F.A.Q. Before Buying

Questions to Ask Before You Purchase a Puppy

Purchasing a purebred puppy can bring joy and happiness to you and your family for many years. However, the decision to purchase a dog should not be based on impulse nor taken lightly. Potential dog owners must consider that this major purchase is a living being totally dependent upon its owner for life. You must understand that a dog’s condition of health, environment, and training will be your responsibility.

When choosing a breed for you and your family, it is important to do your homework and research the breed that suits your lifestyle. Aspects to consider are size, coat type, energy level, original purpose of the breed, temperament, and possible allergies.

To assist you in selecting your breeder it is very important that you follow the recommended “Golden Rules” for purchasing a purebred dog. No responsible breeder should have difficultly complying with the following so use them as your yardstick in finding the right breeder with the right dog.

The Golden Rules For Finding a Reputable Breeder

  1. Always visit the kennel
  2. Make certain the dam (mother) is on the premises and available for you to see.

  3. Ask to see health certificates and records of visits to the veterinarian.

  4. Insist upon being provided with a signed bill of sale stating the puppy is being sold as a purebred.

  5. Insist upon being provided with a written guarantee.

  6. Confirm that the dog has been permanently and uniquely identified.

  7. Confirm CKC registration of the parents, the litter and the puppy you are about to purchase.

  8. Ask if the breeder is a member of CKC.

RED FLAGS: Walk away if the breeder…

  • won’t show you where the puppies are kept
  • doesn’t have current health records on the dam and sire
  • can’t provide you with references
  • hasn’t performed recommended health checks offers to sell you an “unregistered purebred” – there is no such thing or tries to charge you extra for registration papers

1. Why purchase a Lab? 
Labradors are good with kids and can become a welcome member of any family with some basic obedience training and attention. Labs are very intelligent, love to be with people and love to play.

2. How many breeders should I contact? 
Perspective Labrador owners should talk with a minimum of three breeders, attend a dog show if possible to meet breeders and their dogs and/or attend a retrieving competition or test or obedience competition. Learn as much as possible about the Labrador as a breed. Go to your local library and/or check out the Canadian Kennel Club website for information about specific breeds.

3. What guarantees/clearances will be provided? 
Reputable breeders will screen their breeding males and females prior to conception of a litter to try to avoid genetic conditions which may be transferred. Ask about clearances of the parents for hip and elbow dysplasia and PRA or progressive retinal atrophy (which is a blindness that afflicts older dogs). Many breeders also guarantee against congenital heart murmurs. A guarantee covers what would be the recompense in the case of a problem, not an assurance that a problem will never occur. Reputable breeders will provide a detailed guarantee for the dogs they sell and reputable breeders will not hesitate to uphold their guarantee. Never buy a dog without a written guarantee and understand the intent behind it.

4. Can I meet the sire and the dam of the litter? What do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of the sire and dam? Have they been bred before? 
Meeting the parents can give you insight into the potential appearance and personality of the pups from the breeding. Frequently, the sire will not live with the breeder of the litter. Request to see a photo of the sire which will give you an idea of what to expect physically. There is no perfect Labrador. Every dog has his/her strong and weak points. A breeder should answer your questions frankly and honestly and be able to point out areas that her/she would like to see improved upon in a certain dog.

5. What is the temperament of the dam? 
Mother dogs will be protective of their puppies but should also be proud to show off their pups. A friendly, happy dog is one that is comfortable with her pups. Ask to see the sire if possible. Puppies should be happy, well fed (but not pot bellied) healthy (immunized, 
de-wormed) and clean.

6. What questions will a breeder ask of me? 
A responsible breeder should have questions for you to ensure that the puppy is going to a safe and good home. They will likely ask about fencing, time available with the puppy once he goes home, exercise areas, previous pet history, children. A responsible breeder should exhibit a willingness to spend time and answer questions, educate you about the care of the breed and suggest books and correct toys and equipment to purchase.
The breeder should also make you aware of proper grooming for the breed such as brushing, bathing, vacuuming and nail trimming.
Housing suggestions ( crate, dog run, seat belt harness) will often be made by a breeder concerned about the proper care of their puppies.
A concerned breeder will provide you with information concerning the current diet of the puppy and make suggestions for later in life (provide printed info).
The breeder will often offer the name of a good vet and boarding facility in your area.
Reputable breeders will be happy to provide you with references if you are willing to do the same. 
A breeder who truly cares about their puppies and their buyers will be available to the new puppy owner for the lifetime of the dog and provide ongoing support.

7. What if things do not work out? 
Ethical breeders will usually require that they be given first option to take the dog back should you not be able to keep it so it does not end up in a rescue program or a home that is not screened properly because of the stressful situation occurring that necessitates giving up the dog.

8. The breeder wants me to sign a contract. What should I do? 
It is common practice for a breeder to have a new puppy owner sign a purchase agreement. An agreement should provide a greater understanding between the breeder and the new owner in case a problem or health concern does arise.

9. What about the puppy’s pedigree? 
The breeder will provide you with and explain the puppy’s CKC ( Canadian Kennel Club) registration ( tattoo or microchip), registration papers (to come later), and pedigree ( family tree).

10. What will a puppy cost me? 
A purebred Labrador retriever in Manitoba is currently priced at $700.00 – $950.00. Most members of the LRCM currently sell their puppies for $800.00.

11. Why should I pay for a purebred with papers? 
When you purchase a purebred Labrador retriever you are paying for the reassurance that in fact you are getting a purebred Labrador ( tattooed or micro chipped and registered with the Canadian Kennel Club) and the ongoing support with the pup for life of the animal from a breeder committed to breeding dogs that are healthy and well a good temperament. One advantage of a purebred dogs is that the qualities of each generation ( size, coat, temperament, etc.) are passed on to the next. Members of the LRCM who are breeders sign and abide to a Code of Ethics and educate themselves as breeders on an ongoing basis to ensure to best of their ability the highest standard for their dogs.

The Canadian Kennel Club requires that breeders provide all puppy buyers with their puppy’s CKC registration papers within six months of purchase. It is against Federal Law ( the Animal Pedigree Act) to charge an extra fee for registration.

12. Are the puppies raised inside your home? 
What kind of early socialization do the puppies receive? Will they receive exposure to children? To other dogs? Puppies raised in a kennel may simply not be given the same socialization opportunities as those raised in the family home. Early socialization if of paramount importance for a healthy, sociable pet’s development. The more a puppy sees, hears, and touches in his/hers earliest days, the more well-adjusted and easy going he/she will be as an adult.

13. Can I choose my pup myself? If not, how will the breeder choose which pup is best for me/my family? 
Some breeders allow buyers to choose their own puppy, but many do the choosing for their new owners. The breeder has spent countless hours with each pup, and they recognize which pup is best suited for each home. Trust your breeder.

14. Does the breeder maintain a waiting list of potential puppy owners? 
Most Labrador breeders do have waiting lists for upcoming litters. If you put your name on more than one list, please let the other breeders whose list you are on know when you have found a puppy so they can update their lists.

15. What if I do not want a puppy? 
Many breeders have older dogs that they are looking to place in good homes.

16. What if I am not interested in a purebred dog? 
The LRCM has a Rescue program in which they work with the Humane Society and several animal control centers in and around Winnipeg to find homes for Labradors and Labrador crosses that have been surrendered or found.

The Labrador Retriever Club of Manitoba would like to acknowledge and thank the Canadian Kennel Club and the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of Canada and Ontario for the use of materials used in the information provided above.