Commonly known as Labradors, Labrador Retrievers were originally bred to work hard as gun dogs and assistance dogs. However, due to their famously friendly and loving nature, this dog is more common as the family pet.
But still, their exercise and training needs are the same as before. To function properly and behave decently, a Labrador Retriever needs to be indulged in fun play sessions and interesting family activities like retrieving.
On hitting adulthood, these dogs develop well-matured brains, but as puppies, you better expect them to be noisy and bouncy.
However, even during puppyhood, the intelligence and urge to please people, of these Labrador Retrievers, are remarkable. Considering these traits, these canines are categorized as one of the easiest dogs to train and own.
And do you know that the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in America for the past thirty-one years? Yeah, that’s true! To know more fun facts and valuable information about this dog breed, just read on!
About the Breed
You must have seen at least one Labrador Retriever for real because they are the most commonly owned dogs in America. They are affectionate, intelligent, athletic, muscular, easy-going, and love to stay around people, which makes them the favorite choice of almost every American family.
Their intelligence and loyalty make these high-energy dogs perfect for adventurous, outgoing people who are looking for a medium-large-sized four-legged companion. On the other hand, if you need a fun-loving, super-friendly, and completely harmless dog, this one is also your go-to choice.
Labrador Retrievers come with huge hearts, which may contain an immense amount of love for all the family members. And the best part is that you won’t even need to beg for hugs and cuddles since this cute furball will jump into your lap, without even asking.
In fact, the only mission of the lab’s life is to give and receive love – and also to devote their lives to please their parents.
Due to the very same reason, this dog is being used as a therapy dog in old age homes and hospitals. Since they are easy to train and understand commands really very quickly, this breed has won various agility and obedience competitions.
Besides, they have served the military and police forces for a long time as rescue dogs and for drug and explosive detection. And have we mentioned their extraordinary performance as assistance dogs for disabled people?
All in all, this single dog offers a one-in-all sort of package to its owner as with their versatile and colorful personality, they can transform, from a companion dog to a show dog to a rescue dog to a field retriever, in a wink.
History of the Labrador Retriever
Many people think that Labrador Retrievers must have come from Labrador, Canada so they got their names from their birthplace, but that’s not true.
The Labrador Retriever club has confirmed that this dog breed originated in St. John, the capital city of Newfoundland, Canada. That’s the very reason why labs were originally called St. John’s dog too.
By 1700, these St. john dogs were owned only by the local fishermen, as their working dogs. These dogs help their owners retrieve the lost fish and ducks, haul fishing nets, and fetch ropes.
Although the lineage of St. John’s dog is unknown, some people believe that these dogs were developed by the crossbred of small water dogs and local Newfoundland dogs.
In around 1830, the second Earl of Malmesbury brought these dogs to England to be used as retrievers whereas, in the reign of the Third Earl of Malmesbury, these dogs began to get referred to as Labradors.
When this dog breed was thriving in England, it nearly got extinct in Newfoundland around the year 1880. The reason behind this near-extinction situation was the strict tax laws and government restrictions.
The government of those times even constituted a law that one family could keep only one pet dog, and if they chose that pet to be female, the family had to pay a heavy dog tax. Still, somehow, the breed managed to survive and in 1903, the kennel club officially recognized it as a separate breed.
On the other hand, the American kennel club (AKC) recognized this popular breed in 1917. Since the count of Labrador Retrievers was still alarmingly low in America and Canada, the breeders over there began to import British Labs to their countries.
After these untiring efforts, Labrador Retriever dogs finally got categorized as the most popular dog breed by the national breed club of America, by the end of world war ii, in 1991.
Labrador Retriever Facts
- The average life span of a Labrador Retriever is 10-12 years. However, Adjutant, the oldest living Labrador, managed to live for about 27 years.
- Labradors can’t tolerate extreme weather conditions and temperatures as they are programmed to live in cold environments. Therefore, a Lab puppy should never be allowed to go outside when the temperature is above ninety degrees Fahrenheit.
- A Labrador can hold its pee for about 11-12 hours so you better schedule their bathroom breaks accordingly.
- An adult Labrador can sleep for about ten to twelve hours a day, however, it can sleep even more if it’s too young or too aged.
- Labrador is one of those few dog breeds that communicate through their body language rather than barks and growls. If a Labrador loves you, it will express it with its wagging tail, licking, and following you everywhere around.
- Since Labs were originally bred to fetch fishing ropes and retrieve escaped fish & ducks, this canine possesses very strong swimming instincts – the most ideal dog for swimmers.
