Is the Labrador Retriever the Dog for You?
Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds of dogs in the world. Lovable, friendly and happy with a tail that just doesn’t seem to ever stop wagging, they are known for their personable nature. They are also intelligent. It’s no surprise they are popular as a household pet! Adult Labradors are a fairly good-sized dog, weighing between 24-37 kilograms. Are they right for you? Check out these quick facts to find out!
Compared to some breeds, the Labrador is not that old. It was developed in NewFoundland in the 1500s, where the breed was used by cod fisherman. Their dense coat allows them to handle freezing water temperatures and windy ocean spray. Their webbed feet and strong, rudder-like tail helped them swim choppy, icy seas. While many think of them as the duck-hunting dog, originally, they retrieved fish that escaped the nets and ended up on the ice. They were also used to pull sleds as well. Later, they would prove useful as a bird dog. It was British breeders in the 1800s that took dogs from NewFoundland and began to breed them as an official breed with standards, refining the look and establishing a “type.”
Loving. That one word is the one most used to describe Labrador Retrievers. Typically outgoing in nature, they socialize well with just about any human or animal in the house or out, making them a great family dog. However, their devotion to their family does make them prone to separation anxiety, so proper training early on is important.
That loving and outgoing temperament equates to an exuberant, high energy dog that can be overwhelming to some, especially small children who may fall victim to their ever-wagging tail or playful bounding. Bred for a “job” they definitely need exercise and would like something to do, even if it’s just fetching a ball or something more engaging like agility or a running partner.
While many families have Labradors in apartments or houses with small backyards, due to their high energy you may find the tight space a bit difficult with a Lab. Their rudder tail knocks over anything at its height, and if you don’t have a large backyard for exercising, you will need to take him out on at least a walk, if not a run, every day.
Labradors become destructive when bored, especially puppies, who are known for chewing up couches and pretty much anything they can put in their mouth, so training and exercise are definitely important. Having space can make that easier, but Labradors are a breed that can adapt to smaller, city life, as long as you give that energy an outlet every day.
Common Health Problems
For the most part, Labradors are known for being fairly low maintenance. They have an easy to care for coat and are fairly healthy. Like all breeds, however, they have a few health problems that are “common” to the breed that anyone considering adding one to their family should know about. Joint issues are a top problem for Labs. They are known for having hip and elbow dysplasia, osteochondrosis of the ankle/knee/elbow (small cracks in the cartilage of the joint), and patellar luxation. These are heredity issues, so make sure any breeder you are looking at puppies from has done the necessary screenings.
We all know Labs love to eat – and now there is scientific proof they have a gene that makes them always hungry. Because of this, and because they are so hard to say “no” to, many Labradors end up obese. Add in a lack of exercise and it’s a recipe for an overweight Lab. Unfortunately, this puts a strain on those joints that already may be prone to issues, possibly exacerbating any problems.
Lastly, Labradors Retriever are very prone to ear issues. Those floppy ears combined with their love of water makes the perfect recipe for ear infections. Many Labs end up with smelly ears that their owners are constantly having to treat. Prevention in the form of routine cleanings and going to the vet for antibiotics at the first sign, is the best practice. Neglected ears can form hematomas that occur when a Labrador is constantly scratching and shaking his bothered ears. Hematomas must be treated by a vet, and sometimes require surgery, so it’s important to keep a Lab’s ears clean and healthy. Training
Since they were bred to do a job, Labrador Retrievers have a great work ethic and are willing and eager learners. Due to their high energy, those training a Labrador need to have patience, as they do get distracted. In particular, Labs need training when it comes to mouthiness – they put their mouth on everything and everyone when they are a puppy – and in self-control. A Lab without self-control is the Lab who drags their owner through the park and jumps on everyone that comes in the front door. He means well, but that 30kg of bounding happiness can cause damage if not trained.
We recommend feeding your Labrador puppy our Large Breed Puppy due to their final, adult size and growth rate. When they reach 9-10 months, you can switch to our all life stage Chicken, Lamb & Fish formula.
Always feed to keep them at a lean weight, with 2 to 3 ribs showing, so to protect those joints for a long healthy life.