A couple of months ago I decided to purchase a new puppy. First off I had to decide what my criteria for the pup would be. This included:

1. breed
2. color
3. quality of breeding
4. age of dog
5. Certifiications

I have always liked Labrador retrievers even though I have had Goldens and worked around Chessies. Labs have just the right temperament for me.

Generally, they are good around people and especially children. You really don’t want your dog to be biting the neighbor’s kids and then paying the doctor bills, after which then getting rid of the dog. Some time back I had a friend that wanted a male from one of our litters. He told me, “I would like a good hunting dog but also want one to guard the house when I am gone.” I responded that he had better not get one of our dogs because although they would be good hunters, they would not make good guard dogs. In fact, not only would they not hurt the intruder, they would unlock the door and welcome him in – showing where all the valuables are kept – that is how much they like people.

I have also always liked Chocolate dogs. I got one of the first chocolate Labs in our dog club (Eastern Idaho Retriever Club) about 12 years ago and took a great deal of ribbing about it. Now chocolates really hold their own and for a time even outnumbered yellows and blacks. I know that chocolates have not been around as long as yellows and certainly blacks have been around the longest and have by far and away the deepest gene pool, but I still like chocolates and want to deepen and improve their gene pool.

As you may or may not know, there are two distinct lines in all labradors, one that encompasses all those dogs bred for show and the other of those bred for hunting and competitive field trialing. The reason for this distinction is that those bred for show have focused less on hunting and have thus created a line of dogs which are not as good at hunting but which conform to a “breed standard” as defined by the American Kennel Club (AKC). When any breed is bred over the years for one thing, such as show, they cannot be as good at hunting as a line bred for that use.

Of course, I use hunting dogs and want the very best of those lines. You may ask, “How can you tell whether one line is better than another when all you have to go on is someones word that his dogs are good hunters?”

First of all you must define what traits you want the dog to have. I want a dog with an excellent nose, one with exceptional drive to hunt (prey drive), one with great athletic ability, good eyes, hips, and a lack of other physical problems. Of course it is also important that he or she be pleasing to the eye.

To find a dog with these qualities one must look for a dog who has excellent field trial or hunt test lines. This means one whose lineage includes a preponderance of dogs with titles such as FC (field champion), AFC (Amteur Field Champion), or MH (Master Hunter). It is especially good if your dog has lineage with NFC or NAFC titles (National Field Champion or National Amateur Field Champion) as they are the best of the breed for that year.

I also insist on getting a dog whose parents have hips that are listed with the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) as being good or excellent. I want a dog whose eyes are listed as clear with the CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation). Because I have never had a dog with an eye problem I don’t worry about this as much. I also want a dog who is clear of both CNM (Canine Neuro-myopathy) as well as EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse).