The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular and loved dog breeds today, and for good reason. They are easy to train, people-friendly, and a bundle of joy and energy. When a nonprofessional talks about a quintessential family dog, the first breed that comes to mind is the Labrador Retriever.
Despite what its name may suggest, the Labrador Retriever has its roots in Newfoundland, where the breed was first reared in the 1800s. During this time, fishermen crossbred the Greater Newfoundland to get a smaller dog that could get into the water and retrieve fishing nets. The resultant ‘strain’ was the St. John’s Water Dog, which was also called the Lesser Newfoundland back then. The breed made its way to England, where it gradually rose to prominence in the 19th century. The name ‘Labrador’ was given in England to distinguish the dog from the Newfoundland breed.
The Labrador Retriever was bred for the water, so many of its characteristics are suited for the water as well. This breed has webbed paws and a thick tail, making it a powerful and agile swimmer. These dogs also have a short fur coat with a thin coat of oil, both of which help them get dry quickly and keep their bodies warm even after hours of staying in the water. The layer coat also helps them float in the water.
The Labrador Retriever is quite a large breed. Males can weigh up to 64-90 lbs., while females tend to weigh anywhere between 55-71 lbs. when they are fully grown. In temperate climates, Labrador Retrievers tend to shed regularly throughout the whole year, while they shed twice a year when they are reared or raised in other climates. It should be noted that the specific shedding rate of each dog varies.
Black Labrador Retrievers are the most common sub-set of this breed, followed by the Yellow Labrador and Chocolate Labrador, respectively. The height of adult Labrador Retriever can range from 22.5 to 23.5 inches.
A Labrador Retriever is a very energetic dog that loves to sprint and, of course, swim. However, this abundance of energy can translate to quite a few soft bites when the Labrador is still a puppy. These dogs need to be trained when young to avoid mild destructive behavior by way of biting, as well as aggression.
Common Health Problems
The high activity level of a Labrador means that it is susceptible to dysplasia of the hips and eyes (retinal dysplasia), along with other joint problems.
Labradors are also prone to ‘sleepers’ in their eyes when they wake up. Sleepers are a crusty discharge caused by the eye’s natural cleaning mechanism. This is a perfectly normal condition, but sleepers that persist for several days can indicate eye infection.
Other common health conditions associated with Labradors include osteochondritis dissecans, or OCD, exercise-induced collapse, muscular dystrophy, entropion, diabetes, and distichiasis. Regular checkups of the dog’s eyes, hips, and knees can help prevent and treat most of its problems.
Life Expectancy and Living Environment
The life expectancy of a Labrador is anywhere between 12-14 years. They are comfortable in large houses and can live without any health issues in cold climates too. In fact, they thrive well in most environments so long as they get lots of exercise and attention.
Labrador Retrievers are one of the most versatile dog breeds. Their loyalty, energy, and good looks make them great hunting dogs, show dogs, rescue dogs, sniffer dogs, service dogs, and family companions. They are perfect for homes with pre-teen and teen children, but they can be a tad rowdy around toddlers when they are young.