UCB Parents Advice about Pets

Golden & Labrador Retrievers as family pets

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July 2002

I think we have finally decided to buy a lab or golden retriever. So we are now looking for a reputable breeder who breeds for all the right reasons and not just to turn a fast profit. I would appreciate your recommendations both good bad about local breeders. Thanks for your help. Nilou


I wanted to respond to the person looking into either Labs or was this in Recommendations?? they are the greatest family dogs. I researched breeders for about a year before choosing one. Her name is Sally Kelley and she has been breeding labs for over 30 years. You can see her dogs at www.kelleygreenlabradors.com . She is all work, very to the point and brief but she breeds purely for tempermant. Translation-- she breeds them to withstand any amount of ''love'' your toddler can throw at them. The only thing I can warn you on is I wouldn't get ANY dog unless you are willing to be the main person in charge of feeding, walking, poop scooping, etc. Dogs are just like kids and require time and attention, which is alot to put on a 7 year old. Just my 2 cents! Hope it helps. Kinney
Try Pat and Jim Dunlavy of Hywind's Labrador retrievers at (209) 838-1164 in Escalon. We got our lab from them and thought they were great. They might also be able to recommend other breeders. N. California Lab or Golden rescue would also be a great way to go. Lisa
After six months of research and another few months of waiting for puppies to be born, I got my ''pet-quality'' chocolate lab from a breeder in Vancouver, WA, Chelons Labrador Retrievers. (It's harder to find a breeder of chocolates because, I'm told, the chocolates don't place well in dog shows.) Please be diligent; you can buy a dog with serious genetic problems that can be very debilitating to both the dog and your cash flow. My experience is that many of the best breeders in California have waiting lists for their dogs and do not advertise. I was strongly urged to avoid ''backyard breeders,'' who advertise in the newspaper. I did my research by attending local dog shows, talking to the breeders and meeting their dogs. I also met my dog's ''parents'' at a show before I bought him. If you are interested in the breeders I considered when I bought my dog, you can email me and I might be able to unearth the information. I must say, as much as I am completely in love with my dog, and as great as his breeders were/are, for ethical reasons I probably would not buy from a breeder in the future. The Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Club has an incredible Lab Rescue program with some beautiful dogs available. This, of course, would not work if you want to show your dog. Good luck!
There are a number of good local breeders you might want to contact to get connections. Masterson Kennels goldens have seemed pretty healthy to me. Martha Shaw raises nice labs. You might also consider contacting Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael- not only do they have career change dogs, but Dr. Autumn Davidson one of vets raised retrievers and used to work in the Walnut Creek area, and probably knows a lot of good breeders in that area. anon
Please consider rescuing a lab instead of buying one! There are so many dogs who need loving homes. Check out www.labrescue.org. Laurel
December 2001

We're comparing yellow labs to golden retrievers in making a decision about which dog would be right for our family. Our youngest child is 7 so is capable of this important responsibility. We know that goldens are wonderful family dogs but we were interested in learning if the same is true for yellow labs. Any information about personal experiences welcome. Thank you. Maggie Johnson


Regarding the question about dogs: we have two golden retrievers and they are absolutely great with our baby and all of our friends' kids. They will chase the ball for hours, don't get upset when the little ones scream, pull tails, or get in their faces, etc etc etc. I even put my baby on the floor and leave the room, so confident am I that the dogs will be fine. The only problem is that the dogs are so friendly they have frightened kids unfamiliar with dogs (a little too much bounce). We looked at Labradors when we went dog-shopping. Either breed is great with kids, probably about equal. Labs are a bit calmer than goldens. Still social, but not quite the frenetic energy. They also have LOTS less hair; we are vacuuming constantly with two goldens. I have noticed that my friend's lab seems to smell more "doggy" than my goldens. I think either one would be a great choice. By the way, there is no difference besides color between black, yellow, and chocolate labs. Catherine
After 20 years with German Shepherds, we got our first Labrador Retriever two years ago (ours is black, but they are genetically the same as the yellow ones -- just a color variation). We adopted him when he was 18 months old, from Guide Dogs for the Blind (he flunked). May of my friends also have labs (it seems to be the official dog of Orinda). Every one of the labs is a wonderful family dog: patient, great with kids, trainable, fun. I am a total lab devotee now. Go for it. Leslie
Responding the person about labs. I have had yellow labs all my life. For the past 13 years we have had a mother and daughter. (just lost the daughter to cancer in Sept). I can't say enough about their personality and disposition. I have a 14 month old daughter and she loves the dog. She lies on the dogs bed, rides her like a horse, pulls at her ears and always wants to look at her teeth. The dog just lies there and takes it. They are really sweet dogs. Carole
I had a yellow lab for 12 years and she was a great family dog. My kids could pull her tail, ears, etc., and she wouldn't do a thing. I highly recommend them. Gabrielle
I had the most wonderful sweet dear yellow lab for many years. She was very smart and very loving and all the best things I could imagine in a dog. I think either breed would be wonderful for a family. IAMIS
I have worked with Golden Retriever Rescue for a number of years and they are great dogs. However, I don't believe there is enough difference between the breeds to make Golden vs. Lab your primary decision. Each are known to be great with kids, but it always comes down to the individual dog. One big difference that you might think about is the amount of hair each breed will shed. Here are some recommendations to start you out.

