THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER

The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds. Dogs in this breed are high-energy, intelligent, and social. This breed is a sporting dog, and originated in Newfoundland, first dubbed St. John’s Water dog.

Brief History

The first record of this breed was in Newfoundland in the 1700’s. They were brought to England in the early 1800’s. Some think they were bred from the Greater Newfoundland dog or the French St. Hubert’s dog.

This breed of dog was known for enjoying retrieving, originally with English fisherman in Newfoundland. The fisherman would use them to retrieve fish that had fallen off their hooks, or bring fishing lines in through the water. This made them good hunting dogs. The name Labrador was introduced in 1887 by the Earl of Malmesbury.

Physical Features

Labs come in three colors: black, yellow, or chocolate, with black being the most popular. They have large, stocky bodies. Their coats are dense and short, and repel water and dirt.

Average Height:

22-24 inches

Average Weight:

55-79 lbs

Life Expectancy:

10-15 years

Temperament

Labrador Retrievers are extremely social, and will want to play quite frequently. They’re fast learners and bond quickly when given attention. They have gentle dispositions, are easy to get along with, and are known to be loyal.

Labs are ideal family dogs, sporting dogs, and therapy dogs. They are obedient with proper training, and their favorite activities are swimming and retrieving (naturally).

Special Needs

Regular exercise is incredibly important for Labrador Retrievers in your family, not only because they are high energy dogs and love to play, but also because they are susceptible to weight gain if they’re sedentary. Labs also have a tendency to push themselves to the limit of their physical abilities, and can overheat in warm weather.

While they are good outdoor dogs, this breed prefers to live inside with their human companions.

Possible Health Concerns

A common health concern for Labrador Retrievers is obesity. Healthy dogs will have an hourglass shape. Other conditions they are susceptible to include:

  • Patellar Luxation. This happens when the dog’s patella is dislocated. Treatment involves surgery.  
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD). When the ball and socket of the hip joint are malformed and grind against each other instead of moving smoothly. Treatment could be outpatient but it could also involve surgery.
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD). When cartillege in a joint is damaged. Treatment could involve surgery.

Exercise

Labrador Retrievers are highly active, and you’ll need enough space in your home and yard for them to run around. They’ll go on runs or play fetch. You won’t want them to get bored, because they can become temperamental and even be destructive.

Labs need a lot of exercise, and especially love swimming, in any type of water. While young, you’ll need to watch them in the water, but over time they’ll gain confidence.

Nutrition

Each Labrador Retriever is different, and may need different nutritional needs. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian. Since this breed is prone to obesity, monitor their food consumption.

Grooming

Due to their dense coats, Labs will need to be combed weekly if not daily. They also shed, so watch out for your carpets! Their coats are resistant to water and also dirt, so brushing is mostly for shedding maintenance and to keep them looking healthy. They’ll need regular nail trimming and ear cleaning as well.

Labrador Retrievers are high-energy, loyal, family dogs who love attention and being involved in family activities. Know that when you adopt, you’ll have to put the time in to train them, but your efforts will be rewarded!

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