Is Your Lab Becoming Less Loyal and More Lonesome?

Is Your Lab Becoming Less Loyal and More Lonesome?

Any reputable dog breeder will tell you: great retrievers come from great genes. That's why they don't haphazardly mix dogs and pray the litter produces fine hunters.

Instead, through rigorous hunt tests, trials, field prowess and health clearances, a breeder will meticulously pair a male and female to create the next generation of bird-crazed duck dogs.


At least, that's the idea.



labs-are-family-dogs

On paper, genetics are simple, but it's not that cut-and-dried. There are no guarantees. Breeders know that by pairing the best of the best, they have the greatest chance of creating puppies that express the same desirable traits exhibited by their parents — color, size, biddability, nose and drive, for instance — while also eliminating the possibility of suffering from genetic ailments such as hip dysplasia, and eye or thyroid problems.


However, as they juggle all these aspects, invariably something can slip through the cracks. In the case of hard-charging, high-horsepower field-trial Labs, it's one trait that may be the most desirable among owners: a loving disposition.


I've heard more than one breeder say, "you can't have it all." There's no such thing as the perfect retriever, and if you're looking to gain in one area, you'll likely lose in another. If the goal is to win ribbons or pass tests, and if speed, stamina, and the ability to win are the only things put into context, it's not unlikely that other qualities may be inadvertently brushed aside.

Researcher Linda Van Den Berg investigated aggression among golden retrievers — yeah, those dogs that pretty much epitomize "man's best friend."

Her goal was to discover whether impulsive aggressive behavior was inherited in those few goldens who exhibit it and if so, isolate the gene responsible. Van Den Berg found impulsive aggression is easily passed on, although she was unsuccessful in isolating the exact gene responsible.

Yes, aggression can be bred, even by accident. It's easy to forget that the loving, obedient dog by your side was, many, many generations ago, a wild canine. Through selective breeding, humans have molded companions that run the gamut of functionality and form.

And while we continue to perfect upon these biological marvels, it's not unlikely that those natural, wild instincts we've tried to beat into submission won't come crawling back into dominance if left unchecked.

It's ironic, really, that one of the most revered qualities of Labradors might be getting bypassed and even overshadowed; it's the opposite for breeds with aggressive reputations, such as Chesapeake Bay retrievers and German wirehaired pointers.

Reputable Chessie and wirehair breeders are well aware of their ingrained dispositions, and go above and beyond to assure temperament is at the forefront when pairing for prospective litters.

The truth is, aggressiveness can be a factor in any breed. It's up to breeders, and especially dog owners, to research and pick the dogs that best fit their family and hunting styles. After all, even with a few months of waterfowl season, a retriever is a family dog first.

Recommended for You

Recipes

Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe

Scott Leysath

Ready to grill up some delicious, juicy waterfowl burgers? This Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe...

Retriever

Gun Dog Nutrition & Intelligence

Tony J. Peterson

Nourish your pup's noggin for elite performance.

Industry

Ducks Unlimited: A Duck Man's Best Friend

David Hart

To date, Ducks Unlimited has played a role in conserving 14 million acres.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Wentz Bros Outdoors - Throwback Waterfowl

This video is a classic! Take a front row seat with Carson as he hunted back in college. The clips are all either filmed with a GoPro or cell phone!

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during 2019, company CEO Charlie Holder shows off the limited edition Yentzen Classic aimed at commemorating the life and times of company founder Jim 'Cowboy' Fernandez. With a special autographed box and a laser engraved call body, the Cowboy Classic is a perfect way to honor the legacy of the 1959 world duck calling champ and inventor of the double-reed duck call.

Arkansas Snow Geese

Wildfowl Editor Skip Knowles took this short video showing all the Snow Geese flying. Let's just say, he had a very good hunt!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Clothing & Waders

New SITKA Women's Waterfowl Lineup for 2019

Lynn Burkhead - January 28, 2019

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the Bozeman, Montana company's full...

Boats

8 Best Mud Motors for 2016

David Hart - May 26, 2016

Let's face it, that old mud motor from two years ago isn't cuttin' it any longer. Of course,...

Accessories

8 Best Choke Tubes for 2017

Wildfowl Online Staff - October 25, 2017

While there's no guarantee they'll make you a better shot, these 8 newly-designed shotgun...

See More Stories

More Retriever

Retriever

Waterfowl Workouts: 3 Summer Duck Dog Drills

Tony J. Peterson

Keep your retriever sharp in the offseason.

Retriever

Don't Sleep on Summer Dog Training

Tom Dokken - April 25, 2018

Summer dog training, while difficult to get motivated for, can be key in getting ready...

Retriever

3 Duck Dog Drills to Practice Every Month

Tom Dokken

Make time for these three drills every month, and watch your pup prosper.

See More Retriever

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×