There's a real dogfight brewing among breeders of Labrador retrievers. And it has gotten nasty enough to land in New York Federal Court. On Aug. 16, breeders of championship stock Labs will make opening arguments in a class action against the American Kennel Club and the Labrador Retriever Club. These standard-setting groups inaugurated strict height requirements for championship Labs on May 31, effectively disqualifying dogs who fall outside a height range of between 21.5 inches and 24.5 inches at the shoulder. Since a single championship dog can be worth up to $35,000, claims plaintiff's attorney Richard Gross, that could cost breeders hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Not so, howls the American Kennel Club. As with 39 other breeds, there was always a stiff rating penalty for show Labs that didn't meet height requirements, says AKC spokesman Wayne Cavanaugh. The new, stricter standards were adopted because the Labrador Retriever Club felt breeders were getting sloppy. "The rules have been there forever," says Cavanaugh. "And it wouldn't be a Lab if it were 12 inches high." Woof.