Now that you've decided to add a labrador retriever puppy to your family, the next step is to choose a breeder. Not all puppies are 'created' equal - that is in the hands of the breeder! Here are the things to watch for to help ensure you are getting a healthy puppy free from hereditary issues, as well as a fair written health guarantee.
Do the parents have their OFA Hip/Elbow clearances?
Hip and Elbow dysplasia is a common problem with labrador retrievers, which leads to pain, arthritis, and lameness. As there is a large genetic component to joint formation, all parents should have their clearances to best ensure puppies don't develop dysplasia. More info about dysplasia is on our Health page.
Have the dogs been DNA tested for numerous incurable diseases?
DNA testing is relatively easy and inexpensive to do, and can be done at ANY age. For labrador retrievers the must haves are Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) and Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration (PRCD). There are others out there, but these two are so common its scary! From our own testings we've seen that one in three labs is a carrier of either of these - so care must be taken to never breed two carriers together. So it really is a for sure thing: If breeders aren't DNA testing, they WILL be producing pups with these incurable diseases some of the time. More info about DNA diseases/testing is on our Health page.
Are you getting a fair written guarantee?
1 - Check the guarantees for time limits.
2- Is it for a full refund or just a replacement pup? Should you end up with a 'sick' puppy, most people do NOT want another pup but would rather their money back to help with the piling vet bills.
3- Does the breeder require the return of your puppy were you to qualify for a refund/replacement? If so, are you going to be willing to part with your furry family member to get some money back or a different pup?
4 - Is the guarantee tied to feeding a specific dogfood or daily vitamin (that the breeder makes commission off of)? If so, you aren't getting a health guarantee, you are paying for one.
5- Any other conditions? Ask yourself "Are they being fair and reasonable?". There are many guarantees out there that make it almost impossible to qualify for a refund/replacement were something to happen to your pup.
"Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog." Franklin Jones