Labrador dogs are large, strongly built dogs with good bone and substance. Their heads are broad with soft, intelligent eyes. Their tails are totally unique being otter-like. The short, dense coat comes in solid black, yellow and chocolate/liver. Adult dogs measure 56-57cm and weigh about 30kg and adult females are 55-56cm and weigh about 28kg.
- Category size: Large
- Grooming requirements: Once a week
- Shedding: Moderate
- Allergies: No
- Noise: Not too noisy
- Dog Group Kennel Club: Gundog
- Alone: 1 to 3 hours
- Other pets: High
- Stability as a guard: Low
The Labrador Retreiver breed originated not in Labrador, but on the coast of Newfoundland in the 17th century. They were trained to bring in the fishing-nets through the icy waters for the fishermen and, in the early 19th century, were brought to Poole Harbour in Great Britain. They were so attractive that the fishermen had umpteen offers from Englishmen to buy them. The breed was instantly successful as a gundog. The Earl of Malmesbury was fascinated by these dogs, known at that time as Saint John's breed, and he started breeding them, calling them Labrador dogs (or 'Labs').
The Labrador breed is definitely in the top three when it comes to choosing a family pet - as long as you enjoy exercise! They are friendly, good-natured dogs who are affectionate with everyone. They are adaptable social dogs who can bond well with other animals and children, being patient and forgiving but this should never be abused. They are extremely loyal and love to be included in all aspects of family life. Labradors will bark to draw your attention to strangers but will welcome them with open arms.
As with many breeds, Labrador dogs can suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, and hip and elbow dysplasia (joint conditions that can be painful and lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
Labradors will adapt quite readily to the amount of time you can allocate for their exercise but do remember they should be given quite a reasonable amount – a couple of hours a day being ideal for a healthy adult. They love fairly long walks with a chance to run and play off the lead. They adore retrieving and water, so do take care when near the latter to ensure their safety. They are prone to weight gain but this is often due to a lack of exercise as well as a love of food.
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. The Labrador is prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.
Labrador dog coats are easy to maintain. The coat is thick and dense with a weather-resistant undercoat and is easy to maintain with a brush through once a week, and more regular attention when moulting.
Is this the right dog breed for you?
All dogs have their own, unique personality, but some instincts and behaviours they’re born with. Try our breed selector and find out which dog breeds better match your preferences and lifestyle. If you and your dog enjoy similar things, you will be more likely to live a happy, fulfilling life together.
What to Consider next
It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption.
Finding a good breeder
If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed.
Welcoming your dog home
Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival. Click here for more information