Happy Black Labrador Retriever looking at the camera
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Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers, often simply called Labs, are one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide, known for their friendly and outgoing nature. With their iconic floppy ears, expressive eyes, and wagging tails, Labs exude charm and warmth, making them beloved family pets. Renowned for their intelligence and eagerness to please, Labs excel in various roles, from assistance and therapy work to search and rescue missions. Their gentle demeanor and patience also make them exceptional companions for children, earning them the reputation of being one of the best family dogs.

In addition to their affable personality, Labrador Retrievers are highly versatile and athletic dogs. Originally bred as retrieving dogs for fishermen, they possess a strong instinct to fetch and carry objects, making them excellent partners for outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and retrieving games. Their sturdy build, coupled with their boundless energy, enables Labs to thrive in various sports and competitions, including agility, obedience trials, and dock diving. With their winning combination of intelligence, sociability, and athleticism, Labrador Retrievers continue to capture the hearts of dog lovers around the world.

When considering a Lab, we recommend adopting from rescue organizations or shelters to provide a loving home to a dog in need. However, if you’re looking for Labrador Retriever puppies decide to purchase, it’s crucial to choose a reputable breeder. Conduct thorough research to ensure that the breeder follows ethical practices and values the well-being of their dogs. Reputable breeders prioritize the health and temperament of their Labrador Retriever puppies. They also conduct necessary health screenings, and provide a nurturing environment for the puppies. This active approach ensures that you bring home a healthy and happy pup while discouraging unethical breeding practices.

Quick Facts

  • Origin: Newfoundland, Canada.
  • Size: Males weig 65-80 pounds (29-36 kg) and females weigh 55-70 pounds (25-32 kg).
  • Breed Group: Sporting
  • Lifespan: 10 to 14 years.
  • Coat: Labrador Retrievers come in three main coat colors according to the AKC breed standard: black, chocolate, and yellow. However, some breeders may breed colors like white, silver, charcoal, or fox red Labradors, although the AKC does not recognize these.
  • Temperament: Friendly, outgoing, with a gentle nature. They are often described as one of the most family-friendly dog breeds and are great with children and other pets.
  • Exercise Needs: Labrador Retrievers are active dogs and require regular exercise and mental stimulation. They enjoy activities like fetch, swimming, and hiking.
  • Training: They are highly intelligent and trainable, making them one of the most popular choices for working dogs, including search and rescue, therapy, and assistance dogs.
  • Grooming: The Labrador Retriever has relatively low grooming needs. Regular brushing and occasional baths are to keep their coat healthy.
  • Health: While generally healthy, Labradors can be prone to certain genetic health issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia and certain eye conditions. Responsible breeding and regular vet check-ups can help reduce these risks.
  • Popularity: After a 31-year run as America’s most popular dog breed, Labs lost the title to the French Bulldog in 2023.

Labrador Retriever Pictures

Adaptability

  • Adapts Well To Apartment Living

    Looking for the best dog for your apartment? Contrary to popular belief, the suitability of dogs who adapt well to apartment living goes beyond its size. Apartment dwellers have a myriad of dog breeds to choose from as potential companions, with various factors to consider. Some large breeds can adapt well to apartment living and have lower activity levels. Others may require more space and possess higher energy levels. On the other hand, certain small dog breeds with abundant energy can still find contentment with indoor playtime or brisk walks.

    However, when selecting a dog that adapts well to apartments, it is essential to prioritize your neighbors. Opting for a pet that doesn’t excessively bark and behaves politely when encountering others in shared spaces is crucial. In apartment settings, it’s worth noting that numerous small dogs may exhibit a propensity for high energy and frequent barking. This can make them less suitable for apartment living. Rather than size alone, you’ll want to think about breeds who are quiet, low-energy, and sociable towards other residents.

    Training tips for apartment dogs

    Regardless of your pup’s inherent suitability to apartment living, you will want to invest in additional training to help them be their best selves. Training dogs not inherently suited to apartment living requires extra patience and consistency. Start by establishing clear boundaries and rules within your apartment to create a structured routine for your dog. Focus on basic obedience commands such as “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “leave it”. Barking-related training commands including “hush” or “quiet” are also crucial. This training is essential for managing your dog’s behavior both indoors and outdoors.

    Since space may be limited, prioritize leash training to ensure your dog walks calmly and obediently, especially in communal areas. Crate training can also help your dog feel safe and secure while you’re away from your apartment. This may help your pup avoid anxiety, which could lead to barking habits.

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  • Good For Novice Dog Owners

    When considering adding a dog to your home, it’s important to acknowledge that some dog breeds may present less of a challenge in terms of training and temperament. These dogs tend to be more adaptable, responsive to training, and resilient, readily overcoming any training hiccups or inconsistencies. As one might expect, these breeds may be good for novice dog owners.

    Conversely, certain dogs may pose greater difficulties, particularly for first-time owners. Factors such as heightened sensitivity, independence, energy levels, or assertiveness can contribute to a more demanding ownership experience. Novice dog owners should assess their level of experience and comfort when selecting a new pet, ensuring compatibility with their lifestyle and capabilities for a mutually rewarding relationship.

    Tips for first-time or novice dog owners

    Photograph of a dog training session at the park, an important element of raising a pup for novice dog owners to remember.
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    For first-time or novice dog owners, pet ownership can be both exciting and daunting. As a bit of advice, research breeds thoroughly before bringing a dog home. Each breed has their unique traits, energy levels, and care requirements. Consider factors such as size, exercise needs, grooming demands, and temperament to find a breed that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.

    Prioritizing training and socialization at an early age is essential. You may want a breed who is more easy to train or perhaps possesses a lower energy level. Establishing clear boundaries and expectations early on lays the foundation for a well-behaved and well-adjusted dog. Basic obedience training such as teaching commands like sit, stay, and come, is crucial for effective communication and building a strong bond with your new best friend. Additionally, exposing your dog to various environments, people, and other animals helps prevent behavioral issues and promotes confidence and adaptability. Consistent care, patience, and love are key ingredients for a fulfilling and rewarding relationship with your dog.

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  • Sensitivity Level

    Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

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  • Tolerates Being Alone

    Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

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  • Tolerates Cold Weather

    Several dog breeds are naturally equipped to tolerate cold weather and climates, thanks to their thick coats, sturdy builds, and unique adaptations. Some breeds from snowy climates and mountainous regions may immediately come to mind, like the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and Bernese Mountain Dog. Renowned for their cold tolerance and ability to excel in snowy environments, these cold-weather breeds not only tolerate freezing temperatures but may be happiest in the chill. Thanks to dense double coats that provide excellent insulation against the cold, they have no trouble adapting when the temperatures drop.

