Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about your pet's health, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.
This is a Premium feature
Bowstone Labradors (breeding kennel), anyone know them? Any thoughts, plus questions/advice sought.(24 Posts)
Hi there. We’re looking to add a lab to our family at some point soon (once we’ve found the right breeder and the right pup (good scores etc)). We’re first time dog owners and so i’m reading everything I can get my hands on.
I’m obviously keen to avoid a puppy mill and started my breeder search via the KC Assured Breeders programme. I found Bowstone Kennels on there. It all looks pretty legit. Clunky website (not a slick operation!), family business started in 1940’s by the current owner’s mother. The current owner seems to be very ‘active’ in the doggy world (crufts, BBC TV, magazine column), so it feels pretty convincing.
Has anyone here got experience of them?
Picking a few random dogs off their website there's no elbow scores to be seen and a few higher than average hip scores, including one dog that was bred from with a combined score of 58.
No reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater on those grounds alone (particularly as I agree with you that everything else seems to check out, and there's every chance the dogs I've picked were several generations ago and their more recent breeding has changed somewhat) but it's something I'd want to ask them about and carefully consider their response to.
Interesting, thank you. It is such a minefield.
Where a work/show divide exists I would personally always go for working but they look good to me.
Id ask what health tests the parents have done as it’s not clear on the website and the COI of the litter.
Yes, when we get to the point of actually speaking with breeders, I’ll definiteyl be asking about specific tests and the inbreeding coefficient (then checking it myself!). Am I right in thinking it shouldn’t be more than 6.5% for labs?
I’m not even sure this breeder has an available litter or one in pipeline, I’m literally just scoping out those who might be decent breeders at this point in time. We’re at the very start of the journey.
For instance, I looked at JimJoy labradors (came up on lots of searches) but I didn’t like the look of it. Multiple breeds, huge numbers of puppies produced and seems to be sheds and sheds of dogs. Forums seem to say that produce healthy enough dogs but I wonder about the socialisation of puppies born & raised in that intensive environment. Surely with that number of dogs, they can’t be bringing puppies into the house for daily socialisation?
If you're looking for a pet/show type rather than working, have you considered contacting a breed club? I imagine labradors have several clubs, so whichever is nearest to you. The secretaries often have a good idea of who has litters planned and can put you in touch with a personal recommendation, which will help weed out the commercial breeders like Jimjoy.
It's also possible to spectate at a breed club show and meet dogs and folk in person, no better way to assess temperament.
That’s a good idea, thanks. There are loads of lab clubs. I had googled them but my local one doesn’t exactly have a stellar web presence. I’ll contact them though, worth asking the question.
Check out Wylanbriar stud, it's was recommend from here on MN and we now have the most gorgeous lab and some friends have now gone on to get another pup from the same stud dog. Email Diana Stevens she is very knowledgeable and does some great follow up classes for puppies and older dogs.
Thanks for the Wylanbriar lead. I’ve just had a look and the stud dogs seem to have reasonably significant hip scores.
Arrghhh I remember being in your position. I swear every day you find something else out that you need to consider and it really is a minefield. However, FINALLY we found a breeder and we pick our boy up in 3 weeks. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way... hopefully some helps.
I thought I wanted to show because tbh who doesn’t love a chunky lab and id also been led to believe they are calmer. On visiting a few show litters ( including Crufts BOB champs )the parents were a bit of a nightmare to be honest and also every litter COI was ridiculous most being over 20% I started to get the feeling a lot were bred for looks over temperament and it didn’t sit well with me tbh. I started to look at working litters and the parents were friendly but calm and well behaved, plus low CO. You may find you have a completely different experience but it’s something to bear in mind I think. Someone once said working are trained to be calm, patient and wait for their signal whereas show is trained to be ‘LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!!’ I definitely found that to be the case.
