Labrador Retrievers, also known as Labradors or Labs for short, are a medium to large dog breed found in homes across the world. They are either black, yellow, and chocolate. However, breeders have produced silver Labs or fox red Labs, which have generated great debate. Regardless, the Labrador Retriever has been rated as the most popular dog for 28 years in a row.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) categorizes this breed in the sporting category due to its impressive athleticism and desire to work. Their agility and endurance has made them an excellent companion for those who hunt, fish, or engage in outdoor activities. Also, they are highly intelligent and trainable which is why they are used as police dogs and as service dogs. They are calm and patient, making them an excellent family companion. Below, we share more on Labrador Retrievers.
Labrador Retriever Statistics
|Dog Breed Group||Sporting|
|Height||Both male and female Labs range from 22 to 22 inches in height.|
|Weight||Females range from 55-71 pounds and Males range 64-80 pounds, on average.|
|Lifespan||Labrador Retrievers live about 12-14 years.|
Labrador Retriever Ratings
|Friendly with family|
|Friendly with kids|
|Friendly with strangers|
|Friendly with other dogs|
History Of Labrador Retrievers
The Labrador Retriever originates in Newfoundland and dates all the way back to the 1500s. Breeders bred small water dogs with Newfoundlands to create a new breed called St. John’s Water-Dog. They were also referred to as Lesser Newfoundlands. Fishermen used this breed to jump into icy water to bring back fish that had fallen off the hook. The St. John’s Water Dog would also pull in nets that were full of fish. These types of work suited this breed well as their oily fur repelled water and they had webbed paws, making them excellent swimmers.
The St. John’s Water Dog lived exclusively in Newfoundland until the 1800s. At this time, they were imported to Poole, England where the Earl and Duke of Malmesbury began using them for hunting. They bred them and labeled them as “Labrador Dogs”. By 1903, the English Kennel Club recognized them as a breed.
As Labradors gained popularity, many hunters and farmers from the United States used Labs in their daily life. By 1917, the American Kennel Club recognized this breed. Currently, Labs are popular family dogs, known for their affectionate and intelligent nature.
Labrador Retriever Temperament
One reason that the Labrador Retriever is so popular as a family dog is due to its temperament. They are generally very calm and are excellent with children and other pets. Depending on the breeding line, some Labs are bred for their performance in the field. This lineage usually produces Labradors that are more athletic and active. They will require strict training to ensure an obedient and mannerly pup.
There are two lineages within this breed. One is the English line and the other is the American line. The English line tends to be calmer in nature and they are shorter and stockier in appearance. Their counterpart, the American Lab, is usually taller and has a longer face and a lighter frame. However, the AKC does not make a distinction between the two although there are two breeding lines. Females, in general, are more independent than males whether they are American or English.
Labs are very intelligent and are easy to train. This is why they are commonly used as service dogs for those with disabilities. They are also used by the police force since they have excellent hunting, tracking and detection skills. They are extremely curious and need to have constant physical and mental stimulation. A bored Labrador can lead to destructive behavior or even escape from the yard in search of something interesting to do.
These dogs are protective and will use an “alarm bark” when necessary. Otherwise, they are generally quiet in nature. However, although they do have a calm demeanor, they do require extensive exercise. They were bred as a working dog and require a high level of activity. Therefore, if you are thinking about incorporating a Lab into your life, be sure that you can meet their mental and exercise needs. Labs enjoy swimming, hiking, and will retrieve a ball obsessively. In fact, Labrador retrievers are exceptionally fast and are known for their impressive sprinting abilities. They can reach 12 miles an hour in just three seconds.
Labrador Retriever Care Requirements
- Nutrition: You can greatly contribute to your dog’s health by feeding them an appropriate diet. Of course, their nutrition needs depend on their age and possibly, specific factors to your dog. For example, a Lab that has allergies may require a diet that has yogurt or fatty fish. A diabetic Lab will require a specialized diet. In general, Labs, like most dogs, require a high protein diet. Their food should contain fats/fatty acids, carbs, proteins/amino acids, minerals and vitamins. Of course, they should always have access to clean water. A young Lab will need about 1500 and 1875 calories per day and an older Labrador will need significantly less.
- Grooming: They say that Labs only shed twice a year. Once in the fall for 6 months and once in the spring, for 6 months. So, basically, yes, Labs shed…A LOT. You will need a shedding brush to loosen the dead hair. Also, be sure to invest in an excellent dog shampoo. Since Labs like to be outdoors, they can get rather dirty. Some will need to bathe their Lab more often than others. It is important to choose a shampoo that meets your pup’s needs. Some Labs are prone to allergies and itching. Therefore, be sure to find one that works for your particular situation.
- Exercise: As a general rule of thumb, a healthy adult Lab will need 1 hour of exercise every day. Labradors that are more relaxed in personality will need about 45 minutes per day. Those that are more energetic will need 1.5 hours or more. Exercise activities include swimming, running, or fetching the ball. The point is that these dogs are true athletes and a gentle stroll will not, in general, meet their physical requirements. They will require more rigorous exercise.
- Health: Obesity is a common health problem for Labrador Retrievers. Studies show that Labs are missing all or parts of the POMC gene, leading to an overactive appetite and weight gain. This gene plays a role in the regulation of appetite. Hip and elbow dysplasia is also a common health issue. Be sure to find a breeder that performs hip scoring. Joint supplements are also recommended. Other inherited health issues include eye problems such as cataracts, retinal degeneration, knee problems such as a luxating patella, and hereditary myopathy.
- Lifespan: Labs tend to have a lifespan of 12 years. Of course, their lifespan depends on a few factors including genetics, diet, and exercise.
Famous Labrador Retrievers
- King Buck: The first Lab to be featured on the U.S. postage stamp in 1959.
- Ubu: Ubu is the mascot seen in the credits of many TV programs. It shows an image of a dog, while a voice says “Sit Ubu, sit.”
- Luath: Luath was the Lab in the movie Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.
- Dorado: This yellow Lab stayed with his owner during 911. The owner tried to get him to safety various times but he refused to leave his side.
- Saddie: Saddie was a black Lab that saved over 100 lives of soldiers in Afghanistan.
- Marley: Marley is famous for the book (“Marley And Me” by John Grogan) and hit movie.
- Buddy And Seamus: Buddy and Seamus were two Labrador Retrievers owner by former President Bill Clinton.
- Spike: Spike is known for his roles in Old Yeller (movie), the TV series Lassie, Chuka, and Skipper. He also appeared in the Mickey Mouse Club.
Check Out Other Sporting Dog Breeds:
American Water Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel, Brittany, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Clumber Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Curly-Coated Retriever, English Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, Irish Red and White Setter, Irish Setter, Irish Water Spaniel, Kooikerhondje, Lagotti Romagnoli, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Pointer, Spinoni Italiani, Sussex Spaniel, Vizsla, Weimaraner, Welsh Springer Spaniel, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Wirehaired Vizslas