Your Guide To Finding A Responsible Labrador Breeder
Are you new to the wonderful world of Labradors ? If you are looking for a Labrador Puppy to share your life with, then you have come to the right place. We have put together this guide for you, to help you chose a breeder. Without the knowledge or certain information, you will find that choosing a breeder isn't an easy task. It is very important you chose a breeder who meets with a certain criteria, so please take your time and read through this guide carefully.
What Makes A Breeder 'Responsible' ?
A responsible breeder is someone who puts the best interests of the breed and of individual dogs first, above any consideration of profit, trends, or personal ambition. Being responsible, a breeder doesn't produce a litter of puppies just because they want to profit from them, because their bitch happened to come into season, because they want to experience the miracle of birth, their bitch would make a wonderful mother or because their dog has a wonderful temperament and will have lovely puppies just like her.
Producing a litter requires careful consideration, and a breeder should carefully consider all of the physical qualities and the temperament of the proposed Labrador parents. The individual strengths and weaknesses of the parents, how compatible their pedigrees (ancestors) are, and what would the proposed breeding do to contribute to improving the Labrador Retriever breed, are all things a breeder should think carefully about. By taking their time to consider all these important points, it is of course a time-consuming process for the breeder, and sometimes difficult. It's no wonder a responsible breeder considers the puppies as their 'kids' and it's natural to only want to find the very best homes for them.
It is important to research and vet the breeders thoroughly. Don't let your heart rule your head and try to be patient, reputable breeders do not tend to have a regular supply of puppies, and you may have a wait. But remember, your puppy will be living as part of your family for between 10 and 15 years, so it pays to check everything out first.
Remember that price is the least reliable indicator of quality. You will not get a good puppy cheaply, but a high price is no guarantee of quality.
Never buy a puppy from a pet shop and never buy a puppy because you feel sorry for it, because it is living in poor conditions or it looks sweet and you want to rescue it. Firstly, you could be buying yourself a lot of problems with both health and temperament, and secondly, you will be helping these less than reputable breeders to stay in business.
The following points usually indicate a 'responsible' breeder.
- They are motivated by the love of their breed.
- They breed to improve the gene pool of their breed.
- They are active in showing/obedience/hunting/agility, etc.
- They should talk to you about the breed in general, explain total breed care & educate you to the best of their ability.
- Will be honest with you about both the best and worst parts of their breed.
- They should question you, the 'would be' owner about your abilities to care for your new puppy
- They will help you choose a Labrador puppy that has a temperament that's compatible with you and your handling skills--and may talk you out of a puppy that you like if they do not think you and the pup are compatible.
- Genetic defects in the Labrador breed should be explained to you, and a breeder should carry out all the necessary health checks and tests.
- They will provide you with pedigrees, health test results - clear eye certificates and hip scores for both the dam and the sire.
- A responsible breeder will always show you the dam and (if possible) the sire.
- They are familiar with their line for several generations.
- They will care about each and every puppy.
- They will provide clean housing for all their Labradors .
- They will offer to refund your money or give you a replacement Labrador puppy if your puppy develops health problems. A breeder should always be there for you throughout your puppy's life, and be available to help you, assist and look after the puppy if your circumstances should change and you could not take care of the puppy.
When Buying A New Puppy What Else Should You Make Sure Of?
Make sure the parents have had ALL the relevant tests done. The grandparents and the Great Grand parents should also have been tested. As to health tests:- Eyes is a pass or fail. Make sure the certificate is up to date, a dog should be tested each year because some problems can occur later in life.
Hips should also be tested. It is a once only test and can only be done after the dog is at least one year old. The lower the score the better but should certainly not be much higher than the breed average of 15 (the total of both hips added together.
So a score on the certificate of 6/5 would be a total of 11)
Ideally, Elbows should also be scored with with an elbow score of 0.
All the stock the labrador breeder owns should look clean and healthy and look like the breed they are supposed to be, they should also be approachable and friendly. The premises should look clean but not too clean if there are pups about.
If looking for a chocolate puppy, avoid a chocolate and yellow mating, or a litter with chocolate and yellow pups. If both parents are chocolate, check that the grandparents or great-grandparents include blacks.
It is a good idea to visit at least 3 Labrador breeders and then you have some idea what you are looking at. A good place to start would be:
The Labrador retriever club - www.thelabradorretrieverclub.co.uk
Spend some time with the litter, and the mother. They should all be friendly, nosey, playful and the mother should be calm, proud and attentive of her offspring.
The very best breeders are second or third generation breeders who love dogs in general; have owned many different breeds before settling on one or two to breed; have worked/shown/competed with their dogs; raise their puppies in the house instead of kennels; like people and are willing to answer all sorts of dumb questions; genuinely care about their puppies and want you to keep them up to date on their progress and health. I would add that if you import dogs that you may not, in fact probably will not, get a guarantee, even from the best, most responsible breeders.
