How to Buy a Chocolate Labrador
The Labrador Retriever, officially recognized as a breed by the Kennel Club in England in 1903 and the American Kennel Club in 1917, gained popularity in the 1960s with ordinary home owners who affectionately referred to the brown-colored dogs as ‘chocolate.’ Today, the Chocolate Labrador Retriever is known to be both a friendly companion and a useful working dog. While the color black was once the favored color, the well-known brown (or “chocolate”) color has quickly become a family favorite. Careful consideration before buying or adopting a Chocolate Lab will ensure that he will make a wonderful addition to your family.
Deciding if the Chocolate Labrador Retriever is the Right Breed for You
1. Understand the temperament of the Chocolate Lab.
While every dog is different, recognizing the common behavioral traits and characteristics often found in Chocolate Labs will help you determine if this is the right breed to bring into your home.
- Expect your lab to be loyal, lovable, and happy. These positive traits make him the number one registered dog in the American Kennel Club.
- Anticipate a boisterous and energetic temperament. The Lab has the reputation of being one of the most sweet-natured breeds, and is outgoing, eager to please, and friendly with both people and other animals.
2. Examine your household before adding a Chocolate Lab.
Chocolate Labs make great additions to homes with small children or other pets, and are well-suited for homes that have a good deal of space.
- Prepare for clumsiness. A young Lab can be accurately described as a “bull in a China shop!” This means that you can expect vases to be knocked over by wagging tails, and carpets to be displaced by skidding dogs.
3. Expect to discipline your Chocolate Lab.
Chewing and mouthing is a common problem among Labradors, and this breed requires an ample amount of chew toys on hand to prevent the destruction of your valuable possessions.
- Consider the need to enroll your Chocolate Lab in obedience training.
- Plan to train your Chocolate Lab before he gets too large to control. As the Chocolate Lab is a relatively large dog, teaching him manners is vital. This includes learning not to nip (playful bites), not to jump on people or barge them over, and to relieve themselves in appropriate locations.
4. Assess your ability to provide activity for your Lab.
All Labs love activity and require it for a happy and healthy life!
- Prepare to exercise your Chocolate Labs. This breed needs exercise to keep their cardiovascular and muscular systems healthy. Every adult Labrador should have a minimum daily walk of at least half an hour, and a longer and more vigorous exercise session of 1-2 hours at least three times a week.
- Expect to give your Labrador the opportunity to run every day in order to burn off excess energy.
5. Be aware of the financial investment required to provide a healthy life for your Chocolate Lab.
A male Chocolate Lab can weigh up to 80lbs, meaning that he will eat a lot of dog food. In addition to food, veterinary costs can be very high, and you should budget for some kind of pet insurance.
- Ensure you are financially secure enough to purchase a Chocolate Lab.
6. Learn to recognize certain health conditions.
While Chocolate Labs are generally healthy dogs, they can be plagued with certain health issues that must be identified and managed. Health problems can be inherited genetically (including cancer, epilepsy, and autoimmune diseases), or can be caused by the environment (contact with chemicals, medications, breathing in smoke). Some of the more common health problems include hip and/or elbow dysplasia, obesity, epilepsy, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), tricuspid valve dysplasia, gastric dilation-volvulus, myopathy, cold tail, and ear infections.
- Visit your veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding your Chocolate Lab’s health. If you see signs or symptoms indicating the onset of any of these conditions, it is best to get your dog checked by his vet as soon as possible.
Deciding on a Chocolate Lab to Purchase or Adopt
1. Consider raising a Chocolate Lab puppy.
There is nothing like a new puppy, with his cute and affectionate disposition and his big round eyes. However, a puppy requires a large time commitment, especially during their first year of life.
- Ensure your puppy has all his immunizations. Puppies should receive a set of four injections every three weeks starting at six weeks old.
- House-train your Labrador Puppy and take him outside every few hours (at least) to relieve themselves.
- Socialize your Chocolate Lab puppy when he is young. The goal is to encourage positive, respectful, and calm interactions with other people and animals.
- Provide obedience training to instill a solid foundation in good behavior. Obedience classes will help shape the personality of your puppy for years to come.
2. Recognize if the addition of an adult dog is right for you.
Adding an adult Chocolate Lab to your home can be a very worthwhile experience, as older dogs are less likely to be adopted and often the first to be euthanized.
- Ask the shelter or individual from whom you are adopting your Lab about his behavior and personality. Your dog’s general demeanor will be largely established by age 3, so it is important to know what to expect.
- Be patient and understanding of a dog who has had a past life. This can mean that he has been traumatized in certain ways, or has not been exposed to certain things. Even something as benign as a vacuum cleaner can incite a fearful response from your dog.
- Recognize that your older dog has different needs than a puppy. This can include requiring more vet visits for health issues, needing food made for mature canines, and adjusting exercise schedules accordingly.
3. Know what you want in your Chocolate Lab.
Chocolate Labs are very versatile dogs. They were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, and have made the transition to family pets as well.
- Decide if you want a Lab bred for competition. You can select a dog bred for his skill as a working dog or bred for the ideal look, movement, and temperament of the breed.
