All About the Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is a muscular and athletic dog having a friendly demeanor, high levels of intelligence, and tons of energy. Read on to learn all about the Labrador Retriever and the amazing qualities they have.
An outdoor and sporting dog, the Labrador, was initially used by fishermen of the northern Atlantic coast of Canada to help them in their work, such as hauling nets, fetching ropes, and retrieving fish that escaped from the nets. Beyond just a family pet, Labradors are currently used extensively as service dogs and are the first choice when it comes to assisting those with disabilities. This breed is trained to help with therapy for the elderly and those in recovery. They are highly obedient dogs and agile, hence their use in competitions. More than a working dog, the Labrador is an excellent friend and loyal companion to its owners.
General appearance of a Labrador Retriever
Overall the Labrador Retriever is a balanced dog, and its most distinguishing characteristics are its close eyes, powerful jaws, good temper, and high intelligence. It has a clean-cut head, an ‘otter tail,’ and a short-haired water-resistant coat. Labradors are well muscled and usually without excess fat when in good working condition. Another distinguishing characteristic is its efficient and straight stride.
Labrador Retriever Breed Standard
The Labrador usually has a wide skull, and the head is clean-cut without fleshy cheeks.
The nose is usually black and yellow in brown dogs and brown on chocolate-colored labs.
Usually, the Labrador’s teeth are strong, regular, and well-aligned.
The ears of a Labrador usually hang close to the head. They are set far back slightly above the level of the eyes.
Labradors are known for their kind eyes which are friendly and express a pleasant, calm, and good nature. Their eyes are medium in size and set well apart. They neither protrude, nor are they deep-set. Black and yellow labs usually have brown eyes while chocolate Labrador have brown, or Hazel colored eyes.
The neck of the Labrador is muscular; there is a moderate arch, and the length of its neck is just right to allow easy retrieving of game animals and birds. They have a strong back, and you will observe that the top line is level while standing and moving.
The Labrador has a moderately wide chest, and the body is neither too narrow nor very widespread. The hindquarters give the appearance of being powerful and well developed. They have short, strong legs and wide loins. The four quarters are well balanced to the hindquarters, and overall, the Labrador appears to have a flowing line from the head to the tip of its tail.
One of the most distinguishing characteristics of a Labrador is its ‘otter-like tail’ which is thick at the base and tapers gradually to the tip. Their tails are usually thick all around and are of medium length, which does not extend beyond the hock.
The Coat of the Labrador is one of its distinctive features as well. The hair is dense short, and not wavy. When touched, the coat seems quite hard to the hand. The undercoat is soft. The coat is resistant to water and cold. The accepted coat colors of black, yellow, and chocolate sometimes small white spots on the chest are also seen.
What is the Height of the Labrador Retriever?
The Labrador height is 22.5 to 24.5 inches if it’s a male and 21.5 to 23.5 inches if its female. The dog’s length from shoulder to rump is usually equal or slightly longer compared to its distance from withers to the ground. Usually, the distance from elbow to ground is around one half of the height at the withers.
What is the Weight of a Labrador Retriever?
For males the weight it can range between 65 to 80 pounds while for females it is usually in the range of 55 to 70 pounds
What is the Life Span of a Labrador Retriever?
The average lifespan of a Labrador Retriever ranges from 10 to 14 years.
What are the Colors and Markings on a Labrador Retriever?
Coat colors are usually black chocolate or yellow. If there are white spots on the chest or tan markings on a black Labrador, they are seen as not pure. So the blacks have to be all black, while the yellow can range from light green to fox red. For the yellow, there could be variations in color in the underparts. Chocolates can vary from light to dark chocolate shades, but no tan or brindle markings are allowed.
What Types of Labrador Retrievers are there?
There are 2 types of Labradors- the English Labrador and the American Labrador
The difference between the two lies in appearance- English Labradors are thicker and heavier, while American breeds tend to be taller and lankier.
