In order for us to grow our breeding program, while maintaining stable, happy, healthy dogs; we have decided to place a small number of our dogs, to approved families, at no charge. This may include puppies, young dogs, or at times, retired dogs.
We believe Labrador retrievers deserve to be part of a loving household. Therefore, our dogs live in the home with us participating in day-to-day activities; not in outdoor kennels. Living with a family provides dogs the socialization and stimulation that is needed to be a well-balanced, happy dog.
Placing some dogs with guardian families benefits us, the guardian family, and most importantly, the dog. A win for the dog as they will gain an entire family to build a lasting relationship with and get the attention they deserve.
Becoming a Guardian Family gives you the opportunity to have one of our dogs as a family pet &/or working dog - without all the expense.
Instead of having to purchase a puppy, our 'Pick of the Litter' will be placed with you, at no charge.
Patriot Labrador Retrievers will retain ALL breeding rights. Once the dog is retired from our breeding program, all AKC paperwork will be signed over to you, and the dog will remain solely as your pet.
Although there are no fees for this program, please do not think this is a 'free' dog. There are requirements that must be met.
A nice perk to the Guardian program is that our female pups will not be placed until at least after their first heat cycle. This gives us plenty of time to assess their temperaments and determine what type of ‘work’ they would excel at.
Additionally, crate training, house manners, basic & advanced obedience will be done prior to them being placed in a guardian home.
We also work on earning some AKC titles before placement.
If our schedule allows and we are not expecting to have a litter during that time, we will care for the Guardian dog while they are in heat, if you are away for work/vacation, or during unplanned emergencies.
Becoming a guardian family is not for everyone. You MUST be willing and able to follow these requirements:
1) Live within 2 hours driving distance and willing to commute.
2) Have previous experience with a dog.
3) Feed a quality dog food approved by breeder.
4) Do not allow the dog to become overweight.
5) All other dogs in the home must be spayed/neutered if the opposite sex.
6) Do not spay or neuter the Guardian Dog.
7) He/she must be an indoor pet. Outdoor kennel areas are okay for temporary stays, weather permitting.
8) Fenced in yard preferred. Invisible fence does not meet requirement.
9) Provide all veterinary care not related to breeding and ensure all necessary vaccinations and wellness checks are kept up to date.
10) Provide the breeder with the name, address, and number of their veterinarian.
11) Provide any medical records within 2 working days, if requested
12) Only use flea, tick, and heartworm medication approved by Patriot Labrador Retrievers. Certain medications can affect breeding dogs, especially females.
13) Contact breeder immediately in the event of a serious accident or illness.
14) Follow advice set forth in the Puppy Fitness guide for age-appropriate exercises.
15) Be willing to provide and/or maintain obedience training so the dog maintains good manners. This includes, but not limited to, crate/kennel, come, sit, down, place, leave it, and politely walking on leash.
16) Ensure dog is properly socialized with other dogs, people, and environmental situations.
17) Do NOT allow dog to interact with other dogs unless you are certain the dogs get along.
18) Do NOT take dog to places like dog parks or doggie daycares where unknown dogs are allowed to roam freely.
19) Do NOT allow dog to chew on unsafe items, such as corncobs, rawhides, etc.
20) Must not allow the dog to mate with any unapproved dogs.
21) Willing to let us, Patriot Labrador Retrievers, visit your home.
22) Be able to communicate with us about scheduling testing, mating, whelping, and/or anything breeding related.
23) If you are a guardian for a female dog, you must be willing to have her stay with us, the breeder, while she is bred. You must also be willing to bring her back to us prior to whelping and she stays with us until the puppies are weaned.
24) If a guardian for a male dog, you must be willing to drop him off for breeding’s at our request.
25) Timing is vital when it comes to breeding, so the dog must always be available for us. We will do our best to give you advanced notice for planned breeding’s, however, last minute stud services to outside females or females cycling early do happen.
26) The guardian home is responsible for transporting the dog to us (or Veterinary facility) when needed for breeding, litters, or health testing. This is the most inconvenient part of the guardian responsibilities so please think through this carefully. Most appointments will be scheduled at least 72 hours in advance, but that may not always be the case. We are willing to work with you if transportation issues arise.