Puppy farms or close as damn it to are everywhere... you seem to have good knowledge on this. I did look at the website you mentioned and actually it looks fine. Just ask how often they have puppies, how many times has the bitch been bred etc where are the puppies kept - Jimjoy was a no go for me. Beautiful dogs and have heard a lot of positive stories but still , very borderline puppy farm IMO and I wouldn’t want to encourage or support what they do. Broadsamlee is another - awful ‘breeder’
I originally put a deposit down on a puppy that I was pressured into giving an answer to ... long story but kids were there , husband was saying yes and breeder was basically saying you say yes now or it will go to someone else.... I should have known better. When I left I realised I didn’t like they were kept outside ( I didn’t want an already overwhelmed scared puppy to come home to then hear a washing machine etc for the first time) there were other things I didn’t like, I also vowed to always go away after visiting a litter and think about it and double check health scores etc if someone said I had to make a decision there and then I declined. Any good breeder will appreciate the enormity of the decision.
I would advise to go on the KC website or champ dogs and put your names down on breeders lists and have a few you’d like to see.
Good luck - it’s hard but the fact you realise this shows you are responsible and know your stuff.
Thank you cinders, that is really helpful. I do feel a bit overwhelmed to be honest. I’ve always had rescue animals up to this point and so i’m already feeling guilty for considering buying a pedigree animal, despite being sure it is the right choice for us (we have a cat, we are first time dog owners so having as much information as possible on the history of the dog and it’s lineage is useful, both health and behavioural/temperament wise). All the hidden knowledge of scores and % is enough to make my head spin! I definitely want to support the ethical end of the breeding market and get the right (and healthiest) dog for us.
I’ve emailed the breed club, so we’ll see what happens. Thank you all for your advice
Ideally with any breed you want a COI under 5%. If you end up going for working rather than show lines you will have a dog that is bred to be active and engaged, so be prepared to put in the time with training. It will pay off massively. Like a PP I'd always go for working over show, but that's partly because we're an active family and a working line dog fits in well.
My lab has a COI of 2.8%. She is about 75/25% working /show. She is a beautiful looking dog and we are constantly being complimented on her appearance. She has had no joint or health problems although genetically she scores negatively (just below breed averages) but testing will not guarantee a problem free dog. She has a fantastic pedigree and although from a family breeder I was keen to find a dog from a common line to our our previous lab.
From the research I have done show lines do appear to be very inbread as do some of the working lines. Appearance wise they have moved away from the original lab shape. Show labs tend to be chunky with shorter muzzle some looking more Rottweiler-like,whereas the working lines are starting to look a bit greyhound-like. They have almost produced two distinct breeds.
If you are looking for a pet Labrador then I would recommend a responsibly bred mix where the COI is low and the resulting pups have a large gene pool with low genetic scores. You can sign up with the KC site and check the pedigrees of any litters you see advertised. Unfortunately all the research in the world cannot prevent problems but you can avoid high risk puppies.
Alternatively a lab/collie cross is by far the best crossbreed. I’m not a fan of labradoodles or springadors - nothing against these dogs but can be very expensive for what is fundamentally a mongrel.
Thought I’d post her photo so you can see her for yourself.
She is absolutely beautiful. You’re right about research and it not guaranteeing anything but I do feel that to be somewhat forewarned is a benefit, even if it doesn’t guard against every potential future problem.
We’re signed up to myKC, ready to check the stats of any dogs that come up and your info about inbreeding and crosses is useful. I’d specifically chosen a lab for family friendliness, cat friendliness, ease of training and ‘good first dog’ ratings. I worry that a colliexlab would be an uncontainable ball of hyper bright energy!!
I’d specifically chosen a lab for family friendliness, cat friendliness, ease of training and ‘good first dog’ ratings
This worries me a little.
1. Labradors are consistently near the top for bites; although I do feel this is more related to their sheer popularity and a tendency to be complacent and allow pestering from children rather than an inherent problem in the breed.
2. Labradors are not, IMO, a particularly low prey drive breed.
Not the highest, but not low.
