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Checking up on a pedigree

A potential Labrador puppy buyer has doubts

black Labrador puppy

Puppies can be born infected if the bitch carries dormant larvae

Q: I am doubtful of the pedigree details of some Labrador puppies I have been offered. Pedigrees are widely available online and provide information for those who can simply make up a pedigree — and often the buyer is none the wiser. So how can I verify what I think is a suspicious pedigree?

Checking a suspicious pedigree

First, always buy a puppy from a reputable breeder or from someone recommended to you. If that’s not possible and the puppy has a Kennel Club registration certificate (which you should receive when you collect the puppy), the details on the certificate will tally with the information on the pedigree you are given by the person selling the puppy — but not going back as many generations.

The Kennel Club always checks with the owner of the sire of a litter of puppies that the mating has taken place. If it hasn’t and a litter registration has been applied for, the Kennel Club will not register the litter.

Do not to buy a puppy until you have seen the registration document. The Kennel Club will only issue registration details if both the sire and dam are registered. If a litter is being sold without being Kennel Club registered, it means there can be no verification process regarding the litter’s pedigree details, so you are in a more vulnerable situation.

Be wary if you arrive to collect a puppy and the seller says the documentation has not arrived, but will be posted on. This is a sign of an unscrupulous seller.

Not Kennel Club registered

Q: I have been offered a Labrador puppy from a bitch that picks-up on our shoot and is one of the best dogs I saw work all last season. But she is not Kennel Club registered and has not had any health tests. The sire of the litter is owned by one of the Guns, but though the sire has a pedigree there don’t seem to be any well-known names of dogs in his breeding. He has had his hips tested but that is all. Am I taking 
a gamble buying this puppy?

A: Yes, you certainly are. A puppy of relatively unknown breeding — and only a hip test of one parent — leaves you vulnerable.

We have all seen good dogs working on shoots that have come from humble beginnings and from untested parents but that is not a good reason to go and buy something similar.

The puppy you mention will no doubt be a lot cheaper than a well-bred Kennel Club-registered puppy from health-tested parents — covering at least hip and elbow X-rays and a current BVA eye test — but if things go wrong you could face high costs or, even worse, lose the puppy.

Good breeding gives you some idea of the working ability of a puppy, but without any background knowledge there is a chance that there could be some issues.