The Labrador retriever is a very lovable affectionate dog; it has a short coat in colors which can be chocolate, solid black and a creamy yellow with the coat being doubled layered and easy to take care of.
The Labrador as a pet
The Labrador is a lively and good tempered dog who has a very playful nature and loves to play especially in water as they are excellent swimmers. Labradors are very easy to train as they are very willing to learn and always eager to please their master, training should begin at an early age especially for obedience as the dog when fully grown has a powerful neck which could become a problem should your pet decide to take you for a walk instead of you taking it.
However they do have a very reliable temperament overall and make an excellent pet for the family with children. The Labrador makes a great companion dog but needs to be surrounded by family otherwise they can become destructive; they also need plenty of exercise.
Caring for your Labrador retriever
Due to its smooth, short hair the Labrador is very easy to groom, a short haired bristle brush is recommended for the double coat, which you should comb and brush on a regular basis. You do however need to pay particular attention to the undercoat of the dog; you should only fully bathe your Labrador when it is absolutely necessary or use a dry shampoo.
Like other retrievers the breed is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia as well as eye disorders so it is wise to buy your puppy from a reputable breeder who specializes in the breed. The average lifespan of the Labrador is around 10 to 12 years and the dog when fully grown reaches a height of around 24″ while the bitch will reach around 23″, the bitch will weight approximately 60lbs and the dog can reach 75lb with some dogs growing up to 100lb or more.
The dog has a solidly built body which is muscular so early obedience training is a must, luckily due to the dogs temperament and intelligence they are easier to train than most breeds.
The Labrador can be more dominant and independent than other retriever breeds and it does make a good watch dog particularly being protective of family and should be taught to socialize with other people when they are young puppies; however they are not generally classed as guard dogs.
Dogs which are bred for show will generally be more easier going than are those bred for the field with field lines being very energetic and sometimes they can be highly strung.
Buying a Labrador retriever tips
There are several points to consider before you go making a rush decision when you are thinking of purchasing a Labrador retriever, one of the first decisions is are you buying the puppy as a pet, for show or as a working dog for hunting? If you only want the dog as a companion then you won’t be as limited but should still consider where you buy your puppy from.
If you want a puppy for showing in the future then you will have to take into account that it will have to meet certain standards which are laid out for the breed. If buying for show the puppy will usually cost more than one bought as a pet, if you are buying for sport such as hunting then its parents credentials will be essential too as they will pass traits onto to the puppy.
The gun dog
If you are going to be training or have your dog trained for use in hunting then you should make sure you get proof of the puppy’s background. You should ask to see the field records of the puppy’s parents and grandparents as these skills are what your puppy will have inherited.
The show dog
If you are thinking of showing the dog when it is old enough then you will need to make sure that the puppy has all the correct papers and registration documents that are needed for entering into a show. Another factor you will have to take into account is, do the puppy’s parents have credentials in showing, you should never take the breeders word for it, a reputable show breeder will have certificates and cups to back up what they say.
A reputable breeder will also point out which puppy he/she thinks will have what it takes to do well in shows though of course there is no guarantee of them winning. A show puppy will generally cost more than a puppy that while still being a wonderful pet won’t have what it takes for winning in shows, so this should be taken into account.
The family pet
If you want nothing more than a reliable companion then your choices are more open, you won’t have to rely on the puppies color being perfect or if it doesn’t quite meet the standards of a show dog. However you should still buy from a reputable breeder and ask plenty of questions about the puppy’s parents and the temperament of the puppy.
You should also get the relevant papers for the breed as most breeders of pedigree dogs will have the dogs registered whether they are for show or not. You will of course want to check that the puppy’s parents have been tested for hip dysplasia as this is a common problem in Labrador retrievers and one which is hereditary.
Do Labradors shed?
The Labrador retriever does shed and they have a double coat, the undercoat is soft and downy with the outer coat being a harsher coat and what is called the guard coat. The Labrador would usually shed their coat twice a year though they are only moderate shedders; they don’t shed as much as certain other breeds, for example the German Shepard. Although they shed twice a year they will shed throughout the year a little especially if you live in a hot climate.
