What Do You Look For When Picking a Breeder & Puppy From the Litter?
Question: My husband and I are getting ready for our first lab puppy and we had a couple of questions we were hoping to pick your brain about.
First, we are doing some research into Labrador breeders and kennels and remembered you mentioning having a list of breeders you trusted and liked. What do you look for in a breeder or what questions do you ask a new breeder?
Answer: Thanks for the message and support. I would recommend you start with a google search and dig into as many as needed until you feel you've found the right one. If you listen to our podcasts, we've done a few discussing how I found what I think was the right kennel for a recent setter pup of ours and others that talk about puppy picking. It was a 5 year process for me before I got the pup, and I waited specifically for one from the kennel for 2 of those years. That's not to say there aren't pups more readily available, its just what it took me to find what I thought was the right one for me.
I think it's important to find a breeder who's breeding plans and goals align with what you are looking to do with your dog. Above all or at least very high consideration and necessary with all dogs are health concerns. Then I think its about matching up the style. (Hunt, training and life style) If you want a field trial dog, look to a kennel that breeds for field trial type dogs and training. If you want a hunting dog, find a kennel that breeds for hunters and a style of training that matches. If you want a family dog, you want a kennel that puts a big emphasis on the dogs temperament. All need intelligence and to be trainable. Those are good questions to ask and will allow you to get a feel for the people behind the business. Having a good feel about the people you are going to be doing business with is important. I have spoke with kennels that I think have dogs that might be a good fit for me, but I didn't get a good feeling from the people themselves...our personalities didn't line up. That's not a fit, I think you need all of it to line up.
when picking out a new puppy in a litter, what do you look for initially?
Question: Second, when picking out a new puppy in a litter, what do you look for initially? I know you've mentioned picking the dog that you like, as that's going to make the biggest difference, but is there something you strongly recommend looking for? Temperament? Attitude? Appearance? We are looking for a dog to have as a pet and a companion. We won't be using the dog for hunting or anything like that; not sure if that changes the answer.
~Aubrey and Jeff
Answer: Your second question, you've already answered. The one you like is the one you prefer. Yes, there are differences in temperament, attitude, appearances and those are things that are preference. For example, I had 2 females to pick from with the setter litter. They both had a different look as far as markings. They appeared to have different personalities as far as attitude but in the short time I was there that is hard to determine based on what I saw. So, I asked the breeders as they know the pups individual personalities more than I do. They confirmed my thoughts as far as which one had more spunk. The pup I picked was the less spunky because that's my preference. The breeder told me that he would have picked the other one...because he prefers a little more boldness in his pups. Both are good pups, no right or wrong choice. One fits better for me, one fits better for him.
I think the work is in picking the right kennel and then the right litter. Once that's done, pick the pup you prefer. I hope this helps, good luck and let me know if I can help in any other way. Thanks, Jeremy