Labrador Retriever

There should be no argument as to why the Labrador Retriever is the single most popular dog, according to the American Kennel Club. It’s so popular, that this breed needed to be identified by black, chocolate, and yellow.

A Labrador Retriever is smart and courageous, as well as compassionate and able. You’ll find them with their masters “retrieving” during hunting excursions, to on the dock fetching ropes and hauling in nets.

A multi-purpose canine, that can thrive in both warm and cold climates. A breed that does well acclimating with other breeds and is an all-family companion, that is wonderful with children.

Now that you know this is the most popular breed out there in America, the bigger question, why and how? Here is everything that you need to know about the Labrador Retriever.

History

This breed may have one of the most decorated pasts out of all them. They received their humble beginnings back in the 1700’s, off an island province called, Newfoundland, located in Canada. They weren’t known as labradors at that point in their history, but rather, they were named after Newfoundland’s capital, St John’s.

Because the life of a fisherman can be lonely and solemn, they immediately fit a companion purpose amongst those in that occupation. They proved to be great company, but also proved to be quite the worker. As a dual-purpose canine, they would work with the master of the house on the docks during the day. Anything from chasing down fish that escaped the net, to running down ropes. They went home afterward with their master to serve as the family’s companion.

After a while, the English fisherman caught on to the useful nature of this breed. They decided to import the Labs back to England in the 1830’s. Except, they would leave the dock and serve as a hunting dog instead. The Lab enjoyed its job as a hunting and gathering canine and thrived with the position.

Facing a near extinction in the 1880’s, credit is given to the Malmesbury of England and the breed’s English enthusiasts for keeping the dog well and alive. The England Kennel Club recognized the Labrador Retriever as an official breed in 1903, while the Americans decided to register them as an official breed in 1917. Meanwhile, in Newfoundland, the government’s restrictions caused the population of Labradors to dwindle.

After World War 2, and two decades of importing Labs into America, the breed quickly became a first choice for canine companion. In 1991, and ever since, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed in the U.S, U.K, and Canada.

That can be attributed to the role people have put the breed into. They can be part of law enforcement, rescue missions, detection operations, sporting, hunting, competitions, and much more. The Lab has become the glorified breed of today’s developed society. And while they are still hard-working and devoted dogs, they are now earning their way into the role of a home companion more than anything else.

Labrador retriever

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2 month old Labrador retriever puppy chewing on a ball. By Mila Atkovska/Shutterstock.com

Size

The female Labrador Retriever will typically be smaller in size. She will range between 21.5 to 23.5 inches tall, while the male ranges from 22.5 to 24.5 inches tall. While some Labs have been known to suffer from obesity, with a proper diet, a male will weight 65-80 pounds, and a female will weigh 55-70 pounds.

Personality & Temperament

As hinted above, the Lab is the all-encompassing dog that everyone seems to want. That’s for good reason.

A Labrador Retriever is a dog that is very approachable and friendly. They can be the life of the party, or just be there and enjoy the party. They enjoy children and the nuisance that children bring along. They are very sweet and patient with smaller children. Although one should never allow a child to smack any dog, this breed has a lot more tolerance for things of that nature than other breeds would.

When it comes to their adult masters, there’s nothing that the Retriever won’t do for them. They will do trick, obey, play, join them on excursions, and roll up on the couch at the end of the day and share cuddles and affection. Labs make very therapeutic pets. They are sensitive and ostensibly they listen to when their master is having a bad day at the office.

They do value outdoor activity, as this breed has a ton of energy to lend. This breed will be with a big open lot to play in, but should have a fenced in area to keep them safe. They aren’t the most practical choice for apartment living, because they need to get out and really exert themselves.

A Labrador can live in the warmer climate and make it just fine. However, where it really thrives is where the breed originally hails from. That is the colder climate known for harsh winter conditions. Especially with their weather resistant coats.

They do well with strangers, but make lousy insurance policy’s. You won’t want them guarding your valuables because of their friendly and loving nature. The Labrador Retriever also does very good with other breeds.

Labs thrive at sports and competition against other breed such as conformation, agility, and obedience.

This breed can be used for those who are handicap, and for those who suffer from depression. You won’t be surprised to find a Labrador Retriever at a nursing home either. They are very much a community dog, and an all around people lover.

That said, they do generate and demand a lot of attention and will give it back.

Health

Thanks to their solid posterity, and great build, the Labrador Retriever is a rather healthy breed. But, thanks to how it lives daily, and how active they are—this breed can invite some common issues. Some more serious than others.

The key health issues affecting most Labs are three issues. Joints, obesity, and cancer.

