This page is a collection of our most frequently asked questions here at Ashland.
Before you get started, just an FYI; We have found several other breeders coping our information below as well as our puppy pack materials and some of our other educational pages and articles. They are using it on their sites and their puppy folders. We are flattered! How sweet of them! But just know that what we write here or what we send home in our pups portfolios, comes from OUR knowledge and our experiences. It is our verbiage. I get that some what to share our philosophies. That's cool! But if so, how about giving credit to us for each page or document that is copied? Wouldn't that be the respectable thing to do?
- We are looking for a family pet, NOT a show dog or hunting dog. Just because a breeder who breeds show dogs OR hunting dogs doesn’t necessarily mean that their pups would not make excellent family companions. Basically you want a PET of a certain breed. GREAT! Just so you know, breeders are not really interested in selling you a show or hunting dog anyway. They usually retain the best by their standards (show or hunting) for themselves and the rest of litter will be placed into pet homes like yours. It takes a lot of training, great care and of course genetics to make a great show dog or hunting dog. Not every puppy in a litter will make that grade. You can have a great companion from either show or hunting lines and that is where most breeders want their puppies to go anyway.
- How Much Are Your Puppies? Our prices are very comparable to other respectable breeders in the South/South East and are based on many factors and INDIVIDUAL pups or specific litters. I personally think it is tacky to display prices for puppies on websites as if the first person to hand over the cash, gets the puppy. I just hate that! Of course price is and should be a factor but all things aside, if the purchase price is the main factor in your decision to acquire a puppy from a reputable source, then perhaps you're simply not ready for a puppy at this time. After-all, the initial purchase price will be the least amount you will spend when it comes to the cost of proper pet ownership. Typically, in our area, a companion puppy from a well known, respectable breeder will cost between 1800.00 and $2500.00. Of course CAUTION as there are many bad breeders selling pups for just as much and many even higher than this price range.
- Why do your dogs cost more than pups from say a newspaper or one of those "Find a Puppy" websites? Reputable breeders do not need to advertise their pups in a newspaper or online *free ads for one. Two, they usually get referrals from Veterinarians, other fellow breeders, club members or past customers. There is a HUGE difference in breeders that advertise in the classifieds and online freebie sites. A HUGE DIFFERENCE. We do a lot of research on the dogs we use in our programs. We show, train, do the proper health clearances, feed optimum diets, spend thousands of dollars each year to make sure our dogs have the absolute BEST in health care, housing, training, showing, trialing and more! The newspaper puppies come from accidental or at the most, very poorly planned breeding's. You know, the neighbor who has a Labrador female and asks the guy two blocks over if he would not mind using his "Labrador Boy" so they can make puppies together? Puppies are cute and sure they might be Labradors with or without papers but aside from that, health, temperament and everything else is going to be very unpredictable! Of course they don't know how to read or research pedigrees for type, temperament and health issues. Heck, they have no earthy idea of the term "heath clearances" other than "Skippy goes to the vet each year for a wellness check and shots". This by the way IS NOT health clearances!
- What is your process for someone to reserve a puppy from you?
- Keep an eye on our planned litters page. Once we have pups born and actually know what is available, we will begin accepting new applications. That’s the absolute best time to inquire with me (when I actually announce a new litter).
- We absolutely do require a new application before we agree to place a dog or puppy with anyone unless you’re one of our repeat clients. The application process helps us determine if an Ashland puppy or dog would be suitable for your home and lifestyle. We have a set criteria for placement of our puppies. Those not approved, doesn't mean we think they would be bad owners, rather it comes down to maybe a space issue or owner philosophies, lifestyle, work schedules and many other factors. Not everyone is best suited for a dog, let alone a Labrador or a young puppy.
- We feel it is best not to accept any type of formal reservations until the puppies have been born and are proven healthy and viable. So many factors are involved with breeding and there are always risk. It's hard enough for us to deal with the heartache of finding out a pregnancy didn't take or we lost babies during the birthing process or shortly after. So no need in having people anticipate for weeks that they are going to get a puppy, only to be disappointed. Therefore I have a "NO PUPPY - NO DEPOSIT/RESERVATION" rule. Only when I know positively that I have a pup for you. Then and ONLY then, will I confirm reservations or accept deposits. I hear stories frequently from others how they sent a deposit, waited and waited only to be told no puppies and then they never got their deposit back.