    Additionally, these dogs may have a higher body fat percentage have a built-in layer of insulation that helps retain body heat in cold weather. Physical attributes also play a role in cold tolerance, enabling dogs to navigate snowy or icy terrain with ease. Certain breeds may have specialized adaptations, such as furry feet for traction on slippery surfaces or water-resistant coats for protection against moisture and wind chill. Moreover, a dog’s natural instincts, such as seeking shelter or burrowing in the snow for warmth, can further enhance their ability to tolerate cold weather.

    Safety tips for cold-weather breeds

    Profile photo of a Bernese Mountain Dog, a breed who tolerates cold weather, posing in the snow.
    (Photo Credit: cunfek | Getty Images)

    Although come breeds may easily tolerate cold weather, it’s important to research temperature guidelines for safety. For cold-weather breeds such as the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and Samoyed, provide adequate protection and care during cold weather. Ensure they have access to shelter from the elements, such as a well-insulated dog house or a warm indoor space, particularly during extreme weather conditions. Keep outdoor excursions brief and monitor your dog closely for signs of discomfort or frostbite, paying attention to their ears, paw pads, and tail. Consider using protective paw wax or booties to shield their feet from ice and salt. Additionally, adjust their diet to provide extra calories during colder months to support their energy needs.

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  • Tolerates Hot Weather

    Unlike cold-weather breeds and brachycephalic dogs, certain dog breeds are well-adapted to warmer climate and tolerate hot weather with relative ease. Breeds such as the Chihuahua, Dalmatian, and Basenji have short coats and lean body structures that facilitate heat dissipation, allowing them to stay comfortable in warmer weather. Their minimal fur reduces the risk of overheating, and their efficient panting mechanisms help regulate their body temperature effectively. These breeds often enjoy basking in the sun and participating in outdoor activities even during hot days, although owners should still ensure they have access to shade and water to prevent dehydration.

    Moreover, some breeds have evolved in regions with hot climates, equipping them with natural adaptations to thrive in warm weather conditions. These breeds have developed unique features such as hairless or short coats, as well as physiological traits that aid in heat tolerance. Their ability to cope with high temperatures makes them suitable companions for owners living in warm climates, although proper care and attention to hydration and sun protection are still essential to ensure their well-being during hot weather.

    Safety tips for hot weather

    Basenji, a breed who tolerates hot weather, on a hot summer day.
    (Photo Credit: Madjuszka | Getty Images)

    Even if your dog tolerates hot weather, it’s still important to prioritize safety. You can check out guidelines on assessing if the weather is too hot for your dog. Ensure your dog always has access to fresh water, provide shaded areas in your yard or outdoor space, and schedule outdoor activities during cooler times of the day to prevent overheating. Never leave your dog in a parked car, monitor for signs of heat exhaustion, and protect their paws from hot pavement. Consider using pet-safe sunscreen on exposed skin areas and seek veterinary assistance if symptoms persist.

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All-around friendliness

  • Affectionate With Family

    When it comes to unconditional love and unwavering loyalty, few animals can rival the affectionate nature of dogs. These remarkable creatures have earned their reputation as man’s best friend, and it’s no wonder! Many breeds are particularly renowned for their love and devotion to their families. With their warm hearts and wagging tails, affectionate family dogs enrich the lives of their owners in countless ways.

    While we like to think that all dogs are creatures of love, some breeds may be more outwardly affectionate than others. Some of this is due to temperament, breed group, and purpose. For example, dogs first bred for working or guarding independently of their human companions may show less affection than dogs specifically bred to be companion animals. Of course, this is no indication of the bond between a human and pup, but rather related to temperament and breed origin.

    Affection may be demonstrated through a myriad of heartwarming behaviors. This may including tail-wagging greetings, cuddles on the couch, and an ever-present eagerness to be by their family’s side. This devotion extends to both adults and children, making dogs wonderful additions to family households. The warmth of a dog’s affection not only provides emotional support but also creates an environment of joy and connection within the family, fostering a sense of togetherness.

    How To Know If A Dog Is Good With Families

    The affectionate nature of family dogs extends beyond play and cuddles. Dogs have a remarkable ability to sense their owner’s emotions, offering comfort and support during difficult times. Whether it’s a wagging tail after a long day at work or a sympathetic nuzzle during moments of sadness, they prove time and again that they are attuned to their family’s needs.

    It is important to note that not all dogs of the same breed will be equally affectionate. Some dogs may be more independent or aloof, while others may be more clingy or demanding of attention. The best way to find out how affectionate a dog is is to meet them in person and interact with them.

    See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family

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  • Kid-Friendly

    If you’re looking for a pup to join your household, you may first want to consider the most kid-friendly dog breeds. A gentle nature, patience, and the sturdiness to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs children can dish out can be some of the most kid-friendly dog-defining traits. Of course, a pup with a blasé attitude toward running and screaming children would be a bonus.

    At first glance, you may be surprised by the most kid-friendly dogs. Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers, an affectionate Pit Bull breed. Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.

    It’s important to note all dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences. Additionally, training plays a big role in how dogs will get along with kids. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, pointy teeth, and may bite under stressful circumstances or mishandling. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone without supervision.

    How to Know If a Dog is Kid-Friendly

    Mixed race girl and a kid-friendly dog laying in autumn leaves
    (Photo Credit: LWA/Dann Tardif | Getty Images)

    Determining if a dog is kid-friendly involves assessing various aspects of their temperament, behavior, and breed characteristics. A kid-friendly dog should display a gentle and calm demeanor, showing an ability to handle the unpredictable behaviors and noises associated with children. Additionally, behavioral signals like wagging tails and a relaxed body language often indicates a positive interaction with kids.

    Breed tendencies also play a role in gauging kid-friendliness. Some breeds are inherently more predisposed to be good with children. It’s essential to consider the dog’s personality, socialization history, and any signs of anxiety or discomfort. A well-socialized dog that has positive experiences with children is more likely to be kid-friendly, regardless of their breed. Conducting meet-and-greet sessions under controlled circumstances and observing the dog’s reactions to children’s actions can provide valuable insights into their suitability for family life.

    See Dogs Who Are Not Kid Friendly

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  • Dog Friendly

    Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may intimidate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others are naturally more dog friend and would rather play than fight. It’s important to note that breed isn’t the only factor when it comes to how dog-friendly your pup will be. Sure, some dogs breeds first bred for working independently may not immediately gravitate towards other dogs, but early socialization plays a lot more into how dogs will interact than their origin. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age or who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood are more likely to have good canine social skills.

