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How do I choose a labrador puppy?

Having seen John Humphreys’ bitch, I would love to know the breeding line and purchase a similar type. Can you advise me?

A: There is a huge variation in the different types of labrador now available; some such as those commonly seen in the show ring are massive and too heavily boned for work, while others are lithe, fast and racy in appearance.

Even if you go to similar breeding, such as the one you have indicated, it does not mean the result will turn out to have the same conformation. There is even a vast difference between puppies in the same litter, especially between dogs and bitches.

Some lines throw small, narrow-headed bitches and, conversely, big, powerful dogs. The same is true of other gundog breeds.

I assume you want a dog for work, in which case November is a bad time to buy a puppy from a working strain, as the majority of good working labradors will be on shoots doing their job and not at home giving birth.

You will have more choice in the spring and in the meantime contact some of the top breeders and ask to see their stock, either working or, better still, competing in field trials when you can compare many of the best dogs in the country on the same day.

The Kennel Club is the best place to locate breeders and events.