Jeremy Hunt gives his thoughts on fox-red Labradors
I recently received this query from a reader who was wondering how a fox-red Labrador would perform out in the field.
Q: My son-in-law is keen to buy a first working dog to train himself. Like many young people, he is influenced by what’s fashionable, so he’s been looking for a fox-red Labrador puppy. I’ve had working Labradors all my life and have come to appreciate the need for good breeding and the relevant health checks. While assisting my son-in-law in his search, I have been surprised by the poor type of dogs being offered. Many have little breeding and often no hip, elbow or eye checks. Is he on a wild-goose chase trying to find a fox-red Labrador puppy that comes up to my standards?
A: The fox-red Labrador issue is a big one. Any breed that finds itself with a colour that becomes fashionable is entering dangerous territory because all the important things that should be considered when breeding seem to fly out of the window. Chocolate Labradors are a case in point.
So, you are right — there are some appalling fox-red Labradors about. Many look barely like Labradors at all, many have no solid working breeding behind them and often have no health checks. Once it becomes easy to sell something on the basis of colour, there seems to be no need to consider correct bloodlines, breeding or health. The colour drives the demand and some people see them as an easy way of making money.
True fox-red Labradors are striking to look at but are actually quite rare. Because a lot of ‘yellow’ Labradors are now almost white, many dark yellow puppies are offered for sale as though they were fox-red. There are some responsible breeders of correct fox-red Labradors in the UK and if you do some careful research you will find them.