Your Guide To Adopting A Lab

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If you are thinking about getting a dog, and you have settled on a Labrador retriever, you will then need to choose between buying a pup from a breeder or adopting a pup from a rescue.

There are many good reasons you might want to get your dog from a breeder (and we’ll take a look at those), but if you can, it is always a good idea to look into adoption.

There are thousands of dogs out there that have been abandoned or maltreated, or whose original parents can no longer look after them for some reason.

Sometimes, if rescues can’t find homes for dogs, unfortunately, they need to be put down. So, you could literally save their lives.

If you do decide you want to introduce a Labrador retriever into your family, before looking at breeders, spend some time looking at local rescues, many of which will specialize in Labradors, to see if one of them has a suitable pup for you.

In this article, you will find a list of dog rescues, listed by state, that specialize in Labrador retrievers so you can find one near you. We will also explain a bit more about how dog rescues work and the process of adopting.

Contents & Quick Navigation

List Of Labrador Adoption Centers By State





























New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota





Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota







West Virginia



Should I Become A Labrador Parent?

Before you consider getting a Labrador, whether buying or adopting, you should take some time to consider whether a Labrador is the right dog for you and whether you are ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a dog.

Remember that Labradors live for 10-14 years on average, so you need to be ready to commit to caring for them for the next decade.

Labradors also tend to be big and boisterous dogs that are loving and intelligent, but they also need a lot of exercise and attention. You will need to consider whether your lifestyle can accommodate one of these dogs.

If you still need to answer these questions, read our article: Is a Labrador retriever the right dog for me?

Why Adopt?

There are many good reasons to get your Labrador retriever from a breeder.

They can help you understand what exactly to expect from the breed that you are getting and match you up with a puppy that is most likely to have the characteristics you are looking for in a dog.

You can meet the parents and see if you have an affinity with the dogs, and you can also get background health information of the puppy so you can be prepared for whatever health conditions or other challenges might lay in the future.

Basically, buying from a breeder gives you peace of mind that you are getting a pure-bred puppy that will probably have the appearance and temperament you expect.

This can be very important if you are looking for a show dog or a dog to take on a specific role such as an assistance dog. In these cases, you are going to want the security of buying from a breeder.

But if you want a Labrador retriever because you think that they would make a great pet and you just love the breed, then you have the flexibility to take the risk of adopting from a rescue or shelter.

Why take the risk?

  • You could be saving a dog’s life! While some shelters have no-kill policies, others, unfortunately, might have to put a dog down if they can’t find a home for it. No-kill shelters generally have limited population numbers, so if you adopt a dog, you make room for another, so you are still saving a life.
  • You can help stop cruel animal breeding techniques. While reputable breeders create a reasonable number of animals from happy parents to sell to appropriate clients, there are also thousands of backyard breeders producing animals to be sold in pet stores. The animals are often kept in terrible conditions as they are forced into pregnancy after pregnancy, and puppies that aren’t sold can face a dire fate. Not buying into this market can help stop the demand for the animals, which will help to break the process.
  • Adopting an animal from a shelter is not free, but it is significantly cheaper than buying from a reputable breeder. But you get a lot for your dollar as your animal will probably already have all its vaccines and have been spayed and neutered. Moreover, what you do spend gets reinvested into the rescue to help other animals. The vast majority of animal rescues are non-profit, and many are also volunteer-run.

While we often think of bringing home a new puppy, when you visit a shelter it is worth considering adopting an adult dog. Because they are often considered less desirable than puppies, it is often harder for them to find a home.

But there are lots of advantages to adopting an adult dog.

First, you know what you are getting. With puppies, you don’t really have any way of knowing what their appearance and temperament will be when they are older.

When you adopt an older dog, you get to meet them and understand what their personality is like, and whether they will fit in well in your home.

Also, your dog may have already been trained. If your rescue dog came from a good home where they could no longer stay for some reason, they might already be well trained.

Rescues also often train dogs to make sure they are ready for the new home. If you aren’t an expert dog trainer, this is a major benefit.

The Adoption Process

While you might think that it is quite easy to get your hands on a rescue dog because they are desperate for homes, it is not an easy process.

First, there is a lot of competition for the most desirable dogs (such as puppies), and rescues generally work on a first-come-first-serve basis. So, you do need to check their websites regularly and apply quickly when you see a dog that you think you would like to take home.

