At a glance
Certainly one of the most famous retrievers, the Labrador Retriever owes its name to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. Well known since the 1800s as a gun dog, the Lab is now one of the most sought-after pet dogs in the world.
This dog is about 23 inches tall and has a weight range of 60 to 80 pounds. A true Lab’s color is a solid black, yellow, or dark brown (“Chocolate Labs”).
- Names – Labrador or Lab
- Group – AKC: Sporting Group; KC: Gundogs
- Size – medium
- Life expectancy – 12 to 14 years
- Cost of ownership – low
- Ease of ownership – high
- Aggressive tendency – low
- Amount of Exercise – medium
- Amount of Grooming – low
- Ease of Training – high
- Obedience level – high
- Suitable for Children – high
- Amount of Care Required – low
- Susceptibility to Health Problems – low
The Labrador Retriever has many characteristics that make it easy to see why this breed is so popular. He is a handsome, compact, and intelligent-looking dog that is relatively large. He has dark, wallowing eyes and possesses an eager-to-please look. His large head, thick nose and broad muzzle is complemented by a powerful neck. The dog has a short, straight and close fitting coat that can only be black, yellow, or chocolate. Though there has been debates surrounding alleged instances of a rare silver or gray color, so far such coats are not recognized. They have an otter tail that is designed to help them in the water and their webbed feet are also an excellent aid for swimming.
- Dog: 65-80 pounds
- Bitch: 55-70 pounds
- Dog: 22.5-24.5 inches
- Bitch: 21.5-23.5 inches
- Color – solid black, yellow, or chocolate
- Coat – straight, short, very dense, outer coat and soft, weather-resistant under coat
- Shedding – medium
- Allergies – medium
- Causes Allergies – medium
This breed is strong, athletic, and even-tempered. They are friendly, outgoing, and possess an extremely sweet personality. American Labradors are leaner while the English Labradors are heavier. This sporting breed specializes at hunting and retrieving. Labrador Retrievers are known for being loyal and affectionate companions. They are open to new knowledge, are extremely observant and willing to take on new tasks without direction. In fact, one world-famous Labrador achieved his fame after saving an unconscious human even though the dog did not have prior training.
- Separation Anxiety – medium
- Barking tendency – medium
- Aggressive tendency – low
- Compatibility with other animals – high
- Suitable for children – high
- Watchdog suitability – medium
The character and traits of the Labrador Retriever has earned this breed the number one position on the AKC popularity list. The Lab is a fun-filled dog with a beautiful personality. He is happy-go-lucky, eager to please and ready to participate in any activity that can be enjoyed with the people he loves.
This breed is easy to train. The key to developing the wonderful adult temperament is early socialization and basic obedience. The sooner the dog is taught not to pull on his leash, the more control you will have over his high energy. Harsh or heavy-handed methods will make the dog’s learning very counter-productive. Labs thrive on fairness, firmness, consistency, reward, and respect. This breed excels at tracking, search and rescue, agility, competitive obedience, as service dogs for the disabled and can even protect his handler in certain dangerous situations.
- Obedience – high
A Lab requires a great deal of exercise. This dog will really thrive with a family that frequently engages in many dog-friendly activities, such as long and involved play sessions, walks, and swimming. Labs should always be walked on a leash and should only be allowed off leash in a safe and well fenced environment. Labs are perfectly happy to live in apartments but sufficient exercise, attention, and stimulation are a must and should never be lacking.
- Energy – high
- Amount required – 2 hours per day
Use a firm bristle brush to groom a Lab. The under coat must be carefully brushed to prevent mats and tangles. The dog should only be bathed when it is absolutely necessary.
Labradors are not picky eaters. They have seemingly endless appetites and will always be looking for more, so food and trash should not be made easily accessible. It is important to watch what they eat and how much they consume because they are prone to obesity. The Lab puppy’s diet should consist of adult dog food, which means they will consume food with less than 25 percent protein. This is important because it will help prevent joint problems. Meals should be served two times per day. Prior to meals, the dog should be made to sit and wait before eating to help calm his excitement. Mature Labs will be fed twice daily with food that alternatively contain fish, poultry, lamb, and green vegetables.
