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TruPride Labradors - Florida breeder of quality chocolate Labrador Retrievers
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Our Blog

Her eyes look good! (7-18-11)

Posted By: TruPride  on July 18, 2011   
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Test #1: Great news – Aggie’s eye exam results came back clear.

The Breeding Plan (6-25-11)

Posted By: TruPride  on June 25, 2011   
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Ever since we purchased Aggie in 2009, the plan was to breed her.  As she grew up, we kept our fingers crossed that she would pass all of the health tests.  First we were going to have her eyes tested by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist to certify that she free of heritable eye disease.  Then we were going to do two DNA tests: one test for a disease called exercised induced collpase (EIC) and another test for an eye disease called progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).  When she turned two years old, we were going to test her hips and elbows for dyplasia.  We were also going to test her heart and thyroid to make sure that she is healthy for breeding purposes.  Hopefully she passes all of her health clearances.

Canine Good Citizen Advanced

Posted By: TruPride  on May 14, 2011   
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Article by Canine Good Citizen

As the result of so many evaluators requesting an advanced level of Canine Good Citizen, we are pleased to announce the AKC Community CanineSM title. AKC Community Canine LOGO AKC Community Canine testing will be administered by CGC Evaluators. There will be no additional fees or testing for evaluators who wish to conduct AKC Community Canine tests.  With the introduction of AKC Community Canine, the AKC’s CGC program now provides a comprehensive three- level training program for dogs and their owners. Beginning with AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy, progressing to Canine Good Citizen and now to AKC Community Canine, the CGC program trains dogs through all stages of life to be well behaved in society.

AKC Community Canine expands on CGC skills and lays the beginning foundation for obedience, rally and therapy dog work.

While Canine Good Citizen tests are simulations of real world skills, the goal of AKC Community Canine is to test the dog’s abilities in a natural setting. For example, rather than the test being administered in a ring, certain elements will involve the dog walking through a real crowd, whether at a dog show or on a busy sidewalk in the community.

As with CGC, AKC Community Canine requires a 10-step test that dogs must pass to earn the official AKC Community Canine title:

1. Dog sits or lies down and waits under control.
2. Walks on a loose leash in a natural situation (not in a ring)—does not pull.
3. Walks on a loose leash through a crowd.
4. Dog walks past distraction dogs present; does not pull.
5. Sit-stay in small group (3 other people with dogs).
6. Dog allows person who is carrying something to approach and pet it.
7. “Leave it.” Dog walks by food and follows owner instructions, “Leave it.”
8. Down or sit stay-distance (owner’s choice).
9. Recall (coming when called) with distractions present.
10. Dog will enter/exit a doorway or passageway with owner and remain under control.

For details on test items, see the AKC Community Canine page. To earn the AKC Community Canine title, dogs must have a CGC certificate or CGC title on record at AKC, and they must have an AKC number (AKC registration number, PAL number, or AKC Canine Partners number). All dogs, including mixed breeds, can get an AKC number that is used to attach titles to the dog’s record. There will be a title fee of $20.00.Dogs passing the AKC Community Canine test will earn the “CGCA” (advanced CGC) title and “CGCA” may be listed after the dog’s name.

Dog Show Travel List

Posted By: TruPride  on May 13, 2011   
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If you plan to attend a dog show, below are some items you should consider packing:

  • * Chairs
  • * Gallon water jug
  • * Bowls
  • * Easy Travel Pop-Up Crate
  • * Puperoni
  • * Cooler with food and water
  • * Brush
  • * Shine spray
  • * Gel
  • * Hand towel
  • * Show leash and collar
  • * Camera
  • * Video camera
  • * Cash

Conformation Classes

Posted By: TruPride  on May 12, 2011   
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If you are interested in attending classes to learn how to show your dog, below are some of the locations in Tampa and St. Petersburg that offer classes. You will learn the basics of what it takes to show your dog at his or her best. The classes offer hands on training to show you how to position your dog and how to move your dog in the most commonly requested patterns. Your dog will become comfortable in the ring, and will learn to let you position it without a struggle.


