Lorken Farms, Labrador Retrievers, Fremont, WI 

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BL00364A.gif (2111 bytes) Lorken Farms, Labrador Retrievers, Fremont, WI

Buying a Labrador Retriever Pup

  1. Picking the litter/pup you want

    1. Gun Dog
    2. Hunt Test/Field Trial
    3. Family House pet
    4. Health
    5. Cost
    6. Appearance
    7. Color and gender/disposition
    8. Titles on your pedigree
    9. OFA guarantee
    10. CERF eye certification
    11. EIC genetic test and heredity
    12. CNM genetic test and heredity
    13. What to expect from a 7 week old pup

 

PICKING THE LITTER/PUP YOU WANT

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. 

Click here to go directly to our dogs/pups for sale or visit our reference pages.  Or check differences in color and OFA information.

We have had people call looking for a pup that don't understand the full meaning of pure bred, papers, pedigree.  In case you are unsure we will give a brief description here.  AKC stands for American Kennel Club.   They register pure bred dogs.  A dog without papers may not be completely pure bred, or the breeder may have failed to send in the $18 to register the litter.  It is inexpensive to register the litter so one would wonder why they did not if there is no registration. A pure breed dog will have AKC registration papers.   When you register a dog you will get the "papers".   This is a certificate with your name, the name you give your dog and a registry number.  The pedigree is also something people think of as "papers" but is something you actually have to purchase separately from the registration.  It is a history of who were your dog's parent's, Grandparents, Great Grandparents and provides a lot of information about which dogs earned AKC titles, who has health registrations (normal hips, eyes) and often times will give the colors of all the ancestors of your dog.   Most breeders will have this information made up and available to you when you are considering the purchase of the pup.  Be sure to get a copy of this as it really provides a lot of useful information.

There are some factors to consider:

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If it is to be a gun dog you should have proof of the hunting line.  Field Titles are one of the best ways to show a track record of not only the parents, but grand and great grand parents as well. This is AKA's titles to show you have a good hunting dog. All of that goes into the inherited instincts of birdiness, drive, marking capabilities, intelligence and high trainability.  These are factors that are to a very large extent inherited. It is still a very good idea to get some training (even basic obedience classes) for your gun dog since you will have a much better hunting season than with an untrained dog. There are a number of AKC Retriever Clubs throughout the state.  The same training that is done for a titled dog is what you want for a gun dog. 

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Certainly if you want dog to run in Hunt Tests/Field Trials  or HRCH, UKC, the better the field pedigree the better the chances you will get a titled dog too, once it has been trained.

