You might think that choosing a Labrador is as simple as finding the cutest puppy in a litter, but you’d be wrong. There is far more to it than that! Choosing your companion for the next 10-15 years is not a decision to be taken lightly. Here are some useful tips for making the right choices along the way.
Choose your Labrador breeder carefully
First of all, you will need to spend some time researching reputable breeders in your area. You can check the Kennel Club’s website for registered breeders, or you can seek the advice of your local breed club, vet or dog trainer. Genuine word of mouth recommendations are useful, and if you know someone with a healthy, well-behaved Labrador you can ask them which breeder they got their dog from. The right choice of breeder can make a huge difference to the wellbeing of your dog, in terms of the health and behaviour of the puppy you take home. Some useful questions to ask your breeder are:
- Can I see the mother of the pups? How healthy/well behaved is she?
- Have you screened against the common Labrador diseases before breeding?
- How old are the puppies? (They should be at least 8 weeks old)
- Have the puppies had any vaccinations, worming or flea treatments?
- Are the puppies microchipped?
If the breeder doesn’t seem to know very much about the breed, or about health issues, then you should choose someone else to buy your puppy from.
Choose the type of Labrador you want
There are two distinct types of Labrador which you could buy as a family pet. The first of these is the English type, which come from dogs that are bred for the show ring. These dogs have been bred selectively for their uniform appearance and their good temperaments. They make good family pets provided they have been raised in a happy and stable environment. The second type is the “field” type of Labrador, which has been bred from working dogs. They have lots of energy and were bred for their stamina and their skills as hunting, retrieving dogs and are slightly less stocky. They will also make good pets, but they need to be adopted by families who can cope with a very active dog, and are willing to provide as much exercise as it takes to tire them out.
Choose a colour
Labradors come in yellow, chocolate or black. There is no real difference in these dogs in terms of their temperament, so it really is just a case of personal preference. You shouldn’t be asked to pay more for a certain colour Labrador (and if you are, you should look elsewhere).
Choosing your puppy
Lastly, try to choose the healthiest, calmest and happiest looking puppy out of the litter when you go to visit the breeder. The puppy should:
- Have clear, bright eyes and responsive vision
- Respond to loud noises, but without being timid or aggressive
- Happily approach you to say hello
- Play easily with its siblings, rather than hiding in a corner