The American type Labrador is the working dog that is usually easier to train and good as pets. The English type labs have shorter legs, are slower and laid back. The English type Labrador is usually show-bred and known for its classic good looks. If you’re looking for a hunting companion or service dog, it might be better to choose the American type Labrador Retriever.
What are the Characteristics of a Labrador Retriever?
Labradors are known as very kind and loyal companions and excellent for large families with young children. They are also great as one on one companions for elderly people. Highly affectionate and patient, Labradors are not overly aggressive or shy. They make great watchdogs and are good at donning protective roles as well. Labradors may, at times, act high spirited but are really devoted and obedient to the owner.
Labradors are friendly and affectionate and have a natural disposition, as they were bred for those qualities. It is also fair to say that the warm and pleasant face combined with their loving eyes, add to the effect. Labradors are also eager to satisfy their owners and be sociable with strangers. In fact, the warm, sociable nature of Labradors is the most endearing aspect of the breed.
Children and Other Pets
As already mentioned, the Labradors are terrific family pets to have. They are kind, gentle, and loving. They like to be a part of the family, and kids can interact with Labradors without any fear if adequate training and familiarity have been developed. As with any other dog, it would be good to teach the kids to never tease the dog. Also, teach them not to go near the dog while he or she is eating or sleeping unless they know the dog very well. Labradors can be trained to get along with other pets, too, such as cats, rabbits, turtles, etc.
Labradors are easy to train as they love to get their owner’s approval and are very intelligent. As adolescents, they can be high spirited and, if untrained, can jump on strangers, pull on the leash, etc. Since the Labradors are larger sized dogs, it is essential to train them so that you can comfortably take them outside and be assured that they behave well.
The possibilities of the use of Labradors for a variety of functions can help the owner think of specialized training as well for any particular purpose, for example, helping with therapy, guiding the blind, etc.; .
Labradors have a rich history of working as service dogs. They are great for being companions to the disabled and elderly. They are used as guide dogs for the blind.
They can also be trained as watchdogs, for search and rescue operations, hunting, etc. How you want your Labrador to be trained and to what level the training should be will depend on you as an owner. Training can be successful, but the only thing required is commitment and persistence from the owner
Labradors are dogs that like to be a part of a pack, so isolation is not something that will be conducive for the dog. They also do not do well in closed living spaces. They need space to stretch and move as well as run, jump, chase, etc. Keeping them confined in a room or a cage for a long period of time can lead them to engage in destructive behaviors such as chewing excessively and barking.
Since Labradors are bred for physical work, they need adequate exercise to dispense of their energy. Without adequate exercise, Labradors tend to gain weight easily. Proper grooming and hygiene also have to be maintained.
Labrador Retriever Puppy
Labrador puppies need time and commitment, and rather than rushing into owning a puppy it is better to ask yourself a few questions:
- How much time do you have to take care of the puppy?
- Can you spend time with your puppy for the majority of the day and night?
- Will you be able to to do cleaning up feeding grooming and training activities for the puppy?
Puppies are cute, huggable, and energetic, and much like having babies at home, they can be a lot of work. They are great for families and individuals who want to spend time with the dog and train the dog according to their needs.
The time and effort to successfully train and care for a puppy can be a problem if your work keeps you away from home most of the time, especially in the first few months. Since puppies are very curious, you will need to puppy-proof your home, especially during the chewing stage, to avoid the puppy swallowing or to chew up unnecessary items.
Housebreaking is another task that the owner has to focus on initially and how speaking training is to be given consistently and patience.
What is the Price of a Labrador Retriever Puppy?
In the United States, the price of a Labrador Retriever puppy can range between $700 to 1200 dollars. This will differ from breeder to breeder and also on the breed purity.
What is the Best Way to Pick a Labrador Puppy?
Once you have decided to have a Labrador puppy as a pet, the next test to determine where to obtain a puppy. Depending on your needs, you have several options.
