Friday, January 29, 2010

Labrador Retriever Remains Most Popular Dog Breed

The numbers are out and Labrador Retrievers are the AKC's most popular dog breed for the 19th year in a row! That always makes me sad. Of course I think Labs are the most wonderful dogs on the planet, but AKC popularity means many Lab were bred and, unfortunately, many Lab puppies were born in less than optimal conditions. The best way to combat this problem is to buy your Lab puppy from a truly reputable breeder. How do you know? For starters, the best breeders LOVE their dogs. They are not looked upon as livestock or "a means to an end" or simply a money making device. Be an educated shopper. Contact multiple breeders so you have some reference for comparison. Ask lots of questions and - if the breeder cares about their dogs - expect to be asked a lot of questions as well. There are many places online to find out what to ask and understand. Click this link for one list provided by the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac. Why does buying from a reputable breeder help? Good breeders do not produce many puppies each year and they will take their puppies back anytime in their lives if the need arises. These dogs rarely end up in shelters or rescues. They also require spaying or neutering and may sell dogs on limited registration. Supporting the good breeders means less demand for dogs from bad breeders. If there is no mass demand they will no longer waste their efforts on creating "supply".

Another way to bring a Lab into your life is through a rescue organization or directly from a shelter. Adopting such a dog will not help stop the irresponsible breeders, but it can save a deserving soul. Usually you will see Lab mixes rather than purebreds and the purebreds you do find may have been poorly bred. These can all still be wonderful dogs and certainly need and deserve good homes. Be aware that you may adopt a dog with health and/or temperament problems who will need rehabilitation. Your "good deed" is not done the day you bring him home -- rescuing your dog has just begun. There are many rescue group around the country, some taking a variety of breeds and mixes and others specializing. I volunteer for Rudy's Rescue for Labradors and occasionally other groups. Many rescue volunteers are just as protective about where their dogs end up as reputable breeders are, so expect a review process from them as well.

All dogs deserve a good home. I have fostered and directly rescued many. I believe the best thing I can do for the future of the breed I love is to support those breeders who truly care and I look forward to the continued honor of sharing my life with these beautiful, well-bred creatures.

(Pictured: Tegan - a wonderful yellow girl of my OtterTail line born in 1988. Incredibly smart and born to be Queen.)

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