Things You Need To Know
Before You Adopt a Labrador Retriever Puppy

Is this the Right Breed for You?

There is no doubt that the Labrador Retriever is a wonderful breed of dog — He is friendly, loyal, devoted, trusting, intelligent, great with kids, excellent retriever, wonderful companion, and the list goes on. However, this is not the breed for everyone. As with all breeds, before you consider bringing any dog into your life, there are many things you should know. Once you bring a dog into your home, he becomes a family member and deserves to be treated as such. This is a lifetime commitment and you must be prepared to care for him for his entire life.

While every breed is different and each individual dog is unique, generally a particular breed shares certain traits. The Labrador Retriever is a Sporting breed who needs lots of regular exercise. If you live in an apartment or are not the active type, this may not be the right breed for you. The Lab is considered to be a medium-sized dog, ranging in height from 21½ to 24½ inches at the shoulders and weighing from 55 to 80 pounds. The Lab is a happy dog by nature and has a very active tail to prove it — if you keep anything on your coffee or end tables, they are soon swept away.

The Lab was bred to work closely with humans and he is, therefore, very people-oriented and must be allowed to interact with people. He thrives on human companionship and does not do well if left alone for hours on end. If you're away from home for long periods of time, this is probably not the right breed for you.

The Labrador's coat, although short, does shed a bit throughout the year with heavier shedding in the Spring and Fall. If you don't like the thought of having dog hair on your floors, on your clothes, on your counters, or in your food, this may not be the right breed for you.

The Labrador Retriever loves water! From his water bowl, to puddles, to the backyard pool, to a nearby lake, he'll want to be right in it every time. This is a breed that was bred to retrieve water fowl and is naturally attracted to water.

The Labrador, like the Golden is very friendly and sociable. If you're looking for a watch dog or guard dog, the Lab is not the breed for you.

If you are not familiar with the Labrador Retriever breed, research is a must — with the Internet today, there is an abundance of information available at your fingertips. The more popular the breed, the more information there is out there — and for the Lab there is an endless number of websites dedicated to the breed. Keep in mind, however, that every breed has its negative aspects. Whether it is health problems, temperament or behavioural issues, too large, too small, too loud, too quiet. They are all different and you need to be sure that your choice of a Labrador Retriever is the right one, before you make the purchase.

Additional Reading:

Finding a Breeder:

Once you've made your decision that this is indeed the breed for you, the next step is to find a responsible and reputable Breeder. This is not a task that should be taken lightly and again, research is necessary. With a popular breed like the Labrador Retriever — the MOST popular according to CKC and AKC registration statistics — there are a great number of Breeders available. Visit several and don't be afraid to ask questions. A Breeder should always be more than willing to provide you with all the answers to your questions and then some. The Breeder should be open and honest about health and temperament testing, and provide you with certificates as requested. In return, you should expect to be questioned as well — A responsible Breeder is always very particular about who he/she sells his/her dogs to. If you visit a Breeder and you feel that you have revealed very little about yourself and yet the Breeder is ready and willing to sell you a pup with virtually no questions asked — Walk away! This is not a responsible Breeder. Whether you are looking for a family companion; a show dog; a field hunter, a dog who competes in obedience, agility, or any other sport; or you want a dog you can work with as an Assistance Dog, Guide Dog, Therapy, Search and Rescue, Police work, or other, the most important aspects are the dog's physical and mental health.

A responsible and ethical Breeder's main goal is to produce only the highest quality Labrador Retrievers that will better the gene pool. The responsible Breeder studies the pedigrees for quality, health, longevity, temperament and working ability. The responsible Breeder views health testing of their breeding stock as the norm in their breeding program and will provide you with copies of certifications. Most responsible Breeders are involved in some aspect of competition, whether it is the show ring for Conformation titles or competitive sports such as Obedience or Field Trials. While this may not be something you are interested in pursuing with your new dog, it is still an important point in that it helps prove the Breeder's real interest in the betterment of the breed itself. Ask for references from previous puppy buyers as well as information on any clubs that the Breeder may be a member of. Verify these references and check that the Breeder is in good standing with the club(s).

The importance of finding a reputable Breeder cannot be stressed enough. It doesn't matter if you simply want a great companion dog and have no intentions of showing, competing or otherwise working with your dog — you still need to find a healthy and mentally sound puppy. The only place to find this is through a responsible Breeder.

For more information on finding a responsible breeder, see:

Keeping in mind that you should never, ever buy a puppy from a pet store, and that many responsible Breeders do not advertise their puppies in newspapers, the best places to go to find a Breeder include the following:

  • The Labrador Retriever Breeders section of this website — Several Breeders are listed here with links to their websites where you can learn more about them, if and when puppies are available, the pedigrees of the parents are usually available, and some sites have indepth breed information available as well. Please note, in order to be listed on the Canada's Guide to Dogs website, certain criteria must be met; however, we do not recommend, endorse or support any one of these Breeder listings.
  • Labrador Retriever Breed Clubs — Several clubs are listed here with links to websites. The clubs are a good place to go to get member Breeder listings. Please note, a Breeder's membership in any club does not guarantee responsible and ethical breeding.

In Canada, in order for any of the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) recognized breeds to be legally sold as "purebred" dogs, they must either already be registered with the CKC or they must be eligible to be registered with the CKC within six months of the date of sale. This is the law. In addition, Breeders in Canada are fully responsible for registering the puppy at their expense. Avoid any Breeder who offers you a puppy at a cheaper price without papers.

Further Information:

Health Issues:

Like all breeds, the Labrador Retriever is susceptible to certain inherited/genetic health conditions. See Labrador Retriever Health Issues for further details.

The Standards:

The Labrador Retriever Breed Standards are listed on the main breed page. These are the ideals for the breed and describe the Lab's appearance and temperament.

Also see the An Interpretation of the Canadian Kennel Club Labrador Retriever Breed Standard by the Labrador Retriever Club of Canada.

Consider an Adult Dog:

Have you considered an adult Labrador Retriever? In many cases, the responsible Breeder has a waiting list for puppies and, if you can't wait for the next litter, consider adopting a homeless Labrador Retriever from a rescue organization or shelter. Many of these dogs end up homeless through no fault of their own and all legitimate rescue organizations ensure that the dogs are spayed/neutered, up to date on vaccinations, and they will work with you to ensure that the dog meets with your requirements — the last thing they want is to see the dog come back to them.

Another consideration is that occasionally Breeders may have young adults available. There are several reasons why a Breeder may have a dog available: (1) A buyer may have returned a dog for some reason — In most cases, responsible Breeders will take their dogs back rather than have them go to a shelter. (2) The Breeder may have decided to keep and show the dog for a while. (3) The Breeder may have initially kept the puppy for breeding purposes but has since changed their mind. There could be a number of reasons why a Breeder could have on hand an adult or young adult dog available.

There are many advantages to adopting a dog that is beyond the puppy stage — housetrained, crate trained, obedience trained, to name a few.

Please note, the information provided here is intended as a guideline to help you in your search for a physically and mentally sound Labrador Retriever. Before you buy — Do your research, learn about the breed, and be certain that this is the dog for you. Once you are absolutely positive about it, take the time and effort to find a good Breeder. Remember that this dog will become a member of your family and he should never be treated as anything less.