Have you been asking yourself lately, “How can I get a Labrador puppy?” Labrador Retrievers have affectionate personalities and mild temperaments, making them a common choice as a family dog. They are also very high energy. Labs are intelligent and well-tempered for becoming service dogs. You may have seen a Lab working as a guide dog or alongside a police officer.
Labradors come in three distinct colors: black, yellow, and chocolate. There is no real difference between these sub-breeds aside from color. However, chocolate Labs and yellow Labs do tend to be favored as show dogs, while a black Lab is more likely to be raised as a hunting dog than a chocolate or yellow one. Learn more about the Labrador breed on our dedicated breed page.
How Can I Get a Labrador Puppy?
Labrador Retrievers are famous for being friendly and companionable to both humans and other dogs. This makes the Labrador an ideal breed to keep as a family dog. There are factors, however, which need to be considered before choosing a Labrador puppy.
The amount of maternal care a pup receives prior to adoption influences the adult temperament of your Labrador. If you want to adopt a Labrador puppy, it is important that you transact with a breeder who understands quality maternal care is essential to your puppy’s development. A responsible breeder will not remove your puppy from its mother before it is ready.
A study at the Kyoto University found that a Labrador Retriever’s adult temperament relates to the temperament of its owner. In the study, Labs belonging to extroverted owners had better social skills than those belonging to introverted owners. As a Lab owner, you will need to commit to daily exercise and frequent socialization to maintain your pet’s health.
Where to Look for a Labrador Puppy
The American Kennel Club’s Labrador Retriever puppy finder is an excellent tool for finding a quality puppy from a quality breeder. You may also look through your local classifieds for unregistered litters, although we do not recommend it. Even though Labradors are a generally healthy breed, it is important that both parents get screened for any health issues prior to breeding.
Adopting from unregistered litters will also significantly increase your chances of encountering a puppy mill. No matter where you adopt from, it is essential that you meet both parents and access a history of good health for each parent before adopting a puppy from the facility.
Buying From a Breeder
The best place to find registered breeders online if you are in the USA is through the American Kennel Club. In other parts of the world, use the puppy search tool on the website of your regional kennel club or equivalent authority. You may also ask a local veterinarian for a reference to a quality breeder.
Another option is to keep an eye out for someone with a purebred Labrador and request information on where they adopted from. The pros of buying from a breeder are that your puppy’s parents will have been screened for any existing health problems prior to breeding, alleviating the risk of your puppy encountering health issues down the road. Registered breeders use only top-of-the-line animals as parents.
Puppies from responsible and registered breeders are given the appropriate amount of maternal care and not released to a new home until they are physically and mentally mature enough to do so. This lays the foundation for an affectionate and even temperament in adulthood.
The cons of adopting from a breeder are higher costs and often longer wait times. Responsible breeders require a pre-adoption home check to ensure that their puppies are appropriately homed. You may also need to travel some distance to find the right breeder. Registered breeders usually breed a maximum of only twice per year. This maintains parental health and allows sufficient time for the puppies to progress. These breeders often have waitlists for upcoming litters before they are born, sometimes before the parents are even bred. While these practices maintain value, they also mean the puppies will cost a little more and take longer to bring home.
Private ads for puppies can be found in online classifieds or in your local newspaper. You may also spot them on the bulletin boards of various local businesses.
The benefits of sourcing a puppy from a private ad is that the breeder is likely be located nearby, and the puppies will be available relatively quickly, if not immediately. The cons of taking this route is that you do not have pedigree parents to your puppy, and the risk of health complications down the road is much higher. Puppy farms will often advertise through private ads. For these reasons, we do not recommend sourcing a puppy through a private ad.
We do not endorse purchasing puppies from pet shops, because the credentials of both parents and breeder cannot be provided. Parents of pet shop puppies may have been overbred, mistreated, or in less than optimal health. It is impossible to know without verified records.
The puppies themselves could have experienced conditions and trauma that will negatively impact their behavior in adulthood, such as being separated from their mothers too soon or physical abuse.
Avoiding Puppy Farms
Puppy farms are unregistered breeding establishments that mass produce puppies in order to generate the highest amount of revenue. These farms, or mills, severely mistreat their animals and often produce puppies with little socialization skills and significantly increased health risks. Check out our tips on how to spot a puppy farm.
To steer clear of these facilities, avoid pet stores, which often source stock from puppy farms because of the low cost. Also avoid any online advertisements for puppies at a low cost. If you do source a puppy from an online ad, call the breeder in advance and ask questions about the puppies, parents, and establishment to screen for any inconsistencies with industry standards.
When you visit the breeder, if it comes to that, ask to have a look around and meet both parents in person.
- Is the space open?
- Do the parents look healthy?
- How many other dogs and puppies are there on the premises?
If at all in doubt, it’s best to go elsewhere.
While Labs are generally healthy overall, it is important to confirm the parental health prior to breeding. If the breeder cannot show you certificates of health for both parents, adopting a puppy from those parents poses a risk for complications later on. The American Kennel Club recommends Labrador Retrievers get screened for:
- any hip and elbow defects that could indicate dysplasia
- heart disorders
- out of ordinary muscle weakness
- degenerative eye conditions.
Make sure that the breeder can demonstrate certified health in each of these areas for each parent. The initial cost of requiring this level of screening for your puppy may be higher, but it will save you on veterinary bills down the road.
Choosing Your Puppy
Labrador Retrievers are friendly by nature and tend to get along well with other dogs. This breed very rarely shows aggression and must be provoked to do so. When it comes to children and other pets, a Labrador puppy would be a valuable family addition. Labs are companionable and socialize well.
The Labrador Retriever is a high-energy breed and will need enough time and space each day to receive sufficient exercise. These exercise needs will continue to grow as your puppy matures. A Labrador is not designed to be an inside-only dog. This breed needs lots of activity to stay mentally and physically fit.
Consider that your fully grown Lab will be between 21.5 and 24.5 inches in height and weigh between 55 and 80 pounds. We recommend that you take your Lab out for daily outdoor activities such as swimming and fetch. A Labrador that does not receive enough exercise time may rebel by engaging in destructive behaviors within the household.
The decision to adopt a Labrador puppy is exciting and may feel like it needs to be immediately fulfilled. However, remember that the best-quality Labradors come from responsible breeders that produce only one or two litters per year. These breeders often have waiting lists due to high quality puppies and infrequent production. If you want the best (which you should!), be prepared to wait some time before bringing your baby home.
How Can I Get a Labrador Puppy?
Labradors are wonderful family dogs with lots of love for humans and other dogs. They are one of the lowest risk for health complications when properly screened, making them ideal as a long-term energy-filled companion. Considerations before jumping into the adoption of a Labrador puppy are how big your puppy will be when it reaches adulthood and the daily rigorous outdoor exercise it will require to keep it in peak physical and mental condition.
If you’re sure a Labrador puppy is right for you, the best route is adopting from a registered breeder, to ensure the recommended health checks have all been performed and that your puppy was bred responsibly. Read more about Labradors here in our guide to Labrador lifespan! And make sure you’re fully prepared for your Lab puppy with our guides like when can your puppy go outside!
References and Resources
Bray, E., Sammel, M., Cheney, D., Serpell, J., and Seyfarth, R. Effects of Maternal Investment, Temperament, and Cognition on Guide Dog Success. University of Pennsylvania 2017.
Graham, L. and Gosling, S. Temperament and Personality in Working Dogs. CRC Press 2009.
Kuroshima, H., Hori, Y., Inoue-Murayama, M., and Fujito, K. Influence of Owners’ Personality on Personality in Labrador Dogs. Kyoto University 2016.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website