Buying from a breeder
This is definitely the most expensive option because you will be charged quite a bit if you want a purebred puppy from a reputed line. Most breeders will give detailed information about the breed and also provide a guarantee of health. Ardent breeders may even check your eligibility to own a puppy and may interview or visit your home to check out the circumstances for themselves before agreeing to sell the puppy.
You can ask the breeder for relevant information, for example, about the parents regarding their health, details on the bloodline of both parent dogs and any other specifications. You will be allowed to see the entire litter, and you can choose the puppy that you want from among them. They might even help you in the choices. Since breeders have rich knowledge about the specific breeds, you will gain a lot of knowledge by just asking them.
If you want to save a lot of money, you can try Rescue Shelters, which will allow you to foster or adopt dogs, although getting a Labrador puppy here is rare.
Pet stores or online shopping
We don’t recommend getting a puppy from a pet store or online shopping. Pet stores are places to obtain both purebred and non purebred puppies. It is important to also be aware that well known and reputable breeders do not sell puppies through pet shops or online.
In a pet store, the puppies that are available are bread in large quantities and adequate focus is not there to specifically breed for positive attributes and specifications of the breed. It is difficult for a soon to be dog owner to identify the top lines of the breed and distinguish good quality purebred from poor quality puppies online or in a pet store.
In the pet stores, puppies are kept in confined spaces and along with other animals, which may lead to the puppy being exposed to different diseases. You may also not be able to see the other litter in the same batch and the parents of the puppy.
If you want to be sure you get a happy, healthy puppy make sure you buy your puppy from a good breeder or from a place where they grow up inside the home of the family where they were born, with one or both of the parents around and where you can see they are loved, well treated and seen by a veterinarian before the puppy goes to his or her forever home with you.
Labrador Retriever Puppy Checklist
Before you bring a Labrador puppy home, it is important to make sure that you have basic supplies and necessities. Here is a checklist of items that you definitely need when bringing your puppy home:
- Puppy food from a well-known brand. Here you can take advice from the breeder on what brands may be good
- A Crate and bedding material for inside a crate that cannot be chewed or destroyed. It is necessary that the crate and the material are both washable and easily cleaned.
- Soft puppy collar that you can fast on the puppy’s neck and attach a leash to.
- Some grooming supplies which include simple brush, comb, and a soft cloth. Later on, you may get trimmers for the nail and the coat
- Some chew toys are necessary to keep a puppy busy and make them less prone to chewing on household items.
- A Stainless steel bowl for food and another for water.
- If you have staircases in your home, you might also need to get baby gates to prevent puppies from going into the no-entry areas.
Gear You’ll Need before your Puppy arrives
14 Puppy Gear Suggestions
Besides buying all the puppy stuff and preparing for your pup to finally come home, you should also be prepared to spend most of the first two weeks with your puppy to ensure that the puppy is familiarized with the people and the surroundings and gets used to your routine. This means you’ll have to take time off work to spend more time with your new puppy so your pup can get used to his or her new forever home and you can get used to each other as well.
Labrador Retriever Health & Care
Most people are under the misconception that dogs are carnivores. But dogs are omnivores and can eat vegetables as well as some types of fruit occasionally. Much like humans, they need a variety of foods to ensure that they get the necessary vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Labradors need to have a balanced and national diet regimen with an adequate variety of food groups. Poor nutrition can lead to skin issues, hyperactivity, listlessness, and poor coat quality. Foods that contain corn and/or wheat as primary additives need to be avoided.
Nutrition per category
Labradors need an adequate amount of protein, based on their activity levels. A Labrador that is very active will need more protein content than Labradors that have a low activity level. It may be difficult to keep track of the various components in the food of the Labrador, so commercial pet food, which is of a reputed brand, can be used.
