Guide to buying a Labrador puppy
When choosing your puppy you are looking at adding a new member to your family. A very important step in your life.
To enable you to have the best chance of obtaining a healthy, well adjusted puppy it is recommended that you buy your puppy from a responsible caring breeder and that the pup has been bred from health tested parents.
Every person who has a litter (whether a breeder or a pet owner) should have their
bitch health tested.
The basic tests recommended by The Club are hips & elbows x-raying. Also a clinical eye test before breeding, and possible optional DNA tests.
See our health page for information
Hip/elbow x-rays are best taken when the dog/bitch is 12 months or older and should then be submitted and scored by the BVA (British Veterinary Association).
At the present time the Breed Mean score (BMS) for Labradors’ hips is 14 (total) and the BVA/KC recommendation is to breed from below that score. Under certain circumstances a dog or bitch may have been bred from with a slightly higher score. If you have doubts about this then talk to the breeder and/or another experienced breeder, or a breed club representative.
Elbow scoring is as yet not as common as hip scoring, but its use is increasing yearly. The BVA/Kennel Club also recommends that only 0 elbows be bred from.
The mother of the puppies should also have had a clinical eye examination. It is recommended that this is done within a year of her being mated. The examination must have been carried out by a BVA/KC eye panel vet, not just a local vet.
See our health page for details
The same tests are expected to be undertaken for the stud dog.
To this you can then add the option of DNA testing.
The three main hereditary conditions that Labradors can suffer from, and for which there are presently DNA tests are:- prcd-PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), CNM (Centro-Nuclear Myopathy) and EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse). If only one parent of the litter is tested for these conditions, providing the said parent tested Clear, you will know that your puppy cannot suffer from the condition themselves. They could carry it genetically but not develop it; this is the most important thing.
You can ask to see the specific certificates for all these tests and not just the parents’ health results on their registration certificate, nor just rely on what the breeder tells you.
You can also use the Kennel Club ‘Mate Select’ program to check health results for the ancestors/relatives of your potential puppy:
Labradors can be subject to hip and elbow problems. These can happen to any dog however much effort the breeder and you have put into avoiding these problems. These conditions can have serious consequences for you and your dog and can be costly to act upon. Any dog can also give you cause to have to pay significant vets bills over its lifetime.
An insurance company such as that of Petplan or The Kennel Club Pet Insurance are recommended. As with many insurers you may very well get what you pay for and if a company limits how much you can claim for yearly, or over a dogs lifetime, it may not be right for you.
Once you have selected the breeder from whom you want to buy your puppy we encourage you to visit him and meet all his dogs. If you don’t like the living conditions, if he is not clear in explaining and showing you the health results, if you don’t like his adult dogs… go elsewhere!
It is easy to fall in love with a little ball of fur thrust at you… but if you are to live an average of 13 years with your new companion you must be happy with everything.
Your puppy may have been microchipped by the breeder but if he hasn’t then take him to your vet for this as soon as possible. Also enquire if the puppy has had any vaccinations when he comes to you. Some breeders would rather the puppy has his first vaccination with his new owner while others have their own vet check the puppy over and give the first vaccination. Enquire on when and with what your puppy has been wormed. Expect full support from your puppy’s breeder.
It’s worth travelling anywhere in the country and waiting a few extra weeks or months for the right puppy!