- Those approved applications WILL only go on a "tentative waiting list" and we ask them to confirm by completing our reservation agreement, accompanied with a deposit which will secure their interest in a pup. If you do confirm with us that you want a pup and tell us that you're sending a deposit along with the signed reservation agreement on the 3rd and you wait until the 31st, you just lost out on a puppy and we will return your deposit check. We feel that certain persons are much more sincere and are ready to secure a spot on our waiting list, therefore others who may be "wishy-washy" are holding up others that really DO want a pup. This is not fair for me to keep others waiting to find out "if someone has reserved that puppy".
- Speaking of Health Clearances, what is meant by that? Dogs, purebred and mixed are prone to different health problems that can result in serious issues, life long medical expenses or worse early Euthanasia. Reputable breeders will go through the time and expense to raise their dogs to the appropriate ages and have them screened for these AVOIDABLE genetic diseases before a breeding ever takes place. They want to make sure they have done everything possible to prevent producing affected puppies. In Labradors, there are several diseases we can screen for. I will go through the list of the most serious diseases and give a quick explanation, however please do take the time to search more of each disease (google it!) before you decide on purchasing ANY Labrador.
- Canine Hip and Elbow Dysplasia (CHD & ED) - Although polygenic (meaning a combination of genes and also how environment can play a role in the outcome) CHD & ED can only be screened by Radiographs. There is no DNA test to determine if a dog will get CHD/ED. Instead we rely on x-rays read by Orthopedic specialist who give us their opinion as to IF the dogs Hips and Elbows are Good or not. If they pass, then the breeder will usually register the results with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) who also manages a health data base for different breeds. www.offa.org Although every Labrador should be screened and certified free of CHD and ED before being bred, there is no way to absolutely guarantee that any and all offspring from cleared parents will also be free of these issues. Rather it is most important to acquire a Labrador from parents that are certified with many generations behind them also certified, therefore decreasing the chances of producing CHD and ED.
- Progressive Retinal Dysplasia: prcd PROGRESSIVE ROD-CONE DEGENERATION FORM OF PRA - Leading cause of Blindness in Labradors. We can avoid producing affected puppies with the prcd form of PRA with the use of DNA testing. A blood sample or DNA swab is submitted to Optigen for appropriate testing.
- Tricuspid Valve Dysplaisa (TVD) - A known Heart Condition in Labradors. Labradors one year of age and older can be screened by a Veterinary CARDIOLOGIST via auscultation and/or Echo Doppler and cleared animals can be registered in OFA's Health database.
- Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) - A condition which when the ambient body temperature of the Animal starts to rise either through working such as field work or getting overly excited, causing the animal to collapse. Rear limbs are basically useless and it takes several minutes for the dog too get on his feet again. This condition is dangerous in working retrievers while swimming which can result in drowning. A simple, cheap $65.00 DNA test can be performed to make sure the dogs IS NOT affected before breeding. (Read More Here) (See video of Affected EIC Labrador Here)
- Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM) - A muscle wasting, very degenerating disease that leaves most affected dogs with a very poor quality life that usually results in early Euthanasia. 100 percent PREVENTABLE. No excuse not to test! All Labradors can be DNA screened to assure no future offspring will be affected. (Read More Here) (See Video of Affected CNM Labrador Here)
- Heritable Eye Disorders - Labradors, like most breeds are prone to Hereditary Cataracts and other eye conditions. Before breeding, breeder SHOULD have their dogs eyes examined by an American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologist (AVCO) Vet to rule out any heritable eye problems. The ACVO exam should be performed yearly on any dog actively used in a breeding program. The results can be registered with either the OFA or CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) OR at the very least, the breeder should have a current (within one year) ACVO form on file.
- Narcolepsy, RD/OSD and HNPK are also newer diseases which most breeders (at this time) currently do not test for. HNPK is being seen in Labradors in the UK and Europe and very few here in the US are affected. I suspect before long, most breeders ( at least the concerned ones) will also begin testing for these other diseases and I have no doubt as Veterinary Science and the study of Genetics continue to evolve, more DNA disease test will be developed. These test are TOOLS for breeders to use so that they can produce BETTER offspring that are NON-AFFECTED.
