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Hi everyone

I'm new to the site so hopefully this is the right place to post!

We lost our beautiful black lab a year ago, aged 15, and are just thinking about getting a puppy (or rescue a young dog). I'm finding that every time I find puppies for sale they are already gone or reserved. We are in no rush so happy to go on a waiting list but how do you actually do this? We want a reputable breeder but not sure how to go about it.

Any advice you can give me would be very welcome
thanks
Gill
 

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Hi Gill. It can be difficult if you are not in the know about whats happening. Often the best way is to look at stud dogs and find those you like the look of. A stud dog owner will know who has recently used his/her dog, and also know who is intending to use the dog when their bitch comes into season. With my Amy I specifically wanted a pup from a particular stud dog belonging to a friend. One morning she phoned me to say that a nice bitch had come to her kennel for mating, which she thought I would like. So I went and had a look at the bitch, compared pedigrees and health test results, went home and phoned the breeder and put my name on the list. That puppy became my Amy, the biggest in the photo. With Chloe, knowing the dam and the stud dog she intended to use I had my name down 2 months before Chloe was conceived. She's the smallest in the photo.


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Thanks for that. A great tip. We are just starting to look so not in any rush but will have a look at what you suggest
Gill :)
 

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As John has said, you probably need to get on a waiting list pretty much at the point where the bitch owner has decided to use 'that' stud dog. I had a litter of pups last year (none in the pipeline) and the longest waiting person on that waiting list had been on there for two years.
 

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Look at health tests. I'd want to see hips and elbows scored, (low good, high bad.) Hips reasonably even between the two sides with the total of both sides added together maximum of around 12. Elbows only 0 is acceptable, anything higher is out. Eyes tested clear within the last year. (This is a yearly test and I'd not argue at a month over due, but not much more. Eye condition can change over time.)

With DNA tests I would want to see at least either the sire or the dam tested clear for PRA, CNM and EIC. If one side is tested clear, even if the other dog is tested affected no pup will ever develop that condition, although the pups could be carriers of it. DNA testing for HNPK and SD2 Dwarfism are desirable, although the effects of these are less debilitating than PRA, CNM and EIC.

There are a whole load of other tests available, but these are the major ones and the minimum I consider acceptable. Many of the other tests are for conditions so rate that they can really be left as diagnostic tests for vets.

PS. Just a though. With social distancing there might be an excuse for not hip, elbow or particularly eye testing, but there is no excuse for not DNA testing. DNA swabs are available through the post and the DNA sample posted to the laboratory. So really no different to before social distancing started. So don't accept that as an excuse.
 

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Hi, I’ve just had my puppy since January, he is now 5 months old. I had got in touch with a breeder I’d used with my chocolate boy who I lost last year. She was not expecting to breed her bitch in the foreseeable future but suggested I looked on the Champdogs website. Many breeders advertise there and most are KC registered. I was lucky and got in really early and reserved well ahead of the litter being born. I visited twice and saw all the documentation that John advised. 2 puppies from an earlier litter had gone to be assistance dogs so I contacted that organisation with positive results. I am really pleased with my puppy but expect to pay a good sum, mine was £975. I would recommend my breeder but she is not expecting another litter imminently. Good luck.
 

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Hi John - I'm new to labs, as my previous dog was a cocker, and so I'm trying to understand what good health test numbers look like before I speak with a breeder and ask about their health test results. Have I understood this correctly? For hips, I want to see each side the same number or approx the same. Each side should have a score of no more than 6, so both sides together total a maximum score of 12? Anything lower than 6 either side is better, if both sides are about the same? Is that correct? Elbows should be 0 and the eye test & DNA tests both should be reported as CLEAR.



Look at health tests. I'd want to see hips and elbows scored, (low good, high bad.) Hips reasonably even between the two sides with the total of both sides added together maximum of around 12. Elbows only 0 is acceptable, anything higher is out. Eyes tested clear within the last year. (This is a yearly test and I'd not argue at a month over due, but not much more. Eye condition can change over time.)

With DNA tests I would want to see at least either the sire or the dam tested clear for PRA, CNM and EIC. If one side is tested clear, even if the other dog is tested affected no pup will ever develop that condition, although the pups could be carriers of it. DNA testing for HNPK and SD2 Dwarfism are desirable, although the effects of these are less debilitating than PRA, CNM and EIC.

There are a whole load of other tests available, but these are the major ones and the minimum I consider acceptable. Many of the other tests are for conditions so rate that they can really be left as diagnostic tests for vets.

PS. Just a though. With social distancing there might be an excuse for not hip, elbow or particularly eye testing, but there is no excuse for not DNA testing. DNA swabs are available through the post and the DNA sample posted to the laboratory. So really no different to before social distancing started. So don't accept that as an excuse.
 

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Hello Bluebell009,

Basically yes. I'd not argue with a 5/7 hip, but would not want to go much worse than that. I'd not mind the low side being better, as in 4/7 or 2/7, but the 7 is my top limit for hips. It's difficult to state exact limits for hips, because the more you know the more complicated it gets! The hip is made up of 9 separate features, so as you can imagine, 6 marks lost, one mark on each of 6 of those features is really nothing, where 6 marks lost on just one feature means that feature was totally missing! A very serious state! I must say though that this would be very unusual. In the main marks lost are scattered around several features.

