Archive for category conformation

Just a thought

“But never allow what you read or what you know to blind you to your own vision, and never allow what you have read or heard shape what you see or experience.” which apparently comes from Advice to Young Artists in a Postmodern Era by Williams Dunning.

This thought is so true for most of our endeavours in life: for the breeder, and for the judge, for the trainer, and for the owner; so I want to record it here!


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A Malinois

This video came to my attention because a friend found it and was again annoyed by another “photo of a dog in full stride with his feet crossing under him, his front extension way beyond his nose, and all comments saying how wonderful his movement is” well such action isn’t correct.

This video shows a ‘normal’ length legged dog moving beautifully and effectively without excessive energy being spent and keeping the limbs moving no more then needed to achieve a rhythmic forward action … congratulations to the video makers!


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Reach and Drive



Reach and drive are a consequence of the conformation of a dog, and this article covers the topic very nicely, so I am including it here for you!


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Developments in Hip Dysplasia assessment

We’ve all been waiting a long time for some positive scientific news on research etc for hip dysplasia. I have even witnessed some scientists review the material from much earlier with regard to environmental influences based on reviewing wolf mothering practices (1).

HD is a persistent and complicated problem. So I am intrigued to see this report published, and hopefully, the results will translate to other breeds, and we can draw blood test samples from dogs under 12 months of age and predict the likely hip score range, which will make ensuring better quality hips can stay within the breeding population as so few can now afford to keep big numbers of dogs and choose which to breed after x-raying post 12 months of age.


(1) see Facebook – ICB Breeding for the Future – post starting “Okay, we have lots of puppy nursing videos!
Let me tell you what I’m thinking about, and maybe we can do some citizen science.” on May 30 2015


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at last DNA is looking like it is going to have real breeding impact

Excited to see the publication of

Bartolomé N, Segarra S, Artieda M, Francino O, Sánchez E, et al. (2015) A Genetic Predictive Model for Canine Hip Dysplasia: Integration of Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) and Candidate Gene Approaches. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0122558. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122558

in the author’s words:

“In conclusion, we have developed a logistic model with a good accuracy for CHD prediction in Labrador retrievers based on the combination of 7 SNPs, several of them located near genes involved in extracellular matrix processes or bone metabolism. Our results in Labrador retrievers add evidence to the thought that genomics is the basis towards early detection of CHD. Whether our predictive model is valid or not for other dog breeds needs to be explored.”


Another hip dysplasia study to watch for is Mapping of Genetic Risk Factors for Canine Hip Dysplasia – See more at:


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Books – rearranged, slightly

I have got a long way into the training book, and had a big think on the format of the type book; so here are the reviewed title plans.

  1. TYPE: This is the title I got a little hung up on in 2014, I found I was putting too much into it, so now I hope I have edited that out, and designed a format that will work; I think it will be the title to be released after the training one, but the showing book (which I think will be easier) may beat it to the printers.
  2. TRAINING: not a how to but thoughts and reflections on reading and my own experiences, this will be a referred to title for the showing book
  3. SHOWING: will cover more specialist show training, show ring presentation, grooming, colours to wear, how to get that sizzle in your dog in the minutes that matter, ‘nerve’ control, travelling with your dog, spotting issues and thinking about quick fixes and longterm overhaul
  4. FAULTS: a review book of common conformational faults in dogs, which you will be able to cross reference with The FIVE Cs and the Type book, and the showing and breeding books for that matter
  5. BREEDING: will discuss very briefly the process of breeding (because I have some photos I want to share), the choice of dogs to mate, how to choose these dogs, a breeder’s responsibility to their lines and to the breed, raising the pup to best advantage, choosing an appropriate buyer … well no, but some tips for detecting people who may not be ready to undertake Clumber ownership, the consequences of breeding but the necessity to breed, why we may need to respect other’s right to breed dogs that we may not (genetic diversity), things like COI and how and why we need to take this on board, how to detect bad (BAD) hips with no score, bad eyes without a vet cert. There is a whole forest of topics for this book, so it will be a long time coming!
  6. Maybe a smallish one on GROOMING, but grooming in the meantime can be read about in the Showing book
  7. ART: hmmmm, let’s see, but I would still like to put together something to show you how to create your own art and craft of the Clumber, and celebrate some of the breed’s most dedicated artists and outstanding pieces of recent times

see the first story on these titles


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Time for a Book Writing Update

Well, I have been quietly working away at the type/function book, even to the stage of formalizing permission to use some copyrighted content, but the book is still a very long way off.

That said, I do sometimes come across really interesting material online, and for the Christmas season, let me share this really excellent article on back length … it is about Lhasa Apsos, but it is very good:

And another resource I strongly suggest you read is Gilbert and Brown’s K-9 Structure & Terminology, it is a combination of most of the early works by Curtis and Thelma Brown and a little sketchy, but I found the advice on showing endurance breeds (which the Clumber is) really interesting, and I have to ask why more handlers don’t show on a loose lead. They also discuss basic structure and angles, most often with reference to endurance breeds, so of great interest.

If you need a Christmas present, get yourself Bryant Freeman’s The Du Ponts’ Squirrel Run – fabulous review of this famous American kennel, and for the student of Clumber type you will enjoy Doug Johnson’s critiques of some of the Squirrel Run dogs. I have been too busy to read my copy, yet, but have flipped through and enjoyed some segments – this is to be my Christmas treat! Available from the American club

And, don’t forget my Christmas Clumber book! Santa’s Clumber-tastic Christmas

My training book has a collected wealth of material so it may make it ‘to press’ before the type/function book, but let me mull over a few things before committing.

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new title: Santa’s Clumber-tastic Christmas; and other titles update

Well here’s the Christmas story book, available now from the above link, and within seven days you should be able to find it on Amazon where you can also preview some of the content.

It was actually quite a task getting the illustrations done, but overall GREAT fun and a bit of a holiday from the more indepth titles on type, training etc. So how are the other titles progressing?

  • The type/form/function one I have eased up on mainly because I am thinking about format, I want a lot of info in that title but also in bite size snippets, so pondering that idea.
  • The training one which stalled earlier this year is rocking along nicely now, it will be a collection of thoughts, not a ‘how to’ manual nor a series of lessons. And probably with some book reviews of excellent training books included. This is a subject I really warm to, so the book could appear in a few months or a year or so, I will try for a few months though, but have not finished the main content yet.

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The Five Cs is released

I have managed to find time to finalize the release of this exceptional book by my mother Dr Barbara Irving, it took me awhile but only because I have been writing, fencing, rebuilding sheds, training dogs, on turnouts with the local volunteer fire brigade, etc!

The Five Cs gives you an incredible insight into anatomy and conformation and how these combine to form the great variety of dog breeds we all know, love, and easily recognize.

With some investigation into conformational faults this seemingly basic book is rich with information and eye opening encounters with breed type, form and function.


A long series of comprehensive articles now reviewed and revised in book format.
Barbara Irving has successfully bred dogs for over 50 years. This experience and her knowledge as a Veterinary Surgeon are combined here to give an informative view of the dog. Dr Irving is the author of THE PUPPY BOOK, DOG BREEDING ITS REALITY & PRACTICALITY,

These articles first appeared in TOP DOG JOURNAL commencing August 1992, they were also featured in Clumbers magazine

All references to any breed standard refers to the breed standard in use in Australia at the time of writing (circa 1992)


more details here:


This book will be a resource for my pending titles.

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