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#5701160 - 04/15/15 12:49 PM Labrador selection process
triggerbowtx Offline

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 190
Surely this question has been asked a few thousand times and I apologize for probably doing it again but I'm struggling to make decisions. I have been following recent and upcoming lab litters for a few months as I have decided it's time for another dog. I have never been fully into Hunt Tests etc. My last dog I had professionally trained as a gundog. We hunted all sorts of birds and he was a wonderful pet. I didn't know much about Hunt Tests and Field Trials at the time so we never got into that arena. I feel confident he could have received his JH with the level of schooling he had. And probably his SH if we had gone back to school for a few months. (but that's totally besides the point... and I'm biased). He had a nice bloodline of titled dogs... The Boss was his GrandSire and a Watermark MH was his Sire. Regardless, he was a great all-round dog and I miss him dearly. So, it's time for a new one.

I find it to be very stressful to find the right litter. I want a great hunting companion but I also want a great family companion. In fact, the family companion might even be more important. I know I will have him/her professionally trained but I can't say to what level. JH - yes, SH- I hope, MH- that would be cool but I don't know if I want the dog at school for that much time (and money eek) . Mainly because I also really love hanging out with my dogs and doing working on retrieving skills he learned at school, going to the store, going to the lake, etc. I love my pup just being my buddy. Does this make me a bad lab person? Some breeders/trainers tend to think so? Or at least they make me feel that way.

So in searching for a litter, I want a good looking black lab. Nice head, but also fairly lean build. Some of the English Labradors get a little too bulky for my liking. I also want the drive to retrieve and I also want the infamous off-switch.

So, when searching for a litter I am currently looking at Hunt Test/FT bloodlines with good "lab" looks. But where do I stop? Are field champion bloodlines too much dog for what I want? For instance, I have heard to stay away from "Cosmo" bloodlines and some others. I have been told those dogs and their offspring are too intense for what I want. I love knowing these things. I would agree.

So, am I doing this correctly? Or should I be looking at less titled bloodlines? I know that bloodlines of both the Sire and Dam are vitally important. But if I am not looking to have a Field Champion, do I need a dog sired by one?

I feel like a dog that has achieved MH and FC or whatever are still very much worth looking into (even if I don't plan on doing FT's) because they should still be great dogs simply because they have the trainability in their bloodlines and that means a lot for hunting, etc but I would think that also means a lot for the dog learning how to be a good home citizen as

I know I don't have an exact question but I think you can catch on the what I am asking. I have a feeling the answer is going to be "talk to a reputable breeder and they will get you the right dog with an off switch." I guess I am needing more than that answer. Can anyone help me out? It's stressing me out. hahaha. Thanks in advance.

Edited by triggerbowtx (04/15/15 12:55 PM)

#5701317 - 04/15/15 02:34 PM Re: Labrador selection process [Re: triggerbowtx]
comet Offline

Registered: 03/05/05
Posts: 972
Loc: Canton Texas
I agree that you are not looking for the English/bench labs what you would be looking for is the American. You will need to do some leg work to find the breeder/kennel that is right for you. I truly believe God will give you peace when you find the right one
_________________________ offering Top Quality Labrador puppies at an affordable price.

#5702756 - 04/16/15 11:03 AM Re: Labrador selection process [Re: triggerbowtx]
Wild Games Labradors Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 03/27/14
Posts: 13
Loc: Salado, Texas

You are asking all the right questions, and it looks like you've gotten some good info so far. I found myself in the same position years ago looking for a stud dog in order to get pups out of my "perfect" female that was my friend, hunting companion, and foot warmer. While it is not necessary to find a pup out of titled ancestry, it is the only way to know the pup has the natural ability, drive, and intelligence to learn to hunt. However, the titles will not tell you much (if anything) about the disposition of your pet and how he will handle in the home.

Field Trial dogs do tend to be more energetic due to the fact that they almost have to be to win a Field Trial, and let's face it, who wants to spend all the time and money on a dog who has no chance of winning!?! Hunt Test dogs don't have to be that geared up, but certainly are much of the time.

Either way, the "off switch" you referenced is very prominent in the Labrador breed. That is why they are America's favorite dog (according to AKC registration numbers). They don't have to be hunted at all, even if they have been bred to do so. Unfortunately, some Hunt Test and Field Trial breeders don't care if their bloodlines have an off switch if all they are interested in is winning tests. Here's why your search has become difficult. The only real way to know if your pup will have a good opportunity to be both a hunting companion as well as a lap dog in the house is to get a pup from a breeding that has that type of dog in the pedigree. Unfortunately, AKC doesn't have any titles for "off switches"!

So how do you know? Find a trainer or owner of pedigreed, hunt test/field trial dogs that keeps their dog in the house. If their titled sire and/or dam is their companion, stays in their home, and they still have a home that's in one piece, then you know that titled dog also has its off switch! If they say their dogs have an off switch, but they don't let their dog live with them, they're either lying, or they don't have much love for dogs, because who WOULDN'T want their best friend to be a part of their family if he has as good a manner as the stereotypical loyal, loving, Labrador Retriever?!?

