Free information guide about Labradors

Labrador dogs – Introduction

We receive numerous requests for advice, information, help, etc from around the World in relation to Labrador dogs. So, we have attempted to provide the information below (mainly our opinion), hopefully, to be of some assistance.

Please note that it is intended to continue to include further information and to update that already included. Also, please note the disclaimer notice on our website.

Contents:

 

What is the suggested maximum age for getting a Labrador pup?

Another enquiry we receive is people wanting an ‘older’ dog, as opposed to a puppy. The breeders that we know (that includes us!) usually have most of their puppies going to their new homes when they are old enough (ie 8 weeks of age). And that is normally a market driven decision (ie most new dog owners want their pups etc as soon as possible etc).

Of course, there will be times when any breeder may still have a puppy that is past the 8 week age stage, and for no particular reason. If a breeder has a puppy for sale way past this age (eg say 16 weeks etc), then there may be reasons behind why this has occurred. This may warrant further inquiries etc to clarify or confirm what these reasons are.

As we do not know of any breeder that keeps puppies past the age where they can go to their new homes, for no reason/s! And the reasons we have witnessed for puppies to be kept past that period has included (for example) illness etc, inadequate development, etc.

 

What is the suggested minimum age for getting a Labrador pup?

The minimum age at which a pup should be sold is eight weeks. We are aware that some other breeders do sell their pups earlier. And we also receive requests re this. However, in our opinion, a puppy should not be sold any earlier than eight weeks of age (allowing for vaccination at six weeks of age etc). Also, we believe that if breeders do sell puppies under this age, it is also contrary to law (in NSW).

To the best of our knowledge, the Department of Agriculture (NSW) is responsible for the administration of this law. And it is suggested that any breaches etc be reported to them.

 

Are Labradors aggressive?

Labradors and aggression are not synonymous, and we believe that Labrador Retrievers should not show or demonstrate any signs of aggression etc. And the official breed standard has stated that Labrador Retrievers should have a temperament “with no trace of aggression”. Of course, like many things, there can be various factors that may affect this (eg how the puppy is treated etc), and to varying degrees.

 

Australia and pedigree dogs?

In Australia, there is the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC), to which the various State organisations (eg Royal NSW Canine Council Limited now trading as Dogs NSW) are ‘affiliated’ etc. The various State organisations etc have various roles, policies, etc in relation to the breeding of purebred dogs and/or their registration, their pedigree registration, etc.

 

What is a Bitch in relation to dogs?

This term relates to the female sex of a dog.

 

What is the Breed standard for Labradors?

Various breeds of dogs have an official ‘breed standard’ which provide details in relation to various aspects of that breed. Such as height, colour, general appearance, coat, temperament, skull, eyes, head, ears, mouth, neck, forequarters, hindquarters, body, feet, tail, gait, and movement.

These ‘breed standards’ should be available through the website of the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC), and they have one for Labrador Retrievers here.

 

How do types of Labrador Breeders vary?

The type, quality, experience, of breeders seems to vary considerably. When buying a puppy, it is strongly recommended that dealings should be with breeders that are registered members of the control organisation for their State. For example, in NSW, it is the Royal NSW Canine Council Limited which is now trading as Dogs NSW. Also, ask the breeder what papers you will receive, which should include vaccination, microchip, and pedigree documents. The type of pedigree papers you receive can also vary (eg in NSW there are “main” or “limited” pedigree registration papers).

It is common practice for pedigree papers to be issued on the Limited register for puppies, especially if you are not intending to show or breed.

Some Labrador breeders choose to join multiple breeding associations, clubs, etc. and then advertise or imply that because they are members of so many associations or clubs that somehow that makes them better breeders than, say, other breeders who do not. I consider this to be generally incorrect. As an analogy, it would be like someone joining (for example) the NRMA and then suggesting they are now better motorists!

Joining or not joining associations, clubs, etc. does not make you a better breeder. It is the breeding and management practices that you implement that matter!

How is Breeding Labradors suggested?

Before breeding Labradors (particularly if inexperienced in breeding dogs), then it is important to learn as much as possible about the various aspects etc involved with breeding.

There are a number of relevant books etc available, such as through libraries and bookshops. Adequate research should be undertaken to gain a good understanding of how to undertake responsible breeding of quality puppies. Hopefully, which will be good ‘role models’ of their breed and with minimal health risks/problems etc.

