The Labrador Retriever was bred to be both a friendly companion and a useful working dog breed. Historically, he earned his keep as a fisherman’s helper: hauling nets, fetching ropes, and retrieving fish from the chilly North Atlantic. Today’s Labrador Retriever is as good-natured and hard working as his ancestors, and he’s America’s most popular breed. These days the Lab works as a retriever for hunters, assistance dog to the handicapped, show competitor, and search and rescue dog, among other canine jobs.
Dog Breed Group:Sporting Dogs
Height:1 foot, 9 inches to 2 feet tall at the shoulder
Weight:55 to 80 pounds
Life Span:10 to 12 years
- Labrador Retrievers love, love, love to eat, and become obese very quickly if overfed. Limit treats, give your Lab plenty of exercise, and measure out regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time. And be warned that the Lab’s large appetite extends to people food and even inedible items. Labradors will forage in garbage, counter surf, and can make a meal out of chewed-up items like children’s toys.
- Labrador Retrievers were bred for physically demanding jobs, and they have the high energy that goes along with being a working breed. They need at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. Without it, they can vent their pent-up energy in destructive ways, such as barking and chewing.
- Labs have such a good reputation that many people think they don’t need to bother with training. But Labs are large, energetic animals, and like all dogs, they need to be taught good canine manners. Sign up for puppy and obedience classes as soon as you bring your Lab home.
- Many people think of Labs as a hyperactive breed. Lab puppies are definitely lively, but most will slow down a bit as they grow up. However, they usually remain fairly active throughout their lives.
- Labrador Retrievers are not known to be escape artists, but with the right motivation — such as a whiff of something yummy — a Lab will take off. Make sure your Lab has current identification tags and a microchip.
- The Lab is America’s number one dog, which means there are plenty of people breeding Labs who are more interested in filling the demand for Lab puppies than in breeding healthy dogs with good temperaments. To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
- If you’re looking for a puppy, you’ll find that Labs vary depending on what breeder you choose. Some Labs are bred for competitions testing their skill as working dogs, and others are bred to get as close as possible to the ideal look, movement, and temperament of the breed. You’ll also find breeders who aim for both looks and utility. Labs bred for the show ring tend to be slightly heavier and more solidly built than those intended for canine careers.