TO PROSPECTIVE LABRADOR PUPPY BUYERS
Some questions you need to ask – the
breeder and yourself – before you buy that Labrador
Before you fall in love with the
first adorable Labrador face you see, take the time
in an initial phone call to ask a
few questions of the breeder.
Remember you are adding a new member
to your family for the next 10 - 15 years, so don’t
go on a bargain hunt! Prepare to spend at
least R5,000 or more for a well-bred and well-raised
You may have known someone who has
or you may yourself have purchased a “backyard”-bred
dog, from a pet shop, or a puppy mill dog and had
great success. However, the high number of
serious problems seen in the breed today
makes it highly unlikely that you will be that lucky
again. Chief among these are temperament problems
ranging from aggression to shyness to hyperactivity.
Hip- and elbow dysplasia, eye problems causing blindness,
epilepsy, auto immune disorders and cancer can all
seriously shorten life span, quality of life, and
are also becoming more prevalent.
will do all they can to avoid these problems by researching
pedigrees and screening parents for certain inherited
problems before breeding. However, please remember
that even with all these checks there are no guarantees
that problems will not occur - you are only lessening
the risk factor. These are the questions you should
be asking ...:
- Where did you find out about this breeder?
Responsible breeders may have a waiting list of
puppy buyers. They don’t find it necessary
to advertise in newspapers or with a sign out
in the front yard or on the side of the road,
nor do they sell to pet shops. Go to the LRKC
website, or buy the latest dog magazines.
- Do both parents (the sire and dam) have hip
and elbow certificates issued from a veterinary
radiologist? “My vet Okayed the x-ray”
is not a valid clearance.
- Do both parents have at least current eye clearances
from an Ophthalmologist? This must be re-done
every year. Ask to see Certificates. Some breeders
are now sending blood samples to America for Optigen
(DNA) Testing. If this is the case ask to see
their certificates and if you are unsure what
the grades mean ask the breeder to explain, or
refer to the Animal Eye Hospital in Johannesburg
011 465 1237.
- Check for clearance certificates for any relatives
of the sire and dam. Is the breeder prepared to
discuss problems that may have cropped up in previous
- Is the dam at least 20 months old?
- How often is the dam bred? If it is every heat
cycle, THIS IS TOO OFTEN, and may indicate that
profit is the primary motive for the breeding.
- Will the puppy have a limited registration,
either breeder restrictions or a mandatory spay/neuter
contract? A breeder who cares enough about the
breed to insist on these is likely to be a responsible
breeder. On what basis was the sire chosen? If
the answer is “because he lives down the
street” or “because he is really sweet”
it may be that insufficient thought was given
to the breeding.
the breeder prepared to take the pup or mature
dog back at any time in the event that you are
unable to keep it?
- Will the breeder be available to answer any
question you might have for the life of the dog?
Is this someone you would feel comfortable asking
any type of question?
- Is the breeder knowledgeable about the breed?
Is he or she involved in competition with his/her
- Are the puppy’s sire and dam available
for you to meet? If the sire is unavailable can
you call his owners or people who have his puppies
to ask about temperament or health problems? You
should also be provided with photos or videos.
- Have the puppies been raised in the home -
not isolated in a backyard or kennel?
- Is the breeder knowledgeable about raising
puppies, and proper socialization techniques?
Puppies that are raised without high exposure
to gentle handling, human contact and a wide variety
of noises and experiences OR are removed from
their dam or litter-mates before at least 7 weeks,
may exhibit a wide variety of behavioral problems.
- Does the breeder provide you with a 3 - 5 generation
pedigree, a contract to sign, copies of all clearances,
health records and material to help you with feeding
- Do the puppies seem healthy, with no discharge
from eyes or nose, no diarrhoea, no foul smelling
ears? Are their coats soft, full and clean? Do
they have plenty of energy when awake, yet calm
down easily when gently stroked? Will the puppies
have received their first vaccinations? Have they
been regularly de-wormed and checked by a vet
prior to going to your home?
…. AND QUESTIONS YOU
NEED TO ASK YOURSELF:
Are you prepared to ...
- Take full responsibility for this dog and all
its needs for the next 10 - 15 years? This is
NOT a task that can be left to children.
- Invest the considerable time, money and patience
it takes to train the dog to be a good companion?
- Always keep the dog safe; no running loose,
riding in the back of an open pick up truck or
being chained outside?
- Make sure the dog gets enough attention and
exercise? (Labrador puppies need several hours
of both, everyday.)
- Live with shedding, retrieving, drooling and
high activity for the next 10 - 15 years?
- Spend the money it takes to provide proper veterinary
care including, but certainly not limited to -
vaccines, de-worming, spaying or neutering and
- Become educated about the proper care of the
breed, correct training methods and how to groom?
(There are many good books available, ask any
member of the LRKC Committee or members to make
a few suggestions.)
- Keep the breeder up-to-date on the dog’s
accomplishments and problems?
- Take your questions to the breeder or other
appropriate professional before they become problems
that are out of hand?
- Have the patience to accept the trials of puppy
hood, which can last for two years (an some!),
and each stage thereafter?
- Continue to accept responsibility for the dog
despite inevitable life changes such as new babies,
kids going off to school, moving or returning
- Resist impulse buying, rather have the patience
to make a responsible choice and decision?