Labrador Retriever Breed Overview
This is one of the most family-friendly dogs in the world, this breed has built a reputation as a stellar companion and a capable working breed. Active and powerfully built, the Labrador retrievers are earnest, hardworking, faithful, and good-natured dog breed. Originally bred as gun dogs, the modern Labs can still be found on the hunt, but is more likely to be seen in other venues as therapy dogs, assistance dogs, law enforcement dogs, and search and rescue dogs.
They are considered as a large dog breed, and its muscular and athletic body reveals a dog who has energy and loves to be on the move. Labs are prone to gaining weight easily, so daily exercise with this dog is necessary. This breed is known to bond strongly with its owner and family, and the Labrador will happily work his way into any family activity. With his happy-go-lucky smile, sharp intelligence, and devotion to people, this breed easily captures hearts everywhere he goes. It’s no wonder that the Labrador retrievers are one of most popular dog breeds in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada, and the United States.
This Breed comes in three main colours such as:
- Suitability for Children – High
- Tendency to Bark – Medium
- Energy – High
- Suitability as a Guard Dog – Low
- Grooming Requirements – Once a Week
- Trimming Required – None
- Amount of hair shed – Moderate
- Food Cost – $15 to $20
- Average Monthly Pet insurance Premium – $66
As a large breed dog, the Labs may live between 10 – 13 years. Labs are generally healthy dogs, but they are prone to certain hereditary health conditions and issues as is any breed of dog. Any Lab owner should be aware of and familiar with these potential health problems.
Male Labradors typically grow to 56 – 57cms in height, while females are often in the range of 55 – 56cms. Both genders can fall between 29 and 36 kg.
Origins of Labrador
The Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland, an island off the northeastern coast of Canada. The breed was initially called the St. John’s dog, after the capital of Newfoundland, and in the 1700s, these dogs were companions to fishermen. Labradors helped to retrieve fish who escaped the fishing lines, then accompanied their owners home. The loyalty and industriousness of the breed were so remarkable that visitors to Newfoundland brought a few Labradors back with them to England for use as hunting dogs.
It was in England that this dog breed earned its current name, and despite the breed’s incredible popularity in modern times, by the 1880s, Labs were almost extinct. In Newfoundland, the breed died out due to tax laws and government restrictions. Only one dog was allowed per family, and owners of female dogs were taxed at higher rates; eventually, the breed disappeared from the island altogether. The Earl of Malmesbury and other English supporters of the breed worked hard to save the Labrador, and their efforts resulted in the Labrador being formally recognized as a distinct breed in 1903 by the English Kennel Club. By 1917, the American Kennel Club had accepted the Labrador breed, and in the 1920s and 1930s, the breed was imported to America.
After World War II, the Labrador’s popularity in America skyrocketed. By the early 1990s, the breed had claimed the title of the most popular dog registered with the American Kennel Club. The Labrador retriever has retained that position since that time and has become one of the most popular dogs worldwide. Labradors are popular not only as family dogs and companions, but also as working dogs in police departments, search and rescue, therapy, emotional support, and guide and assistance dogs for people with disabilities. The Labradors are also excels at hunting and agility competitions when he is not winning ribbons in the show ring.
The Labrador retrievers are synonymous with companionship and loyalty. This patient, sweet-natured breed of dog is an ideal choice for an individual or family. Friendly and eager to please, they enjoy running and playing as well as swimming. Because this breed looks at his owner as his pack leader, a Labrador puppies need a confident, calm owner/ trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques to teach the dog what is acceptable pack behaviour.
Easy-going and intelligent and this family pet is a highly trainable dog which is one reason why he is such an appropriate choice for a variety of social jobs and situations. Early training using positive reinforcement combined with socialisation will result in well-behaved Labs. The Labrador retriever is smart and needs daily engagement and enrichment to prevent boredom, anxiety, and destructive behaviours.
They are not an overly noisy dog; therefore, he does not make a good watchdog. Your Labs are more likely to welcome a stranger into your house than growl at him. Their good-natured, friendly personality extends to all people and other dogs they meet.
General Exercise and Care
The Labrador retriever is a very family-oriented dog, and he is never so happy as when he is with the people he loves. For that reason, the Lab is not a dog to leave alone for significant periods. Boredom can set in quickly for this breed, and if you aren’t there to entertain him, your Labrador will find the means to amuse himself. Those means can result in destructive behaviours like digging and chewing whatever he can find around the house.
