Why Are English Labs So Expensive? (All You Need To Know)

By Benjamin Tash

Puzzled by the steep price of English Labs? Want to understand the breeding practices and characteristics behind this cost and whether it’s worth it?

Look no further.

Here’s Briefly Why English Labs Are So Expensive:

English Labs command a higher price primarily because they’re adored for their calm, friendly nature which makes them ideal family pets and service dogs. This popularity leads to a robust demand, hence a premium price. Also, breeders carry out extensive health checks to ensure the pups are genetically healthy, albeit at a cost.

Their lineage, often descending from champions, also escalates their value. The meticulous breeding practices which include optimal care and socialization warrant higher expenses. Smaller litter sizes add to this, as each puppy represents a more substantial investment. Beyond the purchase, the ongoing maintenance costs, encompassing healthcare and grooming, contribute to the overall cost that reflects the high standard maintained for the breed.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the 7 reasons why English Labs are so expensive and explore whether the investment is justified.

Additionally, we’ll provide practical tips on how to find English Labs at a more affordable price without compromising quality for the best buck.

why are English labs so expensive

7 Reasons Why English Labs Are So Expensive

I. Breeding Practices

The pricing of English Labs has a significant correlation with their breeding practices.

English Labs are bred to adhere to stringent breed standards defined by kennel clubs like the UK Kennel Club. This includes precise physical attributes and temperaments that breeders strive to achieve, such as a strong, robust build and a calm, gentle demeanor.

Each breeding process is a meticulous selection of parents that best represent these standards which often requires more time, expertise and resources compared to the more flexible standards for American Labs.

Also, English Lab breeders often undertake intensive socialization and early training for their puppies. This process ensures the puppies are well-adjusted, well-mannered, and ready for their new homes.

It’s a resource-intensive effort requiring dedicated time and potentially professional trainers. In contrast, American Lab breeders may not necessarily invest in the same level of early training and socialization, which can reflect in a lower price point.

Registration with kennel clubs is another breeding practice that adds to the cost of English Labs. The process of registration, which affirms the pedigree of the dog, incurs additional fees.

English Labs, being bred to exacting standards, often carry this premium of registration. While American Labs can also be registered, the prestige associated with a registered English Lab can command a higher price.

These breeding practices directly influence the cost of English Labs, making them more expensive than their American counterparts.

Each practice represents an investment of time, effort, and financial resources by the breeder to maintain the breed’s quality, health and behavior which justifies the higher cost.

Read Also: Why Are English Labs Bigger? (6 Reasons Explained In-Depth)

II. Health Testing

Let’s delve into the role that health testing plays in making English Labs so expensive

1. Disease Predispositions

The cost of breeding a litter of English Labs can rise significantly due to the necessary health screenings for genetic disorders. English Labs, more so than American Labs, have been found to have higher incidences of specific hereditary conditions, such as hip and elbow dysplasia.

These conditions can lead to significant health issues down the line, including painful arthritis and lameness.

The screening tests for these disorders are quite comprehensive and can include X-rays and even genetic testing, which substantially increases the costs associated with breeding English Labs.

This commitment to health testing is a testament to responsible breeding, prioritizing the long-term health of the dogs over the upfront costs.

It’s important to understand that while this makes English Labs more expensive initially, it can potentially save owners from high veterinary bills in the future.

Related article: Why Are Silver Labs So Expensive? (Shocking Reasons)

2. Frequency of Health Tests

It’s important to remember that health testing isn’t a one-time procedure. Responsible breeders of English Labs, committed to maintaining the health of the breed, carry out routine health screenings throughout the dogs’ lives.

The frequency of these tests can significantly add to the cost of breeding. English Labs are subjected to regular screenings for diseases such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), a condition that can cause blindness and is more prevalent in this breed.

This high frequency of health testing, to ensure that the dogs used in breeding are not carriers of genetic diseases, increases the expenses involved, thereby making English Labs more expensive than their American counterparts where such frequent screenings may not be standard practice.

