About The Labrador Retriever
The Labrador, or to give it’s full name the Retriever (Labrador) is one of six Retriever breeds, the others being Golden, Flatcoated, Curlycoated, Chesapeake Bay and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling. Each breed is quite different from the others in appearance and temperament, they are all called Retrievers because that is their original working function in the shooting field. Labradors are short coated, approx. 22 inches at the shoulder and come in three colours, black, yellow and chocolate.
Labradors can make excellent family pets. They are easy to train and loving companions. However, the cuddly ‘Andrex’ puppy you see at 8 weeks of age will grow into a powerful, strong agile and boisterous adult. They are very intelligent and can be wilful if they sense that they have the upper hand. They are, by nature, country dogs, needing a lot of exercise and enjoy nothing more than sharing their playtime with the family. They do not like being left alone for long periods, get bored and can be destructive if locked up in a house for hours on end. However, if you start out by training your puppy, rearing it in a loving and kind manner, you will have a pet you can trust to share a loving relationship with your family for many years.
Breeding from your Labrador
Before you contemplate breeding from your Labrador you should arrange with your vet to have a hip x-ray taken, which should then be sent to the British Veterinary Association headquarters in London, for scoring. Hip scoring is based on zero (0) being perfect. Any score above zero indicates the number of faults on each hip. At present, the breed average score is a total of 16 (when the scores of left and right hip are added together). It is generally recommended that Labradors should not be bred from if the hip score is substantially above the breed average. The eye examination, which checks for several diseases, done by a regional panellist, is an annual test. It is recommended that no Labrador be bred from unless it holds a current annual pass certificate.
Do not breed a litter unless you are sure you can find enough good homes for the puppies. The costs incurred in breeding can be high. The examinations mentioned above might cost around £100. A stud fee might be equal to the price of a puppy. There could be vets fees, especially if the bitch requires a caesarean section, the feeding of the bitch and her puppies is very costly and puppies for which new homes are not available at eight weeks must be kept, fed and vaccinated.
Owners who do wish to breed from their bitch, assuming it has been examined as above, should refer back to the breeder for advice as to which breeding lines might have suitable stud dogs, or, refer to a breed club for advice. It is important that a bitch is only mated with an examined and certified stud dog, as above.
It is recommended that family pet dogs are not used at stud. Stud work is best left to the expert breeders who have knowledge of how to handle a mating: which pedigree lines are compatible, etc. Experienced stud dogs look upon mating bitches as a routine part of their life. A family pet dog, faced with the prospect of the very occasional mating, could become stressful and difficult to manage; he could begin to wander looking for bitches and generally change in character.
Dogs should only be used at stud if their progeny can make a useful contribution to the breed. Excellent temperament, almost perfect hips, no eye problems and a good appearance are essential. Working gundogs, bred for their working abilities, should also match the required breed standards on hips and eyes.
If you need to contact one of the Rescue Groups, please contact either the Kennel Club in London, your Regional or National Breed Club. All have up to date details of the Rescue Group Helpers in the various regions. Labrador Rescue Groups throughout the country do a wonderful job, caring for and re-homing needy Labradors. If, for any reason you can no longer keep your Labrador or if you can offer a kind, loving home, please get in touch.
Most of the Regional Breed Clubs run Gundog Training Classes during the summer months. In addition to which, classes are usually held by other local Gundog Clubs. Please contact your regional breed club or the national club for further details.
Obedience and General Training
Pet obedience and training classes are usually run by the local, general canine society. Details should be available in your local library, or contact the Kennel Club in London for further details.
Refer to your regional or national breed club for any help and advice you may need.