Information

Labrador Retrievers: Wonderful Family Pets and Companions


Linda Crampton is a biology teacher, writer, and long-time pet owner. She currently has dogs, cats, and birds in her family.

Labrador Retrievers as Pets

Dogs have been members of my family for many years. During that time, Labrador Retrievers of all three colours have lived with us. We've had two yellow, one chocolate, and one black Lab in the family. We've brought so many Labs into our home because we love the breed.

Labrador Retrievers make great family pets and companion animals. They are clever dogs with a playful, friendly, and affectionate nature. They get on well with people of all ages, including children, and also get on well with other pets. They are usually energetic animals with a healthy appetite and require quite a lot of exercise. Most Labs love water, swimming, and retrieving. They are eager to please their humans and love to take part in family activities.

Types of Labrador Retrievers

In addition to the different colours of Labrador Retrievers, there are two lines. These can look quite different from one another. The show or English line dogs are generally stockier and have shorter legs and wider faces than the field or American line dogs. Field dogs are leaner and longer legged animals with a longer and narrower face. Some dogs seem to fall in between these two types.

All Labs can make lovely pets if they receive suitable training. It's often said that females are more independent than males while males like to stay closer to their owners, but some Lab experts say this depends on the dog's genetics more than its gender.

Male Labs generally reach a maximum weight of 65 to 80 (or even 90) pounds. Misha is a small male and weighs 65 pounds (provided I'm careful with his food intake and give him enough exercise). The weights of females range from around 55 to 70 pounds. The dogs are about 21 to 23 inches high at the shoulders, although Misha is a little lower.

The Characteristics of a Labrador Retriever

Although there are always some dogs that are unusual for their breed, in general Labs have a strong retrieving instinct. They like to mouth objects and to carry them around, so they should be given lots of safe toys to play with. If there are transport jobs around the home that they can do—such as bringing their owner his or her slippers—they will usually be very happy to help. They also enjoy finding objects that have been deliberately hidden. Hide and Seek is a fun game for them, especially if the hidden object is edible.

Labrador Retrievers generally get on well with other animals. The ones in my family have been friends with our cats and have tolerated our birds, who have been free-flying during the day when family members are around. One of our birds landed on Simba, a yellow lab, during a flight. Simba was surprised by the incident but stayed calm.

Labs require regular exercise. They love swimming and are strong swimmers. They may try to enter every patch of water that they find during a walk. They tend to have a large appetite, so their diet should be monitored carefully to avoid obesity.

Labs have a tendency to be barkers if they aren't trained. They are good watch dogs, but they are usually too friendly to make good guard dogs. They have gentle mouths, provided they're trained to be calm with their mouths even when they are excited.

Food Choices

It's very important to control the amount of food that is given to a Lab. The breed certainly loves to eat! If Labs eat too much and don't exercise enough, they can become obese. It's especially important to watch the body weight of show line dogs, who are naturally bulkier than field line dogs. Some "stocky" dogs are actually overweight.

It goes without saying that a Lab should be fed healthy food. There is a lot of debate about the ideal diet for a dog, however. Both a Lab's breeder and their vet should be consulted about the advisability of feeding dry, canned, cooked, or raw food, the proportion in which these should be given, and the brands of food that should be bought.

Exercise for Your Pet

Even though the personality of a well-bred and well-trained Labrador makes it an appealing pet, it's best not to get a Lab if there's no one in the family who can give the pet regular exercise. Most of the exercise sessions should be longer and harder than just a walk around the block (although this type of exercise is perfect for an older dog). The lifespan of a Lab is around twelve years, but some have lived considerably longer.

Labrador Retrievers are often strong animals with strong necks, so leash training from the puppy stage is very important. It's not fun taking a dog for a walk if he or she is pulling on the leash. Puppy training classes are a great idea if someone feels that they need extra help in training or socializing their dog.

Grooming and Skin Care

A Lab's coat is short and dense and is easy to care for. A regular brush is generally all that's required to keep the coat in good condition. Grooming can be a pleasant and relaxing activity for both the dog and the groomer. It's a great way to bond with a dog when it's done regularly. It's also a chance for the groomer to detect any skin problems in the dog, such as cuts, warts, lumps, and hot spots.

