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About Us

     Orion Labrador Retrievers is operated by Jeff Swackhamer, a consulting forester who resides in north-central Indiana. Orion Labs (pronounced “oh-RYAN”) is named after the well known constellation of the winter sky which represents the great hunter of Greek mythology. My mission is to produce Labrador retrievers that are mentally and physically sound, as well as being endowed with the proper traits and abilities required to make a great hunting retriever and companion. I strive to breed Labs that reflect the historical image of the breed as described in the written standard and illustrated by the photographic record of Labs from the past.
     Orion is a small kennel that began in 1986 when I purchased a male black Lab puppy to be my companion. I wanted a dog to accompany me as I worked in the woods of Indiana. Blaze became a wonderful companion and a valued asset in the woods. I felt I owed him the opportunity to fulfill his destiny to be a hunting dog and we became an avid hunting team.

Blaze taught me a great deal about training and hunting with Labs. I became enthralled with the Labrador retriever and began to study the breed in earnest. In 1991 I purchased a yellow Lab female as a companion, a hunting dog, and as a future mate for Blaze. She whelped her first litter in August of 1994. This began our tradition of producing top quality field and companion Labrador retrievers.

My focus in breeding Labs has not been to produce a great quantity of pups. I have elected to breed no more than a litter a year, and occasionally just a litter every other year, so that I am able to keep a pup from each litter to evaluate. I keep my kennel population at six Labs or fewer so that I am able to include all of my dogs in regular trips with me to the woods and the field. While more dogs might look impressive to some, it would take away one thing that makes Orion unique; my ability to regularly take ALL of my dogs to the field. I feel that by spending so much time in the field with my dogs can I evaluate their potential much more thoroughly than the average breeder or trainer who does not have a similar opportunity to interact as extensively with their dogs. This, coupled with exercising strict selection criteria for breeding stock, enables me to produce Labs that attain a high standard of excellence.

What began as the desire for a good companion has evolved into a quest to produce the highest quality Labrador retrievers available. I have been blessed to have had the companionship of many Labs while in the woods and fields of Indiana. With more than a quarter of a century of experience I have established some firm opinions about what traits are required to make a Lab great. Producing Labs who are great in the field and at home and who are beautiful examples of the breed has become my passion.

Please take time to browse my website. I hope you find it enjoyable and informative. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions concerning my thoughts on Labs or if you would like to inquire about the availability of a puppy or a started dog.

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