1) Are there any fees?
· No, the dog is placed with you free of charge.
2) Is there a contract to be a Guardian Home?
· Yes, all placements will have a contract that is signed.
3) How old is the dog when they come to live with us?
· Female pups will not be placed until after their first heat cycle which is normally between 9 – 13 months.
· Male pups can be placed as young as 8 weeks of age.
· Young dogs may become available as they are acquired from outside breeders to bring into our program.
4) At what age do you start breeding the dog?
· Generally, not before age 2. However, if all health clearances have been completed, we may breed males starting at 18 months and female’s 2nd or later heat cycle if she is at least 21 months. This will all depend on if we are planning any other litters at the time, as well as each individual dogs’ situation.
· Patriot Labrador Retrievers must be notified when your dog begins her heat cycle, this requires vigilance on your part. If we do not intend on breeding that cycle the dog may remain at your home or if you are not comfortable with having a female in heat in your home, she may come stay with us during that time. A typical heat cycle lasts around 3 weeks.
5) How many litters do you usually breed before retiring the dog?
· Our breeding females will have 1-4 litters in total depending on many factors. The well-being of our program dogs is always our top concern. If the dog has problems with deliveries, recovery is difficult, or just in general not a good breeding dog, we would remove him/her from the breeding program early and they will remain your dog to keep forever.
· The females may have up to two litters a year, depending on the needs of our program. We will not breed the females after the age of five.
· Males will be retired prior to age eight. Possibly sooner if we are not seeing the results we are looking for with pups produced. If we feel the male is producing exceptional pups, we will have his semen collected and frozen before he reaches age 8. We will keep the breeding rights on the semen for future litters and the dog is retired from the program and yours to keep forever.
6) How long is the dog with you when you breed him/her?
· For the females, as soon as she comes in heat she must be brought to us within 5-7 days. She will remain with us for 1-3 weeks, this varies greatly as each females progesterone levels differ. Once she was been bred she can return to her guardian home. Please be aware that timing is essential with breeding dogs and it is imperative that these timelines are adhered to.
· For males, about 3 days to a week as it's dependant on the females progesterone levels.
7) How long is a dog pregnant?
· 63 days. +/- 3 days in either direction.
8) How long is she with you when she has a litter?
· Females will need to be brought to Patriot Labs 7-10 days prior to her due date. This will give her time to get settled and adjusted into our home. She is able to go home after the puppies are completely weaned off her. This is generally around 6 weeks of age, when she will be more than happy to rejoin her forever family as she has lost interest in taking care of her litter. Depending on each situation, we may elect to keep the female until after her puppies are placed in their new homes at 8 weeks of age.
· As a general rule, we do not allow guardian homes to visit after the puppies are born. However, in placing the welfare of our dogs first, visitation may be appropriate and will be determined on an individual basis. Be aware though that no handling of puppies will be allowed. You may visit the guardian dog and spend some time with her if she is doing well with leaving her puppies for short periods of time. To limit the stress on the dog, visits will be limited to one hour.
9) I’m concerned my dog will think I’m abandoning him/her when I leave them at your place?
· No worries! Female pups will not be placed into a guardian home until at least after their 1st heat cycle, which for Labradors is around 9 months or later. This will give them ample time to bond with us and to learn what our house rules are. This way when they come back to breed or whelp a litter, they will be familiar with us and settle in nicely.
· Both males and females will be treated as part of our family and returned to you happy and healthy.
10) Do I have to do anything differently when she is pregnant?
· For the most part you can do everything as normal for the first part of pregnancy. Being in shape is important. Normal play, running, and romping is okay up until about week 5 or 6 (depending on the dog). After that it’s recommended to just do leash walks.
· Expect that about 3-4 weeks prior to due date her appetite will increase and she will require more food.
· She will have periods of loss of appetite, at times be overly clingy, have days she sleeps a lot, have times she wants to be left alone….very similar to human pregnancies 😉.
· Ensure you discuss with breeder any flea/tick preventives or vaccinations that may be due during this time.
· Breeder must be notified immediately of any illness or injury occurs while pregnant so we can be involved in determining the best course of action and how she is treated.
