For a long time there has been a thinking among us working folk, that a dog which looks ''pretty'' will not work. Quite rightly too, in some breeds!
However we feel that this is not always the case with HPRs. When we hear the word conformation, a lot of us automatically think of the show ring, and while it is most often used in reference to show dogs, we feel that it is also important in working dogs, we are not saying that you should breed solely for good conformation. Failure to consider a good temperament and hunting ability is a huge mistake, as is breeding for hunting/working ability, without considering conformation. When the master of hounds is selecting hounds for his breeding program, he not only looks for hunting ability, he will also look for good sound conformation. What use to him is a hound whose conformation is such that it will only be able to hunt for a few hours before getting tired and falling behind the pack? Not much use at all! We feel that the same principle should also stand for working gundogs, there is no reason why a working dog should not have good conformation, as well as good temperament and natural working ability. These are qualities we always strive to produce in all our GWPs. Below are some conformation points, we think are most important in working dogs.
1. Head should be in proportion to the size and sex of the dog.
2. Nostrils need to be well open.
3. Muzzle and jaw, long, broad, deep and strong enough to carry the game it is intended to hunt and retrieve, with lips that are thick close-fitting and do not over hang.
4. Teeth large with a regular complete scissor bite. level bite would be acceptable but caution should be used when breeding.
5. Eyes neither too deep set nor protruding, with close fitting eye rims, to prevent trauma to the eyes while working cover.
6. Neck of medium length, strongly muscled, a clean cut throat and no dewlap. A week necked dog will not carry good size game far.
7. The forequarters should be straight and parallel with the legs set well under the body with a well laid sloping shoulder blade, which should be strongly muscled, and form a good angle, together with a long upper arm to allow for a good reach and ground covering stride. The less strides a dog takes in a day the less fatigued he should become. Elbows should be close fitting, not pointing out or in. The forearm should be lean with good strong but not over coarse bone.
8. Feet oval in shape, tough, robust pads with well arched toes (not flat). Nether turning in nor outwhen still or moving.
9. The topline should be slightly sloping from the withers in a straight line and, as the back, should be firm and well muscled.
10. The chest needs to be broad and deep but not over wide, with well developed fore chest and well arched ribs to allow for good heart and lung capacity, needed for stamina.
The coat should conform to the breed standard. The standard was set for a good reason, and we should stick to it. This is also true for the height and size of the dog. On the continent dogs which do not meet the breed standard, with sever faults, which may substantially impair the performance and/or working ability of the dog, as shown below, will have their pedigree stamped not to be bred from. If this is the case where these dogs originated, who are we to question whether or not conformation is important!
Short or narrow muzzle
Weak dentition - Undershot or Overshot
Very loose eyelids
Sway or roach back
Elbows badly turning in or out
Bandy-legged, cow hocked or close behind, when standing as well as when moving
Continually pacing when stepping or trotting Stiff or mincing gait
A sparse coat lacking undercoat.