Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Andrew

To my dear, sweet, beautiful boy on his 8th birthday - I love you more than I could ever say - words are never enough!!

A Note To Andrew (An Ode To Jack)

Sometimes I look for traits in you
Of a great big dog you never knew.......
A dog that loved me all his days
And understood in special ways.
But that's not fair to you, Andrew;
You're not a substitute; but yourself!
You've eased the loss, soothed the pain
And tugged my laughter home again.
Yet, "Puppy", at times I almost start
When your eyes recall him to my heart
You'll never lack for love, it's clear
Because of him, you're twice as dear....

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Nativism: Biological Xenophobia

A large part of the struggle to keep the less than one-percent of the GGNRA off-leash comes from the nativist movement.

Here is a compelling article on the nonsense and evil that is the nativist movement.

Biological Xenophobia: The Environmental Movement's War on Nature

(By Nathan J. Winograd, Director, No Kill Advocacy Center)

They were beautiful: a row of trees that lined a path to the ocean. They provided respite from the winds, a home for birds, shade and oxygen in exchange for our CO2. They were part of the walking trails at Fort Funston in San Francisco, and every time we reached them, my dogs would get excited. They would start vocalizing and surging ahead. They knew. Because the trees --or at least I liked to believe the trees -- foretold of what was to come: the ocean was within reach. There was sand to kick up, balls to chase, water to frolic in. I don't know if the trees meant anything to the dogs, but I loved them. And they no longer exist. Each and every one was cut down, leaving a row of stumps, an ugly scar on the beautiful landscape of one of San Francisco's open space treasures.

They were not cut down by loggers trying to profit from their timber. They were not cut down to make chairs or tables or copy paper or toilet tissue. They were not cut down to erect condominiums or a parking lot. Instead, they were cut down by so-called "environmentalists." They were killed by those whose mission was supposed to be their protection. According to the local chapter of the Audubon Society, the trees, though healthy, were not "native" and therefore had to be destroyed.

Invasion biologists believe that certain plants or animals should be valued more than others if they were at a particular location "first." When the species that were there "first" are in the same habitat with a species that came later, they assert that the latter should be eradicated. In championing such views, the movement has paradoxically embraced the use of traps, poisons, fire and hunting, even when these cause harm, suffering and environmental degradation - as well as the destruction of a beautiful, tree lined path to the sea.

In Fort Funston, it was not long before the dogs were unwelcome, too; before the birds declined in number as their habitat was upended; before the plants were ripped out and the rabbits who lived in them disappeared as well. What was left in their place was row after row of "caution" tape, telling people to keep out. And what happened there is by no means unique. In San Francisco, on the Channel Islands, all across the United States, plants and animals are being trapped, poisoned, hunted, burned and destroyed by people who claim the mantel of environmentalism; by groups like the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy, and the Sierra Club. When Illinois spent $3,000,000 dumping tons of chemicals into Lake Michigan to kill one fish (and ended up killing hundreds of thousands of others), the Natural Resources Defense Council cheered. Even the science writer for the New York Times has weighed in, suggesting mass killing and the eating of animals that do not pass the arbitrary litmus test of worthiness by environmentalists.

And the nativist movement is getting worse and increasingly violent, both in rhetoric (fish they don't value are called "missiles with fins") and in deeds. At a time of climate change, in a country that needs more trees, not less, nativists in the San Francisco Bay Area are proposing the clear cutting of upwards of half a million trees on San Francisco's Mount Sutro and in the Oakland and Berkeley hills as part of their ongoing war against the Eucalyptus. After the trees are clear cut, thousands of gallons of toxic herbicides will be spread throughout wildlife corridors in order to prevent resprouting. Beautiful forests will be reduced to empty, stump-filled graveyards. What is now the natural habitat for animals will become a toxic waste dump, poisoning and displacing creatures who have nowhere else to go, and all as "environmentalists" cheer and unwitting taxpayers foot the bill.

Who wants this environmental Armageddon to become a reality? If public backlash is any indication, almost no one. In Berkeley recently, a public meeting about the proposal led to a standing room only crowd, with the vast majority of those in attendance speaking out against the clear cutting and use of herbicides in what are now the healthy, pristine forests of the East Bay. Those who spoke out against the plan echoed the view of many of us who call the Bay Area home, those of us who chose to live here precisely because of the Bay Area's natural beauty, a beauty created by majestic, towering trees.

