When you own a Labrador, is it a good idea to teach him pointing? This question has been asked so many times by Labrador dog breed owners.
For those readers who don’t know about pointing, it means to train the dog to scout for a target and remain motionless. This is used by hunters to train their duck dogs. Being steady is required by the dog when he is on a hunting mission with his owner.
What are the Pros and Cons of Pointer Dogs?
A retriever dog-like Labrador is quick at fetching and retrieving job in the hunting game. A pointer dog helps in locating the birds. He would stop some distance away from the target on locating it. Retrievers and Pointers are completely different dog breeds. However, there has been a discussion going on if we train a retriever to point then we get the benefit of both with one dog on our side.
Trainers can do the job of training the pointing job to a retriever for you. But there are some points which are worth mentioning regarding this.
You get to take one dog with you when your Labrador is trained for pointing. This means its less management work for you.
The initial training effort is required to train the retriever dog for retrieving as well as pointing jobs. The learning curve may take time depending upon the dog’s progress. Here two possibilities come, whether to train a retriever dog for pointing or train a pointer dog for retrieving a job. For me, it’s better to train a retriever dog for pointing.
This is because of the agility of retriever dogs in general (especially Labrador)
About Mayo Kellogg
Mayo Kellogg is the father of American Pointing Labrador. That is when the pointing skills were spotted in Labs. This dates back to 1946.
This whole episode of Mayo Kellogg leads to mixed feelings in people. While a belief is that a Labrador is a retriever dog and should not be given pointing skills while on the other hand, some people feel that is the best thing to have.
A hunter’s dream is to have a pointing Lab dog as it makes life so easy.
Those against a pointing lab put the argument that when you mix two traits in a dog then it corrupts his purpose of retrieval. They further say that it’s better to be a master of one than trying to master a skill for which one is not made of (which is pointing skill).
To conclude this discussion from my experience and readings, I can say that several Labs have been doing the pointing job to perfection beating even the pointing dog breed. All the credit goes to the agility of Labrador dogs.
History of Pointing Labradors?
It is important to first understand how this whole thinking of a Pointing Lab began. To be clear again, a pointing Lab means a Labrador retriever who will also help in pointing when going for the hunting game.
Before the 1900s, people recognized Labrador’s retrieving abilities and would crossbreed them with pointing dogs to get pointing Labs. This is said to be started in a place named Newfoundland in Canada.
These stories of cross-breeding became popular by the day due to word of mouth.
An interesting story is of Mr. Vince Retacco who had a female Labrador. He had noticed pointing skills in his Labrador. This was a gift for him. As she grew old, he wanted similar traits in his next dog.
This led him to the USA where he found a male Labrador with similar pointing skills. The two owners agreed to breed their dogs and hence both continued with the same benefits of these two skills in the children of their dogs.
The Official Organization: American Pointing Labrador Association
The above story of breeding dogs for own benefits went viral and various hunters wanted to achieve the same as Mr. Retacco. Finally, an official organization named American Pointing Labrador Association (APLA) was founded in 1982.
The problem with all this process is that some owners would get too desperate and get a Retriever and Pointer and then would breed them. This is wrong and illegal as per the law. On paper, all the allowed breeding is noted but still, some cases do go un-noticed and are illegal.
With Breeding of Pointing Labradors, Color is a Choice
Yellow is the most common color for Pointing Labs. There is even a website named pointing-labs.com which is selling yellow point labs. Since the initial pointing labs were yellow, the current trend also continues to be with yellow color.
When AKC dived in, it was established that about half of the population of pointing labs is black in color. They are also seen in chocolate color and yellow has been there since the beginning.
If you are planning to get a pointing lab then you can look for the chocolate or black color as traditionally, Labradors are recognized and associated with those 2 colors. You can even find Silver and White pointing labs up for sale on the internet.
Since yellow is the most common and traditional color of pointing labs, you will find breeders selling that color most often. However, if you ask for, then he may be able to provide you a color of your choice.
How Long it Takes and What are the Costs of Training Pointing Labrador?
I can give you the ballpark figure but before that, I should give you some variables that will make the cost fluctuate. These variables are:
- The chosen trainer fees.
- Type of training sessions covered in the training program (list of training listed below).
- What is the grasping power of your pointing Lab?
The list of training that should be covered are:
- E-collar conditioning
- Getting used to loud noises
- Water Retrieves
- Fieldwork training
- Initial 2-3 real hunting sessions
Now coming to the cost, it can cost you around $1000 to train a Lab dog for hunting. The fees you give should be worth it because of the life long learning for the dog.
