Why a Labrador Retriever?
The Labrador Retriever has been the most popular selling dog in the United States for over 25 years now, and rightfully so! Labradors are classified as “working dogs” and their history can be traced back to Newfoundland, where fishermen began using them.
Originally, the Labrador was called a "Lesser Newfoundland Dog" however, the Labrador Retriever should not be compared to the Newfoundland except the shared web feet design which allows for easy work of swimming situations.
The terrain conditions of Newfoundland are rugged, requiring dog of surefootedness, stamina, and "buoyancy." The Labrador was an ideal dog for this rough environment—able to bear the icy waters of the North Atlantic, with its broad chest which allowed it to "surf" on the strong waves, and its "waterproof" coat which can shed water quickly.
The Labrador made its way to the American shores in the early 1900's but its popularity did not catch on quickly. The breed was officially recognized but the AKC in 1932.
The Labrador has since gained continued popularity in America, known for their loving nature, intelligence, working capabilities and just all-around terrific personality. It's no surprise their popularity continues to grow.
When you have decided which style of Labrador suits your needs, American Field or English style, there are a few elements that must be examined in order to ensure that you are getting a quality dog that will not have health issues down the road.
Weight—A Labrador is considered a medium sized dog, and the recommended weight range is from about 50 pounds up to about 85 pounds. If a Labrador is over this weight, it means two things: either the dog was bred incorrectly—breeding two very large parents—or the dog is simply overweight due to excessive food consumption and/or lack of exercise.
It is important to view the parents before purchasing your pup or ask the breeder the weights of both parents before considering a pup.
An overweight Lab is much more susceptible to joint problems, due to the excess weight the joints are required to carry. The same holds true in a human who is overweight—there are generally knee and back issues due to the extra load placed on these areas.
Authentication of Pedigree—When you purchase a purebred Lab, ask the breeder to see the Pedigrees of both parents. This helps to ensure that you are getting a good stock of dog. If the parents or any of the dogs related to the parents have any qualifications such as Master or Junior hunters, Field or Agility Champs, and so on, these qualifications will be coded next to that particular dog on his/her Pedigree paper.
I personally give everyone who purchases one of my pups an Official AKC Litter Certificate. This certifies from AKC the name of the breeder, the date the litter was born, how many were in the litter, and a litter serial number. The certificate also gives a Pedigree of the parents. I believe this is just an added measure of security and verification for an individual searching for a quality Lab.
Eye and Hip certifications—These are excellent ways to tell if the parents have healthy hip joints and eyes. This can be done through OFA & DNA testing.