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|Identification by Tattoo or Microchip
All dogs registered with the Canadian Kennel Club must be individually identified prior to leaving the breeder's
residence, either with permanent tattoo, or with a selected type of microchip.
Tattoos can be placed either in the ear of the pup or on the flank. We choose to tattoo our puppies in the ear,
as it is less likely to become covered in hair as the dog gets older (some Labs do have pretty hairy bellies!) We
can also microchip our puppies with chips that come directly from the CKC, free of charge, at your request -
these chips are inserted between the pup's shoulder blades, just under the skin. The benefit of the microchip
is that in case the dog loses it's collar, or it's tattoo becomes unreadable due to age, injury, or otherwise, there
will be a permanent form of ID on the dog that can never be removed. Both the microchip and tattoo number will
be recorded on the dog's registration certificate.
How to Read A Tattoo
In Canada, a purebred dog is tattooed in accordance to the rules of the Canadian Kennel Club. This makes it easy for finders
to trace back a lost dog just by reading the tattoo. Each tattoo is made up of 5-6 digits and will look something like this:
X5F 2N or X5F 25W (photo above)
The first three digits represent the breeder's code. In the above examples, X5F is the code that is issued to Eromit Labrador
Retrievers. Every puppy ever bred by me will have these three letters as part of their tattoo code. The next number (or
numbers) represents the individual puppy's number. Puppies are numbered 1,2,3 and so on. Each year the numbering starts
over. The last letter indicates the year in which the dog was born. In the first example above, the tattoo would tell us that this
was the 2nd puppy registered to Eromit Labrador Retrievers in the year N (which was 2003). The second example is for the
25th puppy registered to us in 2009 - year "W".
If you find a lost dog with a 5 or 6 digit tattoo, you can contact the Canadian Kennel Club to get the owner AND breeder's
contact information. (It is also a good idea to check with vet clinics or animal shelters in the area as many people will contact
them first to report a missing pet).
Reading A Microchip
You will not be able to tell just by looking at a dog whether or not he is identified with a microchip. A microchip scanner is
required to acquire the data from the chip. Unfortunately, not all microchips are the same frequency, so some of them won't be
read on all scanners. Most vet clinics and shelters have a universal scanner that will scan all chips, but it is still a good idea to
have the vet check the dog with their scanner to ensure it can be read. A microchip that can't be read in your area is not useful.
When a microchip is scanned, a series of numbers will appear on the scanner's digital screen. These numbers are
individually traced back to you, the owner. In most cases, you can add extra contact people to the database by simply
contacting the microchip company (in your case, the Canadian Kennel Club). My puppy people are encouraged to add me as
an emergency contact. Eromit puppies are automatically enrolled in the Canadachip Recovery program which is run by the
CKC - they will have your contact information on file as soon as the puppy is registered in your name. There is no renewal
required for this service, as it lasts for the lifetime of your pet.
Although tattoos and microchips are very useful for helping to return lost pets to their rightful owner, and are required for
purebred dogs, there is still nothing better than a good old-fashioned ID tag attached to the dog's collar. After working for a
shelter in many years, I can attest that the easiest way to track an owner of a missing dog is to simply call the phone number
listed on the tag. This can be done by anyone without the help of an outside agency, scanner, or knowledge of where to look
for tattoos, and is your best bet to get your dog back quickly. Be sure that your dog always has a collar with an up-to-date
tag on it whenever he or she is out of the house. In the situation where the collar falls off or is removed, you will have the tattoo
and microchip as backup. Check the tag periodically for signs of wear and replace it when the information becomes difficult to
In addition to the above mentioned forms of ID, it is a good idea to take regular photographs of your pet and to record anything
about them that might help to make them stand out. If your dog ever is in the unfortunate position of being missing, information
such as a missing tooth, scar, bald spot, etc can prove very useful to people trying to help reunite you with your pet. Be sure to
let your local pound, shelter, and vet clinics know right away when you discover your dog is missing. A Lab can travel a long
ways in a short time if they are out and about, so try to act as quickly as possible to locate your pet and don't assume he or she
will just come home - many times people will capture a loose pet and keep it safe until an owner is found, so even if the dog
knows his way home, he may not be able to get there.