Labrador Retrievers are very popular dogs for many good reasons. Unfortunately, with popularity you can also get a number of people wanting to cash in on that that breed substandard puppies in the hopes of making a few extra dollars. Whether you are looking for a pet, a hunting companion, a competition dog, or any combination of the above, you are going to want to ensure that you get a healthy dog with a good temperament that is suited to the activities you intend to pursue with him.
Advertising on a public forum through newspapers, internet sites, or other media outlets is neither a positive nor a negative. It is simply a way to get the word out that you have or will be having puppies in the near future. Most of these outlets do not do any screening for the quality of their advertisers and you will find both good and bad breeders advertising there. Club sites can be an exception. Many kennel clubs and particularly breed clubs have a code of ethics that their members must abide by. Breeders they list are much more likely to be in accordance with that code of ethics and if they aren’t, the club would like to hear about it.
There are many good reasons not to belong to a club and you do not have to belong to be a good breeder. However, those codes of ethics can provide you with some good guidelines to help weed out the bad breeders as you do your research into who you wish to get your puppy from.
Most good breeders will produce dogs that can make excellent pets. But, if you intend to field trial your Lab, it’s important to find a dog suited to that activity. Likewise, you wouldn’t buy a show dog from someone who doesn’t know what a breed standard is. While the breeder doesn’t have to actively pursue these activities themselves, ideally they have produced dogs that do participate in trials, shows, etc. and they are cognizant of the key features of a dog that excels in these arenas.
A good breeder, no matter what type of activities they pursue with their dogs including simply enjoying them as pets, does health testing on all their breeding dogs. They can prove it with certificates you can see and they back it up with a written health guarantee and sales contract that details what they are responsible for if your dog develops a genetic health issue.
In Labrador Retrievers, the national breed club recommends at minimum that the following test be done on all dogs that will be bred:
– Hip & Elbow Dysplasia – these are tested via x-rays that are evaluated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
– Eye examination – conducted by a canine ophthalmologist no more than one year prior to breeding to examine for genetic eye issues
– Exercise Induced Collapse – there is a gene test for the disease and breeders can ensure that they will not produce an affected puppy by making use of the test
– Centronuclear Myopathy – there is a gene test for this disease as well and breeders can use it to prevent production of affected puppies
Good breeders want to know that you are going to make a suitable home for their puppies. This is why they don’t sell them through third parties like pet stores. They care about where their puppies go and provide lifetime support for owners of their dogs. They will have questions for you and want to learn about your lifestyle, experience with dogs, experience with Labradors, family, etc. in order to evaluate your home as a place for a Labrador Retriever to live. A breeder that asks no questions and is only interested in money likely doesn’t care about the dogs they produce either. You want a breeder that cares because they will do their utmost to ensure the health of the dogs they produce and work to make sure they find good homes.
While this isn’t a complete list, it will get you started on your search for a Labrador Retriever breeder. Remember, if you aren’t comfortable with them, the environment the dogs live in, or how they treat their animals, then you should walk away.