Q: How long have you been breeding Labrador retrievers?
A: I purchased my first Lab in 1986 and bred my first litter in 1994.
Q: How many litters do you raise per year?
A: I typically raise a litter a year or a litter every other year. I only raise a litter when I have the room to keep a puppy for myself. Therefore, the puppies that I offer for sale are bred to meet my own high standards.
Q: How big are your Labs?
A: The males typically weigh about 70 pounds in good hunting condition and the females will weigh around 60 pounds. There may be some variation plus or minus 5 pounds depending on the particular breeding. I believe that this size properly represents the Labrador retriever as described in the standard and as recorded in photographs of the early members of the breed before competition in field trials and dog shows altered their appearance.
Q: Why do you use Penn Hip instead of OFA to evaluate your dog’s hips?
A: I believe that Penn Hip is a better method to evaluate the true soundness of a dog’s hip joint structure. It has been proven that as a dog’s hip joint laxity (looseness) increases, the probability of the dog developing degenerative joint disease in his hips also increases. The Penn Hip method measures the laxity of the hip joint as the Distraction Index or D.I., and compares it to the D.I.’s of all the Labs that have been submitted for Penn Hip examination. By breeding Labs with hips that score in the upper half of the Lab population we can improve the hip structure of the next generation of Labrador retrievers. It is important to note that the Penn Hip method is objective and the results are repeatable.
OFA is subjective and the results may depend on the skill of the person who X-rays your dog and on the skill or mood of the panel of radiologists who evaluate your dog’s radiographs. I have heard anecdotal reports of dogs having their radiographs resubmitted and receiving a different rating than they received in their initial evaluation. Although we have been using OFA as a screening method for decades, we have not made great strides in reducing the incidence of degenerative joint disease in our purebred dogs. While the OFA method of rating hips has been a valuable way to identify dogs with degenerative joint disease of their hips, I’m not convinced that it is a good method of identifying the dogs that have the soundest hip structure. I believe that the new method developed by the University of Pennsylvania can better help us to produce Labs with sounder hip structures.
Q: Do you use an Electronic Collar to train your dogs?
A: I have never used an e-collar in the training of any of my dogs. I think that it is often assumed that training a retriever with an e-collar is easier, quicker, and more effective. It is true that a trainer who is knowledgeable and experienced in the proper use of an e-collar can train a dog that is capable of performing at a high level. In the hands of such a trainer the e-collar may save time and many footsteps in training a dog. However, I believe that an electronic training collar in the hands of the average retriever trainer can create some major problems in a short period of time.
My goal is to breed a Lab that can be easily trained by the average hunter or dog lover without the use of an e-collar. They should have good hunting drive and instincts which are tempered by a strong desire to please his master. I believe that training methods which reward desired behavior are more effective than methods which rely on corrections for undesired behaviors.
Q: Do you train dogs for other people?
A: No, I only train my own dogs. I don’t have time to work with other people’s dogs.