The Labrador retriever is without a doubt a big favorite of many people, and we understand why. Labs are cheerful, outgoing, and high-spirited companions with plenty of love to go around for a family.
But with a great temperament comes also a lot of work for you. A Labrador Retriever dog will require a lot of exercise and time outside. And, as the name says, they enjoy retrieving. A lab will thrive in a home with a large backyard or area nearby for a long game of fetch. These dogs are a popular breed for an active family due to their lovely nature and love of play. A Labrador Retriever’s ideal human mate enjoys playing as much as their dog.
Another issue with these dogs is that they are pretty expensive! If you want a Labrador retriever from a reputable breeder, be ready to cash out between 1000 dollars and 1500 dollars. If you‘re getting your puppy from champion parents that price will be higher. There are influential Labs that go back as far as 1878. If you want one of those, their price will be even higher!
As you can see, they are not for everyone. We hope that this article will help you determine whether a Labrador Retriever dog is the right choice for you. Read on to find out more about this laidback dog breed, from its hunting dog origins to how to care for them.
History of the Labrador retriever
The Labrador retriever and Golden retriever are the two most popular dog breeds in the world. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, both of these breeds are in the top five most popular dog breeds in the United States. But, where were these dogs developed and when? Let‘s take a closer look at the history of the Labrador retriever!
The name of the breed suggests that it came from Labrador, Canada. Labrador Retrievers were first developed in Newfoundland in the 1500s. A breed called the St. John’s Water Dog or the Lesser Newfoundland was born when small water dogs were mixed with Newfoundlands at the time, which led to a new breed. As a little side note, St John’s dogs are is still in existence today.
These dogs belonged to fishermen, and they trained them to jump into freezing water to retrieve fish that had fallen off their fishing hooks. They also had to drag in nets that were filled with fish. The breed was perfect for these jobs because their coat repelled water, and their webbed paws made them superb swimmers.
Interesting fact: Labrador retrievers were used as US war dogs in the Vietnam war. That was the only war in American history in which war dogs were used.
The dogs were exclusive to Newfoundland until the early 1800s, when they were brought to Poole, England, as part of a breeding program. The Earl of Malmesbury had witnessed the breed in action and had quickly carried them back to his home in Oxfordshire, he was also the first person to call them Labradors. Colonel Hawker, a British sportsman who lived in the 1800s, praised the dogs as “the greatest for any form of shooting… “. Generally speaking, they are black and no larger than a Pointer, with very fine legs and short smooth hair… “He moves extraordinarily quickly, whether running, swimming, or fighting.”
Both the Earl of Malmesbury and the Duke of Malmesbury utilized them in shooting competitions, and they became known as their “Labrador Dogs.” The Earl’s son began breeding the dogs when the moniker stuck in his mind. By 1903, the English Kennel Club had officially recognized Labradors as a breed.
The popularity of the breed began to increase during World War II. Later on, hunters and farmers discovered the work ethic of the breed in the United States, who introduced “Labs” into their daily life as early as the early twentieth century as their working companion.
The fact that many prominent figures throughout history have had Labradors, including both Prince William and Prince Harry as well as President Bill Clinton proves that these dogs are still popular today. Nowadays modern Labs work different canine jobs like guide dogs, assistance dogs or service dogs, explosive detection, and so on. But obviously, to do any of these jobs they need a working certificate.
Labrador retrievers are strong, well-built canines. They have a powerful physique and sturdy legs, and they have an almost square aspect to them. Males can grow to a maximum height of 24 inches, which places them in the medium-size to large dog category, although their strong bodies can give the impression that they are much larger. The weights of the dogs range from 85 pounds for a huge male to 55 pounds for a little female. Fieldline-bred dogs are often taller and slightly slimmer in physique than their purebred counterparts.
Lab retrievers are easily distinguished by their broad head, drop ears, and huge, expressive eyes, to name a few characteristics. The thick but relatively short double coat of the Labrador, which is extremely water repellent, and the well-known “otter tail” are two of the breed’s distinguishing characteristics.
The tail of this popular breed is broad and solid, and it comes off the topline in a nearly straight line. To aid in swimming, the feet are described as “webbed,” with longer skin between the toes to aid in balance. Colors can range from black to chocolate to red/yellow to practically white, with some shades in between.
The Labrador’s short dense “wash and go” coat they have a hard coat that is easy to maintain and requires little grooming to keep it looking sharp.
Individual hairs are straight and the coat has a shiny, slightly oily surface, but a tiny ripple can be visible along the back of certain dogs once the adult coat has been developed. Labradors are kept warm even in the coldest water thanks to their thick undercoat and water-resistant topcoat. A simple shake after emerging from the sea or lake removes the majority of the water that had accumulated on its water-repellent surface.