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3. Preventive Treatments and Supplements

English Labs, due to their genetic predispositions, often need preventive treatments and dietary supplements to ensure their optimal health.

For instance, joint supplements are frequently given to English Labs to minimize the risk of developing hip and elbow dysplasia, common in the breed.

The costs of these preventive measures are usually absorbed into the overall cost of breeding and raising these puppies.

In contrast, American Labs, with their different breed characteristics and genetic makeup, may not require the same level of preventive care, thus reducing the overall costs associated with their breeding.

However, the comprehensive preventive care and supplementation often translate into better long-term health and quality of life for English Labs, justifying the higher upfront cost.

Read Also: Are Labradors Low Maintenance? (10 Factors Analyzed)

III. Lineage and Pedigree

Pedigree plays a critical role in defining the value and cost of a dog, especially for breeds like English Labradors. For instance, a breeder might invest in a stud dog from a renowned lineage of successful show dogs with achievements that can be traced back to several generations.

This lineage could include national champions, dogs that have excelled in obedience trials or dogs that have demonstrated exceptional abilities in agility or scent work competitions.

Each of these achievements in a dog’s pedigree adds to the perceived quality of the lineage and increases the desirability of the puppies that may come from such a line. Let’s imagine a scenario where an English Lab comes from a lineage that boasts multiple ‘Best in Show’ winners.

Breeders can use this lineage as a selling point, reinforcing the perception of quality and exclusivity associated with owning a pup from such an esteemed family tree.

This lineage acts as a guarantee that such an English Lab carries excellent genetic traits which will likely be passed on to his offspring.

This scenario is a common occurrence in the English Lab world, where the lineage and pedigree are strongly considered during breeding.

Maintaining and enhancing such pedigrees involves expenses like stud fees, the cost of acquiring high-pedigree females, and entering dogs into shows and trials to continue the family's winning legacy.

Comparatively, American Labs, while also having pedigrees, are more commonly associated with fieldwork rather than show rings, which means the focus on show-ring accolades in their lineage might be less pronounced.

Their pedigree might highlight different attributes, such as fieldwork abilities, rather than show-winning aesthetics. Consequently, the same level of investment into a pedigree lineage might not be as prevalent as with English Labs, contributing to the price difference.

Hence, when buying an English Lab, you’re investing in a lineage steeped in excellence, both in terms of physical and behavioral traits and overall health, which justifies the higher price point.

Check Also: Why Are Labradors So Strong? (6 Reasons You Should Know + Tips To Maintain Strength)

IV. Breed Demand

English Labrador Retrievers, known for their distinct appearance and calm demeanor, have witnessed a substantial increase in demand over the years.

These dogs, adored for their dense, water-resistant coat, broad blocky faces, and robust, well-proportioned bodies, are immensely appealing to potential pet owners.

These unique characteristics are not merely aesthetic, but they’re also functional traits inherited from their lineage of hunting and retrieving in cold water, enhancing their appeal further.

English Labs are also lauded for their gentle nature. They’re notably calmer and less hyperactive than their American counterparts, making them especially suitable for families, particularly those with children or elderly members.

Their patient, kind temperament and adaptability to a variety of roles – from being an affectionate household pet, a therapy dog bringing comfort to the distressed, to even assisting in search-and-rescue operations – have added to their soaring popularity.

Moreover, the “supply” side of the equation also plays a role. Quality breeders of English Labs prioritize the health and wellbeing of their dogs over the quantity of puppies produced.

This ethical approach, while admirable, leads to a limited supply of English Labs. The contrast of high demand with limited supply results in a higher market price for these dogs.

Contrastingly, American Labs, while also popular, have been bred more for field and working roles in various terrains, often resulting in a more active temperament and leaner physique.

The differentiation in physical traits and behavior may cater to different market segments, possibly creating a broader supply base — thereby somewhat alleviating the price pressure.

The economics of supply and demand play a significant role in the cost of English Labs. The high demand, driven by their unique characteristics and versatility, coupled with limited, carefully controlled supply, escalates their price.

