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Labrador Retrievers are bright, energetic, and friendly. These traits have made them popular companion dogs and excellent working dogs.
The Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed in America today. As hardworking and good-natured as their ancestors, this breed was initially bred to be a hunting and retrieval dog. Labradors excel in many canine jobs, such as assistance dogs, search and rescue dogs, and show competitors.
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Table of Contents
- Vital Stats
- Breed Characteristics & Traits
- About the Breed
- Labrador Retriever Breed Appearance
- Labrador Retriever Personality
- Labrador Retriever History
- What To Expect When Caring For a Labrador Retriever
- More on Labrador Retrievers
65-80 pounds (male)
55-70 pounds (female)
22.5-24.5 inches (male)
21.5-23.5 inches (female)
Breed Characteristics & Traits
Some dogs are aloof no matter how long they've been around humans; others are close to a single person, and some shower the whole family with affection. The environment also plays a significant role in dogs' level of affection: Dogs who've been raised indoors with people around feel more comfortable with humans.
A dog's level of tolerance and patience with children, and his overall family-friendliness, will vary from breed to breed. Ensure that you supervise your dog when around young children, whether friendly or not.
Some dogs are Stranger-friendly, and others are not, but no matter what their breed, a puppy who is socialized and exposed to lots of different ages and shapes of people will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a solid leash at all times when in public.
Some breeds are friendly towards other dogs. Dogs must always be supervised for introductions and interactions with other dogs, but some dogs are more likely to get along with other dogs than others.
The amount of fur and hair a breed leaves behind. Some breeds shed more frequently than others, which means you have to brush them more regularly; they're more likely to trigger certain types of allergies and will require more consistent vacuuming and lint-rolling.
In some cases, a dog of a particular breed can have genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. Although not every dog of that breed will develop those diseases, they are at an increased risk.
If you're adopting a pup, find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in. Ask if your rescue or shelter has information about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
How drool-prone a breed is. If you're a neat freak, you may not want to choose a dog that leaves ropes of slobber on your arm or big wet spots on your clothes.
Some breeds are known for having a hearty appetite and gaining weight quickly. If you pick a breed that is prone to packing on pounds, you need to make sure they get enough exercise, limit treats, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Talk to your vet about your dog's diet and what they recommend for feeding your dog to keep them at a healthy weight. Excess weight can lead to other health problems or worsen issues like arthritis.
Dogs have different coat types—which are determined by breed. Each type has unique grooming needs, allergen potential, and shedding levels. It can also just be a personal preference for what kind of look or feel you like.
Some breeds only need a quick brushing, while others require frequent bathing, clipping, and brushing. Think about whether you have the time or money for a dog that needs expensive grooming.
Coat length depends on the breed. Some long-haired dogs can be trimmed short, but they require extra grooming to keep the look.
Some breeds are small, and some are large. Some dogs take up more space than others—the Great Dane grows to a towering height! Choosing a dog that fits your living space and lifestyle is vital.
Some breeds are more likely than others to welcome strangers into the home or be friendly toward new people they encounter while on walks.
Small Breeds are not always the best fit for an apartment. Plenty of small dogs is too active and yappy to live comfortably in an apartment. Quiet, low-energy dogs that do well indoors and are polite with the other residents are what you're looking for in a great apartment dog. And here's an excellent crate for your dog (give them more personal space in your apartment).
How much a breed loves to play can depend on their personalities. Some breeds will play well into their adult years, while others happy to relax and nap with you.
Some breeds are a better fit for first-time dog owners than others. They tend to be easier to train and more adaptable to the lifestyle of their new owners. Independent-thinking or highly sensitive dogs may be more challenging for a first-time dog parent to manage.
When choosing a new dog, be sure to consider your own experience with dogs before you select your next pet. If you're new to dog parenting, spend some time learning how to train your new puppy!
Some breeds are more likely to alert you that a stranger is near. These dogs might be less trusting of the mailman or squirrel outside the window. They are likely to warm to a stranger who enters the home and is accepted by the family.
Some dogs are more tolerant than others, so if you have young kids or throw lots of dinner parties, get a dog that can handle the noise, go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds can adapt to various living conditions quickly; others may have difficulty adjusting to changes in their day-to-day lives.
