We decided to share this post to educate and strongly encourage people to buy a puppy from a registered breeder or get a rescue. Not only are there already way too many homeless Labs and other dogs in this world, there are way too many mistreated and badly bred Labradors.
A registered breeder performs numerous health tests including hip scoring and PRA tests, not only on the dogs they are breeding but also on all of their ancestors. This means they are helping breed out all of the genetic problems that Labradors inherit. It isn't a 100% guarantee but it is the only way we will eventually have healthier Labs. A reputable registered breeder should plan a litter for a reason and spend a lot of time matching the dogs they are planning to breed. There is a lot more to it than just throwing two good looking Labs together. Genetics, temperament and breed standard all come into play and are closely scrutinised. Ever been to a dog show? The Labs the registered breeders are showing often look nothing like the Labs your neighbours have that they got from a backyard breeder down the road and for a very good reason!
You should be asking lots of questions from the breeder before deciding to take one of their dogs:
1. Why did you breed the litter? (They should have a reason other than "my Lab is so cute I thought everyone should have one")
2. What are the parent’s hip and elbow scores and PRA results? (You don't want to be spending thousands on surgery to fix hip or elbow problems)
3. Where did you whelp the litter? (Would you like to have given birth there?)
4. How have you socialised the litter? Other dogs? Children? Household noises? People? (The crucial socialisation period is between 6-10 weeks. Great socialisation gets you a bomb proof dog. A poorly socialised pup is very likely to be hard work! But beware that the pups must also be protected from Parvo during this time.)
5. If I can't keep this dog for life, would you take it back? (If the answer is no, do you really want to adopt from someone that is happy for their dogs to end up PTS in a pound?)
6. What age can I take my pup home? (8 weeks is the ideal age. Any younger and they miss crucial lessons from their mum and litter. Any older and they can have trouble bonding with people. If the breeder doesn't know this or doesn't care, what does that tell you about the type of breeder they are?)
Remember, by purchasing a puppy from someone, you are providing them a tax free income and telling them that they are doing a great job as a breeder of Labradors and should continue to breed. Make sure your money is going to someone that has worked hard for the Labrador breed and that you want to encourage to breed because they have done a fantastic job. If you buy from a puppy farmer or a backyard breeder that throws two random Labs together, without regard to health issues and maybe lets them give birth in the backyard on their own, if this is where you purchase your puppy from, this is what you are saying is OK? You need to think very carefully about whether it really is ok before handing over your money and consigning these poor Mumma bears to another year of breeding.
Below is a post we saw today from one of the registered breeders we support. Such a sad reminder that not all of our pups come from loving homes were they get only the best of care.