This is a very exciting day! The day you make the trip to the Lab Breeder and choose your 'lil furball. For many people it can be stressful not knowing how to pick or why you should pick any specific puppy. We will try to clear things up here so that you have a few criteria to select with.
For the most part, the genetics of the purebred Lab puppies in the litter are set once the parents mate. That is the puppies will be combinations of the sire and the dam's genetics. When we choose to keep parents to breed we are choosing the best specimens and mating them with the hope that we are going to be creating even better puppies through the combination of their genes. Improving on weak areas with each litter is what professional breeding is all about.
Now that you understand the genetic potential is set, you will work within your litter to try to narrow down the best Lab puppy for you. Keep in mind, that all of the puppies in the litter are of high quality. We have been working with our blood lines for over 14 years and each mating will be an improvement on the parents' traits as a purebred Labrador Retriever.
So, standing over the puppy box containing the puppies have a look without saying anything or doing anything. The puppies will either have different colored collars or different colored ribbons on them to identify them. Each different color corresponds to a unique microchip number implanted in that puppy. What are you looking for? Well, observe which puppies are the most active and the least active. Observe which puppy is bossy and more of a leader, and, which is more of a follower. Are there any outgoing puppies? Are there any shy ones?
Please understand that puppies and all dogs for that matter will feed off of the energy of the animals and the humans around them. So, if you bring your children and they are full of energy, talking loudly, excited, etc... then the puppies will pick up on that and imitate their behavior to an extent. We love to see the kids! However, it's best to leave them out of the picking process. Sure you may say it's going to be their dog right? Nope! It's going to be your dog who plays with the kids. The vet bills, the poop cleaning, nail clipping, taking out to go pee at 6 am, trips to the vet, and so on are yours. All yours! So unless you feel your children have better skills to choose the puppy than you, try to leave them out of it. You won't want to choose with emotion which is an especially common way that children choose their puppy. You want to use the criteria here to select the lab puppy that fits your family the closest.
Ok, there are a couple of things I need to say first. On your pick up day and depending on how many puppies are in the litter, your puppies may be sleeping. Sure they sleep 18-22 hours a day so it's normal part of their development but how can you make your choice if they are sleeping? The good news to this issue is that there will not be a bad puppy in the litter. As professional Labrador Retriever Breeders our primary goal is to create better Labrador Retriever puppies with each litter we produce. If there was a puppy who didn't make the cut or perhaps the vet said they were not healthy then you would not see them on pick up day. Depending on what the issue was with the puppy we would care for them or home them with a person who fully understood any issue present and was willing to care for them.
Getting back to selecting your puppy. As you watch over the litter try to narrow it down to two puppies you are interested in and watch them. Look for any excitement, playfulness, shyness, active or lying around, or differences in color, size, or other physical attributes such as tail size, ear size, forehead and snout size, etc.... It's important to understand that the genetic makeup of your puppy establishes the potential of your dog in the home. This means that these dogs are super smart, even tempered, loving and willing to please all because of the Labrador Retriever breed and the selections we make in our breeding program. After your dog gets home, it is 100% up to you to engage properly in positive reinforcement puppy training. Don't take all this time and effort to get an amazing specimen and then let it do whatever it wants in your home or yard. Training is key to having a well behaved Purebred Lab Retriever puppy. It won't happen on its own.
On the day you pick up your puppy it will be normal for the puppies to be on the shy side. Though they have been socialized by 5 or 6 of us they get use to us. They have been isolated from strangers until now (their immune system doesn't even start until 21 days old) so that they are not exposed to dangerous germs and viruses that can easily harm a young Lab puppy. So the new sights, smells, sounds etc... that you bring will all be a brand new thing for them. At 8 weeks old they are unsure if these new stimuli are safe and they may be cautious coming to you. Again, all normal. On the other hand, a puppy who comes right up to you with no apprehension may be the one you want. Especially if you are a hunter and you need your dog to work to retrieve game. You should also know that if a puppy runs from its pack to see you it is not choosing you! It could be the more dominant or most curious puppy and it would approach anyone coming to see the litter not just you.
