Frequently Asked Questions

First of all, we want to let you know that we don't mind answering any questions you might have whenever you call or email us, so don't hesitate to contact us, even if we've already answered your question on this page or elsewhere on our website. Sometimes you just need that personal touch to get a feel for us and how we treat our customers or maybe we didn't fully explain the answer to a question on our site. We totally get all that, so ask away!

Second, we realize that when you adopt a puppy from Marble Mountain Kennels, we are assisting you in the process of adding a new member of your family. We are similar to an adoption agency in that way, working hard to hear your needs and desires, in order to match the perfect puppy to your temperament, environment, and family dynamic. We are also well aware that many of you are not adopting puppies for the first time. Unfortunately, the majority of you have lost a beloved member of your family and, after weeks or months of grieving and knowing your lost loved pet can never be replaced, you finally call or email us to tell us you're ready to bring a new puppy into your home. With all that in mind, we understand that the care we give our dogs transfers to you as we give you all that a new canine companion can bring to your life: joy, love, happiness, treasured memories, emotional healing, independence, and so much more.

How does the puppy reservation process work?

  1. Whether you are merely making an inquiry or actually reserving a puppy in an upcoming litter, please go to our "Litters" page. At the top of that page, you will find links to our Puppy Preference Form (PPF) document.
  2. Scan or take a photo of your completed Puppy Preference Form and a photo of your deposit check for $300 and send these to our puppy adoption specialist, Colin, at colmcclsky@gmail.com.
  3. Your emailed deposit check holds your puppy for you for up to 10 days. To finalize a sale, please send the hard copies of your check and/or puppy preference form to us at Marble Mountain Kennels, P.O. Box 159, Greenview CA 96037. If we do not receive a hard copy of your check and reservation within 10 days of receiving your emailed photo version, we will remove your name from the litter or litters you selected.
  4. NOTE: Deposits are non-refundable, but can be transferred to a future litter if desired. (Deposits can be refunded, however, if the puppy you reserved in litter after litter does not materialize.

How does MMK determine the picking order?

  • MMK reserves the 1st and 2nd pick male and female in the name of the kennel in each litter. So, usually, the 1st client to reserve a puppy gets 3rd pick of a certain gender and color.
  • In other words, Pete always reserves the first 2 pups of a gender and color in each litter. After the puppies are born and he sees how many are available to our clients, he sometimes makes his picks available for adoption, but that is solely at his discretion. Why does he do this? Because, in the event that we have too many puppies born at once and we can't sell them all, Pete is always "stuck" with his top favorites and they go directly into training and become members of our breeding program. So, whenever you look at the number of reservations in a litter, know that Pete has quite a few of those and reservations are not necessarily as full as they appear. If you really want to buy out Pete's first and second picks of a litter, please make a note of your desire in your puppy preference form, but understand that he cannot negotiate that deal for you until after a litter is born and first and second picks still may not be available to you.
  • Client picks are reserved when a client emails us a scanned copy of his her puppy preference form with your $300 reservation check. This reservation is then confirmed when the reservation check & form are received via snail mail.
  • Once the puppies are born MMK decides if we want any reserved pups for either our training or breeding purposes.
  • If there are plenty of pups in a litter, MMK may decide to make any of its reserved pups available to clients. These pups will be priced slightly higher then the other pups. 1st pick of any gender or color is $200 more; 2nd pick is $100 more. You should also know that 1st and 2nd picks in a litter will likely go to clients who are also paying for our "Super Citizen" obedience program.

How does the puppy selection process work?

  • Once pups are born, MMK communicates with each client on the reservation list as to which puppies are available to them.
  • MMK also communicates with the clients regarding the puppies' maturing process via videos and pictures. However, videos and photos are for your viewing pleasure only. You should not try to pick out your puppy from videos and pictures.*
  • When the pups are barely 8 weeks old (a day or two before they're ready to go home), MMK conducts a puppy profile test and begins consulting with clients about their choices of puppies, narrowing down the choice to one pup, and the pick-up plan. You can go to our "Videos" page to watch a few video clips of us conducting puppy profile tests. You can also click HERE to see a copy of an old puppy profile test (Word document download) on a past litter.
  • Many clients live far away and we ship pups via plane or van. In these cases, MMK will work to give that buyer the best possible information on the puppy’s attributes to help in the decision-making process.
*A Note on Videos and Photographs: We like to provide at least a few photos and videos of your litter of pups, but we cannot guarantee that we'll post enough to make you all happy. (In fact, we know we can't.) Furthermore, we strongly discourage people from choosing a puppy based solely on pictures and videos. Videos and photos are for your viewing pleasure only. And, remember that no one chooses their puppies until adoption day, so there's no way for you to know which puppy is yours until that day. You cannot get a good idea of a puppy's true looks and temperament from a couple of video clips and photographs. But, all that to say we don't mind at all getting email reminders from folks who haven't seen videos or photos of their puppies in a couple of weeks or so. Sometimes we have the time to do this, but we simply forget and need to be reminded!

Where do I pick up my puppy?

  • Usually, MMK chooses a weekend after the puppies are roughly 7 to 8 weeks old to have the puppies picked up at Marble Mountain Kennels.
  • More frequently of late, we have larger numbers of clients in the Reno, Sacramento and Bay Areas, so we arrange to deliver puppies to Woodland, California, where we meet our clients at a park and clients take turns picking out their puppies based on their picking order. If we have enough clients, we often are able to transport puppies down to Woodland for an additional fee.
  • Sometimes there is a need to deliver a puppy or two to the airport in either Medford, Oregon or Sacramento, California. In these cases, we will deliver your puppy for a specified transport fee.
  • Once in awhile, clients live within relative proximity to each other and it works for one client to transport another client’s pup to an agreed-upon location. If such an arrangement is made, MMK will work to coordinate and facilitate things. We typically recommend a small tip be given to the delivering party.

