If you are a dog guardian or if you simply are a dog lover, you must have heard of the breed Labrador. Labrador or Labrador retrievers as is their full name are the most popular dog breed as per the American Kennel Club. They have been holding this position since the year 1991. This is one breed that has stood the test of time and is famous worldwide. Whether it is Instagram reels or on the road, you will be hard pressed not to find a Labrador retriever.
Are you planning to get a Labrador retriever for yourself or your family? Before you answer yes to this question, you need to understand if the Labrador retriever is a right fit for you and your family. Even though the popularity of Labradors is not expected to decline in the future, it is your responsibility to first find out if the breed is suitable as per your lifestyle and needs.
Research before adopting Labrador retrievers
Many people get a dog because the breed is famous or they love certain characteristics of the breed. However, a few months after adoption, they realize how much work they have to put in their dog. Sometimes, it is not possible for guardians to devote the time that their dog needs. Under such conditions, the dogs land up and shelter. To avoid such a scenario, find out if the breed that you are getting or planning to get is the right one for you. Let’s see if you will be a fit guardian to have a Labrador retriever.
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Their engaging personality and sweet faces are known to all. There is no question as to why the Labrador retrievers are one of the most famous dog breeds worldwide. Labradors stand at around 21 to 24 inches. Their weight is mostly between 55 to 84 pounds. The female Labradors are generally on the lower side of the range while the male dogs are on the higher side. Most often, Labradors are available in three different colors. These colors are chocolate, yellow and black. Labradors have a double coated fur layer. This double coat helps them repel water since these dogs were originally bred for the purpose of hunting games.
The history of Labrador retrievers
Labradors were originally bred in the Newfoundland region of Canada. Fishermen used Labradors to retrieve fishes while fishing. They would work with fishermen in the Canadian province coasts. Their purpose of the Labrador was to rescue the drifting nets, bring the short waterowl and haul the catch to the markets for selling.
The breed Labrador retrievers as they are known today actually came into existence via the British in the time of the early 1800s. Labradors were introduced in the UK in the late 1800s by the Earl of Malmesbury and Colonel Peter Hawker. Eventually, their popularity grew to encompass the whole world and as you know, now Labradors rank amongst the most famous breeds.
Even though the history of Labrador can be traced back to the Newfoundland region of Canada, there is another dog breed referred to as Newfoundland. Newfoundland dogs are much larger than Labrador, generally black and white and color and are extremely playful in nature.
Some amazing characteristics of Labrador retrievers
More than a service dog
When people think of the Labrador breed, the first thing that comes to mind is Labradors act as guide dogs and as part of the bomb and military squad. However, Labradors have much more to them than just acting as guide and military dogs. Even though earlier, Labradors were used by fishermen’s for bringing in and retrieving a variety of things, nowadays they work with police and customs to track drugs and in military as a part of the bomb detection squad. It is amazing to watch all a Labrador can do and can be trained to do. Many people also have Labradors that are acting as medical emergency dogs. Labradors can be trained to detect low blood sugar, fits, seizures etc. They alert their humans if the blood sugar is low or if the person is about to have a seizure or fainting spell.
In terms of temperament, there are hardly any breeds that are more friendly than Labrador retrievers. Labradors love to play. This is what makes them great companion dogs. With a Labrador, you will not be bored even for a second. They can play fetch for hours on end. They love food and are pretty much house hippos. If you keep feeding them, they will keep eating. Therefore, as a responsible guardian, you must be aware of how much your pup is eating and keep snacks and food items out of reach. Since Labradors are highly intelligent, they will dig and try to get to the hidden food items. Thus, make sure your cabinets are locked.
Another reason why people favor Labradors over other dog breeds is because they are the epitome of goofiness. They do not like to be serious. They prefer to live their lives to the fullest and make sure that you are living a full life as well. Despite their goofiness, you should never underestimate the intelligence of your pup. Labradors are extremely trainable and quick learners. Therefore, if you have a Labrador, you must start the dog training sessions as soon as possible.