Dog Training Club of Tampa
4817 N. Lois Ave.
Tampa, FL 33614
813-931-PETS (7387)

Upper Suncoast Dog Training Club
2101 Logan Street
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 449-8738

The Dog Training Club of St. Petersburg
4400-B 34th St. N
St. Pete, FL 33714
(727) 527-5568

Dog Showing 101

Posted By: TruPride  on May 11, 2011   
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New to dog shows?  I know it can be confusing.  Below is some information on dog shows to help make your experience a little smoother.  Let me know if you have any questions and I will expand the blog post.


Where can I find a beginner’s guide to dog shows? 

The AKC has a good explanation of dog shows on their website:

I really like the book Show Me! A Dog Showing Primer by D. Caroline Coile Ph.D.


Where do I find a calendar of all the dog shows?

Visit or

If you go to InfoDog, click on ‘Show Information’ and then ‘Search by State’.  Select your state and look for the ‘AB’ (All Breed) show type. This is the website that you will use to access the premium list, the judging program and enter your dog for the show.  The shows close for entries about 2 1/2 weeks before the show date.


How do I teach my dog to stack?

We make stacking boxes like one below to teach our dogs to stand correctly for dog shows, or you can purchase them from places likes



You can also use a cinder block and ask you dog to stand on it with its front feet as shown below.


Stacking Blocks


How do I figure out the titles in a dog’s name? 

The website below lists the titles you can find at the beginning of the dog’s name:

The website below lists the titles you can find at the end of the dog’s name:

This website also has some good abbreviations if you scroll all the way to the bottom:


How does the AKC points system work? 

The webpage below provides an explanation of the points:

The webpage below lists the number of dogs you have to beat to get 1, 2, 3, etc. points.




Posted By: TruPride  on May 10, 2011   
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Dr. Beverly Brimacomb
Highland Pet Hospital
5631 U.S. Highway 98 South
Lakeland, FL 33812
Phone: (863) 644-6634

Dr. Leigh McBride
Sumter County Animal Hospital
533 South Main Street
Wildwood FL, 34785
Phone: (352) 748-5454

Dr. Mary McDaniels
Lake Alfred Animal Hospital
105 East Alfred St
Lake Alfred, FL 33850
Phone: (863) 956-5700

Dr. E. Dan Wolf
Southern Eye Clinic for Animals
5406 Hoover Blvd. Suite 20
Tampa, FL 33634
Phone: (813) 881-9799

Dr. Roy Brooks
Animal Health Center of Land O’ Lakes
4306 Land O Lakes Blvd
Land O Lakes, FL 34639-39171
Phone: (813) 996-2021



Tampa Bay Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Care Center
1501A Belcher Road South
Largo, FL 33771-4505
Phone: (727) 535-3500
Emergency Phone: (727) 531-5752

Tampa Bay Veterinary Emergency Service
238 E Bearss Ave
Tampa, FL 33613
Phone: (813) 265-4043

AKC Dog Registration Instructions

Posted By: TruPride  on May 9, 2011   
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As the breeder, we provide you with the AKC Dog Registration Application that has the puppy’s AKC number listed.  Then you can choose the puppy’s name and officially register it with the AKC.

The Dog Registration Application says American Kennel Club on it and is a two sided form. it must be filled out jointly by the breeder and the new owner(s) of the dog. The breeder fills out most of the application, including the following information:

•Sex of dog
•Color and markings of dog
•Microchip number
•Registration type (Full Registration, i.e. show/breeding prospect; or Limited, i.e. pet quality)
•Transfer date
•Signatures of all litter owners/breeders

The new owner must fill out the following:

•Name of dog (TruPride’s _____________________________)
•Names of owner(s) and addresses
•Signatures of owner(s)
•Payment information, it is $10 extra for co-owners
•Registration Options (For purchasing pedigrees and DVDs)

Once you complete the form, mail it with payment to the AKC address on the form.

The American Kennel Club
P.O. Box 900053
Raleigh, NC 27675-9053

When the application has been received and processed by the AKC, an AKC Registration Certificate will be mailed to your home address. This takes about 3 weeks. You should examine the certificate carefully and report any errors to the AKC.

There is an option for online registration; however, you will need to submit the paper form as it has my signature on it for permission to use my kennel name (TruPride).