To most of us in the Bay Area, it does not matter what the species of those trees are, nor does it matter to the birds and other animals who make those trees their homes. However, a small group of individuals who have an irrational hatred of certain species of trees are threatening to turn some of the most stunning open spaces in the Bay Area into environmental war zones, leaving those of us who do not subscribe to their narrow agenda to watch with sorrow and great heartbreak as decades-old trees fall to the chainsaw; as animals are displaced, harmed and poisoned; as beautiful, lush forests are reduced to hillsides of barren stumps. Is that what environmentalism should be?

An authentic environmentalism would not advocate that humans seek out and destroy living things for simply obeying the dictates of the natural world, such as migration and natural selection. It would not condone the killing of those plants and animals who find themselves in parts of the world where, for whatever arbitrary reason -- be they economic, commercial or aesthetic -- some humans do not want them to be. An authentic environmentalism would not exacerbate suffering, call for killing and seek the destruction of natural places.

When we rip out plants, when we cut down trees, when we spray toxic herbicides and pesticides, when we poison, electrocute and booby-trap natural habitats to kill those species merely acting in accordance with nature, we not only destroy habitats and beautiful natural places, we put all living creatures, including ourselves, in danger as well. And just as disturbing, we open the floodgates of expression to our darker natures, by teaching others disdain and suspicion of the "foreign" and reverence for the familiar and the "native" -- views that have been at the heart of so much suffering, injustice and cruelty throughout human history.

Why is the starling less worthy of life and compassion than the Scrub Jay? Why does the carp swimming gracefully in a Japanese Zen garden inspire peace and serenity, but when swimming with the same grace and beauty in Lake Michigan, such horror, disdain and scorn? Because some humans among us say it is so? Because they impact narrow aesthetic or commercial interests? In fact, that is exactly why.

You won't hear nativists complaining about tomatoes or watermelon. You won't hear calls to boycott restaurants that serve apple pie. And you'll get alarm bells about the loss of the honey bee even though they, like tomatoes and watermelons and apples, were as "introduced" to North America as the Eucalyptus. When it comes to those species which are profitable, which are considered iconically American even when, by their own narrow definition, they are in fact, un-American, they won't complain. Nor will they call for the removal of the most obviously destructive and "invasive" species North American has ever experienced: humans.

Theirs is a philosophy not only lacking scientific rigor, but logical application as well. It is invoked haphazardly, whenever a rationale is needed to justify their calls for destruction of those species they have been taught to hate and wish to see exterminated. Indeed, "invasion biology" is a faux environmentalism, used to disguise the ugly truth about what is really motivating its adherents: an intolerance of the foreign that we have rejected in our treatment of one another, a biological xenophobia that seeks to scapegoat plants and animals for the environmental destruction caused by one species and one species alone: humans.

It is easy to blame Republicans for an anti-environmental agenda, for ignoring climate change, for putting profits above stewardship of nature. But as the Obama Administration considers funding the destruction of half a million trees and the dumping of thousands of gallons of herbicides in wildlife corridors to the tune of $5.9 million dollars, we are left to wonder who really speaks for the Earth? In the San Francisco Bay Area, where Republican politicians are an endangered species, leading the war on nature are "environmentalists" working with clear cutters and chemical companies in the Democratic, liberal strongholds of San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. Even the University of California at Berkeley is hoping to clear cut tens of thousands of trees on their campus, and on Mt. Sutro, the University of California at San Francisco is hoping to wipe out half the forest.

The recent economic downturn has resulted in devastating public funding cuts to the East Bay Regional Park Service, the City of Oakland and the University of California. Citing budget shortfalls, the East Bay Park Service has cut back on services. Likewise, the University of California system has raised the tuition at their schools, putting an education at what was meant to be an affordable, publicly funded educational institution for Californians out of reach for many residents in the state. While the city of Oakland has cut various public services, including the threatened closure of most Oakland libraries. And yet in spite of these drastic changes which these institutions claim are necessary due to a lack of money, they have promised to collectively commit $1.4 million additional taxpayer dollars to fund a proposal that would literally decimate one the Bay Area's greatest treasures, local forests.

All over the U.S., funding continues for similar projects, turning pristine, natural landscapes into barren, stump covered hillsides and valleys soaked with herbicides. Lakes are poisoned. Animals are hunted. Plants are ripped out. Nature - and with it the will of the majority which is just now awakening to the terrible danger posed by the nativist movement - is violated.

