We all know that Labrador Retrievers, often referred to as Labs, are smarter than the average dog. If you are searching for a pooch to keep you company, then the Lab may be your dog of choice. The average Labrador Retriever weighs between sixty and eighty pounds. They are medium-sized dogs, with a broad build, and thick features. With proper nutrition, exercise, and healthcare, The life expectancy on these dogs, is between ten and twelve years.
The Labrador Retriever is widely classified as a Sporting Dog and considered a “flushing” dog that will retrieve the game for the hunter once it is down. They are most commonly used to hunt both upland game birds and waterfowl. There is thought that some are working on perfecting pointing with this breed.
The purebred Labrador Retriever comes only in 3 colors: black, which some say is the most sought-after, pale to deep chocolate, and yellow, which can range from cream to a moderate reddish-brown.
Their lifespan is 10 to 12 years, roughly, although there are stories of Labs living much longer, too. They gain weight easily; don’t overfeed them. An older Lab will be quite happy on the couch with regular meals and will gain weight quickly from it. Exercising is important for his health.
Two Types Of Retrievers
There are actually two types of Labs: the English-bred Labs and the American-bred Labs. The English-bred Labs have a stockier, blockier, heavier and thicker build than the American-bred dogs. Both breeds have smooth double-coats without waves. The English labs also are more laid-back and they mature faster.
Whatever their ancestry, Labs have a natural disposition to please and have fun. They love the water and pups are born with webbed toes. They’re highly intelligent, loyal, affectionate, patient, willing and eager, and those qualities make them perfect service dogs. They do make great watchdogs, but not so great guard dogs. They’ll let you know someone’s there, but they’re friendly, generally.
Because of their high intelligence, a young pup must be trained quickly or it’ll run amuck. If they do not receive enough mental and physical stimulation they’ll resort to their own thoughts and can get destructive. They could become a digger, a runaway or a chewer, even into adulthood.
Labrador Retrievers are famous for their gentle nature. This non-aggressive canine breed comes in colors of Chocolate, Black, and Yellow. Labrador Retrievers are kind, sensitive, and easy to train. Labrador Retrievers have temperaments that are very reliable, Which makes them excellent service dogs for the blind, and handicap.
Retrievers are energetic and need to have plenty of outdoor space available for play. Labrador has a keen sense of smell, and they love to swim and play in the water. They enjoy chasing birds, and squirrels. Playing fetch is always a favorite activity for most Labrador Retrievers.
Lab temperament can be best described as being well-balanced, friendly and versatile. In this aspect, they are similar to Golden Retrievers. This easy-going nature makes them rather poor watchdogs. Originally bred to retrieve waterfowl, they tend to be good swimmers and very gentle retrievers. They can actually hold a person’s hand or a delicate object in their mouth without inflicting injury. Their gentility and good temperament make Labrador Retrievers an ideal dog for rescue detection and therapy work. Labs account for approximately half of all the guide dogs in North America. One trained Labrador Retriever in England, named Endal, had the distinction of being the most decorated dog in the world.
Curious, sociable and exploratory, they tend to be prone to excess energy. They should be exercised on a daily basis. Moderate exercise will help curtail what has been mistakenly labeled as hyperactivity. They enjoy taking long walks in the park or around the neighborhood. If you don’t exercise your Lab regularly, they may find other ways to entertain themselves, like tearing up your house.
Although Labs can focus in on activities that interest them; they can lose interest and firm handling such as leash training is necessary to prevent an uncontrollable animal. Labs have extremely powerful necks, so they should be leash trained while they are puppies.
They’ll Eat Everything
One reputation this dog has is its enormous appetite. They will eat anything, running the gamut from the edible to the inedible. Their desire to feed can be demonstrative and incessant. Owners need to monitor their Labrador’s daily food intake, or they may become overweight. In the summertime, they should be given plenty of fresh clean water.
The short, thick, water-repellent coat is easy to care for. Brushing with a firm dog brush, and bathing when necessary is all that is needed to maintain a healthy shine. If Labs are going to be kept inside, regular brushing of the coat is necessary to minimize shedding.
Puppy Training Should Start Young
They should be trained at a young age to control their enthusiasm for visitors, whom they’ll want to jump on to greet. Teaching tricks like the shake should also begin early. His nose can be put to work finding food and treats that have been hidden for them while the master is out. Long daily walks and regular romps in the backyard do well to keep a Lab entertained and exercised.
At only seven months old a young Lab weighs as much as his parents do. He is no longer easy to maneuver or teach good manners because his rambunctious nature and strong body will make it more difficult. The earlier training can start, the better, and the young Lab will be anxiously awaiting the next time he can perform for you.
Consistency in training is very important with an intelligent dog like a Lab. It won’t take long for him to learn which person makes him follow the rules, and sometimes it can be confused as to what the rules actually are, if not enforced consistently.
Training Is Important, But Be Nice
Discipline should be firm but gentle and loving. Labs don’t take to being screamed at and it can frighten them into peeing every time you raise your voice. They’re so eager to please that a firm voice tone will be enough to affect the training wanted. Praise goes all the way, there is no better teacher for a Lab than praise. They love to be good dogs.
The AKC offers classes in Canine Citizenship and Manners and the dog earns silver certification if a test of 10 steps is passed at the end of the course.
The Labrador Retriever comes not from Labrador, but from Newfoundland which is in close proximity of Labrador. In the 1700’s they were called a St John’s Dog or Lesser Newfoundland Dog. In the early 1800’s the Earl of Malmesbury, who instigated the Labrador title, imported the breed to England. England recognized the breed as a Kennel Club breed in 1903 and later in 1917 the Labrador Retriever Breed was first registered by the AKC in the USA.
In the beginning, these dogs helped the Newfoundland Fisherman by swimming out to meet the boats, which could not come close to shore, and hauling the full fishing nets to men waiting on shore. They would also retrieve fish that fell off hooks.
Their medium size made them easy to haul in and out the boats and water. Their water-repellent, short, dense coats, which helped provide great resistance to cold and reduce ice build-up made them naturals for helping the fishermen. It is thought that as the temporary settlements onshore turned into more permanent ones, the dogs began helping with the hunting as well as fishing.
Labrador Retrievers make excellent pets for anybody with the time to care for them, and the available yard space. If you are seriously looking for a pet to complete your family, take a closer look at choosing one of these cute, and lovable canines. They are often the dog of choice for families with small children. Often small children can get a little rough when handling dogs, so it is extremely important to choose a dog with a mild temper.
Labrador retrievers are fun, gentle, and caring. Labs love to be part of the family. They adore getting lots of attention and are always on their best behavior. If you are thinking about getting a Lab puppy, read up on them, talk to a vet about feeding and schedules and learn how to house-train them before one is purchased.
And please, if there isn’t the time for a needy pup, get some fish instead. The more time one can spend with their Labrador Retriever puppy, the better the relationship will be. Have fun!
- AKC Dog Registrations Statistics. American Kennel Club 2006. www.akc.org
- Retriever (Labrador) Breed Standard. The Kennel Club