Labs are active dogs with plenty of energy, especially when they are young. They require daily mental and physical exercise, so frequent walks, visits to the dog park, or playing fetch in the backyard will often help burn off any of your Labrador’s excess energy. Because Labs can become hyper-focused during play and exercise, owners should dictate when these activities begin and end for the health and safety of the dog.
In particular, exercise with puppies should be carefully monitored. Puppies should receive training as early as possible, a process which can be easier with Labradors because of their tendency toward obedience and people-pleasing. Because a Labrador puppy’s bones and joints are not fully formed until he is two years old, make sure your puppy doesn’t run on hard and unforgiving surfaces such as pavement and concrete. Keep your puppy on the grass until he is fully grown.
This is a mouthy dog breed because of his genetics; he was bred as a hunting dog and needed to have a soft mouth with which to carry game undamaged. Labradors are often happiest carrying anything they can around the house, whether it be a toy or a smelly sock. Keep sturdy chew toys available for your Lab to keep his mouth busy and his teeth clean.
Common Labrador Conditions and Diseases
Labradors are susceptible to developing certain genetic diseases and conditions. Not every Labrador will develop these medical concerns, but prospective owners should nonetheless know about the common diseases their dog may develop in the future. Owners who are purchasing their Labrador from a breeder should take extra care to work with a breeder who is reputable and trustworthy. Check that the breeder has legitimate health clearances and documentation for your puppy.
Here are a few of the most common health conditions Labrador dogs may develop:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia are genetic deformities that often impact a Labrador’s quality of life. Hip dysplasia occurs when the thigh bone doesn’t fit properly in the hip joint. This condition begins in puppyhood and worsens as the dog ages. Over time, hip dysplasia can cause arthritis, including degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis.Elbow dysplasia develops when different growth rates within the three primary bones that make up a dog’s elbow result in joint laxity. Both elbow and hip dysplasia can lead to painful lameness, stiff joints, shoulder and hind end weakness, and limping. Theseheritable conditions can be managed through a change in diet, anti-inflammatory medications, weight management, moderate exercise, and dietary supplements. In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend surgery for your dog.
- Epilepsy is a neurological condition that causes recurrent mild to severe seizures in Labradors due to abnormal brain activity. This disease tends to develop slowly over time with few noticeable symptoms until the first seizure occurs. Seizures typically happen when a dog is sleeping or resting.There are multiple symptoms associated with seizures in dogs; however, it is important to note that not all seizures are of the same intensity or length of time. Often, a Lab who is seizing will exhibit symptoms such as shaking, falling over on his side, and pedalling the air with some or all of his legs and feet. Some Labradors may urinate, eliminate, or salivate during a seizure. A veterinarian can prescribe anti-seizure medications to help control the number and severity of your dog’s seizures.
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat in dogs) is a potentially life-threatening condition that usually impacts large breed dogs with wide, barrel chests, like the Labrador. Bloat is more likely to occur in this breed, who eat only once daily or eat too rapidly, drink large amounts of water, or exercise intensely after meals.
In these instances, the stomach may become distended with air or gas, then twist. At this point, the Labrador won’t be able to vomit or burp to release the excess air in the stomach, and this process causes the blood flow to the heart to slow. The dog’s blood pressure drops, and he goes into shock. Without immediate veterinary attention, the dog will die. Other symptoms associated with bloat include excessive drooling, depression, lethargy, restlessness, and exhibiting weakness accompanied by a high heart rate.
- Acute Moist Dermatitis is one of the many common skin conditions that the Labrador dogs are prone to develop. In this condition, a bacterial infection causes the skin to become inflamed, red, and sometimes itchy. The common term for this skin condition is “hot spot.” Depending on the severity of the dermatitis, a Labrador may need antibiotics and a medicated shampoo bath, or he may need more permanent changes such as a more balanced diet or shorter, clipped fur.
As always, when you buying a dog from a breeder ask for medical history of pup’s parent dogs.
Labrador dogs are excellent in swiming. Their coats are water-resistant to protect them in cold water, and they have webbed feet to help them swim quickly. Their stiff, thick tail, sometimes called an “otter tail” acts as a rudder when they are in the water.
In 1938, Life Magazine featured a Labrador as the first dog ever on its cover. The dog, Blind of Arden, was a champion show dog that year.
The oldest Labrador on record was Adjutant, who lived for 27 years and three months. Adjutant was a registered dog who lived in the United Kingdom. He also had the distinction of being the seventh oldest dog on record.
Some chocolate Labradors carry a dilution gene that causes their coat to be a lighter colour. The “silver Labrador” is not considered an acceptable colour by kennel clubs.