- I know nothing about Pedigrees or even how to read one, why should I be worried about a pedigree? I don't expect someone looking for a pet to really understand what a pedigree means to a breeder or even what it represents to the future puppy, however it is a very important and useful piece of paper. Just like the above where I speak about using Health testing as a tool, the pedigree (known ancestors) is also used as a tool...that is when a breeder knows HOW to use one. This is how we can predict a certain type of Labrador in looks, also by knowing temperaments and health data attached to that pedigree. We can go back and research certain things such as phenotype (what we see on the outside) and genotype (what is hidden on the inside). We take notes, we compare these notes with other breeders. We see over the years what dog or line produces better offspring and who does not. If a dog produces bad fronts or great ones. That pedigree is filled with rich history that can either help us or hinder us but you need to know as much about the individual dogs in that pedigree. To the pet owner, it is just a fancy piece of paper with names but to a concerned breeder, it is KNOWLEDGE and a very powerful tool.
- I heard that the color of the dog affects their temperament, is this true? Well, yes AND no. In Labradors, genetically speaking, temperament comes down to breeding FOR temperament/type or breeding FOR color. When chocolates became really popular, many people bred specifically for that color alone, disregarding the temperament and type. This resulted in many inferior chocolates that appear to be hard-headed, high strung have having many other faults such a yellow eyes and poor physical features. So while it is true to some extent, it really boils down to finding a breeder who breeds for the entire dog....and color being the last factor. I have seen a huge rise in yellows (especially the lightest shades) being downgraded by the "color breeders, those who breed for a color first"
- If you’re searching for a specific color, do your research. Color alone does not make a dog a good one or a bad one....rather the lines that they are bred from and why they are bred in the first place.
- Are your Labradors English? Our Labradors all descend from English Lines, however they are born here in the USA, so I really cannot say that they are English unless they were actually born in the UK. I have imported dogs from the UK and a couple of other Countries but their primary lineage ALL goes back to the breeds original development which is from England. On another note, people here in the US tend to associate the show or bench Labrador with English and the Field bred Labrador as an American Lab. They say if it is thick, block headed, it must be English or if it is thin, long, lanky, it must be Field. Actually, fact is, here in the US, there is such a huge divergence of type between show, field and back yard breeders that for most people, they SELDOM see what a true Labrador Retriever looks like, yet alone acts like. It never fails, we go to the Vet and people ask "What breed is that"? You answer "A Labrador Retriever" and we hear the same things “ooh, I have never seen a Labrador with a big head, coat or size like that" My favorite is "That's a Lab?? Man, that dog is calm for a Lab". We breed in accordance to the FCI standard. This standard is recognized in every Country in the world and consist of WHAT the Labrador Retriever is. Our Labradors can compete in show, field and obedience events. They can and have done it all. So to simplify things, we breed for the real Labrador Retriever...inside and out.
- I was told Show Labradors are fat and lazy and can't be trained for hunting? Is this true? I guess the best way to address that question is to be quite honest and tell you that some Labradors are fat and lazy and others are not and it really does not have anything to do with them being show dogs either. I see Labradors from all different backgrounds that are fat. Blame does not go to what pedigree or venue they are from, rather their owners. A fat dog is simply a result of someone over-feeding and not providing enough exercise or a medical condition. Some owners may think by feeding more, their dog will grow bigger but more calories does not influence over all height, it will however affect health and longevity. Show Labradors DO have a broader body and thicker coat than those Labradors from Field lines or Back yard breeders (BYB). Most Field and BYB Labs are void of the proper water-repellent double coat. Not that coat is going to make a big difference in weight, rather it does make the dog appear "thicker and with more substance". Body conditioning cannot always be determined by looking at a picture either (unless the dog is obese or emaciated) as many people look at a show dog picture and say the dog looks fat. By putting your hands on the dog in question, you can feel either flab or muscle. So to sum the fat & lazy question; there are a lot of critics out there that for "whatever reason”, find it necessary to throw daggers at any and ALL Labradors that descend from Show pedigrees, regardless of the fact that many are also working retrievers. Yes, by all means show Labradors CAN be trained for hunting as most lines retain the wonderful characteristics that the breed was developed for. There may be show Labradors that do not have a clue to what a bumper is or has never left the owners home or kennel but that is NOT the dogs fault and not everyone who owns a Labrador enjoys hunting, some just simply want a companion.
