Help us find a Labrador Breeder
June 2, 2009 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a good Labrador breeder near London.

We are thinking about getting a puppy and would like to find a good, reputable Labrador breeder in the London area. Some complications are 1) that we are moving back to Canada next summer and are still unsure if we should wait until we return home before doing this, and 2) a very energetic 4 year old who loves dogs but doesn't realize that he needs to calm down around them (he hugs every dog he meets in public, tries to walk them, gets upset when we say it's time to say bye etc.. However, he did spend about 20 minutes with an 8 week old Lab the other day and was surprisingly well behaved.)

One thing I've been told is that the breed line in the UK is somewhat better than the one in North America. I don't know if this is relevant to us as we've never talked about breeding (and most likely wouldn't). I do like the look of the smaller Labs here in the UK (I believe they are called the "gundog" line).

Any leads would be greatly appreciated.
posted by smcniven to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
You want to have a four or five year old boy *and* a Lab puppy at the same time? That's a recipe for Ragnarok in your house.

I would wait for that reason alone, but that your boy tends to be especially boisterous around dogs is another good reason to wait for him to calm down a bit.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:58 PM on June 2, 2009

Why don't you just get a dog from rescue?
posted by kldickson at 4:03 PM on June 2, 2009

Seconding kldickson- there are no real benefits to buying a breeder dog over a rescue dog, except that you can learn about health history. My rescue dog was an accidental breeding of show dogs, so I was able to learn about her line's health history, but that didn't end up telling me much, as she had major food allergies regardless. You can meet and greet with the puppies at rescues just like you would at a breeder, and get a decent sense of their temperament that way. Another option is fostering a puppy from a rescue- this would give you a good sense of whether your son would do well with it, and also give you a great sense of the dog's temperament.

Re: the moving issue, in Canada, I'm pretty sure you could use to browse through thousands of rescue dogs, rather than the litter of dogs you'd have to choose from with a breeder. Plus, flying overseas with a dog is a major pain, especially if it has separation anxiety, and you may have to quarantine the dog once you arive (don't know the laws in Canada).
posted by emilyd22222 at 4:11 PM on June 2, 2009

Thirding getting a rescue. Show dogs are bred to look pretty and act "properly," but in all honestly they're boring dogs. Mutts are the fun ones.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:32 PM on June 2, 2009

Best answer: Wait a year until you get to Canada. What can it hurt to wait? Your boy will be one year older and a little more mature around the dog. And you won't have the hassle of training a BABY DOG while preparing for an OVERSEAS MOVE.

English labs are not "better" or even "smaller" than North American labs. The "gundog" type you've heard about is referred to in the US as the "field lab" as opposed to the "show" or "English" labs as we call them.

Next, what do you mean by "good" breeder? I urge you to consider more than just the appearance and temperament of the sire and dam. Do the puppies have ratings from your national registry (whatever it is) for hips and elbows? In the US any responsible breeder has their breeding pair (and responsible breeders set on preserving/bettering the breed don't generally own both bitch and dog) rated on a Likert scale for predictability of producing puppies with healthy hips and elbows. If you've done any research on labs at all you know that they commonly suffer from displaysia and arthritis, among other diseases.

If you think displaysia and arthritis are the ken of old dogs, think again. Irresponsible or careless breeding (such as you typically find in a newspaper ad) produces often pretty and maybe even temperamentally sound dogs that get debilitating arthritis or displaysia before the age of 2.

Now that I've lectured you quite more than you bargained for, if you are still set on getting a puppy from a breeder--even though you may not know what to look for in a breeder--check for a breeder referral program linked from a national kennel club web site or national breed club site. I don't know what the UK's equivalent to the American Kennel Club ( is, but in the US the AKC's referral system is a starting point for finding a breeder of sound, healthy, "good" dogs. Expect to be put on a waiting list and to go through perhaps rigorous interviews. Responsible breeders seeking to better their breed won't sell their puppies to just anyone. Good breeders may not even want their dogs leaving the country, since they usually consider themselves liable for the dog through its entire life.

Consider a labrador rescue group--once you get to Canada, not before. (Check this site for groups: They will know more about the dogs they have on offer than any run-of-the-mill London breeder knows about their puppies, because the dogs are typically a little older with already developed personalities. They can tell you, for instance, if the dog is good with kids, cats, strangers, etc.

I wish you luck! They're a great breed, aren't they? That's why I'm a little, uh, passionate about them.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 7:17 PM on June 2, 2009

Response by poster: ImproviseOrDie: I think what I meant to ask is for a breeder who would explain it pretty much like you did (i.e. not worry about selling a pup but wanting to make sure that we had all the pertinent information before making a decision). We weren't sure if it would be a smart thing to do what with the impending move etc... but this may make us rethink our timelines.

I do love Labradors, they are a fantastic breed. My dad grew up with them and I've always had a soft spot for them.

Everyone else: while I appreciate the responses and understand why people are suggesting rescue dogs, but we are not looking for an older dog. For various reasons (including selfishness) when we do get a dog it will be a puppy. I've had a couple of mutts before (and loved them dearly) but I always told myself that when I was ready to get another dog it was going to be a purebred Lab.
posted by smcniven at 1:18 AM on June 3, 2009

smcniven, rescues are absolutely full of puppies and purebreds. I got my dog from a pointer rescue as a 2 month old puppy, and she was one of the few dogs there who wasn't a purebred. I would be shocked if you couldn't find a lab rescue in your area or in Canada.
posted by emilyd22222 at 7:54 AM on June 3, 2009

The UK's equivalent to the American Kennel Club is The Kennel Club. Cos they did it first.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:52 AM on June 3, 2009

smcniven: Here's some more info on the certifications I alluded to: OFA is the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. (I think in NA only, not UK.) They certify dogs' hips and elbows along a scale, which tells responsible breeders which dogs should and should not be bred.

CERF is an eye certification. I'm sure, since you're a fan of labs, you know they are prone to progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and retinal dystrophy (RD). CERF rates eyes just like OFA rates bones/joints.

The importance of these ratings cannot be understated for those who care about the betterment of a breed: Adolescent and adult dogs are rated by these organizations and the ratings are published for all to see.

The ones rated poorly are neutered or spayed so they cannot produce even more poorly bred pets who will break your heart by limping, being blind, and dying young just when you love them the most.

My lab, who died too young at age 9 last year, was mostly blind his whole life from both PRA and RD. He was a rescue dog, likely bred by very inexperienced people who didn't know what to include and what to exclude--beyond temperament and looks.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:20 PM on June 3, 2009

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