Pamela A. Davol, 76 Mildred Avenue, Swansea,
Do Labradors make good companions for children?
When I was originally deciding upon a breed that I could call my own, one of my foremost concerns was temperament. With the ever increasing number of personal injury lawsuits being filed against dog owners (many of which are legitimate complaints), I did not want to have doubts or fears that my pet may develop an openly aggressive temperament or perhaps worse, without warning, suddenly attack. Trust, as with any relationship, is the first step in developing a bond. When I leave my daughter, Jaime, alone in a room with any one of our Labs, I have no fear or doubt for her well-being. During her toddler years, it was the dogs that needed my protection from her. Her favorite games with them included grabbing them by the tail while they walked by so she could catch a ride across the room in her walker. Another time I found my oldest Lab, Noble, with his ears rolled and clipped in curlers--it must have hurt, but he had just sat there very still while she played hairdresser. When Jaime was just starting to crawl, I would put her on a blanket on the floor and anytime she would try to crawl off the blanket one of my black females, Rogue, would nudge her back onto the blanket, laying in front of her to block her escape route.
One potential disadvantage to combining a well-tempered breed with children is that these children must be reminded often that not all dogs are as friendly and tolerant as their Labs. They must be cautioned of the potential danger when approaching other dogs.
It would be incorrect to say that all Labradors are even-tempered and trust-worthy. At this point in time, particularly now that the Lab is ranked #1 in popularity by the AKC, the risk is higher for propagating undesirable traits as the result of indiscriminant breeding. For this reason, it is in the best interest of prospective puppy owners to find a reputable breeder whose foremost concern is with preservation of the breed.
Do Labs make good watch-dogs?
Within the breed, the tendency of and degree to which a Lab will act in a protective fashion will vary depending upon the individual dog. Some Labs are more territorial than others; likewise, some are more passive or may even be timid. In some instances, females are just as territorial as males, particularly during and after gestation (pregnancy). Neutering may tone-down this behavior but will not necessarily eradicate it.
My own Labs will sound an alert if they hear uncustomary noises, or if someone comes to our gate or door. However, once the individual is accepted into the house they are a welcomed guest. The joke around our house is "if a thief entered the house, the Labs would show him where we kept our loot in trade for a back scratch!"
Do Labs shed alot?
Constantly. And the better the coat the dog has, the worse the shedding. Spring and Fall are the heaviest periods for shedding. During these times of the year I use a shedding blade to remove the thick dead undercoat from the dogs which usually comes out in chunks. When shedding is not as heavy, I use a curry brush which removes dead hair but which won't strip the Lab's undercoat which is a necessity for showing.
Why do the noses of some yellow Labs turn pink during the winter?
Yellow labs are really black or chocolate dogs. Well, they would have been if they hadn't inherited a recessive gene from both their parents which is called the "epistatic" gene. This "ee" gene masks the expression of the black or chocolate coat color, but it does not mask pigmentation. That's why even though the dog is yellow, he will still have a black or chocolate nose (the latter of which is not preferable in a yellow dog). Now, although a yellow Lab's pigment will be black, it will fade more easily in response to environmental and physiological changes such as temperature, hormonal changes, and even medications. The reason for this is that even though the yellow genes do not mask pigmentation color, the presence of the yellow epistatic genes result in a mutant form of the cells which produce pigment. The ability of these mutant cells to produce black pigment is temperature dependent and may also be inhibited by fluctuations of hormones or other chemicals in the bloodstream. When the environment becomes cold, these cells stop producing black pigment. As a result, the color fades. If a yellow Lab has received a black gene for coat and pigmentation from each of its parents, that dog will have very dark, black pigment which will fade more slowly. If the yellow dog has received a black gene from one parent and a chocolate gene from the other parent (black is dominant to chocolate, so whenever a black gene is present it will cover up chocolate expression), fading will be more evident.
What is line-breeding and in-breeding?
Line-breeding is a breeding in which a dog and a bitch are related going back 2 generations or more. There are various degrees of line-breeding depending on how often one or more particular ancestor(s) appears in the pedigree (family tree) of both the dog and the bitch. In "tight line-breedings" the pedigree from both the dog and the bitch will appear the same at some point, that is, both will have the same ancestors behind them. In-breeding is the tightest form of linebreeding, in which the pedigree of both the dog and bitch are virtually identical. In such a case, the highest degree of in-breeding is breeding sister to brother, followed by mother to son (or father to daughter-- genetically, parents are half-brother or half-sister to their offspring). The purpose of linebreeding or in-breeding is to assure consistency of genetic traits in what one produces. The more frequently an individual dog appears in a puppy's pedigree, the more genetic influence that ancestor will have on that puppy's appearance, temperament, etc. In-breeding is the quickest way to accomplish genetic purity. So why don't more breeders in-breed? There are also dangers to in-breeding. Mainly, one of the ways that in-breeding produces genetic purity is by allowing for the expression of recessive genes which can then be eradicated from the gene pool. The problem is that many recessive genes are responsible for hereditary disorders. For this reason, in-breeding may result in up to half of the litter developing disorders related to recessive genes; however, the remaining half of the litter will be genetically pure of the disorder. This 50:50 risk is not something many breeders wish to chance. In addition to risking genetic disorders, inbreeding will result in progressively smaller litters and eventually infertility in future generations.
