About Working Labradors

The following information is intended to expand your knowledge regarding Labradors, their health concerns and training issues. Please take some time to acquaint yourself with the information we feel is important to consider before the purchase of a Labrador.

Health Concerns:

Obesity is the most common nutritional disorder found in companion animals. It is usually the result of either excess dietary intake or inadequate energy utilization or both. Numerous factors may predispose an individual to obesity including the amount of physical activity and the energy content of the diet.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that obesity can have detrimental effects on the health and longevity of companion animals. The problems to which obsess companion animals may be predisposed include; orthopedic disease, diabetes mellitus, abnormalities in circulation, cardio-respiratory disease, urinary disorders, reproductive disorders, dermatological disease and tumors.*

(*The Growing Problem of Obesity in Dogs and Cats by Alexander J. German)

All of Sundog’s Labradors used in the breeding process have been cleared by the Orthopedic Animal Foundation (OFA) for hip and elbow dysplasia. Although this goes a long way to securing healthy hips and elbows for the offspring of the breeding pair, unfortunately, there are other factors involved in an animal acquiring hip and elbow disorders. Nutrition and weight is a key ingredient in the overall health of your dog. Puppy food is often too high in protein and will push unnecessary growth too quickly for young bones. Therefore we start all our puppies on high quality ADULT dog food, VeRUS Life Advantage, manufactured by Natural Animal Nutrition. It is imperative that puppies are fed appropriately and their weight kept within healthy limits to avoid orthopedic problems. In the area of nutrition and weight, the health of your puppy depends on you.

Exercise is another environmental factor which may contribute to orthopedic problems if not monitored properly. Most pups have an abundance of energy. However, their bodies are immature and not ready for any exercise that involves repetitive movements and/or sharp impact, such as jogging or jumping. Puppies possess areas of soft bone in their legs called growth plates. It takes 12 to 16 months for this area to mature and the bone to harden or the growth plate to close. Growth plates can be easily injured before closing. To protect your pup against damage to the growth plates and/or joints high impact activities should be avoided until the growth plates are closed. A few months of patience could make the difference in the quality of life your puppy is able to enjoy as an adult.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a genetic, inherited disease of the retina which occurs in both eyes simultaneously. The disease is not painful but there is no cure. The dog will eventually go blind. This disease occurs in most dog breeds including Labradors.

Luckily, there are genetic tests available to determine for if a dog is affected by PRA, is a likely carrier of PRA or is not a carrier of PRA. All of Sundog’s breeding stud dogs have been determined as “NOT carriers of PRA” through optigen testing. For further information please visit these websites:

Cataracts are one of the most common problems affecting the eyes of a dog. There are many different forms and causes of cataract formation. Inherited cataracts are of a great concern to breeders. For obvious reasons a dog diagnosed with inherited cataracts should not used for breeding in order to stop the perpetuation of the disease in offspring.

Retinal Dysplasia is a type of retinal malformation which occurs when the layers of the retina do not form together properly. These layers are referred to as retinal folds. Retinal Dysplasia can be detected as early as 6-8 weeks through a CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) exam. In Labrador Retrievers individuals with geographic and retinal detachment (retinal folds) forms of retinal dysplasia are NOT certifiable and NOT given a CERF number. Sundog’s breeding Labradors are tested yearly through the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) to determine if retinal folds are present. For more information on Canine eye disease please visit the website: http//:www.vmbd.org/dx.html .

Heart Disease: All Sundog’s breeding Labradors are screened by a cardiologist for evidence of congenital cardiac disease. They are then certified through the OFA.

Training Concerns:
When purchasing a Sundog Working Labrador the key word is “Working”. Our dogs are bred from traditional working Labrador lines. This means that you are going to receive a Labrador that is energetic, bouncy and has an enthusiasm toward life in general. They are reliable and thrive on vigorous exercise and athletic activities. They are eager to please and very responsive to training. These are dogs meant to live with active people who enjoy an active life and want to share their activities with a loving, enthusiastic Labrador. They will need daily exercise. Labradors are general not happy living separated from their pack people. They are meant to be part of family life and in order to be a good family member they depend on you to lead them. Whether you intend to hunt, be involved in any of the wonderful dog sporting competitions available or have a companion that shares your love of the outdoors and the activities that go hand in hand with your lifestyle, your Labrador will need rules and boundaries. It is important to begin early to establish the rules for your pup. If you feel you need help with this, you have many options for training; local obedience clubs or schools, retrieving or hunt clubs are always good places to start when looking for help in training your puppy.

We also recommend the following books:

How to be Your Dog’s Best Friend
By: The Monk’s of New Skete

Cesar’s Way and A Member of the Family by Cesar Milan
By: Cesar Milan

The Kohler Method of Dog Training
By: William Kohler

Game Dog
By: Richard Wolters

Training the Hunting Retriever
By: Jerome B. Robinson