As perhaps the most intelligent and without a doubt the most resourceful species yet to evolve on our planet, humans, have a moral obligation to ensure that we use our unique abilities for good, and not harm. We are obligated to consider how our actions impact the other earthlings who share our home. And to determine, with all of our gifts of intellect and compassion, how we can meet our needs in the most generous and considerate means possible. Sadly, as a species, we have yet to comprehensively and collectively determine how we might do this. But that, in truth, is our most solemn duty, and the one and only end every environmentalist should be seeking.

On a tiny planet surrounded by the infinite emptiness of space, in a universe in which life is so exceedingly rare as to render every blade of grass, every insect that crawls, and every animal that walks the Earth an exquisite, wondrous rarity, it is breathtakingly myopic and quite simply inaccurate to label any living thing found anywhere on the planet which gave it life as "alien" or "non-native" and then target it for destruction. We must turn our attention away from the futile effort to hold or return our environment to some mythic state that never existed toward the meaningful goal of ensuring that every life that appears on this Earth is welcomed and respected as the glorious, cosmic miracle it actually is.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

Father's Day

I never had the chance to say
"farewell" to my father on his final day.
There were no signs, there was no pain,
save for the anguish that is mine each day.
If only I knew his day had come,
I'd have been by his side to show my deep love.
My best friend was leaving;
my nightmare had come;
for the rest of my life, no longer a son.
What words could have shown the depth of my love,
or the courage I lacked to exist on my own?
The days now are empty, as
my soul sits alone,
by the stone that marks him in a world dark and cold.
My fear never leaves me, my dependence so strong,
on the father I lived for, now forever gone.
So on each solemn Sunday, as on this Father's Day
I visit him resting in his eternal bed.
I speak to him softly, then I bid him farewell,
with the tears of my sorrow, and the words never said.

(Stephen Samuel Sayad)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Newfoundland Club of America's Claims Regarding Testing For SAS

Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis ("SAS") is a canine heart defect characterized by a fibrous ridge located below the aortic valve. Affected dogs are at risk of developing heart valve infections, congestive heart failure or sudden death, and severely affected dogs have an average lifespan of 19 months.

Recently, there was hope that a "study" contributed to in part by the Newfoundland Club of America had resulted in at least a predictive test for dogs carrying the genetic mutation that is believed to cause SAS. Indeed, no sooner had the talk by the N.C State researchers at the Newfoundland National Speciality show been completed than the NCA mouthpiece, Marlylou Hoffman Zimmerman (that's right, the pagan-nativist, aka "Newflady") claimed that based on the talk given by the N.C. State vet, the way Newfoundlands would be bred had forever changed. She claimed (a now deleted post) that genetic testing for SAS now existed.

Is this true? Well you can view the talk by the NCA-sponsored cardiologist (on YouTube) and not find any such evidence. In fact, he has published nothing in connection with the "talk" at the specialty, much less a peer-reviewed study. In the field of law, we call this "junk science" - claims that cannot withstand scientific scrutiny within a given medical (or other) specialty.

What, if anything, did the talk reveal? What the researchers claimed to have is a gene that co-segregates with the disease, meaning that the dogs in their sample with the gene are likely to have SAS, and those who do not have the gene are not likely to have SAS. This is in no way, shape, or form, a test in the same vein as the test for, for example, cystinuria.

What also remains unknown is whether the mode of transmission of SAS is dominant with incomplete penetrance or recessive with incomplete penetrance. Nor do the researchers know the pathophysiology of the disease (i.e., how having the alleged gene leads to the disease). This is significant in determining whether there might be a direct genetic test (actually detecting the disease producing gene) or a "marker" (another gene which lies very close to the disease gene and is usually inherited along with it). In short, despite the claims of the Pagan-Nativist, there is absolutely nothing to suggest even a claim that this is a mildly predictive test.

In point of fact, there is no genetic test that could provide clearances, through OFA or otherwise. Lest you harbor any belief in the claims of the NCA mouthpiece, I urge you to take a look at the presentation and decide for yourself.

In addition, apparently the N.C. State researchers were at the national specialty in order to conduct echo-dopplers on Newfoundlands. It turned out that the echo-dopplers consisted of a five (5) minute test for something like $50. This speaks volumes as to their credibility, as no ethical cardiologist would conduct a 5 minute echo-doppler and conclude anything from it. It was more in the nature of a McDoppler than anything truly scientific. The many claims of misdiagnoses that have been made bear this out.

