Labrador Retriever - Breeder, Rescue, Shelter, or Free?You can find a Labrador Retriever in many different places: from a breeder, from a Lab rescue group, at your local shelter, or even in a cardboard box outside the local grocery store. Although the puppy outside the grocery store will be the least expensive and you may feel good about saving the life of a dog at the local shelter, is one of those dogs really the right dog for you? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each of these choices.

Reputable Breeders

A breeder is someone who breeds dogs of a specific breed, in this case Labrador Retrievers. A reputable breeder is someone who has been involved with the breed for a num¬ber of years and knows it well. They have studied the top  dogs in the breed. In Labs, hopefully they have studied working and field dogs as well as show dogs. They know quite a bit about breed genetics, and they choose  the sire  (father)  and dam (mother) of each litter carefully.
Reputable breeders show their dogs so that the judges (who are often also breeders) can evaluate the dogs. Some Lab breeders also compete in other sports, including agility, obedience, and field trials, or simply go out hunting with them.
These  breeders should also be knowledgeable of the health prob¬lems of the breed, especially because there are so many facing Labs today. As many health tests for inherited defects as are available should be performed before selecting the dogs to be used for breeding.
Reputable breeders will also screen the people who come to buy one of their dogs. The breeder will ask potential buyers to fill out an application and may ask for personal references. If you are not approved for one of their puppies, don’t take it personally; the breeder is concerned about the welfare of their puppies, and they know their dogs best.

Backyard Breeders

A backyard breeder usually refers to someone who has bred their dog (usually a family pet) but who does not have the knowledge a reputable breeder has. Many times the dog(s) being bred are simply treasured family pets, and the owner breeds the dog(s) in the hopes of creating another dog just like their pet. Genetics doesn’t work that way, though, and they end up with a litter of puppies for sale that may or may not be quality dogs.

Lab Rescue

Purebred rescue groups are organized by people who love their breed and are concerned about the dogs who need new homes—especially those who might otherwise be killed for want of a good home. Some groups are run by breed clubs, while others are private organizations.
You will be asked to fill out an application, and some groups even ask for a home visit. They want to know that your fence is high and strong enough to keep in a Lab and that you and your family understand the realities of owning this breed.

Labs in Local Shelters

A Labrador Retriever can end up in a local shelter for many reasons. Her owner may have passed away and no one in the family wanted her. Someone may have purchased a Lab puppy without researching the breed and after a few months realized the dog was too much for them. The dog may have escaped from the yard and was picked up as a stray and no one bailed her out. There are many rea¬sons, and many of them are not the dog’s fault at all.
A Lab in the shelter is basically an unknown. She may have been produced by a wonderful, reputable breeder, or she may have come from a commercial puppy farm. Although the dog’s physical appearance can give you some clues, some¬times it’s really hard to tell. The dog’s temperament is also an unknown because a Lab in a shelter is going to be stressed and very unhappy; she is not going to show her real personal¬ity until she’s in a home and settles down.

Labs for Free

Have you heard the adage “You get what you pay for”? That Lab puppy in the box outside the grocery store is probably the result of backyard breeding, maybe even an accidental breeding. The dog could be a mix; the father may even be unknown. And although mixed-breed dogs can be great pets, you’ll be disappointed if you were looking for a purebred Lab.
The puppy (and maybe even the mother dog) may or may not have had any veterinary care, which could mean no vaccinations, no worming, and no pre¬ventive health care. The person who owned the mother dog most likely never heard of socialization, so the puppy will not have had any planned socialization.


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