The cost reflects not just the purchase of a pet but a commitment to a dog breed upheld to the highest breeding standards, with attributes beloved by many.

Speaking of distinct appearances in Labradors, explore more on Why Does My Chocolate Lab Have Green Eyes? (8 Reasons Explained)

V. Quality Assurance

The term “Quality Assurance” in the context of English Labradors refers to the high standard of breeding, health checks, and overall care that English Lab breeders adhere to, ensuring that they produce healthy, well-tempered, and genetically sound puppies.

This approach not only involves significant time and effort but also considerable expense.

Breeders of English Labs often go the extra mile to ensure that their puppies are free from genetic disorders and have sound temperaments, undertaking comprehensive health checks and investing in early socialization and training programs.

These practices are not always a given with all breeders, especially those that breed for quantity over quality.

When compared to American Labs, the rigorous Quality Assurance process contributes significantly to the higher cost of English Labs. While some American Lab breeders also follow stringent health and breeding protocols, it is not as consistently seen across the board.

It’s worth noting that there’s a broader range of breeding practices in the American Lab pool, with some breeders prioritizing working ability and temperament over strict adherence to breed standards and comprehensive health checks.

Not only that, English Lab breeders prioritize the living conditions and welfare of their breeding dogs. The dogs are typically housed in high-quality environments, with regular veterinary care, premium food, and plenty of opportunities for exercise and socialization.

This contrasts to some American Lab breeders, who might focus more on production rather than individual dog welfare, leading to lower costs but potentially compromising on the health and temperament of the puppies.

This variability in practices can result in lower costs for American Labs, but it also brings a higher degree of risk concerning the dog’s future health and temperament.

In contrast, the higher cost of English Labs reflects the breeders' investment in Quality Assurance, providing a greater guarantee of a healthy, well-adjusted puppy. 

This commitment to Quality Assurance, while driving up the initial purchase price, can also potentially save owners from high veterinary and training costs down the line.

The aftercare services offered by English Lab breeders also contribute to the higher price. These breeders often provide extensive support to new owners, offering advice on feeding, training, and general care, and sometimes even including health guarantees.

Such aftercare service requires a substantial time commitment from the breeder and contributes to the overall cost of English Labs.

In contrast, not all American Lab breeders provide this level of aftercare, which can result in lower purchase prices but potentially higher costs for owners down the line if problems arise.

VI. Litter Size

Litter size is a significant contributing factor when discussing the higher cost of English Labradors compared to their American counterparts. English Labradors are often associated with smaller litter sizes.

There is a significant amount of time, energy, and financial resources that go into raising a litter of puppies, and these costs are divided amongst the puppies in the litter.

The smaller the litter size, the higher the cost per puppy, as the same overhead costs (such as veterinary care for the mother and puppies, quality food, vaccinations, and microchipping) are divided among fewer puppies.

There is a great deal of medical care, from prenatal to postnatal, that ensures the health and well-being of the mother and her puppies.

Small litters also mean that each puppy receives more individual care and attention from the breeder, contributing to better socialized and well-adjusted dogs.

This hands-on care during the crucial early weeks of a puppy’s life is extremely valuable and contributes to the overall cost of each puppy.

The reduced litter size also plays a role in ensuring genetic diversity. Responsible breeders of English Labs might choose to breed different dogs to avoid overbreeding one particular lineage even if it means fewer puppies.

The focused and careful efforts to maintain this diversity indirectly contribute to the higher costs.

Taking care of smaller litters is more time-consuming on a per-puppy basis, too.

Breeders spend more time on tasks like feeding, cleaning, socialization and early training which are essential for the puppies’ development.

Lastly, a smaller litter means a breeder is likely to invest more in marketing each puppy. Whether that’s professional photography, advertising, or spending time communicating with potential buyers, these are all time and cost factors that are spread over fewer puppies, raising the cost of each one.

