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Hi all, I'm new to this forum and indeed labrador owning. I hope this is OK to post - if not please tell me if there's a better location.

I'm planning to take on a labrador and following lots of research have recently found a breeder and viewed a litter. I'm wondering if its normal not to see the puppies interacting with their mum. We met the puppies with their litter mates, and we met the mum.However the breeder explained the mum was no longer feeding and was therefore no longer in with the pups, and if we were to bring the mum into where the pups were she would likely get quite snappy/snarly. The pups are 8 weeks old. She is also their family pet.

Appreciate the circumstances must be different for all breeders. All info we've read on purchasing a pup says we should see the mum interacting with pups so I really want to make sure this is ok. Every other box has been ticked and the breeder has been very helpful and forthcoming with all info/paperwork. I wondered if it's maybe also partly as they're a bit older and ready to leave anyway.

Any thoughts/advice appreciated!
 

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It is quite normal for mother not to be with puppies all the time. It’s normal for a mother to reprimand puppies that get a bit feisty, maybe they didn’t want you to see this? In my mind it’s a bit odd to have an entire litter of puppies at home at 8 weeks. How many were available? Can the breeder show you photos or video clips of the puppies with their mother?

My last two I didn’t see the puppies interacting with their mother but I had followed the litter from before conception, saw many many photos of puppies with the mother throughout. When I went to pick/collect my pup, the mother was in a kennel close to the nursery with other dogs. I did know the breeder well and trusted her implicitly. Those puppies were my second and third from the same breeder.

I’m sure someone else will be along with advice.
 

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When pups get to around 4 weeks it's normal to start weaning them off of the dam. Some bitches want to be with their pups all the time, but other have had enough of rug rats by that time. Their teeth can make the nipples sore, in fact even tear them. Depending on the age of them when you saw them, many breeders start to separate the pups. It helps when the pups leave the dam, she does not miss them so much. Again for the same reason many breeders like to spread the pups leaving over several days. Did you see the dam? Was she good natured with humans? Thats the main thing, But even then, bitches can be a bit defensive when they have puppies around, so allowances can be made for that.

Are the health tests in place? Hip and Elbow scored, eye tested and DNA tested for the relevant conditions. Pet or not these are just as important. A blind cripple is just as blind and crippled whether it's a pet or a show dog.

Nicola is in France, here in the UK dogs should not leave the dam before 8 weeks So I would expect them to still be around. Usually by 8 weeks the pups would all be spoken for, but you never know, with lockdown ending there could easily be somebody who has backed out.
 

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John, dogs can’t go here until 8 weeks either (with a microchip, first vaccination and vet certificate confirming they are healthy). A breeder, in my experience, might only point out or present the puppies that are actually available. It’d be very unusual for an entire litter to be available at 8 weeks. In fact you can’t sell any dog without the things I’ve mentioned above, pedigree or no pedigree.
 

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With both Amy and Chloe I had pick of the bitches, right up to the point that I put them in my car and drove away. But thats a slightly different situation. But now with so many people back at work puppies here are far more plentiful. I know a friend with a litter of Flatcoats still has one left at 8 weeks old. Something unheard of over the last couple of years!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you so much for the advice. That's more reassuring and makes sense.

We met the mum and she had a lovely temperament, super friendly. And have also seen pictures of her with the pups now. Health/DNA tests were clear and hip scores and elbow scores also fine for the dam and sire.

I'm feeling better about it now - perhaps I was being over cautious (There's a lot to think about!) But it really helps to get an expert opinion.

Whilst we saw the full litter half of them were actually already spoken for (a couple for family members and a couple reserved) they just hadn't been collected yet.

Thanks again
 

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When I was reading you post, all was fine until the bit about ' getting snappy ' !!
I've just bred my family pet bitch who gave birth to 7 pups. Mum was a extremely good mum but around 3-4 weeks, the pups were starting to eat food and mum, Lulu, started loosing interest in feeding.
It was at this time I advertised the pups. All sold within 48 hours ! All potential owners had WhatsApp live video and at 5 weeks they could come and choose their pup. All of the new owners saw all the pups and mother,who welcomed them and left the pups with them with an eye on them from a distance. As far as I know, labradors are the least 'snappy ' dog ever, all bark and no bite. This breeder was definitely not for you to buy your pup from.​
 

