Many Lab owners love their dogs and want to share their love with the world through puppies. For the sake of the Labrador, the future puppies or the owner, this is not a process that should be rushed into.
Most dogs are ready to breed, physically and emotionally, by the age of 2. Males could breed as soon as 8 months. But most females have not yet had a regular heat and are not ready to carry a litter of puppies to term and care for them because they are still growing and maturing at this age. Dogs, like people, are individuals, so both male and female dogs should be seen by a vet before breeding commences regardless of age.
For a dog to be bred safely, it must be subject to health tests by your vet and canine specialists. The first thing you will need to do is bring your Lab to a canine ophthalmologist for its CERF certification. This will show that your dog is free of heritable eye diseases and is safe for breeding. Next, you will need to take your Lab to a canine cardiologist to ensure that there are not any abnormalities that will interfere with breeding or be passed down to a litter.
At this point your Labrador will need to have its hips X-rayed to be sure that there are not congenital hip issues.
These are the tests that responsible breeders run on all of their dogs that they breed. Not only is it important for the dog that is being bred, it is important for the puppies. Educated buyers of Lab puppies will ask for the test results from these tests, and if the breeder cannot supply them, the puppies may not sell.
Pedigree and Training Considerations
Breeders need to be aware that pedigree and training are important to many buyers. Before you breed your dog you should inquire into its pedigree. Was the dog built to be bred or is it simply a pet that should be loved as is? Many Labs are great pets but do not have genes that warrant breeding. Look into pedigree before you breed to establish whether these are genes that should continue.
Also, you should look into whether your dog is UKC or AKC registered, as these are the recognized kennel clubs, and most people will want pups that are registered as well. If your dog is not registered, you should get it registered if it are eligible.
Breeder dogs have usually competed or have been highly trained. Generally speaking, a Labrador that is worthy of breeding has been trained and has competed in Conformation Championship competition as well as Field Championship competitions. This contests require time to train and to win, and a dog that does not have these qualifications generally should not be bred. Your local Labrador club can help you learn how to train your dog and where these competitions are held.
As a breeder you must consider the expense of breeding. You will need to pay for all of the training associated with having a reputable dog as well as all of its health exams before breeding, after breeding and during the gestational period if you have a female.
You will then need to pay for the cost of vaccinations and care for the puppies as well as food and supplies for the adult dogs as they grow. This is a costly venture for anyone, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to sell all of the puppies.
In addition, to the surprise of the owner, dogs that are bred often change. If your Labrador is your baby, and you enjoy its petlike behavior, you may want to think twice about breeding. Breeding often causes males to become more aggressive and more driven by hormones and the desire to breed. He may not care as much about snuggling with you or playing ball, he'll always be looking for the opportunity to breed. Females may also disengage and be driven by hormones and more interested in other dogs than interacting with humans.
A breeder also needs to acknowledge that there is a risk in breeding your dog. There are health conditions and risks associated with canine pregnancy, just as there is in human pregnancy. As a dog owner, you need to think seriously about these things and decide if breeding is for you.