Finding A Breeder

Labrador Retriever Breeder

Resources For Finding A Breeder


If you decide to get a puppy from a breeder it is very important that you spend the time looking for a good breeder. Please take a moment to read the information about Puppy Mills! You can get recommendations from friends and breed clubs — some veterinarians are also willing to make recommendations. Once you have a list of prospective breeders, you should do an initial phone screening. If the phone screening goes well, arrange a visit so you can look at the conditions where the dogs are being raised and meet the mother and other dogs. You can also ask for references of other owner’s who have adopted pups from the breeder in the past.

You’ll probably have to wait awhile before you can get your puppy — many good breeders have homes waiting before the pups are born. It is well worth the wait to find the right breeder and the right puppy. You and the dog will likely be together for the next twelve years! Also, don’t look for a “bargain” priced puppy — the purchase price of the dog is little compared with the cost of vet bills and heartache of an unhealthy puppy.

Tips On Recognizing A Good Breeder

A good breeder:

  • Is knowledgable about the breed — including both temperment and heredity problems common to the breed. It is not enough to “love” the dogs, you also want a breeder who knows all about the breed.
  • Understands genetics and is breeding responsibly to further the health and well-being of the breed. A good breeder has tested all her dogs, knows and can show you the complete health history of both dam and sire, and can show you hip and eye certification.
  • Will ask you lots of questions to make sure you will be a good owner. A good breeder truly cares about her pups and wants to find the best homes possible for them.
  • Can show you the pedigree of the dam and sire and can explain why she chose the pairing.
  • Will take the puppy back at any time should you decide you don’t want it — the pups are her top priority and she would much rather take the pup back herself than have it end up in a shelter.
  • Is eager to answer any questions you have and works to educate you about the breed. A good breeder will tell you that you can call at any time — even in the middle of the night — after you bring your pup home.
  • Is happy to have you come visit and will show you the dam and other dogs on the premises (although a breeder likely won’t want you to get too close to very young pups for their own health and safety). Mistrust any breeder who discourages you from coming to visit, or won’t show you where the dogs are actually living! The living quarters should be clean and look pleasant.
  • Has dogs that are happy, health, and well-socialized.
  • Does not breed too many dogs, and does not breed any one dog too often. Dogs need considerable care when they are bred, and puppies need the time to be watched and socialized. Beware of any breeder who has a long list of available litters — how much time could that breeder possibly be spending on socializing each pup?! Also, dogs should not be bred each time they come into season.
  • Ask the breeder how they first got interested in breeding — the answer to that question can reveal a lot about their commitment to the breed and to their own dogs.
  • Will ask you to sign a spay/neuter contract and (if you aren’t showing the dog) limited registration. The AKC offers these limited registrations to prevent unwanted puppies in the future.
  • Does not breed more than two different breeds of dogs. Beware the breeder who can offer you a menu of different breeds to choose from! You want a breeder who is knowledgable about and committed to the breed.

Lab Rescue

Lab Rescue

Resources For Adoption And Rescue

Rescue organizations are often created by groups of people concerned with finding homes for dogs who have been given up for one reason or another. Most try to remove animals from the animal shelter system or accept them directly from former owners, and put them in foster homes while they work to actively find a life-long home. Many rescues focus on dogs of one breed, while others will rescue dogs from any breed.

Adopting a dog from a rescue or a shelter is a wonderful opportunity to help an animal in need. Too many people adopt dogs on a whim, without giving enough thought to the lifelong commitment of dog ownership. When the owner can’t cope with the dog anymore, many end up in shelter. Literally millions of dogs are euthenized each year when no home can be found for them. By adopting, you can help one of these dogs find their “forever home.”

When adopting a dog it is important that you avoid being swayed by impulse. Don’t just take home the first cute, cuddly dog you see! As with choosing any dog, you’ll do best if you are able to find a dog that best matches your needs and lifestyle. Some rescue dogs may have emotional or physical challenges resulting from neglect in their former homes. The right owner can make a WONDERFUL difference in these dogs life, and find that the dogs are wondefully loyal and loving—appreciative of their new homes and owners in a way that a dog from a breeder might never be.

Our Rescue Group page is a great resource for organizations that help with lab rescue.

Finding A Puppy or An Older Labrador

Yellow Lab Puppy

Now that you’ve decided to get a lab, you’ll need to consider the options for finding a puppy or older dog. Below are some of the things to consider.

Should You Get A Puppy Or An Older Dog?


Puppies are cute, but for many people an older dog is a great choice! Puppies require extra time and attention as they grow. When a puppy is small, you’ll need to be able to be home every few hours to let the pup outside. Many people who do not have the time to socialize, house train, and obedience train a puppy opt to get an adult dog who has already had some training.

Why You Should Never Buy From A Pet Store


When you buy a pup from a pet store, you don’t get to see anything about the place where the pup was born and raised. What kind of a breeder would send a puppy off to a pet store, not knowing or caring anything about what kind of a home it ends up in? Pet stores are relying on impulse buys—meaning the person getting a puppy may not have put a lot of thought into whether or not they are really ready to commit to getting a dog. Studies have shown as many as half the puppies sold in pet stores have diseases. Puppies raised for pet stores are often raised like farm animals, not pets — and many are raised under the worst believable conditions. If you really want a puppy, its worth waiting for the right puppy at the right breeder, or saving a dog from a shelter or rescue. By buying a puppy at the pet store, you are encouraging irresponsible breeders, who make money out of your purchase.

