Every now and then, we have people ask what it takes to breed their labrador. Everyone has their own reasons. Often we hear, “I think it would be fun for the kids!” Or, they just want to ‘breed her once.’ I can’t possibly get into ALL that goes into breeding, or else this post would end up being a novel! ;)–and I DO actually have a book, but I digress… But I would like to give you somewhat of an idea so that if your family is considering this, you can understand some of the real-time, work, and money that goes into this.
Please understand, that we do not encourage just anyone to breed their dogs. And while we do sell on full registration occasionally, we make sure that our clients do all the appropriate health testing before breeding their dog. The minimum that a female should have before being bred is her OFA clearance on hips, elbows, (altogether $800) and eyes (CERF-$95). These are all a given, regardless of who she’s being bred to. Other health clearances are NARC, EIC, PRA, Optigen, (altogether about $195-$300) and Cardio clearances ($600 for echo doppler exam). You should NEVER breed two carriers of any of these genes or else there can be puppies born with these diseases–and the only way to prevent breeding a disastrous litter is to make sure both parents have these clearances. A carrier does not mean they are affected, they simply carry the gene and have to be bred to another carrier in order to pass it on–so if you don’t KNOW, and you breed a carrier to a carrier, you have an AFFECTED litter. Just a little science lesson…
People that aren’t willing to spend the money on all of these clearances like we are, should not be breeding… We are breeding to better the health of the breed, not pass on bad traits or diseases. And there is always a chance that your dog may not pass a particular health clearance and you just won’t breed them.
There are numerous books that we recommend to those thinking about breeding such as “Reaching for the Stars” by Mary Roslin Williams. A few of them are on breeding a show quality dog and simply learning in more depth the purpose and background of the Labrador Retriever. When I hear the response “Well I’m not looking to breed show dogs”, then again, I discourage this person from breeding. If you don’t want to breed for conformation standard and to the AKC breed standard for the Labrador Retriever, then again, why would you want to breed?
Breeding is an expensive “hobby”. Not only are you spending money on all of the health clearances for your own dog, but you are then doing your homework to find a good stud to breed her too that also has all of its health clearances, and breeders charge Stud Service fees for breeding (ranges from $895-$1,200 depending on the accomplishments or titles the stud dog has). Now, you’re either transporting your dog to this breeder or having semen shipped for artificial insemination ($300) and paying the packaging and shipping expenses for this (about $50). You’re also paying for progesterone testing ($95 each time you test–and you’ll be testing at least 2-3 times to target ovulation so you know when to breed).
You’ll also need a whelping box (a hand-made wooden one costs about $300+), and everything else you need for the journey from birth to 8 weeks old when your pups will go to their new home, including vet expenses ($36 per pup for vet examination) and if you end up in a c-section, you will be out another $1,200-$3,500). Properly worming and vaccinating the litter will cost approximately $$100-$200). And remember, you are OBLIGATED by the dog law in your particular state to honor their puppy lemon law. That means that if anything goes wrong the first 14-30 days, YOU are responsible for all expenses (an emergency vet trip for a puppy with just diarrhea can cost $700+), and you are also obligated, if anything whatsoever goes wrong, to refund the money for the puppy and take it back, so don’t even spend the money you make on the litter. Put it in a savings account should you need it for any unforeseen expenses once the pups are home with their new family. I won’t even get into all of this because, again, you’d be reading a book, not a blog…
So if you’re looking at this thinking, “Hmmmm, this could be an opportunity to make a few bucks!”, ugh…maybe you realize now…to really breed quality Labrador Retrievers costs a LOT of money, dedication, and devotion!! So if you are not willing to be a reputable breeder and do all you need to produce a top-notch litter, then just simply enjoy your beloved pet and do not even consider breeding. This field requires a deep love for the breed and for bettering the breed in health, structure, and temperament. There’s something I didn’t even talk about! Temperament! We have only bred the best of the best with regards to temperament over the years so that you can have a dog you actually want to live with! 😉 Back to my point… this is not an easy money making opportunity. This is why we caution people about ‘backyard breeders.’ There are many people out there cutting corners such as these health clearances especially, because they’re more concerned with how much money they can make. And the gullible puppy buyer who has not done their homework buys these borderline puppy mill dogs–and guess what said backyard breeder does again–they breed–another litter with dogs that will probably only live until they are 5-7 years old with all of the inherited diseases they carry.
The number one question I ask to see how serious someone is about breeding, is “How would you, or your kids, handle losing a puppy?” And for that matter–“what if you lose the MOTHER???” That usually makes people stop in their tracks and really think. It’s a very real possibility. The first week after a litter is born is very stressful and sleepless, and the mother dog has much healing to do. This is another reason why you have to REALLY know what you’re doing so that you can do everything in your power to save a puppy and the mother that may be struggling after a birth.
As I said earlier, this is just scraping the surface of breeding. I have not even talked about expenses of showing your labrador and the costs I incur to take a Lab to its championship, then its Grand Championship–try a figure of about $20,000-$50,000!! And people say I get rich off of breeding Labradors! Ha! Now you can imagine why that just makes me laugh.
Most of you are probably saying, “Eh, I’ll leave it to the professionals!” We are simply here to educate. We all want the same thing: healthy, happy, well-bred labs! 🙂
To read more labby-loving posts from Endless Mountain Labradors:
For those of you reading this simply out of curiosity and really just want a puppy! 😀
See our upcoming litters, here–> https://emlabradors.com/upcoming-litters/