Our club does not provide Breeder Referrals on this site.
But after you have read the document below, you can contact any of our members
listed in our Member Services Directory.
They will be glad to answer any questions you may have.
Please take a moment to read through and print this page
before continuing your search for reputable breeders in Southern California! Click
here for a .pdf
Looking for a Labrador Retriever Puppy?
Original by Cheryl Minnier (Adapted From Looking for a Golden
Retriever Puppy), reprinted from the LRC of the Potomac website
Because we, in rescue, often receive or must reject the results of irresponsible
breeders or irresponsible puppy sales, we have compiled this brochure to help
you make the right choice in a puppy. Before you fall in love with the first
adorable Labrador face you see, take the time in an initial phone call to ask
the following questions. You may not find a breeder who fits 100% of these
criteria but don't settle for anything less than one or two negative responses.
At the end of the list you will find questions to ask yourself. You should be
able to answer all of them affirmatively before you begin your search.
Remember you are adding a new member to your family for the next 10-15 years.
NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BARGAIN HUNT!! Prepare to spend at least $700-$1000 or
more for a well bred puppy.
You may have known someone who has or you may yourself have purchased a
"backyard" bred dog or a pet store or puppy mill dog and had great success.
However, the high number of serious problems seen in the breed today make this
event unlikely to reoccur. Chief among these are temperament problems ranging
from aggression to shyness to hyperactivity. Hip dysplasia, eye problems causing
blindness, heart defects that can severely shorten life span and auto immune
disorders and cancer are also becoming prevalent.
Responsible breeders will do all they can to avoid these problems by researching
pedigrees and screening parents for certain inherited problems before breeding.
Caution! Pennsylvania is now the leading puppy mill state due to the high number
of backyard breeders and puppy farmers who have found it more profitable to
raise puppies than poultry.
Keep this checklist by the phone when you make your calls and Good Luck!!!
____1) Where did you find out about this breeder? Responsible breeders usually
have a waiting list of puppy buyers. They usually don't find it necessary to
advertise in newspapers or with a sign out in the front yard.
____2) Do both parents (the sire and dam) have a hip clearance from the OFA
(Orthopedic Foundation for Animals), PennHip or Wind-Morgan? Ask to see the
certificates. "My vet okayed the x-ray" is not a valid clearance. Prelims can be
done before two years, but some dogs can fail to get final OFA clearance at two
years, even if they passed before.
____3) Do both parents have current eye clearances from an Opthomologist or CERF
certificate (Canine Eye Registry)? This must be re-done every year. Ask to see
____4) Do either parent have other clearances, Elbow, Heart, and Thyroid? These
are some of the other problems labradors can have and some breeders are checking
____5) Are both parents at least 2 years old? Final hip clearances cannot be
obtained before that age. Prelims can be done before two years, but some dogs
can fail to get final OFA clearance at two years, even if they passed before.
____6) How often is the dam bred? If it is every heat cycle, THIS IS TOO OFTEN,
and may indicate that profit is the primary motive for the breeding.
____7)Do all four grandparents, siblings of the parents and any other puppies
that they may have produced have these clearances? A responsible breeder will
keep track of these statistics and honestly discuss any problems that have
occurred in the lines and what has been done to prevent them from reoccurring.
____8) Is the breeder willing to provide you with references and telephone
numbers of other people who have purchased puppies from them?
____9) Will the puppy have a limited registration with a mandatory spay/neuter
contract? A breeder who cares enough about the breed to insist on these is
likely to be a responsible breeder.
____10) On what basis was the sire chosen? If the answer is "because he lives
right down the street" or "because he is really sweet", it may be that
sufficient thought was not put into the breeding.
____11) WILL THE BREEDER TAKE THE DOG BACK AT ANY TIME, FOR ANY REASON, IF YOU
CANNOT KEEP IT?! This is the hallmark of responsible breeding (and the quickest
way to make rescue obsolete).
____12) Is there a written guarantee against congenital health or temperament
problems, that does not require you to return your puppy or euthanize it?
____13) Will the breeder be available to answer any question you might have for
the life of the dog? Is this someone you would feel comfortable asking any type
____14) Is the breeder knowledgeable about the breed? Is he or she involved in
competition with their dogs (field, obedience, or confirmation)?