Even though Labradors are adorable and extremely sweet, the training process should start early. If your dog is untrained, he will have a lot of physical and mental energy to burn off. This can cause excessive chewing behavior, excessive barking etc. However, if you have not started the training process yet, you can start it now as well. It is never too late.
Labradors are primarily available in three main colors. These are yellow, chocolate and black. In some cases, you may find variations of these three shades. Certain parts of the world also have silver and fox-colored Labrador retrievers. Labradors have a solid musculature and build. They are extremely athletic. They are endowed with a broad head, wide muzzle, friendly eyes and medium sized ears. If you measure their shoulders, you will notice that Labradors most often stand at shoulders from 57 to 62 centimeters.
One adorable fact about Labradors: they have the waggiest of all tails in the world. This is probably the reason Labradors are happier than all the other dog breeds.
English versus American Labrador retrievers
Were you aware of the fact that there are two categories of Labradors? One is English and the other is American Labrador.
Even though there are certain similarities between the American and English Labradors, they differ in various ways. English labs are calm tempered and more docile than the American Labradors. American labradors are highly energetic and playful. Both these Labrador categories make amazing family companions. However, English Labradors have more experience with being in families having kids.
According to the American Kennel Club, there is no difference between the English and the American Labrador. Despite that, English labs have a stocky build with broader heads compared to the American Labradors. This is the reason why English labs are referred to as show dogs. The American labs are excellent for work and have a higher energy level. This makes them ideal for use as working dogs. Before you decide which Labrador type you want to go for, you should find out which of these is better suited for your lifestyle.
Perfect family dog
As I mentioned before, Labrador retrievers make excellent companions, best friends and babysitters. This is why they are the perfect family dog. Labradors are extremely patient and most often do not display signs of aggressive behavior unless they have been excessively provoked. The loudness of their bark makes them excellent watch dogs and protectors.
Due to their excessive playful behavior and an undying zest for everything that moves, you should have a backyard where your Labrador can easily roam and play. However, there are many Labrador parents who have happy kids despite living in an apartment. The point I’m trying to make here is that Labradors require an active lifestyle. Whether you have a backyard or not, you need to take the Labrador out for walks twice a day and involve lots of game time. If you can provide your Labrador with an active lifestyle, your Labrador will be happy no matter where you live.
Labrador retrievers are also very easy to train. They have a willingness to please people which is not observed in many breeds. This people-pleasing behavior of Labradors make them easy to train. Thus, even if you are a first time dog guardian, you can train your Labrador easily by the help of the clicker training method.
As I mentioned before, Labradors are stomach on legs. Thus, they prefer to eat any and everything that is in their line of sight. It falls on the shoulder of the guardian to keep the dog from eating too much. Labradors have a huge obesity problem. Thus, if you do not keep the feeding in check, you will have a Labrador who struggles to walk because of obesity.
The average lifespan of Labrador retrievers is around 12 to 16 years. Labradors are extremely prone to elbow and hip dysplasia along with eye problems. Over the years, reputable dog breeders have worked hard to minimize these health issues. According to the American Kennel Club, potential Labradors must be screened before they are mated. This is done to ensure that both parents are free of any hip and elbow diseases. This is one way to prevent the passage of genetic problems.
If you are planning to get a Labrador retriever, make sure you check the pedigree of the parents before you buy from the breeder. The pup should also come with an eye clearance certificate. Another thing to check is that the breeder has been registered and is a member of the relevant state authorities.
Grooming of Labrador retrievers
Labradors have double coated fur. Double coat means that Labradors have two fur layers. These fur layers are the undercoat and the top coat. The top coat is rough to the touch while the undercoat is pretty soft. The double coat of Labradors is extremely vital for proper maintenance of the body temperature, protection from UV rays, repelling water and acting as insulator during cold weathers. The coat is also responsible for keeping the pup cool during summer weather.
Even if your groomer advises to shave the dog in summer months, never engage in such practices. The fur is responsible for keeping your puppy cool. If you remove the fur of the dog, he will not be able to maintain and regulate his body temperature. Your dog will also be more susceptible to skin diseases and other illnesses. Therefore, never shave your dog.