If you get an adult dog, go to either Norcal Golden Retriever Rescue or Goldens in Cyberspace. It will take a while to find the right dog,but it is well worth the wait. If you get a dog who has not been personality tested, you could wind up with a dog that you can't live with and will have to return. This will, of course, only cause more heartache. You want to look for a dog on the lower end of the dominance scale, but not too low that it might be fear aggressive.

If you decide on a puppy, please know that it will be alot of work, but you can come out with a great dog if you put in the TIME and effort in the beginning. If you are thinking about a puppy, you should be able to put in a minimum o 1 hour of training time each day for at least the first 5 months. Also, large breed dogs need a minimum of 1-2 hours of exercise each day. This goes on for years. My 41/2 year olds go for 11/2 hours of off leash walks/runs every day. If you do decide on a puppy, please pick your breeder VERY carefully. Again, it is easy to end up with a dog that is too much for the family to comfortably handle.

O.k., off my soapbox now. I've just seen so many dogs get abandoned after a year by people that started out with good intentions.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to email me. I can give you some great referral emails and names and I promise not to get back on my high horse. Good luck Dawn


Congratulations on waiting till your child is 6 or over until you get a dog! That is ideal.

I have two labradors, yellow and black, and they are really great companions. They do vary greatly in temperament, though. My black girl is just a wild thing, and my yellow girl is a low-key cuddler. They are exactly the same age. The difference, IMO, is in the breeding (Max is from the Oakland shelter and Maddy, the quiet one, is from a local breeder). Please visit "Am I Ready for Labrador Ownership?" at http://www.gglrc.org/pickingapuppy/labrador-ownership.shtml for lots of info.

Oh, and as for the shedding: while a GR does have longer hair, don't think for a minute that a Lab sheds less. This does vary dog by dog, but my two Labradors shed enough that I need to Swiffer my floors daily. It's pretty significant.

I forget whether you wanted a puppy or not, but please consider getting a Lab from Labrador Rescue. The local organization is http://www.labrescue.org/. To be even- handed, the Golden Retriever rescue for this area is http://www.golden-rescue.org/.

Good luck with your choice. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with either breed. Jennie


The best advice concerning dogs is to talk to the people you are getting the animal from. Every dog is different. Labs are consistently a good family dog, but, just like people, not all of them are. It only takes a second to go over the line, which is long enough for a bite to occur when you're not looking. I think 7 is an old enough age for a child to know when enough is enough.

If you get a puppy or an adult from a shelter, be sure to get as much information from the officers there as possible. If you get it from a breeder, make sure they allow you to see where the animal was raised and ask for references from other buyers.

Most shelters have material for you to read concerning teaching your children how to behave around animals. Training your dog is important to make them a good addition to the family, but training your family will help ensure a safer environment for everyone involved, including the dog. Roberts, Marianne


I just wanted to correct a misconception that Labrador retrievers don't shed as much as other dogs. Although they are shorthaired dogs, Labs actually shed quite a bit-often more than their longhaired counterparts. That fine short fur comes off in your fingers and finds its way in every corner of the home. Labs are double-coated and so need a great deal of proper brushing to maintain their coats (and keep fur from flying everywhere in your home). I have a short-haired Lab mix who sheds much, much more than her longhaired Shetland sheepdog mix companion. Also, I would urge you to consider mixed-breed dogs. There are a lot of mixed-breed adults and puppies up for adoption at shelters. They are just as loving as purebred dogs, less expensive to purchase (most times you don't purchase them, just pay an adoption fee) and less likely to be wanted (e.g. more apt to go unwanted at a shelter). Unless you are planning to show or breed a dog, there's no reason to limit yourself to a pure breed. Gwynne and Mark
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