Lorken Farms, Labrador Retrievers, Fremont, WI
When you go to purchase your Labrador Retriever there are a number of factors to keep in mind. First of all the pet you buy is likely to be a member of your family for 10-15 years. Be sure to get as much information as you can before you buy and the family gets attached to the pup.
There are some factors to consider:
Lorken Farms seeks to breed a good all around dog for health, trainability, gun dog instincts, intelligence, good personalities and dispositions, and good looks. We believe this combination will fit the needs of someone seeking a family house pet, gun dog or Field Trial/Hunt Test dog.
Other factors people consider when picking out a puppy:
Color & Gender of your Labrador pup
****Below are some questions people ask when buying a Labrador Retriever pup. In short color and gender are the owner's personal preference. You may need to be selective with finding the right pedigree to get the factors most people attribute to the color or gender for selecting a pup. Read on if you have questions.
With Labrador Retrievers there are 3 basic colors. Black is the most traditional color and is in fact the dominant gene. There are also Yellows and chocolates which are recessive and double recessive genes. There is no such thing in the AKC as a silver Lab or white Lab. White is a color phase of yellow. If you ever find any other colors they either are not pure bred Labradors or it is something not recognized by the AKC.
Yellow Labradors range is color from a foxy red to cream and red shading, to solid cream or white with no shading. They will generally have black skin pigment though in the Winter it has been noted that yellows tend to have their black noses look more pink. Sometimes in field dogs one will find a combination of black and pink in the pigment because the breeders are not seeking appearance as much as the field ability of the dog. The show people are interested in having only black noses. One will also notice that yellows can have brown pigment on the nose and lips if they are out of a chocolate line. This is acceptable among the field dogs. For the most part, the color is not going to make any difference for field titles, perhaps only the preference for the dog owner.
Chocolate Labradors range is color from a dark rich brown to a light brown sometimes with darker shading. The skin pigment is brown. Often chocolates do not seem to have quite as dark of brown pigment in the eyes as blacks. Again all of the color issues in field work is personal preference not anything to do with registering the dog or earning titles.
We have been asked many times by potential dog buyers if yellows or chocolates are not as good of a dog as blacks. Our answer is always that the pedigree itself is the best predictor of a good dog. Because the colors yellow and chocolate have become more popular in the last decade there have been some indiscriminate breeder who breed simply for the color, not for the all around quality of the dog. Generally things like titles, OFA and CERF numbers will give you the best knowledge about the pup's trainability, health and intelligence. It is true that with chocolates there are not a lot of dogs out there that have the titles at this time. So often getting a good chocolate pedigree will be more expensive than black or possibly even yellow.
Check out this web page for a discussion about Silver Labs
Ask the breeder about the temperament of the parents if that is a concern for you. It is not true that field dogs are hyper or uncontrollable. They need to be steady in a field setting and respond to commands even when they are hundreds of yards away from the owner. That is not a hyper-out of control dog. There can be some that are more high strung so find out what qualities the breeder was striving for when they chose the pair to breed. You will see in any litter that there will be more dominate or submissive dogs. Get a good pedigree and if you are looking for a quite dog pick a more submissive one. Some people run their own tests when picking out a pup such as seeing who is most aggressive, outgoing, or one that doesn't put up much fuss if you gently hold it on it's back on the ground,
Check out the dynamics of inherited color at http://www.vetgen.com/chromagene-coat-color.html In fact they offer genetic testing to know for sure what colors your dog may be carrying genetically.
When you look at all the things that going into making a great gun dog and pet, it becomes apparent that one gene (the color gene) having the total control for a good dog would be far too simple of an answer.
Choosing whether or not you want a male or female dog is also a matter or personal preference. We have heard all kinds or reasons people use for choosing the gender.
It used to be that people only wanted males and that they commanded a higher price. The belief then was that males were sturdier, could take the pressure and made better hunters. There are advantages in field tests since a male does not have a heat cycle and so will not have to be disqualified when that time comes around like for a female in heat. They are often larger and more beautiful dogs because they often have larger heads and are more blocky than females. There are indeed more FC-AFC males than females though it is not clear whether that is because more males are run in the events to begin with, or whether they just do better. Indeed, Candlewood's Tanks a Lot (Lottie) was a female and probably one of the best FC's ever, having taken the National title more than once. Hattie McBunn is also a National Field Champion. The disadvantages some people say about males is that they do the leg raising thing and can ruin their new landscaping services, they can range further or seek females in heat and might require more pressure and training because of their more independent or headstrong nature. Some people don't like the larger size if they have a small house.
Females are currently more popular at least in the Northern part of the country. People seem to have taken a complete turn around from thinking males are better to preferring females. Reasons some people give for having a female include wanting a quieter, more controllable, smaller dog to believing the female will respond better in the field to commands, close ranging, less aggressive dog. They may fit in a duck skiff a little nicer too. Also if one wants to breed their dog they may look at the potential for raising pups. Disadvantages include the heat cycle which can do a number on your kitchen floor if kept in the house.
