a pedigree. Of course the study of pedigrees makes for very interesting conversation, but just the mention and dropping of recognizable names is not enough to qualify a person as a knowledgeable breeder.
The “cement and mortar” of knowing pedigrees comes from the knowledge of what those ancestors actually were capable of producing in their own offspring. How well a dog can pass on those great attributes determines how valuable that dog is to the breed. According to how strong they were to pass forward those favorable and desirable traits would then determine who the great “foundation dogs” were. Notice I say "were", for 20 or more years back, those dogs recognized as true foundation dogs were already passed on and it would be their sons that would be used. With the advent of the computer and the Internet, we are able to surmise much sooner which dogs are great producers and take advantage of their contributions before they are either too old or have passed away as used to be the case years back when I first got started with Labradors in 1970.
The actual pedigree provides us a documented account of the ancestors, however it takes much research to know what each of those dogs was to pass on to their offspring and they in turn pass on to their descendants. It is that in-depth and acquired “pedigree knowledge" that provides the building blocks for success for future generations.
Each breeder has their own value system when it comes to what they prefer within the parameters of the breed standard and I have been no different in the 35+ years that I have been fortunate to have been associated with this awesome breed of dog. These individual preferences establish "styles" of dogs within the limits set by the breed standard for that breed. So acceptable differences well within the guidelines of the breed standard will result in observable trait variances between breeders and kennels that have established breeding programs.
In the mid 80's, with our participation at dog shows and research through magazines for Labradors (remember, there was no Internet), I fell in love with the dogs from Ebonylane's Labradors in Canada. At the time, that kennel was on top in Canada and also in the US. In particular, they had one dog named Ch Ebonylane's Aslan that to me was the perfect Labrador. He exemplified the breed from tip of nose to the end of the otter tail! Not only was he the perfect specimen of the breed, he was also very prepotent in passing on those great traits to his progeny and generations beyond. That made him a very desirable foundation dog for many breeders of the late 80’s and well into the 90’s and even today he is spoken of with reverence by the purist breeder (those that truly "know" pedigrees) because of his immense contributions to the breed then and decades later.
Back in 1986, in my incessant quest for a top show puppy and in particular one from Aslan, I lucked out in obtaining an Aslan granddaughter from Frances and Carol Rabalais of Beaver Creek Labradors in Pennsylvania. We named her Beaver Creeks Crystal Chambray and she would ultimately become our foundation bitch. Of course at the time we had no idea that she would be such a dog and that 22 years later (2008) she would be responsible for 7 generations of success coming from her.
It would be several years after obtaining Crystal and another half dozen acquired bitch puppies, purchased from different “top kennels”, that I would once again be dazzled by an English import dog named Am/Eng/World Receiver Of Cranspire. Today Receiver is considered to be the most influential foundation dog in the history of the breed. Almost every top kennel in the US, England, Canada, France and everywhere that Receiver traveled to can trace their successes to this great dog. Receiver was best known for his head type and today the Chambray look is most attributable to this dog. The great dogs from Dickendall, Lobuff, Tabatha, Windfall and other top Labrador breeders all go back to Receiver as do the Chambray dogs.
Although I did my best to obtain a son from Receiver, there weren’t too many breeders that would place a top prospect from him with me, so I settled for a breeding to one of his grandsons, Ch Snowden Hills Wise Guy to our Crystal. In the one litter that they had, I was able to get that awesome head piece from Receiver and the super body types and coats of Aslan in 2 of the girls in the litter. It would be those 2 girls that would carry on the look and style that has so impressed me all these years. The cast was struck and the look was exactly what I liked and what has maintained all these years through selective breeding for those traits!!!! So it would be an outcross (2 dissimilar lines) between Aslan and Receiver that produced the desired look for Chambray at the time and now two decades later it is still going strong.
A certain look is perpetuated by using line breeding. By breeding closely related dogs with similar looks, traits and attributes, a breeder can magnify the chances for duplication of those desirable traits and the line is considered stamped if over a few generations that look still holds true. Such a breeder will take it as a major compliment if people were to say, "All your dogs look alike". Today, I hear it from people from all over that can actually see identifiable difference of the Chambray lines.
Along the way, additions were made in the way of out-crosses for other valued attributes such as movement from the Ch Monarch Black Arrogance (Gunner) lines. This adding of qualities is called selective breeding for type or for movement or for whatever other trait is desired. The dog that was brought into the mix for movement for Chambray was Am/Can Ch Grandquest Chambray Slapshot (Slash), a Gunner grandson. An outcross brings in an infusion of "new" blood that is sometimes needed to shore up weaknesses and/or soft areas within the line-bred dogs.
By constantly using selective breeding for admirable traits and succeeding at a high percentage with specimens that exhibit those qualities, the path of the breeding program is ensured to progress in the desired direction. Such was the case with Chambray Labradors through the beginning and into the 1990’s decade.
The realization that with a larger gene pool of admirable traits to work with, the rate of success could be raised considerably, plans were made to increase the number of dogs that would form this community of dogs right here in South Florida. However the answer was not just purchasing more dogs for the kennel, the answer was bringing in more people that owned great examples of the breed and somehow forming a program to manage all the different aspects of breeding, raising, training and handling those dogs and their owners. So the idea of a partners program was born.
By the late 90’s there were several groups of breeders across the country that had banded together and in essence were practicing what the Partners Program was about to put together. The biggest difference was that these breeders were already pretty successful working as individuals with their own lines of dogs and pooling their resources together made them power blocks in the regions that they lived in.
By late 1998, the idea went from the drawing board to actuality with the innovation of the Partners Program for the Betterment of the Breed. Simply stated; the program pools in outstanding breed specimens from outside sources creating a larger gene pool to use in the selective breeding process. The novel idea of the program was to bring in outside dogs and have them in place locally with “partners”, some new and some existing to use in the breeding program. Desirable traits from different foundation dogs were scrutinized and decisions were made to incorporate those admirable traits into the existing core of the Chambray lines.
The first level of the complex program was the existing Chambray “core”, these were the existing 4th, 5th and 6th generation of Chambray dogs from the first outcross of Aslan to Receiver and the eventual introduction of Gunner along the way. That combination proved to be very successful as by the end of the 90’s Chambray Labradors was already on top of the charts in Florida in number of champions bred and wins at Florida dog shows. These dogs were already in place with dozens of owners that were already taking part in all the amenities that come with a Chambray dog. So this group of owners were presented with the new format of a Labrador Owner's Community called the Partners Program.
The Partners Program was taking the successes of one breeder and all the owners of those dogs and attempting to build a similar conglomerate as those already formed in other parts of the country with independent owners and any other existing breeder in the area. The idea was ambitious to say the least as the pervasive attitude that exists among area breeders is one of isolationism and competitiveness, with very few breeders having any type of working association between themselves or with their dogs.
The biggest challenge to forming the program was to convince people and other breeders of the “rewards” of pooling resources. Not an easy task by any means as ego, mistrust and envy are the stumbling blocks in any endeavor and this world of show dogs is no different.
Knowing that it would take some time to actually have breeders with worthwhile dogs of their join the program, we went out to established breeders/kennels and purchased outstanding young specimens and brought them into the Development & Conditioning Program. These dogs were obtained for training, conditioning and showing with the idea of placing with a future partner. Once they were ready for competition, prospective owners were sought out that would continue with those dogs and be part of the Partners Program. Today there is a long list of dogs that entered the program in this manner and were placed with new and existing owners that are now part of the program. Some of those dogs are:
· Danjacs Steppin Out At Carmay who achieved both her American and International champion’s title under our total management.
· Carmays Duststorm At Chambray who also earned his Int/ champion’s title and has 13 points, 1 major and 2 Best Of Breeds since joining the total program. He has sired numerous litters and has several offspring showing today.
· Kai Dens All Dolled Up (Nola) was bred to Mr. Boo and had a litter of 3 girls of which all are in the Show and Breeding program with youngsters of their own that are also showing.
· Danjacs Carissa was leased for one litter and bred to Mr. Boo and produced Am/Int Ch Chambrays Out Of The Ruff and Int Ch Chambrays Summer Arrogance and Int Ch Chambrays Diamond N The Ruff.
In the early going, another avenue of growth for the program was bringing in dogs via our Professional Handling business. Special rates and deals were offered owners of such dogs in exchange for participation in the breeding program.
· Am/Int Ch Carmays Ruff Around The Edges (Mr. Boo) was the most notable dog that came into the program in this fashion. He came into the Management Program with 1 point and in less than 4 months was champion in the AKC and also the International clubs. Boo has numerous litters and 2 champions to his credit for the program already. Mr. Boo's sire was Ch Langshott Galeforce From Kimvalley one of the greatest foundation dogs of the breed.