At the national specialty, these same N.C. State vets were collecting swabs for DNA for SAS mutations, for $51 per dog. Was their "test" one that demonstrated a genetic marker for SAS or one that actually demonstrated the presence of SAS? Neither. One attendee decided to "experiment" - assuming that if the test was ever proven, published and peer reviewed, and were it actually diagnostic, she would never get it for a mere $51 again! So she provided DNA from a 4 month old puppy who had been cleared by auscultation by a cardiologist and 2 vets at 10 weeks of age. Then she submitted a swab on an adult, known to have moderate to severe SAS by three echo-dopplers, by different vets, over the years. In order to avoid bias, she did not reveal the prior testing of the adult or the diagnosis of SAS. What did the NCA-sponsored researchers find? Their report was that the adult was negative for whatever genes they are looking at. Yes, the adult had significant SAS but the researchers cleared the SAS-laden dog for the "gene" they had "discovered" that would identify SAS in a given Newfie.

This is the break-through claimed by NCA via Marylou Hoffman Zimmerman. Just a single sample submitted to the researchers for the so-called novel and breed-changing test demonstrated that the "test"is clearly not diagnostic, or predictive, or anything else.

The most recently published article on SAS in Newfoundlands is "Genetic Evidence of Subaortic Stenosis in the
Newfoundland Dog" (S. B. Reist-Marti, G. Dolf, T. Leeb, S. Kottmann, S. Kietzmann, K. Butenhoff, S. Rieder).

It summarizes the state of the art as follows: "Subaortic stenosis (SAS) is a cardiac disorder with a narrowing of the descending aorta below the left ventricular outflow tract of the heart. It occurs in several species and breeds. The Newfoundland is one of the dog breeds where it is more common and usually leads to death at early adulthood. It is still discussed to which extent SAS has a genetic background and what its mode of inheritance could be. Extensive pedigree data comprising more than 230,000 Newfoundland dogs from the European and North American population reaching back to the 19th century including 6023 dogs with a SAS diagnosis were analysed for genetic factors influencing SAS affection. The incidence and prevalence of SAS in the analysed Newfoundland population sample were much higher than those reported in previous studies on smaller population samples. Assuming that some SAS-affected dogs remained undiscovered or were not reported, these figures may even be underestimated. SAS-affected Newfoundland dogs were more often inbred and closer related to each other than unaffected dogs, which is an indicator for a genetic background of SAS. The sex had no significant impact on SAS
affectedness, pointing at an autosomal inheritance. The only simple mode of inheritance that fitted the data well was autosomal codominant with lethal homozygosity and a penetrance of 1/3 in the heterozygotes."

Apparently, no mention was made of this study or many others by the NCA sponsored vets - although they did mention their own 1976 study. Instead, they claimed to have a test which through DNA would demonstrate the genetic anomaly that causes SAS. Hoffman-Zimmerman came out of the blocks with wild claims that turned out to be wholly unfounded and shortly thereafter refuted by the results of a single "test" clearing a dog with moderate to severe SAS.

Hopefully, researchers will in fact eventually discover genetic testing for SAS. The question will then become whether breeders will use such tools, as many continue to breed from dogs known to throw SAS. Many of these same people continue the folly that they are breeding in order to improve the breed. More on this in a discussion of our precious boy, Primo, whose breeder assured us that he had been cleared by echo-doppler. Just two days later when he arrived, he was diagnosed with Grade 5 SAS and passed away only a few months later. Both parents continue to be bred by this "reputable" breeder.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thickheads: The Relationship of Structure to Movement in the Newfoundland Dog

From Adrianna Griffa: The World of Newfoundlands (2006 - 2007)
(As translated)

"I have always liked to live with my dogs around me, to see them move, indoors and outdoors, in the garden and in the fields, with a proud head carriage. I have always liked movement, from the outset initially as an owner in the breed and later on as a breeder and a judge.

Looking at dogs in the show ring, and little by little learning more about them, I discovered that the majestic and powerful movement that impresses my sense of beauty so much has a relationship to structure, which on the one hand can be different from breed to breed according to function, but on the other hand is also based on structural rules common to all breeds.

The evaluation of the technical rules for good movement starts from the analysis of the parts of the body: conformation, length compared to height at the withers, length of body and weight of the dog related to the function - in our case this concerns a trotting dog.

Head and Neck

We start at the head, in which many breed characteristics are united, and continue with the neck. There are seven neck bones, the cervical vertebrae. The first carries the head and is called atlas. The second one, axis, in connection with atlas, allows movement of the head in all directions. In motion, the neck and head safeguard the body balance when the center of gravity is changed.