- Select an English Labrador if you are looking for a dog bred for show and conformation. This dog will be heavier, stockier, and have a thicker coat than American Labradors. He will also be calmer, quieter, and less active.
- Purchase an American Labrador if you want a dog bred for field trials and hunting. This dog will be slimmer, more agile, and have a thinner coat than English Labradors. Additionally, he will have a higher energy level.
4. Choose a Chocolate Lab that has been well bred.
A good breeder will many health checks on both the sire and dam before breeding them to reduce the risk of health concerns in the litter and will openly provide this information to you. If adopting your dog as an adult, you may need to ask for this information.
- Request to see health clearances for hip dysplasia and a ‘clear eye certificate’ (indicating no evidence of PRA).
- Pay special attention to your Chocolate Lab’s overall appearance, visible health, and activity level. You should be able to recognize any changes in energy, eating habits, behavior, or appearance once you bring your Lab home.
5. Ask about the temperament of the sire and dam used to breed the puppies.
This will have an effect on the personality of your puppy as he grows into an adult dog. The breeder should be willing and able to provide details on both parents. If possible, ask to meet the parents of the puppies. You can learn about the potential looks and temperament of your new puppy by meeting his parents.
6. Provide love and care for your dog or puppy.
Regardless of whether you adopt a puppy or adult dog from a breeder or a shelter, he will need your love, attention, and time.
Choosing Where to Purchase or Adopt Your Chocolate Lab
1. Look for a reputable breeder.
A good breeder is the best place to purchase a Labrador puppy. In order to get a happy and healthy dog, never buy from an irresponsible breeder.
- Choose a breeder who tests her dogs to make sure they are free from genetic diseases and checks that the parents have sound temperaments. Pay specific attention to parental clearance from hip dysplasia and PRA.
- Talk to the breeder about any other illness the breeding stock may have. This can include epilepsy, osteoarthritis, or exercise induced collapse.
- Look for a breeder that breeds her Chocolate Lab puppies in her home. While there are exceptions, many kennel-bred puppies are not well-socialized and have not been given enough human attention.
2. Beware of any breeder willing to sell Chocolate Lab puppies younger than 8 weeks old.
Chocolate Lab puppies should not leave their litters before this age. This can be a sign of a puppy mill.
3. Ask for references from previous adopters.
These references can tell you about their adoption experience, how their dog is doing, whether any health problems have surfaced in their dogs, and provide details about the breeder during the sale and throughout the life of the dog.
- Visit the National Labrador Retriever Club website to find a full list of breeders in good standing with the National Labrador Retriever Club who may be available to answer questions about choosing reputable breeders and can explain the importance of screening for hereditary diseases and tell you about their upcoming litters.
4. Look to adopt a Chocolate Lab from a shelter or local pet rescue society.
Adopting a Chocolate Lab in need of a loving home can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but is not without its challenges. Before adopting, you should do the following:
- Make contact with your local Labrador Rescue. Express your interest in adoption, and find out about their requirements regarding home visits. Many rescue societies will want to check out you and your family to make sure that your home and lifestyle is suitable for the adoption of one of their dogs.
- Identify a Labrador available for adoption and visit the dog. Ask for details about the dog’s past, including any behavioral problems or training issues.
5. Recognize the challenges involved with adopting a rescue Labrador.
Dogs that end up in rescues are not always the best behaved or best trained dogs. With the right care and in the right home, these behavioral problems can often be overcome; however, this takes time.
- Volunteer with your local animal shelter or rescue. Most rescue organizations are very grateful for voluntary help, and activities can range from caring for dogs, to providing foster homes, to carrying out home checks for prospective adoptive families. This can be a great way to understand the pros and cons of adopting a rescue dog without committing to the adoption process.
- Learn more about adoption from a shelter from wikiHow!
6. Avoid Pet stores and puppy mills.
Many pet stores sell puppies purchased from puppy mills, a breeding facility with the purpose of breeding the most dogs for the least money. Poor breeding conditions and inbreeding can cause serious health problems for puppy mill dogs.
- Visit your breeder in person, and do not blindly trust online ads. Many puppy millers pose as family breeders online and in ads in newspapers and magazines. Take the time to ensure you are buying from a reputable breeder.
- Beware of sellers offering multiple different breeds and types of puppies for sale. Be wary if you are shown puppies one at a time, without the dam or littermates present. Never purchase puppies that are caged or crated when shown to you.
- Avoid the temptation to “rescue” a puppy mill dog by buying him. Purchasing a puppy from a mill puts money back into the pockets of the puppy mill industry, and opens up a space for another puppy mill puppy.
- Alert your local animal control authorities if you see anyone keeping puppies in poor conditions.
- Remember, Chocolate Labrador or otherwise, it may not be the best idea to give a dog as a Christmas present. Animal abandonment increases during the holiday season, when many pets are given as gifts to owners who do not understand the commitment involved with their furry companion. If you are not certain about a person’s willingness to care for an animal for at least a decade, it may be best to choose another gift!