7 Unique thoughts to keep in mind before making lab puppies part of your life (#6 will surprise you)

Who doesn’t love lab puppies?

Black lab puppies, yellow, chocolate… They are cute cuddly little balls of fluff that, through shear strength of personality, worm their way into their unsuspecting victim’s lives and carve out a home.

However, buying a Labrador retriever is a complicated and often daunting task. There are lots of breeders, lots of breeding programs, and many things about labs that go unsaid. If you have noticed, everybody in the business is an expert – if you don’t believe them just ask them – and all the information put out there by said experts adds to the level of confusion.

Hopefully, these 7 thoughts can help cut through some of the bull that is dealing with breeders, bloggers, and the animal planet so that you can make an informed decision when looking for a pup.

1. Male Lab Puppies are not that different than Female Lab Puppies – AND THEY MIGHT SAVE YOU SOME MONEY.

Ok. I will wait here a minute while you scoff at my lack of knowledge about lab puppies and their characteristics, call me names, and laugh me off in general. 😊 Because everyone knows that when it comes to Labrador Retrievers, female dogs are much easier going, laid back, friendly, less bull-headed, and don’t pee on anything. Right? I mean the worst thing an owner must deal with in a female dog are those darn heat cycles – but we can have her spayed. Not a big deal. Right?

Wrong. In my very humble opinion, dead ass wrong. There is simply not that much difference between a male and a female Labrador retriever when raised in the average American home.

I fully expect that at this moment dear reader you saying to yourself “how could you, Justin McGill, Professional Breeder of Labrador Retrievers sit here and proclaim to the whole damn internet that there is not much of a difference between male and female lab puppies? Everybody knows that that is a load of crap! This guy is off his rocker completely. Professional my a**!”

I hate to be the one to tell you, but it’s true. (and yes, before you EVEN THINK about going there — I am perfectly capable of picking up a dog’s tail and letting you know there is physical difference. I did get an “A” in sex ed after all…) Male and female labs have subtle differences that often in the home and field are simply not noticed to a large degree. In a kennel, like I operate, will differences be more pronounced? Very much so – and I will address that later, thereby assuaging your fears that I am off my rocker.

What are the differences between males and females in the average home?

The complete answer to this question is, like so many things in mother nature’s world, dependent on a few things. However, in the most general of terms, size and shape are about the extent of the differences. Intact males will be larger, females will tend to be smaller. Overly simplistic? Maybe. Are people going to argue with me till the cows come home? Possibly. After 12 years of doing this, I just don’t see that many differences other than looks.

How can a male lab puppy save you some money?

Easy. Supply and Demand. Two out of every three people we talk to want females without fail. Due to this simple fact MOST of the time, you will see male’s price slightly different than females. And usually, males are cheaper. Is that the case all the time? Nope – but check it out. Might be able to save yourself 250-500 dollars by purchasing a male pup.

2. The Color of the Lab Puppy does not determine its  INTELLIGENCE.

This little idiosyncrasy in the world of Labrador Retrievers makes me smile. I would love to be able to go back in time and see how it all got started. It all surrounds the fact that there are a significant number of people out there who believe that chocolate lab puppies are somehow less intelligent black and yellow lab puppies. Like I said, I would love to go back in time and see how that idea got its start.

The simple fact of the matter here is that if you select intelligent, well-bred parents. You will get intelligent well-bred pups. Select parents with a plethora of issues and the litter of puppies will have a plethora of issues. It’s honestly no different than people.

A great example of this is my less than favorite quarterback in the world Tom Brady and his supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen. Have you seen those folks? That dude is DISGUSTINGLY good looking for a man. Just saying. His wife is damn hot. Again, Just saying. What are the chances of them having ugly children? Those kids will be beautiful adults. Good looking intelligent parents produce good looking intelligent children. Dogs, People, Lions, Tigers, and Bears (Oh My!) it doesn’t matter.

Get yourself a well-bred chocolate lab puppy – it will be just as smart as your buddies black.

3. Pick of the Litter does not really matter — DESPITE what you have been told. 

You want to piss off your breeder? I mean really get under their skin…. Insist on pick-of-the litter. 

Why, you may ask, would that get under a breeder’s skin? All I want is the best dog? It can hank us off for several reasons. Let us take a look. 


  • There are several “First Picks” in each litter

    For a moment, let’s pretend we are discussing a litter that has Black and Yellow puppies in it. In this case, there would be 4 “picks” of the litter — First Black Male, First Black Female, First Yellow Male, and First Yellow Female. So you want the pick of the litter? Which one.

  • It is a great way of insulting the rest of the litter to the folks that did their best to raise some awesome puppies.

    Good Breeders put lots of time and effort into each puppy. Period. Insisting on getting the “Pick of the _____” (fill in the blank here could be any color and sex) indicates to an extent that the other puppies in the litter are not good as the first one to be selected. Along that line of thinking, any breeder that knowingly sells puppies with problems is just a damn fool. That is a great way to ruin people’s trust and drive business away. SO…please keep in mind that that whole litter of puppies – the big one, the small one, the darker one, the one with the white patch – ALL equal potential.
  • It is rather arrogant to assume you can pick the “best” dog in the litter by spending 20 minutes to an hour with the animals. 