Why do you breed only for yellow and black, and not for chocolate?
My own preference is for the black coloration. There is something very photogenic about the way the sun shines off of the coat of a black lab after a swim. Yellow and chocolate dogs just look like wet dogs. The yellow labs are probably the most popular among the owner population. The chocolates aren't very popular for showing. One reason, I believe is that the coats of the chocolates can be very troubling at times. During the Spring and the Fall when they are going through heavy shedding periods or "blowing coat" they are often two-toned, and in the summer, special attention must be given to be sure that the sun doesn't bleach out their coats. From a breeding standpoint, when one is breeding for yellow, it is probably best that one doesn't breed for chocolate at the same time. Presence of the recessive epistatic gene for yellow can cause coat dilution in the chocolates and light eye coloration, conversely, the presence of the recessive chocolate gene in yellows can cause pigmentation faults (chocolate or liver colored eye rim, lower lip, and nose pigment). Even when not breeding for chocolate, the combined presence of the recessive chocolate and recessive yellow in a black dog will result in a lighter eye color. I may at some point in the future breed for chocolate, but I will not be breeding for yellow when I do.
Do you ship? And how does one go about it?
Wing-N-Wave puppies have been shipped to all regions of the U.S. and even the U.S. Virgin Islands. Before I began shipping, I contacted every airline in existance to determine who was best suited to handle our precious cargo. The winner was Delta Dash. Delta Dash services hand carry the puppies in their crates and do not handle them as freight. The puppies travel in a pressurized section of the aircraft, therefore, they may be shipped anytime during the year, whereas temperature conditions would prohibit them from being shipped if they traveled in an unpressurized cargo hold of other aircrafts. Owners are always welcome to visit us and pick up their puppy, however, if distance prohibits, the owner selects the airport closest to him which is serviced by Delta Dash. We then find the most direct flight for the puppy with the least change overs or layovers. The puppy is shipped in a medium sized airline kennel which can be used later by the owner for crate training the puppy. Cost of shipping is currently $104 plus the cost of the kennel which is $60. If the owner already has a crate, he may ship it to us to defer the cost of a new crate (approx. $50 savings). On the day of shipping, once the puppy is off, I call the new owner and give him the shipping confirmation number which he will use to claim the puppy once it arrives at his end. This ensures that the puppy reaches the correct person.
How does a person choose their puppy from across the U.S.?
From conversations that I have with the prospective owner prior to and after the litter is whelped, I am able to determine which puppy I think meets his description of what he is looking for. Puppies are photographed in groups such as yellow females, black males, etc. and those individuals on our waiting list are sent group photos based on their preferences. This way they can compare individuals in the litter as well as hear any comments I may have about each puppy. Those waiting at the top of the list have first choice based on the photos and my comments. Our puppies are photographed individually, as well, beginning a few hours after birth and once a week for eight weeks. Once an owner has decided on his choice, the photographs of his puppy are sent to him (usually in sets of 4 at a time) so that he'll have pictures of his new puppy during its first 8 weeks of life. Additionally, 7 weeks after the litter is whelped, each owner receives a video recording of the entire litter showing their first few days of life (this is pretty short footage, because for the first 2 weeks they really don't do too much!), through their first meal of solid food (well, more like mush!) at 3-1/2 weeks, to their nightly play sessions (the new owners get to see why I have to replace my area rugs after every litter!) and my breeder's critique where I take each puppy individually and comment on its conformation and various aspects of its personality. Owners of puppies from past litters have been very satisfied with this method, the video tape also gives them a chance to see the litter together and how they interact with one another and us, it also makes a nice keepsake.
What is your opinion on crate training?
All of my dogs were crate trained as puppies and some still sleep in their crates at night. In the home it is essential for housebreaking, reducing puppy "accidents" and leading to faster results. When puppy must be left alone, it ensures his safety and that when you return you'll still have your furniture all in one piece. For traveling, it's the safest way to transport a dog. All my new puppy owners receive a step-by-step guide to crate training.
What is your opinion on invisible fencing?
My only concern about invisible fencing is that although it keeps a dog in the yard, it doesn't protect the dog from anyone coming into his area such as stray dogs, wild animals, etc.. My visible fence not only keeps my dogs in their yard, but also protects them from unwelcomed trespassers.
How does a new owner get involved in various areas of the sport of dogs?
Many cities and towns have all-breed dog clubs which sponsor training for obedience, dog show handling, hunt tests, etc. These clubs usually also sponsor dog shows and matches. Your area telephone book should include a listing for dog training facilities and provide an initial contact person or by calling or writing the the American Kennel Club one may acquire a list of member clubs.
'Copyright 1996 Pamela A. Davol'