Puppy House Rules

Posted By: TruPride  on May 8, 2011   
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One of our puppy owners made a list of house rules for their new puppy and I thought it would be nice to share with others.


    • * No biting/rough playing
    • * Must be on leash or in cage if not being supervised
    • * Take outside to potty every hour (if she doesn’t go after 10 minutes, put back in cage for 20 minutes and then try again). And immediately before bed
    • * Spray with water if doing something wrong/bad
    • * Treat/praise/reward for good behavior
    • * No dinner past 6pm (no less than 2 hours before bed)
    • * Give lots of exercise daily
    • * No sleeping in beds until potty trained and obedient
    • * Not allowed on couches/furniture
    • * During meals, if puppy does not eat after 15 minutes, pick food up.
    • * NO human/table food
    • * NO JUMPING ALLOWED on people, things, or down from objects
    • * No running on concrete (all until 2 yrs/elbow/hips cleared)
    • * Do not use name excessively except for training or for the command it’s intended for (like, “Fido, come.”)
    • * No physical disciplining
    • * Only discipline immediately following the action.
    • * Feed at same times everyday/night
    • * Use treats for training, do not over use treats. Use lots of praise and reward with toys/playtime.
    • * No bedding in cage until puppy is trained/obedient.
    • * Rules at home, apply at all other homes/locations.
    • * No jumping into vehicles until at least 1 year old. (lift her into it)
    • * Feed her in multiple places (get her comfortable eating anywhere)
    • * Make her wait until you give her permission to eat. (have her sit)
    • * Do not let her walk out the door first. (people first.)


Fully Vaccinated Puppies

Posted By: TruPride  on May 7, 2011   
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You should not take your puppy to a dog park or pet store until he/she is fully vaccinated.  This is usually 2 weeks after their last puppy booster at around 4 months old.  You should try to avoid public places where other unvaccinated or sick dogs may be.  There are so many things your puppy can catch from other animals, so it is not worth the risk.  Your puppy doesn’t have to live in a bubble, just make wise choices about where you take your puppy.

A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t know the dog, don’t let your pup get to know it until he/she is fully vaccinated.  Instead of taking your pup out, ask your friends or family to bring over their healthy, vaccinated animals to play with your puppy.  As long as the visiting dog didn’t just come from a dog park or other place he could pick something up, you should be fine. Make sure you get visitors of all ages, so your pup will have great experiences with adults and children.


Aggie at the dog park after she reached 4 months old

Dog Beaches

Posted By: TruPride  on May 6, 2011   
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Our Labs love going to the beach and swimming.  If you take your dog to the beach, you should know that there is a very good chance that it will get “beach diarrhea”.   Salt water can cause diarrhea and vomitting.  Even if your dog doesn’t actually drink salt water, he can ingest small amounts through soaked balls and toys or by swimming in the salt water.  So you should offer your dog clean, fresh water to drink.  Bring a big gallon jug of water and a bowl to the dog beach and remind your dog to take water breaks every 15 minutes.  Be prepared that he may have diarrhea in the car on the way home, so make a stop if you don’t think he can hold it.  You will quickly learn which dogs can hold it and which dogs can’t.  Also, be prepared to stay home for a few hours after you get home from the beach to let the dog outside every hour, or you may come home to a mess.


Dangerous Table Scraps

Posted By: TruPride  on May 5, 2011   
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Sharing “just a bite” of food off your plate with your pet is harmless, right? Wrong. Many human foods can be toxic—even deadly—to dogs.

Onions and Garlic – Onions and garlic in any form—even powdered—can endanger your pet’s health. Effects can range from mild gastrointestinal upset to severe anemia.

Chocolate – Cocoa and chocolate contain theobromine, a chemical that can affect heart rhythm and cause vomiting, diarrhea and seizures if ingested by pets.

Grapes and Raisins – Just a handful of grapes or raisins can damage your dog’s kidneys or even prove deadly. Even small amounts in trail mix or snack boxes can be dangerous.

Caffeine – Coffee, tea, energy drinks, dietary pills or anything else containing caffeine should never be given to your pet, as they can affect the heart, stomach, intestines and nervous system.