bulletIf the dog is to be a family pet you will want a good disposition and again trainability.  The pedigree can also show some of this since to get a title one needs to be trainable.  Labradors in general are very friendly dogs.  Many field dogs may spend time with trainers and are kenneled there.   But many of those dogs are also family pets.  Ask the breeder about the temperament they are trying to breed for.  Keep in mind when visiting the breeder that most all Labs will get excited somewhat when people come over to see them.  They are a friendly breed.   Also any dog that is put in an out door kennel will be more excited when it first comes out.  An indoor dog is generally more calm due to the constant socialization with people and also responds better in hunting situations because of that.  Living in the house is constant training (sit, come, quiet, etc.)
bulletHealth is a primary consideration to keep in mind.  Whether your pet is to be a family dog, gun dog or a Field Trial/Hunt Test dog health is always important.
bulletThe good thing about buying a pup that has a pedigree with titled dogs is that there will be a documented record of hip conformation.  OFA numbers began to appear in Labrador registrations in the 1960's. Not everyone was using them at that time but it has pretty well become a prerequisite before one is even allowed to breed their female to a titled male.  The more titled dogs you have the less likely one is to get hip dysplasia.  Some breeders will sometimes claim they had their dog's hips x-rayed and they are good.  That is fine, but then spend the extra few bucks to submit the x-ray to OFA  for proof.  Dysplasia still can happen even with good breeding.  Most reputable breeders will stand behind their dogs with a 2 year health guarantee on the hips.  The OFA number can be gotten at 2 years since dysplasia should show up by then if your dog has it.  A breeder who gives any less than that is not covering the recommended 2 year length of time.  More on OFA
bulletAdditionally dogs with Field Championship titles have generally been bred often enough to other dogs that any genetic issues they do carry will become known.  A breeder will want to avoid pairing any dogs that will likely throw a genetic problem.  In Labradors the main health problems include Hip Dysplasia, Retinal dysplasia (eye problems), Dwarfism, Muscle Myopathy - CMN.  Careful breeding will work to avoid these problems.  The more knowledge the breeder has about the dogs in the pedigree the better.
bulletCost is another factor to consider when buying a pup.  In general this is not the place to cut costs.  A dog from the Humane Society will end up costing about $100, will have no papers, health record or any other predictability.  If that is what you seek, that is certainly fine.   Those dogs definitely need loving homes.  If the other issues mentioned above are important, then be sure to get what you want in a pup.  Over the 10-15 year life of your pup you will spend the same amount of money for food, heart worm/shots, training, perhaps hunting trips, dog supplies (crates, toys, etc.).  Get the dog you want initially and you will be better off.  Of course you will find pups at Shelters, back yard breeders etc. that will be less expensive but you again will not have the trainability, health, intelligence record that you would with a better pedigree.  Also look at what the breeder does for socializing the pup.  Young pups need to be exposed to a lot of new experiences.  If they are to be hunting dogs you want them exposed to some bird wings fairly young.  They should be played with as part of the socialization before you pick out your pup at 7 weeks. As a rule of thumb, you generally get what you pay for so don't be afraid to consider all angles when purchasing a pup.
bullet Appearance is less important with field dogs than it is with the show dogs.  There are good looking field dogs but the standard for show dogs and the appearance of the Field Champions has drifted apart over the years.  There may be some Labrador show dogs who get Hunt Test titles but I know of none that have both a CH (show champion) and an FC or AFC (Field Champion) at this time.   If you go back to the 1960's there were some.  If appearance is the primary factor for you and you like the short, broad look of the show Labradors you are best to seek out a show dog breeder.  If your primary concern is a gun dog/family pet combination I would stick to a field pedigree.  See what the breeder is striving for.   If appearance is a consideration for them look at as many photos as you can of the ancestors to the pup's line.  Often times the owner of the litter will have gone out of the area to breed to a top Field Champion and will not have the dog on the premises.   See if they have photos and other information.   Many field dogs breeders do strive to get a good appearance though some may focus primarily on other factors. Lorken Farms tries to produce an good all around dog and appearance is considered.
bulletSee if the parents have been bred before and if the breeder has any references from people who have purchased dogs from them.
bulletKeep in mind that a trainable dog still needs knowledgeable training.  Obedience classes are offered at many location.  We go to Winnegamie Kennel Club in Menasha, WI for a 6 month old basic training class.   Puppy classes can also be great for socialization and possibly helping your children to understand how to handle a dog.  All pups at 7 week old will chew.   They still have teeth coming in and just like a baby need various teething rings, give them lots of chewable toys and when you take the wrong object they are chewing from them, provide them with the right one (their toy).  If you don't have the time or patience to deal with a puppy and training, you may consider purchasing a "Started Dog".  Some Kennels will keep a pup or 2 back from a litter initially and train the pups to sell as a started dogs.  You will of course pay more money for the pup/dog at this stage, but if you want to bypass the early training this is a great option if you can find one available.

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.

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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.

wpe6.jpg (33185 bytes) 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. 

wpe5.jpg (23567 bytes)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. 

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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. 

Please visit the page on Our dogs
and see what started dogs or puppies we may have available for sale
 

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Other information which may appear on the pedigree:

Field Titles

Field Trial Division
Hunt Test Division

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.

CERF= 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.

There are other, newer genetic tests that show a specific gene that can produce a health problem.  These affected genes need to be inherited from BOTH the father and mother of a litter.  It would be important to know that your pup did not come from a litter of TWO carriers or actual affected dogs to insure your pup be healthy. 

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:  http://www.cvm.umn.edu/vdl/ourservices/canineneuromuscular/eic/eicfaq/home.html#mode.  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. 

CNM=a genetic test can now be provided to evaluate if a dog has the generalized muscle weakness called Centronuclear Myopathy.  The online web site that tests for this disorder and will register dog's genetic results is
L'école Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort at  http://www.labradorcnm.com/pages/site/0-frame_site.html.  There is a similar pattern of inheritance with CNM as for EIC.   You need to know that at least one of the two parents is clean for this genetic disorder and your dog will be unaffected.  If you plan to breed your dog, you should get an idea if your dog is a carrier or be sure to breed to another dog clean for this disorder.  Again, if you get a dog from us and do want to breed it someday, we recommend you get all of the health clearances to you can be more knowledgeable about breeding for healthy pups.

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. 

7 Week old Pup