What is your guarantee?

To answer that question, please go to our link to our GUARANTEE, RESERVATIONS & POLICY page.

Kennel Care, Health, Breeding, and Other General Questions:

  • Why do your puppies sell so quickly? Well, first of all, we'd like to take credit for our superior breedings. Pete is very careful to plan well in advance, making sure to match parents (dams and sires) for the perfect blend of temperament, intelligence, hunting desire, natural pointing instinct, superb looks, and proven pedigree in each litter. Second, probably because of our superior breeding program, reservations on our litters fill up quickly, usually before a litter is born and often even before our dogs are bred. The sooner you fill out your reservation and get it sent to us with your $300 deposit, the better chances you have of getting the puppy you want from the litter you want. If you are looking to adopt a puppy and current reservations are looking full, talk to us about another litter or a future planned breeding so you can be ahead of the game.
  • What do you think of bark collars? We do employ the use of bark collars at our kennel for certain dogs--the noisiest ones, of course. When you come to visit our kennel, you will know whether or not we need to charge the batteries in our dogs' bark collars by the amount of barking you hear. If only a few are barking, that's okay. Those are the dogs that bark only when there's a reason to do so. Unfortunately, other dogs make noise just to make noise, as Pete says. If you decide to use a bark collar for your dog, we recommend that you keep a constant check on your dog's neck. Make sure the collar is not too loose that it does not serve its purpose, but also make sure that the collar is so tight that it chafes the dog's neck. Turning the collar every few days can ensure that fur loss, rashes, or sores do not develop on the dog's skin.
  • What do you think of electronic or "E" collars? Pete definitely uses "E" collars in some of his training, but he is very careful to only use light vibration or the slightest stimulation. There are so many ways to correct a dog without using an E collar, that it's not always necessary. Even when Pete does use an E collar, it's only with certain dogs at certain times, in certain situations, and only for brief periods of time, depending on how quickly a dog learns. Some dogs are so sensitive and easy to correct, it takes only a slight vibration to correct a bad habit. Other dogs can be more stubborn or so focused that a little more stimualtion is required. E collars are very easy to misuse and you can ruin a dog's training with an E collar if you don't know exactly what you're doing. So, what do we think of them? They are probably best left to professional dog trainers, but if you bring your dog to us, Pete could probably complete a few lessons with your dog using an E collar if he believes it is necessary to correct a bad habit. It's also possible that Pete might be willing to teach you how to use an E collar, if you plan to use one in your training, but you'd have to ask him about that.
  • Can you guarantee point in your dogs? The answer, unfortunately, is no. The pointing gene occurs naturally in about 5% of all Labs. We have been breeding several generations of that pointing gene into our dogs, so it is now occurring in around 80% of each of our litters (but not in every puppy in each litter) and we hope that our upland hunters get that point in their dogs. Sometimes that point shows up in puppies around 7 or 8 weeks of age, but more often, it does not reveal itself until a dog is about a year old.
  • How successful are your breedings? It depends... With certain female dogs, we have gotten a successful breeding in the past, so we can usually count on the success of subsequent breedings. Unfortunately, however, nature can fool us. Sometimes a breeding takes; sometimes it doesn't. We usually do not know that a bred dam is pregnant until close to the whelping date, because we do not perform ultrasounds. We have had a few eager buyers (or owners of the dams) pay for ultrasounds, but they can include the expense of travel and hotel, so we usually wait patiently, let nature take its course, and encourage you to back up your choice of a puppy on a second litter, just in case.
  • Are there certain times of the year when you have litters and times when you don't? Generally, yes. Pete keeps track of our dams' heat cycles from year to year and can usually predict when we'll have puppies and when we won't. Some dams come into heat in late winter and early spring; others come into heat in late spring and anytime during the summer. This means our first group of puppies are usually ready to adopt in mid to late spring and another group is ready to adopt in late summer to mid fall. There are always exceptions, of course. We've noticed that dams tend to go into a period of dormancy and have no heat cycles during the colder months of November and December, so breeding seldom takes place during this time. Some people have asked us, "Can you warm up your dogs to speed up their heat cycles?" The answer is no. We have attempted this in the past and it has made no difference, so we've learned to sit back, relax, and let nature take its course.
  • How many puppies do you average per litter? We've had as few as 1 puppy in a litter one time and as many as 11 in a few litters. The average is around 7, so look over the litters that you like and check to see how many puppies are already reserved in a litter. If there are already 6 or more reservations for a specific gender or color (bearing in mind that Pete always reserves first or second pick of each color and gender in a litter, which you can read more about under the question, "How does MMK determine the picking order?"), your odds of getting the puppy you want in that litter decrease. However, backing up your choice in a second litter can bump you up to a higher pick in that litter (assuming the breeding is successful), so take all these factors into consideration when selecting your puppy.
  • What is a puppy profile? How do you evaluate the puppies? These are two other popular questions. When a puppy is seven weeks old, Pete puts all puppies through a short battery of tests to evaluate their natural skills and temperaments. The criteria tested are: boldness/dominance, energy level, nose, retrieve, birdiness, responsiveness, size, and color/shade. We send this out to all puppy owners so they can be better educated in making their selection. Here's a sample of a puppy profile test for you to view: PROFILE
  • What are your facilities like? Usually people want to know this, because they want to make sure we’re not a puppy mill, so we're more than happy to put you at ease. We believe it is more humane to have a reasonable, manageable number of dogs on site at any one time, rather than too many dogs in crowded conditions. (On that note, however, we are considering expanding our business, which means moving to a larger piece of land where we can build larger facilities. More on that if and when we actually move forward with that dream.) To ensure that our dogs are treated humanely, we have wide open spaces and lots of lonely dirt roads for our dogs to run several miles at least once a day (typically mornings). In addition to this daily exercise, our dogs' kennel runs are large and spacious enough to accommodate additional physical exercise and play. Our adult dogs currently live in a barn that is partially covered by a roof so that they can be outside under an open sky when they want or seek shelter when they prefer to do so. (See the above photos of the barn and surrounding land and fenced runs for our dogs.) Dogs are social animals and thrive in a pack so we try to allow several dogs to live together. However, as you’ll see in answer to the next question, a lot of our dogs don’t even live with us at our kennel.
  • How many dogs do you have at your kennel? The number fluctuates dramatically from month to month (or even week to week), but we can have anywhere from 60-70 dogs here at a time for the reasons listed below:
    1. STUDS: We currently have eight stud dogs. Our stud fees are currently set at $1,000. All of our stud dogs have either preliminary or full health clearances for hip dysplasia, eyes, and EIC (exercise induced collapse). Some have extra health clearances for CNM (centronuclear myopathy), PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), and elbow dysplasia. Preliminary health clearances are conducted before a dog reaches 2 years old. It yields the same result as a health clearance after a dog is 2 years old, but we get the prelim' tests so we know which dogs will be allowed into our breeding program and which ones will not.
    2. DAMS: We can have as many as 50 breeding female dogs on site at a time, but the total number fluctuates, because we intentionally place our females with loving, responsible local families whenever possible. Most of these families hunt, which means the dogs are well trained and spend a lot of time working and playing. These off-site female breeding dogs belong to their owners, but we retain the breeding rights for up to four breedings. When one comes into heat (and if she has had a sufficient rest period between litters), she comes back to our kennel to be bred, after which she is returned to her family until she’s ready to whelp. When she's about to give birth, she returnes to our whelping kennel and we care for her and her puppies until the puppies are weaned. Whenever we have a lot of breeding females at our place (usually spring and summer), it means they are in heat and being bred, whelping pups, nursing pups, or they have just weaned their pups and are waiting for their owners to come pick them up. Many potential customers like to come visit our dogs before they pick out a puppy. You can generally see the studs, but we might need to make special arrangements for you to meet the mama dogs for the reasons stated above. (If you live anywhere within a two-hour radius of our place and would like to adopt one of our adult mama dogs and work with us and our breeding program, please email Julie at julie@mmkennels.com to request an application.) All of our dams have either preliminary or full health clearances for hip dysplasia, eyes, and EIC (exercise induced collapse). Some have extra health clearances for CNM (centronuclear myopathy), PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), and elbow dysplasia. Preliminary health clearances are conducted before a dog reaches 2 years old. It yields the same result as a health clearance after a dog is 2 years old, but we get the prelim' tests so we know which dogs will be allowed into our breeding program and which ones will not.
    3. DOGS IN TRAINING: It varies, but we can have anywhere from 1 to 15 dogs-in-training for clients and future clients. Our trainers, John, Colin and Sawyer, (and sometimes our kids) provide both our "Super Citizen" basic training and our more advanced hunt training.
    4. PUPPIES: This varies greatly. We prefer to space out breedings so that puppies are born throughout the year at a manageable rate. However, God doesn't always work with our ideal timeline. Sometimes we'll wait for six months for any of our female dogs to begin a heat cycle; then they all come into heat at once and we have several litters of pups at the same time. There are also times when breedings are unsuccessful. This means we can have anywhere from three to sixty puppies here at one time. Every once in awhile, our female dog owners want to keep their mama dogs and puppies at their homes until they're about five or six weeks old; in that case we might have a number of puppies available for adoption, but you won't find them anywhere at our location.
  • How often do you breed your dams? A maximum of four times and on very rare occasions five times, but only if she is exceptionally healthy and strong and has a record of producing large, healthy litters.
  • What do you do with your dams after they're done having puppies? Most of our female dogs do not belong to us. We have a special arrangement with local families to adopt these dogs from Marble Mountain Kennels. The owners own the dogs outright, but we retain the breeding rights for up to 4 breedings. However, some of the breeding dams do live at our place and when they come to retirement age, we make her available for adoption at a very reasonable price. If you’re interested in adopting an older, more mature female dog, please let us know. You should be aware, however, that these retired mama dogs are often neither hunt trained nor house broken.
  • Do you have any older dogs for sale? Occasionally, we have a younger female available (around 1 or 2 years old). The reason for this is that she may have passed all of our criteria for being a great hunting and companion dog (and is usually one of Pete's top picks of the litter), but when she came of breeding age and was able to undergo her medical tests (eyes, hips, elbows, etc.), there was a health-related reason for being disqualified from our breeding program. If this is the case, the disqualification seldom has any significant effect on the dog’s life and wellbeing; it's just that she might have a genetic defect that we don't want to pass down to future generations and she is quickly spayed to prevent any accidental breedings. Also, after a mama dog has whelped 4-5 litters, she is available for adoption (either for free or for a low price, depending on her training). If you’re interested in adopting an older, more mature dog, let us know. You should be aware, however, that these dogs are often neither hunt trained nor house broken. See the previous question and answer for more details.
  • What do you recommend for a puppy/dog with loose stool? Over the years, certain litters of pups develop loose stool while here at our kennel. We know we have giardia and coccidia parasites in the streams and puddles around our place and, because of this, we treat every puppy for worms, giardia and coccydia 2 weeks (or earlier, if necessary) before puppy pick-up day. This has baffled us, but we may have a solution as suggested by a couple of our clients' veterinarians, as well as veterinarians with whom we have personally consulted. One potential problem is that the giardia and/or coccidia have not been eradicated. If this is the case, we now recommend that you NOT treat your puppy with the same medication that we first used (Albon and Safeguard). Instead, you can call us and we will send you a different medication. A couple of veterinarians have also said that the dog food (and especially puppy foods) can be too rich and actually cause diarrhea in some puppies. If your puppy continues to have diarrhea even after tests for parasites and micro-organisms come up negative, our consulting veterinarians recommend putting your puppy on a 30-day cleansing and healing diet of nothing but roasted turkey, vegetables (especially stewed pumpkin) and rice. This diet has healed the stomachs and/or intestinal linings of many of our pups, as we have heard rave reviews from our clients. We have been recommending feeding your pup 1 tablespoon of plain, probiotic-rich yogurt twice a day for at least 4 weeks, even after the stool is formed and healthy-looking. This is important because the antibiotics and anti-parasite treatments deplete the necessary healthy probiotics in the puppy's intestinal tract. However, some puppies actually develop allergies to dairy products, so if the diarrhea continues, remove the yogurt from his diet. To ease diarrhea, we also follow our local veterinarian's advice and treat puppies and dogs with anti-diarrheal medication, like Immodium. Just make sure you adjust the dosage for a small puppy by cutting the pill in halves or thirds, depending on her size. Just be aware that anti-diarrheals are not a cure for the problem; they only make the problem a little more bearable until the problem is fully resolved.
  • Is crate training good for a puppy/dog? Yes, we believe so. You don’t want to leave a puppy in a crate for too long, but you can start with one hour and gradually increase to eight hours at a time for a full night’s sleep—for both you and the dog. You can also leave a dog in a crate for 3-4 hours at a time during the day for a good nap. (All dogs need their daily naptime.) We recommend crate training for at least three reasons:
    1. Security: The crate makes a puppy and older dog feel safe and secure. No matter what is going on in the home and no matter how energetic a dog is, she can be trained to calm herself, relax, and rest in a crate.
    2. Reward: The crate can be used as a reward. After a challenging obedience training session, the crate is a place for a dog to relax, rest, and enjoy a doggy treat. (We recommend tossing in a kibble treat to get the dog to go inside the crate so the crate is always associated with a small snack reward.)
    3. Sleep: The crate triggers a sleep reflex. After a quick walk outside in the evenings to relieve himself or "take a break," as we often say, your dog will head into his crate and usually fall asleep right away, sleeping through the night.
  • Do you name the puppies? Yes...sort of. When the puppies turn five weeks old, we place colored collars on each one. At that time, we temporarily name the puppies according to their collar color, referring to them as “Pink Dash," "Blue," “Red," "Green Dash," “Yellow,” and so forth. (We put black marking pen dash marks on all the collars worn by female pups.)
  • Do the puppies receive all of their shots and have their dew claws removed? Yes. Dew claws are removed shortly after your puppy is born. As for vaccinations, if you pick up your pup at 8 weeks old, she will need another round of shots, but the due date for her next shots will be noted in her immunization records.
  • How can my dog avoid getting hip or elbow dysplasia? We do our best to breed out these genetic markers in our dogs. All of our dogs are either cleared or pre-cleared for hip and elbow dysplasia. However, it can show up randomly in offspring from time to time, due to recessive genes. You can have your dog tested for these genes at two years of age. You cannot remove the genes from your dog if he/she has the markers for hip or elboy dysplasia, however, whether or not your dog's DNA contains the genetic markers for these problems, you can do a lot to prevent or avoid your dog ever having any symptoms by NOT OVERFEEDING HIM/HER--especially as a puppy. We're getting up on our soapbox now, but we cannot overemphasize this critical preventive measure. Americans are notorious for overfeeding their pets and it can cause long-term damage to a dog's bones, hips, joints, and overall skeletal development.
  • Which Labs are smarter--blacks, reds, yellows or chocolates? If people have been exposed to a graymatter-challenged dog of any color they tend to think most dogs of that particular color have less intelligence. Almost monthly someone tells us that chocolates are dumber than blacks or yellows are smarter than chocolates, or they've never seen a smart yellow dog, etc. It's all based on people's individual experiences. Thankfully, the color of the dog makes no difference whatsoever in our kennel. Any dog you get from us, regardless of color, will be intelligent, so it's a non-issue. After people buy a dog from us, we hear, "We've never seen such a smart dog!" And that goes for every color. As for chocolates, they do get a worse rap than other Lab colors, because most chocolate breedings "out there" are what we call "backyard" or irresponsible breedings. Unfortunately, many breeders (even ones who might be considered more responsible) have focused so much effort on getting the coveted chocolate color (or other unusual colors, like silver, which are recessive genes and harder to get), the dogs have not been bred for intelligence. So, if it seems like there are more unintelligent chocolate Labs in the world than other more common Lab colors, it's because it's largely true. I'm not saying they don't exist outside of responsible kennels like ours, but an intelligent chocolate Lab is certainly less common--and we've been working hard (and successfully, I might add) to change that trend. (Please note that we have nothing against many famillies who choose to breed their dogs at home and experience the whelping process. If we had not first gained the knowledge and joy of breeding and birthing puppies in our own home we wouldn't be where we are today. We do, however, oppose the unplaned, haphazard, irresponsible manner in which many dogs are bred, due to a lack of neutering/spaying.)
  • Do you offer boarding at your kennel? We do not actually run a boarding kennel, per se, but if you have adopted a dog or puppy from us, we offer boarding exclusively to our clients for $7 per day. During that time, you have the option of including professional training (for a fee) if you'd like. Please talk with us about how many days and what type of training you would like during any time that you board your MMKennels dog with us.
  • Do you offer breeding rights for your dogs? We do offer breeding rights. The cost is $800 to purchase an unlimited registration.
  • Which Labs are calmer--blacks, reds, yellows or chocolates? The answer to this question is similar to the one above. Calmness is not dependent on color, but on breeding. If the sire and dam are calm, the puppies will be calm. However, it is true that "out there in the world," more black Labs have been bred for field trial competitions and will be usually be higher in energy than most of our black Labs, which have been bred to be calmer. It is also true that many have been bred to be guide dogs, therapy dogs, etc. and will be calmer than the black Labs you see out there. As for chocolates, most chocolate breedings, as stated above, are "backyard breedings" and there appears to be no consistency in temperament whatsoever. Some chocolate Labs are calm; some are higher energy. All of our dogs are bred for calmness, which is why we often pair a more energetic dog with a more calm dog, in order to get offspring that have a peaceful, more even temperament with that on/off switch, meaning they will be relaxed with family in the house, but turn on the juice outdoors when it's time to run, play or work. (Please note that we have nothing against many famillies who choose to breed their dogs at home and experience the whelping process. If we had not first gained the knowledge and joy of breeding and birthing puppies in our own home we wouldn't be where we are today. We do, however, oppose the unplaned, haphazard, irresponsible manner in which many dogs are bred, due to a lack of neutering/spaying.)
  • Which gender is easier to train, male or female? Gender is not the issue. What makes a dog easier to train is more about you as the trainer than your dog. Some dogs (male or female) are strong-willed, perhaps more independent, and require a firmer training style. Pete uses a lot of growling when correcting these dogs. For example, if a dog is being trained to remain inside a crate with the door open, as soon as the dog steps a foot outside the crate, the dog will hear a low, deep-throated "Grrrrr!" from Pete. The dog will immediately step back inside the crate. They know and understand what a growl means and negative correction doesn't really faze them; it makes them more successful. Other dogs (male or female) are "softer," which means they respond easily and quickly to minimal correction. However, these compliant dogs can be extremely sensitive and dislike correction so much that they want to escape the training process altogether. These softer dogs require more gentle encouragement in the form of praise and petting than their rougher, tougher counterparts. In other words, it's best to "catch them being good," as they say in our elementary schools. As we've stated before, dogs are much like humans in many ways. They're all different and training must be adjusted for each individual dog according to temperament. What you should consider is your personal training style. If you are more sensitive, gentle, and patient, you might prefer to train a softer, more compliant dog. If you are a little tougher and more rugged yourself (and perhaps lack patience), training a stronger, more robust and even stubborn dog might be a better fit for you. If you feel your training style has been mismatched with your dog, guess which one of you has to change, in order to make your dog a success? Hmmm. We could write an entire book that compares dog training to child rearing. :)
  • Should I adopt a male or female dog? Which is better? We get this question a lot, so let us tell you in very general terms, of course, what we believe the strengths and weaknesses in male and female dogs can be. Just keep in mind that we’re only speaking from the Labrador Retriever world, since that’s our field of expertise. Also, keep in mind that both male and female dogs can undergo a significant change in temperament after being neutered or spayed, but we'll tell you about intact males and females, since their gender differences are more pronounced. See the detailed explanation below:

