Once you have made the decision that the time is right to bring a Labrador pup into the home, the next question is which type of Labrador are you looking for, and where do you start looking?
You may have already noticed that there are two distinct types of Labrador - the bigger and heavier type such as you might see at Crufts, and the longer legged more athletic type. These are the two sides of the breed - those that are bred for the show ring, and those that are bred to work.
The first thing to point out is that either type is equally suited to a home environment (although you might need a bit more space for a show bred!), and it really is a matter of personal choice as to which type you prefer. If you know that you're specifically looking for one or the other, then it is appropriate to ask a breeder which type they have before you go any further with the conversation.
When you start to check out the prospective parent's pedigrees you may encounter abbreviations such as ShCh (Show Champion) or Ch (Champion) in front of the ancestors names. This will indicate that the litter will be from show bred stock. If you see FTCh (Field Trial Champion) then the litter parents will be from working stock.
Armed with this knowledge, here are some places where you might start your search...
- Your local vet
will have local knowledge of breeders in your area that they can recommend, and will probably know if there are any litters on the way.
This is also an opportunity to have a look at your local veterinary practises, if you aren't already registered with one, as this may well be where you'll be bringing your youngster for its inoculations and all future treatments. It is also a good time to ask about charges as these can vary from practice to practice, and to see if they hold any puppy parties, which are a great way to start socialising your youngster from an early age.
- The Kennel Club
has a Puppy Register which can be accessed via its web site.
This lists all breeders with Kennel Club registered pups available, and can be searched by breed and region.
Quite often you will see that litter information looks out of date, but it is always worth giving breeders a ring. They might not have any pups left themselves, but they could well be able to put you in touch with someone who has.
Please remember that breeders pay to advertise on this site. The fact that they have a litter listed does not mean they are Kennel Club approved, and Kennel Club registration is no guarantee that a breeder is reputable. The Kennel Club has an Assured Breeders Scheme. Assured Breeders agree to adhere to the Kennel Club Code of Ethics, and to fulfill the basic health screening requirements for their breed(s).
There are a growing number of health tests available for many breeds, but as a minimum a Labrador breeder should ensure that hip scoring and regular eye testing of both parents has taken place, so please check all documentation of both parents before committing to buy a puppy. For more information on Labrador health testing visit our health schemes page.
Many of the Labrador Breed Societies now have their own web sites, and also offer a puppy register service to their club members where they can advertise litters. A list of these can be found on the Kennel Club web site. They will generally only list litters where both parents have the basic relevant health screening checks, but the prospective purchaser should still check all related documentation.
- The Internet has a wealth of information available, and hundreds of breeder web sites to choose from.
Most committed breeders take great pride in their dogs and their achievements, even if they only breed the occasional litter.
As with all things on the internet breeder web sites should not immediately be taken at face value. It is important to verify all claims about
health checks and the conditions under which breeding occurs. There are breeder web sites that are an outlet for puppy farms, but these
can usually be identified when questioned about the frequency of litters and the availability of supporting documentation.
Using Google and other search sites you can research the pedigree of the litter simply by entering the names of the various ancestors from the pedigree. You can find out a bit more background on the dogs and which breeders are actively involved with the breed.
- Local newspapers often carry adverts for litters, and may be used by small breeders or households who don't have the means to establish a web site. Once again is is important to verify the background and wellbeing of the litter.