With elbows 0 is the only acceptable figure, and clear for the BVA eye test.

With DNA tests, all are carried as a recessive gene, so providing one side, either the sire or the dam is clear then no puppy can ever develop that disease. So don't be too concerned if either the sire or the dam is listed as a carrier, provided the other side is clear for that disease.

Hope this answers your question, but anything you don't understand don't hesitate to say and I'll try to help. :)
 

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Just to add to this, my old girl Tau is from a bitch with a hip score of 19 (10/9) which, at the time, was only 2 points above the breed mean standard (they now use the median score which is lower). So that was perfectly acceptable 14 years ago, but the score has gradually been brought down, John will know more, but there are a lot more dogs being tested now, and there seem to be quite a few 0/0 scored dogs which wasn't 'normal' back then either. So I am not put off by a score slightly over the median as well, it's what is behind the pedigree that is important to me, are there lots of incidences of high hip scores being produced by dogs in the pedigree (or are there any scores at all, having recently come across a bitch that had been bred from four times with a hip score of 22/21 and she was the only dog in the first two generations with any health tests), and that's what the Estimated Breeding Value tool on the Kennel Club website makes it easy for you to see as it calculates it automatically for you. That said, it's not the most accurate database, so the figures are not 100% accurate, but it is a good guide.

Tau, btw has 0/0 hips, and her daughter has 5/5, not a clue what Branta will come back as but in a few months time it will be her turn to go for hip scoring.
 

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Ok - had another chat with breeder today who has the pups, they were recommended to me by a friend, as they have an excellent reputation for training gun-dogs. They have told me they are not a KC registered breeder, working on shoots and gun dog training is their thing. That doesn't necessarily bother me hugely (unless I'm missing something), providing the puppies are healthy and the parent dogs have good temperaments, which via my friend I'm told they do. Puppies are now 2 weeks old and they've told me that both parents got their hips tested but they are still awaiting the results (delayed due to lockdown), their eye tests were supposed to be done in March, they had an appointment but it got cancelled, again due to lockdown, so also still awaiting for these to be done and get the results. After pressing a bit they've also told they won't be doing the elbow or CNM/EIC DNA tests. All they could email me today was the papers of the grandparent dogs. One set of grandparents: the sire was hips 4/5, not sure if there is an elbow score, it just says 'unaffected' after the hip score, does this mean elbows are good. Eyes clear and CNM & EIC clear and the dam was hips 3/4, eyes clear, no elbow score, same as the sire, it says unaffected after the hip score, no CNM & EIC result on the certificate. The other set of grandparents the sire hips 4/3, elbow 1, eyes clear, CNM & EIC clear and the dam had no hip or elbow score, so I'm assuming no tests were carried out, eyes clear and CNM/SD2 clear. In this situation is it even worth waiting to find out what the parent dog's hips/eye tests come back as or do I just walk away now? I'm guessing grandparent info isn't enough to go on as even if they were clear their offspring could have been a carrier of the bad gene and if this happened also with the other parent dog then these puppies could be affected. Have I got that correct?




Hello Bluebell009,

Basically yes. I'd not argue with a 5/7 hip, but would not want to go much worse than that. I'd not mind the low side being better, as in 4/7 or 2/7, but the 7 is my top limit for hips. It's difficult to state exact limits for hips, because the more you know the more complicated it gets! The hip is made up of 9 separate features, so as you can imagine, 6 marks lost, one mark on each of 6 of those features is really nothing, where 6 marks lost on just one feature means that feature was totally missing! A very serious state! I must say though that this would be very unusual. In the main marks lost are scattered around several features.

With elbows 0 is the only acceptable figure, and clear for the BVA eye test.

With DNA tests, all are carried as a recessive gene, so providing one side, either the sire or the dam is clear then no puppy can ever develop that disease. So don't be too concerned if either the sire or the dam is listed as a carrier, provided the other side is clear for that disease.

Hope this answers your question, but anything you don't understand don't hesitate to say and I'll try to help. :)
 

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They have told me they are not a KC registered breeder
By that I'm assuming they are not KC assured breeders? If so I would not be concerned. But if they mean they do not intend to register the pups with the KC then I would walk away. I'm not sure of the cost of registering a litter today, (Tarimoor would know) but it's so cheap that to not register, to me puts some doubt in my mind about whether the pups are really what they are supposed to be.

their eye tests were supposed to be done in March, they had an appointment but it got cancelled, again due to lockdown, so also still awaiting for these to be done and get the results.
It's perfectly true that eye testing is on hold (I'm organiser of some eye testing sessions so it's something I'm very familiar with.) But eye test results, unlike hip scoring, are available at the time of testing. But saying that, because of the lockdown the KC are allowing 6 months grace, so instead of the test only lasting a year, for the duration of the lockdown they are accepting 18 months. Not ideal, but under the circumstances it's the best we can do.