Look carefully at the ingredients in the food before feeding it to your pet. Table scraps and human food is not ideal for dogs. Heavily cooked and spiced up dishes should never be given to your dog. Salt, sugary items, raw meat, and eggs, etc. should be removed from your dog’s diet. Candy and chocolates, as well as dairy products, should never be fed to your Labrador or any dog for that matter. Especially chocolate, which is deadly to dogs.
Labrador puppies need to be fed three times a day, but as your pup becomes older, they can be fed once or twice a day. Again based on the individual dog’s needs, the feeding schedule can be changed.
Does a Labrador Retriever Need Grooming?
Yes they do! However, it is minimal. Labrador Retrievers shed quite a lot of hair even though they have short hairs. Among the three types of Labradors, the yellow Labrador tends to shed more. In general, because of heavy shedding, it is possible to have your furniture and sheets covered with dog hair unless you brush the dog regularly.
A fine-tooth comb or slicker brush can be used to brush your Lab’s coat, combined with a bristle brush to remove remaining dead hairs, can keep the coat of your Labrador healthy and shiny and can help reducing dog hair on your clothes or furniture. Be prepared to vacuum daily as well but that’s just part of owning a dog.
After grooming, it is good to take a damp cloth and wipe the head and ears of your Lab to avoid unnecessary irritation of possible loose hairs inside your dog’s eyes or ears after brushing.
Our top 10 Recommended Grooming Items
How Often Should You Bathe a Labrador Retriever?
It is not necessary to bathe the Labrador very often (unless your Lab loves to roll around in mud, icky stuff or swim in stinky water which is often the case with Labs). Too much bathing and washing with shampoo is bad for your Labrador because it will remove the natural water resistance provided by the oily component found in your Labs coat. Around two to three times a month is more than enough.
If you bathe your Labrador Retriever make sure you use a shampoo for dogs. Never use your own (human) shampoo on your Lab. A dog’s skin is more sensitive than a human skin. If you use human shampoo on your dog it will cause irritation of the skin, flaky or dry skin and your Lab will be more vulnerable to bacteria, parasites and viruses.
So, make sure you always use dog shampoo when you bathe your Labrador Retriever. If you click on this link you’ll go to Amazon for a variety of good quality dog shampoos. Trust me, you’ll need it if you own a Labrador Retriever or any other type of Retriever for that matter!
The Labrador nails are very hard to trim. It is necessary to know how to gently but firmly trim all the nails. Any sudden movements and inexperienced trimming can lead to cuts and pain for the dog. It is better to take your Labrador Retriever to professional people like a vet or dog grooming salon who can carefully clip the nails using a nail clipper.
If you want to clip your Labs nails yourself, make sure you use a strong, good quality nail clipper for large dog breeds and always be careful not to cut or clip into the so called quick (the pink area inside the nail which contains blood vessels and nerves). If you cut the quick this will hurt your dog and will bleed a lot so be very careful with that.
How Much Exercise Does a Labrador Retriever Need?
Since the Labrador Retriever is an outdoor dog breed, bred for physical activity and labor, Labradors need a lot of exercise. A minimum of 45 to 60 minutes of daily exercise is mandatory to ensure adequate physical and mental health of your Labrador. Your Lab will need to unleash all it’s energy! Regular exercise also keeps obesity and health-related problems at bay.
Your Labrador will need daily walks of which one walk should be at least 45 minutes to an hour (or longer) to release that built up energy and playfulness. Labradors also love playing, training and working with you. Also their mental health is very important. You can track with your Lab or have fun with a Dog Puzzle!
Owning a Labrador requires you as the owner to be a participant in the activity or activities with your Labrador. The level of exercise can vary based on factors such as age (a puppy or senior dog require different types and duration of activities than an adult, young energetic dog), physical condition, and type of activity.
Allowing your Labrador to become a couch potato is the worst thing you can do to your pet, despite the age. Make sure you have a variety in the activities and gradually work up to more rigorous exercise, all the while keeping it fun.
How To Train Your Labrador Retriever?