Lumps should always be checked by a vet. There's a good probability that they're harmless, but they may not be. All the lumps that my Labs have experienced have been filled with fat and have been harmless. I continue to get any new ones checked, however. If a lump is cancerous, it's important to get it removed before the cancer spreads through the body.

A hot spot is a red, moist, and uncomfortable patch on a dog's skin. The inflammation may develop due to an allergy, an insect bite, or a skin infection. The dog may frequently lick or nibble the area in an attempt to relieve the discomfort, which makes the irritation even worse. A vet visit is often required to treat a hot spot and to get advice in relation to any future occurrences of the condition.

Teeth, Nails, and Ears

Teeth and nail care are very necessary for a pet dog. Dog toothbrushes and toothpaste that tastes nice to a dog are sold in pet stores. The stores also sell nail clippers. Veterinary assistants will probably cut your dog's claws if you don't want to do it yourself, although there will be a fee for this service. Ears need to be cleaned, too, but it's important that this isn't done too often and that the ears aren't cleaned too deeply.

The ASPCA website mentioned in the "References" section below gives advice about a dog grooming and cleaning schedule. It also gives tips about the best way to perform a dog care routine.

Veterinary Care

Anybody who brings a pet into their family should be prepared for vet expenses. These include not only the cost of regular checkups but also of potential emergencies. Emergency pet care can be very expensive.

Insurance schemes for vet visits are available. It's important to be clear about what these schemes cover before signing up for one of them. Although it's not a nice topic to think about, it's vital to investigate how insurance would help in a serious situation like cancer treatment. A pet emergency savings fund could also be useful for vet expenses.

Special Activities for Labs

Since Labs are usually intelligent and friendly, they are ideal helpers for people with difficulties. They are trained as guide dogs for blind people and as assistance dogs. Misha came from a breeder who bred her dogs for the PADS program (Pacific Assistance Dogs Program), which trains dogs to help people with disabilities.

Labs are sociable animals and sometimes act as therapy dogs. Their strong retrieving instinct and love of water makes them a good companion for hunters. They also compete in show events, obedience trials, and agility competitions.

An agility event requires dogs to complete a timed course involving obstacles such as weave poles, tunnels, jumps, and items to climb. Whenever I watch an agility competition, the dogs always look like they are having fun. It's an enjoyable event for the spectators, too.

Pets must be trained correctly for dog sports in order to prevent injury. My sister took Owen to a few training classes for dog agility competitions. He seemed to enjoy the activity, but neither my sister nor I had time to continue his training. It's important that a dog enjoys agility or other special activities if we ask him or her to participate in them.

Hip Dysplasia and Osteoarthritis

In general, Labradors are healthy dogs. They do have a tendency to develop hip or elbow dysplasia, however. This is a condition in which the head of a bone fails to fit into its socket correctly due to a malformation of the joint. The problem can cause pain, inflammation, and eventually osteoarthritis, although the amount of discomfort varies. Some dogs don't seem to be in pain even though x-rays show bad dysplasia, while others may be in such great discomfort that surgery is necessary to improve the condition of the joint.

It's important to buy a puppy from a good breeder who tries to eliminate joint problems in his or her breeding program. A puppy's parents should be certified free of hip dysplasia. One organization that provides an acceptable certification is OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). It's a good idea to investigate the health of the grandparents as well as the parents. Even if the parents' and grandparents' joints are healthy, there is no guarantee that a pup will remain free of hip dysplasia. The probability is increased, however.

In order to decrease the chance of joint problems or at least of joint pain, dogs should be kept lean and a puppy shouldn't exercise excessively or with a repetitive motion. That's one reason why it's usually recommended that a dog doesn't begin jogging with its human until it's at least one year of age. Joint injuries at a young age may stimulate the development of hip dysplasia symptoms.

Osteoarthritis in my Labrador Retrievers

Bess was my previous Labrador Retriever. She had hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis, but these didn't cause serious problems until she was around fourteen or fifteen years old. Misha was only seven when one of his joints became painful and his movement was affected. He was subsequently diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

Happily, Misha's pain and movement problem have disappeared, although continued treatment is needed to keep him pain-free and mobile. He receives a daily canine supplement containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and manganese, daily MSM and omega-3 fatty acid supplements, and a periodic injection of cartrophen.