Unlike many other breeds of dog, the genetics of Labrador coat color is interesting and easier to grasp than that of many other breeds of dog.
Labradors are only available in three colors, according to the breed standard:
- yellow Labrador retriever
- chocolate Labrador retriever (which used to be called Liver),
- black Labrador retriever
Interesting fact: Black was the favorite color among early breeders, but over the years, yellow and chocolate Labs have become popular.
Officially, there is no such thing as a “Golden Labrador,” or a “Fox Red Labrador,” as these are simply variations on the color yellow. You will hear individuals (not to say sketchy breeders) use all sorts of various labels, but don’t get fooled. There is simply no such thing as a “Golden Labrador.” As already said, yellow, chocolate, and black are the only colors recognized by any national breed club, including the Kennel Clubs of the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Personality of a Labrador retriever
The Labrador retriever has earned the reputation of being one of the sweetest-natured breeds, and this reputation is well-deserved. These creatures are social and friendly with people as well as other animals. They’re outgoing and eager to please.
Along with their winning demeanor, they possess intelligence and a desire to please, all of which are qualities that make them simple to train. Because of this breed’s high level of energy and excitement, it is essential to train them. The Lab’s working legacy indicates that they are still in operation. This breed requires a lot of exercise, both physically and mentally, to be happy.
Labs vary in their level of activity: some are more active than others, and some are more relaxed back than others. But all of them thrive when they are engaged in something. They like having a job to do. These dogs make the perfect family dogs and they will probably get along with all family members. You also shouldn‘t experience any issues with your neighbor‘s dog. Labrador retrievers usually get along great with neighbor dogs and won‘t bark at them or attack them.
Many people believe that their Labrador has a sense of humor, and it is true that some Labradors are particularly playful at any age, not just when they are young puppies. Others, particularly when they are young, can be bumptious, awkward, and bouncy. Individual differences in temperament, skills, and general personality can, of course, be observed between individual dogs. But, did you know that there are two different types of retrievers?
UK Lab or US Lab
Over the last fifty or so years, Labradors in both the United Kingdom and the United States have virtually been divided into two distinct strains the English and the American.
- English or show bred labradors
- American or working bred labradors
The appearance of dogs bred for the show ring differs significantly from those raised for the field and working. Working dogs tend to be a bit larger and more robust than show dogs. When it comes to personality, there is a chance that no difference exists.
Some believe that the color of Labs’ fur determines their temperament or their country of origin (the United States or the United Kingdom), however, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. One thing that a lot of vets do notice is that each Labrador is a unique individual with his personality. Certain Labs are more laid back, and others are more high-energy.
Some dogs tend to be more worried than others. Even a Labrador that is a bit of a loose cannon is available to you. One thing remains constant, though, no matter what personality your Lab puppy eventually develops: he will always be a Lab.
Training and exercise
Lab puppies and adult dogs are quite high-energy dogs. So obviously they require many training sessions and long walks.
You may help your pup burn off some of his excess energy by taking him on a daily 30-minute walk or playing fetch with him. It is possible that a lack of exercise will result in unpleasant behavior, but don’t overdo it because this “workaholic” breed is prone to exhaustion.
Allowing Lab puppies to run and play on hard surfaces throughout their first two years of life will prevent them from injuring their joints. Labrador retrievers like training and do admirably in obedience competitions. Introduce Labrador puppies to other people and animals as early as possible to ensure that they are well socialized.
Together with plenty of positive reinforcement, you will be able to help your pup develop into the kind Lab that everyone knows and loves. Labrador retrievers are an excellent choice for families since they are eager to play in the yard with youngsters.
A Labrador retriever can also get along with other pets in the house, including cats, other dogs, and small animals if they are properly introduced and taught.
Diet of a Labrador retriever
You need to supply your Labrador with food and water daily. But, you should not let your Lab eat anything he wants and whenever he wants. Obesity is a typical issue in the breed since Labradors eat so much. If you give him too many snacks and feed him twice a day, there’s a good possibility he’ll get overweight.
The greatest thing you can do is establish a feeding routine for your dog. Our recommendation is to feed them twice a day and be aware of any extra rewards and treats. Your Lab should be well fed but not overfed at all times.
Your Labrador, like all living things, has specific nutritional needs, and the cheapest tinned dog food or ‘human foods’ are simply not adequate. Dogs require a different combination of vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins than humans, and feeding them human leftovers, as well as a diet high in filler, can lead to malnutrition.
You should conduct some research to identify and use a well-known nutritious brand of dog food that will meet the demands of your Labrador. That way you will make sure that your dog gets all the benefits of high-quality foods to give them!
Another thing to keep in mind is that puppies and adult dogs have distinct dietary needs, so you’ll need to feed your puppy differently from your adult dog.
