How long have you been breeding dogs?
Our first litter, out of English import CH. Spenrock Heatheredge Mariner was born in 1983. Since then, we have steadily increased our breeding stock and now produce between 4 and 6 litters a year, depending on Nature.
What is your breeding goal?
We look to breed a truly dual purpose Labrador, which conforms to the breed standard and can work. Although we occasionally have a high powered all field trial litter or a show litter, most of our litters combine lines. Most of our dogs have titles and almost all of the males we breed to are champions of one sort or another.
How much do the puppies cost?
Our pups start at $1100. We will always quote the price of the puppies as soon as they are born.
P.S. We are not offended by this important question!
Are the puppies in the house?
The puppies are in our houses, surrounded by chaos and kids. By the time they go to their new home they have ridden in the car, retrieved toys, spent some time away from each other, started thinking about housetraining, and learned to come to “PUPPY PUPPY”.
Are the parents on the premises?
The mother of the pups is, of course, but we usually breed to “outside” stud dogs with wonderful titles and accomplishments, to improve our lines.
When do you let the puppies go to their new home?
The puppies leave us at seven to eight weeks of age. We have them vet checked and inoculated at six to seven weeks, and then spend that next week evaluating them. We use a hybrid puppy test that we patched together; one of us drinks wine while observing the other test the puppies. Afterward we both drink wine and guess at which puppy goes where.
How do you choose the puppies?
We always meet prospective owners before the “pickup” day and discuss exactly what they are looking for. This informal meeting lets us each size up the other without any time pressure. If everyone seems comfortable, we talk about what the new owner expects. We take this into account when making our puppy choices.
What are the problems in your lines?
Unfortunately, we never really can answer this question until after the puppies are born. Some lines look good but produce awfully, some lines cannot be combined. One reason we make sure our Labradors are perfectly sound, in every measurable way, is to reduce our odds of producing problems. Nevertheless, we have bred pups with hip and elbow dysplasia (not in the same dog, thank God!) OCD, epilepsy and some that just didn’t turn out the way we hoped. When this happens, we hope everyone remains philosophical about the uncertain nature of heredity.
What do you look for in a puppy buyer?
We hope that people looking to buy a Labrador from us already know about the aggravating qualities of the Labrador: the constant shedding, the long destructive puppyhood, the incessant friendliness bordering on obnoxiousness . . . If we are sure the owner expects these things, and is not lulled into a false sense of security by the trained (mature) Labradors lying around our houses, we just want to be sure the owner has a realistic plan: that he/she intends to use a cage to train the puppy, take it to training class, be responsible. We really don’t care about your landscape or lifestyle. If you have figured out how to raise and keep a Labrador, after all of our caveats, that’s good enough for us. The short answer is, we really look for a sign that the person is going to love their dog and see it through.