Male Labs

The Positives:

  1. Fun-loving: Male dogs often see humans, and especially children, as playmates.
  2. Determined and focused: When it is time to work, we find males can sometimes be more intense on retrieve and are less invested in the social side of life.
  3. Tough: Often males can take more all-around wrangling and pressure from the elements (rain, wind, cold, snow, etc.) then females.
  4. Classic looking: Males generally weigh 10-20% more than females and have a blockier, squarer head and a broader chest than the females.

The Negatives:

  1. Wandering: Some male dogs are wanderers. This is more true of intact males, since their sense of smell leads them to seek out females in heat.
  2. Territory Marking: Males also tend to mark their territory by urinating on things. Thankfully, neutering can greatly reduce this habit.
  3. Assertiveness: I use the term “assertive,” rather than “aggressive,” because Labs rarely exhibit aggression without reason. However, male Labs can be outgoing, assertive and demanding of attention in an unintentionally clumsy manner. This seems to be fine for most adult human companions, but could be seen as a negative around children, because a larger male dog can accidentally knock over small children.

Female Labs

The Positives:

  1. Sensitivity: Females often want to be in closer contact with their owner, and seek their approval.
  2. Nurturing: Almost any dog can be a loving companion for a child. Nevertheless, some believe female dogs make a better choice for children because they may be more naturally nurturing and protective of young ones, even if they are from another species.

