Your friends bitch has just had Labrador puppies. Although wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing to rescue an abandoned Lab from the local shelter?
Except, you remember hearing you should only buy from professional breeders?! But that puppy in the pet store was so achingly cute!
It’s not that you don’t know where to get a Labrador, there’s just so many options and perhaps you’re a little unsure of the pros and cons of each method.
This article discusses the things you should consider before making that life changing decision.
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Buying a Labrador From a Professional Breeder
Breeders come in all shapes and sizes. From dedicated experts who breed pedigree dogs to work or for show, to those who breed too many puppies, litter after litter purely for sale without love nor care for the health of the mother or quality of the litter.
(For how to recognize who the good breeders are, read our article: Labrador breeders – How to find the good ones!)
Buying from a good, responsible breeder is without doubt the best source for a quality, healthy Labrador puppy.
They care about the overall welfare of the breed, as well as the health of the mother, quality of the litter and giving the puppies the best start in life.
What Should You Expect From a Responsible Professional Breeder?
- Guarantee a purebred and pedigree Labrador.
- Screen the parents for health problems before breeding, so puppies will be as free as possible from inherited diseases.
- Selectively breed aiming for conformance to the breed standard, so your lab has the most chance of looking like the perfect lab.
- Carefully socialize puppies from birth so they are well-adjusted and confident before sending them to a new home.
- Help buyers to select the right puppy from the litter to suit their personality, hopes and expectations. Helping you to get the puppy of your dreams.
- Provide expert help and advice on caring for the dog from puppyhood right through to adulthood.
When you go to a good breeder you should expect lots of questions. They will always want their puppies to go to a good home so they’ll check you are in the right position and will be a good owner for their dogs.
They will also help to match you to the perfect puppy that suits your personality, preventing you from getting the wrong dog on impulse.
You know the cute but feisty one that got your attention by barging through his litter mates to run up to you and be the first to say hello?
Well, he may very likely become a dominant and strong-willed dog!
Perhaps he won’t be the easiest of the litter to control and may just need a strong-willed, attentive leader to control him and deal with his energy levels.
You May Need Patience
You should note that many breeders will have a long waiting list for their Labrador puppies.
Also, many good breeders find homes for their litters before they start breeding so they’re sure they only bring puppies into the world destined for a good home and life
So getting a puppy from a breeder isn’t the quickest of ways and if you simply must have a puppy RIGHT NOW! Then this may not be the right way for you.
But this is a good thing! It’s a kind of built-in ‘cooling off period’ and prevents impulsive buyers. And nobody should buy a puppy on impulse, it must be a well thought out and reasoned decision.
Adopting From a Labrador Rescue Center
Millions of dogs end up in shelters or rescue centers around the world each year.
And being the most popular dog in almost all English-speaking parts of the world, it’s inevitable that countless Labradors find themselves in this sad situation.
It’s also a very sad fact that many of these never get re-homed. Some are euthanized when premises fill to capacity or there just isn’t enough funds to pay for the levels of care needed.
Maybe you would like to give a lucky Labrador a second chance at life and happiness?
Adopting an Older Labrador From a Rescue Kennel Can Have Many Benefits:
- They will have been house trained already – No getting up in the middle of the night to relieve your puppy…or cleaning your floor after the inevitable mishaps.
- They will have mostly grown out of the mouthing and chewing phase – You could save a fortune in shoes and soft furnishings --)
- You’ll have fewer surprises health wise. There’s a chance of inherited diseases in puppies that don’t show up until they’re adolescent or older. An adult Labrador will already show signs of any underlying problems so you can avoid this.
- Many will have received a decent amount of training already – Saving you lots of time and work.
Having said all that…
There are Some Obvious Risks!
Some dogs will have ended up in the shelter due to behavioral problems that the owners just couldn’t cure or deal with. Or perhaps due to health problems that developed.
Some may have faced abuse and neglect leaving them with psychological scars.