You will know you have found a responsible breeder when the breeder make you PROVE you are qualified to own one of their puppies. If a breeder doesn't ask you any questions (Is your garden fenced off- why do you want this breed - how many dogs have you owned in your life - at what ages did they die, and how did they die - have you ever gotten rid of a dog & why - what do you know about raising and training dogs) but only asks to see your chequebook, RUN don't walk away.
If the breeder makes you feel like you are trying to adopt one of their kids, you have found a responsible breeder. If a breeder will sell to you without giving you the third degree, then walk away.
Here Are A Few Questions For You To Ask Your Labrador Breeder
Q) Are dam and sire KC registered ?
A) Only KC registered dogs can have the health tests - non registered dogs cannot be tested. Do not accept that the vet has health checked them - these are specialist tests that done by a specialist BVA panel. Only KC registration is valid - any other registration (ie, dog lovers registration, pet lovers registration) is worthless, and is frequently used by puppy farmers, registered breeders who are breeding more dogs than they should, and breeders who are breeding from dogs either too young, too old or too frequently and cannot register with KC (even if parents are registered).
Q) Will the puppies also be registered ?
A) There should be no reason not to register. If you do not get papers when you pick up your pup, a reputable breeder will put it in writing that the papers will follow. Ask if they will be endorsing their kc registrations. Most reputable breeders will endorse their pups registrations this is always a sign the breeder has their pups best interest at heart.
Q) How and why did they choose that particular sire ?
A) What are the dam's faults, and why did they choose that sire.
A good breeder will not just study a pedigree, they will know the dogs in that pedigree, know their good points and their faults. Avoid the breeder who extols the virtues of the sire while saying little about the dam. Your puppy will gets its genes from both parents
Q) Is the dam shown ?
A) Reputable breeders only breed to improve the breed, they will know the breed inside out and will usually be involved in activities with their dogs - ie showing, field trials, working trials etc. - this is where much of their knowledge is learnt and passed on - not from books or owning pets. They will be 'proving' their dogs in their respective fields and as such know they are worth breeding. The best pedigree in the world is no guarantee that the dog is worth breeding from. Many people assume that because it is a pet it doesn't matter, but in fact the vast majority of 'show' and 'competitive' dogs and many of the working dogs are first and foremost pets. Most genuine breeders do more than just breed them.
Q) How often is their dam bred ?
A) The dam should be at least two years of age and less than five. Most reputable breeders rarely have more then three or four litters from each dam, and never on consecutive seasons.
Beware the breeder who is constantly advertising litters. Most reputable breeders will only have a couple of litters a year.
Q) Are both dam and sire available to see? You should always be able to see the dam, who should have an impeccable temperament and show no signs of shyness.
Most reputable breeders will use the best, most compatible sire for their bitch regardless of how far they have to travel to find it. If the breeder owns the sire as well as the dam, it often indicates that the most convenient rather than the best / most compatible stud has been used. Equally beware when the stud dog owned locally is used.
Q) And, will she provide ongoing advice once puppy has been homed with you?
A) Most reputable Labrador breeders like to keep in contact.
Remember, the more questions a breeder asks you, generally the better they are, and the more care they have put into raising the pups! If you don't want to be asked questions they will assume you have something to hide. Beware though, a lot of breeders can sound like they know what they're talking about, and know how to answer these questions. It's a bit of a no win situation.
KC registration is the nearest thing to a guarantee of a dogs ancestry (which is all a pedigree is) although no checks are done and it relies on the honesty of the breeder (and there are a number of scams that go on regarding kc registration papers, so even then one can be duped). It is no guarantee of the quality of dogs in the pedigree and poorly bred dogs can be KC registered. The kennel club does not recommend breeders, and no checks are made, so do NOT assume that because a breeder is listed with the KC they are reputable.
We hope you have found this guide helpful, and we will leave you with an overall summary to help you make your overall decision.
Good Breeders Do
Good breeders only breed to improve the line and usually when they want a pup themselves to show / work.
Beware a breeder who charges more for a different colour pup (usually chocolate).
Also avoid breeders who breed more than a couple of different breeds of dog.
Good breeders usually have waiting lists. Partly, because they are sought after, partly because they don't breed until they know they have a number of prospective homes waiting. Beware the breeder that regularly has pups waiting to be sold.
Good Breeders Do Not:
Sell puppies under the age of 7/8 weeks.
Advertise in free ads, local papers, exchange & mart or free websites (findit. epupz etc.) (Puppy farmers, dealers, commercial breeders and pet breeders rely on these, reputable breeders rely on reputation (word of mouth), other breeders referrals and breed clubs.)
Offer to deliver pups, or meet you to deliver puppies.
Breed for financial gain.
Charge extra for KC registration.
Sell puppies without KC Registration.
With thanks to our members KayC & Jenny who contributed to the information on finding a reputable Labrador breeder above.
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