____15) Are there a majority of titled dogs (the initials: CH, OTCH, CD, JH, WC...
before or after the names) in the first two generations? The term champion lines
means nothing if those titles are back three or more generations or there is
only one or two in the whole pedigree.
____16) Are the puppy's sire and dam available for you to meet? If the sire is
unavailable can you call his owners or people who have his puppies to ask about
temperament or health problems? You should also be provided with pictures or
____17) Have the puppies been raised in the home - not in a kennel, barn or the
____18) Is the breeder knowledgeable about raising puppies, critical neonatal
periods, proper socialization techniques? Puppies that are raised without high
exposure to gentle handling, human contact and a wide variety of noises and
experiences OR are removed from their dam or litter mates before at least 7
weeks, may exhibit a wide variety of behavioral problems!
____19) Does the breeder provide you with a 3-5 generation pedigree, a contract
to sign, copies of all clearances and guarantee, health records and material to
help you with feeding, training and housebreaking?
____20) Have the puppies temperaments been evaluated and can the breeder guide
you to the puppy that will best suite your lifestyle? A very shy puppy will not
do well in a noisy household with small children, just as a very dominant puppy
won't flourish in a sedate, senior citizen household. A caring breeder will know
the puppies and be able to show you how to test them so that good matches can be
____21) Do the puppies seem healthy, with no discharge from eyes or nose, no
loose stools, no foul smelling ears? Are their coats soft, full and clean? Do
they have plenty of energy when awake yet calm down easily when gently stroked?
____22) Do the puppies have their first shots and have they been wormed & vet
checked by the time they go to your home?
____23) Does the breeder have only 1 or at most 2 breeds of dogs and only 1 or 2
litters at a time? If there are many breeds of dogs there, the chances are the
breeder cannot devote the time it takes to become really knowledgeable about the
breed and if there is more than one litter at a time it is very difficult to
give the puppies the attention they need and may indicate that the primary
purpose for breeding is profit, rather than a sincere desire to improve the
____24) Does the breeder belong to A Labrador Retriever Club and/or a local
____25) Do you feel comfortable with this person, after all you are entering
into a decade long relationship? Are you feeling intimidated or pressured? If
so, keep looking!
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF....
ARE YOU PREPARED TO...
-Take full responsibility for this dog and all its needs for the next 10-15
years? This is NOT a task that can be left to children!
-Invest the considerable time, money and patience it takes to train the dog to
be a good companion? (This does not happen by itself!! !!)
-Always keep the dog safe; no running loose, riding in the back of an open pick
up truck or being chained outside?
-Make sure the dog gets enough attention and exercise? (Labrador puppies need
several hours of both, every day!!)
-Live with shedding, retrieving, drooling and high activity for the next 10-15
-Spend the money it takes to provide proper veterinary care including but
certainly not limited to: vaccines, heartworm testing and preventative, spaying
or neutering and annual check ups?
-Become educated about the proper care of the breed, correct training methods
and how to groom? (There are many good books available, invest the time to read
-Keep the breeder informed and up to date on the dogs accomplishments and
-Take your questions to the breeder or other appropriate professional before
they become problems that are out of hand?
-Have the patience to accept (and enjoy) the trials of Labrador puppyhood, which
can last for three years, and each stage afterward?
-Continue to accept responsibility for the dog despite inevitable life changes
such as new babies, kids going off to school, moving or returning to work?
-Resist impulse buying, and instead have the patience to make a responsible
If you answered yes to ALL of the above you are ready to start contacting
breeders. Start early because most responsible breeders have a waiting list
ranging from a few of months to a couple of years. Remember, the right puppy or
adult dog IS worth waiting for!!
A word about rescue dogs...Rescue dogs may or may not be responsibly bred.
However, since they are adults, we are able to evaluate them for any signs of a
problem before you fall in love, something that can't be done with a puppy. We
consider this only one of the many advantages to adopting an older dog!
Check out Southern California Labrador Retriever
Rescue's site for available dogs and adoption applications.
Good Luck in Your Search