It’s not just a matter of quantity; the nutritional requirements of a puppy and an adult dog vary, and their food must reflect this. I’ll go into more detail about this in a subsequent piece. Lastly, we believe everyone knows this, but it won’t hurt to mention it again. Please make sure your Labrador has access to clean and fresh water 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When you bring a Lab into your home, there will be a lot of shedding. Brush your dog daily to reduce the amount of fur that flies around your house due to their thick double coat. Labradors are a short-haired breed that requires little grooming during most of the year. But, If you want to keep the amount of hair that covers every surface of your home down during the molting season, brush them daily to remove any that has fallen out during the process.
Bathing is important as well. Bathe your Labrador retriever every two months to keep their scents smelling good. Brushing their teeth twice a week, and trimming their nails at least once or twice a month are all reasonable expectations.
You should pay close attention to your dog’s paws regularly, inspect them frequently, and prevent them from growing too large. Immediately remove the clippers from your kitchen floor if you can hear them tapping on it.
In part because of their slightly drooping ears and their love of water, the inside of a Labrador’s ears can occasionally hold an excessive amount of moisture, allowing bacteria to accumulate and illnesses to develop. You should check your Labrador’s ears regularly to ensure that they are not red, irritated, or that there is a significant buildup of wax.
You must inspect their teeth regularly, take steps to keep their teeth clean, and even take them to a professional canine dentist once every six months or once a year for a full examination and any necessary treatments and procedures. Treat their teeth with the same care that you would your own.
We understand that you want to take good care of your dog because you love them so much. That is why we have highlighted the most common health issues of Labrador retrievers. When you are aware of the health problems of your Lab, can create a preventative health plan to look for and maybe prevent some predictable dangers.
Many diseases and health concerns are hereditary. There is widespread agreement among canine genetic experts and veterinary practitioners that the disorders indicated below to have a high occurrence and/or impact in this breed. That does not guarantee your dog will have these issues; it simply implies they are more vulnerable than other dogs.
Lastly, you should know that the life expectancy of a Labrador retriever is between 10 and 12 years. Some Labradors live much shorter lives than this, but many well-cared-for dogs live much longer.
Most common health conditions of the Labrador retriever
Labrador retrievers are susceptible to different types of dysplasia conditions. Besides that, your dog might suffer from other health issues like bloat and also obesity. Both are very common in Labs.
In the next section, we will talk more about the most common health problems Labrador retrievers can face in their life. But, as already mentioned, just because a breed is susceptible to certain health problems it doesn’t mean your dog will have them too.
To secure and maintain the health of your pet, you should take your Lab to the veterinarian regularly.
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Canine hip dysplasia occurs when a dog’s hip joint fails to develop normally. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, and if the two components do not grow at the same rate, the joint can become exceedingly loose and unstable.
Hip dysplasia in dogs can create major difficulties because when a dog wanders around with a loose hip joint, the anatomy of the joint might get permanently damaged. If left untreated, the disorder can progress to osteoarthritis (also known as a degenerative joint disease). This happens because the irregular movement wears away cartilage and causes scar tissue and bone spurs to grow.
Canine hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition, meaning it’s caused by genetics. If you are thinking about getting a Labrador retriever, you should know that large breed dogs are more prone to the disease. But, genetics isn’t the only reason dogs develop this condition. According to experts, puppies with a genetic tendency to hip dysplasia are more likely to develop the disorder if they are fed more than they require, resulting in faster than average weight increase and growth. Puppy overexertion, or too much exercise, is another risk factor.
Elbow dysplasia is a hereditary condition induced by the interaction of the parents’ genes (dam and sire).
The precise mechanism by which the elbow grows improperly is unknown. An uneven fit (or incongruency) is suspected, resulting in improper weight distribution within the joint. Points of elevated pressure harm the cartilage that covers the bones, and fragmentation of cartilage and underlying bone may occur (osteochondrosis).
Elbow dysplasia is a common problem, particularly in large breed dogs. The primary symptoms are forelimb lameness and stiffness. The latter is usually most noticeable after a period of rest following activity. Weight-bearing on the leg may be reduced, and the paw may rotate outward. Signs of osteoarthritis usually appear when the dog is juvenile and growing (five to eight months of age) or when the dog is an adult (a few years of age).
Vets can treat some dogs with elbow dysplasia successfully without surgery. Exercise is frequently required to be moderated to some extent. Each dog will have a different threshold for the time and type of activity that will cause elbow pain to worsen. Hydrotherapy is frequently beneficial. If your dog is overweight you will have to put him on a diet.
Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia
Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia is a rare congenital heart condition that accounts for around 7% of all heart problems in dogs and is extremely rare in cats. It is more frequent in Labrador Retrievers, Irish Setters, Great Danes, and German Shepherds, but it can afflict any breed.