Can we pick your lab puppy? Sure we can! The latest research we have read on the topic indicates that how a puppy behaves at 8 weeks old when with its litter has no bearing on the puppy it becomes after you train it properly. This means that for most people the training and socialization you provide is much more important than which puppy you choose. We always suggest picking the most easily trainable puppy and we will be happy to do this for you. For the best explanation on setting yourself up properly to lead your puppy to becoming a well behaved dog, please sign up for the www.puppytrainedright.com program. A generous discount is available for our clients to help you understand how to use positive reinforcement to train your puppy. So we are happy to offer advice and can absolutely choose your puppy in the event you cannot make it, but doing so on your own would be the best scenario. Another method we frown on is the breeder evaluating a puppy with a tool to grade their personality and then comparing that to a marking tool that you complete to grade yourself. Remember when I said puppies respond differently to different people? Well they have basic emotions similar to that of a two year old. If you are not in the room, and I am evaluating the puppy (remember my experience with puppies and your lack of), then how can a score sheet be used to match the two of you together effectively? You need to see the puppy behave with you. It's as simple as that.
So you have it narrowed down to two puppies, compare similar personality traits and physical features as I mentioned earlier. Toss in the fact that they are high, medium, or low energy and poof! That's your puppy. Ha ha, ok it's truly not going to be that easy but at least you have some guidelines to use when you arrive. It's important to note that there are many myths out there. For example, the largest puppy is not necessarily going to be the biggest one when full grown. At 8 weeks old the biggest puppy has been the one who is the pushiest at the food bowl and eats the most at feedings. This is why 8 weeks is the best time for your Lab puppy to go to bond with their human family. As some puppies get larger in size they can push the other smaller puppies around so size then becomes another factor in the development of your puppy. Take your puppy home at 8 weeks old and you have provided them time with their litter to learn puppy to puppy manners (weeks 4 to 8) and you have eliminated the possibility of them being bullied by the larger pups (after week 8). The larger pups also will not learn to become overly dominant because there are not smaller ones around them to boss around.
What about people who want the runt? It's a common thing to hear someone ask for the runt of the litter, and others say they don't want the runt. The first group feel that because the runt is smaller they will listen better when truly listening is a skill learned through training. And the second group feel that a smaller puppy is sick and weak and will not thrive. Again this is not the case as smaller puppies simply do not have as strong of a food drive than their siblings. The larger issue surrounding the runt is this. Professional Lab Retriever Breeders breed for consistency. It's our job to work to make the new generation of puppies all the same and all better than their parents. For this reason, we almost never have a puppy who is born smaller than the others and most of the time 90% of people cannot tell any difference between 8 puppies placed side by side. It is this consistency in our breeding program that ensures the first picked puppy is of the same high quality as the last picked.
So before you arrive to choose your Purebred Lab Puppy, have a couple behavioral qualities in mind and a couple physical qualities. Observe quietly and try not to bring too many people with you so that the puppies only pick up your energy and not the energy of the group. This is the best way to truly observe how the puppy will react to you alone. Narrow it down to a couple and compare them together measuring them against your list of traits. Most of all, remember that once you get your Lab Retriever puppy home, it's the training that will determine weather or not they are a good boy or a good girl. If you make a choice to not train you have to be ready to deal with whatever your Lab decided to become.
And one final note. Some people have heard to wipe a blanket where the puppy sleeps or on the mother because the scent will calm the puppy in your home. Think of it this way, if your puppy smells the mother or one of its littermates what does it do next? That's right, it looks for them so that it can snuggle up or play with them. So a blanket with this scent on it will cue your puppy to look for someone who is likely not coming back. Imagine the frustration of a puppy newly separated from its litter being able to smell them but not find them. We suggest you do not do this to your puppy. Our suggestion to help settle the puppy (only if you need to) is to put a t shirt into the crate with the scent of the person who they bonded the most to. This is their new pack. Get them accustom to their new pack and the quicker they forget their old pack the easier it will be for them. Love them, set clear guidelines, and enjoy them for years to come.
Choosing Purebred Lab Retriever Puppies