And you do need to apply. The dog is in the rescue because they have been removed from an inappropriate situation. The last thing that the rescue wants is to send them into another inappropriate situation. So, there is a vetting process to make sure you are capable of looking after the dog.

As part of the application process, you will be asked a number of questions, some of which might seem quite personal, but they are all relevant to the adoption process.

The first thing will be your personal details and contact information. This is, of course, the basic information that the rescue will need to process your application.

Some rescues may also use this information for basic background checks to identify anyone flagged for animal cruelty, though this is not common.

The shelter will probably have a lot of questions about your living situation.

They will want to know whether you live in a home or an apartment, whether you have a backyard, if there are children or other pets in the home, if the home is empty for long hours each day (for example when you are working), or if there is usually someone around.

These questions are designed to match you up with the right dog. For example, a rescue may be reluctant to let you adopt a Labrador retriever if you live in an apartment, as they are quite big dogs that need a lot of space to exercise. 

Similarly, if they know that a dog has come from a home where there were difficulties with other animals, they will suggest that you look at a different dog if you already have pets in the home.

So, these questions aren’t meant to be invasive. They are meant to match you with the right dog to ensure that both you and the pup are happy with the new arrangement.

After these screening questions, the rescue will want to meet you, and many shelters will also want to do a home visit to make sure that your home is as you described.

Once the adoption has been agreed upon, you will need to pay an adoption fee. This is to help cover the costs of the rescue and can also be a sign of your seriousness. Families that are willing to make a financial commitment tend to look after their dogs for longer.

As we have already said, the fee is much cheaper than buying a dog from a reputable breeder, and offers a lot of value.

Your rescue pup will have had a thorough health check at the vet and will probably also have already received their essential vaccinations and have been spayed or neutered. They may also have received training or other remedial care.

Many rescues will give you a follow up call after a certain period of time to make sure the arrangement is working out for both you and your new dog. The shelter can also offer you ongoing support if you have questions about the health or care of your new dog.


How long does it take a dog to adjust after being adopted?

While every dog is unique and how long they will need to adapt to their new home will depend, you should expect it to take at least two weeks for a dog to start feeling “at home.” If after two months you are still having problems, then it may be worth talking to the rescue about the specific dog and what you can do to help it settle in better.

Do all rescue dogs have problems?

No, not all rescue dogs have problems. Dogs find themselves in rescues for a variety of reasons. They might be a litter of pups found in the street, or their owners may have died and left them homeless. These dogs are very unlikely to have significant problems. 

However, rescues also work with dogs that have been saved from difficult situations and, therefore, may have issues that they need to deal with. If the issues are severe, the shelter will generally try and place these dogs with experienced dog owners. They will never give you a problematic dig without disclosing all the details.

Does adopting a dog take a long time?

How long it takes to adopt a dog depends on the agency organizing the adoption, principally their evaluation process and their capacity to manage them quickly.

If you are looking at a non-problematic dog and you are a good match in terms of your lifestyle, the adoption could turn around within a day. If there are issues, you should expect the process to take longer.

The Verdict

If you are thinking of introducing a dog into your family, you may be considering a Labrador retriever. They are friendly, intelligent, and fun-loving dogs that make excellent family pets.

If you don’t need a dog with special breeding credentials, which would allow them to be a show dog or a working dog, then you should consider adopting your Labrador from a shelter.

There are thousands of Labs around the country that need homes and face death of very poor living conditions if they aren’t adopted.

Shelters work with puppies if you have your heart set on a young dog, or you can adopt a mature dog who already has a well-developed personality, so you can get to know them before you invite them into your home.

If you are looking to adopt a Labrador retriever, check out our list of rescues that specialize in Labrador retrievers. They are organized by state so you can find one near you.

There is a process for the adoption to ensure both you and the dog will be happy with the new living arrangement. But don’t be daunted by this. It is just part of the process of finding the perfect match.

Have you ever adopted a dog from a shelter?

Share your experiences with the community in the comments section below.

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Labrador Retriever Adoption: Your Guide To Adopting A Lab - Yellow Lab in a down stay on the grass. - Your guide to Labrador adoption including info. on how to, what to expect, adoption process and a list Labrador Retriever rescues by state.

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Labrador Adoption: Your Guide To Adopting A Lab was last modified: June 27th, 2021 by LTHQ

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