If you want a dog as a family pet that is intelligent, friendly and affectionate then a Labrador is a good choice. Its intelligence hails from its heritage as a working dog, when it was originally used as a hunting dog, required to bring back water birds shot by the dog’s masters.
Bred for an ability to understand and follow instructions reliably and for a ‘soft mouth’ to grip the birds without piercing the skin, the Labrador has adapted to more modern job requirements from acting as guide dogs for blind or deaf people to sniffing out drugs for the police. Their calm and patient nature also lends very nicely to working as therapeutic dogs for adults or children who need help with mental health difficulties.
There is therefore a high demand for Labradors within certain industries or professions but there are many more Labrador puppies for sale by breeders and people whose Labradors have unexpectedly or unintentionally had a litter. Unfortunately, there are more Labrador puppies for sale than there are people willing and able to buy them.
There are often waiting lists for Labradors for sale from certain highly reputable breeders yet there are still more Labradors needing homes that end up in the care of animal charities like the RSPCA.
So why is this? Why do some Labradors end up in shelters?
Partly this is because of over-supply from breeders and even puppy farms. But also it is because some owners underestimate the amount of care that their Labrador needs in terms of exercise and grooming; they also lack an understanding of just how large these dogs grow.
The economic downturn has also led to many Labradors being handed into charities for rehoming, perhaps because they are typically owned by middle-class people most affected by the recession and most likely to have lost their jobs. For some owners, it really is a choice between keeping their dog and feeding their family and of course they have to choose the latter.
Labradors also end up in shelters because their owners have become too frail or elderly to care for them or may even have passed away leaving no one to care for their best friend. Those dogs are simply lost without their owners and confused about their placement in a strange place and are in real need of a loving home. Yet their own age often counts against them: people want to buy Labrador puppies rather than older dogs because they will have more years together.
Some Labradors end up in shelters because their owners have developed an allergy to the coat. It is important that before buying or adopting a Labrador you check whether anyone in your household is allergic to the breed by exposing them on at least two separate occasions to the fur.
Labradors make fabulous pets and are easy to train if you have the time to offer a consistent approach. Please consider adopting rather than buying your Labrador – there are plenty to choose from and you are sure to find a loving, loyal companion waiting for a new home.