Choosing a lab

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by Colin Chett, Mar 27, 2020.

  1. Colin Chett

    Colin Chett Registered Users

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    We have just lost our first dog in tragic circumstances at just 6 years old . He was an orange and white Brittany and spectacularly fit, healthy and athletic. He was very challenging and a complete hooligan (in a nice way), and had a huge personality. We are devastated and want another dog as quickly as possible.

    After a lot of research, we chose a Brittany because of the medium size (we have a boat with smallish accommodation), a good reputation with children (we have 2 grandchildren so far), he was a 'bit different' and we wanted a bit of a challenge. Little did we know how naive we were! Its called baptism by fire. While we overcame most of the challenges, he was very nervous around the children, which is uncharacteristic of the breed, and had a very high prey drive, spurred on by the most amazing sense of smell. It was this which caused his demise.

    This time, we want to 'play it safe' and have almost decided on a working lab. We will not show, nor breed from her. (I'll assume at this stage we go for a girl, but see below). The reason for this post is to invite comments on our thinking / answers to our questions, set out below. We fully understand every dog has an individual personality, and may not conform to the breed's reputation. However, we want to mitigate the risks of choosing the wrong path.

    Companion dog: We don't intend working her, but may go through working training if it helps with other concerns.

    Prey drive: Top of the list. We believe strongly any dog should be allowed off the lead to get proper exercise. What are the chances of a lab running off after a deer / squirrel / pheasant / you name it, assuming training has been good?

    Good with children: Assuming socialisation has been adequate, how likely are we to get a lab not fitting the stereotype of being excellent with kids? Are we expecting too much with under-fives?

    Size: Jasper was 17kg and a perfect size. We've seen labs not much larger than that, but are there any genetic concerns if we choose one?

    Gender: We have the impression a girl is more likely to be better with kids, and more affectionate. Is that fair?

    Colour: This is where we want to break the mould and have a hankering for fox red. Are there genetic concerns here?

    Intelligence / energy: We really don't want a passive companion. Jasper was extremely intelligent and independent. Meeting those challenges made having him a lot of fun and developed a remarkably deep relationship, where we could communicate without saying a word. We want to be able to train her to do tasks like finding our slippers or keys.

    Exercise: We can exercise, off the lead, at least twice a day, minimum an hour total, in the country.

    Athletic: We want to take her to agility and 'hoopers', one session a week each.

    Adaptable: Jasper went just about everywhere with us and was an accomplished sailor (inland waters), totally at home under sail or engine, mainly because it gave him a whole new set of scents to enjoy and exciting places to run off! He was a well-known character on the circuit and would bark at other competitors if we were racing in close quarters!

    Any comments / guidance you can offer would be most welcome.

    Colin
     
  2. J.D

    J.D Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hi Colin
    Gosh that’s a lot of requirements!

    Sounds like you definitely need a working rather than a show lab. I have a fox red working lab. We chose the colour to avoid comparison with our previous black lab. Toby is so different. He is quite nervy around people he doesn’t know despite socialisation from day one. He is extremely energetic. Jumps six feet in the air to greet a ball rather than wait for it to fall. We did agility at a year old and he loved it. Unfortunately they packed up so we did scent training which comes in handy on a wet day when he has energy to burn.
    Obviously a health tested lab is a necessity to avoid joint/eye issues with a lab but also check the COI. The smaller gene pool for the colour may result in inbreeding to a degree.Toby had cancer at 18 months which is believed to be genetic.
     
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  3. Colin Chett

    Colin Chett Registered Users

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    Many thanks for your response JD, especially about in-breeding. I'll do some more research on that.
     
  4. mandyb

    mandyb Registered Users

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    A well bred, health tested working Lab sounds perfect for you.

    I have previously owned both a Weimaraner and an English Pointer so know all about prey drive! Let's just say that a few years ago while walking my Lab a deer jumped out of the undergrowth landing about 3ft in front of him. There was that few seconds when everyone stood looking at each other in shock, I managed to shout 'Leave it!' just as the deer darted off. To say I was gobsmacked when my Lab stayed with me was an understatement as I know for sure neither of the previous dogs would have.