    Still, some dog-friendly breeds are more pack-oriented and naturally thrive with other dogs. Dogs with this trait typically exhibit an innate ability to get along well with other pups. Dogs with this trait may be more eager to greet new dogs, display more social behavior at places like dog parks, or more confidently allow intimate sniffs from their canine acquaintances. This quality extends beyond mere tolerance and often manifests as a genuine enjoyment of the company of fellow canines, making these dogs ideal companions for those looking to build a multi-dog household. Additionally, they’ll pair well with pet parents hoping to take their pooch on social adventures, such as going to dog park or hanging out on dog-friendly patios.

    Raising a dog-friendly dog

    Horizontal image of three dog-friendly dogs playing in a green field in a sunny afternoon
    (Photo Credit: Stefan Cristian Cioata | Getty Images)

    While some dog breeds are more naturally inclined to make friends with other dogs, you may choose a puppy or adult dog that needs a little help. It’s may be common knowledge that there is a small window during a puppy’s early development when they are the most adaptable in terms of how they’ll interact with other dogs. You may, however, bring home an adult dog or a rescue and not get the opportunity. Not to fear! There are still many ways to help your pooch become dog-friendly.

    Socialization is always the best way to ensure your dog becomes their most friendly self. You can help by exposing your pooch to as many sights, sounds, and environments as possible. Set up doggy playdates, enroll in dog training classes, or visit the dog park. Of course, be sure to do your research on dog training methods to ensure your dog will listen to you in social settings. Confidence is key!

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  • Friendly Toward Strangers

    Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even reserved. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash in public.

    However, it’s worth noting that certain breeds might initially appear more reserved or aloof when encountering new people. Some individuals appreciate this quality, as not everyone seeks a highly sociable canine companion. There is a preference for the calm and composed personalities exhibited by specific breeds. It’s essential to recognize that not all breeds necessarily need to be inherently friendly with strangers; however, it is crucial that your pup is not aggressive or reactive in such situations.

    Raising a stranger-friendly dog

    Friendly dog high-fiving with a person.
    (Photo Credit: Lucy Lambriex | Getty Images)

    While some dog breeds are more naturally inclined to make friends with strangers, you may choose a puppy or adult dog that needs a little help. It’s may be common knowledge that there is a small window during a puppy’s early development when they are the most adaptable in terms of how they’ll interact with humans. You may, however, bring home an adult dog or a rescue and not get the opportunity. Not to fear! There are still many ways to help your pooch become stranger-friendly.

    Socialization is always the best way to ensure your dog becomes their most friendly self. You can help by exposing your pooch to as many sights, sounds, and environments as possible. Set up doggy playdates, enroll in dog training classes, or visit the dog park. Of course, be sure to do your research on dog training methods to ensure your dog will listen to you in social settings. Confidence is key!

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Health And Grooming Needs

  • Amount Of Shedding

    When considering adding a pup into your home, you may want to consider the amount of shedding your furry companion will experience. Regardless of the dog breed, you will want to be prepared for at least some amount of pet hair on your clothing and around your house. Of course, this amount can vary greatly as shedding tendencies differ significantly among breeds. Some dogs shed continuously, especially dog breeds with heavy double-coats or long fur. Others undergo seasonal “blowouts” and some hardly shed at all.

    Having a set of grooming tools at your disposal is essential for tending to your dog’s coat. Deshedding tools are excellent for eliminating excess hair that can become trapped in your dog’s fur. There are also brushes designed to gently remove dead hair without causing discomfort to your dog’s skin. Grooming gloves and bathing brushes can aid in loosening dead hair during shampooing, making it easier to brush away. Clippers and a detangling spray effectively tackle matted fur. Additionally, home tools for managing pet hair on fabric and furniture can make a big difference. Pet tape rollers, fur brooms, and specialized vacuums can eliminate pet hair from carpet, clothing, and even furniture.

    If you’re someone who values a spotless environment, you might want to opt for a low-shedding breed. Otherwise, equip yourself with the right tools to fight the fur. Concerns about shedding shouldn’t prevent you from relishing your time at home with your dog. Establishing a consistent grooming regimen can significantly minimize the presence of loose hair in your living space and on your clothing. For additional guidance on managing dog shedding, explore our recommendations for addressing excessive shedding and designing your home with your pet (and their shedding tendencies) in mind.

    Related:

    How to Effectively Deal with Dog Shedding

    4 Best Dog Brushes

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  • Drooling Potential

    Often referred to as “heavy droolers,” some slobbery dog breeds are known for their drooling potential. This trait is more prevalent in certain breeds with loose, jowly skin. A few breeds that may come to mind when thinking about dog drool are Saint Bernards, Bloodhounds, and Mastiffs. Drooling is a natural behavior influenced by factors like genetics, breed characteristics, and individual anatomy. Even among breeds with a higher drooling potential, some dogs may drool very little while others may drool a lot.

    While some dogs may only drool more during specific activities like eating or in anticipation of food, others may be consistent heavy droolers due to their inherent physiological makeup. Living with a dog that drools requires a degree of acceptance and proactive management. Pet owners of drooling breeds often keep absorbent towels or bandanas on hand to wipe away excess saliva. This may be particularly necessary after meals or playtime. Regular dental care can also contribute to reduce excessive drooling by addressing potential oral health issues. Despite the occasional mess, many pet owners of drooling dogs appreciate their unique charm.

    Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re not a fan of the extra slime, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.

    Dealing with drooling

    Slobbery Dog At Glasgow Park.
    (Photo Credit: Sonya Kate Wilson | Getty Images)

    Owners with slobbery dog breeds should establish a baseline for their dog’s normal drooling levels. There may be instances where excessive drooling indicates an underlying issue rather than typical breed behavior. Excessive drooling in dogs can serve as an indicator of potential underlying issues. Various factors, such as stress, high temperatures, dental problems, allergic reactions, or nausea, may contribute to increased drooling. If your dog usually isn’t very slobbery or if additional concerning symptoms accompany sudden and pronounced drooling, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian. Keeping track of what is typical for your dog allows you to quickly identify deviations from the norm and address potential health concerns or discomfort.

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  • Easy To Groom

    Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Easy-to-groom dogs are a smart choice for pet owners looking for a low-maintenance companion. Breeds with short coats or those that shed minimally often fall into the category of easy-to-groom dogs. Of course there are exceptions to this statement. For example, allergy-friendly, low-shedding Poodles or Poodle Mixes like the Labradoodle or Bernedoodle require frequent grooming. Low-maintenance dog breeds require less frequent brushing sessions. These pups may be more convenient for individuals with busy schedules or those looking for a hassle-free pet care routine.

