Eng & Am. CH Banchory Trump of Wingan
Eng. & Am. CH. Banchory Trump of Wingan was owned by Jay Carlisle and trained by his legendary gamekeeper and kennel manager, Dave Elliot. The photograph (below) is courtesy of Mr. Elliot's book, The Labrador Retriever, published in 1936.
What is most interesting is to compare the early representative dogs in this country to the representative dogs of today. Trump had obviously received his Championship both here and in England, and no doubt was considered a proper Labrador during his lifetime -- in both countries. Notably, comparing his overall type to dogs of today, Trump could certainly be mistaken for a good looking modern field trial dog, but Trump would hardly be the type of dog you would see today in the ring.
We can learn from this. Those of us who have faulted field trialers for creating a "distinctly American type" better take a hard look at this photograph. If any area of the fancy has preserved the original Labrador, it is today's trialers! Likewise, Trump resembles the English field trial dogs of today far more than he does today's English bench dogs.
All the more reason for a detailed, thorough and comprehensive standard. Unfortunately present breeders of the extreme "English style" show dog today have substantially modified the Labrador, into a rather cumbersome, non-athletic and certainly non-sporting dog. There is not a scintilla of evidence that this "English style" somehow possesses "original breed type." It is nothing more than a modern, passing fad. Yet it remains memorialized by many of us, wrongly, as the true Labrador.
I agree that overall breed type has vastly improved since Trump's era. I prefer a dog with more substance than he as well. But we have taken our obsession with substance to the point where it could rightly be considered "substance abuse." We have long forgotten that Labradors are retrievers first and foremost.
Yes -- retrievers. Dogs that make for a pretty picture at a Specialty should not be our sole criterion. If you have to pursue a single purpose, then maintain the breed's purpose, nothing else. Thankfully many of us are captivated with doing much much more than that.