Do regular brushing
If you are providing your Labrador with a balanced diet, you only need to conduct two to three brushing sessions every week. Do not give your dog a bath every few days. Dogs need a bath only if they are really dirty or smelly. If you give your Labrador pup a bath every few days, he will lose the natural oils from his coat. The will cause the coat to become excessively dry.
Labrador retrievers have a tendency of shedding all around the year. This is the primary downside of having a double coated fur. Labrador shed whenever there is even a mild change in weather. The coat changes and transitions to adapt to different weather conditions. To avoid excessive shedding, brush the coat on a regular basis. This will keep the flyaway under control.
Labrador retrievers require excessive levels of mental and physical stimulation
All dog breeds need to be kept busy with both physical and mental exercises. Since Labradors are a part of the sporting group, they are extremely friendly, energetic and active. Thus, if you are planning to get a Labrador, you need to check your own timetable and find out if you have enough time to spend with your dog. Labradors love retrieving, as is their name. Thus, you must have enough time to spend with your pup and make sure that your pup gets the ample level of physical and mental exercise necessary.
During the initial months, you can expect accidents during the training phase. Labradors are extremely bouncy and clumsy. Therefore, along with patience, you should be ready to lose a few flower pots and any other glass items if you leave them out.
Adult Labrador retrievers are widely known for their amazing intelligence levels. They are also very curious and adventurous. Overall, Labradors are extremely smart and well-natured. This makes them an excellent companion for every person. However, with Labrador, you should also be ready to provide a ton of mental and physical stimulation.
A few questions to ask yourself before you bring a Labrador into your family
- What about in 10 to 12 years?
- Are you ready to afford a large breed of dog?
- Can you keep up with the energy of labrador retrievers?
- Does the temperament of Labrador suit your lifestyle?
- Are you willing to spend time on training everyday?
What about in 10 to 12 years?
This question must be reflected upon even if you are not getting a labrador. Any dog that you get is a long term commitment. Labradors have a lifespan of around 12 to 16 years. Some dogs have a lifespan of up to 18 years. Irrespective of which breed you go for, you need to check your lifestyle and find out if you are ready to dedicate the next decade of your life to the dog.
Labradors are not Christmas gifts. You cannot give a person a Labrador if the person is not ready. Leaving the dog in the middle of the road or in the shelter is not an option. Therefore, conduct a reality check first. Think of your future. Look into how your life will change when you bring a dog in. Is there a chance that you will have to move to a different location? Are pets allowed in the place where you live? If you live on rent, find out from your landlord if they are OK with pets. If your landlord is not happy with pets, you may have to first change your house before you get a Labrador.
Are you planning to expand your family in the near future? Will you have to choose between your dog and kids? Are you planning to stay in the same job for the next 10 years? Does your job require a lot of traveling? If yes, who will be taking care of the dog when you are gone The Labrador you adopt will be a part of your life for little more than a decade. But you will be the labrador’s entire life. Therefore, keep the above mentioned questions in consideration when you decide if a Labrador retriever is a good breed for you.
Are you ready to afford a large breed of dog?
Labradors have an average weight ranging from 50 to 90 pounds. You must expect your Labrador to grow up to 24 inches or even taller. Since Labradors are big dogs, they obviously have large appetites. Lab puppies are known to eat a lot and even adult Labradors require to be fed at least two to three times every day. Are you ready to purchase 40 kg of dog food every month? Food is not the only requirement when you have a dog. Along with food, you must also get treats, toys, balls etc. to keep your pup happy. Can you afford all of this?
Another aspect to look into is the vet bill. Most Labradors are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia as I have mentioned before. Your lab may require surgery if a hip dysplasia occurs to fix the problem. Are you ready to spend on your dog? Pet groomers also charge extra when it comes to large breed dogs because it is more work. Thus, have a discussion with the veterinarian and pet groomers before you decide on which dog to adopt.
Can you keep up with the energy of Labrador retrievers?