During trotting, the neck reduces its slope from about forty five degrees in the direction of the topline level.
The neck faults can be found in direction, length and form. If the neck lies in a horizontal line, the problem will be in a poor backward region. A short and straight back will be accompanied by a wrong slope of the shoulder. With a tubular shaped neck the problem is lack of strength, crest and muscles.


Just behind the base of the neck are the withers, anatomically consisting of five thoracic vertebrae. They should be long with good slope. Being long, high and relatively large, the withers region must have strong muscles and ligaments, because there is no bony connection between shoulder and thorax. Without this conformation, movement suffers: shoulders are loose, back is soft, and the balance between the movement of the head and neck and the spinous process of the vertebrae is lacking. The most common fault seen in dogs is flat withers in combination with soft back.

When a dog's withers are too high or not long enough, he might look spectacular at first sight, but in action he will not be functional as the bony region is affected by lack of the slope in the spine, and the shoulder and upper arm are probably too long. The metacarpus also will be stiff and straight. In action, the topline will not run in a straight line from withers to loins and the gait will be short.


The back, located between withers and loins, is based on the last eight thoracic vertebrae. This is a very important region for movement. Broad, strong and well muscled, its line must be straight from withers in the front to the lumbar region in the back. The spine in motion functions as a transmission. A hollow (concave) or roached(convex) back is faulty because it does not allow the forequarters to receive the stride from hindquarters in the optimal way. Such back problems often combine with other faults. A hollow back for instance, with loose, slack ligament, a rather flat croup, short tibia, and/or not well developed rear stifle angulations. A roached back is often seen in combination with a steep croup, low withers and an improper slope of the shoulder.

Loins, Croup, Pelvic, Tail

The loin region consists of seven lumbar vertebrae. Its function is to be the bridge from back to croup. Short, large and well muscled, the loins are slightly arched to increase strength. Long and slim loins are detrimental to a correct and long lasting action.

The croup is the muscular area located between the loin region and the tail set. The foundation of the croup is the upper half of the pelvic girdle. The pelvic gridle is made up of two flat bones - each consisting of three parts, called ilium, ischium and pubis - which are attached to the side of the sacral vertebrae of the spine. A long and large croup is a positive point in all canine breeds. A correct slope here is very important for a functional action. Short but strong muscles in the croup are required for the stride. In action, the croup is like the transmission of an engine. The stride from the rear goes through the croup to the spine to allow the body to move forward and upward.

The final portion of the spine, the tail, composed of coccygeal vertebrae, harmoniously continues the croup's line. The Newfoundland tail is long, reaching down to the hocks, large at rootbase and tapering in the point. A strong muscled tail base will serve as a rudder while the dog is swimming.


The chest or brisket is situated between the neck and the abdomen. The chest is composed of thirteen thoracic vertebrae, thirteen ribs and the sternum below. The sternum, the floor of the chest, is composed of eight bones.

The chest must be well developed in three dimensions, depth,length and width, to allow room to for the heart and lungs, which are organically vital for good performance in swimming.


Forequarters and hindquarters permit the body to perform action. Trotters like Newfoundlands have a rhythmic two time diagonal gait: because only two feet are on the ground at the same time, balance must be between the feet going up and down. Correct structure and angulations provide a good stride of the rear quarters, to halfway under the body, with the front quarters having an equal reach at the same time.

The shoulder, whose bony component is the shoulder blade, is attached to the chest with strong muscles, tendons and ligaments. A long, flexible and well laid back shoulder (about 45 degrees with horizontal plane) is a major quality for all canine breeds.

The shoulder blade and the upper arm connected to it, form the scapula-humerus angulation, which is very important in action for the extension of the forward reach. The bony component of the upper arm, the humerus, is a little longer than the shoulder, with strong muscles, well set near the elbow points, and a slope down about 50 degrees to the horizontal plane. Seen from the front, the arm must be parallel to the medial line of the body. Deviations in or out are caused either by faults in the upper arm or in the thorax, which can be developed too little or too much.

The forearm is composed of the radius (front) and ulna (behind), firmly joined together. These two bones run almost vertically down to the carpal point, and are covered with strong muscles. Deviations in or out of this vertical line affect gait and stamina, as these deviations harm the even distribution of weight. The forearm ends at the carpus; this should be perfectly straight and strong. Any inward/outward of forward deviation at this point means a fault: cow hocks, feet toeing in, barrel hocks or feet toeing out.

