Responsible, Commercial, and Backyard Breeders

Responsible Hobby Breeders

The primary goal of responsible hobby breeders is the betterment of the breed, not a monetary profit.  The principles and practices of ethical breeding programs are often associated with disappointments and costly decisions.  These breeders are motivated by a sense of responsibility to the breed, to the dogs they own, and to the offspring of their dogs.  

Reputable breeders are dedicated to their breed, and are involved in at least one dog-related activity. These breeders are usually members of dog clubs. These breeders often show their dogs in conformation shows, work with them in obedience competition, participate in field trials, and/or volunteer with the local Labrador Retriever rescue organization.  Responsible breeders will often serve as mentors for the novice breeder, sharing their knowledge, experiences, and insights with the new breeder.

These breeders have specific goals in mind for each breeding.  They usually plan a litter with the hope of keeping one or more of the puppies. The breeding pair is carefully selected based on the pedigree, temperament, conformation, soundness and working ability. Responsible breeders look for a sire that will complement the strengths of the females and help improve on any weakness. The sire and dam will have the recommended health clearances for Labradors, including at hip, elbow, and eye clearances. The Labradors that do not meet the breeder's standards will be removed for their breeding program. Most responsible breeders will generally plan 1 to 3  litters a year.

Responsible breeder place their puppies with a spay/neuter agreement and AKC limited registration. Reputable breeders utilize the AKC limited registration option to maintain the integrity of their breeding program and to the quality of the Labrador breed. The Labradors used in breeding programs should be carefully selected.  Lab owners that are considering breeding should be well aware of the risks and responsibilities.  Experienced breeders often serve as mentors for novice breeders. AKC limited registration can be changed to full registration by the breeder if deemed appropriate.

Reputable hobby breeders place their puppies in home that have been carefully screened. They often ask you about your family situation and how you plan to care for your puppy. These breeders will not sell a puppy to someone that they think will not provide a good home for one of their puppies. The breeder may want to help you select the puppy that will be right for your family. Their puppies are usually placed with a contract that includes a health guarantee and a return policy. These breeders will help you with any problems after you take the puppy home.  

These breeders want to take back the dog if the new owners are unable to keep the dog for any reason.  Unexpected situations arise, and you may not be able to keep your dog.  Ethical breeders will take the dog back or assist you in finding a loving home for the dog.

Large and Small Commercial Breeders 

Most commercial breeders lack the dedication to the breed that is an essential characteristic of responsible, ethical breeders.  Their priority is a financial profit. 

High-volume Commercial Breeders are often referred to a puppy mills. Their focus is on quantity, not quality. These breeders often own numerous different breeds. The sires, dams, and puppies probably do not receive proper care.  Often, their dog and the puppies are raised in crowded unsatisfactory conditions. These breeders do not consider the temperament, conformation, or soundness of their breeding stock. The breeding females usually have multiple litters. The puppies are poorly socialized and some may have health problems. These breeders often sell their puppies to puppy brokers for resale in pet stores.

Small-volume Breeders that utilize basic animal husbandry practices are also motivated by financial profits. Usually, financial gain is the primary goal for many small scale commercial breeders. Most of them are not concerned about the best interest of the breed. The quality of the puppies is variable. Typically, these breeders have 6 to 12 females of breeding age. They may own several  different breeds. For convenience (and to avoid paying stud fees), they usually own several stud dogs. These small scale commercial breeders may provide basic conditions for their dogs and puppies to keep expenses to a minimum. Their breeding dogs rarely have health clearances. Some financially motivated small scale commercial breeders may start with nice dogs, but producing good quality puppies requires much more than the mating of 2 purebred dogs! Due to lack of knowledge and/or interest in responsible breeding practices, the quality of the puppies from these breeding programs usually decreases with every generation. Some of these breeders know what prospective owners are looking for and they often have very smooth sales pitches that are not based on facts.

Some small-scale commercial breeders screen for some health clearances and maintain clean kennels. These breeders often produce above average quality puppies that are raised in an appropriate environment. They make a financial profit, however providing their dogs and puppies with proper care and healthy living conditions are also a priority.  

Backyard Breeders

Backyard Breeders may have good intentions, but they lack the knowledge, experience and dedication to the breed to make appropriate decisions. 
These breeders usually produce fewer litters of puppies than both reputable and commercial breeders. It is sometimes difficult for prospective owners to differentiate between a backyard breeder and a small, serious hobby breeder. The quality of the puppies is variable. Backyard breeders produce puppies for a variety of reasons. Some want to make a little extra money. Others want the children to "experience the miracle of life".  Some think that breeding their female dog will calm her down. Backyard breeders are usually unaware of the AKC standard for their breed. They know very little about their dogs pedigree and how to select an appropriate stud dog. The selection of the stud dog is usually based on the cost and the geographic convenience rather than important qualities such as health, soundness, temperament and working ability.  Their dogs are usually pet quality, and lack the characteristics that reputable l breeders strive to promote. Breeding pet quality Labradors usually produces mediocre offspring.