Labradors were bred as work dogs. They love to work. If they are not provided with enough physical and mental stimulation, they will act out. Labrador’s original purpose was to retrieve the games that were hunted. Therefore, you must ensure that your lab is getting enough exercise regularly, otherwise, your dog will quickly develop behavioral issues. Labradors must be taken on jogs or long walks regularly.
Most labs are huge water fans and have been endowed with webbed feet which makes them excellent swimmers. If you do not have the time to take your Labrador for walks twice a day, you must have a large backyard, There you can spend time playing with your dog. If you cannot provide 40 minutes at a stretch, you can break the time into 10 minutes. You can use 10 minutes of breaks if you work from home. However, your Labrador needs 80 minutes of compulsory exercise on a daily basis. If you just cannot make the time, you can hire a dog walker to take your pup out on walks.
Provide regular exercise
If you do not provide your Labrador with enough exercise, it can cause problems like obesity and other joint issues. Your dog may also start to act out due to the absence of enough stimulation. Some unwanted behaviors your dog may start showing are excessive chewing, excessive barking, jumping on people, disruptive behavior etc. When you train your dog regularly and provide enough exercise, you have a well behaved dog on your hands. This will also prevent occurrence of dementia later in the dog’s life.
Does the temperament of the Labrador retrievers match your lifestyle?
If you are someone who prefers to spend quiet evenings, a Labrador retriever may not be the correct breed for you. Labradors are hyperactive and very excitable. They are also extremely friendly. This is why they are well suited in a family environment. However, if you prefer to have a quiet lifestyle, and don’t go out much, do not engage with physical exercise etc, Labrador may not be the right one for you. Furthermore, if you want a guard dog, Labradors are not suited for this role. Their non aggressive personality makes them welcome intruders instead of driving them away.
Are you ready to spend enough time on training?
If you are a first time dog owner with no idea of dog training, a Labrador retriever may not be the perfect dog for you. However, if you still land up adopting one, you can get help from dog trainers or learn to train your dog yourself. Training your Labrador should begin the moment the dog enters your home. The sooner you start the training, the better it is for both you and your dog. Make sure that you tackle certain habits like jumping on people, stealing food, excessive chewing etc. right from the start.
It is said that older dogs are difficult to train. However, if you have a food-motivated dog, it is very easy to train them. All you need is a clicker and some amazing treats as incentives. There are no untrainable dogs and there is no age after which a dog becomes untrainable.
When you train your dog, it serves multiple purposes. Training your Labrador new tricks will allow your bond to deepen with your dog. This will also keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated. A dog who gets proper mental stimulation is less likely to develop aggressive or other undesirable behavior. As I have mentioned before, Labradors are people pleasing dogs. They will do anything to make you happy. This is why Labradors are fairly easy to train. I will repeat this one more time. You must first look into your own timetable and figure out a time that you will be spending with your lab everyday to take complete advantage of your dog’s mental and physical capabilities.
Some final thoughts
If you take the time out today to research whether you are ready for Labrador retriever or not, you will be saving yourself precious time, energy and money in future. Being well prepared is the first step to becoming the best dog guardian. Understanding the desires and natural personality of Labrador retrievers will make it easy for you to interact with your pup and vice versa. A few points to reiterate what I have already mentioned in the post.
- Compared to American labs, English labs are docile and stockier. American labs generally have more energy.
- Labradors were bred to retrieve. Therefore, you must keep them active and busy period
- The double quotes of Labradors make them shed a lot. Therefore, you must be ready with a comb and brush your pup out regularly.
- Labradors are creatures with lively personalities. Therefore, you should expect the pup to ask for play anytime.
- Labradors are the best family dogs. They make excellent babysitters. However, they are not great guard dogs.
If after reading all of the above mentioned points, you feel you are ready for a Labrador, then you do not have to wait anymore. A Labrador retriever will make your life active, full of fun and will also act as your mental health therapist when you need him to. The questions and points I have mentioned above are not only meant for Labradors. No matter which breed you decide to get, you must research the breed beforehand so that you are not caught up with any ugly surprises after adoption.