Yeast Dough – Unbaked dough that contains yeast can expand and release gases in your pet’s stomach or intestines, resulting in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and even life-threatening bloat and twisted stomach. Some yeast dough also ferments into alcohol, which can cause alcohol toxicity.

Sweeteners – Many sugarless gums and candies contain xylitol, a sweetener that is acutely toxic to dogs. Ingestion can cause vomiting, weakness, a life-threatening drop in blood sugar, loss of muscle control, seizures and liver failure.

If you ever suspect that your pet has ingested something harmful, don’t hesitate to seek veterinary advice. Also, the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Risks and Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

Posted By: TruPride  on May 4, 2011   
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Should I spay/neuter my dog?”

That is a decision only you can make as you know your lifestyle best.   I recommend doing your research on the risks and benefits of spaying and neutering and making a decision with your vet based on your current situation.


Below is a link to a video where Dr. Becker provides her medical opinion on the topic.  If you don’t have time to watch the 25 minute video, here are links to a few articles that weigh the pros and cons of each approach.

“If I decide to spay/neuter, when do you think I should do it?” 

If you are responsible enough to absolutely guarantee your unsterilized dog will NOT have the opportunity to mate, I would encourage you to wait until your dog is past puberty to spay or neuter.

Note: Some breeders believe that if you want your male dog to have a more masculine head (a blocky head), you should not neuter him until after he is 18-24 months old.  I am not aware of any studies on the effects of delayed neutering and male head shape, but this is something to keep in mind if you want your male dog’s head to develop to its full potential.


“How do you manage your dogs?” 

Obviously the dogs in our breeding programs are intact (not spayed or neutered).  It takes a tremendous amount of commitment and responsibility to ensure that intact dogs are not accidentally bred.  When our females are in heat, they do not go to dog parks, doggy daycare, the groomers, etc.  They are not left unattended in the backyard.  They are not allowed anywhere near an intact male – unless they are both on leashes, kept far away from one another and their rears are protected by bloomers.  We take these precautions a week before and a week after their heat cycle in case they are having a silent heat we are unaware of.  That means about a month of careful control over that dog.  It is not difficult; it simply takes commitment and responsibility.


Here are the products we use:


* Bloomers – If you leave your female dog intact, she will have her first heat cycle some time after six months of age and every six months thereafter. Aggie came into heat for the first time at 8 months old. Some individuals have asked me what bloomers they can buy to keep the bitch from spotting around the house. Below are some of the items I have used.


* Four Paws Wee Wee Diaper Garment – they aren’t the cutest bloomers, but they work! We buy the extra large size. The velcro makes them adjustable until the girls grow into them.



* Custom Bloomers – we have also ordered custom bloomers from  Below is a photo of Aggie wearing her custom bloomers after giving birth to a litter of puppies.



* Etsy – Etsy also has vendors that sell custom bloomers. Search for the shop owner, Cody’s Haven, or use the search term “dog diaper”.



* Stayfree Overnight Maxi without Wings – inserting a maxi pad keeps the bloomers clean longer between washings.



My Favorite Things

Posted By: TruPride  on May 3, 2011   
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Oprah has a list of her favorite products and so do I!  Here they are in no particular order:

Ear Cleansing Solution from Vetoquinol – You should clean their ears once a week or once every other week depending on how dirty the ears get.




* Dremel Tool – to grind the nails down. You use it once or twice week and it helps recede the quick back.




* Curry Comb – I really like curry combs because they remove the loose undercoat and they bring up the natural oil from the skin. This is not good for show dogs though as it pulls too much hair out and makes the dog look too slick.

curry comb


Adjustable collar – get the 14″ – 20″ size so you don’t have to buy a ton of different sizes as the puppy grows.



* 6′ leash – I prefer leather.


* Stainless steel bowls – some dogs get break outs on their chins from plastic bowl

* Midwest Life Stages Crate – it has a divider so that you can make the crate bigger as the puppy grows – for a Lab you need the 42″ crate (42″ x 28″ X 31″).



* Travel Crate – this is great for dog shows and traveling with your dog.,1755&T1=D12480+XS



* Nature’s Miracle Advanced Stain & Odor Remover – works wonders even if you don’t have a dog!