The Labrador Retriever requires minimal grooming. His coat needs brushing on a weekly basis to keep it sleek and healthy. He is a medium shedder and at certain times of the year he will shed more. During times of excessive shedding, more grooming is required. Those who are allergic to dog fur should avoid having this breed as a pet.
- Ease of grooming – high
- Amount of grooming – medium
Most potential Labrador breeders may be enthusiastic about the seemingly win-win factors of breeding. However, what many fail to realize is that success almost completely depends on being able to produce healthy puppies. This is imperative because income is not guaranteed unless you are in possession of multiple litters a year that are in demand. In addition, producing a healthy and desirable litter isn’t as easy as one may think, as there are many health issues that can interfere with your plans, such as birthing problems, an undesirable parent trait that you missed or a hereditary illness that leads to the puppy’s death or makes them unsellable. Furthermore, you may be forced to give refunds to buyers who no longer want the Labrador, depending on what is stipulated in the breeder/client contract. Hence, you need to know the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of breeding before going through with it.
- Litter size – Typical litter sizes 4 to 14 puppies; average size 8.
- Puppy cost – £300- £500 or from $700
Before choosing a breeder, a potential owner must carefully look into the steps the breeder takes to eliminate hereditary health risks and defects from their litter. This is important since most health concerns are the result of over-breeding and inbreeding. Examples of genetic diseases that can be passed down the line are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy and epilepsy.
- Life expectancy – The average life expectancy of a Lab is 12 to 14 years.
- Susceptibility to illness – low
- Common health problems – Cancer, Metabolic Liver Defect, Ear Infections
Labs are relatively easy to care for and are very easy to love. They enjoy the company of humans, are child-friendly animals and can be trained as watchdogs. Their coat needs to be groomed on a weekly basis and they require a minimum of 2 hours of exercise per day. They love to swim and play in water and run around off the leash. If not properly stimulated with activity, Labs can become very bored and destructive.
- Living conditions – This breed can live in an apartment, but must be sufficiently exercised. They are best suited to a house with an average-sized yard.
- Good with Children – A friendly and excellent companion for children
There are many theories as to where the Labrador Retriever breed originated. One theory suggests that the Labrador descended from the Newfoundland dog, a breed that was brought over by settlers from the European continent. In any case, it is believed that the Lab’s predecessors adapted to their environment and developed into two distinct types which had a similar love for water and hunting. There was the large heavy-coated dog now known as the Newfoundland dog and the smaller, shorter-coated type called the “black Water Dog” or the “lesser Newfoundland.”
In the early 1800s, several keen sportsmen and members of English nobility acquired some of the smaller-type dogs and brought them back to England. The Labrador, as he is known today, became of British origin after some of the formerly pure stock was interbred with the native sporting breeds.
By the first half of the 20th century, the breed gained recognition on both sides of the Atlantic. Aside from being the sporting dog of choice in Britain, the Lab was soon known as a dependable war dog, police dog and guide dog for the blind. By 1917, the first Labrador Retriever was registered by the American Kennel Club.
- County or origin – Newfoundland and/or Canada
- Recognition – lCKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, KCGB, CKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, CCR, APRI, ACR
Did you know…
- There are many Famous Labrador Retrievers, such as:
- Endal, a service dog in England. Among other recognitions he has received are “the most decorated dog in the world” (including “Dog of the Millennium” and the PDSA’s Gold Medal for Animal Gallantry and Devotion to Duty), the first dog to ride on the London Eye, and the first dog to place a human being in the recovery position without training following a blackout.
- Omar Riviera’s yellow Labrador guide dog “Dorado”, who saved him during the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Despite the highly charged atmosphere of the building about to collapse, Dorado led Riviera down 70 stories just before Tower 1 collapsed.
- Timber, who earned the distinction of “Heroic Guide Dog of the Year” by Guide Dogs for the Blind (UK) in 2005, after saving the life of his owner, Arthur Griffiths, during a traffic collision.
- Jake, a black Labrador who became a national canine hero after burrowing through “white-hot, smoking debris” in search of survivors at the World Trade Center. He died of cancer at age 12 in July 2007.
- Some famous owners of Labs include:
- U.S. President Bill Clinton
- Russian President Vladimir Putin
- Prince William
- The modern-day Labrador Retriever did not come from Labrador, England, but is believed to be from Newfoundland.
- There are only three authentic Lab colors: Black, yellow, and chocolate.