Frequently Asked Questions about Labrador retrievers
Officially Labrador is one breed. However, Labradors are available in a few colors like yellow, black and chocolate. They do differ by some characters. Black labs are preferred for hunting and field trials. Yellow labs are the most mild mannered. Chocolate labs are very energetic. There is a different line of Labrador that is primarily used for hunting. These Labradors are extremely energetic, agile and athletic. Most often, American labs are preferred for hunting while English labs are preferred for household companionship.
Unfortunately, most dog guardians do not give their pups the adequate level of exercise. Labradors are athletic and bouncy. They need exercise at least twice a day to vent out their energy and satisfy their curiosity. If they are not provided with enough exercise, they will quickly become rambunctious and start displaying excessive disruptive behavior. Along with physical exercise, Labradors also require mental stimulation. To provide your dog with mental stimulation, you can either go for training, obedience training, field trials, play with them with a frisbee, flyball or use their tracking capabilities.
Since Labradors are people pleasing dogs, yes they are very easy to train. They are quickly housetrained and would love to do anything that you encourage. You may have to leash train your dog a little bit because Labradors have a tendency to pull on the leash. This happens primarily if they are not provided enough exercise. Therefore, before you start training your Labrador, make sure that he has had plenty of physical stimulation. Many Labrador retrievers are dropped off at the rescue centers and animal shelters before the age of three years because people do not either have the time to train them or their Labradors display rambunctious attitude and behavioral issues which is too much for the guardian to handle.
Yes, in most cases Labradors are extremely friendly with strangers. This is why they do not make great guard dogs. Even though they will bark if someone knocks at the door, they are generally not over protective. Labradors belong to a trusting and friendly breed.
Labradors are one of the best babysitters you will find. However, you must train your dog to not jump on the baby. Since Labradors are high energetic, they will need a little bit of training to tone down their jumping behavior and exuberance. If your Labrador shows excessive jumping behavior, you must work on it immediately and tone it down.
Most Labradors are happy to have companionship of other canine and feline creatures. They are also very good with small pets like hamsters, tortoises, ferrets and rabbits. However, you may have to train your Labrador a little bit before you allow him to be alone with your other pets. This is something that is applicable to dogs of all breeds.
Even though Labradors have short fur, most people have a misconception that they are easy to groom. Labradors shed a lot. To control the excessive shedding behavior, you need to be ready with your grooming equipment and brush the excess fur out every alternate day. Most of the shedding occurs twice every year. When their winter coat switches to the summer coat (spring time) and during the fall when the summer code switches back to the winter code. These are the two times when you can expect maximum shedding.
Labradors most often live up to 12 to 16 years. The chronic issue that is observed in Labrador retriever is arthritis, hip and elbow dysplasia and eye problems. If you have a lab, you should get pet insurance as soon as possible. The breed is at high risk for a number of diseases like heart disease, cancer, loose joints, rupturing of ligaments in the hind legs and bloating. Amongst all of these, bloat is a gastrointestinal symptom that can easily kill a dog in a few hours.
If you exercise your dog regularly, be very careful since Labradors tend to suffer from exercise induced collapse. If your dog who has been vigorously exercised suddenly starts to display symptoms like swaying and collapse, you must allow your dog to rest and regain energy before he is allowed to move again.
Labradors most often come in black, chocolate and yellow color. You may find different shades in each of these colors.
Labrador retrievers stand at 21 to 25 inches tall. Males are most often in the higher section of the range while females are in the lower section. If you are going for a Labrador, it is preferable that you do not go for the heavy bone labs since they are extremely prone to developing hip and joint diseases.
There are many advantages and a few disadvantages of having a lab as your beloved family member. Let’s look at the advantages first
-Easy to groom and care for
-Loves athletic activities and exercises
-Extremely steady tempered
-Amazing with kids
-Playful with other animals
-Short walks around the block will not do. Labradors require full fledged exercise.
-Their exuberant behavior of jumping on others and destroying property needs to be trained out of -them at an early age.
-Labradors tend to shed a lot
-There are some serious health risks when it comes to Labrador retrievers.