 

When should Pens or chains be used?

We believe that puppies (like children) need to have areas where they can play etc safely (particularly when not supervised). And we feel that the use of suitable pens (eg made from wire netting, wire mesh, etc) are most suitable.

Puppies can get into all kinds of ‘mischief’, particularly with the chewing of unsuitable items etc (eg plants, garden hoses, etc) when they are not being supervised. Puppies also require a reasonable amount of rest and sleep. We have found that the pups will normally go back into their pens to rest or sleep, as the pens may also provide them with security or safety.

So, we suggest that puppies (particularly when not being supervised) be placed in ‘puppy safe’ areas, such as a suitable pen etc. And a pen can be easily constructed (eg wire netting and some steel posts), and can be as elaborate and/or as permanent as is desired. As the puppy gets older and matures, the need for the use of a pen will probably diminish. But this may also be dependent on (for example) the training that the puppy receives, the area that it has access to (eg is it fenced etc), etc.

 

What Plants are dangerous for Labradors?

There are various plants etc that can be harmful to and/or not good for Labrador dogs. These are believed to include (for example):

  • Apricots (kernel)
  • Asparagus fern
  • Caster oil plant (seeds)
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Ivy
  • Lantana (berries)
  • Oleander
  • Paspalum
  • Peaches (stone and leaf)
  • Poinsettia (leaves & stems)
  • Privet
  • Ranunculus (or Buttercup)
  • Rhubarb (leaves)
  • Wandering jew
  • Wisteria
  • Onions
  • Chocolate
  • Nutmeg

So, it is suggested that access to these by dogs and especially puppies be restricted or avoided.

 

Dogs?

This term can mean or relate to ‘canines’ etc in general. Or can be used to relate to the male of the canine species (eg opposite to bitch).

 

What is Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC)?

Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) is believed to be a genetic condition that can affect various dog breeds, and hence, our breeding stock is tested and screened for this.   We use DNA testing.

Affected dogs show signs of muscle weakness, loss of coordination, a severe marked increase in body temperature and life-threatening collapse when participating in strenuous exercise or activity. ¹

 

What is the Environment in which Labrador Pups are Raised?

Our Labrador pups are raised in an environment in which they (and their parents) are treated as part of our family. Not just as a ‘breeding machine’ etc, locked in a pen (which we have seen at some other breeders).

All of our Labradors interact with us and our family throughout every day.yellow labrador pup

They are raised on a rural property and are not only socialised with people, children, etc, but also with other animals (eg goats, cattle, etc).

We strive to have our Labrador pups highly sociable (ie not scared etc to interact with people etc). We also strive to minimise potential problems in the transition from us to their new owners.

The environment in which the puppies are continued to be raised in after they leave us is also very important. There are numerous factors that can have various effects upon their development. For example, the level and type of exercise they are exposed to, the quantity and quality of their diet, etc.

 

How do I decide to get a Female or Male Labrador puppy??

One question that often arises for prospective puppy owners is whether to ‘adopt’ a male or a female pup?

Our personal preference is for males. We have found their temperament, personality, etc to be more to our liking. Of course, there are many people who prefer females. We have found that many of these have been people who have either been raised with a female Labrador or who have had a female dog later in life and wish to remain with that particular sex.

In our opinion, unless you want a female for breeding etc, then serious consideration should be given to ‘adopting’ a male. As not only are they very suitable companions etc, they can also be easier and cheaper to desex!

We raised our four children with various gender of dog, and have found the male to be just as ‘safe’, non-aggressive, etc (and more playful etc) as the females. And we believe that the environment (eg training, attention, etc) in which the pups are raised has a significant impact upon their behaviour etc, regardless of their sex.

 

How to treat dogs for Fleas?

Bravecto is what I use for my Labradors for fleas and ticks. I have found Bravecto to be an excellent product. It is available for different size dogs and is active for up to 3 months, which is excellent. Many Pet Shops, Vets, and online pet shops stock this. Even eBay has it and is often very well priced.

Bravecto for fleas and ticks

Are Genetic Guarantees worth it?

