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What determines
the price of a puppy?

Despite some thinking, the price of our puppies is not determined by supply and demand. While we understand that there is a shortage of “well bred” Labradors (considering that the Labrador is the most popular breed in the U.S. today) and that a majority of Labs being sold are bred by puppy mills and backyard breeders, our puppies are only more than the “newspaper puppies” or “Walmart parking lot puppies” because we have huge investments of time and money. We do not really expect to ever break even financially and certainly never expect to make money breeding our dogs. We do this because of our passion for this incredible breed and for the challenge of breeding the “perfect” Labrador.

Sources of Purchasing a Labrador Puppy

Serious Hobby Breeders
This is an excellent source of pure-bred Labrador puppies and adult dogs. This breeder is easy to spot. The serious hobby breeder:

  1. Will ask you many questions about your previous experience with dogs and the environment in which you plan to keep your dog.
  2. Will want to know what your expectations are and what your family is like.
  3. Will have socialized and evaluated each puppy in the litter, have a very good idea about their individual personalities, and may recommend a puppy that matches your expectations.
  4. Will participate in some dog organization such as a breed, obedience or hunting club. Ribbons, pictures or trophies may be in evidence. The breeder should be involved in the breed. The reason for this is that this means the breeder is not working in a vacuum. The breeder who does not participate has no idea how good his/her dogs really are and is deprived of the opportunity to share information and ideas with others involved with the breed. Participation encourages breeders to produce better dogs.
  5. Will have a clean well-organized environment for the puppies and older dogs. Some breeders may ask you not to handle the puppies since transmittable diseases are a serious problem with animals too young to have had all their shots.
  6. Will ask you to have the puppy checked by your veterinarian to satisfy everyone that the puppy is sound and in good health.
  7. Will provide you with health and inoculation records.
  8. Will provide you with detailed instructions for the care and feeding of your puppy and encourage you to call if you have any questions.
  9. Will provide proof that both parents of the puppies have been cleared for hereditary diseases.
  10. Will provide the puppy’s three generation pedigree and registration papers. A limited registration will probably be used for dogs which are not intended to be bred.
  11. Will be available for support or questions for the life of the puppy.

Professional Breeders
This person makes a living from involvement with dogs. Sometimes this breeder will specialize in selling field trained animals to hunters who do not have the time and experience to train a dog themselves. Be cautious here, since not all of these breeders put the kind of thought and care into the breeding of their animals as the above mentioned hobby breeder. Remember — ask questions, questions, questions.

Backyard Breeders
This person, for any of a variety of reasons, has decided to breed his or her female and raise a litter of puppies. The incentive may be to make money, get a second dog just like Mom without paying for it, or provide an educational experience for the children. In any event, the breeding was unlikely to have been carefully thought out. The mother may not have been given good prenatal care. The puppies may not have been properly nourished and socialized after they were born. The father may have been selected for the simple reason that he lived in the neighborhood.

With these litters, it is unlikely that the parents were screened for hereditary diseases. The puppies may come with AKC registration but may have little else to recommend them. These typically would be the puppies you’d see advertised in the newspaper or being sold in Wal-Mart parking lots.

Pet Stores or Puppy Mills
These are the worst possible places to find a puppy. Puppy mills are facilities where dogs are kept in masses in small cages in terrible conditions. The dogs in puppy mills are used for breeding purposes only and the dogs are bred every heat cycle. They receive very little, if any, medical care and the puppy mill owners have no interest in the health, temperament or socialization of the puppy. These dogs are cash cows for the puppy mill owners and many of them live a lifetime in a small, filthy cage where their sole purpose in life is to produce puppies. Once their purpose in life is fulfilled and they can no longer produce babies they are discarded as trash and either put down, dumped or sold at auction. To see a real puppy mill you can view this video of a real puppy mill, which was secretly filmed by a person who posed as a potential buyer for a puppy mill that was for sale. The owner of the puppy mill in the video is licensed by the USDA!

Sadly, puppy mills are the number one supplier of pet stores in the United States. Pet store owners have very little concern about the health or care of the puppies as long as the puppies are purebred with papers, can be cleaned up and marketed to make money. Pet stores rely heavily on impulse buying, which is no way to choose an addition to the family.

The decision to get a Labrador is a big one and your choice of a puppy may be even bigger. Be selective!

Remember — you may get what you pay for. If you are one of those people that have the heart to take a chance on a puppy that is not responsibly bred why not check your local animal shelter and save a life? Please do not support puppy mills or pet store. And don’t be fooled into believing that just because a puppy has “AKC papers” that it means the puppy is sound, healthy or of correct temperament. All this means is that the parents are Labradors. It is up to you to determine what dog is right for you but remember that this is likely a dog that will be part of your family for about 15 years. Perhaps now is not the time to price shop?