It may be that not all of the above treatments are required in order to help Misha, but he's doing so well that I don't want to make any changes at the moment. The frequency of the cartrophen injections has been reduced, however, (as is recommended after the initial treatment period), with no apparent ill effects. The cartrophen is most likely the major contributor to Misha's improvement because if we are late with the injection his symptoms reappear. Perhaps some or all of the other components of the treatment are helping as well.

It's important that you ask your vet about appropriate treatments for your dog if he or she has osteoarthritis. In addition to being able to describe the pros and cons of each available medication and treatment, the vet will know about new treatments that have appeared.

Possible Osteoarthritis Treatments in Dogs

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural chemicals found in the cartilage of both dogs and humans, including the cartilage in joints. The benefits of glucosamine or chondroitin for osteoarthritis when given as nutritional supplements are unknown. Some people involved with dogs say that one or both of the chemicals help their dogs while others say that they don't. There is some evidence that an injectable form of chondroitin sulphate may help to maintain cartilage.

MSM or Methylsulfonylmethane and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

MSM is also a natural chemical in the body. As a supplement, it may reduce the inflammation present in osteoarthritis. Once again though, this is uncertain. Like the two chemicals mentioned above, MSM isn't considered to be harmful when taken at recommended doses. Side effects of all the medications are reported to be mild, if in fact there are any, so I continue giving them to Misha for now. Omega-3 fatty acids are also thought to reduce inflammation and help joints.

Cartrophen or Pentosan Polysulphate Sodium

Cartrophen Vet is a brand name for pentosan polysulphate sodium. This is a semi-natural chemical based on one obtained from the bark of beech trees. Both scientific and anecdotal evidence show that cartrophen can be beneficial for canine osteoarthritis. How it does this is uncertain, but researchers have found that it has a number of effects that may protect cartilage in joints. Many people report that cartrophen has been very helpful for their pets. I wish the chemical had been available when Bess was alive.

Other Potential Health Problems in Labs

Labrador Retrievers sometimes develop eye problems such as cataracts, even at a young age. They may also develop PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), a condition in which the retina deteriorates. This problem doesn't develop until a dog is an adult. Another possible eye problem is retinal dysplasia, a condition in which the retina doesn't develop properly. A puppy's parents should be certified clear of eye problems.

Labs may also suffer from less common health problems, such as a luxating patella, a disorder in which the kneecap moves out of position. There is a small possibility of autoimmune deafness developing in later life. This happened to Bess, who lost her hearing for no apparent reason. It didn't seem to affect her enjoyment of life, though.

A Lovely Pet

A well-bred and properly trained Labrador Retriever is a lovely pet. This is why my family has had four members of the breed over the years. Labs are loyal, loving, and (if trained) well mannered dogs. They need to be involved in family activities and love to be given jobs that fit in with their instincts, such as retrieving and carrying. They require a healthy diet and careful monitoring of their food intake, as well as adequate exercise, but in return they will be a wonderful companion for people of all ages.

References and Resources

  • Labrador Retriever facts from PetMD
  • Dog grooming tips from ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
  • Pet first aid from the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association)
  • Chondroprotective agents (including pentosan polysulphate sodium and a reference to chondroitin sulphate) from the Merck Veterinary Manual

© 2012 Linda Crampton

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 11, 2018:

It sounds like a great relationship for each dog. Labs can be wonderful pets.

lad on September 11, 2018:

I love labs, I have two, one 10 years old (Nora) and a 7 month old puppy (Auley) ,they are so funny together

the pup keeps my older dog active wich is very good for her and my older lab traines my pup it's amazing .

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on July 12, 2013:

What a comprehensive and beautiful article about my favorite dog breed, Alicia.

We adopted our Black Lab, Alvin at 5 yo and he lived a wonderful life with us until he died at 12. We now have our sweet yellow Lab, Aunt Baby, who is 9 yo.

Your photographs and videos are awesome...excellent job! UP and UABI.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 25, 2012:

Thanks for the comment and the votes, oliversmum. Labs are lovely family dogs, but any dog can bring joy to our lives, as you say!

oliversmum from australia on September 25, 2012:

AliciaC Hi. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your Labrador Retrievers.