    Owners of low-maintenance dogs also enjoy the benefit of reduced grooming-related expenses. Because these breeds typically don’t require professional services, these low-maintenance breeds end up being more budget-friendly. Common examples of easy-to-groom breeds include Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, and Dachshunds. While regular grooming remains essential for all dogs, the easy-to-groom breeds offer a practical option for pet parents seeking a dog without the added demands of intricate care routines. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming. Alternatively, you may want to consider the budget required to pay someone else to do it.

    Some breeds have unique grooming needs

    A Poodle Mix smiles happily at the camera during a grooming session. This type of dog is not an an easy-to-groom breed and requires additional maintenance.
    (Photo Credit: Iuliia Bondar | Getty Images)

    Beyond the usual brushing, clipping, and trimming needs, some breeds require additional grooming for their unique needs. Breeds such as Pugs and Shar-Peis have loose skin and wrinkles that require extra vigilance during bathing.

    First, to prevent grime and even bacteria from becoming a problem, clean between the folds of their skin with damp cotton and then dry well. Keeping these areas dry is also important after a bath or a walk in the rain. Long, droopy-eared pups like the Basset Hound or Cocker Spaniel must be checked weekly for buildups of wax and dirt. A cotton wad with a little water or mineral oil can help keep the ears clean and dry. Drops specifically designed to clean and dry the canal should also be applied for these ear infection-prone dogs. Hair that grows around the canal entrance should be kept trimmed. You can check with a professional groomer or veterinarian for instructions on how to properly and safely do this. Special tools may be available for this unique task.

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  • General Health

    While most dogs experience good general health, some breeds may be prone to specific health issues. Conditions like hip dysplasia, cancer, or heart conditions can result from poor breeding practices or genetic dispositions. However, it’s important to note that not every dog of a particular breed will necessarily develop these diseases. Rather, they only face an elevated risk compared to other breeds.

    When considering adding a dog or puppy to your home, it’s advisable to research the prevalent genetic illnesses associated with the breed you’re interested in adopting. Additionally, it can be beneficial to inquire whether your chosen shelter or rescue organization possesses information regarding the physical health of the potential pup’s parents and other relatives. This knowledge can aid in understanding potential health risks and ensuring the best possible start for your new furry family member.

    Happy dog with good general health running on a trail
    (Photo Credit: Mike Linnane / 500px | Getty Images)

    The CHIC (Canine Health Information Center), a program created by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), provides a centralized database for canine health information, particularly focusing on orthopedic and genetic conditions. Despite robust general health, they recommend several health screenings for breeds due to potential predispositions to certain conditions. After screening, the CHIC assigns a number to a dog’s test results. It doesn’t indicate normal results, just that all necessary tests were done and results made available. A CHIC report accompanies the number, detailing the tests, the dog’s age during testing, and the results.

    The CHIC program adjusts its requirements based on evolving breed health concerns. Existing CHIC numbers aren’t affected if requirements change. This number is also displayed on AKC documents, including Certified Pedigrees, Registration Applications, and Registration Certificates. This record signifies to potential puppy parents and breed enthusiasts that recommended tests have been completed. Although the CHIC database only includes purebred dogs, you can look up a hybrid breed’s parent breeds for potential health considerations.

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  • Potential For Weight Gain

    Certain dog breeds have a predisposition towards hearty appetites. As a result, they may also be prone to weight gain, similar to humans. Just like in people, obesity in dogs can lead to various health issues. If you opt for a breed prone to packing on pounds, it’s essential to implement strategies to manage their weight effectively. This includes limiting treats, ensuring they receive sufficient exercise, and regulating their daily food intake by serving measured meals instead of leaving food accessible all day.

    Consulting with your veterinarian about your dog’s diet is crucial. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations tailored to your pet’s specific needs to help maintain a healthy weight. Weight gain not only poses direct health risks but can also exacerbate existing conditions such as arthritis, leading to further complications if left unchecked. Thus, proactive management of your dog’s weight is integral to their overall well-being and longevity.

    Ways to manage weight gain in dogs

    Big white dog sitting on the veterinarian scales while doctor inspects the dog and owner behind the dog.
    (Photo Credit: RossHelen | Getty Images)

    To help your dog manage weight gain, start by consulting with your veterinarian to develop a safe and effective weight loss plan tailored to your pet’s individual needs. This may involve adjusting their diet to a lower calorie option or a specialized weight management formula. It may also include measuring their food portions to control calorie intake, and reducing the frequency of treats. Additionally, increasing their physical activity through regular exercise is essential for burning calories and promoting weight loss.

    Identifying whether your dog is overweight involves assessing their body condition and observing for signs of excess weight. You can perform a simple visual and tactile evaluation by feeling their ribs and observing their waistline. In a healthy weight dog, you should be able to feel their ribs easily with a slight covering of fat. They should have a noticeable waist when viewed from above. If your dog is overweight, you may observe visible signs such as a lack of a defined waist, a rounded or bulging abdomen, difficulty moving or breathing, or reduced energy levels.

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  • Size

    Get ready to meet the giants of the doggy world! Large dog breeds aren’t just big balls of fluff, they’re like loving, oversized teddy bears on a mission to steal your heart. Need some convincing? Let’s dive into the awesome benefits of owning one!

    First things first, these pooches are a living security system! With their impressive size and thunderous barks, they’ll have any would-be intruder running for the hills. Talk about peace of mind! Plus, who needs an alarm when you’ve got a furry giant protecting your castle?

    But that’s not all. Large dog breeds are all about loyalty and devotion. They’ll stick by your side through thick and thin, becoming your most dedicated bestie. Their love knows no bounds! When you have a giant fluffball showing you unconditional love, you’ll feel like the luckiest human on the planet.

    Now, let’s talk about their talents. These big fellas are the ultimate working partners. With brains and brawn, they’re up for any challenge. From search and rescue missions to lending a helping paw to those in need, these dogs are superheroes in fur coats. They’ll make you proud every step of the way!

    Don’t let their size fool you—these gentle giants have hearts as big as their paws. They’re incredible with kids and other pets, spreading their love like confetti. Their patience and kindness make them perfect family pets, ensuring harmony in your household.

    Oh, and get ready to break a sweat! These dogs are fitness enthusiasts, and they’ll keep you on your toes. Daily walks, jogs, and play sessions will not only keep them happy and healthy but will also give you a reason to ditch the couch and join in on the fun. It’s a win-win situation!

    So, if you’re ready for a dose of big love, go ahead and consider a large dog breed. They’re the best wing-dog you could ever ask for, ready to make your life a thousand times more exciting, loving, and downright awesome! Get ready for the big adventure of a lifetime!

