Everything you need to know to buy or adopt a Labrador Retriever puppy or adult dog.


BE PREPARED

For Your New

Labrador Retriever!

dog health care book

Raise and train your dog the RIGHT way and he will live a long, healthy, well-behaved life – and both of you will be happy!

dog training book


Labrador Retriever dog breed

Buying or Adopting a Labrador Retriever

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Is a DOG really the right pet for you?

I've been helping people choose and find dogs for over 35 years now, and I have to say that for many people, dogs are not ideal pets.

Pros AND Cons of Owning a Dog


Should you get a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog?

Don't set your sights on any purebred dog until you read these three eye-opening articles:

The Truth About Purebred Dogs

The Truth About Crossbred Dogs

The Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs


Is a Labrador Retriever the right breed for you?

Labrador Retrievers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Labrador Retriever Health Problems


Are YOU right for a Labrador Retriever?

Can you provide what this breed needs?

  • Someone home most of the day
  • Fenced yard (not an electronic/underground fence)
  • Restricted exercise when young – until maturity (at least 18 months old), exercise restricted to multiple short (20 minute) walks, fetch games, and playing with other dogs – no forced running (beside a jogger or bicyclist), no long-distance treks, minimal jumping
  • Ample exercise after maturity – enough ongoing exercise that your Labrador Retriever stays slim and is tired enough to sleep contentedly and not get into mischief
  • "Mental exercise" – interesting activities that keep the mind stimulated, such as a challenging dog sport (agility, rally obedience, musical freestyle, tracking, flyball, frisbee, field trials); challenging dog toys; a homemade obstacle course; tricks and games such as Musical Toys and Hide 'n Seek; instructions in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words
  • An indoor lifestyle, except for exercise and bathroom breaks
  • A meat-heavy diet, either homemade or commercial – meat is expensive, so people with less money should opt for a small dog
  • An owner with enough money to treat the health problems Labrador Retrievers are prone to (pet health insurance can really help here!)
  • An owner who is okay with moderate/heavy shedding
  • Commitment to provide thorough socialization – introducing your Labrador Retriever to lots of people and other animals, diligently correcting any signs of misbehavior
  • Commitment to establish the right Leader-Follower relationship with your Labrador Retriever, teaching him to listen to you and do what you say

Should you get a male or female Labrador Retriever?

Symbols for male and female Male Dogs vs. Female Dogs
Which one makes a better pet?


Should you get a young puppy, an older puppy, or an adult dog?

Girl hugging a dog Puppies vs. Adult Dogs
What age should your new Labrador Retriever be?


Where can you buy or adopt a Labrador Retriever?

Labrador Retrievers are the most common breed – by far – in the United States. Out of 189 breeds in the American Kennel Club, where 1 is most popular and 189 is least popular, Labrador Retrievers rank 1st. And it's a well-deserved 1st, because this breed makes a great family dog, as long as you can meet its needs for exercise and interesting things to do.

Adopting From Dog Rescue Organizations
Labrador Retrievers (and Lab crosses and mixes) are often available from Dog Rescue groups. Labrador Retrievers may be turned over to Rescue if they need more exercise and companionship than the owner was prepared to give. Or perhaps they shed too much.

Owners may also give up their Labrador Retriever if the dog is too rambunctious for them. Labs are strong dogs who jump on people and pull hard on the leash until taught not to. You would need to provide these dogs with the exercise and training that they are lacking.

Other Labrador Retrievers are given up simply because of changed family circumstances, and these dogs may have no behavior problems at all.

Adopting From Public Animal Shelters and Humane Societies
Labrador Retrievers (more often, Lab crosses and mixes) are frequently found here. However, shelter personnel can be overzealous in labeling every medium- to large shorthaired black dog as a "Lab cross."

Buying From a Dog Breeder
You can buy a Labrador Retriever from a show breeder, who breeds Labradors to match a detailed standard of appearance for the dog show ring.

Or you can buy a Labrador Retriever from a performance breeder, who emphasizes an energetic temperament and strong working drives for hunting. Some breeders are a combination of show/performance, though how they prioritize those two goals can vary greatly.

You can also buy a Labrador Retriever from people who "just breed pets" or "just had one litter." But should you? Be sure to read the article to learn more about these people.

Here's one difference between a responsible breeder and an irresponsible breeder – BOTH PARENTS of a Labrador Retriever puppy should have:

  • a certificate from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) – dated within the past year – certifying the dog to be free of eye diseases
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHip certifying the dog to have normal hips
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certifying the dog to have normal elbows

Also, at least ONE PARENT of a Labrador Retriever puppy should have:

  • a DNA test proving they are Normal/Clear of a neuromuscular disease called EIC.

If a seller can't show you those certificates, the puppies are higher risk for health problems. You might choose to accept that risk. But then you need to be willing (and able) to pay a couple thousand bucks for future surgeries and lifelong meds if your Labrador Retriever ends up with cataracts and crippled joints.

Puppy in a pet shop window Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store
Labrador Retrievers are often found in pet shops. I have plenty to say about buying a puppy from a pet shop!


Related Articles

Girl holding up a puppy and looking at him How To Choose a Good Labrador Retriever Puppy
How to test the temperament and personality of Labrador Retriever puppies and pick the best puppy in a litter.


Pedigree parchment AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?
Should you consider buying only AKC registered Labrador Retriever puppies? Do AKC papers and pedigrees really matter?


To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.