They are such beautiful and intelligent animals and do bring a lot of happiness and joy into our lives.

Thanks for all the information, and the photos and video are just beautiful. Thumbs up and Beautiful. :):)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 05, 2012:

Thank you very much for the comment, teaches. It's wonderful when a happy dog can help people, as your friend's dog did during hospice therapy!

Dianna Mendez on August 05, 2012:

I love these friendly dogs and they are indeed very big with large thick necks. Early training would make a difference. My friend's dog was used at hospice therapy and it loved being with people. Great post and so enjoyable to read.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 05, 2012:

Thank you for the comment, sgbrown. I'm glad that Jake found such a good home with you. I've read your hub about Jake before - it's a touching story. I agree with you - Labs are wonderful dogs. Thanks for the vote and the link, and I hope that you are having a wonderful day too!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on August 05, 2012:

We have had 2 labs in our family. We kept a black lab that had wandered onto our property one night. The next morning we checked him over to find that he had been horribly abused. You might like my hub on him - God Sent Us Jake - The Black Lab. We now have a yellow lab, Sadie. The pictures of your yellow lab looks just like our Sadie! She is out protector. She wants to stay outside at night so she can keep all the keller deer and rabbits away! LOL Labs are such wonderful dogs! I have voted this up and would like to include a link to this hub in my "Jake" hub. Have a wonderful day! :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 04, 2012:

Thank you very much for the comment and the votes, Mary. I appreciate your visit. It is nice to have a Lab in the family - they are wonderful dogs!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 04, 2012:

Hi, Nell. Thank you very much for the comment, and thanks for the vote and the share as well! I've loved every dog I've owned, including my first one, who was a mixed breed, but the retrievers have had lovely characteristics.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on August 04, 2012:

As a dog lover, I enjoyed this Hub very much. Your dogs are beautiful. I loved your video. I have never had a Lab but I have friends who do and they brag all the time about their wonderful Lab.

I voted this UP, etc.etc.

Nell Rose from England on August 04, 2012:

Hi Alicia, I loved your video! these are my favorite dogs, I always wanted one so I loved this! we had an alsatian and after we lost her we were going to get a retriever, but it never happened, this was a great hub, really interesting, and the photos were lovely! voted up and shared, nell

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 04, 2012:

Thank you very much for the comment, Barbara. I expect Milo will get on very well with his new brother! Bess was nine when Owen joined the family, and she quickly became friends with him.

b. Malin on August 04, 2012:

My Son owns a Black Lab, named Milo...and for many years until it's death a Golden one, named Colby...Labs make Wonderful Pets, and are so Smart and kindhearted. Now that Milo is almost 4, they are going to get him a "little Brother".

Wonderful Hub as usual Alicia, I also Enjoyed watching your Video of Misha & Bess, they look so Happy & Healthy, and play so nicely together...Good Job!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 03, 2012:

Thank you for the visit and for the comment, drbj. Yes, Labs are sweet and friendly, and I've loved having them in my family!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 03, 2012:

Labs are such sweet, friendly dogs and it's easy to see how fond you have been of your Lab pets. Your hub has enhanced my Lab learning tremendously, Alicia. Thank you for this well-written information and the fun video.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 03, 2012:

Thank you very much for the comment, the vote and the share, Tom! I appreciate them all. Well-trained Labs are great dogs and make lovely pets. It's nice that you have some to meet in your neighborhood!

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on August 03, 2012:

Hi my friend, very well written and interesting hub about a very beautiful dog. There are a few people around my home who have these wonderful Labrador Retrievers and they are so good and friendly. Well done !

Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 03, 2012:

Thank you very much for the comment and the vote, Seeker7. Yes, even with a potentially wonderful dog like a Lab, a person needs to educate the dog - preferably as a puppy - in order for it turn into a well behaved adult. Have fun with Kassy!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 03, 2012:

Hi, Becky. I've often wondered how Misha would behave if someone broke into the house. He loves meeting visitors, but in these situations he observes that I am welcoming the people. It might be a different situation if a stranger entered the house uninvited! Thanks for the comment and for the interesting information about your Labrador retriever.

Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on August 03, 2012:

It never surprises me when I look at surveys and polls and Labradors are always at the top of people's favourite dogs. I have a 5 month old Yellow Labrador girl at the moment called Kassy. Basically she is fun, beautiful, wonderful and a little horror all rolled into one - in other words a very healthy puppy!! LOL!

I loved this hub that highlights the great things about these wonderful dogs but also that it's just as important for them, friendly as they are, to be socialised and exercised properly.

Fabulous hub + voted up!

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on August 03, 2012:

This was wonderful information on labs. had one a few years back. She had a huge yard to play in as well as two other dogs. She did not seem to have a problem with her weight. She was a small female and so friendly, except for the night when someone tried to break in. She turned into a vicious beast for just long enough to corner them and hold them for the police. Then as soon as I called her to me, she came gallumping over to start chasing her ball. She loved her ball.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 03, 2012:

Thanks for the comment and for the vote, Mama Kim 8. I hope you're happy with your new dog, whatever kind you get!

Sasha Kim on August 03, 2012:

This couldn't come at a more perfect time! Great hub ^_^

We've been trying to decide what our next family dog will be. We've been going between Lab, G shep, rott or pit. This definitely adds to the discussion! Voted up!!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 03, 2012:

Thank you very much for the comment, Judi. That's a funny story about your Airedale!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 03, 2012:

Hi, The Writers Dog. (I love your name!) I'm glad that Rusty was rescued and ended up with a good home. Lead training must have been very difficult, though! Thank you very much for the comment and vote.

Judi Brown from UK on August 03, 2012:

Good to see that your retriever still has his breed instincts - my Airedale (bred to hunt water-rats in water) hates to get even her paws wet and quietly watched a rat scurry past us the other day!

Lovely photos and video, very enjoyable and informative hub.

The Writers Dog on August 03, 2012:

A beautiful Hub about beautiful dogs! As youcan see, my Rusty is a choc Lab with a little Kelpie (Aust. cattle dog). I know exactly what you mean when it comes to lead training! Rusty was rescued at 2 years, and I doubt had ever seen a lead, let alone been on the end of one.

Voted up by me AND Rusty :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 02, 2012:

Hi, Maria. I think that it's important that someone finds a pet that they can love and that needs a home, no matter where the dog comes from or what type of dog it is! For people who are looking for a certain type of personality or certain characteristics in a dog, though, Labrador retrievers can be a good choice, but they can be expensive. I'm glad that you're happy with Peso and PM! Thanks for the visit.

Maria Cecilia from Philippines on August 02, 2012:

wow it's a dream for me to have dogs like them three different colors, but you see responsible pet ownership is knowing what you can afford first....so for now they are dreams for me... I am happy with Peso and PM anyway...

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 02, 2012:

Thank you for the comment and the vote, moonlake! It's interesting that your son has owned Labs of all three colors too. They do make lovely pets.

moonlake from America on August 02, 2012:

Beautiful dogs. Loved the video. My son has always owned Labs. He has had all three colors. Voted up on your hub it was very interesting.


Owning a Labrador Retriever: 3 Pros and Cons

Pros!Cons!
Friendly: Labrador Retrievers are a very friendly and loving dog.High Exercise Need: Labrador Retrievers are an active breed. They will need regular exercise every day.
Kid-Friendly: This breed makes a wonderful family dog. They are gentle, very tolerant with kids, and love to play.Kid-Friendly: This breed makes a wonderful family dog. They are gentle, very tolerant with kids, and love to play.
Easy to Groom: Labrador Retrievers have short hair, and their coat is easy to maintain.Shedding can be a problem: These dogs sheds extensively twice a year and you need to brush them regularly to keep on top of this.


1. Golden Retrievers Are Smaller

When comparing the size difference of a Golden Retriever vs Labrador you will notice Goldens are slightly smaller on average.

Both breeds are recognized as being medium sized, however if you measure a Golden vs Lab you will notice the Golden Retriever is an inch shorter.

You can see the slight size variation in the table below which shows the average height and weight of both breeds:

Golden Retriever Labrador Retriever
Height (inches at the withers) 21 to 24 21.5 to 24.5
Weight (pounds) 55 to 75 55 to 80

Female Golden Retrievers stand at 21 to 22 inches compared to female Labradors with a height of 21.5 to 23.5 inches.

