There seems to be a lot of controversy in the dog world concerning Pointing Labs. Look on any website with a dog forum and you will find pages upon pages on this issue. Some folks don't believe Labs can point. Some people think Pointing Labradors are somehow softer or don't have as much drive as other Labrador Retrievers. Here is our take on the questions and issues surrounding Pointing Labs.
Do some Labs point? Yes. If you hunt upland game in states like Minnesota, South Dakota, or North Dakota you probably have seen, or have heard of, Labs that will lock up on a pheasant, partridge, or grouse. Generally, the more birds a dog is exposed to, the more likely it is to point.
Is the Labrador Retriever a pointing breed? No, it is a flushing and retrieving breed. However, some Labs have genetics that cause them to point. Some Labrador breeders have been breeding with the pointing trait in mind for many years, making it more likely that those puppies will point.
Do you guarantee your puppies will point? No. Our attitude is that if you want a Labrador, you are looking for a good retriever and family dog. If your Lab points, that is gravy. That being said, many of our dogs are 3rd, 4th, or 5th generation Pointing Labs as tested by the American Pointing Labrador Association in their hunt tests. Many of our dogs point or throw point in their litters, making the odds much better that your new puppy will carry the pointing gene.
Can Labs be trained to point? Yes. Some trainers can and do train Labs to point. It generally requires putting a lot of pressure on the dog. We do not offer that type of training at Northern Plains Retrievers. We believe there is nothing wrong with whoa training a Lab that points naturally. Whoa training is a big part of training any pointing dog.
Do Pointing Labs work the same as the pointing breeds, such as English Setters?
No. Labrador Retrievers will usually work at a much closer range than big running Pointers. Most well bred Pointers will lock up on a bird or strong scent, and often stay locked up, even if the bird repositions itself or has moved before the dog started pointing. Our experience is that Pointing Labs will usually only lock up on a bird that holds, but if that bird moves, most Pointing Labs will then go ahead and flush it. If the bird doesn't hold, they will flush it like any other Labrador Retriever.
Are Pointing Labs lacking in drive? NO! They have just as much drive as any other Lab, they just also happen to carry the pointing gene. Our dog Tiger is a good example. She points and has thrown point in each of her litters. She has also earned a Hunting Retriever Champion title in HRC hunt tests, a Master Hunter title in AKC hunt tests, and she took 1st Place in the 2006 South Dakota State Pheasant Championship! She is extremely intense and lives to retrieve. Two hours after she gave birth to her last litter, she jumped up on a training table to get a bumper out of a bucket, and brought it over to me so I would throw it for her. That is drive!