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The Labrador Retriever has been America’s favorite dog for 28 straight years. They’ve been my personal favorite for over 20 years since we got our first chocolate lab, Toby. My first three labs came from my aunt’s English chocolate labs that she bred. So, it wasn’t until I started looking for Lucy that I researched a reputable Labrador breeder.

I had a lot of questions about choosing a dog breeder. Getting a new dog is a huge decision and I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right.

If you’re looking for your first pure-bred labrador or want to expand your existing pack, I hope these questions help you find a responsible lab breeder and four-legged love of your life! Several of the photos in this post are from my recent visit to the Westminster Dog Show where I got to see some of the best labradors in the world!

what should I ask a pure-bred labrador breeder

How do I find a good Labrador breeder?

One of the best places to start your search for a wonderful lab breeder is at the park or on a local trail. Keep your eyes peeled for labs and their people and ask where they got their puppy. In my experience, people who have worked with responsible breeders are more than happy to pass along a recommendation.

When you get recommendations this way you can also see the size and temperament of their lab and get an idea of what their breeder specializes in. Another perk of getting recommendations in person is that they probably worked with a labrador breeder near where you live.

When I started my search for a second dog (who ended up being Lucy!) I was hiking with my other lab Lola. We came across another beautiful English Lab on the trail. I complimented the dog and asked the owner where she got him from. Turns out, he was from Morgan Kennels, just a few hours south of where I live. That’s exactly where I ended up getting Lucy.

And that’s why I think word of mouth recommendations at the dog park are always the best!

Are you labrador obsessed? Check out the Labrador items in the Wear Wag Repeat Shop! There’s a Chocolate Lab t-shirt, tank top, hoodie, pillow and mug plus a labrador sticker and letterpress cards that are perfect for any lab lover!

What kind of genetic testing is done on Pure-Bred Labradors?

When you’re looking for a labrador breeder, make sure they do full genetic testing and that their dogs are OFA certified. OFA stands for the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and certification from them means that your puppy’s mom and dad have Xrays and tests done to make sure they have good hips, elbows and hearts. “Health-tested parents for healthier puppies” is the motto of the OFA.

The OFA has a list of recommended tests for Labradors. Based on their list, other genetic tests you might see referenced by a labrador breeder include:

EIC (Excercise Induced Collapse): This is a genetic syndrome most commonly seen in retriever breeds. If a dog has this syndrome they will struggle with strenuous activity, but can still make great pets.

HNPK (Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis): This is a genetic defect that affects cells of the nose and can result in the formation of a crust with cracks over the nose area of young dogs. This is a recommended test for Labrador Retrievers.

ACVO (American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists): This references a test done by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist to determine if dogs have any genetic eye diseases that could be passed on to puppies.

PRA (Progressive retinal atrophy): This references a group of genetic diseases that cause deterioration of the retina and can lead to vision loss or blindness.

If you have any questions about the tests done on your puppy and their parents, just ask your breeder. They should be more than happy to explain each one to you and what the results mean.

what questions should you ask a labrador breeder

Can I meet my Labrador puppy’s parents?

A reputable breeder should allow you to meet your puppy’s mom and see the conditions she lives in. If your breeder is worried about germs they might offer to send you photos instead. Either way, you want to make sure that your puppy’s mom is living comfortably in a clean and warm environment.

Your potential breeder should also be able to show you where the whelping will take place and where the puppies will be kept once they’re born. If you can’t visit the space in person, ask your breeder if they can send over photos so you can see their operation.

It’s common that a breeder will travel with her labrador mama to another city or state to breed the dog with an exceptional male dog. Because of that, they may not have both parents available to meet in person. Ask if you can see photos or video of the dad.

Seeing your puppy’s parents will be a good indicator of what your own dog will end up like. Their size, coloring and temperament are all important things to look for.

Adorable Chocolate Labrador Puppy Photos

Does the breeder have a contract?

Your breeder should have a contract for you both to sign. In addition to reserving your dog, this should cover any questions you have about what will happen if your dog turns out to have a serious health condition or if, for some reason, you can’t take care of your labrador anymore.

A responsible breeder will always take back a puppy if anything happens that prevents you from taking care of the dog. Their priority is always the health and wellbeing of their pups.

Will my labrador breeder help with questions I have a few years down the road?

Your lab’s breeder should be there for their puppy families throughout their whole life.  Any responsible breeder will also answer any questions as they come up.

When Lucy was about 2 or 3 years old she started to have a bladder leaking issue. I contacted her breeder to ask for any tips or advice and she recommended a bladder strength supplement that did the trick and cured Lucy of her “accidents.”

When you’re researching a potential breeder for your new puppy, make sure they’ll be available for you like Lucy’s breeder always has been for us.

labrador breeder near me

Do Labrador Breeders have requirements for new Puppy families?

Just as you have a ton of questions for your potential labrador breeder, they should have a ton of questions for you, too! A good sign of a responsible breeder is someone who treats all of their puppies like their own. They won’t give them up to just anyone!

Your breeder will probably ask you about where you live, your yard, your lifestyle, working hours, etc. They may also ask to see photos of your home to make sure it’s a safe environment for the puppy. My breeder also wanted to know about past dogs I had and any issues we had over their lives.

How much does a pure-bred Labrador Puppy Cost?

Getting a puppy (whether from a breeder or a rescue) is a big investment for the next 10-20 years. It’s important to consider the costs of your dog across their entire life so that you can make sure you’ll be able to afford to give them everything they need.

Based on the AKC marketplace, and my own experience, a pure-bred labrador puppy costs somewhere in the range of $900-$2,500.

And don’t forget about other costs when you first get your puppy like initial vet visits and vaccinations, training classes, food and toys.

That might seem like a lot of money, but your breeder has made Labradors their life’s work. They’ve built special spaces for their own dogs and the puppy litters. They pay for all of the important genetic tests on your puppy’s parents. They also have a great deal of expertise in raising healthy puppies that uphold the breed standard.

Adorable Chocolate Labrador Puppy Photos

Thank you to Stephanie Wolfinger of Wolfpack Labradors for helping me with the FAQs for this post! Stephanie told me that she, “always tells future Wolfpack owners to do their research whether getting from a responsible breeder, rescue or shelter. I talk to people all the time even if I don’t have any litters  available and help them to make sure they are going in the right direction.”

Are you labrador obsessed? Check out the Labrador items in the Wear Wag Repeat Shop! There’s a Chocolate Lab t-shirt, tank top, hoodie, pillow and mug plus a labrador sticker and letterpress cards that are perfect for any lab lover!

Did you love this post? Check out these links:
21 Adorable Chocolate Lab Puppy Photos
Podcast Episode 87: Julie Krauss of Huggle Hounds
My Favorite Chocolate Labs of Instagram
Labrador Items in the Wear Wag Repeat Shop
How to Safely Switch Your Lab to a New Food

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