Male Goldens are slightly larger and stands at 22 to 24 inches in height compared to a male Lab standing at 22.5 to 24.5 inches.

Female Goldens weigh between 55 to 70 pounds and female Labs weigh about the same as between 55 to 70 pounds.

Male Golden Retrievers are slightly lighter at 66 to 75 pounds vs the male Labrador Retriever at 64 pounds to 80 pounds.

The Labrador Retriever is larger than the Golden. However, the Golden Retriever is known to be slightly longer and has a longer snout too.

Labradors have a more robust looking head shape.

This is especially true for the English Labrador who are stockier and less athletic than the American Lab.


Pros and cons of Labrador Retrievers

The Good

  • Enthusiastic attitude toward life
  • Short easy-care coat
  • Cheerful, tail-wagging nature
  • Thrives on exercise and athletic activities
  • Steady-tempered and dependable with everyone
  • Peaceful with other animals
  • Very responsive to training

The Bad

  • Needs a goodly amount of exercise, not just a couple of short walks around the block
  • High energy and exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • Sheds a lot
  • Risk of serious health problems

Chocolate Labrador. Developed as hunting dogs to fetch and carry birds back to the hunter, Labs love to carry toys around.

How big are Labrador Retrievers?

Usually they're 21-25 inches at the shoulder, with males typically in the higher half of that range, and females in the lower half.

Weight can be as low as 55 pounds, but is usually 65-80 pounds.

Unfortunately, the trend seems to be for heavier and heavier Labs, with a lot of individuals topping 90 pounds. I say unfortunately because heavier weight isn't good for their joints.

This breed was supposed to be a medium-sized hunting retriever who could fit comfortably in a bird blind or a small boat.

Show type Labrador Retriever. Much stockier than field type Labs.

Are there different "types" of Labrador Retrievers?

Not officially. There's only the one breed. They come in several colors, yet they're all Labrador Retrievers. For hunting and field trials, though, black Labs are by far the most common color. In my obedience classes, yellow Labs are often the calmest and most mild-mannered. In contrast, the chocolate Labs I've worked with have all been very energetic. Of course, it might just be coincidence!

But apart from color, you'll definitely see Labs who look quite different from other Labs. Different builds, different body shapes.

In particular, Labrador Retrievers used primarily for hunting and field trials look very different from Labs you see at dog shows that emphasize conformation.

Labrador hunting/field lines are more athletic, agile, and energetic. They have a narrower head, longer muzzle, lankier body, and a sleeker coat.

Labs from show lines are heavier-boned and stockier, with a large blocky head and dense coat.

Even within show lines there are variations, with British/English show lines having the shortest muzzle, shortest legs, and chunkiest build.

To me, those dogs don't really look like the classic Labrador Retriever. But they do tend to be very sweet dogs with mellow temperaments that fit well into many families.

How much exercise do Labrador Retrievers need?

Many owners don't give this breed the exercise it deserves. These athletic, bouncy dogs need regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things.

Otherwise they will become bored, which they may express by becoming rambunctious and destructive.

Labs also need mental stimulation, which means interesting activities that keep the mind stimulated:

For example, a challenging dog sport (agility, rally obedience, musical freestyle, tracking, flyball, frisbee, field trials) interactive dog toys a homemade obstacle course fetch games and tricks.

Some of these activities are included in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.

Black Labrador Retriever. Black is the most common color.

Are Labrador Retrievers easy to train?

Yes, training most Labrador Retrievers is easy. They housebreak quickly and are usually willing to please.

But this breed is strong and energetic, especially adolescents. Many Labradors between one and three years old are dropped off at animal shelters or rescue groups because of dog behavior problems such as pulling vigorously on the leash and jumping on people.

Focus on teaching loose-leash walking, indoor calmness, and no jumping. All of these are taught in my puppy training book, Respect Training For Puppies.

How sociable are Labrador Retrievers?

Are they friendly with strangers?

Yes, most Labs are happy to see everyone. They'll bark when someone comes to the door, but they're not protective. This is a friendly, trusting breed.