* Orbee Ball – this ball has held up well.

orbee ball


* Car Cover – Protect your car from wet dogs:

car cover


* Poop Bag Holder – Best thing I ever bought! Attach poop bags to your leash.


poop bag

* Other Toys – Kong toys are alwatys good, with the Kong Wubba as a favorite.  Elk antlers are good for chewers.  I also love the balls that you can put their food inside and make them work for their food.


* Puppy Pen – Some puppy owners have asked about the puppy play pen I use. I bought it on Here is the link:

You may have to order the extension kit, which includes two extra panels. I ordered two extension kits and I may order one more! The more room the puppy has to play around, the better.


North States - Superyard XT Portable Playard

Dremel Your Lab’s Nails

Posted By: TruPride  on May 2, 2011   
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KEEP YOUR DOG’S NAILS SHORT!  If you can hear the nails on a tile or wood floor, they are too long.  If they are curling, they are too long!  You should be doing your dog’s nails at least weekly!  Please make time for this or pay a groomer to do it for you.

If they get too long, it will harm your dog’s skeletal structure.  Having long nails changes the way a dog carries himself.  The diagram below shows how a long nail causes the bones in the foot to flatten.  The different angle of the bones can cause joint stress and can lead to joint pain and arthritis.

long toenails

Left: proper alignment with short toenail.       Right: angled alignment because of long toenail.

The image provided by Dr. Lisa Kluslow shows how the bones of the paw and wrist angle back when a dog has long nails.  All the bones in a dog’s body are connected and the leg bones connect all the way up to the spine.  Some of you might relate to how an injury on one part of our body can cause us to carry ourselves differently and create pain in another part of our body.  Unfortunately, our dogs can’t tell us when they hurt so let’s prevent them from unnecessary aches and pains.

Frequency:  How often you do your dog’s nails depends on the dog, the consistency of the nails, and how fast the nails grow.  Some dogs need nails grinded twice a week.  Others are okay with every 2 weeks.  Personally, we do our dogs’ nails once a week.  Frequent walking on pavement (daily, fast paced, long walks) can help wear down nails.

Method:  We prefer using a Dremel to grind down dog nails as we feel this is the best way to get the nails short and smooth. With the Dremel, you can grind all around the quick so that it recedes faster and you can get even shorter nails.

Supplies:  I like the pet Dremel version best.  Here is the link to the Dremel on Amazon:

I use the 1/2″ by 1/2″ sanding bands on the 1/2″ sanding drum mandrel.

Keep some quick-stop styptic powder nearby. The powder can be used to stop bleeding if you nick the quick.  You shouldn’t have to worry about this because you can hear the difference in sound as you get close to the quick, but it is good to keep on hand.


Safety:  If you have long hair, you may want to pull it up and out of the way as it could get tangled up in the Dremel.  Also, be careful with the little bits of debris that can get in your eyes while you are grinding.  It is also a good idea to remove your rings. You don’t want to accidentally grind your wedding ring!

Understanding the Nail:  In order to grind nails effectively, it is important to understand how the nail is structured. The nail consists of three main parts: 1) the hard outer shell (“shell”), 2) the moist meaty area between the shell (“meat”), and 3) the quick area of the nail that will bleed if you nick it (“quick”).

  • The shell is the old growth. It is essentially dead and dry like the white tips of your own fingernails and toenails.
  • The inside meat is the new growth area that is not as hard as the shell, but it does not bleed like the quick.
  • Then, there is the quick. This is the portion of the nail that has nerve endings in it and blood. If you nick it, it will hurt the dog and it will bleed.

Grinding the Nails:  When you grind or clip nails, you are taking off the outer protective edge and covering of nail (the meat and shell) and trying to expose the quick without making it bleed. The closer you can get to the quick, the more you can force it to recede and the more quickly it will recede.

