The Breeder's Advice
By the time you start looking at puppies, the breeders you meet with have been observing their litters for at least six weeks. They know each puppy's personality and temperament. Tell the breeder exactly what you're looking for in a Lab. Chances are she will match you up with the perfect puppy. It might not be the puppy you were thinking of, but you'll be surprised to find that he is indeed just what you wanted.
Just as important as temperament and personality is good health. You don't want to take home a sickly puppy. Look at puppies closely for signs of good — or poor — health. The first thing you might notice is energy level. Healthy puppies are active, moving easily on strong legs. They might be sleepy just after they've eaten, so try to arrange your visit before mealtime. Healthy puppies also have bright eyes, clean ears, pink gums, white teeth, and shiny coats. Avoid puppies with runny eyes or ears that smell bad. Look at the gums. If they're pale, not pink, the puppy may have internal parasites, such as roundworms.
Labrador puppies love everyone and bond well with a new family at any age, but they need at least seven weeks with their mother and littermates to learn what they need to know about interacting with other dogs.
Other obvious signs of poor health are dull fur and loose stools. A dull coat and a pooched-out stomach that looks like a beer belly are signs of internal parasite infestation. Evidence of diarrhea in the yard or kennel area is another red flag. Healthy puppies have small, firm stools. While each of these may be a sign of a treatable condition, they also signal a breeder who's not responsible.
Ask if the puppies have been dewormed and vaccinated. By six to eight weeks of age, the pups should have been vaccinated at least once for distemper and parvovirus. In some areas where the incidence of parvo is high, two vaccinations may have been given.