Are Labrador Retrievers good with children?

Most Labs are among the best possible dogs for children.

However, remember my cautions about exuberance and jumping. Young Labs (up to two or three years old) romp and jump with vigor. That means things can go flying – including people.

If your Lab has been allowed to jump on people, you should stop this behavior immediately. Jumping can injure people, and even when it doesn't, it puts a dog in a heightened state of arousal that isn't good for him.

If you don't yet have your dog and your home includes toddlers or infirm adults, you might consider skipping the challenging puppy and adolescent stages. Look into adopting an adult Labrador Retriever from a rescue group. Adults have a more settled temperament and you can specifically look for a calm one.

Are Labrador Retrievers good with other pets?

Most Labs are fine with other dogs and cats, fine with livestock, and even fine with very small pets such as rabbits and ferrets.

Of course introductions should be made properly. Don't just plunk a baby bunny onto the floor and let your full-grown Lab loose in the room. Even a friendly dog can make mincemeat of a small fragile creature simply by jumping on it.

Labrador Retriever puppies hardly shed at all. but that won't last!

Grooming: Do Labrador Retrievers shed a lot? Are they easy to groom?

For such a shorthaired dog, Labrador Retrievers shed more than you might think – on the high side of average (at least).

The bulk of their shedding occurs twice a year, for three weeks in the spring as their thicker winter coat switches to a cooler summer coat, and three weeks in the fall as their summer coat switches over to a winter coat. But they also shed some all through the year.

Labs need more brushing than some other shorthaired breeds because of the high shedding. If you don't diligently pull out the dead undercoat during regular grooming sessions, it will all fall out on your floors and furniture.

On the plus side, obviously Labs need no trimming!

How long do Labrador Retrievers live? Are they a healthy breed?

Labrador Retrievers typically live 10-12 years. Many Labs do live to 12 or 13, but usually with chronic health issues such as arthritis.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of beloved Labs are lost in middle age to inherited forms of cancer or heart disease.

Common orthopedic diseases in Labradors include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and luxating patella (loose knee joints), each of which causes chronic pain and lameness and can require expensive surgery.

Labs are very prone to rupturing the ligaments in their hind legs – expensive surgery again. And if one hind leg ruptures, the other is likely to follow at a later time. Another surgery.

It's a good idea to have pet insurance when you own a Lab.

A number of eye diseases cause blindness in Labrador Retrievers.

The breed is at higher-than-average risk for an emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat, which can kill a healthy dog within hours.

A number of neurological/neuromuscular diseases, some of them deadly, affect Labrador Retrievers.

One example of an odd neuromuscular disease is called exercise-induced collapse. As the name suggests, affected Labradors who have been vigorously exercising suddenly begin swaying, collapse, and require a rest before they can move again.

Here is a complete list of health problems in Labrador Retrievers.

See my advice on → keeping your dog healthy
(feeding, vaccinations, neutering, veterinarians, and more).

The three major colors of Labs are black, yellow, and chocolate.

What colors do Labrador Retrievers come in?

Officially, Labrador Retrievers come in black, yellow, and chocolate. They also come in silver (gray), but this color is frowned on by breed purists.

You might have heard someone say they had a Golden Lab or a Fox Red Lab or a White Lab.

These are just made-up names for yellow Labs whose shade of yellow happens to be golden or reddish or whitish. Whatever the shade, it's still just a yellow Lab.

Chocolate also comes in shades: from light coffee to deep chocolate brown.

Now, what about silver Labrador Retrievers? The official breed clubs, and breeders who show their dog in the conformation ring, state that silver is a disqualified color for showing purposes.

In fact, most Labrador breeders insist that silver dogs aren't even purebred. Their position is that the silver gene infiltrated the Labrador's gene pool by crossbreeding Labs with Weimaraners.

I think they're probably right. I think that one or more Weimaraner crosses probably did introduce the silver gene at some point. However, since genetic diversity is a good thing in living creatures, I don't view cross-breeding as an evil thing.

So if there are some Weimaraner genes floating around in a silver Labrador, that wouldn't bother me.

On the other hand, if I wanted a dog who could be counted on to look and act like a Lab, you're more likely to get that in a Lab who isn't silver, especially if the silver breeder is still using Weimaraners in his breeding program. And based on the appearance of some silver "Labs", there are breeders who are still crossing in Weimaraners.

