So you are thinking about having a Labrador? Many people are of the assumption that a Labrador is the breed of dog most suited to 'everyone' and because of this belief the labrador is often people's choice for a first time dog.
In our opinion the Labrador is the most wonderful dog to share your life with!!
He is the most willing to please and will enrich your lives from the very first day. Life with a Labrador is never dull, he is gifted with a great sense of play and anything to do with food he considers good, BUT he needs firm but kind handling and definitely needs to know his boundaries. He is by nature an exuberant breed and extremely social, he should have a loveable nature, be affectionate and good with other animals and children, they are highly intelligent and willing to please, enthusiastic about life, a Labrador should not be aggressive by nature. They love water, even smelly stagnant dams are for Labradors to play in, thankfully he has a water resistent coat.
If not trained correctly he can become wilful and out of control.They need regular interaction and exercise to be content, a bored Labrador can quickly become destructive and you will soon discover just how many things in and around your home that are actually edible. If you work long hours and are not able to commit your home time to him, he may not be the most suitable companion.
They love to chew, anything on the floor is fair game to a Labrador and all things may be edible, a Labrador lives to eat. Socks and golf balls are a firm favourite and will easily be swallowed whole, if your lucky it will come out the other end but if not, a mislaid sock can prove extremely costly vet visit, but at worst fatal.
So some things to consider before putting your name down to buy a Labrador.
1. How much time can I give to my new companion -
You can consider Labradors to be similar to toddlers, in the first 12 months of growing themselves. They need nurturing, guidance, training and most importantly, your time. The more effort you are willing to put in that first vital 12 months means the difference between a possibly destructive, bored labrador that you want to rehome compared to an amazing loyal friend and loving companion that only wants to please you and be near you as a life-long friend and family member.
2. Do you have a young family?
Alot of people that have young families like the idea of bringing a Labrador into the family to grow up with their children. I do think this is a lovely idea in itself but I do feel that having a young family can be quite busy as it is without the addition of a new puppy to consider. This would depend on the age of your children of course and many families take on puppies quite succesfully, BUT it is another important consideration to really think about and discuss before taking that final step. I usually recommend waiting until your children are slightly older and can appreciate the care and attention a new puppy needs. You will find your enjoyment of your new companion will be greater as well!
3. Do I have other pets to consider?
Labradors are known to be one of the most adaptable breeds which is why they are one of the most favoured breeds for families but you need to consider your other family pets beforehand. Not all other breeds are compatible with a new addition themselves. I also do not recommend taking on two pups at the same time of similar age. Although we do it here when keeping on new pups most families do not realise the time they need to allocate to a new puppy that is hanging out for your individual attention.
4. Have I looked into the possible health issues that Labrador have?
Labradors, as a breed, have a predisposition to hip and elbow dysplasia and also PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) which is an inherited eye problem. Registered breeders are now required to hip and elbow score their dogs, also most dedicated breeders also get annual eye clearances as well as a genetic test for PRA (which is also, not yet mandatory). PRA is a genetic eye disorder that can affect a Labradors eye sight and send them blind. Fortunately we now have a genetic test that can tell us if our breeding labs are clear. Even carrier dogs can be bred from (if put to a clear partner) and although some of those pups would be carriers, they would never go on to develop PRA themselves.
For the same reason Labrador breeders also hip and elbow score their dogs. Hip and elbow dysplasia is a problem within the breed as a whole and most breeders at some stage throughout their breeding lives will have some form of dysplasia issues pop up, but breeding within guidelines (low scoring dogs), is a tool breeders use as a guide.. As well as taking into account the knowledge gained throughout the years and from other breeders, of what lines work well together.
Although we can not always guarantee that breeding two low scoring dogs will not ever produce a dysplasia problem it is helping to ensure more litters that are free from developing this problem.
In saying that owners also have a responsibility once they take their puppy home to NOT overfeed or over exercise their puppy. In the first 12 months over exercise or overfeeding can put excess stress and strain on their growing joints which can lead to joint development problems..
5. Am I prepared for the commitment of owning a Labrador?
Labradors have a long lifespan of 12-14 years and some are even older. You need to be prepared to commit to having them as part of your lives for a long time to come. This also involves being prepared for the cost of caring for a Labrador....food, immunisations, worming, heartworm, kennel fees (if you go on holidays and can't take them with you), vet bills etc.as they get older .
Also most importantly which alot of people forget is a growing lab needs TIME most of all. A great lab companion is one who has had TIME spent with them while they were growing and developing in their puppyhood, not only with consistent basic obedience, training etc, but BONDING, affection and most importantly love.
6. Why not buy from a pet shop?
When considering the addition of Labrador. I do recommend everyone does their research before initially approaching a breeder.
Why buy from a registered breeder and not a pet shop? The best reason in the world!!, Breeders know their lines!! The background of their dogs is most important to dedicated breeders. When pairing up potential males and females all known health issues in the background are taking into consideration, as well as temperament to produce the best possible Labrador puppies.
When you are looking at a pet shop you are buying for looks alone with no thought into who the parents are and where they came from.You have no ongoing care, no one to discuss things with as you would if buying from a breeder. As well as that most pet shops these days are charging the same price, for an unregistered Labrador as you would pay to buy a pup from a registered breeder.
Food for thought! 13/12/2017