FAQ’s – Labrador Retrievers

1. How big do Labs get?
Labs range in size. The official breed standards states that they should weigh 55-75 pounds. In reality, there are Labs anywhere from 40-110 pounds- although extremes on either end are incorrect.  We aim to keep our Labs within standard and  our ideal is a 55 pound female and 60 pound male.  Read the official Canadian Labrador Retriever breed standard for more information.

2. What are the different ‘types’ of Labs?
There are two basic ‘types’ of Labs that you will see from reputable breeders. These are the show ring type Labs and the field type. These are often casually referred to as “English” labs or “American” labs- but either type can be born in any country and all are registered as simply Labrador Retrievers so those labels aren’t very accurate or revealing.  This division in the breed has occurred because of the popularity of the breed as a whole- it takes a dog bred specifically for the purpose to win in either the show ring or field trials. The show type dogs are typically heavier set, with bigger, blockier heads  and less drive and the American field type are leggy, lean and athletic with higher energy and working drive.  Our labs are the field type and descend directly from the most notable Field Trial Champion dogs of all time. Our research and experience reveals that the American field type of Lab most closely resemble the original lab both in appearance AND function.  We do NOT raise any show type Labs, nor do we compete in conformation events, although we do select for proper working structure!

2. I have heard that American Labradors (Field-trial type Labs) are hyper. Is this true?
For the most part, this is not the case. Being athletic and fast does not equate to being hyper. Think about it this way: a dog who hunts (or competes in hunting -type scenarios) must sit calmly in a blind,often for hours, before retrieving a few birds. If they are hyper or noisy, they will scare the birds away -that wouldn’t go over well with the human hunter now would it!  At the end of a hunt,  they go home where they usually double as the family pet. A hyper dog would not make a good hunting partner, competition dog,  nor would they make very good house pets. However, these dogs DO have a high energy level such that their job description requires great strength and stamina. In general, most field-bred dogs have pretty quiet
dispositions during their down time, but they do require daily bursts of vigorous exercise to keep them this way. Of course, you should get a feel for what the parent dogs are like- calm, steady parent dogs usually produce calm, steady puppies. Beware that Labs are known for their outgoing, boisterous personalities, so a very animated greeting is the norm regardless of the dogs actual energy level. Stick around for a while to watch the dogs settle down.  And is the case with any breed of dogs, some dogs just ARE hyper, regardless of what ‘type’ they are. If you don’t want a hyper puppy, avoid a breeder with hyperactive adult dogs. (ALSO note- dogs that are overweight automatically seem more ‘mellow’ because they don’t feel well. You may be surprised when your puppy from two chunky, mellow parents because a wild child because
you have kept him fit and healthy -in other words, it is always best to deal with a breeder who keeps their
dogs in good shape so you can get an accurate idea what to expect from a health, size, and energy level
perspective.

3. I see some Labs advertised as “High Drive”. What does this mean?
A high drive dog is a dog who acts with great desire. In the retriever world, a high drive dog would be one who LOVES to fetch birds and will go through anything to find the bird. In comparison, a lower drive dog might like to fetch a bird that is easy to find, but will balk if the bird happens to land in cold water, long grass, or on the other side of a prickly bush. For a high drive dog, the retrieve is his goal and he will do anything to get it done!

Drive often transfers from one venue to the next with help from a good trainer. For example, a high-drive retriever with proper training could also make a high drive agility dog, search and rescue, or detection dog – you can harness his or her
retrieving drive to increase his desire to perform almost any task. High drive dogs make fun pets because they are easy to train and motivate – but they NEED to be trained and exercised or that drive gets expressed as destructive behavior. They need regular training to give their desires an outlet and to keep them from getting bored. A high drive dog can make a super pet for someone willing to train and exercise it, but would not make a great candidate for someone looking for a  couch potato or lawn ornament.

4. How can two black Labs produce puppies who are yellow or chocolate?
Visit our Coat Color Genetics  page for all the information you could ever want about how coat color is inherited!

