Labrador Retriever

A Quick Look at the Labrador Retriever

Among the many different kinds of retriever breeds, the Labrador Retriever is easily among the most famous and popular. This breed, though developed in many different countries, including England and the United States, takes its name from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

This breed has been well recognized since early in the nineteenth century and has since then been an accomplished gun dog and, more recently, has become one of the most popular family pets and companion dogs in the world.

There are three different coat colors in the breed, each of which are solid shades throughout the coat. They are black, yellow, and a dark brown which is better known as the "chocolate" shade.

Here are some fast facts about the Labrador Retriever:

Dog Group:
Sporting (AKC)
Recognized By:
Dogs – 60-75 lbs. (27-34 kg)
Bitches – 55-70 lbs. (25-32 kg)
Dogs - 22-24 in. (56-61 cm)
Bitches – 21-23 in. (53-58 cm)
Average litter size:
Life expectancy:
10-12 years (average of 11 years)
Health problems:
Coat care:
Exercise needs:
Suitable for children:
Pet compatibility:
Barking frequency:

Brief History

The Labrador Retriever was originally known as the St. John’s Dog, named after the capital city of the province that now gives it its current name. Though the ancestors of this dog found their roots in England and the United States, the Labrador Retriever was developed in Newfoundland, Canada.

Now seen as more of a gun dog, it was originally bred to assist fishermen in catching some of the fish that may have slipped free of their nets or lines. Early Labrador Retrievers were bred and trained to be able to swim in the icy waters off the shores of the province and would even assist in pulling the nets into the boats.

Some of these dogs were later brought back to England, where they were crossed with other retrievers and spaniels in order to improve their use as hunting and gun dogs. This makes today’s Labrador Retriever exceptionally flexible in terms of skills outside of simple companionship.

Today, Labrador Retrievers are use for tracking, retrieving, hunting, police dog work, watchdogs, drug detection dogs, search and rescue dogs, sled dogs, cart dogs, therapy dogs, guide dogs, and service dogs for the disabled, while they also do very well in competitions for obedience, agility, and field trials.

Labrador Retriever Breed Appearance and Characteristics

General Appearance - This attractive, solid, and bright looking dog has many different variations to its appearance – especially in terms of coat color – to appeal to many different tastes, which helps to explain why it is so immensely popular. Its dark eyes help to reflect how eager the breed is to please and how much the dog wants to be a beloved friend and family member. The thick muzzle, head, and neck help to reflect how powerful the dog truly is. The coat colors of the dog can be black, yellow, or chocolate. There is a new grey-brown developing (similar to the Weimaraner) which is still being classified as a part of the brown shade by some, but so far it is not officially recognized. The otter-like tail gives the breed a definite advantage in the water.

Typical Temperament - The lovable Labrador Retriever character is one of the most notable aspects of the breed and is among the features that makes this dog so very popular. This breed adores having fun, receiving attention, and spending time with people and other dogs and pets. The Labrador Retriever wants nothing more than to please those around him or her, and has a happy-go-lucky attitude, ready to take part in whatever everyone is doing at that moment.

Basic Labrador Retriever Caring Requirements

Grooming - The Labrador Retriever is very easy to care for, with very limited grooming requirements. Brushing the coat every day or two will help to keep the fur and the skin healthy and shiny, as well as clean of any dirt, pollen, and anything else that may have settled in the fur since the last brushing. The dog is a medium shedder, having higher and lower shedding periods throughout the year. Regular brushing during the higher shedding times will help to keep some of that extra fur off the furniture and floors of the house.

Exercise - Labrador Retrievers need lots of exercise every day. They will thrive in a lifestyle that allows them to take long daily walks and roar around on grass playing many different kinds of games and activities. These dogs also love to swim, which is a great way to help the dog burn off all that extra energy. Labrador Retrievers are very curious and are easily distracted so they should always be on a leash or within a well-fenced environment (which is secure and has a fence high enough that the dog will not be able to jump).

Approximate Food Cost - Depending on the Labrador Retriever’s individual needs based on his or her age, how active he or she is in the average day, and the food brand, he or she will generally eat about 3 to 4 cups of dry food every day. For a typical mid-range dry food, the monthly cost should be around $35.

General Health Information

There are many different hereditary health risks known throughout the Labrador Retriever breed. For this reason, when choosing a dog to adopt, it is important to receive a full disclosure of the dog’s ancestry and any health problems that have occurred throughout the generations previous to the pup. Over-breeding and inbreeding have been the most common causes of health concerns within the Labrador Retriever breed, so knowing the past can give you a helpful idea as to whether or not your puppy will be prone to progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia. Whether or not you have found that the parents or other ancestors of the dog, it is important to keep careful watch for symptoms of the various hereditary disorders so that treatment can begin at the first sign of their onset, slowing their progression and making things much more comfortable for the dog.

Common Illnesses include: Metabolic Liver Defect, Cancer, and Ear Infections.

Are You the Right Labrador Retriever Owner?

Living conditions - The Labrador Retriever can live comfortably in just about any kind of home – including apartments – as long as they receive an adequate amount of exercise. Ideally, though, a house with a medium-sized yard provides the best amount of space for this breed.

Training - Labrador Retrievers are quite easy to train, as they are intelligent and keen to please their owners. By staring with obedience and socialization training as early as possible in the dog’s life, the owner can ensure that the best possible adult temperament will be developed. Since the dog is quite strong, it is also important to begin training the dog not to tug on the leash at an early age so that it has been corrected by the time he or she is big and strong enough that it becomes a problem. This breed learns best when using positive reinforcement training techniques, since heavy-handed or negative methods will only work against the dog’s ability and willingness to learn. The ideal learning environment for Labrador Retrievers is a firm, consistent, fair and respectful one. When using the right training techniques, the potential for this breed is practically limitless, including obedience, agility, search and rescue, tracking, and service dogs.

Common Problems - This dog breed has a very high energy level as well as an inclination toward curiosity and mischief. If not properly trained and without the right outlet for the extra energy, a Labrador Retriever can become destructive and can lead him or herself into dangerous situations. It is very important that this dog receive ample exercise every day to avoid this scenario.

The bottom line...

The Labrador Retriever dog breed is a pleasant, even tempered one, with a strong body and an ease with dog sports and other athletically demanding tasks. There are a number of different variations within the breed from coat color to the actual size of the dog, as its development did split at a certain point.

The Labrador Retrievers which were further developed in England, for example, are heavier, while those which continued their development in the United States are leaner in their overall build. Both types, though, remain true to the sporting abilities of the dog, giving it innate strengths in hunting and retrieving.

Moreover, Labrador Retrievers are terrific family dogs because they are affectionate, loyal, and always eager to please and take part in anything that their family happens to be doing. They participate well in these various activities because they are very intelligent and observant, allowing them to learn about a new game, sport, or task without having to be specifically taught or directed.

It is very easy to provide a Labrador Retriever with all the care he or she needs. As long as the owner is willing to provide adequate attention and exercise, this breed is exceptionally happy among people, including children, as well as other pets, both dogs and otherwise. They need only a quick brushing every couple of days and need very limited other forms of grooming.

As long as the willingness to provide exercise and attention is there, this dog needs little else to stay happy and healthy. An experienced owner is best for this dog, which needs lots of training early on, but it is possible for a new dog owner to raise a well-behaved pet as long as he or she is informed as to what is required and is dedicated to keeping up consistent training, habits, and lifestyles.

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Filed Under: Labrador Training


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