Common Questions

If you are already own a Labrador or if you are looking to own one, we think this information can be useful.

1. What are the differences between English Labs and American Labs?
    They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is very much true when it comes to a person’s idea of the “perfect” Labrador. As you have probably noticed, there appears to be two different types or styles of Labradors in America today. Many refer to these two types with the terms “English Labrador” or “show lines” and “American Labrador” or “field lines”. There are drastic differences in the two and although both are uniquely wonderful they are certainly different and the becoming familiar with the differences will help you determine the best fit for your family when you are looking for the right Labrador. One Lab certainly does not fit all!
Frankly, an “English” Lab is one born in England. An “American” Lab is one born in the USA. The proper terms are Show/Bench bred and Field bred Labradors. There are actually English dogs which run field trials and American dogs that are shown in dog shows. Here are some differences in appearance.
English “Show” are different from the American “Field”:
1. Shorter on legs
2. Heavier bone
3. Stockier bodies
4. Thicker tail
5. Thicker coat
6. Broader head/skull and a shorter muzzle
7. More layed back temperament
Reason for the Differences
For better than a half-century, the sporting dog breeds have gone in two separate directions when it comes to qualities sought after by professional breeders. With most sporting breeds, the “dual champion”, a dog that has attained the champion title in both the show and the field, is harder and harder to come by.
Why, you may ask? Simply put, both areas have become so competitive in recent years that breeders in both the show ring and the field have changed what traits they breed for in order to be competitive. To be successful in the field, professional breeders must focus on breeding traits that are highly desirable during your typical day of shooting. In contrast, a show breeder must focus on traits that relate to the confirmation and structure of their breed.
Champion show or bench breeds must adhere to a strict confirmation standard and are nearly perfect physical specimens. Per the confirmation standard, male show Labrador Retrievers should stand 22 ½ to 24 ½ inches at the withers, 21 ½ to 23 ½ inches for bitches. Males in working condition should weigh approximately 65 to 80 pounds, while females should weigh 55 to 70 pounds. Typically speaking, show Labrador Retrievers’ torso should measure no longer than their height at their withers, giving them a very balanced appearance. In contrast, by breeding strictly for performance over the past 30 plus years, the field-bred Labrador Retriever has resulted in a dog that can look different from their counterpart, the show Labrador Retriever. Simply putting the two side by side can be an education in itself. The field-bred Labrador Retrievers’ physical make-up is athletic and very functional for field activities. They tend to vary in size and structure.
There can be drastic differences in the temperaments and energy levels of these two “types”. Because of the working demands placed on the “American Labs”, high-energy and “drive” are qualities required in field Labs. In terms of temperament, though some are head-strong and require an experienced hand for training, these dogs are extremely intelligent and develop strong bonds with their human companions. Unfortunately, however, the average pet owner may not have the experience or tolerance required to achieve such a companionable relationship with these dogs. Its counterpart, the “English Lab”, is much calmer and laid back, lacking the energy or speed that the field Lab has. In terms of temperament the English Lab is eager to please, highly intelligent and easily bond with humans. The temperament of the English Labs make them widely known for their ability to work as leader dogs for the blind, therapy dogs and outstanding family companions.

2. Does a Boy or Girl make a better pet?
    One of the most common questions we are asked here is about the differences in the males and females. Although we do not pretend to have all of the answers for everyone and certainly are not very familiar with other breeds, after almost two decades of living with the Labrador Retriever and based on our years of observing both sexes, we have come to the belief that there is little difference based on the sex alone and very few sex linked personality traits.
For this reason, we encourage every person interested in a Ridgelyn Labrador to keep their options open. We spend time with each individual puppy every day of their lives from the time they are born until the day they leave. Because of our strong desire to place each and every puppy in the ‘right’ home we temperament test each of our puppies and try to place each puppy in the home that they are best suited for. For more information about our puppy placement process please read Temperament Testing.
Of course, there are stereotypes but few are based on fact. Still, there are some very real differences in the sexes and certainly these should be considered. Remember, the personality of a dog can vary (like a human child) and we in no way believe that these differences are carved in stone.
The Girls
They can be, and often are, very affectionate; but it is usually on their terms. They tend to be a bit calculating and more self-serving. Their challenges to your authority tend to be more subtle and indirect than those of most males. They can be amusing and charming companions but will quietly make efforts to have you serve them. When you get a girl you need to decide very early one how far you will let this little ‘princess’ go or you may quickly find yourself under her power. If your girl has a very dominant personality you will need to be the leader of the pack from the beginning. Once they’ve established dominance it is difficult to establish the correct order — you are the boss!
Un-spayed bitches will have heat cycles and may loose their minds and forget everything they’ve ever learned about appropriate behavior. They may also succumb to the intense desire to make babies and have been known to chew right threw chain link fence to get to the man of their dreams. To avoid the messes of blood around your house and the tyranny they can bring during this hormone rage, it is best to have your girl spayed. To read more about what age we at Ridgelyn recommend spaying please see Benefits of Spaying/Neutering Your Dog.
The Boys
Boys generally are more open and direct in their approach (what you see is what you get). Their love and loyalty are outward and obvious and once you have won their hearts you will have it for a lifetime. You may not encounter the same power struggle with a boy as you would a girl but boys are typically more open (and less sly) about it. Still, they have their own complexities. Establish dominance early on so that when your little guy starts to feel the rush of raging hormones there will be little power struggle.
Un-neutered boys can become aggressive toward other dogs, especially when there is a cute girl around. He may also be inclined to late night rendezvous to visit the girl down the street and may ‘mark’ in various places. Once neutered he will be less territorial and you probably will not notice hardly any aggressiveness or ‘marking’. He will also be much more content to stick around the house and just enjoy the company of his human companions. To read more about what age we at Ridgelyn  recommend neutering please see Benefits of Spaying/Neutering Your Dog.
Male or female, the Labrador Retriever can be the most wonderful family companion. If you put the time into raising your puppy with love and proper training you will have the most wonderful dog in the world, boy or girl.

