The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds and it's easy to see why. This lovable breed is renowned for its steady outgoing character and friendly disposition. The Labrador Retriever is believed to have derived from the Newfoundland, bred to help fishermen with everyday tasks such as pulling nets and retrieving fish. The Labrador Retriever is now classed as a gun dog due to its soft mouth and instinct to retrieve.
The Labrador Retriever is a medium-sized breed, with height normally ranging between 21 and 25 inches; bitches are usually slightly smaller than dogs. Weight is generally about 55 – 80lbs and life expectancy is about 12 years.
The Labrador Retriever has a sturdy physique, with a broad head, brown or hazel eyes, and strong jaws. It has a wide barrel chest with strong straight legs, giving it the ability to move energetically and vigorously. The Labrador Retriever also has a very distinctive tail, often referred to as an "otter tail"; it loves the water and is a strong swimmer, using the tail as a rudder.
The coat is wonderfully designed for this water-loving breed. It has a long outer layer and a short waterproof under-layer to keep the dog dry when swimming. The dog will benefit from daily brushing and occasional baths, but special grooming is not required. There are three main colours associated with this breed: black, yellow and chocolate.
The Labrador Retriever has flapped ears, which can make it vulnerable to ear infections, especially as it likes to spend time in the water.
The Labrador Retriever has an excellent temperament. It is highly intelligent and easy to train, making it prized as an assistance dog. Labrador Retrievers can be found working as guide dogs, disability assistance dogs, and in law enforcement. This, combined with its highly developed sense of smell, also makes it ideal for jobs such as narcotics and search and rescue roles.
The Labrador Retrievers is very friendly. It is deeply loyal and loves to please, but as working breed it is very energetic, needing at least 60 minutes exercise daily, and stimulation such as toys and games. If it is not well occupied, both physically and mentally, it may develop poor habits such as chewing.
Health and welfare
Labrador retrievers generally have a very healthy appetite. However, lack of adequate exercise and over-feeding can lead to obesity, which could then lead to other health problems, so owners must ensure the diet is properly monitored to ensure the dog stays healthy.
There are several inherited conditions associated with the Labrador Retriever. The Labrador Retriever is prone to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. In hip dysplasia, the thighbone does not locate correctly in the hip socket, which can be painful and cause lameness. Elbow dysplasia is a condition in which the three bones making up the elbow joint grow at different rates, again causing pain and lameness.
Cold Tail is a condition in which the dog loses sensation in its tail, generally for a short period of time, after which it recovers. The Labrador Retriever is also vulnerable to several eye conditions, including cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy, so regular eye check are recommended. Epilepsy is also not uncommon in Labrador Retrievers.
As the ears are susceptible to infection, regular cleaning should be part of the daily care routine, and this should also be done after the dog has been in water.
With a wonderful temperament and friendly nature, the Labrador Retriever makes a superb working dog or family pet.