Joint problems like hip and elbow dysplasia are concerning because they cause lameness and a great deal of pain. 12 percent (most likely higher) of Labradors have hip dysplasia, according to the Orthopedics of America. This will cause instability and arthritis, if not treated right away. The good news is that it is very easily treatable.

Ten percent of Labs are afflicted with elbow dysplasia. One other joint issue to look for is the ease Lab’s have in rupturing their cruciate ligament in the back of their legs. Something to keep an eye on since the dog is very active and agile.

Another issue that Labs can have are with their ear. Since their ears are so long, they tend to cover their ear canals. This presents a problem because what it does is trap warm and moist air. Warm and moist air is the living pool of bacteria which can develop and cause infections. If serious enough, a dog’s hearing could be affected. Cleaning your Lab’s ears frequently will greatly reduce the chances of infections from spreading.

Care

When the Lab was used for company and chore with the fisherman in the 1700’s, it was the most ideal way of life for this breed. Hitherto today, the Labrador Retriever is happy being with its master and family. Regardless of where that may be. Although, they may not thrive in small spaces, such as apartments.

However, while a sizeable backyard is idea for this breed, you should use caution at keeping this type of dog by itself for too long. They don’t want to be alone and need the touch and presence of human contact and affection. They are known for going stir crazy when they get bored and lonely. They may dig up or chew on things they shouldn’t. This is their way of saying pay attention to me.

The simple solution to this is average size walks for about twenty to thirty minutes a day. It doesn’t and shouldn’t be too long. Integrating them around other pets is always good because they thrive on interaction with others. Take them to the park or for a stroll along an area where people are present.

You should always try to keep the Lab busy mentally and physically. They are great with command and obedience. Hence their enormous success as a show dog and in competitions. They love learning new tricks, and they learn rather quickly. You can teach this dog all day long. Just be careful to not cram.

Toys are a must with this breed, such as chew toys. You don’t want them chewing on your favorite furniture upholstery or child’s toy.

You should keep your Lab well maintained grooming wise as well. Brush their teeth twice a week. Clean their ears frequently but carefully. And make sure that you keep them updated with shots and frequent visits to the vets.

Feeding

This medium sized dog can get quite big, if you get sloppy with its diet habits. A healthy Labrador Retriever shouldn’t eat more than 4.5 cups of dry food per day. This is assuming your labrador is around 60 pounds or so. Ideally, you would like to keep your Lab around that weight threshold.

As far as puppies are concerned, the Labs aren’t much different than most dog breeds their size. You’ll start them off at about 4 meals a day at about 8-12 weeks. At 6 months and older, you can graduate your feeding amount to about two meals a day. Once they turn a year old and beyond, one meal a day should suffice the Labrador’s appetite.

How you break it up is up to you and your dog. If your dog wants a partial meal in the morning and then another at night, then breaking it up into two smalls will work.

Always choose high quality dry food for your Lab. They shouldn’t get anything less than 27 percent proteins, 20 percent crude fat, and try to keep their fiber below five percent. You should always try to find a nutritional meal with about 30 percent lean meat. Adding 2 percent calcium will help strengthen your Labrador Retriever’s skeletal system.

Coat

The Labrador is a moderate shedding breed, in which you’ll most likely need to brush twice to three times a week. Daily brushing may not be a bad idea with this breed.

Labs possess a sleek yet moderately easy to groom double coat. The two layers has a topcoat that is straight, thick and short in length. The undercoat is completely weather resistant and soft to the touch.

You can find a Labrador Retriever in three accepted colors which are, yellow, chocolate and black.

You can bathe a Labrador once every two months, but be careful not to dry out their skin and ruin the natural oil disposition of their coat. Many experts agree that the best grooming technique to a Lab’s coat is investing in a quality vacuum cleaner, as they do tend to shed heavier at different names.

Fun Facts

  • The Labrador Retriever actually does have more than three coat colors. The color Silver, is actually technically a part of chocolate Lab but because of a defect in genes, this caused the color to change to a lighter tone. There’s also a “Fox Red” color as well.
  • The Labrador Retriever was voted America’s most popular and best breed by the American Kennel Club for the past 24 years. This may earn them the nickname, “The Cal Ripken of Dog Breeds.”
  • Labs are great at most outdoor things they do including swimming. This could be because of their strange webbed feet.

Closing Words

When it comes to the breed standard, most clubs will model the looks, heart and talent around that of a Labrador Retriever. They can swim, they can solve problem, they can detect illegal activity as if they are Batman, they can rescue and fetch and solve math equations (okay, maybe not that.)

The Lab is always going to be America’s best friend. That’s because it does everything so well. But what the Labrador does better than anything else, which is crucial as a dog, is provide the perfect amount of companionship for its family and master.

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