12) What happens if the puppy gets sick or injured while in the guardian home’s care?
· Any illness or injury that happens is the Guardian homes financial responsibility. Patriot Labs must be kept informed of any treatment plans and approve any medications during pregnancy. Health insurance is recommended.
13) What expenses do the Guardians pay for and what does Patriot Labs pay for?
· The Guardian home pays for everyday expenses: food, dishes, collars, leashes, beds, crates, toys, grooming needs, vaccinations, worming’s, flea/tick preventatives, heartworm, etc. Basically, anything not related to breeding.
· Patriot Labs pays for all genetic health testing, evaluation and certification of hips, elbows, eyes, heart, thyroid, dentition, and patella. Progesterone level testing, brucellosis testing, semen evaluation and collection, artificial insemination (AI) if necessary, ultra sounds, pre-natal vitamins, c-sections, whelping equipment, litter expenses such as registration, food, supplements, vaccinations, worming, microchipping, veterinary examination, shipping expenses as necessary and anything else that arises while in our care.
14) Who pays for the spay/neuter surgery?
· Patriot Labs will pay up to $250 for the surgery, so if you choose a vet that charges more than average, you will have to pay the difference.
· Females will be spayed after they have had time to recover from the last litter and her hormone levels return to normal. This is usually about 2 months after puppies are weaned.
· Males will be neutered prior to age eight, or earlier if medically warranted or removed from the breeding program.
· If guardian families wish to leave the dog intact once retired from breeding, each case will be discussed and determined on an individual basis.
15) What happens if the dog doesn’t pass a health test and you no longer want to use them for breeding purposes?
· Since females are not placed in their homes until after they turn a year old, the majority of their health testing will have been completed. By that time we already have a good idea of what the overall temperament and trainability of the pup is. We know the history of the lines so it is unlikely we’ll encounter a problem that would cause us to change our minds.
· Males generally will go to their guardian homes at the age of 8 weeks, so little genetic and/or health testing will have been done at that point. So, if a test comes back borderline or not what we are looking for in our breeding program; it makes financial sense for us to sell the dog as a pet. We recognize the hardship this would be on the guardian family and the dog if Patriot Labs were to have to sell the puppy. If the guardian does not want to give up their pet and the dog is not utilized as a breeding dog, the guardian home would be responsible to pay whatever the cost of a puppy from the same litter. In some cases, Patriot Labs might waive all or some of the fees based on our working knowledge of our guardian family.
· Keep in mind that ‘breeding’ quality and ‘pet’ quality are two different things. Just because they may not be of breeding quality does not mean they are not suited for the perfect pet.
16) Do Labrador Retriever shed a lot? What are the grooming requirements?
· Labs should have a double coat and will shed small amounts year-round. Twice a year they ‘molt’ and will shed heavily.
· To reduce shedding, its recommended to brush once a week and daily during the heavy shedding periods.
· Nails, to include dew claws, must be maintained. You may opt to do this yourself, or invest in a groomer to do it for you.
· We do not recommend bathing more than a few times a year, unless the dog is heavily soiled. Bathing too often is harmful as it can irritate the skin, damage hair follicles, and increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections.
· DO NOT shave a Labrador Retriever.
· Ear cleanings will depend on each individual dog as their level of activity, ages, and ear wax production will all play a role. Most dogs require their ears cleaned at least once a month; others may need more frequently.
· Guardian dogs are like ambassadors for our program so it is important that they are maintained.
17) What if things don’t work out and we decide we no longer want the dog?
· The guardian home may return the dog to Patriot Labrador Retrievers at any time for any reason.
18) Can more than one breeding dog be placed in the same home?
· Yes, however only to dogs of the same sex. In general, sometimes intact males do not always get along, so this scenario would be on a case-by-case basis. The temperament of the dog(s) and experience of the home is important.
19) Can anybody be a Guardian Home?
· Patriot Labs will make an assessment of the home living situation, lifestyle, number and ages of family members, number and type of other pets, how many hours adults are away from the home, financial situation, and more.
*** We currently have 4 dogs in Guardian homes. 3 females & 1 male ***
You are welcome to speak with any of our current Guardian families to get an idea of their experience(s) in partnering with us.