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First off I am not a breeder. Nor am I a show dog person. Don't hunt either. I got into Labradors because I wanted a good companion dog. I researched dogs for almost a year, got some books at the library and discovered one did not have to get a puppy to get a Labrador.

Here in the United States the Labrador retriever is the most popular breed, followed by the Lab-mix. Over 150,000 Labrador puppies are registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) each year and the number is growing. Not all Labrador retriever puppies are registered.

The Labrador puppy starts out as a cute little thing, and people just love them. But they grow and they chew and they need food, water, love and attention and outside. Too many people find this to be too restrictive or too much of a commitment and either dump the dog somewhere or they surrender it to a rescue organization in hopes they can correct the problems and find the dog a forever home. There are way too few foster and forever homes and way too many deserving Labradors. For many of these Labradors their forever home is the local landfill. The ones who make it to a rescue organization are lucky. But for those of us who adopt a rescued Labrador, we are the winners. Adopting a rescued dog is not for everyone. Rescues may have been abused, they are often neglected, many are sick. Some have serious behavior issues. Most can be re-homed and lead productive lives.

Labrador puppies come from somewhere. Very simply put there are three basic groups of breeders: Responsible breeders, Backyard Breeders (BYB) and Puppy mills.

Responsible breeders treat their dogs like children. They take them to the veterinarian regularly, show the dogs competitively in the show ring, hunt trials and agility competitions. They are students of the breed. They can recite the breed standard from memory and point out faults in conformity at a distance. They are intimately familiar with the genetic problems Labradors can inherit, and research the pedigrees of potential mates and agonize over each breeding. To them a breeding takes place to further improve the breed. The dogs have been registered with the governing club, the dogs have proved they conform to the breed standard by being judged a champion, and they have passed medical certification exams for epilepsy, eye diseases and hip dysphasia, as well as other systems and organs.

To the responsible breeder, each puppy they have helped create is special. Some pups really conform to the breed standard and are kept for breeding stock. The rest are considered pet quality and are sold with the stipulation the pup gets neutered at the proper time. The responsible breeder is very particular who gets one of their puppies and usually sells on contract. Often the contracts stipulate the dog is to be neutered, and if the family can no longer provide a suitable home, the dog is to be returned to the breeder. Potential buyers are questioned at length as to why they want one of their dogs, what the role of the dog will be. Some people believe it is easier to get a bank loan or security clearance than get a puppy from a responsible breeder.

Back yard breeders love their dog and think their dog is special and should be bred. What they breed to is not necessarily well thought out in advance. In many cases the dog is not shown, and may not have been screened for medical problems. Often the bitch and sire are bred too young or too often. Puppies are advertised in the newspaper or by flyers posted in stores. If you have the money and like the puppy, sold.

Puppy mills are commercial farms. Often they keep the dogs is filthy, primitive conditions without proper medical care and poor diet. They bred without much concern for health or behavioral issues. Puppies are sold to brokers who sell the puppies to pet stores or at roadside stands. The puppies are often unhealthy, do not conform to the breed standard and often have genetic diseases.

If you decide to breed your dog, read up on the breed. Be familiar with the breed standard. Join your local Labrador club and register your Lab. Get the proper medical certificates. Show and trial your Lab. Get a mentor. Help out at whelpings. Get familiar with pedigrees and what to look for and what to avoid. If your Lab does not conform to the breed standard or has medical problems, please neuter the dog. Why perpetuate problems in the breed?
 

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I agree with almost everything but I don't agree with the neutering part. I don't see why you should let a healthy dog undergo surgery. It's the owner's responsibility to keep an eye on the dog and I just don't believe in 'mistakes'. It's different when you talk about bitches but when it comes to dogs I see neutering as a very bad thing (I'm not saying this in an offensive way, just my opinion). A dog's drive are his hormones, it forms the true being of your dog. You can't just take that away because you're afraid he will mate. It's your responsiblity that he won't. Now I know that a lot of people don't see it this way. In a lot of countries there are just too many dogs that need help because of unplanned litters but teaching people about the consequences is a better solution in my opinion than making the dog the victim yet again.
 

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Excellent piece Labdad.

I’d add the ‘commercial’ breeders to the list too, similar to back yard breeders, but doing it on a larger scale.
They may do some or even all of the basic tests. They may rely on grandparent’s or sibling’s test results.
They may well look after their dogs well, they may well vet owners and they may have a knowledge of animal husbandry, but they have no specialist knowledge of Labradors or how to breed to improve the breed. They breed for the pet market as a way of making money. In the UK the government, in its wisdom, gave ‘grants’ to farmers to diversify into breeding dogs, which has led to large number of dogs being bred this way.

Hi Leisbeth – welcome to the forum.
I have to agree with you up to a point. I have never had any of my dogs neutered. I like a dog that is mature both mentally as well as physically, and would only consider neutering if there was a valid health reason to do so. I’ve always steered clear from commenting about neutering because I think as you do, but at the same time I can see that here in the UK we do have a problem with irresponsible ownership, and I think it is probably worse in the States where Labdad comes from - and in spite of my beliefs, many owners would be better off with a neutered dog. Of course, there are many responsible owners, but there are many who either can’t see the problem or don’t care. I live in an area where there are a lot of dogs. I have lost count of the times I have come across owners walking their in season bitches off lead and this can cause problems with entire dogs, not just the possibility of mating, but also fights. I have certainly noticed that vets now suggest neutering as a matter of course, something they never used to, but then people would never think to breed their ‘pets’ or have ‘just one litter’ in the numbers they do now. JMHO
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi

Over here on this side of the pond, the Labrador retriever is the most popular breed followed by the Lab mix. Well over 150,000 Labrador retrievers are registered with the AKC each year and the number grows. This does not include the unregistered Labs born each year. Animal Control facilities and shelters are over run with unwanted Labrador retrievers and Lab mixes. Animal adoption web boards scream URGENT! This wonderful Lab has only three days left before being euthenized, a far more civil word thean killed for the crime of being unwanted. Petfinder.org has almost 11,000 Labradors waiting for a for ever home.

Commercial breeders and back yard breeders, some who look at puppies as a cash crop and some who are terminally stoo-pid are doing their best unintentionally to ruin the breed we know as the Labrador retriever.

Labradors have several genetic diseases that are becoming more common due to poor and indiscriminant selection for breeding. Some rescue organizations have also reported aggresive Labrador puppies when the labrador should have a very even temperament.

Many responsible Labrador breeders in North America sell their puppies from a waiting list with linited registration and contract language that states that unless the dog is being shown for conformation (i.e. the dog is pet quality) the dog is to be altered within a specific time frame. Many of these contracts state that the dog cannot be sold or given aweay without their concent and is to be returned if ever the dog can no longer live wioth the original owner.

Most US shelters and rescue organizations require dogs offered for adoption be altered. In fact, some alter the dog befoire it is offered for adoption.

Altering a male Labrador that is not going to be used in a breeding program helps lessen the population of oops puppies. There are some medical reasons for altering but it also prevents genetic problems from becoming more wide spread in the neighborhood.

The only reason to breed a Labrador is to further improve the breed. If the dog has either genetic or comformation flaws, or the owners are not interested in pursuing a breeding program the dog should be altered. There is no sense to contaminating the gene pool. It is polluted enough as it is.
 
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