Can I come by and visit your facility and inspect your dogs? Well for starters, we do not have a facility, this is our HOME. I am a hobby breeder, not a commercial breeder. We welcome visits TO OUR HOME BY APPOINTMENT and ONLY when have available time and ONLY to those that have completed an application and been pre-screened. WE NEVER allow strangers to just show up or allow someone to visit that we have not corresponded with by both email and phone first.
As for inspecting my dogs....I think it should be the other way around, I will let my dogs inspect you. They have a great second sense and anyone they do not like, chances are we will not like them either. :) If By chance we have new puppies on the ground, visits are not allowed until the pups reach an appropriate age; one to prevent stressing the new Mom and two; we have no control over where you have been prior to coming here (dog parks, pet stores, rest areas, Vets, or your neighbors dog) and we do not want our pups exposed to any pathogens before they have had a chance to develop a strong immune system. For these reason, we provide weekly pictures, videos and updates ONLINE to our customers when we have new pups.
- At what age do you allow your pups to leave? Between 8 and 9 weeks of age, after we have done our final puppy evaluations and made our selection as to which pup(s) we will be keeping. Then WE decide, based on final evaluations of temperament and other characteristics which puppy is best suited for each home on our waiting list.
- We picked our last dog out our self, why can't we pick out our own puppy or get a pick based on where I am in line? I understand people want to have a "say so" but I do ask for our clients to trust me if you have chosen me as your breeder. I (we) help birth each litter, we interact with our pups from the day they are born to the day they leave us. We know WHICH puppy is going to make the best pet for a family home, a hunting home or a show home. Which puppy is dominant, which is not. Of course we take into consideration what you are looking for in a puppy and a future life-long companion. We just have reservations about letting inexperienced persons come in and point to a puppy and say "that's the one". Our goal is to place our pups into the best suited home, for the relationship between puppy and human to become one that will be happy and last a lifetime, not the human making a decision based on a "certain shade of yellow, or the fact that it was the first puppy to greet you". Failure is NOT our goal. I do not want to place a puppy and have you call me back a week later saying the pup is too hard to train or that you underestimated the pups demeanor when you picked him out. After 30 plus years, I am happy to report that I have NEVER to this day had a client call me up and say "I am not happy with the puppy you picked for us". I am sure many have wanted another puppy they seen in the litter because it looked bigger or was more "bubbly" at that moment, but after all was said and done, they have a beautiful dog that they can live with and enjoy for many years. As for "picks". I don't do "take a number and you get to pick" or "first come, first serve". I will leave that method for those that do not know how to evaluate a litter of puppies or are afraid the client will want to return the dog when it doesn't work out. After all, I hear it all the time at shows or dog forums....."Well THEY picked their puppy out, so it is a done deal". Just so you know, that is not how WE do things here!
- How many litters do you breed each year? Why does it matter? Whether or not a breeder has one litter or ten, doesn't tell anything at all about that breeder. Whomever came up with this corny question is either ANTI-breeder or doesn't know Jack about breeding practices! What you should be concerned about is HOW the pups are raised, socialized and cared for. I know breeders who have one litter every three years and raise them out in a filthy barn, poor socialization, cheap feed and little to no vet care. Then I know of breeders who've had several litters in one year that give them 110 percent of their undivided attention, excellent socializing and the absolute best of care. Now, let me answer that question. We have had 0 litters to as much as four litters in one year. It is not about having a litter just to have puppies. We plan on puppies when we have the time and dedication that is needed to raise them properly. The main reason we produce a litter is for ourselves so we can keep our bloodlines going. We keep back puppies from every litter we have. Are they keeping pups back? If not, perhaps there lies a tale-tale sign of why they breed.