· Int Ch Gateways Major Chord came into the handling program and earned her International title. She was bred to an out source male of world class status, Hyspires Sureshot Impressive (Travis) for 1 litter and has 1 offspring in the Breeding program today.
· Int Ch Gateways Talk Of The Town (Gabby) out of Ghoststones Louie Downtown, also came into the program as a handling gig and then stayed indefinitely and is now in the breeding program with a litter of her own from Am/Int Ch Chambrays Ruff Around The Edges.
A third mode of entrance into the program were dogs that came in with owners, breeders and exhibitors from the area.
· Most notably was Am/Int Ch Surry’s Obscured By Clouds (Bella) who as a puppy entered the Partners Program with her owner Geraldo de Souza of WinQuest Labradors and took advantage of the Training & Development Program and also was handled to half her AKC championship and her full International title in the Handling Program.
· Int Ch Blade N Bays Spice Girl Affair (sire-Ch KaiDen's Black Tie Affair also a WinQuest-owned dog that produced several litters for the Partners Program
· Kelleygreens Lola came into the program through Greenhead Labradors and so did Chucklebrook Brown Molly. Both produced several litters for the Partners Program.
Today, 10 years later from the introduction of the Partners Program we are enjoying the fruits of our early-on labor with three generations from those Acquired, Introduced, Leased and Managed dogs and of course the existing Chambray core of dogs and their owners. Many of these dogs will now team up with dogs that are Chambray's 7th and 8th generation creating the next generation of the Betterment of the Breed from a vast pool of outstanding conformation.
Current plans still call for bringing in new blood by breeding our females with world-class stud dogs on an out-source basis. An out-source dog is one that is totally outside the program and is used as a stud dog to perpetuate the desired qualities it possesses and passes on to its progeny. This is called infusion breeding for particular traits.
Recent breedings to Ghoststones Louie Downtown, Lobuff's Bobwhite At Chucklebrook, Hyspires Dressed To Impress, Sureshot Hyspires Impressive and other world class stud dogs have added greatly to our growing gene pool of superb quality. There is a long list of awesome top stud dogs that may be used in the breeding program that would greatly enhance our existing quality of conformation.
We also still maintain our doors wide open to other owners, breeders and exhibitors with worthy dogs to enter the many levels and facets of the Partners Program for the Betterment of the Breed.
All dogs entering the Partners Program are scrutinized for their possible contribution to the gene pool through pedigree research and through a very stringent evaluation for conformation. Those passing those huge hurdles then must be screened for Health, Soundness and Temperament using all available certifiable clearances.
At the moment we are working on bringing in a world class champion dog from Brazil with European pedigree that has taken South America by storm and is producing awesome puppies for the top breeders down there. This dog would come into the Handling Management Programs for a contracted period of time to acquire its AKC champions title. Part of the contract would call for the out-source breeding to selected females within the Partners Program to infuse the great attributes of this awesome dog.
There are other works in progress, including the purchase and addition of several established brood bitches from world class out-source sires that would bring in very desirables lines into our existing gene pool. These females would be bred to other out-source, world class stud dogs providing the program with more outside lines for out-crossing into our existing lines.
The success of the program can be measured in huge leaps and bounds, especially those puppies born into the program for 2007 and the new class of 2008. The percentage of show puppies born into a litter more than doubled in those 2 years! The ratings of those puppies soared, raising the bar to new heights for show quality.
What used to be the exception to the rule now has become the rule used to measure quality. With these bolstered levels of quality, a tremendous luxury has now been afforded in the selection process of show quality puppies. With a greater number of puppies exhibiting superior conformation, the evaluation process now has become very cut and dry and any slight deviation for show quality is immediately noted against that puppy.
Several years ago, puppies with a designation of a rating of 85 or over were considered show quality, now with the higher percentage of show quality in each litter, the cutoff number has become a 92!!!!!! Refer to the following article http://www.chambraylabradors.com/RevisedShowRatings.htm for more information on the ratings system used in evaluating puppies and dogs.
Every single dog that is part of Chambray Labradors and the Partners Program has a special place in the realm of things for the future. Each will contribute greatly to the Betterment of the Breed and to the successes that will be achieved as a co-operative venture. For those that are interested in knowing where their dog fits in, drop me an email or inquire in person for an in-depth explanation of the big picture and where that dog fits in.
Breed Standard - Every single breed accepted by the AKC has an official written outline of that breed, describing the breed as to look, size, weight and distinguishing characteristics and also indicating faults. At www.akc.org any breed's standard may be accessed.