5. I’ve seen some Lab puppies with blue eyes. How does this happen?
All puppies, like all human babies, are born with bluish eyes. However, purebred Lab puppies will not keep this blue color – Labs always have brown eyes. The shade of brown will very from very dark to lighter brown (almost yellow color), but their eyes will definitely not stay blue.

7. What are Silver Labs – are they for real?
A detailed discussion of so-called silver labs can be found on our Coat Color Genetics page. In brief, Silver Labs have an off-color (grey) dog Lab whose origins as a purebred Lab are questionable. There are many theories as to why the dilute gene that causes the silver colored suddenly appeared in labs in the US in the late 19th century from a single kennel. However the origins don’t really matter because the fact is that the original breeder who introduced (or discovered) this mutation, decided to capitalize on it through in-breeding.  Grey Labs can not be shown because they do not adhere to the breed standard and ethically  should not be bred (just like any other mismark…. color is something that defines each breed) In the case of the dilute gene that causes grey, it’s undesirability in a Lab is not just because of the appearance, but due to their high risk for a skin condition called Color Dilution Alopecia which causes the grey dog’s hair to fall out and results in skin irritation which is uncomfortable and unsightly. You should not have to pay a premium price for any mis-marked or odd-colored labrador, even if it comes with papers – they are not rare nor more valuable although unscrupulous breeders would have you think otherwise. In fact, due to the health risks associated with dilute colored Labs, we advocate against their breeding and purchase. No Lab can be registered as ‘silver’- in order to register these dogs as a  Lab, the papers must be falsified to read ‘chocolate’. Any breeder who would falsify papers is one that I would not personally choose to deal with.  The dilute gene is also what produces so-call ‘charcoal’ and ‘champagne’ Labs so the same wariness should be applied to anyone breeding those colors. The only accepted colors of Labs are “Black”, “Yellow” and “Chocolate”.

7. What are Fox-Red Labs?
Fox-red Labs are yellow labs who happen to come in the darkest version of the shade. Some appear quite reddish in color, but they are still genetically yellow and will be registered as such. Fox-red Labs have  always existed but only recently has the ‘fox-red’ color description been used so heavily for marketing, although the term is actually used in the breed standard and the shade is thought to be that of the original yellow labs.  Also note that cream and white are also just normal, yellow labs with variations in the shade of the actual coloring. All shades of yellow should have dark pigmentation, and  none of these variations are especially rare. The terms used to market these different shades are just that- marketing descriptions- and you should know that your yellow puppy’s fur color may lighten or darken as he or she ages. Please note: A labrador is never referred to as ‘golden’ in color. Golden Retrievers are a completely separate breed.

8. What color Labs are easiest to train? I’ve heard that chocolates are crazy!
Color does not affect a dogs trainability. However, poor breeding does. Chocolate Labs have a reputation for being crazy, stubborn, and all sorts of other things…. this is because they are a popular target for backyard breeders looking to cash-in on the popularity of the color, not because there is any specific ‘link’ between brown and bonkers! That means that often, they are bred for color alone, without being selective about other traits such as temperament, drive, or an off-switch. Thankfully, there are many breeders who breed quality chocolate dog without all the negative traits you’ve heard about. You just have to do your research to find them (hint: the good chocolate dogs almost never come from a breeding program that only breeds chocolates).

Chocolate Labs from a good working dog breeding program are a real treasure and are just as easy to train and live with as yellows and blacks. They are just a bit harder to find, that’s all!  We get compliments all of the time on Nestle’s temperament, structure, and working ability – we are working hard so that Nestle and her descendants can help change the reputation of Chocolate Labs everywhere!

9. Are Labs hypoallergenic? Do they shed a lot?
Labs are NOT hypoallergenic. They do shed quite a bit but the shedding can be managed through proper
grooming, good nutrition, and the actual quantity of fur that is shed will depend on the living arrangements of
the dog. Labs kept indoors tend to shed a little bit almost continuously. Labs who spend most of their time
outside will shed profusely in the spring and fall. Regular grooming with a deshedding tool such as the
Furminator will cut down on shedding by an unbelievable amount (see our store for buying information).
Feeding a well-balanced diet will also improve the coat condition and reduce shedding.

 

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