    There are many folks who don’t think about this one. At 8 weeks old, puppies change daily. On one day the big pup in the litter is very active, the next day he will do his best impression of a bump on the log. On day the little female in the corner is the most aggressive puppy in the litter, and the next she is a wallflower. To assume that in 20 minutes to an hour spent with the puppies you are able to determine the best one in the litter is well…. rather arrogant.

4. A Labrador Retriever is no Longer a Labrador Retriever.

Well what the hell do I mean by that statement? Kind of confusing right? Right. It is however a very true statement.  In today’s world Lab puppies are bred to be sporting dogs, shed hunting dogs, drug dogs, therapy dogs, seeing eye dogs, PTSD dogs, diabetic alert dogs, seizure dogs, simply family pets, show dogs, and probably 100 other uses. The all-American Labrador retriever has so many uses, and there are so many different types of genetics to choose from that today’s buyer must do a ton of research into what their getting…and spend a good deal of time defining what they want prior to going shopping.

5.  A Well-Bred Labrador Retriever is defined by the end-user.

This statement ties in largely with the previous one. For example, a well-bred, very jacked upland guide dog, (That needs hours of exercise) may not be the best choice for a guy stuck in a wheelchair. This situation was brought to my attention by the guy stuck in the chair. He had purchased the dog from another kennel and simply needed to move the animal. It could be the best-bred dog in the world…but if the end-user is displeased with the dog’s traits then it really doesn’t do anyone any good, including the dog!

6. Labs are FULL of Health Problems for a reason. 

And that reason is that people often think with their hearts and not with their heads. What do I mean by this? Let me explain.

Let’s take a trip back in time to when people were crafting dog breeds. Back to say the 1700’s. If a puppy did not “measure” up the standards i.e. it did not meet the breed standard of the day, it was culled. Plain and simple. In kind of a roundabout way, it could be seen as survival of the fittest. Commoners were not allowed to and often did not have the means to keep large breeding populations of dogs and as a result the population was simple to control.

Now enter modern America. Want to breed your dog? Go for it. It could be ugly, have hip problems, blind, and deaf and it’s still the best dog I have ever owned, and I want a puppy out of it. We live in a free society. It’s your dog, if you want to breed your animal, you have that right. (I should point out here that I support that fact)

Do we cull? Or remove bad genetics from the breeding population? Not even close. We give poorly bred specimens away to folks or sell them anyway – and because of this – we have a population of labs that are adversely affected by Hip Dysplasia, Inherited eye diseases, allergies, and several other maladies. By allowing poor specimens to remain in the breeding population, and by making poor breeding choices we end up causing our own problems.

7.  Most Lab Breeders CANNOT STAND the constant need people have for puppy pictures — and there is a DARN good reason for it.

I know lab puppies are cute – so cute it hurts. I know we live in a world where everybody takes pictures of everything and posts them everywhere. Its part of life and business today. We get it, we really do (and when I say we, I mean Lab Breeders as a whole). But the CONSTANT demand people have for pictures of puppies is EXHAUSTING!!!

First, the overwhelming majority of us do more work during a day than raise pups. I.E. most everybody I know that raises dogs, has a day job. Which means we are choring, cleaning, feeding exercising etc. our dogs early in the morning and very late at night. When during the day can we all find the time to photograph, crop, edit, and post pictures of puppies not only to the website, but to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and every other social media platform out there? God only knows. And that’s just the pictures.

Videos can be even more challenging. Most breeders I know got into the business because they love dogs. Not necessarily technology. I mean – if I wanted to spend all day working with “dog pics” and “kitty pics” I would go work for Facebook.

Have you ever really tried to take a good picture of a puppy. I mean a GOOD picture. Not some out-of-focus picture that screams “This Darn Dog Would NOT Sit Still.” It is truly a challenge. Puppies wiggle, squirm, and overall are HARD to get in focus. That being said puppy pictures are complicated by the fact that looking a dog straight in the face is an act of dominance and most all puppies want to be submissive. So you no more than get a camera in their face and they don’t want to look at you – they look away as quick as they can. Again. NOT EASY!

Last but not least, have you ever tried to transmit data through a steel building in a low spot in rural Iowa? NO? You should try it some time. We don’t have internet in our barn…because it’s a BARN. We live in rural Iowa. SO….to get good photos and videos, we have to:

  • Take them in the barn. We get no internet or cell service in the barn SO then….
  • Go up to the house and hope like hell the internet works well enough to download them to our computer to edit out the 9000 bad pics and find the one good one we were able to get.
  • Drive to the end of the driveway and hope that the phone will find a good enough signal to use my mobile hotspot. If it does – we sit in the truck for an hour waiting for the photos to upload.
  • IF it’s a cloudy day? Gotta go to the office and repeat the process.Then – we go call or text the customer to inform them and their children that the coveted pictures have been uploaded…. All to be asked for more pictures from a different angle. ARGGGGHHHHH!!

Remember folks….you will get your new fluffy ball of lab puppy happiness in 8 weeks….regardless of my photography or lack thereof. 😊