Style - Due to the latitude provided in the breed standard, acceptable variances from dog to dog and kennel to kennel will create slight differences amongst dogs of the same breed. Just as breeders have preferences for "styles" so do judges and this perpetuates the differences. It is hoped that the differences maintain a moderation and not go out to extremes as seen in fads with Labradors with Rottie heads or woolly mammoth coats extreme short legs or extreme long legs that have been witnessed over the last 20 years in the breed.
Prepotent - a sire having the ability to pass on their outstanding qualities forward to many generations in the future.
Foundation Dog - dogs that were prepotent and passed on admirable qualities without passing on undesirable traits and thus were used by many breeders to establish certain lines going back to that dog.
This essay is a work in progress and will be added to and expanded as time permits, come back often for more!
**May 11th 2008
I have been receiving much feedback to this article, both from visitors and from our Partners. I will post here some of those questions that pertain to the article and to dogs that are part of the program.
Q. I have a Hogan puppy, where does he fit into the big picture (this same question was asked by several people).
A. In the big picture of the breeding program, Hogan is considered an Out Source dog (2nd level Chambray Outsource dog) to be used to breed to our Chambray Core females to bring about an infusion of outside blood from his grandfather, Ch Langshott Gale Force From Kimvalley (known as Garry to Labrador aficionados). We brought Hogan's sire, Am/Int Ch Carmays Ruff Around The Edges (Mr. Boo) into the handling management program with 1 point for handling and finished him in 4 months of showing in Florida. In exchange we were to use him to breed to some of our females as an outcross to obtain the Garry lines. Besides Hogan, there are several of Mr. Boo's daughters (2nd level Chambray Out Source) in the program that will also further the Garry lines into the future for our breeding program.
Hogan has been bred to Am/Int Ch Chambrays Chance N Counter, a 5th generation Chambray Core female. They were bred 3 times and produced 13 puppies of which all should be major players in the future for Chambray Labradors and the Partners Program for the Betterment of the Breed. All of these puppies are considered 6th generation Chambray Core.
Hogan has also been bred to females that are also considered Out Source and their puppies are 3rd level Chambray Outsource. WinQuest Summer Storm (Olivia), like Hogan is a 2nd level Partners Program Outsource dog. She was the product of an Acquired female, Am/Int Ch Surry's Obscured By Clouds (Bella), bred to top producer Ch Windfalls Pipe Major. Major is a combination of 2 world class foundation dogs, Receiver of Cranspire through Dickendall Arnold and Ch Raintrees Slippery When Wet, known as the Brody line. So, all of Hogan and Olivia's puppies will serve greatly by providing the breeding program with world class Out Source to our existing Chambray lines. So, in Hogan's case, we can breed him into our existing Chambray Core and produce the next generation of Chambray Core and we can also breed him to Out Source females and keep those lines as future outcrosses to the existing lines.
Q. How do you select which lines of dogs to bring into your breeding program. (several emails to this effect)
A. Here is where knowledge of pedigrees and knowledge of production is vital. Each foundation dog that is producing at the world class level have major strengths that they are known for. These are admirable traits that are desired and may be brought into the breeding program as infusion of new blood by out crossing or to solidify an existing trait through line breeding. Using the following, usually helps
Nothing is cast in stone and much of breeding is trial and error.
May 15 2008
The following is a list of those dogs that are actively showing as of May 2008 with a short descriptive of where they fit into the Partners Program for the Betterment of the Breed. This will answer many of the partner's questions about their dog and where their dog fits into the big picture that I often elude to.
Q. Are there some breedings that are not successful? Are there stud dogs that do not produce? Are there some lines that may not work well in your breeding program?
A. Yes, yes and yes! I have received numerous questions similar to the above.
Q. How do you know which dogs today will be the foundation dogs of tomorrow?
A. Ah, the $1,000,000 question!!!!! This is the true test for all breeders, the ability to look into the future and see what is around the corner. The decisions that are made today will so much influence the success of tomorrow. This is one of those qualities that can not be learned from books nor be taught, either a breeder has it or not. Sadly, only a gifted few have the vision that it takes to be successful year after year and beyond.
Q. How far into the future do you plan breedings and introduction of out side blood lines.
A. The thought process is an ongoing thing about breeding. Some breedings are planned 3 to 4 years in advance, while others are on the imaginary drawing board and can be realized overnight when a female is ready to breed. With the luxury of our own built in stud dogs, the decision making process has been lessened and at times changed at the spur of the moment.
More to come.
Back to Reference Library