Look in the newspaper and find one where you can check out the conditions (make sure its not a puppy mill) and the parents. I don't think I'd ever buy a dog without seeing who is breeding them and the pups parents.
Since Bear40 helped me locate my Chocolate, I'll help by adding an "S" to the link!
I ALWAYS take my time when adding a new member to our family when I know she's going to be around for a dozen years or so. I had a bad experience with my last black lab (I think) mostly due to the heavy Field Trial lines. She was WAY too high strung and I didn't have enough time to spend with her to release all that energy. That's not a good situation for us or the dog.
Anyway, I didn't even know Hillview existed as they don't advertise a whole heck of a lot. And believe me, I THOUGHT I knew just about every quality Lab breeder out there! The ONLY thing that I was a bit leery about was Melissa gets the pooches from Betty Gray in Wisconsin. Soooo, the only downfall is you don't get to meet the parents so I had to be a little trusting here. My thoughts with this were 1st, you rarely get to meet the Sire. And secondly, the F/M is SO involved with her pups it's next to impossible to gauge a personality anyway. I suppose I could have taken a trip up to Wisconsin to meet the parents IF I thought it was a necessity. But, I went off of recommendations and bloodlines and verbal explanations of temperament of the specific parents. And, I told Melissa what I was looking for. All I can say is I couldn't be MORE satisfied with her choice! I haven't worked with her much as far as Upland Hunting goes, but I can already tell I have an exceptional dog here. She's extremely intelligent - she learns FAST! She listens very well and most importantly, she's a SWEETHEART!!! There's not a mean bone in her body!!!
Anyway, let me give you some advice. First off, don't be a gasoline-arse and be SO set on getting a pup SO quickly. You're just asking for trouble. Just remember the responsibility that goes with getting a pup - the next 12+ years!!!
Secondly, although possible - I wholeheartedly DISAGREE with USAirforce. Do NOT look through newspapers for a pooch. You might get lucky, but there's a reason WHY these breeders MUST advertise to sell their pups. The best breeders do very little advertising other than word of mouth (sorta like finding a good TAXIDERMIST - lol!)
Once you locate a reputable breeder find out as much info as possible about your potential pup. Is there a guarantee? Every reputable breeder I know offers an extensive health and sometimes temperament guarantee. Dew claws removed? Up to date on shots? Etc.
Don't skimp on price!!! A "deal" on a dog rarely works out. The $500 or $600+ (whatever) bucks you're going to pay NOW is insignificant compared to the money you'll spend over the next 12+ years. And anything much cheaper than $500, I'd run away from as quickly as possible!!!
Regardless if you're going to hunt the dog or not, I'd STRONGLY recommend putting temperament at the top of your list. All dogs will hunt if trained properly. Stay away from heavy FT bloodlines UNLESS you are serious about hunting and plan to spend a LOT of time with your pooch. These Labs to to be more streamlined and have a much higher amount of energy vs. the Show side of things. Heck, the best Lab I ever hunted behind (for pheasants0 had almost all Show lines in here. But, I spent a LOT of time training her. THAT is most important IMO.
One word of caution - IF anything is not right about the situation and you're just not feeling comfy with the atmosphere, be prepared to walk away. Do NOT (and I repeat) do NOT take kids with you to pick the pooch out - unless you've already researched the breeder and there's 100% comfort on your part. It's next to impossible to walk away from a cute little pup. Before finding Hillview, I looked at one breeder in Minooka (who came recommended by a few people AND is registered as a breeder on the AKC website) and I was completely turned off by the situation. They had way too many breeding pairs to give ample attention to. And, the pups were buried in the back of a maze of junk in a barn. The worst part was the F/M cowered as I walked in - NOT a good sign. I felt awful for the F/M and the pups, but by purchasing from them I'd only be promoting the problem. As cute as they were, I walked away.
Call Hillview and talk to Melissa. Tell her what you're looking for (hunting stock? Family Dog? Field Trialer?) I was very impressed with the bloodlines of my pooch as there was a lot of solid breeders known in the industry for producing quality dogs. For whatever reasons, the bulk of them are in Wisconsin.
One more question - do you have any kids? I will NEVER, EVER get a pup again until my youngest is at least 7 or 8 years old. I honestly think part of the reason my last lab (the mean one) was the way she was due to very young kids pushing her limits. Young kids tend to tug on their ears amongst other "no-no's" Heck, I recently caught my middle boy swat my current Labs nose when she wasn't listening to him. I almost swatted HIM! Only bad things can come from hitting a dog. You don't need to. The best investment I ever made was a training collar. But, with more time you can train a dog fairly quickly without any more punichment than some hootin and a hollerin. Believe me, they're more scared of all that noise from the yelling than they are of a swat to the nose. I firmly believe any hitting can cause the dog to get mean.