Sadly many working gundog people, particularly amongst the older breeders who were around before health testing started, don't test, or only test in a limited way. The excuse being, "My dogs worked 60 days last season and if they had something wrong I would know." Unfortunately this is not true. With any problem carried as a recessive they really would not know. But a dog carrying a recessive gene for a particular disease, mated to a dog carrying a recessive gene for the same condition would mean that on average 50% of the pups could be affected by the disease.
 

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Thank you John, really appreciate your help. I'm trying to stay level-headed and objective about it all. In Scotland we are all still in full lockdown, so I'll give it a few more weeks to see if they can provide the results info, if not, then I'll pass on this particular litter. I've made it clear that I'm only interested if the health tests come back ok. I wasn't, really expecting to get a pup until much later this year, but my friend told me about this litter and I got quite excited, but health test results come first, excitement later.
 

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KC registration is not expensive, it's £17 for non Assured Breeders, and £15 for Assured breeders right now I think. That said, be wary of any breeder, including those on the Assured Breeder Scheme, don't assume that all health tests etc will be in place and everything is fine whether they are a member or not, any good breeder would be more than happy to go through every detail with you.
 

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If puppies aren’t KC registered or parents not health checked, then don’t even go there. Why have they bred dogs before getting results? Sounds totally wrong to me. Walk away don’t even go to see them. Once you see the pups, you’ll find it very hard to walk away and if you commit you could be buying a whole load of problems further down the line.
 

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Perhaps my lack of understanding has confused the matter here (I'm new to labs and just building up my knowledge), what I was trying to get across is these people are not in the breeding business, they are older generation people, who work gun-dogs on shoots and train them for themselves and other people, have done for over 30 years, (so please ignore the details about KC registered/assured etc as I did not ask about that, so I don't want to confuse the matter with that). The parents have had their hip tests done, however still awaiting results due to lockdown, eye test appointments were booked in for March but then the appointment was cancelled. I understand lockdown has messed with their plan, and that they expected to have the test results back before the pups were born, however my real concern was why were all the tests not carried out before mating took place which I'm assuming must have been around end of Feb as pups were born first week of May. However the more I think about it, as these people have such a good reputation locally, I get the feeling that this has never been an issue for them before in the 30+ years they have been training gun-dogs. They know I won't take a pup without the health test results, I've made that clear verbally and in writing. Last night I was thinking I would give it another 3 weeks just to see what results come back. But this morning, I've now decided I will definitely pass on this litter. Main reason for this decision is ...even if the hip/eye tests come back with good results, I know they are not going to do the elbow and DNA tests for CNM & EIC. A few years ago, my next door's neighbour's beautiful, strong looking, 2.5 year old lab boy died after exercise one day. They'd been up the reservoir and woods for a great adventure, came back to the house, it was a sunny day, so the dog went for a snooze on the patio, whilst my neighbour mowed the lawn, she looked over to see him get up and then just collapse in front of her, vet explained it would have been caused by a genetic problem so I'm assuming now their boy must have had EIC. I don't know how rare or common EIC is, but I just don't think I'd get that out of my mind and I'd worry, and there is enough worry with dog ownership without that as well 😊, so thank you for your input, it has helped with my decision. I can see this forum, is going to be key in helping me learn what I need to know about labradors as my previous dog was a working cocker type. I've also been in contact with another breeder, who has ticked all the boxes so far, they have been fabulous in answering all my questions, they give me a really good feeling, they are planning two litters for later this year, so I've made contact with them to be put on their waiting list. I believe demand for their puppies is very high, so fingers crossed. Plus doing it this way, gives me plenty time to do more research and sort out the 'lab proofing' the spare room which will become the dog room. I'm slightly worried about all the reports of chewing skirting boards, table legs etc. My cocker didn't chew anything, even as a puppy! However he did eat everything in sight, so I'm ready for that bit at least.
 

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One thing to consider, if a person breeds a litter, even only one litter, then they ARE a breeder. No arguing, they bred a litter so are breeders. And if a person breeds a litter then it behoves them to do it properly. Some people have the idea that they can breed a litter and somehow wont be a breeder, but what else can you call somebody who breeds a dog? :)
 

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Yip - I did have the very same thought. So decision made. I shall be passing on this litter and hopefully my questions will make them think twice next time.
 

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John could probably give you a list ten pages long of the things that could have caused a collapse, there's such a lot more than EIC, but the only way to know is to test. It's not hugely common, but definitely worth testing for and using that to breed clear from affected pups.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people are still breeding without doing the health tests that are there for anyone to use, there are some really well known names in the dog world that do the bare minimum and nothing more for their dogs. But then when they started out breeding there probably wasn't any such tests available, and all the knowledge was passed on word of mouth if a dog lost it's eye sight, or was lame etc.
 

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John could probably give you a list ten pages long of the things that could have caused a collapse
Oh too true! 50 years ago it was easy. It was all Epilepsy, but veterinary science has moved on a bit since then. ;)
 

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Just out of interest, what is the typical cost of doing the health tests for Hips, Elbows, Eyes, and the DNA test for CNM & EIC. Be interesting to know how much these breeders think they are saving themselves.
 
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