Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

The Labrador Retriever

labrador_retriever_breedcharacteristics

We are strong proponents of dog rescue and adoption. That being said, we know people may have their heart set on a certain breed of dog.

We encourage potential dog owners to visit shelters, adoption events and rescue facilities when searching for the right companion.

Many dogs available for adoption are purebred and some are a distinguishable mix of several breeds. Often rescue groups are breed-specific, so you may not only choose the breed of dog you want, but be a real hero by adopting.

No matter how you plan to find your new dog, it is wise to be aware of certain breed characteristics prior to choosing a dog for you and your family.

An individual dog of a certain breed may not display all, or any, of the behavior or health characteristics associated with a particular breed. However, we can generalize and explain what most dogs of a particular breed tend to be like.

The first dog in our series, and the number one breed in popularity in the United States based upon the AKC’s most recently released registration statistics* is the Labrador Retriever.

Physical Traits of the Labrador Retriever

The Labrador is a medium size dog. The average adult Lab weighs from 55 to 75 pounds.

Physically, Labradors are sturdy and well balanced. They are not refined, but strong and athletic.

Labradors possess a short, thick, two-layer coat that is highly water resistant. They have a long and extremely thick tail, often called an “otter tail,” which acts as a rudder when they swim.

Labradors come in three colors: black, chocolate (light to dark), and yellow (creamy white to foxy red).

Labrador Personality

Labradors are social, easy-going, good-natured, and non-aggressive with humans and other dogs.

They are gentle and patient with children, which makes them an ideal family pet.

Labradors were bred to fish, hunt, and fetch for man, so they are strong and sporty. They need a good deal of daily exercise. A couple of walks to go potty while living in an apartment will not be sufficient.

Labradors have a great deal of energy when they are young. They mature quite late, so “young” may mean up to the age of three.

While young, they are very mouthy, and will chew and carry all sorts of objects. These objects will be anything they can get their mouth on, so they need to be taught early what is, and what is not, acceptable for them to have.

They are high-spirited juveniles and will jump, spin, run and play for the sheer joy of it.

Remember, they are considered “young” till almost three years of age. With exuberance, muscle, and a large happily wagging otter tail, they tend to knock things over, and sweep coffee tables of items such as drink glasses and knick-knacks.

Aged, small, or frail people who live in your household may not do well with a young Lab. Older Labs are calmer and more sedate in their maturity, so adopting an adult Lab would be advisable in such situations.

Labradors excel at swimming, retrieving, hunting, search and rescue, performing as assistance dogs, obedience training, and playing in mud puddles.

Waterproof and machine washable toys, such as CombatX Extreme Toss N Pull Dog Toy, are a practical item for your Labrador to fetch and play with.

Labs are very eager to please their family, and respond wonderfully to clicker training.

They shed quite a bit during the spring and fall in particular, so they do require regular brushing. The use of an undercoat rake and a deshedding tool tool go a long way in keeping the dog hair out of your house and car.

Their coat requires no professional clipping. Indeed, it is not advised, so they are quite economical in that respect.

Labrador Health Issues

Labradors may live to the age of twelve or thirteen.

This breed has its share of joint and bone diseases. It is also prone to cancer, epilepsy, heart disease, hypothyroidism, skin and ear issues, to name a few. Regular veterinary check-ups must be maintained in order to monitor for these and other conditions so that they may be detected and treated early on.

Why the Lab Makes Such a Great Companion

All in all, as witnessed by the fact that the Labrador has been the number one dog in the U.S.A. since the 90’s, the Lab is a great family dog.

They are affectionate, energetic, happy, easily trained, and make great watchdogs. They are not the best guard dogs, however, as their friendly nature makes it all but impossible for them to not welcome anyone into your home.

*http://www.akc.org/reg/dogreg_stats.cfm