Consider Shelters And Rescue


Both shelters and rescue provide great alternatives, allowing you to provide a home for a dog in need. Many local shelters have Web sites that let you look at dogs currently available for adoption. Also, most breeds have dog rescues, where dogs of a certain breed are taken from local shelters or given up directly from their former owners, and placed in foster homes until a good new home can be located. Some of the best dogs come from shelters and rescues. However, try to find out as much as possible about your dog. Some dogs may have emotional or physical challenges, that you need to make sure you are prepared for. For the right owner, this can be a great chance to make a difference in a dog’s life. You can locate shelter and rescue web sites in the Section on Lab Rescue.

Avoiding Puppy Mills


A puppy mill is a place where puppies are raised under poor conditions purely for financial gain or because someone enjoys having puppies around, but doesn’t make the commitment to raising them correctly. Unfortunately, there are still many puppy mills out there. Dogs are kept without proper medical attention, feeding, care, or living conditions. No attention is paid to pairing up appropriate mates, or avoiding genetic problems. More information is available under selecting a breeder below, but always visit a breeder before you commit to getting a puppy. Be sure to check out the living conditions of the dogs — the dogs should look healthy and happy, and the living conditions should be neat and clean. If you don’t feel comfortable, do not get a dog from there.

Selecting A Breeder


If you decide to get your dog form a breeder, you will need to locate and assess possible breeders. Please see the directory for Finding a Breeder for more information.

Are You Ready To Get A Lab?

Yellow Labrador

If you haven’t had a dog before, nothing can really prepare you for the huge time and financial commitment. It is never a good idea to buy a dog for someone as a present, unless you have agreed on it in advance—even then, part of the joy of getting a dog is in choosing it and finding the right match for you so a gift may still not be the best idea. Before you get a dog, here are a few things to be sure to consider!

Can You Afford A Dog?


The cost of owning a dog can really add up—as much as $10,000 over the life of the dog. Veterinary bills in particular, can get very expensive— a new puppy will need a series of shots; a teenage dog will need to be spayed or neutered; throughout its life the dog will need an annual exam; and elder care for a dog can become quite expensive, particularly if the dog is ill.

Will You Be Able To Spend Time With The Dog?


A dog that is left home alone all day will not be happy. Before you decide to buy a dog, it is important to consider whether you will have enough time to spend with it. Will someone be able to come home in the middle of the day to walk the dog?— this is particularly important with puppies, who cannot make it through a full day without needed to go to the bathroom. Will you have time to walk the dog at least three times a day? Will you have time to train it? If dogs are left alone too long they may become destructive and noisy, causing further problems.

Do You Like To Sleep In?


Dogs are most active at dusk and at dawn. Your lab is likely to wake up early in the morning — 5 or 6am and be ready to go out for his morning walk. Most puppies will need to get up at least once in the middle of the night for their first few months at home. Dogs don’t distinguish weekends from weekdays, so your days of sleeping late are likely gone for good. Owning a Lab is a great encouragement to see the sunrise every morning!

Can You Commit To Owning A Dog For The Next 10 Years?


Labs live about 12 years on average. Getting a dog is a commitment that you will need to continue over the long term, despite life changes, like getting married, having children, or sending your kids off to college. Will you still want to be a dog owner a decade from now? Are you up for caring for an elderly dog?

Are You Prepared For Messes?


Life with a dog is a whole new world—at one time or another, you’ll likely need to clean up dog hair, vomit, pee, and poop. Will you be able to easily forgive the dog if it has an accident on your carpet, or in your car? What if it chews up your favorite shoes? Or your homework/office work? Labs are short haired, but they shed an amazing amount. And they are great lovers of mud and dirt.

Do You Have Other Pets?


If you have other pets, it is important to consider the impact that the new dog will have on them. One of the reasons that dogs end up in the pound is that they did not get along with other pets in the household. Before you bring a new pet into the household, be sure to look for a breed and individual that will get along with any current pets. Also, consider how your current pet will get along with the new dog.

Do You Have Small Children?


New dogs — especially puppies — often don’t mix well with small children. First, consider whether you will have enough time to meet the needs of both the children and the dogs. Second, remember that children can accidentally step on, fall on, or irritate a dog — if you do get a dog, be sure to choose a breed and individual that is good with children, and not prone to aggression. Be sure to provide the dog with plenty of training as well. Remember that big dogs, even friendly ones, can accidentally knock children over when they get excited. Also, consider whether you might have children in the next few years. If so, it may be best to wait until the children are older before you get a dog.

Does Your Housing Allow Dogs?


Never, ever get a dog if you are living in an apartment or condo that does not allow dogs. Many people try to sneak dogs in, and end up having to give them up when they are discovered. If you are ready to get a dog, please look for housing that allows dogs. Also, consider what will happen if you lose you current housing, or need to move for other reasons. Will you be able to find and afford new housing that is pet friendly? If you own a house, be sure to consider the needs of your neighbors — what will happen if the dog barks frequently?

Are You Prone To Allergies?


Before you get a dog, be sure to check if you might be allergic. If you haven’t spent a lot of time around a dog, you might want to visit a shelter, or play with a friend’s dog to make sure you are not allergic. Remember, different breeds have different levels of allergins.