Some Labrador breeders choose to offer what they term as a “genetic guarantee”, while most do not. From the “genetic guarantees” that I have read, they seem to be virtually worthless and therefore pointless, other than to maybe give a false sense of security or value etc. to potential puppy buyers. For example, one such “guarantee” indicates in effect that there is no 100% guarantee of anything! And that they MAY choose to offer a replacement puppy or money refund (of THEIR choice and amount)!

Then, what really is being guaranteed? It seems to me to be virtually nothing?

So, please be careful of the supposed “genetic guarantees” and please read them carefully if you are considering getting a puppy from such a breeder.

 

What Health Conditions that Labradors are screened for?

Hip and elbow dysplasia are probably the main conditions that some Labrador breeders have focused on and for a significant period now. However, there are some other conditions (which may not be as prevalent) that some Labrador breeders also screen their breeding dogs for.

This includes (for example) Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC). Please note that many dog breeds are affected by various conditions, not just the Labrador. But as the Labrador has been so very popular and for such a long time now, screening for various conditions advanced also.

In relation to PRA and EIC, puppy parents can be screened by DNA testing.

All of our puppy parents are not only screened for hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, but also for PRA and EIC.

We have noticed that some breeders will make various claims, such as ‘screened for all known diseases’, etc. We find this difficult to believe, as there are numerous ‘known diseases’, not just those mentioned above (which are the main ones screened for).

yellow labrador at beach with surfer

 

How to treat for Heartworm?

In our opinion, all of our pups should be regularly treated with a heartworm preventative medicine. This should start by no later than the age of six months (and preferably earlier).

We have found the once-per-month treatments to be most suitable (eg Proheart etc). For the budget-minded, you can purchase the extra-large dog tablets (ie for 46 – 68kg). These can be broken into half (for administering to an adult Labrador up to 34kg), which works out to be very cost-effective.

 

Labradors and Hip Dysplasia?

Labradors, like many other animals and breeds of dogs, can be inflicted with a hip condition known as hip dysplasia. And it is reported that there can be various factors that can cause and/or contribute to this, such as (for example) diet, exercise, trauma, genetics, etc.

The analogy seems to be similar to humans and arthritis. That is (for example) whether your parent/s are or are not affected by arthritis, does not necessarily mean you will or will not be also affected by it. But, obviously, the greater the effect on the parents, then it would seem that the risk of the offspring also being affected is increased.

The following quote also seems relevant and may be of interest:

“Studies indicate the more normal the parents, on average, the more disease free their offspring and the less severe the disease would be if it did occur. In one study, normal parents resulted in 64 – 81% normal offspring and 19 – 36% dysplastic offspring. While with diseased parents only 7 – 37% of offspring were normal and 63 – 93% were abnormal. We also know high growth rates, high levels of dietary supplementation of vitamins and minerals and lots of exercise increases the risk and severity of Hip Dysplasia. “(Dr F. Anderson, 2000)

So, it seems sensible to purchase a puppy from a breeder who has had their breeding stock appropriately screened. And, once you have the puppy, then it also seems wise to take at least some precautions, such as with diet, exercise, etc.

 

What are Hip Scores for Labradors?

There is a growing trend for future puppy owners to ascertain the hip score details of the pup’s parents. That is, the hip score being the score or rating allocated by a veterinarian following the assessment of x-rays of the hips.

The general idea being to only use those dogs that have been appropriately screened, for breeding, so as to hopefully minimise the risks of hip problems (eg hip dysplasia) for the pups.

The system for ‘scoring’ the hips involves making an assessment for each hip and against nine separate criteria, which include:

  • Norberg angle
  • Subluxation
  • Cranial acetabular edge
  • Dorsal acetabular edge
  • Cranial effective acetabular rim
  • Acetabular fossa
  • Caudal acetabular edge
  • Femoral head/neck exostosis
  • Femoral head recontouring

With the maximum possible score being 108 (ie 54 for each hip, or 6 for each criteria). Please note that screening is normally not done until the dog is at least 12 months of age (ie the puppy parents, not the puppy).

The ‘breed average’ for Labrador varies from time to time however, it is about 12. This is the total score (ie for both hips). So, for example, a dog with a total score of 12, could have a score of 6 and 6, or 5 and 7, etc. We would not suggest the use a dog, for example, that has a significant imbalance in their hip scores (eg a total of 12, but say, with a 9 and 3). We also would not suggest the use of a dog that has a score higher than 3 on any of the individual criteria mentioned above. So, it can be important to view the hip score certificates for the parents of any puppies that you may be considering.

