In this day and age with an active breed like the Labrador Retriever it is highly recommended that they carry identification. The 3 common ways to ID a dog are chip, collar, and/or tattoo. Below we look at the pros and cons of each of these methods.
Chip – Chipping your lab is one of the most common ways for your dog to carry his ID. A microchip is a radio-frequency identification transponder that carries a unique identification number and is roughly the size of a grain of rice. The microchip is injected under the loose skin between your dog’s shoulder blades and can be done in your vet’s office or by some breeders.
Pros: it’s usually permanent, its quick to inject, dog can’t lose it, information can be updated if ownership changes.
Cons: Need a reader to locate and read chip and this typically requires a visit to the local vet, animal shelter, or possibly a dog breeder. Information on the chip may be outdated so its important if ownership changes that the chip company that holds the information is contacted and provided with information for the new owner. Chip can rarely stop working and a second chip will be required. This is very rare but does happen and in our case it did with our dog Sully. A few studies have shown that the injection site may become cancerous and the chip can migrate to strange areas of a dog’s body so waiting until a dog is fully grown can be a good idea, in some cases.
Collar – Collars may be worn in conjunction with one of the more permanent methods mentioned here.
Pros: its easy for anyone to immediately identify the owners and reach out. Collars can also be fashion statements and updated to keep up with seasons, holidays, or anything else that the owner fancies.
Cons: Collars can fall off or be pulled off by the dog or someone with less than good intentions. Collars can be lost or an owner my forget to put the collar on say after a bath etc leaving the dog unprotected. Information can wear off and become illegible.
Tattoos – Tattoos are a less common permanent way to ID your dog. Typically, the tattoo consists of a phone number and is placed inside a hind leg area and can be applied at a vet office or a dog club/organization. It supposedly is not painful but it is noisy and time consuming so some dogs may be better off with anesthesia. Black ink is preferable for light-skinned animals, and green ink is better for those with darker skin. Good idea to keep the area shaved so its visible since not everyone knows to look for a tattoo.
Pros: Permanent. ID can’t be changed (this can be good only if you have the dog for its life time). If dog is stolen, ID is permanent so can easily ID dog, where with a chip information could be changed and be problematic.
Cons: May need anesthesia to apply. Can be hard to locate resources that will apply tattoo. Unable or difficult to update if change in ownership.
ID for your dog is a very good idea and in some cases a combination of these 3 options is your best bet. But the most important thing is to select at least one and to implement it. Chips and tattoos are best applied once a dog has finished growing so a collar in the interim can be a good choice.