The metacarpus, very important in action, must be long and slightly sloping forward. When it has the right construction, it gives a lot of reach and absorbs shocks. Faults in these regions result in spoiling energy as well.

The forequarters are finished off by "cat" feet with arched toes, cushioned by solid and elastic pads. Flat feet with straight or open toes affect movement and stamina.


The hindquarters should be constructed analogous to the forequarters. In cooperation with body structure, hindquarters are the key to correct conformation and gait. The thigh region, made up of the femur bone covered in well developed and powerful muscles, forms a slope of seventy degrees to the horizontal plane. The thigh is connected to the tibia and fibula - these two form the lower thigh region. The joint between the femur and tibia and fibula is called the stifle and the angulation at that point (the dog's knee) is important.

After the second thigh comes the foot. The first part, called the tarsus, consists of seven little bones. The calcaneus serves as an anchorage point to the achilles tendon insertion: the point of the hock. If well developed, large, short and solid, the tarsus allows a full stride action.

The metatarsus lies perpendicularly to the floor and should be solid and quite short.

The hindquarters end in the feet with toes slightly more arched than the front feet. Also for the hindquarters, it is important that, seen in profile and from the rear, they do not deviate from plumb line. When seen in profile, the plumb line from thigh ends in front of the feet, at a distance more than a foot length away, caused by a wrong metatarsus direction, the dog is said to be "too far back." This means to say his centre of gravity is put forward, and too much weight will have to be carried by the forequarters and the back.

The opposite fault is when the plumb line from the thigh runs behind the feet or even more backwards, then the angulations are open and the tibia is too short. Such a dog is said to be "too far under." In this case, the centre of gravity is more backwards, which means too much of the weight is resting on the hindquarters. Viewed from the rear, the hindquarters will be moving "close." Action in these circumstances affects ligaments and muscles. When the hocks are in or out of the plumb line the dog will be "cowhocked" or the opposite, "barrel hocked." Any deviation from the ideal line in front or behind will affect stability, direction of spine, correct weight balance, angulations, good quarters, balance in gait, and stamina.

Theory and Practice

Strong hocks, long thighs, large and long croup, loins strong and long enough to permit suppleness, level topline, shoulders well laid back, good withers for strong neck muscles, together with the head, all these elements support good balance in action and a good control over the centre of gravity. Harmonius weight and muscle assembly gives the Newfoundland its bear-like appearance, powerful and sound. All together, this allows the dog's gait on land to be "covering the maximum amount of ground with the minimum number of steps," and in the water a wide stroke.

This is how it should be. But in Italy and in different countries in Europe, I have recently witnessed dogs winning whose movement was fast but with a big (I would say, a maximum) number of little steps.
These dogs have a wrong shoulder placement and often too narrow a chest. But when they are cleverly handled, they can show a quick rhythm. As the handler lifts the front quarters from the ground, the dog doesn't fall down, even if the front is not in balance with the rear and is not able to support the dog well. Such a dog might look very showy going around in the ring and captures your eyes immediately, especially when it is groomed and handled well and has a nice, pleasant head. But this quick action is unsound, and comes from incorrect, often completely faulty, body structure.

Fast movement is always based on an extremity in structure, which through its fans is often said to be "American" type or "hypertype." Personally, I do not like this sort of qualification. Remember the word "fan" is related to "fanatic" and I have always tried to stay away from becoming a fanatic.
The conformation of these dogs is simply out of balance: too angulated at the rear, long loins, long body with shoulders sloping down too much, or, even worse, too short and straight and with a short arm. In these dogs, the hindquarters compared to the forequarters are longer and more angulated - the same with the croup compared to the shoulder, thigh to upper arm, and leg to forearm. Under these circumstances, the reach is not balanced with the stride. To compensate the long stride, the dog has to make short and quick steps.

As I mentioned earlier, with an expert handler this gait can be spectacular in the ring. But is it like this in normal everyday life; do we want this for our dogs? Should the Newfoundland lose his functional structure? Functional structure for a Newfoundland should allow him to swim for a long time and retrieve in a smooth and rhythmic way, with a large long action of the forequarters which in water have to stride while the body is floating level in the water.

