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The Labrador Retriever is believed to have originated on the island of Newfoundland, now part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is thought to have descended from the St. John's Water Dog (no longer in existence), a crossbreed of native water dogs and the Newfoundland to which the Labrador is closely related. The name Labrador was given to this dog by the Earl of Malmesbury and other breeders in England in order to differentiate them from the Newfoundland dog. The Labrador Retriever was originally called the lesser Newfoundland or the St. John's dog.
The Labrador Retriever is a well-balanced and remarkably versatile breed, adaptable to a wide range of functions as well as making very good pets. As a rule they are not excessively prone to territorialism, pining, insecurity, aggression, destructiveness, hypersensitivity, or other difficult traits which manifest in a variety of breeds, and as the name suggests, they are excellent retrievers. As an extension of this, the Retriever puppy instinctively enjoy holding objects and even hands or arms in their mouths, which they can do with great gentleness. They are however, as puppies, prone to chew objects (though they can easily be trained out of this behavior). The Lab Retriever's coat repels water to some extent, thus facilitating the extensive use of the dog in waterfowl hunting.
The Labrador Retriever has a reputation as a very mellow breed and an excellent family dog (including a good reputation with children of all ages), but some lines (particularly those that have continued to be bred specifically for their skills at working in the field rather than for their appearance) are particularly fast and athletic. Their fun-loving boisterousness and lack of fear can result in mischief, and may require puppy training and firm handling at times to ensure it does not get out of hand. Anecdotally, between the different subtypes, black Lab puppies may have a tendency to be slightly more dominant, and yellow pups to be slightly less so (mellower). Most Lab puppies enjoy retrieving a ball endlessly and other forms of activity (such as dog agility or flyball), are considerably "food and fun" oriented, very puppy trainable and open minded to new things, and thrive on human attention and interaction, which they find hard to get enough of.
The steady temperament of Labs and their ability to learn quickly make them an ideal breed.
Labrador Retriever variants
Although kennel clubs and registries recognize the Labrador in variations of only three colors—black, yellow, and chocolate. Some breeders sell light-colored yellow Labrador puppies as a "white" Labrador, the dark yellow Labrador puppies as "fox red," or chocolate pups possessing the dilution factor as "silver Labradors". These colors are nonstandard and would disqualify the dogs in the show ring; however, the dog's color does not affect its behavior or health and many people own them as companion dogs. There is some controversy over whether these rarer colors are worth more (because they are rare) or less (because they are nonstandard and unsuitable for breeding show dogs or for showing).In addition to color variations, differences in the physical build of the dog have arisen as a result of specialized breeding. Although the majority of dogs bred are of the type generally displayed in the show ring, there distinct lines bred for specific working purposes. Dogs bred for field trials tend to be lighter in limb and often lack the very large square head seen in the show ring. Differences tend to occur as dogs bred for hunting and field-trial work are selected first for working ability, whereas dogs bred to compete for show championships are selected for conformation to a breed standard.
Two types of Labradors
The English Labrador and the American Labrador. The English bred puppy comes from English bred stock. Their general appearance is different. The English bred lab puppies are heavier, thicker and blockier. The American bred Lab pups comes from American bred stock and are tall and lanky. The Labrador Retriever is a solid, muscular dog, slightly longer than tall, with a short, hard, easy-care; water-resistant double coat that does not have any waves and comes in solid black, yellow, or chocolate. There is also said to be a rare silver or gray color that is referred to by the AKC as a shade of chocolate. This color is controversial and some claim it is a Weimeriner cross, while others say it is a true mutation. The Labrador has a broad head, thick nose, scissors bite and a pronounced stop. Its muzzle is fairly wide and its neck is powerful. The eyes are chestnut or hazel with an intelligent expression. The medium-sized ears are pendant. The otter tail is strong, thick near the body then tapering, and completely covered with hair. Its limbs have good bone structure. The webbed feet aid in swimming.
People assume that any dog or puppy called a retriever will invariably perform the job. This is not always so. You wouldn't buy the first car you looked at. A good dog, like a vehicle, is an investment of time and dollars that will last many years, so why not go about purchasing a puppy using the same step by step, logical process you would use, selecting the family car?
Choose a Breed of Labador Retriever then a Breeder
First decide which breed of retriever puppy you want. Labrador Retrievers are Sporting Breeds are come in black, yellow and chocolate color. I like to put training ability, and natural ability, at the top of my list of requirements, and color as secondary. The more you narrow down your requirements, as to size, color and sex, the longer it will take, to fill the bill. There are numerous black Labrador Retriever field champions, and therefore a very large gene pool to draw from, to produce good field puppies. There are less yellow field champions and very few chocolates. Therefore as breeders we often must compromise on field ability to get a particular color. If color is your first priority, it may take a little longer and be more difficult, to locate a puppy litter with good field ability.
The costs of rearing a good Labrador Retriever puppy are the same as for a poor one. Beware of unusually cheap Labrador Retriever puppies or good deals! Bargains are rare, in quality, field bred retrievers. Hunting and sporting dog magazines, the internet and recommendations from friends, are good sources to help you begin your search, for a reputable Labrador retriever breeder. You may be able to attend a dog club event such as a retriever hunt test or field trial, to meet owners and breeders.
E-mail or telephone the breeders you have located and ask them to send you information such as pedigree, guarantee and whelping dates of upcoming puppy litters. Ask about the conformation, temperament, field abilities and accomplishments of the parent dogs. Both parents of the litter should be verified free of hip dysphasia and hereditary eye disease by a veterinarian or certification by a national registry such as C.E.R.F. (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) and O.F.A. (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). Most breeders will guarantee their puppies to be free of these hereditary disorders and to be healthy at the time of delivery, and for a short time after. Discuss the terms of the guarantee. Many breeders will not refund your money, and instead will replace the puppy, at another time with a pup from a different litter.
A knowledgeable puppy breeder
Should be able to answer all your questions and supply the information you request. If they can't, keep looking. I wouldn't consider selecting a pup without first studying the pedigree. I wouldn't even consider breeding two dogs together without looking at their pedigrees. This would be like trying to bake a really great cake without a recipe. What are your chances of success? All American Kennel Club pedigrees will show the names of the dogs with the field titles they have earned, i.e. FCH-AFCH (Field Champion - Amateur Field Champion) before the name, MH, SH, or JH, (Master Hunter, Senior Hunter, or Junior Hunter) after the name. The closer the field titled dogs occurs on the pedigree, to the prospective pup i.e. immediate parents or grandparents, the better. The breeder should be able to explain the entire pedigree to you. After all, he or she must have had a good reason for selecting these two particular dogs to breed together.
When you have located a prospective Labrador Retriever puppy litter that meets your criteria, try to visit the kennel and meet the breeder, if they are in driving distance. You may be able to see the parent dogs and the litter, if it is born. The kennel facilities should be clean and the dogs healthy and well conditioned. It is customary to put down a deposit to reserve a puppy until it is ready to pick up. This can be done by phone or mail if the kennel is a long distance away. The breeder can ship the pup to you via air freight, when it is ready.
Buy Your Labrabor Retriever Puppy
Do your research, and don't get in a rush. A Labrador Retriever dog is a long term investment. A quality puppy, from a litter selected for good conformation, temperament, and field ability, is worth waiting for. Impulse buying, and hastily made decisions may be costly and frustrating in the long run. Find a puppy breeder that is knowledgeable, reputable and has been in business for awhile. Put down a deposit on your pups, and the rest is up to a little luck and plenty of training.
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