Some tips:

  • Hold the paw with one hand and hold the Dremel with the other hand.
  • Gently squeeze the pad of the foot slighly to make the nail easier to access.
  • Choke your hand at the top of the Dremel.
  • Start by grinding the nail perpendicular to the floor.
  • Grind off the sides and corners so that they are not sharp.
  • Move the Dremel around at all different angles.  The nail will get too hot if you keep it in one spot too long.
  • Alternate between the different nails and go back to the nails a few different times.
  • Apply some pressure – don’t be scared!  
  • Take off as much as you can without making the dog uncomfortable and/or bleeding.
  • Pay attention to the different sounds.   You will notice a difference in the grinding sound when you get through the dry, outer shell and the softer, meaty center.  Once you are at the meaty section, proceed with caution.

Food, Nutrition, Exercise, Etc.

Posted By: TruPride  on May 1, 2011   
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I have received some questions about what to feed a Labrador.


Everybody has different opinions on dog food, some of the key things that I look at are 1) the food’s protein and fat levels and 2) the dog’s exercise/activity levels.  Just as with people, the more active a dog is the more nourishment the dog needs to cope with the burning of calories, protein and fat.

Labs in low activity environments should do well on a 26% protein and 16% fat diet (e.g. Purina Pro Plan Performance 26 / 16 or Purina Pro Plan Savor Chicken and Rice formula).

Dogs that are in a high training and conditioning program can be on a 30% protein and 20% fat diet (e.g. Purina’s Pro Plan Performance 30 /20 formula). These two foods are for hard working and active dogs, so exercise is critical for proper bone/joint development!

Dogs doing moderate exercise can be on around 28% protein and 18% fat.  For example, Taste of the Wild High Prairie (yellow bag).

There are a lot of good brands of dog food, but you have to decide what works best for that specific dog. The examples I noted above meet the protein and fat levels, but there are many other brands of dog food available. There are too many brands to list them all. Check the brands sold at your local pet stores like PetSmart, your local feed stores, and research the nutrient & caloric contents/guaranteed analysis on the Internet.

Puppy Nutrition:

A word of caution: please be careful with too rapid growth in Labrador puppies. Rapid growth causes skeletal issues (like hip dysplasia and issues in the front legs/feet). Rapid growth is said to be linked to genetics, excessive dietary calcium and/or overfeeding during the puppy phase of life. Over feeding not only means the amount of food being fed, but also the quality of food!

Pay close attention to what and how much you are feeding because nutrition is very important in puppy development.  It does not matter what you feed, IF it works.  But if it is not working, feed whatever it takes to make it right.  If there was a perfect food, there would only be one.

One of the most important pieces of puppy nutrition is that you feed a correct calcium/phosphorus balance.  If you are feeding a quality food, you don’t need to worry about this as most quality brands are all properly balanced.  The second most critical piece of feeding puppies is to make sure you feed them the same number of calories that they use.  You cannot read that on a bag, you have learn to read that on the dog.

If you feed more calories than they are using, that can allow bone to grow faster than it is meant to grow.  But you cannot change the growth rate of tissue, so if your bone grows faster than the tissue, the tissue has to stretch to keep up with the bone and any time you stretch tissue you weaken it.

The first place you see an issue is in the joints of the front legs as the front carries more weight.    The front legs, pasterns and feet should look exactly the same, suspended in the air and bearing weight.  When the dog is standing and bearing normal weight, if you see flatter feet, east/west pasterns, spread toes or twisted feet, that is usually an indication that you are overfeeding.

If you correct overfeeding immediately at a young age, you should see improvement pretty quickly.  So either you feed less, switch to a lower calorie food, and/or exercise more!  Make sure the dog is using the calories you are feeding it.

The following information was provided by Pat Hastings, a leader in canine structural evaluation and an experienced AKC show judge. Go to for more information on obtaining her books and videos.

When you consider that a puppy grows for 18 to 20 months and a child grows for 18 to 20 years, the speed at which damage can be done by improper puppy nutrition is staggering. Feeding a puppy improperly for one month is the equivalent of feeding a child improperly for one year. Thus, it is imperative to make sure your puppies are doing well on whatever you are feeding them. Just remember how quickly nutritional damage can occur, once the growth plates close, nutritional damage is permanent.

Something we as consumers must rethink is the idea that more is better. Why would we want to feed our puppies more powerful nutrients than human children? They start out on formula or breast milk, and then slowly move to strained, bland fruits and vegetables. They are hardly coaxed to gum down salads, steaks or multigrain dinner rolls. When was the last time you saw an infant chomp into a pepperoni pizza?

