Finding a Responsible Breeder

Look, Listen and Learn

Read about Labrador Retrievers. Labradors are wonderful dogs, but this breed is not for everyone. Consider the space, companionship and exercise needs of the breed.

Review the description of Labradors on the AKC website. Be familiar with the characteristic of the breed. 

Learn about the health problems associated with LabradorsSome health conditions are inherited and others are not.  Some disorders can be prevented, and the probability of others can be reduced.

Contact Labrador Retriever Clubs, local kennel clubs, the AKC breeder referral page, or veterinarians in your area for referrals. Most reputable breeders do not advertise in the newspaper.

Visit with breeders and their dogsTheir dogs should seem happy, healthy and well cared for. Responsible breeders provide adequate space for their dogs including safe indoor and outdoor areas.   Some or all of their dogs will be in the house for at least part of the day. Responsible breeder usually have some older retired dogs and a few young "hopefuls" living with them. Typically, you will be able to meet grandparents, aunts, siblings, and cousins of the puppies you are considering. Responsible breeders often do not own both the sire and dam.

Ask Questions

Ask the breeder questions about their involvement with the breed. Responsible breeders are knowledgeable about Labrador Retrievers.  These breeders usually participate in dog shows, obedience training, field trials, and/or breed rescue.   

Ask about the goals of their breeding programs, and how they select the dogs used in their breeding program. Look for a breeder that focuses on quality rather than quantity, and gives something back to the breed.  The primary goal of ethical breeding programs is the betterment of the breed, not a monetary profit.  When a financial profit is the primary goal, the choices and decisions made by these puppy producers are often not in the best interest of their dogs, their puppies, and/or the Labrador breed.  The selection of the breeding pair should be based on specific characteristics including health clearances, conformation, and temperament.

Ask how many breeding females they have, how often their females are bred, and how many litters the breeder has in a year. Look for a breeder that is concerned about the health and well-being of their females and puppies.  Generally, responsible breeders will have up to 5 or 6 females of reproductive age and plan 1 to 4 litters a year.  Their females have up to 4 litters in their lifetime.  Most of their litters are planned with the hope of keeping a puppy from each litter. 

Ask to see the pedigrees and health clearances of the sire and dam. Hip, elbow, eye, EIC, and D locus (dilute) DNA testing are recommended for Labradors. OFA hip and elbow clearances can be verified on line. Many reputable breeders do additional health clearances on their dogs.

Ask if the puppy will be sold with papers from the American Kennel Club. Not all canine registration organization are equal. The American Kennel Club is still the "gold standard" of canine registries in the USA. The AKC is primarily a registration organization.  However, this organization also encourages sound breeding practices by promoting the breed standard, supporting a variety of dog events, providing information to potential breeders and prospective dog owners, requiring DNA testing of frequently used stud dogs, and investigating reports of substandard kennel conditions.

Ask the breeder where their puppies are raised, and how they care for their puppies. Puppies require appropriate veterinary care, a clean safe environment, good quality food, room to exercise, toys to play with, and lots of human interaction. The puppies raised by responsible breeders are well cared for and properly socialized.

Ask the breeder about their puppy selection policy. Some breeder that will help you select the puppy with the energy level, temperament, and characteristics that will meet your needs and expectations. 

Ask the breeder about their return policy if you can't keep your dog. You may be required to return the dog to the breeder if you are unable to keep the your dog.  Ask what will happen to a dog that is returned.  Ask if you will receive a refund if the dog is sold to a new owner. 

Interesting and Informative Links

Finding a Responsible Breeder