Ethical 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 dogs they have bred.  

Ethical breeders are dedicated to their breed, and are involved in at least one dog-related activity. These breeders are usually members of dog clubs. They breeders 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, ethical 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.  These breeders usually plan a litter with the hope of keeping a puppy form the litter.  The breeding pair have been carefully selected based on the pedigree, temperament, conformation, soundness and working ability. The Labs that do not meet the breeder's standards are removed for their breeding program. The dogs in their breeding program will have the recommended health clearances for Labradors which include hip, elbow, and eye clearances.  Responsible breeders look for a sire that will complement the strengths of the females and help improve on any weakness.  These breeders will often travel long distances to find a suitable sire.  Responsible, ethical breeders will generally plan up to four litters a year.

Ethical breeders look for responsible dog owners for their puppies.  They often ask you about your family situation and how you plan to care for your puppy.  The breeder may want to help you select the puppy that will be right for your family.  These breeders will help you with any problems you have after you take the puppy home.  

These breeders want to take back the dog if the new owners are unable to keep the dog.  Unexpected situations sometime 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.

Commercial Breeders and Backyard Breeders

Commercial breeders and backyard breeders lack the dedication to the breed that is an essential characteristic of ethical breeders.  The priority of commercial breeding programs is a financial profit.  Their focus is on quantity, not quality.  The goals of backyard breeders are variable.  These breeders produce smaller numbers of puppies of variable quality.

High-volume Commercial Breeders are often referred to a puppy mills.  The sire, dam, and puppies rarely receive proper care.  Most are raised in sub-standard, crowed conditions.  These breeders do not consider the temperament, conformation or soundness of their breeding stock.  The puppies are poorly socialized and many have health problems.  These breeders usually sell their puppies to puppy brokers for resale in pet stores.

Some small-volume Breeders that utilize basic animal husbandry practices are motivated by financial profits.  The decisions made by these breeders are frequently not in the best interest of the breed.  Generally, their dogs receive a higher standard of care than the puppies from the high-volume puppy mills.  Typically, these breeders will have 5 to 15 females of breeding age.  For convenience (and to avoid paying stud fees), these breeders usually own 1 or 2 stud dogs.  These small puppy mills may start with breeding quality dogs, but producing good quality puppies requires much more than the mating of 2 purebred Labradors!  Due to lack of knowledge and interest in ethical breeding practices, the quality of the puppies from these breeding programs usually decreases with every generation.  Some small-scale commercial breeders screen for genetic disorders and maintain clean kennels.  Many of these breeders know what prospective owners are looking for and the breeders have very smooth sales pitches!  Some small commercial breeding programs can be difficult to differentiate from well established ethical breeding programs. 

Backyard Breeders may have good intentions, but they lack the knowledge, experience and dedication to the breed to make appropriate decisions. It is sometimes difficult for prospective owners to differentiate between a backyard breeder and a small, serious hobby breeder.    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 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 geographic convenience rather than important qualities such as conformation, soundness, temperament and working ability.  Their dogs are usually pet quality, and lack the characteristics that ethical breeders strive to promote.  Breeding 2 pet quality Labradors usually produces mediocre offspring.  Sadly, the backyard breeder contributes to the large number of pet quality purebred dogs that end up in shelters and rescue organizations.