- Unlike other dogs, this Lab breed can sense your sadness by reading your facial expressions and change in your pointing gestures.
- The best age to bring Lab puppies to your home is when it gets eight weeks old. If brought home way too earlier, these pups wouldn’t be able to learn discipline and bite inhibition from their mum.
- Research has shown that the Labradors have tendencies and enough emotions to hold grudges. They remember past events quite clearly and can throw tantrums for some time.
- Even though it happens once in a blue moon, a Labrador Retriever can bite with a strength of about 230 PSI.
Labrador Retriever Appearance
When it comes to appearance, Labradors are divided into two major categories; one containing thicker, blocker, and heavier bodies (called the English Labradors) and the second containing lankier and taller dogs (called the American Labradors).
Generally, all these deep-chested dogs feature sturdy and squared body frames, supported by athletic legs. The most distinctive features of this energetic breed are their broad heads, fairly wide muzzles, dark & expressive eyes, and floppy ears.
In addition to this, Labrador Retriever also possesses webbed feet and a thick & otter tail which facilitate it while swimming.
The height of a fully grown Labrador Retriever depends upon its gender as males are mostly taller than females. Generally, a male Lab may grow up to 57-62cm tall, whereas the size of a female Lab could be 55-60cm.
Considering the maximum size to which a male Labrador Retriever could grow, these strong dogs are classified in the category of medium-sized dogs.
Again, based on sex, the healthy weight range of a Labrador may vary. Generally, a 6-month-old, male Lab may weigh around 29-36 kgs, whereas the weight of a female Lab could be between 25-32 kgs. However, some Labs may even put on an extra weight of about 45 kg due to their uncontrolled greediness and appetites.
Labrador Retrievers are also special when it comes to their coat type. They feature a hard, dense, and thick double coat that consists of both hair and fur. The outer coat comprises wiry, short, and dense hair, whereas the undercoat consists of soft and smooth fur which is weather-resistant and insulating.
Besides, some Labradors also look fluffy as they have long hair on their bodies. This condition is quite rare and caused by a non-dominant, recessive gene. Likewise, some Labradors come with a sparse undercoat which makes them look like single-coated canines.
Labrador Retrievers are divided into three major types as per the coat color; chocolate brown, black, and yellow. The most dominant and common breed type is the one comprising black Labrador.
Besides these common colors, some Labs also feature silver, fox red, and polar white, but these options are super rare.
In addition to this, many Labs come with some white markings or small patches on their chests that are acceptable. However, any Lab that possesses coat color other than what is mentioned above, is considered mixed bred canine.
Labrador Retriever Temperament and Personality
Speaking of their temperament, they are fun to be around since they are light-hearted, playful, emotional, and smart. Since their bodies contain a huge amount of pent-up energy, these dogs are the happiest when busy.
Even when they don’t have anything to do, they will keep following you everywhere to keep their mind and body at work.
However, some people associate the hyperactive nature of these dogs with clinginess but that’s not true. You can leave a Labrador Retriever alone at home for 6-8 hours. Just make sure they have easy access to the bathroom and someone who could feed them after some hours.
Don’t fill the food bowls stuffed ad opened since these greedy canines don’t know when to stop.
Even though Labs can do well on their own for some hours, but make sure to compensate for those absenting hours by playing with them. Remember that an ignored and bored Lab may develop separation anxiety really quickly.
And as we stated before, they are more emotional than other dogs, their damaged emotional health can also have adverse effects on their mental and physical health.
After developing separation anxiety, a Labrador Retriever may exhibit anxious behavior like chewing doors and furniture, digging, winning, pacing, growling, and barking.
The good thing is that this dog, when mentally and physically healthy, doesn’t bark a lot but stays super quiet. Similarly, as this dog ages, it grows even calmer.
Even though Labs are known for their super friendly and social natures, these dogs can be the best watchdogs, if trained properly. On the other hand, when not trained, the same dog might help the intruder to come inside your property.
Likewise, these dogs can be reliable guard dogs since they can sense the danger and do whatever it takes to protect their owners. But again, it all depends upon their training.
Labrador Retrievers make excellent family dogs due to their sweet nature, gentleness, and protectiveness. They are safe and friendly around kids and that’s the very reason why Labs are one of the most popular breeds for households containing children.
Generally, Labs love the whole family, but they tend to make one member their favorite.
Resultantly, the dog will be more protective and compassionate towards that one person. Speaking of their behavior towards other pets, Labradors can chase small animals around, due to their strong retrieving and ducking instincts.