The preferred Newfoundland gait is the trot. As a trotting dog, the Newfoundland is slightly (ten to twelve percent) longer than high, measured from withers to ground. Ideally, the distance from withers to elbows is equal to the distance of elbows to the ground. Seen from the side, the forequarter's proportion looks short, as the lowest part of the chest in a good specimen is below the elbows, in such a way that the distance of the withers to chest will appear fifty five percent, and chest to ground forty five percent. So, Newfoundland structure consists of a large chest, a large basis to stand on, and good shape and length of the legs for a good reach in action.

By aiming for more "action" however, we risk producing dogs with the wrong anatomical structure: either short and long, or poorly angulated, but in both ways with incorrect action for everydog in general and for the Newfoundland in particular.

In the first case there will be "fast action": a large number of short steps, unbalanced, with too much drive, a more or less hollow topline and insufficient reach; in the second case - poor angulation of the front and the rear - this is just "poor" action with a large number of short steps, little covering of ground, lack of drive, and too short in reach.

The truth is to be found in between. A good performance is the proof of good structure. Good drive and reach mean that the front angulation is in balance with correct rear angulation, which results in effortless covering of ground, with a long, free and sound stride."

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Funday Sunday at Woofstock

At Woofstock today, Satchel was 1st Place in the Veteran Class, Botti was 1st Place in the 6-9 Month Puppy Class, and Dino was 2nd Place in the 12-16 Month Puppy Class.

Good weather and lots of lovely Newfs.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Thick-Heads - What Has Happened To The Newfoundland Head As It Should Be?

There is a movement afront, particularly in western Europe, to make the head of the Newfoundland dog into a more Mastiff like head, referred to by some as "Mastino." There are even breeders who claim that their life's work will be complete once the "Mastino" head has become the breed standard.

Is this what is best for the breed?

As stated by Karin Butenhoff in the book,"The World of Newfoundlands" (BB Press 2009):

"There is an ongoing debate in the Newfoundland world about the change which happened during the last decade. Breeders and judges have the choice – no, the obligation – to keep as close to the standard as possible when breeding and judging. That is a common truth, so common that it seems a statement too simple to open this article.

But in daily practice a few other things have happened in our breed over the last few years.
We see Newfoundlands in the ring who show a type that seems to have drifted far away from what was the basic intention of the standards.
And these dogs are not disqualified for not complying to the standards, or punished with lower qualification. On the contrary: they win. This gives a very bad example to the breeders.


In their main points (except colours)the American, Canadian, English and FCI - standards are nearly all the same. As often as they have been changed, they always asked for a square muzzle and have done since the beginning of records in the 1850's.
A standard is a blue print, but of a living animal, so developments over time happen. That is normal.

FCI Standard

That is what the FCI standard says about head.

Head: Massive. The head of the bitch follows the same general conformation as the male's one, but less massive.
Cranial region:
Skull: Broad, with slightly arched crown and strongly developed occipital bone.
Stop: Evident, but never abrupt.
Facial region:
Nose: Large, well pigmented, nostrils well developed.
Color: Black on black and white and black dogs, brown on brown dogs.
Muzzle: Definitely square, deep and moderately short, covered with short, fine hair and free from wrinkles. The corners of the mouth are evident, but not excessively pronounced.
Flews: Soft
Jaws/teeth: Scissors of level bite.
Eyes: Relatively small, moderately deep set; they are wide apart and show no haw. Colour: Dark brown in black and white and black dogs, lighter shades permitted in brown dogs.
Ears: Relatively small, triangular with rounded tips, well set back on the side of the head and close lying. When the ears of the adult dog is brought forward, it reaches to the inner corner of the eye on the same side.

American Standard

The head is massive, with a broad skull, slightly arched crown, and strongly developed occipital bone. Cheeks are well developed. Eyes are dark brown. (Browns and Grays may have lighter eyes and should be penalized only to the extent that color affects expression.) They are relatively small, deep-set, and spaced wide apart. Eyelids fit closely with no inversion. Ears are relatively small and triangular with rounded tips. They are set on the skull level with, or slightly above, the brow and lie close to the head. When the ear is brought forward, it reaches to the inner corner of the eye on the same side. Expression is soft and reflects the characteristics of the breed: benevolence, intelligence, and dignity. Forehead and face are smooth and free of wrinkles. Slope of the stop is moderate but, because of the well developed brow, it may appear abrupt in profile. The muzzle is clean-cut, broad throughout its length, and deep. Depth and length are approximately equal, the length from tip of nose to stop being less than that from stop to occiput. The top of the muzzle is rounded, and the bridge, in profile, is straight or only slightly arched. Teeth meet in a scissors or level bite. Dropped lower incisors, in an otherwise normal bite,are not indicative of skeletal malocclusion and should be considered only a minor deviation.