3. I would expect them to be easy to train yes, gun dogs should be very biddable and they tend to be highly food motivated so I would agree with that one.
4. I don’t think they are a particularly good first dog.
They tend to be excessively bitey puppies, severe resource guarding is a massive problem in some lines of golden/Labrador retriever and cocker/springer spaniel, they tend to be excessively rambunctious young dogs aswell, if ever I see an insanely lively, boisterous, rude dog that is completely deaf to recall and hell bent on jumping all over my dog despite her protestations it is almost always a Labrador...
That crazy high food drive they are known for can be problematic sometimes aswell.
Decently bred Collies are not ‘crazy’ or hyperactive.
The only border collies I’ve personally seen who fit the hyper, neurotic stereotype have been agility/flyball lines.
Thanks for your thoughts. I’m aware that labs are ‘mouthy’ pups (due to their retriever nature, I suppose) and a slow to mature breed, so likely to stay in the ‘chewy’ stage for longer. I’m aware of the bite stats for labs, I think it is a combo of them being the one of most popular pet dog breeds in the UK and their mouthy nature in their younger years.
When I say ‘family friendly’, we don’t have young children, so no small children are at risk or will goad the dog beyond it’s limits. I am absolutely keen on early and ongoing training to set and maintain behaviour. Obviously some dogs will be stubborn but some will have bad behaviour/poor social skills as a result of owners not putting in the effort with training, surely?
I grew up in a hill farming community where Welsh Border Collies were everywhere, as working dogs. I suppose I don’t really see them as family pets. That’s not a negative thing, more that I think of them as needing the work to be happy (as well as a warm fire to curl up in front of at the end of the day).
Obviously some dogs will be stubborn but some will have bad behaviour/poor social skills as a result of owners not putting in the effort with training, surely?
Yes definitely a lack of training would likely result in poor behaviour/social skills, although I think often genetics is largely to blame for bad temperament more so than training but training will definately play a role.
I have a working collie, I don’t think she ‘needs’ work and is a nice family pet but I guess the breed isn’t for everyone.
We all like different things.
I have very prey driven dogs (working lines) and they have both grown up with cats. Both have been fine with our cats: cats are very good at teaching puppies to respect boundaries (of the cat's choosing). Non-family cats are another matter.
Temperament is a mix of nature and nurture. Put in your recall work and your lab need not be a pain in the arse to other dogs and walkers. A lot of people seem to get them thinking that they are push-button dogs, but while they are 'easier'* than some other breeds they still take work.
*'Easier' compared to say the average German Wirehaired Pointer.
That’s good to know, Grumpy. I certainly don’t imagine the dog training itself or requiring no or minimal input. I know what you mean about ‘push button dogs’. We have had lots of much loved pets (not dogs) over the years, including some very psychologically damaged rescue animals, all of whom have had lots of handling and input. Though we’re new to dog ownership, we aren’t new to ‘challenging’ pets or the concept of getting out what you put in.
Labs are challenging but as you say patience and perseverance do pay off. We are 3 years in and although she still needs work she has calmed down tremendously. She is very retrieve driven rather than food driven so we have found carrying a ball produces a much better recall. We tried every form of treat bar a bloody dead pheasant but she was always distracted. Bity is a problem but there is a very good book about training the children rather than the puppy which I found very helpful. I can’t remember the title but I’m sure it will come up in a google search.
Our lab is by nature submissive which can be embarrassing since everyone assumes she is regularly beaten, on approaching strangers she lies down and roles over. Unfortunately she didn’t learn caution with other dogs since she would always submit. A few nips from terriers recently has curbed her enthusiasm though.
She is our third lab so we did know what to expect but it was still a shock to the system. It is like having another child!
We got a lab 18 mo this ago in a similar situation to you - have a cat, have kids, experienced pet owners first time dog owners. She has been ideal,apart from chewing every thing in sight for the first year and breaking in to the bin.