Pamela A. Davol, 76 Mildred Avenue, Swansea,
If you've owned a Lab before, then you already know the answer to this question and can skip this section. For those who have not yet experienced the joy of sharing their homes with one, the following may answer some questions.
The pros: It is not by chance that the Labrador has become one of the most successful companion dogs in the world. Throughout its history, though interbreeding and diversity of type have taken place, three attributes of the original ancestors of the breed have persevered: the short, dense coat, the otter tail, and the good natured temperament. Even-tempered, utterly dependable with children, loyal, devoted, affectionate, highly trainable are just a few of the adjectives which describe Labs. For these reasons and many others, Labs are the favored breed as guides for the blind and helpers for the deaf and paralyzed.
Labs require very little maintenance in comparison to other breeds. Because they are a short coated breed, they require minimal grooming. They should be exercised regularly to maintain muscle tone and fitness (as they love to eat, if not exercised sufficiently they tend to pack on the pounds). Contrary to belief, they do not require a lot of open space to run around and can live quite comfortably in an apartment with frequent leash walks (though it is a treat for them to go on outings where they can safely be unleashed and allowed to play ball or go swimming). Owning your own home with a fenced-in yard just means there's less walking for you. The Lab is, after all, most happy when his owner whom he loves above anything else (except his food, maybe) is happy.
The cons: There are two negative features of the Lab that do not particularly trouble me but may be of consequence to others. The first is that Labs shed. The trait which made them desirable to the waterfowlers nearly 200 years ago owes its water repelling ability to the short, dense undercoat characteristic to the breed. The trait is still highly desirable and necessary, unfortunately, to some it may be a nuisance. If you perceive shedding to be unpardonable, then buy a terrier. Personally, I'd rather live with several companionable Labs all blowing their coats at once than live with one high-strung, unshedding terrier.
The second negative feature doesn't really affect the owner at all, but rather the dog itself. This is an intolerance to heat. This, of course, can be said of many other breeds particularly those bred to work under cold weather conditions. Labradors thrive in cool to cold weather, but during the summer special attention must be given to ensure that they do not become over-heated. Air conditioning is not a necessity, in fact, it isn't recommended since dogs do not acclimate well to extreme temperature changes (for example, relaxing in an air conditioned home in which the temperature may be equal to or less than 75o F, then having to go outside and relieve themselves where the temperature is higher than 85o F). A solution to prevent over-heating is to exercise Labs early in the day or late in the afternoon. Also, a reminder that fresh water should always be available.
It is quite natural for the first-time-buyer to consider cost when selecting a puppy. There is nothing wrong with shopping around for the best buy, but low prices, or high prices for that matter, do not constitute the best deal. Probably the worse possible place to purchase a puppy is a pet store in the mall. The quality of the dog is atrocious, its health questionable, and the prices are absurd. Equally as bad are the so-called breeders who undercut prices in order to make a quick sale. Their usual scheme is quantity in place of quality, and they make up the difference with mass production and cut corners.
My best suggestion to prospective puppy owners is to shop around and compare. In this way, one will see the differences in breeders and what they breed. Study all aspects paying particular attention to the number of dogs that are kept on the premises, the appearance of these dogs (cleanliness, health, disposition), the environment in which they are kept. Of greater importance is the appearance of the dam of the litter (it is normal for the dam to sometimes lose her coat while caring for a litter, but she should not look weak, malnourished, or ill in any other way).
Why should one stress health and quality over price? The best way to answer this question is to estimate the cost of care for a Labrador as done on the following page. An average Labrador's life span is 10-11 years. The estimate includes only the necessities and does not include any special health problems or injuries which would require medical attention and prescription medications. By studying the estimate it is clear that the initial price of a puppy is minimal compared to what one should expect to in the long run. Skimping on quality now may only cost one later down the road, both financially and emotionally.
Looking at the estimate one may also see why breeders must sell puppies and not give them away. A lot of time and money go into breeding. There is no profit if one does it correctly because every penny that is earned usually goes back into the care and maintenance of the dogs. So why breed? Every breeder of repute has a specific goal in mind when breeding. Usually it is to breed puppies that will be equal or superior to their parents overall. It is the breeder's desire to consistently produce the ideal specimen of the breed.
I. Veterinary Costs:
|5 weeks||Parvo Vaccine||Courtesy of Breeder|
|*6 weeks||Puppy Shot- DA2PP+CVK/wormer/Heartworm preventive||Courtesy of Breeder|
|7 weeks||Kennel Cough Vaccine-Intra Trac II/ Eye examination||Courtesy of Breeder|
|8 weeks||Puppy Shot/wormer||Courtesy of Breeder|
|9 weeks||Kennel Cough Vaccine-Intra Trac II||$8.00|
|*10 weeks||Puppy Shot/wormer||$35.00|
|12 weeks||Puppy Shot/wormer||$15.00|
|13 weeks||Lyme Vaccine||$15.00|
|*14 weeks||Puppy/Adult Booster-DA2PP+CVK/LCI/wormer||$35.00|
|15 weeks||Lyme Vaccine||$15.00|
|16 weeks||Puppy Booster||$10.00|
|*18 weeks||Puppy Booster||$30.00|
|*6 months||Rabies Vaccine||$30.00|
II. Additional Veterinary Costs:
III. Miscellaneous Costs:
Veterinary costs are based on AAHA accredited hospitals and clinics.
* Includes the average veterinarian examination fee and indicates the minimum requirements for preventive immunization.
'Copyright 1992 Pamela A. Davol'