Canadian Standard

Head: The head is massive with a broad skull, slightly arched crown and strongly developed occipital bone. The forehead and face are smooth and free from wrinkles. The stop is not abrupt. The muzzle is clean-cut and covered with short fine hair. It is rather square, deep and moderately short. The nostrils are well developed. The bitch's head follows the same general conformation, but is feminine and less massive. A narrow head, snipey or long muzzle is to be faulted. Pronounced flews are not desirable. The eyes are dark brown, relatively small and deep set. They are spaced wide apart and show no haw. Round, protruding or yellow eyes are objectionable. The ears are relatively small and triangular with rounded tips. They are set well back on the side of the head and lie close. When the ear of the adult dog is brought forward, it reaches to the inner corner of the eye on the same side. The teeth meet in a scissor or level bite.

English Standard

Head and skull: Head broad and relatively large, occipital bone well developed, no decided stop, muzzle short, clean cut and rather square, covered with short fine hair.
Eyes: Relatively small, dark brown, not showing haw, set rather wide apart. Free from obvious eye problems.
Ears: Small, set well back, square with skull, lying close to head, covered without fringe.
Mouth: Soft and well covered by lips. Scissor bite preferred, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws, but pincer tolerated.


There have always been different views on how to interpret a standard. This is not bad.
But the developments and the differences in interpretation may reach a point where the Newfoundland no longer looks like a Newfoundland.
To my mind we have reached that stage now and this worries many Newfoundland fanciers.
Two drawings are added which were done by Sibylle Welzbacher.
The first shows a head that highly conforms to the standards and follows its description point for point.
Compared to the other drawing, the other seems to be a caricature and I wish it was. But it is not: it shows the traits of modern show winners. Clearly they are overtyped. Also clearly this overtype causes health risks.



The head type tends to brachycephaly, something which does not belong to several of the breeds in FCI group and the working group in US/UK/Canada, but surely not the Newfoundland. If you look carefully, you see traits of the Mastino Napoletano, the Dogue de Bordeaux or the Mastiff in this head.
Tendency to brachycephaly in itself in our breed is a fault. But it is also a very unwanted trait as this may be accompanied by constricted nostrils, a long and thick palatum,and a modification of the larynx. Dogs which show this broader,deeper and shorter head type are prone to respiratory problems; they snore and pant, something we often hear in the Newfoundland nowadays. It simply does not belong in the breed.
The demand of the standards to have a square muzzle is not fulfilled in this type of head.
Also there is too much of skin in such dogs. There is no request for lots of skin on the head in the standards. This skin is wrinkling like in the Shar Pei and inconsequence the well known breed problem in the Shar Pei is no longer rare in the Newfoundland either (entropion).

With these deep and open lips, the Newfoundland cannot help it: he drools excessively. As a result, people do not want to be close to this ”monster” that is distributing his slobber all over and onto the ceiling. The love he tries to get from his humans often remains unanswered. Back into the cage and do not touch me.
And where are the triangular relatively small ears gone? Most of today's Newfoundlands have much too big and too deep set ears, which make them ”houndy”.


To my way of thinking it is an offence to let the breed develop traits which threaten its health. It should be penalized. And this happens in our breed in a time period where the main trend in cynology is aiming to combine beauty with health and to avoid traits which harm that aim.

In the name of our wonder full, noble,majestic, vigorous and proud Newfoundland my plea to the judges is: Please stop rewarding these overdone dogs. A Newfoundland should not look dull and lazy. Keep the Newfoundland as a working dog as it is meant to be, able to use all his senses at all times and bless with heroic attributes that make him into such a unique being.
The group offers many wonderful breeds who should have the head type some people are trying to lay down now in our breed. My request to these breeders is: when that type is your dream, please look elsewhere and do not destroy the uniqueness of our breed.
May I close with a citation of Ronald Pemberton (1998): 'Many breed standards suggest that quality known as 'Breed Character' – all those characteristics that blend together to create the ideal. Those characteristics in total should separate the Newfoundland from all the other working breeds. Any blends that remind a judge of other breeds are not correct for the Newfoundland. When any breed begins to look like another breed, it is wrong for its breed.'”

We certainly do not need the Thick-heads further ruining our beloved breed. Too many brilliant and well intentioned breeders of great merit have left the breed because of the Thick-head breeders. This is a sad state of affairs, but not beyond reclamation.