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Trainability

  • Easy To Train

    Easy-to-train dogs have an innate ability to quickly understand the relationships between prompts, actions, and rewards. For example, when told to “sit,” easy-to-train dogs quickly associate the command with the action of sitting, knowing that compliance results in a positive outcome, such as receiving a treat. This ability to learn quickly makes training easier and more enjoyable for both the dog and the owner. On the contrary, some dogs may need more time, patience, and consistent repetition to form these associations, emphasizing the importance of tailoring training methods to individual learning styles.

    It’s crucial to keep in mind that dogs that present challenges aren’t necessarily less intelligent; rather, they may exhibit a more independent nature shaped by their breeding history. Breeds like Livestock Guardian Dogs, for instance, developed an inherent independence due to their historical role in guarding flocks without constant human supervision. This independent spirit, while a unique and valuable trait, can pose challenges when it comes to imparting basic commands. Having been bred to think and act autonomously, they may require a bit more patience and understanding from their owners.

    Dog training guidelines

    Cute dog working on training. This dog gives his owner a paw in exchange for a treat.
    (Photo Credit: Kinga Krzeminska | Getty Images)

    Training is essential to keep your dog safe in various situations, whether it’s staying within the yard or maintaining control during emergencies. The mental exercise from training helps keep your dog sharp, burn off excess energy, and minimize undesirable behaviors. Consistency and patience are key; reward your dog when they get it right. As the adage says, you can always teach an old dog new tricks.

    No matter what you’re trying to teach your dog, from housetraining to “heel,” there are a few basic guidelines that can help make the process easier. Be sure to check out our feature on several of the most popular dog training methods. We also have articles on the basics of leash training for your pups. If you’ve got the basics covered and are looking for a few extra tricks, check out 10 Fun, Impressive Tricks You Can Teach Any Dog.

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    Dogs Who Are Challenging To Train

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  • Intelligence

    Dogs exhibit a remarkable spectrum of intelligence, encompassing a wide array of cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills. From the astute problem-solving abilities of breeds like Border Collies to the keen observational skills of German Shepherds, canine intelligence manifests in various forms. Some dogs excel in tasks requiring social intelligence, such as understanding human emotions and cues. Other may showcase exceptional learning capacity in their ability to master complex commands and tasks. Additionally, certain breeds demonstrate remarkable memory retention and the ability to adapt to new situations swiftly. However, it’s essential to recognize that intelligence in dogs is diverse and multifaceted. Intelligence is influenced not only by genetics, but also by individual experiences and environmental factors.

    Dogs bred for tasks requiring decision-making, intelligence, and focus, such as herding livestock, require mental stimulation akin to how dogs bred for endurance need physical exercise. Lacking such mental engagement, they may resort to activities like digging or chewing to occupy themselves. It’s worth noting that while intelligence is valued, it doesn’t always correlate with trainability, especially in breeds bred for independent thinking. Hello, Livestock Guardians! Incorporating obedience training, interactive toys, and engaging activities like dog sports or careers such as agility and search and rescue can provide the mental challenge these dogs crave.

    Mental stimulation for your dog

    A blue merle Border Collie, a highly intelligent dog breed, lying in the meadow.
    (Photo Credit: Anita Kot | Getty Images)

    Keeping your dog mentally stimulated is crucial for their well-being. One way to do this is through interactive play and toys. Treat-dispensing toys or puzzles that require problem-solving can keep your dog entertained and mentally engaged. Regularly rotating toys can also prevent boredom. Additionally, incorporating training sessions into your daily routine provides mental stimulation while strengthening your bond with your dog. Teaching new tricks or practicing obedience commands challenges their mind and keeps them sharp.

    Another way to stimulate your dog mentally is through enrichment activities. This includes activities that engage their senses, such as hide-and-seek games using treats or scent trails. Taking your dog on different walking routes or exploring new environments introduces novelty and mental stimulation. Additionally, providing opportunities for social interaction with other dogs through playdates or visits to dog parks can stimulate their minds through socialization. Regularly changing up their environment and offering new experiences helps prevent monotony and keeps your dog mentally sharp and happy.

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  • Potential For Mouthiness

    Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.

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  • Prey Drive

    Dogs with a high prey drive have an instinctive desire to stalk, capture, and prey upon potential food sources. Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase — and sometimes kill — other animals. Anything whizzing by — such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars — can trigger that instinct.

    How to address a high prey drive

    Off-leash adventures are too great a temptation for pups who will wander and hunt. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed. And, even on a leash, you may experience your dog pulling on the leash to reach rodents or birds in their sight. Otherwise, these pups should be kept in a fenced area when outdoors. If your pup has a high prey drive, you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard.

    These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

    Other behavioral concerns

    Observing your dog’s prey drive, which is instinctual and biologically-rooted, is not the same as observing aggression. Much aggression is born of fear and anxiety, especially in the case of dog aggression toward humans.

    The tendency to wander, even into oncoming traffic, can produce diasterious results for pups with predatory instincts. It can also lead to pups being bitten by snakes or attacked by other wild animals they may pursue while on the hunt.

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  • Tendency To Bark Or Howl

    Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes. Learn more about breeds with a tendency to bark or howl.

    If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby who may not be thrilled about the booming barks? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.

    Effective ways to deal with a vocal dog

    Portrait of Basset Hound, a breed with a tendency to bark or howl, standing on rock
    (Photo Credit: Mica Ringo | Getty Images)

    Training a dog with a tendency to bark or howl excessively requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques. Begin by identifying the triggers that prompt your dog to bark, whether it’s the doorbell, passing cars, or other animals. Once you understand the underlying causes, work on desensitizing your dog to these stimuli through gradual exposure and counterconditioning. For example, if your dog barks at the doorbell, practice ringing the bell repeatedly at a low volume while rewarding calm behavior with treats or praise. Gradually increase the intensity of the stimulus while continuing to reward quiet responses, reinforcing the idea that remaining quiet brings positive rewards.

    In addition to desensitization exercises, teach your dog an alternative behavior to replace barking, such as “quiet” or “speak.” Use these commands in training sessions to encourage your dog to bark on cue and then stop when prompted. Consistency is crucial, so ensure everyone in the household is on board with the training plan and reinforces the desired behavior consistently. Finally, provide mental and physical stimulation through regular exercise and interactive toys to help alleviate boredom and reduce the likelihood of excessive barking.