These things may not be apparent when you’re first looking at a dog. Behavioral problems are sometimes well hidden, and aggression may only surface in very particular situations only.
But if you are patient, understanding and can inject some routine and love into one of these dogs lives, they can become absolutely wonderful pets.
There are also different types of rescue center and animal shelters. Some, especially government-owned ones, have very low staffing levels where they’re overworked and may find it very hard to properly evaluate their dogs. This isn’t the staffs fault but it does make the process of matching dog to new owner less successful.
You will be able to get a feel for the level of the center when you visit and how professional they are and the staff to dog ratios.
When rescuing a lab, a good, well staffed shelter will ask you to visit and spend time with your potential pet.
They will have assessed the dog and will tell you all they know about the dogs history and temperament.
They will ask you lots of questions to find out whether you and your lifestyle are a good fit for a Labrador.
They will want to meet you and your whole family. They will want to see how the people the Labrador is to live with interact with it and how the lab interacts with them.
Only if they decide from all the info they can gather that you’re able to care for a dog. And that your choice of dog is well suited to you and interacts well with you on visits will they eventually allow you to adopt.
Rescuing a Labrador can be a very good choice as long as due care is taken to pick the right one. And you will earn many karma points for doing a very good deed.
Taking a Puppy From a Friend
Although your friend is a very decent person- moral, loving and respectful to all and everything…which is of course why she’s your friend…is she really a good breeder of dogs?
Of course, this may be the case and so by all means go ahead and ask for one of her Labrador puppies, but most ‘backyard breeders’ don’t breed with the same care and attention that a professional breeder does.
Video: Labrador Puppies weaning for the first time
It’s unlikely that your friend has bred with the health, appearance and temperament of the puppies in mind, having screened the father and finding that perfect dog to mate with her bitch.
It’s more likely just a happy (or otherwise) accident that her bitch is pregnant at all.
It is a massive risk to take a puppy from a litter like this. These dogs have more than the average number of inherited diseases and behavioral problems.
So although you will be saving a bit of money compared to paying out to a professional Labrador breeder.
Or you might even be saving a dog from being given to a rescue center and possibly eventually being put down.
You just might be letting yourself in for some expensive surprises in the way of vets bills or behavioral specialists later.
So we’d seriously recommend you get your puppy from a more professional place. But having said that, of course many of these puppies do become very good pets indeed. It’s just the inherent risks are avoidable.
Buying From a Pet Store
Although it’s certainly true lots of people have bought fantastic dogs from pet stores, we strongly recommend this is avoided. In fact a few places in the world have now banned the sale of puppies from pet stores.
Most of the dogs sold in pet stores come from ‘puppy farms’ or ‘puppy mills’ as they’re often known.
In these places, dogs are often bred in poor conditions, sometimes kept in small wire cages and given very little chance to socialize and little if any personal contact with humans.
It’s long been proven dogs acquired from pet stores are more likely to suffer health problems and need a higher amount of expensive medical care throughout their lives.
And there’s now strong evidence to support the theory that dogs bred in this way have a higher chance of psychological and behavioral problems.
Video: Labradors Are Awesome Part 2: Compilation
AVMA Study of Psychological Problems in Dogs From Pet Stores
A recent study in a Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association compared 413 pet store-bought dogs to 5657 dogs bought from non-commercial breeders. The results, quoted from the report:
“Results—Pet store derived dogs received significantly less favorable scores than did breeder-obtained dogs on 12 of 14 of the behavioral variables measured- pet store dogs did not score more favorably than breeder dogs in any behavioral category. ”
“Compared with dogs obtained as puppies from noncommercial breeders, dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores had significantly greater aggression toward human family members, unfamiliar people, and other dogs- greater fear of other dogs and nonsocial stimuli- and greater separation-related problems and house soiling.”
So although doubtless there are many, many people who have successfully bought a wonderful pet from a store, this makes grim reading and I strongly suggest you do not support the practice and buy elsewhere.