Comparatively, some American Lab breeders may prioritize larger litters to increase the number of puppies for sale, but this could potentially compromise on the individual care and attention each puppy receives.

This difference in approach is often reflected in the price, with English Labs, coming from smaller, more carefully managed litters, being more expensive.

VII. Temperament

The temperament of English Labradors plays a crucial role in their pricing. English Labs are known for their calmer, more laid-back nature compared to their American counterparts.

This temperament trait is highly desirable among pet owners, particularly families with children or elderly members.

English Labs are often characterized as gentle, affable and patient. These qualities make them excellent companion animals, therapy dogs, and service dogs.

Their pleasant disposition allows them to get along well with people of all ages and other pets which reduces the likelihood of behavioral problems.

However, nurturing these traits is not without its challenges. Breeders put a great deal of effort into selecting parent dogs with these traits for their breeding programs.

They also invest substantial time into early socialization and training to ensure that these traits are effectively brought out in their puppies.

The suitability of English Labs for different roles also adds to their value. For example, their serene nature makes them exceptional support animals, and they are often used as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, and therapy dogs for those with mental health conditions.

Furthermore, the process of temperament testing adds to the overall cost. Breeders who conduct these tests are not just evaluating the dog’s nature.

They’re assessing how the dog reacts to different situations and stimuli, identifying potential behavioral problems, and determining the dog’s suitability for various roles, such as a family pet, a therapy animal, or a service dog.

Also, the value of a dog with a predictable, reliable temperament can’t be overstated.

When a family chooses an English Lab, they’re investing in a pet whose demeanor is known and anticipated, providing a level of assurance and peace of mind that can justify a higher price tag.

All in all, breeding for temperament is a sophisticated and labor-intensive process that contributes substantially to the cost of English Labradors.

The detailed attention to lineage, time spent on early socialization, temperament testing and the overall value of a well-behaved, predictable dog all factor into why English Labs are so expensive.

Are English Labs High Maintainence? Is It Worth It?

The question of whether the increased maintenance of English Labs is worth it is subjective, depending largely on individual owner preferences and circumstances.

Those attracted to the English Lab’s physical attributes and temperament may find the added maintenance a small price to pay for the enjoyment they derive. On the other hand, those who favor an active, energetic companion might find American Labs a better fit.

English Labradors and American Labradors may be of the same breed but the subtle variations between the two can result in differing perceptions of maintenance levels.

English Labs, given their often more robust physique, can be particularly prone to weight-related issues. Consequently, their diet must be meticulously monitored to ensure optimal nutrition while avoiding excesses that could lead to obesity.

This careful dietary maintenance might be perceived as being more demanding than the typically more active American Labs who can often tolerate a higher calorie intake due to their higher energy expenditure.

While grooming requirements for both types involve dealing with shedding, the denser undercoat of the English Labs often results in more noticeable hair loss, requiring diligent cleaning.

Their coat may also require professional grooming more frequently, adding to maintenance time and costs. American Labs, while they also shed, usually have less dense coats which can simplify grooming routines.

The higher incidence of certain genetic health issues, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, in English Labs also necessitates regular health check-ups, increasing both the cost and time dedicated to health maintenance.

Although American Labs can also suffer from these conditions, the lower prevalence typically means fewer veterinary visits and lower maintenance in this regard.

Despite these additional maintenance considerations, the English Labs’ temperament often offsets the perceived extra effort for many owners.

English Labs are renowned for their calm and composed demeanor, a trait that can make them exceptionally suitable as family pets, service dogs or therapeutic dogs.

Their obedient nature and trainability also enhance their appeal — potentially making their maintenance feel less burdensome despite the extra costs or tasks.

Conversely, the energetic and active American Labs might require more time devoted to physical exercise and mental stimulation which necessitates a different kind of maintenance.

For those seeking a dog for active companionship, hunting or field work, the American Lab’s traits might be more appealing.

So, while English Labs might require more maintenance due to their health, grooming needs and dietary considerations, their exceptional temperament and versatility often make them a popular choice for many prospective dog owners.

