The Truth About Miniature Labradors
One of the most popular breeds among dogs is the Labrador retriever, and many people with restricted space have shown interest in learning more about the possibility of obtaining miniature Labradors. It may surprise them to learn that “miniature” actually means dwarfed.
The breed standard for a Labrador retriever is for males to reach a height around 24 inches at the withers and females around 23 inches, as stated in the AKC descriptive standards. Many attributes make the dog an extremely popular choice as a pet, including its gentle and friendly nature as well as its intelligence. They are also a highly sought after breed for use as assistance dog in the service industry as they are ideal for training and dependency. It is certainly understandable how the Labrador holds such great appeal to humans with these plus other highly desirable characteristics.
The Need For Miniatures
Labradors are very active dogs with no other desire than to please their masters. Because of the energy driven nature of the Lab combined with their medium size, the dog is sometimes not the best choice as a pet for some. Often, people who seek a miniature version of a dog breed do so because of the space they have available to house the animal. They like the characteristics of a Lab, for example, but may lack the room in both housing and yard space for such an energetic animal. It could be also that they may just carry a preference for a smaller dog over larger dogs. In the interests of appealing to this group of people as well as to develop a unique strain for financial gain, dogs that are called “miniature” have begun to appear on the market.
Selective Breeding And Genetic Defects
There is no breed that is recognized officially as a miniature version of the Labrador. To achieve a smaller animal, offspring of normal sized Labradors that are considered to be the “runts” of the litter are nurtured to eventually be bred with other runts. There is no assurance that the progeny of such a breeding will result in smaller dogs, although this is often the method used to develop miniatures. Often, selective breeding results in defects of the original breed, and in the case of Labradors, cases of dwarfism result that could also have a direct link to eye defects as well as other issues. Breeding Labs is a process that should be left strictly to professional and knowledgeable breeders, since there are over 100 genetic defects associated with Labrador retrievers. Attempting to breed for the purpose of achieving miniature Labradors can result in severe defective traits that may not immediately be evident in the animal as a pup.
Many dogs that are stamped with the label “miniature Labradors” are actually afflicted with dwarfism. The usual cause for dwarfism is inbreeding of the animal, although the defect can be due to a problem with the pituitary gland as well. They can be bred, but according to stringent regulations. The minis will generally display most qualities beloved in normal sized Labs, and are easier to handle. These mini labs often live satisfactory lives, although many health problems could afflict the smaller dogs due to the condition.
The Labrador Retriever Club
The Labrador Retriever Club, which is the only organization recognized by the American Kennel Club as the parent club for Labradors, strongly discourages any attempts to develop miniature strains of the Lab. They state categorically that it borders the unethical for breeders to intentionally breed dogs to derive an alternate size of the animal.
Though miniature Labradors are advertised to be simply smaller versions of the AKC recognized Lab, it is important to remember there are no true miniatures; a fact backed by the AKC and the Labrador Retriever Club.