Ensure that you start training your Labrador even while your Lab is a small puppy. Training requires commitment from you as the owner, so ensure that you train your pup or dog when you are up for it, feeling good and are in a good mood. Don’t start a training session when you are stressed or unhappy as it will make the training and experience unpleasant for you as well as for your dog. Give your Lab a lot of encouragement, praise, pets or a yummy treat when your puppy or adult Labrador does something correctly.
Verbal praise, hugs, healthy treats can associate a positive feeling to training sessions. Labradors enjoy activities and training, it’s in their nature, and since training involves you spending time together with your furry friend, your loyal Labrador will enjoy these training sessions even more.
Key principles for successful training are consistency, patience, and using a routine. Never hit your dog or yell at your dog as it creates fear, aggressiveness and your dog becomes difficult to train.
Health of the Labrador Retriever
Some tips for safeguarding your Labrador’s health:
Labradors are bred for outdoors and heavy physical work; hence they have a lot of energy. Exercise at least 1 hour a day is essential to ensure that they release this energy and are manageable and calm while at home. This will also ensure that destructive behavior, such as excessive barking or chewing can be prevented.
Owners sometimes feed their Labradors snacks or treats outside of their regular feeding times, which, if not careful, can lead to these dogs becoming overweight. If your Lab is overweight, you need to stop giving snacks or treats, reduce the portions during meal times and increase exercise. Be strict on the food portions to ensure that your Labrador remains healthy and active.
Since Labrador Retrievers are big dogs, it can be tough to handle them if they are untrained, even though they are loving. Necessary training can help them become well-mannered, calm, and obedient. The owner can then be in control, especially when traveling or outside the house.
Even though the Labrador’s hair may not be very long, constant grooming of the coat is a necessary chore to ensure the health of your Lab’s coat.
History of the Labrador Retriever Breed
It is believed that the “modern day” Labrador Retriever was bred in Britain, possibly in the early 1800’s when they were brought over in ships from Canada. Originally the Labrador Retrievers come from the island of Newfoundland on the Northeastern Atlantic coast of Canada. Originally they were named Saint John’s Dogs and helped fishermen who lived and worked along the coast. English sportsmen started importing Labradors to England to function as retrievers for hunting expeditions.
The story goes that the Second Earl of Malmesbury had first brought the Saint John Dogs in 1830, and it was he who first named the dogs Labrador.
Early Labradors were trained to swim in very cold and icy seas to bring in the fishermen nets or to retrieve the fallen fish from the net. They were called ‘workaholic’ dogs due to their stamina and relentless work orientation. They could even haul in small boats for the fishermen. Some fowl hunting was also possible for the fisher due to these Labradors.
Meanwhile, in Newfoundland, these dogs became almost extinct. This was primarily because of the government restrictions and tax laws allowed to keep no more than one dog, and female dogs were taxed higher. As female dogs became less in demand, this breed came close to extinction in Canada. But in England, it started gaining in popularity, and these dogs started being used for multiple purposes: rescue, retrieving for hunting, dog competitions, etc.
The early Labrador breeders weeded out chocolate and yellow Labs as they preferred black ones. Currently, all three are accepted as Labrador breeds.
The first dog to appear on the US stamp was a black Lab called ‘King Buck.’ US President Bill Clinton had two Labs, ‘Buddy’ and ‘Seamus,’ as pets. Russian President Vladimir Putin had a Labrador named ‘Koni.’ The black Labrador’ Saide’ was honored with Dickin Medal Of Honour for saving the lives of a number of soldiers by detecting a bomb in Afghanistan.
Labradors being sturdy, athletic, as well as highly intelligent, are often the first choice when it comes to selecting dogs for drug detection, search and rescue, and assistance dogs for the disabled.
- Heavy Duty
In America, Labradors have been increasingly popular, and by the year 2005, there were more than one hundred and thirty-seven thousand Labrador Retrievers that were registered with the American Kennel Club that year. It has increased ever since, even more than another popular breed called the Golden Retriever.