The Puppy Placement Process
In order to aid our potential puppy buyers, we have outlined the entire puppy placement process. Please take time to read the information and let us know if you have any questions.
First, we need you to provide us some information via our Puppy Placement Questionnaire to give us an idea of the type of puppy we would try to place with you and your family. We recommend that you do this in advance of the puppies being born as our litters are spoken for very quickly. Please click here to access the Puppy Placement Questionnaire. Those individuals that contact us will receive email updates from us at key stages throughout the breeding, whelping and development process. These stages are as follows:
Prior to Breeding
Our litters are carefully planned and in most cases there are years that go into the planning of breeding one female.
All of the dogs that we breed get their hips and elbows tested by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Also, all dogs have their eyes cleared from inheritable eye disorders by a Board Certified Veterinary of Ophthalmologist (AVCO) and are registered by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). DNA tests are also conducted to ensure that our dogs are not affected by Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC), Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) or Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM).
Stud dogs are selected for the female and then research is done to see how well each stud dog has produced. Arrangements are made well in advance to set up the breeding. Payment is provided in full to the stud dog owner – well over $1,200 for the stud dog service alone, plus $300 for shipping, etc.
As soon as the female comes into heat, we begin testing her hormone levels to determine the optimum time for breeding. Along with our local reproduction veterinarians, we identify the appropriate progesterone level for breeding and ask the stud dog to ship his collection. The collection is shipped overnight in special boxes to keep it cool. When the box arrives at the vet, we take the female to get artificially inseminated. We usually do this process twice to improve the chances of pregnancy.
After the Breeding
After the breeding takes place, we anxiously await for the required amount of time to pass. Females are pregnant for 63 days. We may do x-rays around day 58-60 in hopes of getting a more accurate puppy count. This way, we know approximately how many puppies to expect when the female goes into labor or we may choose to do an elective c-section.
Puppies are typically born between days 60 – 64. The birthing process is called “whelping” and can last an entire day or even two depending on the size of the litter and how much time passes between the birth of each puppy.
Once the puppies are born (and we’ve caught up on our sleep!) we will contact you to let you know if we have a puppy available for you. This depends on how many puppies are born and the number of males/females in the litter. At this point, we would ask that you send a non-refundable deposit for the puppy. The deposit will be applied to the total purchase price of the puppy.
Weeks 1 – 4
After the whelping of the litter, there will be a bunch of fat, roly poly puppies for the next four weeks that need constant care, feeding and cleaning after by the dam. That is how we hope it will transpire! However, there are times when things go awry and the humans end up having to do the “birth to 4th week work”!
Most of the time, Mother Nature provides for everything to fire on all cylinders and the mother of the puppies takes care of all the essentials as long as the owners provide plenty of high-grade food and water. This is the “quiet period”, where the dam provides the nourishment, the house cleaning and the social interaction with her puppies so that the human’s role is minimal, which is primarily providing a clean environment and non-stop food for the mother of the litter.
Week 5 – The Weaning Process
After the fourth week begins the weaning process where the dam’s milk begins to dry up and less nourishing by the day; meanwhile the puppies grow bigger seemingly by the hour and their desire for milk more than triples from one week to the next! Well, that’s when it comes time for the human intervention process called “weaning” to take place.
Since the mother’s milk no longer suffices in either quality or in quantity, special gruels are made that will continue to provide the highest nourishment for the puppies. This is very important so the puppies don’t lose weight. Feedings usually are every 4 to 6 hours. At times the puppies consume up to half their weight in 24 hours.
The worst part of this period is the amount of clean up needed as the mother no longer tidies up after them. Besides the cleanup effort, the puppies now need much more space. A 4 week old litter can do well in the 4 x 4 whelping box. A 5 week old litter needs a space at least 12 x 12 to sleep in and an area of about 40 x 40 to free range during the day.
By the sixth week, individual personalities start to emerge and great puppy games begin to be played. They play fight, pull ears, bite tails and wrestle. You name it – they do it! We take them through the yard and herd them as if they were a pack of dogs in the wild. They have to follow me as the leader of the pack about two or three times per day which really helps when it comes time to train them.
Week 7 – The Puppy Evaluation Process
By the seventh week of age, we are now ready for the all-important puppy evaluations. The evaluations for temperament and conformation are performed when each litter is approximately 7.5 – 8 weeks old; so the final puppy placements are not known until after the evaluations. After the evaluations have been conducted, we will decide where each puppy will be placed. You have a choice of either accepting the puppy being made available to you, waiting for the next litter, or canceling the deposit.
To me the evaluation is the most crucial part of the puppy process because “the shape of a puppy at 8 weeks is the shape it will grow back into as an adult”. The goal is to only produce puppies that are genetically, temperamentally, and structurally sound. We use a method very similar to what you find in Pat Hastings’ books, videos and seminars. The evaluation serves three purposes:
- to determine whether there are structural problems in the litter so they can be avoided in future breedings;
- to decide which puppy to keep as a potential addition to the breeding program; and
- to determine the best type of home for each puppy in the litter.
First, the whole litter is observed in a natural setting. We are looking to see which puppy stands out and which is most structurally balanced. Then we move on to the “table work”! Each puppy will now be scrutinized by touch, and photos will be taken of every section of the puppy. We also videotape the process so we can later use the recording to take notes on our conversations. Using all the photos taken of this litter, I then sit in front of my computer and analyze every single photo of each puppy. I compare each and every aspect as to how it compares to the written breed standard for Labradors.
The puppies are evaluated in the following areas :
- Temperament – this is key in placing the puppy with in the right home
- Overall Type – this is a look at the dog from the side view, looking at the whole dog and how all the parts fit together according to the breed standard.
- Head – the head structure is a hallmark of the breed, correct bite, eyes, etc.
- Fronts – both as seen from a front view and also the front assembly as seen from the side
- Rears – once again, rear view and side view of the rear assembly, and also includes the tail set.
- Movement – movement is a function of front and rear assemblies
The puppies that meet the highest standards are considered for homes that are interested in attending dog shows and eventual breeding (AKC Full Registration). The remaining puppies are placed with those individuals that inquire about owning a quality puppy, yet they are not at all interested in showing or breeding (AKC Limited Registration).
Week 8 – Puppies go home!
Puppies come with AKC registration papers, a three generation pedigree, microchip, first puppy shot series, deworming of the puppy at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age, veterinary health certificate, written and signed guarantees, and more.
Puppy must be paid in full prior to being released. Cash only.