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When I was reading you post, all was fine until the bit about ' getting snappy ' !!
I've just bred my family pet bitch who gave birth to 7 pups. Mum was a extremely good mum but around 3-4 weeks, the pups were starting to eat food and mum, Lulu, started loosing interest in feeding.
It was at this time I advertised the pups. All sold within 48 hours ! All potential owners had WhatsApp live video and at 5 weeks they could come and choose their pup. All of the new owners saw all the pups and mother,who welcomed them and left the pups with them with an eye on them from a distance. As far as I know, labradors are the least 'snappy ' dog ever, all bark and no bite. This breeder was definitely not for you to buy your pup from.​
I think that's a little hard to determine from what the OP has posted, the circumstances of the entire whelping aren't known, and whilst some bitches take to motherhood and are fantastic, others don't and until you have a litter on the ground you will not know how she is going to be with pups. I've got a puppy coming home this weekend, fantastic pedigree, well thought out with all the health tests in place, hips, elbows, eye tests, DNA tests for EIC, CNM, prcd-PRA, HNPK and SD2. It was a maiden litter, bitch whelped 8 days early, ended up needing a c-section to help deliver 13 enormous puppies (she had the first five naturally but was exhausted and needed intervention, first one out was 424g from memory and all big puppies); bitch needed to stay in for fluids as the pups had quite literally sucked the life from her and the breeder was not only in danger of losing pups but losing the bitch. Thankfully the bitch has made a fantastic recovery and despite being told to expect to lose at least half the pups, there are nine surviving pups. However, the bitch did not take to the pups at all and was not happy having them near her as she obviously felt that unwell. In time the breeder managed to get her to accept having two or three put on her to suckle, but the whole litter was pretty much hand reared, and, with the aid of a couple of older spayed bitches who helped with cleaning pups it has been an enormous amount of effort on the part of the breeder to get the pups to the age where they are due to go home soon.

My first litter was not easy either (although nowhere near the difficulty of this recent litter), emergency c-section as the first puppy was wedged with it's back to the exit, eight puppies born, six surviving but thankfully I got her to take to the pups after a couple of days and she reared them. The last litter I had 11 pups and my bitch only has nine teats, so I was topping up from day one, thankfully she was a fantastic mother. Every litter is different, the same as every bitch, just because a bitch is a bit snappy with pups once weaned wouldn't necessarily make me alarmed, as long as it's just a normal telling off of boisterous pups and not nasty. I've only had three litters in total since 2012 and count myself as inexperienced; having one litter you've got very little to compare anything to, particularly if all went really well without a hitch, which is nice but hasn't given you a lot of experience of what can happen when things don't go as planned. The same bitch who was a fantastic mum can't be shown as she gets bored and growls at the judge (she knows it gets her out of the show ring), but she's had multiple eye tests where the specialist opthalmic vet has to get into her face to look closely at the retina, she's been worked over a number of seasons (including going in the beaters wagon with large amounts of strange dogs and people) and is the softest lump that you can roll around and pick up and I even play bitey face with her and her daughter during which she growls at me in play and pretends to bite me as she would another dog. Someone listening to her might think she actually meant it, in actual fact she only growls as mentioned to get out of the show ring, or to people she knows really well and plays with.

Putting a bitch through whelping is one of the most dangerous things you can do to her, she may not come out of it alive, and you may end up with a bitch who doesn't take at all to mother hood and whose character may change. Apologies if my post comes across as sounding harsh, but having had different experiences with the three litters I've had, and knowing I'll likely have more different experiences if I choose to do it again, as well as having numerous friends who are breeders and seeing their experiences with different litters, I think you've probably got less experience than you imagine, and thankfully all went well. Again, not meant to sound harsh but just to point out there's a lot of things that can and do go wrong with litters, it isn't at all as a lot of people imagine, there's a lot of hard work, sleepless nights and sadly often there's a lot that can go wrong.
 