The Negatives:

  1. Crankiness or Moodiness: We call all of our female dogs “dams.” It seems less sexist to us than using that “other” term. However, there is a possible reason for the “witchy” with a “b” label given to female dogs. They can tend to be hostile toward other people and animals (of either gender) when they’re in heat. They also tend to be more hostile toward other females, especially when they are protecting their pups. Some female dogs can be more generally cranky than males for no apparent reason, and they are well known for mood swings during their hormonal changes.
  2. Overly sensitive: Some females are more physically sensitive and environmentally aware than males. This is especially true of unspayed females during breeding, when they are not ready or willing to be with a mate. They have been known to bite and growl at any male dog that comes near. Humans should beware during these times, as they can be the brunt of cranky growls and bared teeth. Females can also be touchy and snappy when they are caring for and guarding their pups. Growls and barks are not uncommon, and some have even been known to bite.
  3. Lawn Damage: A female dog's urine is usually more acidic than a male's. Consequently, when a female urinates on a lawn, it creates unsightly brown, burned-looking spots.
  • If I adopt two dogs, should they both be the same gender or each different? If you already have one dog, you might want to consider that your next one be of the opposite gender, since dogs of the same gender have a tendency to fight. However, due to their strong territorial and reproductive instincts, this is more often the case with two females than with two males, regardless of whether or not the females are spayed.
  • If I adopt two dogs, should they both be from the same litter? In our experience, we have observed that people are more likely to have success when they adopt dogs that are not from the same litter. There are two reasons for this: 1) Natural aggression is more likely to show up toward siblings than unrelated dogs; 2) When dogs spend most of their lives with a sibling, they sometimes develop insecurity and separation anxiety.
  • Do you use "Neuro Stim" imprinting exercises on your puppies? This is actually not a frequently asked question, but you might find it interesting nonetheless. We already work diligently to make sure that every puppy in our kennel is fully socialized with plenty of contact with kids and adults from an early age on a daily basis. Howeer, we have not been consistent with utilizing Early Neurological Stimulation or "Neuro Stim" for short with each and every puppy in every litter. However, we find the concept intriguing and have begun implementing the exercises to some extent whenever we find the time or have the inclination to do so. Some of the claimed benefits of Neuro Stim exercises include improved cardiovascular performatnce (heart rate), stronger heart beats, stronger adrenal glands, higher tolerance to stress, greater resistance to disease, and in tests of learning, pups were found to be more active and exploratory than non-stimulated pups. Here's a link to a YouTube VIDEO CLIP of someone explaining how Neuro Stim is used on puppies. Here's a link to a VIDEO CLIP of one of us doing a couple of Neuro Stim exercises on a puppy here at Marble Mountain Kennels. (Here's a link to a second VIDEO CLIP of us performing only a Neuro Stim paw exercise on a pup.) In this video we're stimulating the paws in one exercise and inverting the pup in another exercise. (Note that we used our fingers, rather than a q-tip.) As of this date, 2/20/15, we have not been using NeuroStim long enough to follow up on the pups to determine whether or not the long-term affects are beneficial to them when they reach maturity. To read more on this subject, click on this link to a Neuro Stim Information Website. (Below are photos of some neurostimulation exercises performed with one of our puppies.)
  • Can we visit your kennel? We welcome visitors to our kennel. Please call us ahead of time to set up an appointment and we'll try to meet with you and show you around our place.
  • What can we expect when we visit your kennel? Most people are surprised when they visit us, because we're a growing, yet still average-sized, family-owned business. We have kids, our entire family helps out with our business, Julie was a full-time English and History teacher, but now works full-time for us (although she occasionally does some substitute teaching), and Pete trains dogs and runs the business and does some part-time sports coaching after school. We have a kennel manager named John who oversees kennel cleanup and maintenance; he's also a trainer. We have a kennel hand named Sawyer who does most of the kennel cleaning and maintenance. Colin is our puppy adoption specialist who handles phone calls, emails and processes all adoption paperwork for puppies. Our office is in our house and when you come up to visit or pick up a puppy, you'll usually be outside with the pups at first and then inside for awhile to sign paperwork and to hear Pete's instructions on how to care for your new puppy. We have a modern whelping facility up by our house and a big, old barn down below our house, where our older studs, dams and some of our dogs-in-training live. Most of our dogs live together outdoors in runs that are partially covered by the barn roof. Some live up in a new kennel near our house. There is concrete flooring in the whelping kennel, linoleum flooring in our new kennel, but only dirt floors in our barn. We keep fresh straw hay in the runs for all of our dogs who live in the big barn. The dogs are separated into several spacious runs. Dams are in two different runs, pups up to one year old are in another run, and studs are in different runs, some together and some separated, depending on how well they get along with each other. Our dogs get plenty of exercise each morning when they go on an 8-mile run with John behind his motorcycle. That pretty much wears them out, but if they want more exercise throughout the day, they're free to move about in their runs at their leisure, either staying under the barn roof or going out into open-air areas. Occasionally, we let certain dogs out to roam the yard, keep away squirrels and deer, and to visit with us. We only allow one or two dogs in the house at a time and they usually spend time in Pete's office or on a mat near the front door.
  • What is the difference between American and English Labs and why do you specialize in American Labs? There are several characteristics that are stereotypical of English Labs and American Labs. Not all of these characterics are 100% true of either breed, but I'll list the most common ones here...

English Lab Characteristics:
- Shorter legs, thicker body (more like a bodybuilder or wrestler)
- Calmness
- Classic show Lab appearance

American Lab Characteristics:
- Taller and leaner with a more athletic "runner's" build
- More animated and stylish in the field
- Perhaps more trainable (although this is a matter of great debate)

We think a combination of the above attributes make for the best Lab. Our breeding program aims for the following:
- Classic square head and thicker chest of the English Lab
- Smaller (not necessarily shorter), leaner conformation of the American Lab with a more pronounced waistline and a gradual slimming toward the hind quarters
- Good on off switch: The calmness of the English Lab in the home and in person with the more animated personality, energy, and style of the American Lab outdoors or in an upland/waterfowl hunting situation
- More athletic, lighter-weight body of the American Lab, which is bred for stamina to hunt all day
- More tractable, eager-to-please personality of the American Lab, which I (Pete) think makes them easier to train than an English Lab (although this last statement has been known to spark heated arguments with English Lab lovers)

(Of the two dogs pictured to the left, the top dog is one of our stud dogs, Fisher, an American Lab; the bottom dog is an English Lab.)