3. What is the best age to have my dog Spayed / Neutered?
    Veterinarians and responsible breeders face a true dilemma when discussing early neutering. The overpopulation crisis presents a very real concern with regard to the necessity of ownership responsibility. Early neutering provides a means for vets/breeders to enforce owner responsibility by ensuring surgical sterilization of dogs not destined to be used in breeding programs. However, we believe that we need to begin questioning the ethics of this approach; especially in light of the facts that early neutering may not be as benign a process to the health of a dog as one would believe.
We understand that dog overpopulation is a real concern but we believe that we have screened and determined each and every one of our puppy buyers to be responsible pet owners before that puppy leaves our home. Because we trust them not to breed the puppy/dog and our faith in their ability to do what is best for it, we do not recommend early spaying/neutering to our puppy buyers. While we understand that waiting to spay/neuter poses a few minor inconveniences we very much believe that waiting until the puppy is 14 months is in the best interest of the dog. We hope the information we’ve put together will help you make an informed decision about when to spay/neuter.
Everyone seems to have an opinion when it comes to the best time to spay/neuter. Some opinions are based on fact while others could not be further from the truth. Here are some of the facts:
Facts About Early Spay/Neuter:

1. Undesirable Male Behavior. Male specific activities such as urine marking, mounting and inter-male aggression are markedly reduced or eliminated in 50-60% of dogs as a result of neutering. However, there is nothing to suggest neutering a male before the age of 14 months because it is very uncommon to have these undesirable behaviors exhibited before that age.
2. Changes in Growth. Neutering/spaying early can potentially result in a dog that does not have the same body proportions that he/she was genetically meant to be. Specifically, dogs can continue growing longer, which could increase the probability of injury. (Described below under “Skeletal Development”).
3. Female incontinence. A number of studies have shown that there is an increase in the incidence of female urinary incontinence in dogs spayed early. Inconvenience is not usually life-threatening, but nonetheless one that requires the dog to be medicated for life.
4. Male urethral sphincter incontinence. Early neutering increases risk of urethral sphincter incontinence in males.
5. Risk of anesthesia in puppies. Most veterinarians are very comfortable with the anesthetic and surgical protocols they have developed for neutering older puppies and young adults and are reluctant to change. There are important differences between an eight week old puppy and a young adult concerning anesthesia. Factors include respiratory and cardiovascular physiology, drug metabolism and thermoregulation. Few practitioners have accumulated a significant amount of experience in anesthetizing very young puppies on a regular basis, since there are not very many situations which call for anesthesia that young.
6. Endocrine disorders. Some evidence suggests that early neutering may also predispose the dog to endocrine disorders later in life.
7. Cancer. While there are studies that show that female dogs that are not spayed have an increased change of developing mammary cancer and male does that are not neutered have an increased chance of developing testicular cancer, there is study of 3218 dogs that showed that dogs that were spayed/neutered before one year of age had a significantly increased chance of developing bone cancer, a cancer that is much more life-threatening than mammary cancer, and which affects both genders.
8. Lack of Gender Characteristics. Reproductive hormones (estrogen in the female and testosterone in the male) are responsible for producing feminine and masculine traits. Early neutering, which removes the source of production of these hormones, prior to complete physical development and maturity of a dog results in dogs which may appear neither masculine nor feminine. Postponing neutering for two years in a male or allowing a female to go through one estrus cycle allows for development of gender characteristics.

5. Why are Ridgelyn Labradors puppies placed on AKC limited registration and not allowed to be used for breeding?
    Like most responsible breeders, this policy helps protect our dogs and our breeding program.  Breeding Labradors responsibly takes years of research of pedigrees and lines and a vast amount of knowledge about the health, temperament and structure of a Labrador. We are fully aware of the fact that many would love to get one of our dogs to use to mass produce puppies for financial gain, without spending the time, effort or finances required to breed responsibly. We have no desire to have our dogs used in this matter and AKC limited registration is one tool we have to prevent our dogs from being used for breeding purposes. We want our dogs to be family members - not puppy factories.

6. Should I crate train my puppy?
    Yes. Crate training, when done correctly, is an effective way to help protect and train your puppy. A crate provides a dog a den-like place to rest and is very instrumental in keeping a puppy safe. But before you begin training please read more about the correct way to begin the training.