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How much should I groom the Labrador?
To help keep them clean and healthy the Labrador should be groomed once per week, this will also help to keep shedding to a minimum, you should also keep a regular check on their toenails and have them clipped or clip them yourself with clippers bought from your vets or pet store. A bath including shampoo should only be done when absolutely necessary as this can take away the oils from the coat.
Are Labradors hyper active?
Hyperactivity isn’t particularly a trait with the breed however just like humans dogs are different and you can occasionally come across a Labrador that is hyper active. A puppy will always have plenty of energy to spare as it’s growing up but then all puppies do and this is only a normal thing, if a puppy wasn’t energetic then there would be something seriously wrong. By about the age of 18 months however this usually starts to phase out as the puppy matures into a full grown dog.
What are Labradors like with children?
Labradors overall are excellent with children and they make a very good family pet, however you should never leave a young child alone with any animal no matter how well behaved the animal is. Overall the Labrador is one of the best breeds to have around children as they are usually very gentle and well-tempered.
Do Labradors make good guard dogs?
Some Labradors make excellent guard dogs and most will be protective of family with strangers, though the Labrador isn’t specifically bred as a guard dog and they are sensitive, gentle dogs overall. If your main purpose for getting a dog is for a guard dog then you would probably be better off with another breed such as the German Shepard or Rottweiler.
What kind of work are Labradors suitable for?
Labradors make excellent hunting and field dogs as well as the perfect pet, they are also the number one choice for guide dogs for the blind and they are often used in therapy due to their gentle and sensitive nature. They also work as excellent bomb, narcotic and arson dogs as their sense of smell and disposition make them very reliable in this field.
Labrador retriever history
The Labrador retriever wasn’t recognized by the British kennel club until 1903 and didn’t make its debut in the United States until 1917, they were originally called the lesser Newfoundland dog or St Johns dog and it was under this name that they were first brought to England in the early 1800`s.
It was a man by the name of the Earl of Malmesbury that first gave them the name Labrador retriever when he wrote letters and referred to them as his Labradors.
English fisherman began to settle in Newfoundland in the early 1500`s with their dogs the st johns dogs being used to help in fishing, the dogs would retrieve the fish caught in the nets. The st Johns dog seemed to love working and would retrieve fish in all weathers and this is seen today in Labrador retrievers out in the field retrieving fallen birds on shoots from the water and field.
Timeline of the Labrador retriever
- In 1800 the dog was first imported into England to a few well to do British sportsman.
- In 1809 the earl of Malmesbury used the st johns dog in shooting events.
- The second earl of Malmesbury played a big part in keeping the Labrador as we know it today alive as he started the first ever Labrador club and bred dogs until his death in 1841.
- Around 1835 the 5th Duke of Buccleuch set up kennels in Scotland independently of the Duke of Malmesbury and the name Labrador was recorded in 1839.
- In the late 18th and early 19th century breeders began to interbreed the various retriever breeds in the hope of developing the hunting and retrieving capabilities of the dogs.
- By the 1880`s the original st johns breed was almost extinct until an unexpected meeting of the third Earl of Malmesbury, the sixth Duke of Buccleuch and the twelfth Duke of home saved the breed * Two liver color puppies were born in 1892.
- In 1899 the first ever yellow Labrador retriever was born in a litter.
- In 1780 the Newfoundland dog became extinct; the reason for this seems to be that the governor of the land declared that any family could have no more than one dog. This was due to problems with sheep worrying. There was a higher tax put on females and this led to female puppies being killed at birth.
- In 1895 the quarantine act was put into force and this prohibited dogs from entering into Great Britain without having a license and having to go through a strict six month quarantine.
- By the 1930`s the st johns dog was rare in Newfoundland until the sixth Duke of Buccleuch began importing dogs to keep the breed going around 1934.
- Finally in 1903 the Labrador was finally popular enough to be recognized by the British kennel club in England.
- By 1916 the Labrador retriever was firmly established in England and new colors such as chocolate were introduced.