Three things I want to talk about as the pups are getting ready this week to go to their forever homes.
We are feeding Purina ProPlan "Focus" Large Breed Puppy food. The pups have been doing really well since we switched them to it. We have always had good results with growth on this food. But there are other quality foods that you can switch to, protein should be 22.5% or greater (this is a new recommendation from the AAFCO). Fat should be a minimum of 8.5% but not too high because you don't want your pup growing too fat....(Ha ha). Another important component is Calcium, too little and bones are not strong, too much will also cause bone damage...so this is a very important component. Other good quality foods for a growing large breed puppy are: Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy, Horizon Complete Large Breed Puppy, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Large Breed, Hill's Science Diet Large Breed Puppy, Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Puppy, Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy, Eukanuba Puppy Large Breed, Merrick Grain-free Puppy, Purina Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Puppy, Royal Canin Puppy Large, Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy, Orijen Puppy Large, Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Puppy, Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy.
So there is lots of choice. We will provide a weeks worth of Purina so you can stay on it, or use it to change over to one of these other foods. New foods should be introduced gradually to reduce chances of diahrea and vomiting. We are feeding approximately 2 cups per pup a day. So you could substitute a quarter or half a cup for a couple of days and so on until you have changed over. We were feeding four times a day, but know that for most families this would not work, so we have cut down to three times a day (morning, noonish, and early evening). We have also changed from soaked kibble to dry. They still gobble it up but it does take a bit longer.
It is important to remember that although your puppy is growing fast, it will remain a puppy until it is up to 24 months old. So keeping your new family member on puppy food for 2 years is actually beneficial. It will reduce the chances of bone issues and hip disease. We have done our best to breed two good parents, but it is up to you to feed your pup properly to prevent hip dysplasia. Do not overfeed. You will be able to monitor this more closely than we have, as we are still feeding pups together.
Spaying and Neutering
You are going to have full breeding rights to your pup. But that doesn't mean you have to breed your pup. There are rules to breeding. Do not breed before your pup is two years old. (See above about being a juvenile, and this is especially important for females.) Do genetic tests, for hips, elbows, eyes, D-locus (Dilute gene), CNM and EIC. While we declare these pups to be free from these diseases, you never know when a mutation could occur. Also we do eyes by examination so we know Maggie's and Hope's eyes are beautiful and free from phenotypic eye disorders. Hope does carry a gene for an eye disorder, and she should only be bred to a male who is homozygous for that gene. We do not know if Maggie is a carrier. Also the D-locus is for the dilute gene (those grey coloured labs carry this locus and it is a demerit under the American Labrador Retriever Association). This consideration is new, and we have not tested Maggie, but Hope is not a carrier.
There is also a new recommendation (I thought it was from the Alberta Veterinarian Association but it may have been out of the States, I am still looking for it) that Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers not be spayed or neutered before they are 12 months old. It goes back to the maturity issue. Spaying or neutering too young reduces the hormones going to the growth plates, and they do not develop properly. We have never had an issue with ACL tears, but know of two of our female pups who were spayed early (one at 6 months) that have had this issue. If you do not spay your female and are concerned about her heat cycles and what to do, please let's discuss this more.
We have the pups with just a mini or small collar. However, your pup is going to need a few bigger collars as he/she grows. We highly recommend Martindale collars. They have a bit of chain in them. So you make the cloth part of the collar as big as the pup's neck, and then the chain part is loose. However, if you grab the chain or have the leash on you can tighten the collar so it will not slip off. If the pups gets stuck on something the collar might come off, but you can keep it tight when you want control.