There has been some discussion among breeders about the ‘breed average’ not being a true average of the breed rather than an average only of the dogs that have been submitted for testing.   There may be some accuracy to this argument.   However we feel it is significantly  important to continue with the testing, screening, and selecting breeding stock based on attempting to improve the breed (ie Labrador Retrievers) and use the ‘breed average’ of about 12 as a guide.   Hence, all of our breeding stock have hip scores below the breed average.

It is also important to understand hip scores are just one aspect of determining a good quality dog, and there are many others aspects also, so please don’t JUST focus on hip scores when deciding. However, by at least having an understanding of hip dysplasia and hip scores, it may help in selecting a puppy that hopefully will NOT be affected, or if it is, it will be minimised.

 

When to get Insurance for Labrador puppies?

yellow labrador running
Some new puppy owners may find health insurance a worthwhile consideration, and we provide (free) with our puppies, six weeks of pet insurance. This insurance can be continued, if desired, by the new puppy owner.

We do not recommend any particular product.

It is interesting to note that some breeds of dogs, excluding Labradors (at the time of publishing), are more costly to insure, as “some breeds have higher veterinary care costs, so the premium for these breeds or part breed is an extra $5.00 per month”. These breeds that cost extra (whether pure breed or part breed), include (for example) “Alaskan Malamute, Bernese Mountain Dog, Boxer, Bull Terrier, Bulldog (all breeds), Chow-Chow, Great Dane, Golden Retriever, Irish Wolfhound, Mastiff (all breeds), Newfoundland, Old English Sheepdog, Pit Bull Terrier, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Shar-pei, St Bernard”.

 

What about Pedigree papers for Labrador Puppies?

There seems to be numerous breeders that charge for the provision of pedigree papers. We do not understand why when it only costs about $25 to register the puppy and to obtain the registered pedigree papers? And we believe that the registered pedigree papers are also your ‘proof’ of the details of the puppy purchased, the details of the breeder, the puppy’s ancestors, etc, etc. And that these papers are important documents to obtain, as they also help to show that the breeder is a registered breeder AND that the breeder is breeding in accordance with the correct policies, guidelines, etc. As not ALL puppies are automatically eligible to be registered and provided with registered pedigree papers. For example, the breeder may not be registered and/or the puppy may not be of the satisfactory standard etc to be registered on the appropriate register etc.

So, please ensure that you do obtain REGISTERED pedigree papers. And we would query why the provision of such papers needs any additional charges etc (the quality breeders that we know of do not charge extra, and nor do we)?

 

How about if I want a Pet that is not for showing etc?

We sometimes receive a request for a ‘cheaper’ pet. One that is not for showing etc.

All of our pups are bred from the same quality parents, and who have all been cared for, fed, etc with the same quality food, veterinarian care, screening for hip/elbow dysplasia, etc. The pups are also all raised in the same way, and cared for and fed with the same quality food, care, etc.

So, the end result is that we do not have litters of pups that are a percentage of low-quality pups and a percentage of higher quality. Our pups are quality pups. They all come with pedigree papers (ie your proof of their breeding, quality, etc), regardless of what you may intend to use the pup for (please note that the vast majority of our pups are sold as pets, and to owners who appreciate their quality etc).

If you are working on a fixed budget, and one which will not allow you to purchase a quality pup, then we suggest that consideration should be given to saving the life of a dog on ‘death-row’, and visit one of the many dog pounds etc, and select a suitable pet there. The quality may well be just as good (or better!) as some of the ‘budget priced’ pups around.

And, in our opinion, the possible savings you may make with the initial purchase price of the ‘budget-priced’ pup may eventually prove to be a ‘false’ saving, particularly if the pup has come from breeding stock that has NOT been screened for hereditary diseases (such as hip dysplasia etc). Imagine having a puppy that may eventually be inflicted with such a disease, and the problems this then causes for both the pup and its owners (and of course, the associated Vet bills)?

This is just one small aspect of selecting a quality pup. And we have witnessed first-hand how some breeders treat their breeding stock (eg locked in a pen in crowded conditions, with poor facilities, fed on low-quality food, etc, etc).