Dogs who were bred to do jobs that require intelligence, such as herding livestock, need mental stimulation to keep them from getting bored. If they don't get the exercise they need, they'll likely misbehave.
Obedience training and interactive dog toys provide good mental stimulation for your canine companion, as are dog sports and careers such as agility and search and rescue.
The amount of mental stimulation and exercise a breed needs. High-energy dogs need lots of exercises and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Low-energy dogs don't need much exercise, but they will enjoy a good walk or two.
A vigorous dog will act with great intensity: he strains at his leash until you train them not to, tries to plow through obstacles, and eats and drinks noisily. These breeds of dogs require lots of training to learn good manners and might not be a good fit for households with young kids or someone who is elderly or frail. On the other hand, a low-vigor dog has a calmer approach to life.
How often a dog barks will depend on what breed of dog he is. Some dogs may bark at strangers or hear strange noises; others are more vocal. Some breeds don't bark, but they may make other sounds to express themselves.
Some breeds need moderate daily exercise and can get by with a stroll around the block. Others need more training and will quickly become overweight without enough physical activity. Dogs that require a lot of exercises are best for people who like to be outdoors and active or want their dog to compete in an athletic dog sport.
Some breeds need a lot of mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. In contrast, others can be reasonably well-adjusted living in homes where they're not provided with much mental activity. Ensure that your dog gets a good amount of brain exercise, including training and cognitive games. If your dog doesn't get enough mental stimulation, he might develop destructive behavior patterns.
About the Breed
Labrador Retrievers have been America's most popular dog breed since 1991. These outgoing, friendly, and high-spirited dogs are great companions for a family looking for a dog with lots of energy.
The Lab is a hardy, well-balanced dog. Males stand from 21.5 to 24.5 inches at the shoulder, and females stand from 21.5 to 23.5 inches at the shoulder; both sexes weigh between 55 to 80 pounds. The coat comes in chocolate, black, and yellow.
The Labrador's head is broad, with eyes that glimmer with kindness. His thick, tapering tail seems to be signaling their eagerness.
Labrador Retrievers are friendly, sociable housemates who bond with the whole family. They socialize well with everyone: neighbor dogs and humans alike. Just don't mistake the Labrador's easygoing personality for laziness. A healthy lab needs regular exercise, such as playing fetch or swimming.
Labrador Retriever Breed Appearance
Labrador Retrievers have a smooth, short-to medium-length coat and webbed toes, making them great athletes and water dogs. Their ruddered tail is ideal for swimming, and their foot webbing makes it easy to be tough in cold climates.
Labrador Retrievers are born in various colors: the yellow Lab, chocolate Lab, and black Lab. A "golden Lab" is not a Lab at all but instead is the result of a crossbreeding of the Golden Retriever and a Labrador Retriever.
Labrador retrievers fall into two categories, the field or working variety (the "American" type) and the show variety (the "English" type).
The field Labs have lighter bones, a narrower head, a longer and less dense coat, and a longer muzzle. Their activity level is higher; these Labs are built to work.
The Show variety of Labradors tends to have shorter legs, a more dense coat, and a broader head than the field variety, making it better suited as a family pet.
Labrador Retrievers shed twice a year or year-round in temperate climates. To prevent the dreaded blowout of their undercoat, Labs require daily brushing during shedding months.
Labrador Retriever Personality
Labrador Retrievers are known for their sweet personalities, which is not surprising considering they were originally bred as hunting companions. They're outgoing, eager to please, and friendly with people and animals alike.
In addition to a sweet personality, they are easy to train and are pretty devoted, making them great family dogs. This breed also needs a good amount of exercise and mental stimulation to be happy. Some Labrador Retrievers are more excitable than others. They love to play, fetch and swim.
Labrador Retriever History
In the early 19th century, some of the North American water dogs used by hunters were shipped to England. Many of these multipurpose dogs were of the Newfoundland type, known as "St. John's" dogs. In England, The St. John's dog was developed and refined into the breed we know today.
