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We, here at Thornwood Labradors, are firmly committed to preserving the ORIGINAL Labrador Retriever. This is the dog that made the breed famous to begin with, and is seen throughout other countries in the world as they were intended to be: a versatile, athletic dog built to stand up to a day's rigorous activity, and possessing a calm, loving temperament. A dog just as adept at home, caring for your children, as he is working in the field, or playing frizbee with your family. Here in the United States, they are most certainly still to be found, but due to many years of puppy mill and backyard breeding, they are the exception, not the rule.

This wonderful ORIGINAL Labrador is our love here at Thornwood, not our business. We work hard to preserve it, through a continuing improvement of our knowledge of the correct genetics of the breed, and a constant search throughout the country for individuals who possess them. To that end, we strongly encourage you to take your time in choosing a puppy or adult dog to add to your home. Talk to a variety of breeders. Learn as much as you can about the breed before you make a decision. You are certainly welcome to call us and we will spend as much time as you need helping you learn about the breed, locate other reputable breeders, registries, information sources, and clubs with which to continue your research.

The integrity and correctness of the breed is important to us here at Thornwood. If we can assist you in choosing a well-bred, correct Labrador, from a dedicated and ethical breeder, then there will be one less poorly bred Labrador born, and our time will be well spent!

Breed Traits

There are certain traits that separate one breed from another. Some of these things are esthetic (the outward appearance of the dog), and some are to be found in the temperament of the breed. Bear in mind that when a breed reaches a great degree of popularity, people jump on the band wagon to breed for a profit motive, without any regard to preserving the very traits that brought about that popularity. Just ONE year in that standing is very hard on a breed. The Labrador Retriever has been the number one breed in popularity in the United States for a great MANY years! Enormous indiscriminant breeding has altered the outward appearance of the Labrador most certainly.

What you SHOULD see, and not nearly often enough actually DO, is  a substantial medium sized dog with good bone, tons of muscle, a broad back skull and muzzle, wide set eyes (a "kind" expression), a proper "double coat," and a thick "otter" tail, carried straight out from the back, where it can act as a "rudder" in the water. A female at maturity will be about 22 inches at the shoulder, and 65 pounds. A male will be about 24 inches and 80 pounds. The only accepted colors are black, chocolate, and yellow (in shades from very light cream to a deep fox red). Beware the breeder who offers you a "rare" color. All other than black, chocolate, and yellow are considered mismarks, and are not registerable colors.

This is a very athletic, well muscled breed, not light boned or 'weedy'. The body 'type' has most certainly been lost with poor breeding over many years, but that's not the worst of it.


The temperament that made Labradors famous in the first place is calm, biddable, and easy to live with... a dog that is wonderfully easy to train, NEVER aggressive, and a pleasure to know. Correct Labrador temperament is trustworthy and dependable. That temperament has been all too often lost with poor breeding, and the result can be a hyper, bounce-off-the-walls animal, occasionally even exhibiting aggressive behavior. Absolutely wrong for a Labrador, but woefully common. If you are hoping to add a dog to your home, that individual could be with you for 12 to 14 years. Take the time to make an informed choice now, and those will be years of warmth and friendship, not regret! Correct Labrador temperament is the hallmark of the breed, the major reason for their popularity, and should be the FIRST consideration of any breeder.


A reputable breeder will solidly stand behind a puppy or older dog's health, in that it will be sound to your veterinarian's exam when it arrives, and will not want you to keep a puppy or older dog that you do not like or want, for whatever reason. It is, however, up to you to KEEP that individual healthy! Gentically speaking, you should expect your breeder to have done the best they can in starting with sound parents. That's all anyone CAN do! Beyond that, each breeder will handle guarantees in his or her own way.

Ask about CERF (eye clearances), and OFA (joint clearances). A reputable breeder will have them. There is a link on this site to those registries, so that that you can learn more about them.

An interesting point for your consideration: take a close look at the involvement of the breeders you interview, with their dogs OUTSIDE the whelping box! Because a dog is doing well in the show ring , for instance, does NOT make a "prissy" dog. The things that win in the show ring are exactly the things that will contribute towards giving you a sound companion at home. Good structure, balance, and movement not only look good to a judge, but they produce an individual who's body parts are each doing the job they were intended to do, not having to compensate for a knee, or hock, etc., that isn't shaped well enough to take it's share of stress. If you intend to hunt, then that correct double coat is essential to keeping the dog warn in cold water. You will find a vast number of champions in the show ring also have field titles. The ORIGINAL Labrador can, and does, do it all!

Are You Really Ready?

Be sure that you are realistic about the time that a puppy will take, especially in the beginning. Those early months can be some of your most treasured memories, if you are prepared... or a trial if you are not. Your breeder should be there to help you plan ahead. You will find a list of reading material that we endorse in our "library."

Although the Labrador is universally understood to be wonderfully adaptable, one breed is not suited to everyone... learn enough to be sure that a Labrador is the right breed for YOU! A good breeder will ask you enough questions to help you make a decision. For instance, if you live in an apartment, a much smaller breed would be more likely to suit your needs. If you have VERY young children, or a baby on the way, this might not be the right TIME for you to add a dog to the family. If you are looking for an aggressive guard dog type... this is the wrong breed.

Where To Go For Assistance

How do you find those breeders to interview and learn from? A very good place to begin is by talking to people referred by our National Club, AKC, or a Labrador club near you. There are links provided on this site to help you locate them. These links can also assist you in locating AKC sanctioned conformation and obedience events, hunt tests, and more!

Please feel comfortable in calling or E-mailing us for assistance.

Kevin & Cheri Conway

Thornwood Labradors



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