Puppy Adoption & Financial Questions

  • How much do your puppies cost? Our prices are as follows, based on current demand for colors and genders: (Don't forget to add 7.5% California sales tax.)
  • Black and yellow males are $1400.
  • Chocolate and red males are $1600.
  • Black and yellow females are $1600.
  • Chocolate and red females are $1800.
  • How much do your trained dogs cost? The pricing on an obedience-trained started hunting dog varies according to how much training and how many weeks of training were put into the dog. Prices can range anywhere from $2000-$8000. To view some of our past sold dogs (green/untrained, obedience-trained, or started hunting), please view our Started & Other Adult Dogs for Sale page. We have a couple of trainers working to train a few dogs right now. You can call us to see what dogs we have and when they will be ready.
  • How much does it cost to ship a dog via airline flight? As of 4/2/16 the average cost for shipping dogs on planes is around $300-$400. The flights are usually around $300, the dog crate is $40, the pre-boarding veterinary health checkup is $40, and transport fee to the airport is $140 if we're shipping from Sacramento, CA (SMF) or $50 if we are shipping from Medford, OR (MFR).
  • What happens if the puppy we reserved is not in our litter? You have a few options here:
  1. You can move your reservation to another future litter (We always recommend that you do this when first reserving your puppy anyhow, just in case.) You will not lose your deposit.
  2. You can select a different puppy from the same litter if one is available (i.e. switch from a male to a female or from a yellow to a chocolate, etc.). You will not lose your deposit. OR
  3. You can ask for a refund of your deposit.
  • What happens if we decide not to select a puppy from the litter we originally chose? If the puppy you want is born and is available in the litter you chose, and you change your mind about that puppy, you will lose your former deposit. However, you can move your reservation to another upcoming litter if you send in an additional $300 deposit.
  • What type of deposit is required? $300 cash, check or money order (Sorry, but we do not yet accept credit cards.)
  • How much does dog training cost? The basic obedience "Super Citizen" program costs $1,000 for 6 weeks (68 sessions or more). Our "Gun Dog Training" costs $900 per month (45 sessions or more).

Food-Related Questions

  • How often, how, and what do you feed your puppies? We feed our puppies (and pregnant or lactating mama dogs) twice a day. We mix in a little warm water and let the food soak for about ten minutes before each feeding. They eat so voraciously, they choke and throw it up if it's dry. This is due to the fact that all the puppies in a litter eat together and compete for food. If you have no other dogs competing for food in your home, you will be able to gradually eliminate the water and feed your puppy dry kibble, which is recommended for strengthening their teeth and jaws. We currently feed our puppies Costco's Kirkland brand chicken and rice adult puppy chow or adult dog food (depending on their age). We suggest consulting with your veterinarian or any puppy rearing book regarding when exactly to make these transitional feeding changes. Unfortunately, we have heard from other clients that Costco stores south of Redding, California do not provide the exact same brand of dog food that we buy in Medford, Oregon, where we do all of our shopping, so other people have recommended comparable brands, such as Blue Mountain and Diamond Natural. However, please make sure there is no rosemary extract listed in the ingredients of any dog food you buy, since this ingredient has been known to cause epileptic seizures in dogs.*
  • How thin should my dog be? You should be unable to clearly see the ribs on a long-haired Labrador Retriever, but Pete believes you should be able to see a clear indentation of a waist and feel at least one or two rib bones through the fur. On a really short-haired Lab, he believes you should be able to see one rib fairly clearly and clearly feel at least 2-3 ribs. (If the dog is pregnant, of course, you shouldn't see any ribs throughout much of the pregnancy.) If you ever see those rib bones completely disappear and become undetectable by touch, it's time to put Fido on a more restricted diet. (Some people show us their dogs and say, "Is that a rib? I think that's a rib there." That's not good enough.) With our dogs, however, more often than not, you'll find that they have high metabolisms and some have trouble keeping weihgt on. If you visit our kennel, you will see some dogs that have no ribs showing and some that do have a few ribs showing. Believe me, we notice the skinnier dogs and are working to put the weight back on them by giving them extra food and worming them. Most dogs are skinniest when going through adolescence, because they're experiencing such rapid growth. If your dog is getting enough exercise during this time of development, we recommend increasing food portions for this period between 5 months and 1 year. See this page from this helpful website for more information on ribs showing in your dog: http://www.thelabradorsite.com/fat-labrador/
  • What and how often do you feed your adult dogs?
  1. We have been feeding both our dogs and puppies Costco's Kirkland Super Premium Adult Dog Food, due to its 4-star rating, fewer fillers (such as rice and barley), and digestibility. We are seeing fewer bowel movements, firmer stool, and, in our dogs, more muscle definition, shinier coats, and higher energy/stamina. Unfortunately, we have heard from other clients that Costco stores south of Redding, California do not provide the exact same brand of dog food that we buy in Medford, Oregon, where we do all of our shopping, so other people have recommended comparable brands, such as Blue Mountain and Diamond Natural. However, please make sure there is no rosemary extract listed in the ingredients of any dog food you buy, since this ingredient has been known to cause epileptic seizures in dogs.*
  2. We feed our adult dogs only once a day, but you can cut that in half and feed your dog twice a day, if you wish. We have chosen to feed only once in the morning so that no dog has an overnight accident in his/her crate, which can happen with some dogs that get evening feedings. The exact amount of food you feed your dog will depend on his/her size. Consult your veterinarian regarding food portion sizes. Please pay special attention to overfeeding. (See important health notes above on the question of how thin your dog should be and see the answer below regarding how much to feed a dog per weight in pounds.)
*Important Note: We have been informed that rosemary extract is used in a lot of pet foods as a preservative. Rosemary extract is allegedly a neurotoxin that can cause seizures, neurological problems and anemia in pets. This extract is commonly used in pet foods labeled "all natural." There is no scientific research or definitive evidence linking rosemary extract to seizures and other problems, but one of our clients' dogs were having seizures and when she stopped feeding them food with rosemary extract their seizures stopped (and that was almost 2 years ago). For more information, you can read this article at "The Dog Press" and other information available online.
  • How much do you feed your puppies and dogs each day? (See a chart and other helpful information at Dog Breeding Info'.)
  1. For puppies up to 10 pounds and up to one year old: 1/4 - 3/4 cup dry kibble mixed with water
  2. For puppies 10-25 pounds and up to one year old: 3/4-1 cup dry kibble
  3. For puppies 25-50 pounds and up to 1 year old: 1-2 cups dry kibble
  4. For adult dogs 50-75 pounds (one year or older): 2-21/2 cups dry kibble
  5. For adult dogs 75+ pounds (one year or older): 2-4 cups dry kibble