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I think that's a little hard to determine from what the OP has posted, the circumstances of the entire whelping aren't known, and whilst some bitches take to motherhood and are fantastic, others don't and until you have a litter on the ground you will not know how she is going to be with pups. I've got a puppy coming home this weekend, fantastic pedigree, well thought out with all the health tests in place, hips, elbows, eye tests, DNA tests for EIC, CNM, prcd-PRA, HNPK and SD2. It was a maiden litter, bitch whelped 8 days early, ended up needing a c-section to help deliver 13 enormous puppies (she had the first five naturally but was exhausted and needed intervention, first one out was 424g from memory and all big puppies); bitch needed to stay in for fluids as the pups had quite literally sucked the life from her and the breeder was not only in danger of losing pups but losing the bitch. Thankfully the bitch has made a fantastic recovery and despite being told to expect to lose at least half the pups, there are nine surviving pups. However, the bitch did not take to the pups at all and was not happy having them near her as she obviously felt that unwell. In time the breeder managed to get her to accept having two or three put on her to suckle, but the whole litter was pretty much hand reared, and, with the aid of a couple of older spayed bitches who helped with cleaning pups it has been an enormous amount of effort on the part of the breeder to get the pups to the age where they are due to go home soon.

My first litter was not easy either (although nowhere near the difficulty of this recent litter), emergency c-section as the first puppy was wedged with it's back to the exit, eight puppies born, six surviving but thankfully I got her to take to the pups after a couple of days and she reared them. The last litter I had 11 pups and my bitch only has nine teats, so I was topping up from day one, thankfully she was a fantastic mother. Every litter is different, the same as every bitch, just because a bitch is a bit snappy with pups once weaned wouldn't necessarily make me alarmed, as long as it's just a normal telling off of boisterous pups and not nasty. I've only had three litters in total since 2012 and count myself as inexperienced; having one litter you've got very little to compare anything to, particularly if all went really well without a hitch, which is nice but hasn't given you a lot of experience of what can happen when things don't go as planned. The same bitch who was a fantastic mum can't be shown as she gets bored and growls at the judge (she knows it gets her out of the show ring), but she's had multiple eye tests where the specialist opthalmic vet has to get into her face to look closely at the retina, she's been worked over a number of seasons (including going in the beaters wagon with large amounts of strange dogs and people) and is the softest lump that you can roll around and pick up and I even play bitey face with her and her daughter during which she growls at me in play and pretends to bite me as she would another dog. Someone listening to her might think she actually meant it, in actual fact she only growls as mentioned to get out of the show ring, or to people she knows really well and plays with.

Putting a bitch through whelping is one of the most dangerous things you can do to her, she may not come out of it alive, and you may end up with a bitch who doesn't take at all to mother hood and whose character may change. Apologies if my post comes across as sounding harsh, but having had different experiences with the three litters I've had, and knowing I'll likely have more different experiences if I choose to do it again, as well as having numerous friends who are breeders and seeing their experiences with different litters, I think you've probably got less experience than you imagine, and thankfully all went well. Again, not meant to sound harsh but just to point out there's a lot of things that can and do go wrong with litters, it isn't at all as a lot of people imagine, there's a lot of hard work, sleepless nights and sadly often there's a lot that can go wrong.
Factual, not harsh. A good vet is dog owners best friend.
 

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Factual, not harsh. A good vet is dog owners best friend.
Unfortunately good vets are not easy to find these days, with my second litter a supposed canine reproduction specialist vet sold me out of date supplements that we didn't really need, and also didn't think we needed anything to help prevent mastitis, which thankfully I managed to stave off with an old fashioned remedy of towels soaked in cold tea.

Trust me, if you repeat the process at all, you will be amazed at how much you learn every time. Also, when you speak to other breeders there's so much that can happen, I've heard of pups being under 200g when born, absolutely tiny for a full term Labrador pup. Thankfully I've got some really good friends in other breeders who have helped out, the one I'm getting my pup from is close by, and has helped out at two of the litters but particularly with the last one with 11 pups. I sleep on the floor next to the whelping box a week before she's due on a couple of cushions, and then stay with mum and pups for a couple of weeks until I feel I can perhaps move to the sofa with the aid of a camera to monitor them. After my first litter so very nearly went disastrously wrong I've always made sure I'm near my bitch when she's due to start, perhaps I'm a bit over cautious but knowing what can and does go wrong means I have to make sure I'm there for her and the pups 24/7, even if I look like I've been rough sleeping for thirty years by the end of it.

Thank you for taking the reply as intended, ie not harsh but factual. We all learn, it's a continuous process with our dogs, something I hope to do for many years to come.
 
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