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  • Wanderlust Potential

    Dogs possess a natural inclination for exploration and adventure, often displaying wanderlust tendencies that stem from their ancestral instincts. With their keen sense of smell and curiosity, dogs are drawn to new scents, sights, and experiences. As a result, they may be inherently prone to wander off if given the opportunity. This wanderlust potential varies across breeds, with some exhibiting stronger instincts for exploration than others. Breeds such as the Siberian Husky, Beagle, and Australian Shepherd are known for their independent spirits and high energy levels. They may be more likely to wander off in search of excitement or stimulation. However, even breeds typically considered more docile may still succumb to wanderlust if not properly trained or supervised.

    Safety tips for dogs with wanderlust potential

    Close-up of Beagle, a breed prone to wanderlust, looking away while standing on field.
    (Photo Credit: IzaLysonArts / 500px | Getty Images)

    To mitigate the risk of dogs wandering away, responsible pet ownership involves implementing preventative measures and training techniques. Providing adequate physical and mental stimulation through regular exercise, interactive play, and enrichment activities can help satisfy a dog’s innate desire for exploration and reduce the likelihood of wandering behavior. Having a general awareness of the “escape artist” tendencies in certain breeds can help you in ensuring the safety of your pup. Additionally, training commands such as recall and leash manners are essential for establishing boundaries and ensuring that dogs remain under control when outdoors. Investing in secure fencing for outdoor spaces and using identification tags or microchips can also provide added security and peace of mind in case of accidental escapes.

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Exercise needs

  • High Energy Level

    Energetic dogs, bred for specific tasks such as retrieving for hunters or herding livestock, are always ready for action and have enough stamina to work a full day. Additionally, active dogs with high energy levels necessitate a significant amount of physical and mental activity. These dogs enjoy jumping, playing, and discovering new sights and smells. Owners of high-energy breeds must provide outlets for their dogs’ physical and mental needs to keep them healthy and happy.

    Low-energy dogs, on the other hand, are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to spend their days sleeping. When choosing a dog breed, you should consider your activity level and the energy level of your potential companion. Determine whether you would find certain dogs’ lively and energetic personalities invigorating or potentially overwhelming. Understanding a breed’s energy requirements is critical for ensuring a harmonious match between the dog’s needs and the owner’s preferences, resulting in a satisfying and balanced companionship.

    Exercise needs for your active dog

    Candid portrait of an Australian Shepherd, an active dog with a high energy level breed, on a run in the woods.
    (Photo Credit: VSFP | Getty Images)

    Exercise requirements for high-energy dogs can vary even within the same breed. It’s also important to note that age doesn’t exempt senior dogs from exercise; they simply require shorter walks compared to their younger years. For energetic dogs, a leashed stroll around the block won’t be enough. The goal is to ensure that your dog is sufficiently tired and content by the time the exercise session concludes.

    To meet the exercise needs of active breeds, it’s recommended to provide at least 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise most days. This applies not only to larger breeds but also to smaller ones. Some toy breeds are prone to obesity and may need more activity than one might assume. Safety is paramount, so during extreme weather conditions, it’s advisable to stay indoors and engage your dog’s mind through activities like trick training, interactive play with toys, or running up and down stairs together. A well-rounded exercise routine involves activities that challenge both mental and physical muscles, such as exploring new hiking trails. Check out our guide on the Top 10 Ways to Exercise With Your Dog.

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  • Intensity

    A dog with high intensity exudes boundless energy and enthusiasm in everything they do, whether it’s pulling on the leash, tackling obstacles with gusto, or devouring meals with voracious appetite. While their exuberance can be endearing, it also necessitates consistent training to instill good manners. However, not everyone will appreciate their high energy levels. Some high intensity dogs may not pair well to households with young children or individuals who are elderly or frail, as their exuberance could inadvertently pose a risk.

    In contrast, a low-intensity dog approaches life with a more relaxed and subdued demeanor. These dogs typically exhibit a calmer disposition, preferring leisurely strolls and gentle interactions over exuberant displays of energy. Their tranquil nature often makes them ideal companions for those seeking a more laid-back canine companion. This may be particularly true in homes where a quieter atmosphere is preferred.

    Exercise and training for high-intensity dogs

    Mix breed dog caught in the middle of a jump.
    (Photo Credit: shevvers | Getty Images)

    Training and exercise are crucial for dogs with high-intensity personalities to manage their energy effectively. Consistent training using positive reinforcement techniques helps instill good manners and impulse control. Engaging them in mentally stimulating activities, alongside regular physical exercise like agility or fetch, is essential to prevent boredom-driven behaviors and promote overall well-being. Variety in their exercise routine, such as exploring new trails or participating in dog sports, ensures both physical and mental stimulation for a balanced and fulfilling life.

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  • Exercise Needs

    Different dog breeds have varying exercise needs, and understanding these requirements is crucial for ensuring a happy and healthy canine companion. Some breeds are content with a leisurely evening stroll around the block, while others demand daily, vigorous exercise routines, particularly those originally bred for physically demanding tasks like herding or hunting. Without sufficient physical activity, these high-energy breeds may face issues such as weight gain and express their pent-up energy in undesirable behaviors like excessive barking, chewing, and digging.

    We often think of exercise only as a health issue, but it has significant day-to-day effects on a dog’s behavior as well. Dogs — particularly puppies and young dogs — have a lot of energy, and if they don’t get the chance to burn it off, destructive behavior is often the result. If you’re annoyed at your dog’s digging, have headaches from barking, and need to replace pillows shredded into expensive fluff, your dog is probably not getting enough exercise.

    How much exercise does my dog need?

    First person view of a Cavapoo dog playing with a a rubber ring toy
    (Photo Credit: Image by Chris Winsor | Getty Images)

    Generally speaking, a leashed walk around the block isn’t going to cut it. Most dogs need 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Your canine pal needs enough that they’re slowed down by the time you stop.

    Some general guidelines for getting your dog enough exercise:

    • Active breeds need a minimum of 30 minutes of hard aerobic exercise most days of the week, preferably daily.
    • Not all toy or small breeds get enough exercise inside the house, contrary to popular belief. Pugs, for example, are prone to obesity and need much more activity than they usually get.
    • It’s not safe to go out in extremely hot or cold weather. During such periods, stay inside and teach tricks to engage your dog’s mind, throw toys, or run up and down the stairs together.
    • Good exercise uses both mental and physical muscles. Exploring a new hiking trail, for example, engages your dog’s mind as well as their body.
    • Live by the philosophy that a tired dog is a good dog.

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  • Potential For Playfulness

    Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

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Labrador Retriever Overview

The warm and intelligent Labrador Retriever is America’s number one breed registered with the American Kennel Club. Even non-dog people can recognize a Lab, and artists and photographers have captured their image countless times–usually as the loyal companion, waiting patiently by their owner’s side. Built for sport, the Lab is muscular and athletic.