The calm, composed and trainable nature of English Labs can make any extra effort or cost seem like a small price to pay for the companionship, comfort and assistance these wonderful dogs provide.

8 Tips To Get English Labs At A Way Cheaper Price

1. Adopt Don’t Shop

It may come as a surprise, but purebred English Labs often find themselves in shelters and rescues. Pet adoption is not only a cost-effective approach but also a morally commendable act.

You’re giving a home to a dog in need and saving costs simultaneously. English Labradors, with their adaptable nature, can thrive in a loving home, whether they’re puppies or adults.

By visiting local shelters or breed-specific rescue organizations, you might find the perfect companion without the steep breeder prices.

2. Do Your Research

The cost of English Labs can vary significantly from breeder to breeder. Don’t rush into buying the first puppy you see; instead, invest time into researching different breeders, their pricing, breeding practices and reputation.

Look for breeders who prioritize health and temperament over aesthetics or show credentials. While show-quality Labs come with a high price tag, a “pet quality” Lab, which may not meet every breed standard criterion, can be equally delightful and significantly cheaper.

Remember, the goal is a healthy, well-tempered dog, not necessarily a show champion.

3. Look for Older Dogs

Puppies are undeniably cute but they’re also the most expensive option when buying a purebred. Older dogs, especially those that have outgrown their puppy phase (around two years or older), can be a lot less expensive.

There are numerous reasons a breeder or an owner might need to rehome an adult dog: a change in life circumstances, retirement from breeding, or a mismatch with their previous family.

Opting for an older dog can be a win-win: you get a cheaper, often well-trained English Lab, and the dog gets a loving home.

4. Be Open to Different Colors

English Labradors come in three main colors: black, yellow, and chocolate. These colors do not impact the dog’s temperament or health but can influence the price due to popularity and demand.

Chocolate and yellow Labs are often pricier due to their perceived rarity. If you are not particular about the color, consider choosing a black Lab, typically the least expensive option.

5. Negotiate the Price

While it may not always be possible or ethical to negotiate the price with reputable breeders who invest heavily in the health and care of their dogs, you can always open the discussion.

Sometimes breeders may be willing to reduce the price slightly for the right family, particularly if they have a puppy that is a little older or has been overlooked for some reason.

But remember, a responsible breeder’s primary concern is the welfare of their dogs, so respect their pricing and understand the cost reflects the care taken in breeding and rearing the puppies.

6. Get on Waiting Lists

The law of supply and demand applies to English Labs too. If a breeder has more potential buyers than puppies, the prices can be higher.

However, if you’re not in a hurry, consider joining the waiting lists of various ethical breeders. With time, you could land a wonderful English Lab puppy at a more manageable price point.

Waiting lists might seem frustrating initially, but patience can lead to financial savings and the joy of a well-bred pup.

7. Consider Co-Ownership

Co-ownership refers to an arrangement where a dog is legally owned by more than one party. It’s often used in the dog breeding world to keep a promising puppy in a breeder’s line while also letting it live as a loved pet in someone else’s home.

This can result in cost savings, as breeders may offer a lower price or even forgo the initial cost altogether in return for future breeding rights.

While this isn’t an option for everyone, if you are open to it, it can significantly reduce the initial purchase price.

8. Save on Supplies

The purchase price of your English Lab is only the beginning. Dogs require a steady stream of supplies like food, toys (Amazon), bedding (Amazon), and grooming products (Amazon).

Being savvy about where and how you purchase these supplies can lead to considerable savings. For instance, buying in bulk, looking for sales and discounts, and not falling for every latest pet gadget can keep your ongoing costs manageable.

Remember, your English Lab doesn’t need the fanciest toy or the most expensive bed to be happy – they need your time, love and care.


lab-retriever.net — Price Point For A Quality English Lab

TheLabradorForum.com — Reasonable Cost Of Puppies

nchuntandfish.com — Good English Lab Breeders