Thus, it’s better to raise your Lab with those small pets and work on their obedience training to tone down these instincts. Otherwise, walking with your Labrador retriever will become nearly impossible as they’ll chase every passerby animal, dragging you down the street.
Some people believed that the color of a Labrador also determines its temperament but that’s not the case. We haven’t found any scientific fact yet which could prove the connection between color and personality. The only factors that determine your dog’s temperament are his genetics and environment.
Labrador Retriever Health and Care
Generally, a Labrador Retriever is considered a healthy breed but still, some Labs may develop the following health problems;
Hip dysplasia is the most common hereditary disorder, which usually attacks very strong dogs with a tremendous amount of energy, packed in their bodies.
In this condition, the hip joint and thigh muscles get partially detached from the pelvic socket. Resultantly, your dog feels restlessness and discomfort while walking or moving rear limbs.
As the condition worsens, his rear limbs may get completely immobilized. The only treatment to cure this condition is surgery. And to prevent it from transmitting to the next generation, make sure to have a proper DNA test of your cured Lab, before taking him for breeding.
Some other forms of this disease are elbow dysplasia and knee dysplasia which affects the elbow and knee of your labs.
Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia
Tricuspid valve dysplasia is a heart disorder that is found in Labrador Retrievers more commonly these days. In this condition, the right valve of your dog’s heart is malformed, making your dog suffer a lot.
Since it’s a congenital disease, the proper treatment method is hard to find. Some puppies, somehow, may manage to survive, but most of them die in a couple of weeks.
In this painful condition, a benign (a non-cancerous tumor) forms at your Lab’s tail that keeps them in discomfort all the time. Resultantly, when the pain worsens, they bites at tail, causing the limber tail.
Thankfully, it’s not a life-threatening condition and goes away in a few days. Besides Labrador Retrievers, other Retrievers including Golden Retrievers, are also prone to catch this disorder.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
This condition attacks the eyes of your Lab, destroying his photoreceptor retina cell and turning him first into night blind and then completely blind.
Acute Moist Dermatitis
As the name suggests, this disease is about skin that develops an acute bacterial infection due to insufficient hygiene. As a result of this infection, numerous red patches, or hot spots, may form on your Lab’s skin that could irritate them badly.
Since Labrador Retrievers have floppy ears, they are highly prone to catching ear infections if not cleaned properly. Moisture, dirt, debris, and grime may stick inside your dog’s ear canal, making it the perfect habitat for infection-causing bacteria.
Thus to prevent any sort of infection, pay special attention to your dog’s hygiene. Use specially formulated dog shampoo and cleaner and clip your dog hair to prevent them from matting.
Even though the overall grooming requirements of the Labrador Retriever are low, they shed a lot which means they need regular brushing.
Since Labradors have low tendencies to drool, they don’t need frequent bathing, as taking shower once a month will be sufficient. Trim their nails, brush their teeth, and feed them good-quality dog food. Just don’t forget to discuss the portion size with a certified vet.
Lastly, this sporting dog breed needs vigorous exercise to stay mentally and physically fit. Thus, take them for daily walks and play with them for about one hour daily. However, avoid overdoing it since exercise-induced collapse is quite common among Labrador Retrievers.
In addition to providing enough exercise, make sure you are also providing enough mental stimulation so your Lab won’t get saddened, bored, or depressed.
Labrador Retriever Training
Labrador Retrievers are one of the easiest dogs to train, but only if you employ the right technique and stay consistent. Start working on your Labrador Retriever pup’s obedience from the very first day by teaching them basic commands.
However, keep the training sessions fun and short, so they won’t feel intimidating to your dogs’ fragile souls.
Since Retrievers are quite protective of their families, they might feel threatened and jealous around unfamiliar people. Therefore, to tone up their positive, friendly, and social nature, socialize your Labs with new people and new pets.
And most importantly, never raise your voice or use negative reinforcement methods to train your pup since it won’t be beneficial for your pet. Instead, they might begin to feel scared of you, which in turn might fuel their escape-artist nature.
Purchasing a purebred Labrador Retriever from reputable breeders may cost around $700-$1500. On the other hand, you can get a Labrador pup from an animal shelter for free.
Some of those Labs offered by the rescue groups are even neutered and vaccinated, which saves you from additional costs too.
The best part here is that, even though Labrador Retrievers are the best family pets, they are not too expensive to keep since they only cost $100-$200 per month!