I do have to say that typically, a Labrador is going to be a good dog as far as being socially acceptable and having manners if the proper training is put into them. It is definitely the exception to the rule to have an unruly Lab (unless he just hasn't been taught anything). Labradors are generally more high strung than, say, a hound dog, but they are highly intelligent and extremely loyal which makes them easily trained if you just spend a little time with them and give them clear rules to live by, so don't fret over it too much.

Whatever you do, make sure your Lab breeder has all of the proper health clearances (OFA, CERF, EIC, CNM, etc.). If a breeder isn't willing to spend the time and money on their health screenings, then they probably don't have much faith in their dogs to be excellent dogs and they certainly don't care about what they're selling you, so you really can't trust anything else they may tell you about their dogs.

Good luck in your search.
Hunting is my life. Life is good. Life's better with Labs!

#5702791 - 04/16/15 11:22 AM Re: Labrador selection process [Re: triggerbowtx]
Caneycreek Offline
Green Horn

Registered: 04/25/12
Posts: 4
I started out growing up with and then eventually breeding English labs. I've seen some really good English labs hunting. They lack the stamina of an American lab. I switched to American labs in 2004 and have been raising and breeding them since. I have 2 females right now that are indoor dogs. They sleep all day. They are hyper at dinner time so I have to put them outside before I fill their bowls or they might knock me down running past me. I have one female that is primarily an outdoor dog (except when the weather gets bad), because 5 dogs in the house is just too many. But when she IS allowed in the house - she runs right into a kennel and stays in there and doesn't move. She won't even lick her paws or scratch, she just stays quiet hoping she's allowed to stay in the house if I don't notice her!

Although they may be incredibly calm inside all day (I work from home and they literally nap the entire day), all 3 of the dogs have an incredible amount of stamina like no other dogs I've seen when I take them into the field. My 10.5 year old dog has continuously retrieved tennis balls swimming upstream in the Blanco river for about 8 hours straight. I finally had to take the ball away so no one else would throw it because she was so tired, but refused to stop. Just this past October, my husband shot a trophy buck at the break of dawn with his bow and we could not find it. We had 2 of the labs tracking with us for 10 hours. We sat down in the woods to rest and the dogs would not lay down, even though they were hot, panting, and tired. They were still ready to go.

If it rains for 4-5 days straight and I can't take my indoor labs outside to run around a little, they go stir crazy. American labs HAVE to be able to burn that energy at least once a week so they don't become problematic (digging, tearing up potted plants, chewing everything in the house, etc). They are amazing dogs and I would probably never go back to owning an English one after finding these.

On the bloodlines - the first American lab I bought I didn't really look into the bloodlines. I knew I wanted there to be some "champion" in there because I figured I might breed her in the future, as we did when I was growing up with the English labs. I bought her when I went away to college. After doing a lot of research before breeding her, I came to find out that she has an outstanding 5 generation pedigree that I knew nothing about. We've bred some females to outstanding pedigreed dogs and we've bred some to a dog that maybe has 1-2 champions in the pedigree. We've had no complaints or pups returned out of either type of litter. So I think that as a breeder, you can get an American lab to do what you want it to with a little bit of training and the amount of time you spend with the dog, regardless of how good the pedigree is. Although, my advice would be to go with someone reputable who does offer a health guarantee on the puppy. A lot of irresponsible breeders out there can run into problems, and if a puppy is put into heavy training or field action before it's bones are finished growing, it can cause MORE problems as far as hip dysplasia goes in the future.

Good luck on your puppy search. I hope this helps you some. I do have 2 litters planned for around fall. I can also recommend you to the trainer I've used for 7 years now who has an occasional litter.

#5703555 - 04/16/15 06:15 PM Re: Labrador selection process [Re: triggerbowtx]
Birdhunter61 Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 03/16/11
Posts: 419
Gay houser has 2 left from a litter that should full your needs. Ask her about the Manny litter.


#5704734 - 04/17/15 11:14 AM Re: Labrador selection process [Re: triggerbowtx]
Leonardo Online   content
Extreme Tracker

Registered: 01/03/08
Posts: 4967
Loc: Wise County
Great questions and I think you are looking for the almighty "lab." What I mean by that is you have described the perfect dog for about 95% percent of lab owners. I think you are correct in ruling out certain bloodlines such as Cosmo for what you want. If your not dead set on a 8wk old pup I would suggest finding a started pup. It should give you more feel on their energy level and as to what they may accomplish. I understand started pup is a little contradictory so here are my suggestions. Find a dog three to five months old that has some light obedience and has already started retrieving.

A line that might fit your needs is FC Blackwater's Last Resort(Finn). At least my experience with his pups. Ready to go on gameday and pleasant to be around at home.

#5705278 - 04/17/15 03:33 PM Re: Labrador selection process [Re: triggerbowtx]
triggerbowtx Offline

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 190
Thanks for the feedback everyone. Just letting you know I am logging in and seeing your responses. I anticipated most of your responses but it's good to know I am doing the right thing. I think I have found a couple Sire's that interest me and now trying to track down all of their upcoming litters. It's not a quick process but will be worth the time and effort.


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