The Labrador Retriever dog breed is everybody’s favorite, occupying the top slots in popularity for the last two decades as per the American Kennel Club records. These playful, easy going dogs are responsive to training, and adapt readily to a wide range of situations and people, making them one of the first breeds to consider when planning to adopt a dog. They are not aggressive, and too friendly with everyone to be effective as a guard dog, but they do announce anything unusual around them by barking.
The Labrador retriever dog breed originated in Newfoundland from the now extinct St. John’s Dog, probably with some crossbreeding with other water dogs such as the Newfoundland dog breed. These dogs are known to be around as fishermen’s companions since the beginning of the 18th century, but probably they originated earlier.
Being equally at home in water as on land, they were a great help to fishermen in retrieving fish from the icy waters. The amiable nature and good disposition of these dogs endeared them to the whole family, and accepted them as members of the household.
The dog attracted the attention of some English sportsmen who found them excellent for retrieving game. They were imported to England in 1830 by the second Earl of Malmesbury and were given the name Labrador by his successor. However, towards the end of the 19th century, the breed had almost become extinct in its homeland mainly due to certain laws and taxes that restricted their ownership. But they became popular in England and in the United States in the early 20th century. With the AKC recognizing the breed in 1917, more of them were imported from England, and they just took off from there after the World War II.
The Labrador Retriever dog breed is medium-large to large in size, measuring 22 to 25 inches at the withers, and weighing anything between 65 and 85 pounds. Some dogs may weigh 100 pounds, depending on whether they come from the field type or show type. The working dogs are generally taller, leaner, and more muscular.
Labrador Retrievers come in two color ranges, the lighter ones in shades of cream, and the darker ones in chocolate shades, and also in solid black.
These playful and affectionate dogs with kind eyes make wonderful family pets. They are particularly great with children, tolerating a great deal of ear pulling and rough play with good grace. They generally remain calm at home with occasional spurts of energy, but out in the open, they love to play boisterous games with their family members. They are loyal to their owners and strive hard to please them.
These dogs have a long puppyhood lasting up to 3 years during which time they display boundless energy and activity. However, they tend to tone down later and even become downright lazy, especially when pampered with plenty of food. These dogs have to be kept on their toes with engaging activities and games to stay at their best.
Extremely amenable to training, they love to learn and perform tricks. These dogs are often trained as therapy and assistance dogs and for other roles such as search and rescue and narcotics detection.
Grooming and exercise
The short coat of Labrador Retriever dog breed requires minimal grooming. A thorough brushing once or twice a week will help dislodge dead hair from the dense coat. They shed moderately round the year, but more profusely during the shedding seasons.
Labrador Retrievers should have plenty of games, particularly those involving retrieving, in addition to the daily quota of walking and other routine exercises. They love to be in water, and frequent opportunities to swim, either in a swimming pool or at the beach, would keep them happy.
These dogs can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, and are capable of living outdoors day and night, except in extreme weather. However, when reared as pets, these highly people-oriented dogs deserve to spend the evenings and nights indoors in the company of their human family.
Common health issues of Labrador Retriever dog breed
The Labradors dog breed is affected by many of the musculoskeletal disorders found in larger breeds of dogs. They include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation and OCD (Osteochondritis dissecans). Some dogs may have muscular dystrophy and heart problems like tricuspid valve dysplasia. Eye disorders such as corneal dystrophy, retinal dysplasia, retinal atrophy, distichiasis, and cataracts are common in this breed. Regular health checkups may help diagnose and treat potential problems early. These dogs are also prone to obesity, and this may invite metabolic disorders like diabetes and exacerbate skeletal problems. Life expectancy is around 10 to 12 years.