- We want to purchase TWO pups at the same time. I highly discourage two puppies at the same time. One puppy is surely a lot of work, two and you're faced with a lot of other issues. Training is harder as the two pups bond with each other INSTEAD OF YOU and trying to train one without the other posses an issue. Chances of separation anxiety issues developing are much great with two than just one. It is harder to create that "human to dog" bond with two pups. After all, litter-mates are already bonded and keeping them together...well, chances are you will not ever experience that real gift of dog/human relationship. I never say it cannot be done. I raise more than one pup at a time more often than not, however I had to learn the HARD WAY how to do it. Yes, our pups are separated, individually trained and allowed to bond with me. It sounds just totally adorable to have litter-mates to raise but it is actually a tremendous amount of work if you plan to do it the right way. For this reason and to prevent me from getting that phone call from you saying "We are going to have to find a home for one of them", which is in my opinion (8 of 10) people regret the decision of getting two at the same time and now you want to break them apart! I am just going to save MYSELF the headache and our dogs the emotional damage and tell you NOPE, will not place two puppies of the same age or litter in your home. My advice is get one pup, get all your training done, bond with your dog and then a year or so later, it would be fine to bring in a second puppy.
- I want a the LIGHTEST yellow possible, can you guarantee me a certain shade of color? Under no circumstances can we guarantee any "shade" of yellow OR chocolate for that matter. We base our program on the entire dog and a certain shade of yellow is not even a factor in our decision to breed for a litter of pups. I think anyone breeding for just color or a shade of color has very poor ethics. There is WAY more to a dog than a shade of color.
- I want to get a pup with full registration so I can breed it if I choose to: Honestly speaking, if you're not already established as a well-know person of ethics in Labradors or another breed, I won't place a puppy on full registration. I understand that there is always room for newcomers but very few really take breeding and raising Labradors seriously and think it is a $$ making venture, thus being the REAL reason they want to purchase dogs with breeding rights is to sell puppies. No, I would rather put ALL of my pups into pet homes before that happens. So IF by chance you are new and really want to get involved in the sport of purebred dogs, you will need to show some interest in certain venues, clubs or other affiliations.
- Why do you screen people wanting one of your puppies and why do persons have to be approved? Reasons are simple; We care about the pups we bring into this world. We want to make sure they go to the best possible homes that are not only educated pet owners but RESPONSIBLE pet owners. We do not wish to place any of our pups into homes that decide to get a puppy on a "whim". Pet ownership is a life-long commitment. Purchasing a pet should me a major decision and one that involves everyone in the household. Many factors contribute to our ideal home when it comes to puppy placement. Those approved are generally secure homes that I feel are READY for a puppy and have the time and resources to properly raise a Labrador Retriever. If you work 12 hours per day, no one else is home and rely upon a neighbor or others to step in to take the puppy to potty, the vet or other, then I feel you're NOT ready. Basically, the homes I choose are those that will most likely NOT be calling me back in three months saying that a puppy has proven to be too much work and you have to return him. Or those that get a puppy and then decide that he does not match the decor of their home. Seriously...I have learned these lessons the HARD WAY and the puppy is always the one to suffer. So I have every right to say NO....NO....NO!!! Labradors are great dogs but they are not the right breed for everyone.
- Can I purchase the puppy online and have you ship it to me? We do not sell puppies over the internet. Our website is in place so people can learn more about us, our dogs and for educational purposes. I caution ANYONE to avoid breeders LIKE THE PLAQUE if they allow you to purchase a puppy online, sight unseen. PayPal purchases,etc should be avoided. We prefer that you come meet us and our dogs in person and anyone wanting to take home a puppy, has to meet with us face to face. Out of state clients are welcome to fly in and carry the puppy back on board, in cabin (certain airline restrictions apply) with them.
- What colors do you breed? Black, chocolate and yellow are the ONLY recognized colors and we have all three. Other colors you may sometimes see advertised by others, such as "white, silver, charcoal, champagne and bi color" are not acceptable, they are very frowned upon and are only produced by persons looking to sell something they term as "rare" or "in-demand" for $$. Little attention is given to the dogs health, well being or temperament. So please don't fall for anyone advertising any color other than black, chocolate or yellow. Within the Labrador community, breeders, Judges, Veterinarians and other persons shuns anyone breeding for these "other colors". Mismarked puppies CAN HAPPEN. Mismarked pups (brindle, black & tan, white marks, splashing and even rarer Mosiac) can be produced. If this happens, it does not mean the dog is of lesser quality, rather it is a fault and therefore should not be bred from.