They have a short, easy-care coat, friendly demeanor, keen intelligence, and plenty of energy. Devotion to this breed runs deep; Labs are loving, people-oriented dogs who live to serve their families, and owners and fans sometimes liken their Labs to angels. The breed originated on the island of Newfoundland, off the northeastern Atlantic coast of Canada.

Originally called the St. John’s dog, after the capital city of Newfoundland, they were bred to help the local fishermen–hauling nets, fetching ropes, and retrieving fish that had escaped the nets–as well as to be a family dog. Today, most Labs skip the hard labor and spend their days being pampered and loved by their people. However, some Labs still serve as indispensable working dogs.

The Lab’s sweet nature makes them an excellent therapy dog, visiting homes for the elderly and hospitals, and their intelligence makes them an ideal assistance dog for those with disabilities. They also excel as a search and rescue dog or as a retriever for hunters, thanks to their athletic build, strong nose, and courageous nature.

And Labs have also become the breed to beat at dog sports such as agility and obedience competitions, especially obedience. There’s one dog job that Labs are hopeless at: watchdog. In fact, owners say their sweet, helpful Lab is likely to greet an intruder and happily show them where the goods are stashed. Labrador Retrievers have proven their usefulness and versatility throughout the breed’s history, easily shifting from fisherman’s companion, to field retriever, to show dog, to modern working dog. One role has remained constant: wonderful companion and friend.

Labrador Retriever Highlights

  • Friendly and outgoing. Labrador Retrievers are known for their friendly and outgoing personalities. They are good with people of all ages and other animals.
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  • Intelligent and trainable. Labrador Retrievers are intelligent dogs that are easy to train. They are often used as working dogs, such as guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, and therapy dogs.
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  • Active and playful. Labrador Retrievers are active dogs that need plenty of exercise. They enjoy playing fetch, swimming, and other activities.
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  • Loyal and devoted. Labrador Retrievers are loyal and devoted dogs that make great family pets. They are known for their gentle nature and love of children.
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  • Grooming needs are minimal. Labrador Retrievers have a short, thick coat that is easy to groom. They only need to be brushed a few times a week and bathed as needed.

If you are considering getting a Labrador Retriever, be sure to do your research to find a reputable breeder. Labrador Retrievers are wonderful dogs, but they require a lot of time and attention. They are not a good choice for people who are not active or who do not have a lot of time to spend with their pets.

Labrador Retriever History

Labrador Retrievers hail from the island of Newfoundland, off the northeastern Atlantic coast of Canada. Originally called St. John’s dogs, after the capital city of Newfoundland, Labs served as companions and helpers to the local fishermen beginning in the 1700s. The dogs spent their days working alongside their owners, retrieving fish who had escaped hooks and towing in lines, and then returned home to spend the evening with the fishermen’s family.

Although their heritage is unknown, many believe the St. John’s dog was interbred with the Newfoundland Dog and other small local water dogs. Outsiders noticed the dog’s usefulness and good disposition, and English sportsmen imported a few Labs to England to serve as retrievers for hunting. The second Earl of Malmesbury was one of the first, and had St. John’s dogs shipped to England sometime around 1830.

The third Earl of Malmesbury was the first person to refer to the dogs as Labradors. Amazingly, Labs–now America’s most popular dog–were almost extinct by the 1880s, and the Malmesbury family and other English fans are credited with saving the breed. In Newfoundland, the breed disappeared because of government restrictions and tax laws. Families were allowed to keep no more than one dog, and owning a female was highly taxed, so girl puppies were culled from litters.

In England, however, the breed survived, and the Kennel Club recognized the Labrador Retriever as a distinct breed in 1903. The American Kennel Club followed suit in 1917, and in the ’20s and ’30s, British Labs were imported to establish the breed in the U.S. The breed’s popularity really began to take off after World War II, and in 1991, the Labrador Retriever became the most popular dog registered with the American Kennel Club–and they’ve held that distinction ever since. They also top the list in Canada and England. Today, Labs work in drug and explosive detection, search and rescue, therapy, assistance to those with disabilities, and as retrievers for hunters. They also excel in all forms of dog competitions: show, field, agility, and obedience.

Labrador Retriever Size

Males stand 22.5 to 24.5 inches, and weigh 65 to 80 pounds. Females stand 21.5 to 23.5 inches, and weigh 55 to 70 pounds.

Labrador Retriever Personality

The Lab has the reputation of being one of the most sweet-natured breeds, and it’s well deserved. They’re outgoing, eager to please, and friendly with both people and other animals. Aside from a winning personality, they have the intelligence and eagerness to please that make them easy to train.

Training is definitely necessary because this breed has a lot of energy and exuberance. The working heritage of the Lab means they are active. This breed needs activity, both physical and mental, to keep them happy. There is some variation in the activity level of Labs: some are rowdy, others are more laid back. All thrive on activity.

Labrador Retriever Health

Labrador Retrievers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all Labs will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.

  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dyplasia is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs. It’s thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog’s elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem or medication to control the pain.
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD): This orthopedic condition, caused by improper growth of cartilage in the joints, usually occurs in the elbows, but it has been seen in the shoulders, as well. It causes a painful stiffening of the joint, to the point that the dog is unable to bend his elbow. It can be detected in dogs as early as four to nine months of age. Overfeeding of “growth formula” puppy foods or high-protein foods may contribute to its development.
  • Cataracts: As in humans, canine cataracts are characterized by cloudy spots on the eye lens that can grow over time. They may develop at any age, and often don’t impair vision, although some cases cause severe vision loss. Breeding dogs should be examined by a board-certified veterinary ophthamologist to be certified as free of hereditary eye disease before they’re bred. Cataracts can usually be surgically removed with good results.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, dogs become night-blind. As the disease progresses, they lose their daytime vision, as well. Many dogs adapt to limited or complete vision loss very well, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
  • Epilepsy: Labs can suffer from epilepsy, which causes mild or severe seizures. Seizures may be exhibited by unusual behavior, such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. It’s important to remember that seizures can be caused by many other things than idiopathic epilepsy, such as metabolic disorders, infectious diseases that affect the brain, tumors, exposure to poisons, severe head injuries, and more. Therefore, if your Lab has seizures, it’s important to take them to the vet right away for a checkup.
  • Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD): TVD is a congenital heart defect that has been increasing in prevalence in the Labrador breed. Puppies are born with TVD, which is a malformation of the tricuspid valve on the right side of the heart. It can be mild or severe; some dogs live with no symptoms, others die. TVD is detected by ultrasound. Research is ongoing to learn how widespread it is in the breed, as well as treatment.
  • Myopathy: Myopathy affects the muscles and nervous system. The first signs are seen early, as young as six weeks and often by seven months of age. A puppy with myopathy is tired, stiff when he walks and trots. He may collapse after exercise. In time, the muscles atrophy and the dog can barely stand or walk. There is no treatment, but rest and keeping the dog warm seems to reduce symptoms. Dogs with myopathy should not be bred because it is considered a heritable disease.
  • Gastric Dilataion-Volvulus: Commonly called bloat, this is a life-threatening condition that affects large, deep-chested dogs like Labs, especially if they’re fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, or drink large amounts of water or exercise vigorously after eating. Bloat occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists. The dog is unable to belch or vomit to rid themselves of the excess air in their stomach, and blood flow to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen, is drooling excessively, and retching without throwing up. Theyalso may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak with a rapid heart rate. If you notice these symptoms, get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
  • Acute Moist Dermatitis: Acute moist dermatitis is a skin condition in which the skin red and inflamed. It is caused by a bacterial infection. The more common name of this health concern is hot spots. Treatment includes clipping the hair, bathing in medicated shampoo, and antibiotics.
  • Cold Tail: Cold tail is a benign, though painful condition common to Labs and other retrievers. Also caused limber tail, it caused the dog’s tail to go limp. The dog may bite at the tail. It isn’t cause for alarm, and usually goes away on its own in a few days. It is thought to be a problem with the muscles between the vertebrae in the tail.
  • Ear Infections: The Lab’s love of water, combined with their drop ear make them prone to ear infections. Weekly checking and cleaning if necessary helps prevent infection.