General Puppy, Birth and Other Related Questions:

  • What is the gestation period for dogs? The gestation period for a dog is 9 weeks.
  • When are puppies weaned? We wait until the mama dog chooses to wean her pups, which is typically between 5 and 6 weeks of age. In the first 3 weeks or so, a mama dog will want only short breaks from her pups, because she wants to be with them all the time. The mama dog will spend less and less time with her pups, wanting longer and longer breaks from them. This is a natural and gradual weaning process and we watch each pup's weight and growth to know when exactly to begin introducing them to solid food. When a mama dog becomes extremely reluctant to return to her pups, it's time to completely separate her from the litter and finish off the weaning process by moving the pups to a diet of all solid food.
  • How do you socialize your puppies? After the puppies are weaned, we like to keep puppies with their littermates for optimum socialization until they are 8 weeks old. We also have five kids, neighbor friends, and Kidder Creek Camp next door to our home, where Pete was the director for 20 years. Between our own kids, campers, camp staff, and lots of puppy-loving friends, every puppy gets played with, held, cuddled and loved on a daily basis from about 2 weeks to 8 weeks of age. They most definitely suffer no lack of socialization or human interaction.
  • How many weeks is it from the time you breed a dog to the time the puppies are ready for adoption? Usually 17 weeks
  • How much will my puppy weigh at maturity? Look at the weights of the parents. Let's say, for example, you're looking at a Yukon x Valdez litter. Yukon weighs 65 pounds, so his male offspring will weigh about the same as adults. Valdez weighs 55 pounds, so her female offspring will weigh about the same as adults.
  • Are you present during the puppy births? We try to be, but puppies can be born so quickly that we miss seeing them and other times we watch and wait and as soon as we turn around, step out or blink, a puppy pops out. (I guess it's true that "a watched pot never boils." Anyhow, we have caught a couple of births on video. Here's a compilation of videos of MMK births and newborns: Births & Newborns Video.

Some Important Questions for You:

As you know, adopting a puppy is a huge commitment and responsibility that could last up to fifteen years, if your dog is blessed to live that long. Adopting a new puppy is a lot like having a new baby in the house. There are sleepless nights, messes to clean, and constant monitoring of food and water intake. Here are some questions to consider:

1. Have you prepared for your puppy? Do you have a crate ready for transportation, comfortable bedding, dishes, food, and an enclosed run for him/her to live in during the hours when you have to be gone to work?

2. Do you have an adequate daily exercise plan for your dog? Our dogs run twice a day--about 3-5 miles in the morning behind a motorcycle and about 1 mile in the evening. Labs require a lot of exercise. Do you have someplace for your dog to run and play if you have to be away for several hours? Have you considered a place for your dog to swim, since they love that--and it expends a lot of their excess energy? A lot of our buyers have pools in their backyards or ponds, rivers, lakes, or a beach nearby--all excellent exercise locations for Labs.

3. Do you have a feeding schedule planned? We feed our puppies twice a day and our adult dogs only once a day in the morning. Are you aware that overfeeding--especially when a dog is a young puppy--can contribute to hip and elbow dysplasia? Make sure you keep your dog lean. You should always be able to see a few ribs (unless a mama dog is pregnant).

4. Do you plan to breed your dog? We no longer allow our customers to retain breeding rights. The cost to purchase an unlimited registration is $800. With this purchase, we require that you obtain all necessary health certificates and clearances before breeding. (This option also allows you to potentially have a higher chance of getting a first- or second-pick pup, if available. Furthermore, MMK sometimes partners with clients on breeding. When this is the case, 50% of the breeding price is refunded.)

5. Do you plan to train your dog? Our dogs are bred for their intelligence (amongst other things). An intelligent dog needs work to do. They need to learn. Keep your dog's brain active by keeping up with his training and adding new things as he grows.

We hope that the above information answers most of your questions, but please don't hesitate to call and ask us more. We don't mind in the least! Talking with our customers is one of our favorite parts of our job!

A Puppy's Prayer, by Stacy Killian ...Lord, keep my mouth & body away from those objects that are forbidden. Keep my mind from evil doings, such as finding & destroying papers, tissues, socks & shoes. Allow me not to nip too many fingers, feet & toes in a single day. Keep my mind from mischief & my paws on the straight & narrow path. Lord, may my family love me as much as I love & adore them. Grant my family patience & understanding as I grow, learn & explore the world around me. But, Lord, most of all, let them never give up on me, as I will never give up on them.... Amen.