Labrador breeders: how to find a good one.

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Find a labrador breederThe Labrador is the most popular dog in the UK.

As a result, Labrador breeders are not hard to find.

But how do you know when you have found a good one?

What makes a good breeder?

Many people are now aware that they should not buy Labrador puppies from pet shops and that they should avoid puppy farmers.

But that still leaves a lot of breeders to choose from.

A good breeder has several defining features.  All good dog breeders will do the following:

  • Take great care of their animals
  • Health test their breeding stock
  • Provide information and follow up care for their puppy buyers

Dogs that are well cared for

You won’t know for sure what conditions the breeder’s Labradors are kept in until you visit them,  but there are  things you can ask  in advance which are good indicators that a breeder puts the welfare of her dogs before financial considerations.

Find out how many dogs the breeder has, and how many different breeds of dog.  Find out  how often they breed from each dog,  and the maximum number of litters each bitch has had.

A considerate breeder will probably not have more than three litters from a bitch in its lifetime.  She will not have so many dogs that she cannot give them individual attention.

No good breeder will have more than one litter from a Labrador bitch in any twelve month period. And you should be wary of any breeder breeding from many different breeds of dog.

A good breeder will not own too many dogs and will have a warm relationship with each of them,  either by showing or working her dogs.  Or by embracing them into her family life as valued companions.    Any breeding bitches that are housed in kennels will spend time daily interacting with humans.

Health testing

A good breeder will health test their breeding animals.  The absolute minimum health tests for Labradors are Hip Scoring  and Eye Tests .  You can check over the phone that these have been carried out but you must ask to see certificates when you visit.  Ideally at least one of the parents of your puppy will be ‘clear’  for CNM.

For more information about health testing check out our section on inherited diseases in Labradors.

After care and information

A good breeder offers a lifetime of support to her puppy buyers.  She will answer your questions confidently and provide you with written information sheets on caring for your puppy.  Most reputable breeders will take a puppy back at any time in the future if you find yourself unable to care for it.

So how do you find  these good Labrador breeders?

There are a number of  ways to find a Labrador breeder.  These include puppy advertisements and breeder advertisements in newspapers and online. Labrador breed clubs will be able to put you in touch with local Labrador breeders and this is a good way to start your search.

If you google Labrador Retriever Club   you will find Clubs throughout the country.  Most of these clubs now have websites as do many breeders.

It is better if you can find a breeder in advance rather than searching for a pup and having to check out the breeder at the same time.  Many good breeders will have all their puppies spoken for before they are born,  so you will need to get your booking in early.

What about buying a puppy from an advertisement?

Some people regard puppy advertisements with great suspicion,  but even reputable breeders occasionally need to advertise puppies.  Especially if a litter is very large,  or if they are unexpectedly let down by time wasters at the last minute.

There are puppy advertisements on the Kennel Club    and Gundog Club    websites and many reputable breeders advertise on these sites.  However,  there are no guarantees and you should treat any advertisement with some suspicion until you have satisfied yourself as to the breeders credentials.

The breeder may well have their own website,  and though this says more about their ability to make a website or to pay a web designer,  than it does about their breeding practices,  at least it may give you an idea of what kind of a breeder they are.

What about the Kennel Club’s assured breeders scheme?

Members of the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder’s scheme agree to abide by its code of practice.  You can read the requirements for membership of the scheme here.

Not all good breeders belong to this scheme and although the scheme ‘promotes’ good breeding practices, it is not a guarantee of a healthy puppy.  More importantly,  neither does the pedigree certificate that accompanies the sale of all pedigree dogs registered with the KC in the UK.

At the time of writing, puppies from untested parents can be registered, as can puppies from parents with dreadful hip scores.  Check out:  Are puppy buyers placing too much trust in pedigree papers  It is really up to you to check documentation for any important information about your puppy or its parents.

Choosing your puppy

Once you have found a good labrador breeder you may be able to choose a puppy.   Don’t be put off if there is no choice.  It is very hard to tell how pups are going to turn out at eight weeks old,  and the fact that all the other pups are spoken for is a good indicator that your chosen breeder is in demand.

For more information about finding and choosing a Labrador puppy you can follow this link:  Getting a Labrador puppy

You might also be interested to read: How to spot a bad Labrador breeder

More help and information

If you enjoy Pippa’s puppy articles, you will love her new book: The Happy Puppy Handbook – a definitive guide to early puppy care and training.

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Pippa Mattinson

The Labrador Site is brought to you by Pippa Mattinson. Pippa's latest book The Happy Puppy Handbook is a definitive guide to early puppy care and training

by Pippa on November 5, 2011

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Hannah Lautman May 21, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Do you know of any good labrador (in particular black labs) breeders in California? I am looking to adopt but have checked out quite a few breeders that dont appear trustworthy, i am tired of being let down time after time.

I should mention that i CAN’T pay over five hundred dollars to get the actual puppy.

Reply

Pippa May 22, 2013 at 6:51 am

Sorry Hannah, we are based in the UK. Good luck with your search.

Reply

Audrey Alexander May 6, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Unfortunately I fell victim and purchased a puppy from a bad breeder. I had two labs from two different breeders, a black and a white lab. My black lab Harlow I still have but ended up having to let my white one go at the age of 3. I did my research on both my pups and both breeders seemed legit. My harlows breeder was awesome we still have contact and if I have any issues she’s always there to help. My white labs breeder totally different. Never there to help, paid for a ckc registered puppy but she could never get me my papers, so I called the ckc and she had been kicked out of the program, not a good sign. Anyway my white lab had a aggressive streak in her and the older she got the worst she seemed to be getting. I sent her to school for training and did everything I could until the day she took a snap at my grandson. I knew then at that moment she couldn’t be trusted. I fell in love with this dog and it killed me to let her go, but I had to put my grandchildren first.
My advice do lots of research, ask for references and call them. If I had to have done that I would have known about all the other people that this woman had scammed, and that she wasn’t a good breeder at all even tho she played the part very well. It’s not easy to have a pet fall in love and then have to let them go, I am lucky in one way, I know where my pooch is and I know she’s in a home with no young kids and very much loved and taken care of, but my heart still aches for her.
With all that being said, research research and research. Ask for those references. Best of luck!!

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