Labrador Retriever Care

The lovable Lab needs to be around their family, and is definitely not a backyard dog. If they’re left alone for too long, they’ll probably tarnish their saintly reputation: A lonely, bored Lab is apt to dig, chew, or find other destructive outlets for their energy. Labs show some variation in their activity levels, but all of them need activity, both physical and mental. Daily 30-minute walks, a romp at the dog park, or a game of fetch, are a few ways to help your Lab burn off energy. However, a puppy should not be taken for too long walks and should play for a few minutes at a time. Labrador Retrievers are considered “workaholics,” and will exhaust themselves. It is up to you to end play and training sessions. Labs have such good reputations that some owners think they don’t need training. That’s a big mistake. Without training, a rambunctious Lab puppy will soon grow to be a very large, rowdy dog. Luckily, Labs take to training well; in fact, they often excel in obedience competitions. Start with puppy kindergarten, which not only teaches your pup good canine manners, but helps them learn how to be comfortable around other dogs and people. Look for a class that uses positive training methods that reward the dog for getting it right, rather than punishing them for getting it wrong. You’ll need to take special care if you’re raising a Lab puppy. Don’t let your Lab puppy run and play on very hard surfaces such as pavement until they’re at least two years old and their joints are fully formed. Normal play on grass is fine, as is puppy agility, with its one-inch jumps. Like all retrievers, the Lab is mouthy, and they’re happiest when they have something, anything, to carry in their mouth. They’re also a chewer, so be sure to keep sturdy toys available all the time–unless you want your couch chewed up. And when you leave the house, it’s wise to keep your Lab in a crate or kennel so they can’t get themselves into trouble chewing things they shouldn’t.

Labrador Retriever Feeding

Recommended daily amount: 2.5 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on their size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference–the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.

Keep your Lab in good shape by measuring their food and feeding them twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you’re unsure whether they’re overweight, give them the eye test and the hands-on test.

First, look down at them. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on their back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see their ribs without having to press hard. If you can’t, they need less food and more exercise.

You’ll need to take special care if you’re raising a Lab puppy. These dogs grow very rapidly between the age of four and seven months, making them susceptible to bone disorders. Feed your puppy a high-quality, low-calorie diet that keeps them from growing too fast.

For more on feeding your Lab, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

Labrador Retriever Coat Color And Grooming

The sleek and easy-care Lab coat has two layers: a short, thick, straight topcoat, and a soft, weather-resistant undercoat. The two-layer coat protects them from the cold and wet, which helps them in their role as a retriever for hunters. The coat comes in three colors: chocolate, black, and yellow. Black was the favorite color among early breeders, but over the years, yellow and chocolate Labs have become popular.

Some breeders have recently begun selling “rare” colored Labrador Retrievers, such as polar white or fox red. These shades aren’t really rare–they’re a variation of the yellow Lab. Grooming doesn’t get much easier than with a Lab, but the breed does shed — a lot. Buy a quality vacuum cleaner and brush your dog daily, especially when they’re shedding, to get out the loose hair. Labs need a bath about every two months or so to keep them looking clean and smelling good.

Of course, if your Lab rolls in a mud puddle or something foul, which they’re apt to do, it’s fine to bathe them more often. Brush your Lab’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Trim nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the feet in good condition and prevent your legs from getting scratched when your Lab enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.

Their ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog’s ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don’t insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear. Because ear infections are common in Labs, also clean out the ears after bathing, swimming, or any time your dog gets wet.

This helps prevent infection. Begin accustoming your Lab to being brushed and examined when they’re a puppy. Handle their paws frequently–dogs are touchy about their feet–and look inside their mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when they’re an adult. As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

Labrador Retriever Children And Other Pets

The Labrador Retriever not only loves kids, they enjoy the commotion they bring with them. They’ll happily attend a child’s birthday party, and even willingly wear a party hat. Like all dogs, however, they need to be trained how to act around kids–and kids need to be taught how to act around the dog.

As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party.

Teach your child never to approach any dog while they’re eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child. If a Lab has had plenty of exposure to other dogs, cats, and small animals, and has been trained how to interact with them, they’ll be friendly with other pets, too.

Labrador Retriever Rescue Groups

Labs are often acquired without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Labs in need of adoption and or fostering in lab rescue groups. If you don’t see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Lab rescue.

Labrador Retriever Breed Organizations

Finding a reputable dog breeder is one of the most important decisions you will make when bringing a new dog into your life. Reputable breeders are committed to breeding healthy, well-socialized puppies that will make great companions. They will screen their breeding stock for health problems, socialize their puppies from a young age, and provide you with lifetime support.

On the other hand, backyard breeders are more interested in making a profit than in producing healthy, well-adjusted dogs. They may not screen their breeding stock for health problems, and they may not socialize their puppies properly. As a result, puppies from backyard breeders are more likely to have both health and behavioral issues.

Statistics

Dog Breed Group
Sporting Dogs
Height
21 to 24 inches at the shoulder
Weight
55 to 80 pounds
Life Span
10 to 12 years

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