Sorry so long, but in a nutshell, RESEARCH quality breeders. Take your time!!! Pay a decent price for a quality pup. And double check and make sure you're ready for the commitment it takes to train and raise a pup!!!
Hey, FYI you'll all be happy to know my brother ended up taking my last black lab (I posted on here a couple of years back trying to find a good home for her). She was not good with kids and nipped my youngest boy the last time. Lucky for us (and her) my brother wanted her. He is single and lives alone in an apartment. No kids around them at all. Other than her temperament, she was a very well behaved dog. My bro was happy to get her.
Btw, I got her from Good Going Kennels in Baldwin Wisconsin. A solid breeder that I would not hesitate getting another lab from IF I were going to hunt heavily. Again, I think she was a mistake on our part for the aforementioned reasons. I'm just glad SHE didn't pay for our mistakes...
Just wanted to reiterate what Marty said. I got a puppy, not a lab but a beagle/english bulldog mix, about 2 months ago. I am going through those puppy growing pains as we speak. I waited years to find the perfect dog and Brutus was it. He is now 4 1/2 months old and still very much a puppy. I also have a child on the way so I am trying to expose the dog to small children and other dogs as much as possible. He is a wonderful puppy and I am trying to get the nip out of him. Painstaking process that I don't see much progress in because I see him every day. Others have said I am doing well and he is getting better.
Anywho, just keep in mind that the puppy stage is the most adorable but also the biggest pain in the butt. Good luck with finding your lab.
FishArt, I was just thinking about you and your pup the other day. Im excited to hear everything has worked out so great with your new dog. Everything you said about yours is the same about mine. Not a mean bone in her, intelligent, and very calm.
Capt Jim had me out at his place a while back on get my pup on some live birds and she did pretty good. She is not gun shy at all. She started to figure it a lil bit after watching Jim's dog, Moka(GSP), man that is one heck of a dog. I had her out last sunday at her first HRC training day and realized how much work I still have ahead of me, but she is picking it up pretty quickly now.
She loves the water so now that the weather is getting better she has been getting plenty of exercise.
I agree with you about the whole newspaper thing. I have 2 buddies that both got labs out of the paper for 300 or less and both are a bit off. My one buddy has a yellow lab and it is the most hyperactive whiny dog I have ever been around. It doesn't listen for anything (not that my buddy tries to train it all that much either though)...my other friend got his from a farmer down in Peoria and it has no papers. The farmer swears it's a full lab but it looks like it might be mixed the a german short hair. It is pretty lean and lanky for a lab.
So buyer beware....just remember a "deal" always has a catch...
Yes, my oldest and I were fortunate enough to get an opportunity to hunt over Jim's Mocha this past winter. He's got a winner there!
I had Ruby out for a few hours in Iowa a few months ago when she was ~4 months. I slowly introduced her to the gun and no problems whatsoever - very curious. And, we walked about an hour and had about 20 pheasants bust ahead of us. Ruby did some sniffing and was interested for sure, but she didn't have a clue then. She watches the geese fly over all the time and gets very, very excited with every Robin that's walking in HER backyard - lol! It'll take some work, but I'm certain she'll make a great Pheasant dog if I take the time to work with her.
Btw, she loves to fetch. She'll pick up a toy and bring it to you and just keep nudging you until you break down and play with her. If you turn your back on her she'll drop her toy and GENTLY nibble you in the butt! It's hilarious! She definitely understands that she needs to be gentle with those teeth. I told Melissa that I didn't care about hunting lines - yeah it would be great if she did make a great bird dog, but I wanted a great temperament first and foremost. And I couldn't be happier with that aspect. of her personality!!!
Thanks again for turning me on to Hillview! Being on my third dog of my own - along with three or four growing up, you learn that every single one is different. And you also learn that you get one out of maybe three or four that's really special. And I think I got me a winner here!!!
Good point Sawboy - never even thought of that. There IS an amazing amount of purebred dogs nowadays that people end up getting rid of. Many, many people just don't realize the commitment, time and patience it takes to raise a good pooch. Personally, I had planned on doing pups with mine. But, I have since changed my mind after remembering how much work ONE pup is at 7 weeks. I can't imagine 8 or 10 of them for that month and a half before then - yikes!!!
I thought about pups too for a second then took a deeper look into the money it takes to do it right and realized i'd go broke.
labadoption.org ...is a really good one. They a lab fest event last year right near me and I met a few of the dogs up for adoption....they usually have awesome dogs and I have met a few at dog parks around the area. They have a great foster home process to make sure dogs are good to go before they get adopted. I would recommend them for sure. good idea Sawboy
You can also try petfinder.com and search for labs in your zip code. There are thousands out there that need homes, yes, some may already be trained! If you do go through a breeder, I would ask what testing the parents and grandparents etc have had done to ensure a solid healthy breeding. ask for pennhip results or ofa results.
Best of luck!