And we also receive feedback etc from various people who (for example) have purchased a Labrador puppy, got it home, and only had it a few days, before it died from parvovirus! Not only, in this case, did the person no longer have a puppy (which cost many hundreds of dollars), but was also not able to get another puppy for her home for at least several months, due to the potential risk of infection etc to another pup from the parvovirus. The breeder, in this case, did not provide a vaccination certificate, pedigree papers, etc! So, as you can see, there is a vast variation in the quality etc of Labrador puppies available.

We are not trying to convince anyone to necessarily obtain a puppy from us! But what we do suggest is that careful consideration should be given to selecting a pup that represents quality, and that you will be happy with, in the long term. Not just a pup that may give you some joy now in the savings you may have made. But possibly bring you long term disappointment etc!

What is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)?

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (also known as PRA, Progressive Retinal Degeneration, or PRD) is an eye condition that can affect various dog breeds, and also some cats².   It is believed to be genetic, and hence, our breeding stock are tested and screened for this.   We use DNA testing.

 

Puppy Colours of Labradors?

The three ‘official’ colours of Labrador dogs are yellow (sometimes incorrectly called ‘golden’), black, and chocolate.   The yellow colour can include very light coloured dogs through to a darker fox-red colour.

One interesting request for advice was in relation to a Labrador that had had puppies, and which were spotted (ie like Dalmatians). The request was whether these were ‘normal’ markings etc! In this particular case, the person who owned the female Labrador (ie the mum) had apparently used the services of a stud dog (but without sighting the pedigree papers first). In our opinion, there seems to be some other breed in the pedigree of these pup’s parents and which led to these spotted markings.

 

Registration of Labrador puppies?

There are various requirements now in NSW for registration of dogs. And we suggest that the microchipping and registration page for dogs, which is at the NSW Office of Local Government, and which can be viewed by clicking here, be perused.

All of our pups come microchipped (and by a Veterinarian, which some are not), and documentation is also provided. After completion of the transfer of registration paperwork (which occurs when the puppy is delivered to you), the microchip registration transfer is then completed, and you should receive confirmation of the changes in the mail.

 

Training Information for Labradors?

There are a significant quantity and quality of puppy and dog training information available in the open market. And one suggested place for you to visit is http://www.dogtrainingbasics.com/

Depending on your circumstances, it is also worth considering attending local puppy training/socialisation programs. These are often available through a Vet.

 

Vaccinations of Labrador puppies?

There are various vaccinations available for pups. Some breeders use what is known as a C3. That is, it is a vaccination for three diseases (eg canine distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus). There is also a C4 (which is for four diseases, eg those as for C3 plus parainfluenza), and a C5 (yes, you guessed it, this is for five diseases, and includes those for C4 plus bordetella). And various others!

Our experience is that different Veterinarians have differing opinions re what they consider being the most suitable etc vaccination. All of our puppies are normally vaccinated with the C3 vaccine, as we feel that subjecting a young puppy to more than this may not be desirable or in the best interests of the puppy. And if a need later develops for the puppy to warrant additional vaccinations, then that can be undertaken when they are older, more mature and stronger to cope with it.

There have been varying opinions, evidence, reports, etc in relation to the use of vaccinations, particularly on a long-term basis. Some of which have included that vaccinations have caused and/or contributed to (for example) most skin allergies (and similar skin diseases), and that others may also be involved. Such as acute diseases, chronic health problems, bleeding disorders, bone and joint inflammation. And the problems were noted mostly after canine distemper vaccination and the canine parvovirus vaccination.

Some qualified opinion/s have suggested (for example):

  • use single or simple vaccines instead of complex vaccines;
  • where possible, use only ‘killed’ or ‘inactivated’ vaccines (as opposed to ‘modified live’);
  • use a reduced vaccination schedule for young animals;
  • don’t vaccinate too early; and
  • avoid annual boosters.

However, it is our understanding that in NSW Australia it is a requirement of both law and various governing regulations etc that no dog may be sold unless it has been vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus and is accompanied by a current vaccination certificate. Hence, puppies should be vaccinated prior to being sold, which all of our puppies are.

 

Worming of Labrador Pups

All of our pups are wormed for intestinal worms on several occasions prior to going to their new homes. Regular worming should continue, and may vary depending on the location and risks etc. Local veterinarian advice may be of assistance in this regard.

Thanks for reading our information guide about Labradors page.

 

Bibliography:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise-induced_collapse
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_retinal_atrophy

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