    I now have two Labs both brilliant with my grandkids. The pure working bred one is slightly more aloof with strangers but lives to please and is so loyal. He is getting on now but still has more energy than my other, much younger, work x show bred Lab who is so laid back he's mostly horizontal.
     
  5. Colin Chett

    Colin Chett Registered Users

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    Many thanks Mandyb. That's a very reassuring message. Sounds like you favour boys yet they're good with children. Can that be expected with littlies under 5?
     
  6. SianMJ

    SianMJ Registered Users

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    Hello, I have a young working lab. She is very clever and very athletic. She loves cuddles on the sofa at night. She was surprisingly hard work as a young pup and very mouthy , more so than any dog I’ve had before. I’ve had a Toller, border collie,spaniel, and she’s been more of a challenge than them, guess all dogs are individual as you say. She can be spooked easily but is getting much better with maturity. She’s a lovely girl though and started to calm at around 12 months, she can still be very excitable but can keep a lid on it now. She loves swimming , her favourite thing, I think she’d love to swim alongside a boat rather than be in it! She loves training sessions and learns quickly. She is little as her mum was, we call her our mini skinny lab , but really she’s just slim, she weighs 22.5 kg at 14 months and smaller than most we see, but we like that ! She can be full of beans and do things 100% and yet can be lovely cuddly lazy girl ! Both her parents actually worked , our girl doesn’t but she likes to have a purpose , especially retrieving from water. Her mum was a sweetheart and we can see a lot of her mum in her ways. She loves other dogs greeting them and also playing rough and tumble if they are up for it. She notices squirrels and has seen a deer and goes to sniff where they have been but doesn’t disappear , she used to chase birds but now knows they may have been eating a tasty morsel and looks for that instead! She will do anything for food!
     
  7. Colin Chett

    Colin Chett Registered Users

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  8. Colin Chett

    Colin Chett Registered Users

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    Many thanks SianMJ. She sounds very much the dog we're looking for! Would it be in order to ask where she came from?
     
  9. TEE

    TEE Registered Users

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    Frankly I struggle with such a list. Of course the lab fulfills most of it, but it will depend on you and your training. Feel to many people believe that DNA drives a dog behavior. Think it is more like talent. All the talent in the world does not help you if you are not willing to train and spend the time. This site is full if people having underestimated the demands of a puppy and young dog. I think these are such great dogs and easy to live with. Most certainly if you spend the time up front

    good luck
     
  10. SianMJ

    SianMJ Registered Users

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    I got her from a breeder in Lampeter mid Wales. That may be too far given current situation?
     
  11. Colin Chett

    Colin Chett Registered Users

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    Many thanks for that. Normally, we would be prepared to do that for the right dog. Perhaps difficult at the moment but valuable information. Thanks again.
     
  12. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    Hi there, so sorry for your loss - the Brittany is a lovely breed, and six is very young.

    My main hesitation in your situation would be the children under five. Some young labs can be extremely boisterous and clumsy. It doesn't last forever, but you don't want to be spending several months picking up children, dusting them down and drying their tears. This isn't always a problem, but its a problem often enough that I wouldn't normally sell a lab puppy to a home with children under five. Perhaps it will depend on how much time you spend with your grandchildren. Other than that, it sounds as though you will be able to provide a good home for a young lab. :)
    No, that is unfounded. I have had many labs of both sexes and neither one sex nor the other is more affectionate or better with kids.
     
  13. Colin Chett

    Colin Chett Registered Users

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    Many thanks for your comments, Pippa. The grandchildren are in the Netherlands and will only see our dog about every 3 months, for up to a week at a time. They're both well used to rough and tumble and adored Jasper, even though he knocked them over once in a while! Having to dust them down is far preferable to the dog being nervous around them, to the point where we had stopped taking him with us. That wasn't fair on him.

    Point taken on gender and we will open up our search accordingly.

    Thank you again.
     

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