The tricuspid valve controls blood flow from the right atrium to the right ventricle. The tricuspid valve’s congenital abnormality can result in blood backflow (regurgitation) into the right atrium.
The severity of the tricuspid valve dysplasia will determine the symptoms. Mild occurrences of tricuspid valve dysplasia may go undetected.
The most common symptoms include:
- Distended stomach due to fluid accumulation (ascites)
- Exercise intolerance
- Dyspnea due to lack of oxygen in the bloodstream
- Heart murmur
- Rapid heartbeat
Your dog’s ear canals are highly prone to ear infections, this is because it’s easy for moisture to become trapped in your dog’s ears. This creates an ideal habitat for bacterial ear infections to thrive.
We want to stress that bacteria cause ear infections in dogs most commonly, but yeast, fungus, and ear mites can all cause your dog’s ears to become infected as well. Additional causes of ear infections in your dog include foreign objects lodged in their ear, physical trauma, and polyps.
There are three forms of ear infections that can arise in dogs, depending on the location of the infection:
- Firstly, otitis interna are infections of the inner ear in your pet.
- Secondly, otitis media is an infection in the middle ear of a dog.
- Thirdly, otitis externa infections harm the ear’s outer lining.
Ear infections can be excruciatingly uncomfortable and painful for your dog. If your dog exhibits any of the symptoms listed below, contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination. Early treatment of ear infections can help to avoid more severe symptoms from developing and lessen the likelihood of consequences.
Symptoms of ear infections
If your dog has an ear infection, you might notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Head tilting
- A foul smell coming from your dog´s ear
- Rubbing or pawing at the ear
- Discharge that is brown, yellow, or crimson
- The inside of the ear is red
- Otosclerosis of the ear
- Head shaking
- Scabs or crusts inside the ear
If your dog has a severe ear infection, you may observe the following symptoms:
- Circular walking
- Symptoms of Hearing Loss
- Coordination or balance problems
- Unusual eye motions
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a genetic disease that affects several canine breeds as well as mixed breeds. It seems to be passed down in most dogs in a “autosomal recessive” pattern, which means that the dog that is sick must have had the defective gene from both parents. These are some of the breeds that are most likely to get this disease: Bedlington Terriers; Cavalier King Charles Spaniels; Labrador and Golden Retrievers; Rottweilers; American Cocker Spaniel; and English Springer Spaniels.
The term “atrophy” refers to the partial or full wasting of a physical portion. The term “progressive retinal atrophy” refers to a range of degenerative illnesses that affect photoreceptor cells. The cells degenerate over time in this condition, eventually resulting in blindness in the affected dog.
Two types of PRA
There are two types of PRA in dogs:
- an early-onset form, also known as retinal dysplasia. We can see the first signs in puppies around 2-3 months of age.
- a late-onset variant that is frequently detected in adult dogs between the ages of 3-9 years.
The photoreceptor cells of the retina develop improperly in retinal dysplasia, resulting in an early onset of blindness. Typically, the damage is done on both rods and cones.
The cells of the retina develop normally in late-onset PRA, but they begin to degrade with time. In most cases, the rod cells degenerate first.
Because PRA is not a painful disorder, vets usually overlook it in its early stages. Night blindness is the most common symptom of PRA in dogs. Affected dogs are prone to nighttime anxiety, may be hesitant to enter darkened places, and may collide with objects when the light is dim. Pet owners with PRA-affected dogs frequently notice that their pet’s eyes have become particularly reflecting when light shines on them and that the pupils are more dilated than usual.
Gastric Dilatation Volvulus – Bloat
Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) also known as bloat is a potentially fatal illness that affects dogs. The term “dilatation” refers to a condition in which the stomach fills with air and mucus, ballooning to many times its normal size. The term “volvulus” refers to a condition in which the stomach flips or twists around itself, preventing collected air and mucus from flowing into the rest of the gastrointestinal tract.
GDV is life-threatening. The inflated stomach puts enormous strain on the major arteries of the abdomen and restricts blood flow to the heart, resulting in cardiovascular compromise and shock.
Ailments like GDV happen quickly, and owners need to be aware of the symptoms or signs that come with them. German Shepherds, Great Danes, Irish Setters, Basset Hounds, and other large breed dogs with deep chests are the most likely to get GDV, but any dog can get it. Often, dogs show that they are nervous. They may pace or whimper to show that they are stressed or nervous. Owners often talk about non-productive retching (trying to vomit but not getting anything), as well as excessive salivation and drooling.
You might even see that a dog’s stomach looks bigger or bloated. These are signs that your dog needs to go to the vet right away. Dogs that have it need surgery to get better. It is very important to act quickly, or the dog may not be able to live.