The Labrador Retriever is a smart and great dog to own. They are always ready to play, fetch or swim. Labs are also friends to everyone, and make fantastic companion dogs, guide-dogs, therapy dogs and search-and-rescue dogs. Labrador Retrievers have a friendly temperament and a loving nature. Because of their high-activity level, Labrador Retrievers need lots of "hands-on" attention from their human owners.
- In selecting a Labrador Retriever, first you need to decide if you are looking for a pet, companion dog, a show dog or a hunting dog. Show dogs are bred to have perfect conformation. Hunting or field dogs are not bred for their looks but strictly on their working ability. However, both of these types still make great companion pets. Most people who are looking at a Labrador strictly as a pet will prefer the laid-back temperament of the show-bred Labrador Retriever.
- The next thing you want to make sure when selecting a Labrador Retriever is to check with the breeder or owner about hip dysplasia. Professional breeders have bred this painful ailment out of their bloodlines. X-rays can be taken of the hips and pelvis to determine if the Labrador Retriever you are selecting has this condition. Basically the head of the thigh bone does not fit properly into the hip socket.
- If you are selecting a Labrador Retriever puppy, consider his activity level, how he interacts with his brothers and sisters, and how he reacts around people. Make sure the puppy has had its first round of vaccinations.
- Avoid Labrador Retriever puppies which appear shy around people. Do not, however, confuse the puppy's caution on approach for shyness. Labrador puppies usually warm up to new people after a short amount of time.
- Look at the breeder's adult dogs. This will give you a good idea of the temperament that the puppies will also have in adulthood.
- While at the breeder's facility to select a Labrador Retriever, sit down with all the Labrador puppies and see which one approaches you first. Offer a treat if necessary, speaking softly to the puppies. The one who sticks around you is a good choice.
- After the puppy is comfortable with you, give him a rub and see how he likes being touched. Look at his feet, ears and teeth. Pick up the puppy -- most will squirm a bit at first, but he should settle down in your arms after a few minutes.
- Also when selecting a Labrador Retriever puppy, set him down and see if he will follow you. Clap your hands when he is not looking at you. A nervous puppy will run away, but a confident Lab will either come and investigate the sound or ignore it completely.
When selecting Labrador puppies, make sure they are at least six weeks old before taking them away from their litter. Healthy puppies also have clean ears, pink gums, white teeth, shiny coats and bright eyes.