High-powered nutrients can enable bone to grow faster than it was meant to grow. However, the growth rate of tissue is unalterable. If a puppy receives more nutrients than it can utilize and those nutrients accelerate the growth rate of bones beyond the growth rate of tissue, the tissue can be weakened. Therefore, close attention needs to be given to how puppies are doing on the food that they are being given. My recommendation is always to feed a name-brand product. If you see any structural weaknesses that could be caused by what is being fed, switching to a lesser-power food (usually the adult formula of the same brand) generally corrects the problem, as long as the growth plates have not yet closed. The younger the puppy is when this change is made, the faster the problem is corrected. As stated earlier, the nutritionally-based weakness becomes permanent once the growth plates have closed. If you are feeding a quality, maintenance food to your adult dogs and they are in excellent condition, then that is usually what you can safely feed your puppies from day one.

Are you feeding the right food?

Your dog should:

* Be in good weight
* Have tight/compact feet (not splayed out)
* Have straight legs and pasterns
* Have a full coat with a healthy sheen
* Have clear, focused eyes
* Have supple, smooth skin
* Have no inflamed or irritated membranes (e.g. ears, feet)
* Have a firm stool
* Display an alert, animated attitude

A Healthy Weight:

As far as weight condition, there are three elements to check on your dog:

1. You should be able to feel a nice layer of fat over the ribs, but you should still be able to feel all of the ribs with your fingers. Your fingers should not fall between the ribs.
2. You should be able to find the hip bones easily by touch, but they should not be visible.
3. When looking straight down on the topline, you should be able to see an indication of a waist.

Keep an eye on the dog’s weight. It’s best to be a little bit on the lean side to encourage healthy joint growth, yet not too thin to where the dog is not thriving and growing well. Monitoring your dog’s weight day by day is so much easier than working to fix a weight problem once it has become too obvious.


With respect to supplements, this is what has worked for us.

Recommended for all our Labs:

* 1,200 mg Glucosamine – supports the structure and function of joints
* 600 mg Chondroitin – natural component of cartilage, which is the “shock absorber” between joints
* 500 mg MSM – makes cell walls softer/more permeable, enabling the body to quickly wash out any foreign particles, free radicals and toxins

The above can be found in two chewable tablets of Cosequin DS Plus MSM.



* 1,200 mg Fish Oil capsules – great for the coat and skin.


* Pill Box – we use an AM/PM pill box to keep track of the supplements.


* Cabots Greek Style Regular Yogurt –  lowers yeast in the system and may lead to less ear problems. 1 tablespoon of yogurt added to the regular dog food works wonders.



* The absolute best physical workout for a dog is swimming. 20 minutes of active swimming-retrieving is worth an hour of jogging, without the continuous pounding on the joints that takes place on hard surfaces.

* Jogging and running for dogs is best accomplished on soft surfaces such as grass or sand versus the hard impact surfaces of concrete and asphalt.

* In any canine conditioning program, short and medium distance sessions provide greater benefit for the dog than long grueling distances.

* In order to avoid anxiety and frustration by your puppy or dog, keep training sessions as short as possible.

* A good ratio of training to breaks is 7 minutes on, 5 minutes off.

* The use of verbal praise and treats with young puppies is essential to keep the interest level high.

* Always end all training sessions on a positive note and then spend some extra time playing with the puppy or dog.

Feeding Frequency:

Plan on feeding your puppy twice a day.  If you have the ability to feed three times a day, then go for it.  Smaller, more frequent meals, is always better for young puppies.  First thing in the morning and then the last meal of the day should not be any later than 6:00 PM which will give your puppy time to eliminate before bedtime.

Changing Foods:

If you choose to use a different brand of food, be sure to change to the new food slowly. Mix about 2/3 of what he has been eating with 1/3 of what you want him to have. Use this blend for a day or two, then over the course of the next week or so, slowly start adding in the new food until it is completely replacing the original. This will help prevent an upset stomach and possible diarrhea.


I am not a veterinarian.  Please consult with your vet before introducing new items into your dog’s diet.

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