As their name suggests, Labrador retrievers are outstanding retrievers and especially enjoy retrieving in water. These dogs work as partners with duck hunters in all kinds of weather and conditions.
Their intelligence and desire to work with people have led to many other jobs and their status as popular dogs.
Today, Labradors make excellent pets, especially for families, as service dogs, scenting dogs for the military, search and rescue dogs, and hunting companions. They are also very talented in many other areas, including performance events.
These dogs were so well-liked that they were ranked the most popular dog breed in America in the mid-1990s, a position they intend to hold onto. Even though they are indoor pets, they are even more at home outdoors.
It is important to remember that Labradors were bred as water retrievers, and very young puppies show a desire to carry things around and an attraction to water.
What To Expect When Caring For a Labrador Retriever
Labrador retrievers are quite hearty dogs, living 10–12 years, though certain conditions can affect them like all breeds.
Labrador Retrievers are prone to various health problems, including elbows and hips that don't work correctly, heart problems such as tricuspid valve dysplasia (TVD), epilepsy, and hereditary myopathy (or muscle weakness). They may also develop eye conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy (degeneration of the retina) and cataracts. Labradors can also have problems related to excessive exercise, called exercise-induced collapse (EIC).
Labs are large, deep-chested dogs, so they risk developing bloat. They can also suffer from hot spots, ear infections, and cold tails.
We recommend 2.5 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food daily, split into two meals.
Note: The amount of food your adult dog eats depends on their age, size, activity level, build, and metabolism. Like people, dogs are individuals; not all dogs need the same amount of food. A highly active dog will require more than a couch potato dog. The higher the quality of dog food you buy, the more nutritious it will be for your pet, and the less you'll have to shake into his bowl.
It's essential to keep your Lab in good shape by weighing them regularly and feeding them twice a day instead of leaving food out all the time. If you're not sure whether your dog is overweight, give him the eye test and then the hands-on test.
To determine whether your dog is overweight, first look down at his waist. If you can see a waist, place your hands on his back with your thumbs along the spine and your fingers spread downward. With light pressure, you should feel but not see his ribs without pressing hard. If you can see excessive fat bulging out around his waist, he's carrying too much weight.
Labrador puppies grow at an incredible rate between four and seven months. They risk developing bone disorders from being fed a high-calorie diet during this time. To prevent this, feed your Labrador puppy a high-quality, low-calorie diet.
For more information on feeding your Labrador retriever, see our guidelines for feeding your puppy and feeding your adult dog.
Labrador Retrievers are very energetic dogs that need a great deal of exercise every day. Without enough exercise, these dogs may become hyperactive or destructive. The breed loves to retrieve and swim.
Labradors are also very active and love to participate in field trials, hunting trips, and canine sporting events such as obedience, tracking, dock diving, and agility.
Many Labs are well-trained, hardworking dogs. They have jobs as search-and-rescue, service and assistance dogs, and drug and bomb detection.
The Labrador Retriever has a thick, water-repellent coat with a soft undercoat that makes them easy to groom. They are usually shed during spring and fall or year-round in temperate climates.
You should brush your Lab about once a week for maintenance, and during shedding seasons, you should brush them daily to help remove fur.
Labrador Retrievers may benefit from regular baths to keep them clean, especially if they like to find smelly things to roll in. As with most dogs, you should trim their nails regularly and their teeth brushed to keep them healthy.
Positive reinforcement will help your Lab to excel in obedience training. Like most dogs, labs can be distracted, so make sure to give them plenty of mental and physical exercise, including teaching them new commands in quiet circumstances where they can focus.
With their easygoing nature and talent for learning, Labrador Retrievers make outstanding service dogs. Labs serve as companions to people with vulnerabilities or illnesses and can do complex jobs like activating an emergency communication device or rolling a person into the recovery position.
Labs are the most successful guide dogs. Labrador Retrievers can even work in search and be trained to do more challenging work, such as water rescue. These champion smellers are true heroes of the dog world.
More on Labrador Retrievers
Are you looking for information on this appealing dog breed? We'll tell you everything you need to know about feeding your Lab puppy, how to choose the right crate, bed, and leash, as well as foods, toys, and other gear.