The 3 Rules for How We Select Our British Labradors

British Labradors are a part of the most well-known dog breed in the world, the Labrador Retriever. Southern Oak Kennels has been importing, breeding, training, and hunting with these dogs for over 12 years with a keen eye for their health, temperament, and hunting ability. We go through rigorous screening before choosing the sires and dams that we import. We also carry over these strict considerations before we add a new sire or dam to our breeding program that came from our stock of British Labradors.

Our goal is to provide you with a healthy family companion as well as an excellent hunting partner that will last you many years. To find out more information about the current British Labrador studs and bitches that are in our program, please visit our page here where you can see each British Labrador sire and British Labrador dam that we have at each Southern Oak Kennels location across the country.

At Southern Oak Kennels we go to painstaking efforts to ensure our British Labs continually improve the overall Labrador Retriever breed. Below are our 3 rules for importing and reproducing our British Labs.

Rule #1: We Don’t Import or Breed a British Labrador We Would Not Personally Own

When selecting British Labradors for our program, we carefully examine every aspect of that particular Labrador Retriever. As a general rule, we do not breed a Labrador that we wouldn’t want to personally own and hunt over. It’s a simple rule, really, but too often we see breeders choosing to breed certain Labrador retrievers for sentimental reasons or simply because they have no other choice at that moment. At Southern Oak Kennels, we would prefer to not multiply a single Labrador retriever that could potentially diminish the British Labrador Retriever bloodlines and heritage.

We Want to make the Labrador Retriever Better Not Worse

We take tremendous pride that we got our start by importing British and Irish Labradors who have won field trials and are proven in the United Kingdom. The UK has different standards for their field trial evaluations, and by and large, their British Labs tend to have a different set of general characteristics than Labrador Retriever than can be found here in most of the United States.

For us to even consider importing or breeding a litter of British Labradors, the stud dog must have proven his working ability in either a British field trial or an American hunt test setting. A British Labrador winning a field trial under the J Regs of the Kennel Club or the Irish Kennel Club is certainly the standard by which we prefer Labradors to be measured and a standard by which we measure our male British labs as well. Read more about the UK Kennel Club field trials here.

Rule #2: We Will Not Breed or Import a British Labrador that Has Offspring with Undesirable Qualities

If a Labrador has an undesirable trait, their offspring likely will, too. There are several non-negotiable evaluations that take place before considering a dog for our program, such as sound hips and elbows, a clear eye test, size and conformation within the Labrador standard, a proven pedigree, etc.

Health Of Our British Labs is Primary

When it comes to the health of our labs (See our health guarantee here), we first look at the hips, eyes, and elbows. Why? Well, if a Labrador Retriever has poor joints, their offspring are likely to have poor joints as well, and the same goes for hereditary eye disease.

This is why we are so particular about the health of our British Labradors before allowing them to reproduce. We trust the UK’s trail system standards and will not consider a dog even for our program if they haven’t passed the required health tests.

We closely examine our British Labradors to ensure they are the best of the best…

As far as the personality of our dogs, a British Lab will tend to have a docile personality at home, but still maintain a great drive in the field. We will write about performance in the field next. As far as personality, we want our labs to have a true “on and off” switch. This means a dog you will love to work with in the field during hunting or training and then will relax and settle in the home just as well.

Some labradors tend to not have as much of an “on & off” switch and can oftentimes be “on” more than off. This isn’t a bad thing, it is simply a difference between a British Lab and other types of labradors. A true “off switch” is not just the ability to settle in the home. All dogs take naps during the day. We are talking about a dog who is able to remain quiet, calm, and focused even when intense stimulation is happening. This means the dog will be a pleasure to hunt within the duck blind as well as easy to take to the lake or soccer games with your entire family.


Once we have checked all of those boxes, we look at the overall personality of the dog. We want dogs who have great social skills as well as good drive and style in the field, and a true off-switch when not working. We believe the UK system of dog evaluation is aimed at rewarding these very specific traits within the breed.

You can learn more about our thoughts on the differences between British and American Labs here. Once again, we have the utmost respect for American labs, but we specialize in British labs that meet our standards for a great hunting companion.

Pedigree of a British Lab

When selecting a British Labrador, it is important to consider the pedigree of the dog as well. The UK has selectively bred certain pedigrees and for certain physical characteristics and working traits that help these dogs become elite competitors in UK field trials. We have adopted many of these standards and considerations when we are selecting a British Lab.

British and American Labs

Much like the American Kennel Club, The Kennel Club has certain requirements for dogs to compete in their field trials. These will vary slightly from dog to dog and lab to lab, but they all have similar qualifications that the dog must meet before competing.

These qualifications are important to consider when picking a dog for your kennel, as you will want an experienced dog that can perform at the level expected. One American lab may have the right personality traits desired by some and for others that particular dog may not. The titles within the pedigree can give insight into what can be expected from the offspring produced. It is important to always look into those pedigrees to help you know what to expect before choosing a pup.


Rule #3: The Field Work of our British Labradors Must Be Exceptional

Hard workers

We want to make sure our Labradors not only look the part, but have the drive, desire, and hunting instinct needed to succeed in the field. Once we know a British Labrador meets the previous standards, we evaluate several aspects of his or her fieldwork.

We want to breed Labrador Retrievers who love the water, which is especially important when waterfowl hunting. We also want them to have a natural delivery to hand with a soft mouth. Labradors should charge hard going out and coming back for a retrieve, and they should be able to use their noses to work heavy cover. The dogs need to be able to retrieve game in harsh conditions, such as icy waters in the timber or frozen fields in the plains.

Hunters have a responsibility to the game that they are pursuing, whether it be upland hunting, waterfowl hunting, or something else, and having a trusty hunting dog with you will dramatically increase the likelihood you will retrieve game after you have downed it.

Team players

The British labs who are in our breeding program are team players who love to work together with their handlers in the field. Essentially, we only want to breed the type of Labrador that enhances the overall hunting experience. Labrador Retrievers are the perfect all-around hunting dog. They have a natural desire to please their owner and work with them in the field and are great family pets too.

This teamwork between a trainer and a lab is tremendously important, and a great genetic component of our distinct breed of Labrador is this desire to please and work with their owner. There are always exceptions, but since the inception of these dogs in Great Britain, this trait has been a breed trademark.


By following these three rules, we can ensure that we are producing the best British Labs on this side of the Atlantic. We take tremendous pride in our efforts, and we know that a well-bred British Labrador makes for an amazing family companion and hunting partner.

If you are looking for a British Labrador puppy, we hope you will consider us! At Southern Oak Kennels, we maintain high standards of quality and exceptional fieldwork in our breeding program. We only import and reproduce dogs that meet these criteria and will not breed labradors who exhibit undesirable health results, conformation, working traits, or pedigrees.

Contact Us For Your Next British Lab

You can trust that the Southern Oak Kennels team will provide you with the best Labrador Retrievers around. Consider visiting one of our kennels today to find out more about who we are as an organization and why our labradors might be the right decision for you!


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