All in all the gender of your dog is a personal preference as well as the color. Basically the pedigree will help determine the size, disposition, intelligence and trainability of the dog. In the same litter there are different pecking orders or dominance and sometimes you can pick a quieter or more outgoing dog to meet your needs. Trained gun dogs will range within the area you want. You can always spay or neuter a dog to avoid the female's heat cycle or avoid having a male try to find a female in heat. At the present time both the colors (yellow and chocolate) tend to be more popular as well as females being more popular. If you find a price variance it is basically due to supply and demand. Often you can find a very good quality black male for much less than say a good quality yellow or chocolate female. Even in the same litter you may find a price difference.
Hopefully the tips presented above will help you learn how to understand a pedigree and put it together with whatever personal preferences you have to help you select the kind of companion you will want for the next 10-15 years.
Other information which may appear on the pedigree:
There are some health certifications that you can get for your dog that are not directly passed on genetically from a single gene from both parents. The genetics are complicated and the best we can currently do is to try to bred dogs with good test results to avoid possible genetic problems:
OFA=Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. This is a check for hip dysplasia. This is a hip disorder which is more common in larger breed dogs such as the retrievers. It can range from a severe case which may warrant putting the dog down due to pain and difficulty walking to a mild form which makes hard running somewhat difficult. The OFA foundation is a place where a Veterinarian can submit an x-ray of the dog's hips for evaluation and determination of their condition. If the dog is normal it will be rated with Fair, Good, or Excellent and a number. Dogs which are dysplastic are not assigned a number. Breeders using this information have sought to try to improve the health of the breed by trying not to pass on dysplasia. Not all the evidence is in about the cause, but some heredity is believed to be involved and the dog will show signs of the disorder by age 2. Lorken provides a written guarantee for 2 years, 2 months to allow you to get the evaluation if you feel it is needed. Certainly injuries or old age arthritis are separate issues. The OFA numbers will appear on your official AKC papers but generally do not list the complete number-just the age the dog was when the evaluation was completed. The dogs you want to be most concerned about are parents and grandparents of your pup since most of the dog's heredity is coming directly from them. For more information and to even look up a dog's OFA number and rating check out the OFA Web Page.
There is a test called Pen Hip but it has not been accepted as a standard test for measuring hip dysplasia by the general AKC field Labrador community. Lorken Farms uses OFA as that is a registration accepted by the AKC and actually put on your dog's official pedigree. At this time we do not use pen hip results. Our guarantee is for 2 years and 2 months and we recommend having a Vet who does not use anesthesia do the x-rays.
a certification for normal eyes in dogs. A certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist
is the only person who should complete this test and again there is an
organization that will assign a certification number. You want your dog to have
good eye sight so their is a check to make sure there are no genetic eye
problems. This eval is also shown on the
OFA Web Page.
EIC= There is now a genetic test to screen
for dogs who have or carry the gene for Exercised Induced Collapse. The
actual disorder would cause a dog to collapse after a period of heavy exercise.
The University of Minnesota does genetic testing and talks about the disorder on
their web page at:
Under their paragraph 'Genetics and Breeding" #7 they connect to a chart
Implications of the EIC Mutation for Breeding
showing that it REQUIRES a carried
gene from BOTH the father and the mother for a dog to actually get the disorder.
If one does any breeding it is important to know the genetic background of both
the sire and dam in order to avoid any health problems. A dog that is a
carrier is completely unaffected itself. The site does not suggest that
only clear dogs be bred since it would eliminate many other good traits, rather
they suggest to avoid the combination of breeding 2 carriers which could result
in 25% of the pups being affected with the disorder. Lorken Farms does not
sell dogs specifically for breeding or to a breeding kennel per se, but if
someone chooses to breed their dog, we recommend that you do full health
screenings for Cerf, OFA, EIC and CNM so you know how to best choose a mate.
Lorken Farms provides a written 2 year, 2 months OFA hip guarantee and 1 year CERF guarantee. Pup will have 1st shots, be dew clawed, wormed and Veterinarian checked before placement. We will provide you with a package of food to start your pup, a health record of shots and wormings as well as a statement from the Vet showing that the pup is healthy. You will need to follow up with vaccinations at 9, 12 and 16 weeks and talk to your vet about the need for Lymes Vaccination, Kennel Cough vaccination as well as the typical Rabies, Parvo/Distemper 3 in 1 shots. We do recommend that you have a Vet who uses no anesthesia do a hip x-ray for questionable OFA reading indicating excessive spacing between bones. Usually these dogs run just fine and sometimes the anesthesia can give a false impression.