America’s Best Friend:  Labrador Retrievers

How could anyone say no to this face? The Labrador Retriever is America’s most popular dog breed, and for good reason. Their sweet personality and lovable faces are the perfect pair. That, and they are so versatile too! From hunting dogs to family dogs, Labrador retrievers can do it all. 

They’re also large dogs, but not too big that they can’t force their way onto your lap from time to time. Labs stand from 21.5 to 24.5 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 55 to 80 pounds, depending on their gender, with females being on the smaller side. Their life expectancy is around 10-12 years of age, though many of them live to be 14+. 

Labrador Retriever Personality

Labrador retrievers are usually very affectionate and patient dogs. They’re great with kids and other animals, which makes them perfect for families. They absolutely adore people and will often go out of their way to greet every stranger they pass, which is why leash training is a must for this breed. 

They’re also very adaptable and are usually happy in most situations once they get used to their surroundings. This makes them very easy to train, since they are both eager to please and aren’t usually intimidated by new settings, animals, and people. 

Training for Labrador Retrievers

Labs are highly intelligent dogs and will pick up on things pretty quickly.

As we mentioned above, Labrador retrievers need early leash training so they don’t pull their owners across the street every time they see a new dog, bird, or human. They are extremely strong, so even the most steadfast owner may have a hard time getting them to settle down if they’re not properly leash trained. 

While they love other animals, we recommend slowly and gently introducing them to new pets when they’re a puppy so you don’t overwhelm them. We recommend booking puppy training classes to help socialize them and to help correct bad behaviors that they may be developing. 

Lastly, labs don’t like to be alone for long periods of time. They are less likely to act out if you include them in family activities. 

If you want to train them as a hunting dog, this should come easily to the breed. They’re bred to hunt ducks, quail, and pheasants, which means retrieving your prey will be instinctual. You should still show them the ropes so they know where to go and to come back with the prey intact. 

Labs can also assist when hunting larger game, such as deer and hogs, by tracking their scent.  

Care

Labs are notoriously easy to care for. Their coat requires minimal grooming and they usually love water, so bathtime is a breeze. 

Grooming

They have low grooming needs, however they do shed a lot thanks to their double coat. The Lab has a thick, water-repellant double coat that sheds. Give them regular brushes and baths to help keep shedding to a minimum. 

As with all breeds, the Lab’s nails should be trimmed regularly and his teeth brushed frequently.

Exercise

The Lab is an enthusiastic athlete that requires lots of exercise. They love to run, play fetch, and swim. 

The downside of labs is that they need to stay mentally and physically active or they will find other ways to occupy their time. Many bored labs will resort to destructive behavior to release their pent-up energy, which is why including them during family outings is a good idea. 

They excel in agility and obedience training, as well as tracking and dock diving. You can train them in these sports to keep them mentally healthy and occupied. 

Labrador Retriever Health Problems

Labrador retrievers health problems include all of the following: 

Like other large, deep-chested dogs, Labs can develop a life-threatening stomach condition called bloat. Have your vet scan for all of these common health conditions, and if you get it from a breeder, ask for a copy of their health records to ensure they looked out of these conditions as well. 

Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • EIC DNA Test
  • Torn CCLs 

Labs are wonderful dogs, but you may prefer other breeds. If so, check out our blog on  Great Danes or Mastiffs! 

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