But almost certainly silver Labrador Retrievers are here to stay. Even though they can't be shown, the AKC still accepts them for registration. However, in a funny twist, those registration papers don't say silver.

Remember, the AKC says that Labs can only be black, chocolate, or yellow. So they register silver Labs as Chocolate, because they consider silver to be a dilution of the chocolate gene. In other words, according to the AKC, your silver Lab is actually a chocolate Lab also has inherited dilution gene that washes the chocolate into a silvery gray.

It doesn't end there. Some silver Labs aren't silvery gray, but dark charcoal gray. The AKC registers these dogs as Black, considering charcoal to be a dilution of Black.

Yellow, black, and chocolate Labrador Retriever puppies.

Labrador Retriever Puppies

If you already have a Labrador Retriever puppy.

Congratulations! I'll be happy to show you how to raise and train your new family member.

  • Take a peek at my best-selling puppy training book, Respect Training for Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy.
  • Or check out my training tips to teach your Labrador Retriever puppy to be well-behaved.
  • Also see my advice on Labrador Retriever health care, including feeding and vaccinations

If you don't have a Labrador Retriever puppy, but you want one.

I can help you with that, too.

Labrador Retrievers are the most common breed in the United States, so they're very easy to find. The problem is finding one with the best chances of staying healthy through the years.

First, you need to think about the different types of Labrador Retriever we talked about earlier. Field/hunting type or show type.

You can buy a Labrador Retriever puppy from a show breeder who breeds Labradors to match a detailed standard of appearance for the dog show ring.

Or you can buy one from a performance breeder who emphasizes an energetic temperament and strong working drives for hunting.

Some breeders are a combination of show/performance. But how they prioritize those two goals can vary greatly.

Or you can just hop onto Craigslist and buy a Labrador Retriever puppy from someone who "just breeds pets" or "just had one litter." But should you?

Not unless the seller has done the proper health certifications on the puppy's parents . One huge difference between a responsible breeder and an irresponsible "puppy producer" is – health certifications.

BOTH PARENTS of a Labrador Retriever puppy should have:

  • a certificate from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) – dated within the past year – certifying the dog to be free of eye diseases
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHip certifying the dog to have normal hips
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certifying the dog to have normal elbows

Also, at least ONE PARENT of a Labrador Retriever puppy should have:

  • a DNA test proving they are Normal/Clear of a neuromuscular disease called exercise-induced collapse (EIC)

If a seller can't show you those certificates, the puppies are higher risk for health problems. You might choose to accept that risk. But then you need to be willing (and able) to pay a couple thousand bucks for future surgeries and lifelong meds if your Labrador Retriever ends up with cataracts and crippled joints.

How do I adopt a Labrador Retriever?

Labrador Retrievers are often available from dog rescue groups. Labrador Retrievers may be turned over to Rescue because they shed too much or need more exercise than the owner was prepared to give. Or perhaps they pull on the leash or jump on people. You would need to provide these dogs with the exercise and training that they are lacking.

Labrador Retrievers (more often, Lab crosses and mixes) are frequently found in animal shelters. However, shelter personnel can be overzealous in labeling every medium- to large shorthaired black dog as a "Lab cross." Dogs can look like Labs without having any Lab genes at all.

Did you know there's a quick and simple DNA test that can tell you definitively which breeds make up any given dog?

What breeds are similar to Labrador Retrievers?

The Golden Retriever is similar to a Labrador in being a great all-around family dog and a great choice for first-time owners. Compared to Labs, Goldens tend to be even more outgoing toward everyone and more eager to please. Goldens do shed more than Labs and have a greater risk of health issues.

Compared to Labs and Goldens, the Flat-Coated Retriever needs more exercise and interesting activities to keep them busy. This is not a good breed for a casual or couch potato owner. Flat-Coats also suffer from serious health issues.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a great dog for experienced owners. Compared to the Lab, a Chessie has a stronger temperament, needs more exercise, is more reserved with strangers, and can be bossy toward strange dogs.

About the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.


Watch the video: 15 Most Expensive Dogs in the World (July 2021).