Apart from the training, you will also need to fund the food for your new dog.
$1000 is the starting point for training a pointing lab.
A bonus tip that I can give here is that ask the trainer to spend time with you and your dog at the end of the training. This final knowledge sharing session with you, dog and trainer should last for 1-2 hours. What you want to learn in this session is how to handle the dog for the game and any specific likes/dislikes of the dog.
There are some advanced training also offered by trainers for which they would ask extra money. These sessions include blind retrievals or night hunting training.
How Much a Pointing Labrador Puppy Cost?
The cost starts at $1200 and goes up to $3000. The difference and range are there because of the skill-set of the dog.
If you need a dog who has Labrador skills but average pointer instinct then it will cost less compared to the best in class pointing lab. This difference exists because of the way the Labs have been bred.
Hence, it is a good thing to first decide what kind of pointing Labrador do you need. This decision further depends on how intense your hunting sessions would be. Would they be lengthy and do you like to out in the night?
So, if your needs demand it, then do for the best genes dog by paying extra money.
How Much Will a Started/Trained Pointing Labrador Cost You?
Started is just another word used for a trained pointing dog. This means that you plan to get a dog who is trained and you need not spend money on hiring a full-time trainer. What you get here is a dog who knows to find, pointing and retrieving the game.
So, you get a complete package. Apart from the specialized hunting skills, you also get the dog to be trained with basic commands that every dog owner seeks. The complete package includes:
- Obedience training commands (SIT, STAY, STOP,…)
- Loud Noises of fieldwork
- Live birds
- Fetch/Retrieval of game
- Pointing skills
It is important to note that the started dog will need some time to go well with you when he comes to your home.
You will also need to spend time to teach him to behave the way you want in certain specific situations in home as well on the field.
You should speak to the breeder and discuss your expectations and the dog’s current abilities. This would give you knowledge about the gaps between the two.
The cost of a started dog would be between $3000-$7000 depending on the parameters that I discussed above.
Pros of Getting a Pointed Lab
- There are some games where carrying two dogs with you is not possible like during waterfowl. In such cases, the pointing lab is good as you have to manage one dog.
- The hunting days can be tiring and lengthy. While you will be able to enjoy the day with your swimming and walking. The advantage of having one dog with you will make your day easier as start the day with your dog and complete all your hunting with the same dog. This a dream come true if you are a duck hunt lover!
- Labradors are known for their agility and intelligence. Thus, you definitely need the Lab qualities.
- Labrador’s are admired due to their skin color, glaze coming from their coat.
- Labs love to seek feathers. This quality makes them the best companion for hunting than pointers.
- The smelling power is also excellent which is required both for a duck dog as well as a shed dog.
- They are perfect for the USA weather be it winter or summer and hence they are most popular in the USA.
- They can also be used as shed dogs.
- They would turn a losing game of hunting to a win with their retrieving skills.
Cons of Getting a Pointed Lab
- If you follow the rule that the more the merrier then you are on a loss for getting one dog instead of two.
- Training sessions can tire you out. There is a lot to train for a pointed lab. If you hate training sessions and don’t have the patience then you should avoid getting a one-pointed lab.
- Because of their hybrid nature, the average pointed lab may not be as good as an average pointer in pointing skills.
- They could get tired soon on a lengthy hunt so they need extra care like water and food.
- Labs shed more hair than pointers. As a matter of fact, every dog will shed hair.
Finding a Good Pointing Lab Breeder
While purchasing a family dog is a huge task, purchasing a pointed lab is 10 times a huge task than a family dog. This is because there are so many things that need to be checked.
You don’t want to be scammed so due diligence with regard to the parameters that I have discussed in this article is so important.
There are a ton of breeders for pointed labs on the internet and on social media too. The trick to getting a good pointed lab is to first find a trusted breeder who has been in business for the longest time and who has got genuine reviews.
Conclusion: Choosing a Good Breeder is So Essential
Clearly the pros of having a pointed lab outweigh the cons of not having him in your life. You definitely should get a pointed lab for good hunts. This is the reason that pointed labs have become so popular and sought after in recent times. Everybody wants to save time and energy.
APLA is your best guide on pointed labs. There is so much knowledge that you can acquire before buying a pointed lab.
An informed decision is the best decision. If you know how to identify the best-pointed lab for your needs then you are good to go.
Once you get then you can search on Facebook groups to join a group of pointed lab owners and increase your awareness about them in a short span of time while sitting in your home.