I got back into raising Labs in 2007. I've raised and conditioned quit a few companionable working labs. In doing so I have studied the health and genetics of these animals and keep up with how quickly the animal understands a certain exercises whether it be OB, handling, whistle coherence etc… on top of all that, always taking a preference is the animals temperament, this being how calm and biddable the animal is.
Pedigrees are not what I primarily base my search for a new breeder on, however pedigrees do matter and does give someone that is not familiar with the breeder and their training technics, a higher probability of procuring one closer to their style or made up vision of what they expect. Which brings me to what I look for in a companionable game dog.
My definition of a Game Dog is one that is genetically sound, calm in temperament, always looking to please and has a natural hunting instinct. One that relies on its nose and not primarily on its eyes. There are several things that I look for in our Game dog breeding program
Dogs that do not whine or noisy dogs. Whining can be genetics, this is measured from the time we acquire the pup to about 12 months of age. Most pups will whine but some do so more than others. Most all dogs will make noise, but some will do so more than others. There is a lot of variables in these, such as some conditioning - training methods cause’s noise.
Natural tendencies to deliver to hand and a soft hold of game. These are measured from the time we acquire the pup to 6 months. Again there are certain training methods out there that will cause these issues of not delivering to hand and what some call hard mouth if the animal is not conditioned properly.
Calm Temperament and Biddable – tractable, this is measured from the time we acquire the pup too around 12months, as most dogs will start to calm with age and there is some that won’t ever mellow. Biddable is measured how well that animal wants to please, which is one of the easiest ones, I find to discern.
We personally have raised and conditioned each one of our dogs, unlike most breeders that have not. For the ones we have not raised and have choose to breed to we have had a close relationship with the sire or dame through out their development. When we do a breeding and decide to keep one of the pups out of the litter we will keep the last one left out of the litter after all the others has been picked. That is how strong we feel about our breeding program compared to most out there.
We do all the major health testing, Hips and Elbows are X-rayed then sent to the OFA to be scored and Eyes are checked and then OFA cert. We also test for EIC, CNM, PRA and do a DNA profile with the AKC. All test results are disclosed. No exceptions