Whether you are an experienced retriever owner or a first time buyer, there are things you need to know before buying that pup. Breeds will not be covered here as the same parameters apply to all litters and breed choice boils down to personal preference.
Do you know the style of dog you are looking for?
Let’s clarify the word “style” as it has nothing to do with fashion in this case. Some dogs are laid back while others seem to have their hair on fire! This is the style of dog. It’s not that simple of course as all dogs are different. But some prefer a dog with speed and flash and others want slow and steady. Know what you are looking for and then focus on parents with those traits.
Do the parents of the litter have health clearances?
Top breeders will always provide health test clearances for both parents. Dogs need to be tested for a variety of health issues that can be passed on to offspring. The specific abnormalities will be covered in a subsequent post.
Male or Female?
Another personal preference but there is advantages and disadvantages to both. Males are territorial by nature so they naturally want to mark areas. They can be aggressive toward each other, not good around the camp house or blind. Females tend to be softer and not as hard charging in the field. Plus breeders charge more for females as money can be made from them on their own litters.
Hunting only? Hunt test? Trials? All of the above?
This is important, maybe the most influential question of all. Dogs have different traits and ultimately skill sets that are based a lot on who their parents are. Many hunters look for titles from both the field trial and hunt testing world in the parent’s background. This is a great idea; just remember that bloodlines become diluted through breeding so you need titled parents to have a better chance of getting what you want from a pup.
Train the dog yourself or have it done?
This answer really boils down to two factors, time and patience. If you have both in large amounts by all means train the dog yourself. It is a fun and rewarding experience. But there are reasons why professional trainers exist; they possess the expertise, equipment, and facilities to get the job done right. Do as much research or more on the trainer as you did choosing the litter, it will pay huge dividends in the field.