Black Labrador

Updated 03 November 2023
Read time: 5 mins
article author
Written by Elle Padgham

The Labrador Retriever is a gundog that has topped the ‘most-desired dog breed’ list for the last few decades. This is largely thanks to their good looks, easy-going temperament and trainability. For many, they are the quintessential family pet.

Breed history

Labradors have only been in existence for around 200 years and were bred from Newfoundlands mixed with smaller water dogs in Canada. They were used by their owners to retrieve prey both on land and in water and were calm around gunshots. Today, this translates into a dog who rarely suffers with a noise phobia (handy when it comes to fireworks season!).

As well as being used for hunting when brought over to the U.K., they were widely employed as service dogs and have made a real name for themselves as guide dogs. Their versatility and desire to please makes them excellent ‘employees’.

General appearance

The Lab is a ‘doggy dog’ with floppy ears, wide muzzle, a solid body and a thick (and often wagging) tail. As well as black, we can also see yellow and chocolate Labradors. Their coat is short but thick.

Many appreciate the medium size of this breed, as they are compact enough to not take up too much space around the home.


The temperament of the Labrador is one of their greatest attributes. Loyal, devoted and kind, the Labrador really is ‘man’s best friend’. As well as being good-natured, they are outgoing and fun to be around. They can usually be trusted around children and are both docile and patient. Having said this, one should not assume a Labrador will never snap and we must always monitor children when in the presence of any dog.

This breed tends to be energetic and enjoys being outdoors, especially when given a job to complete. They are naturally sociable and get on well with people as well as other animals.

While your Labrador will probably alert you if a stranger comes into your home, they are more likely to greet them with a lick and a tail wag than a threatening bark. Due to this, they make woeful guard dogs.

Health considerations 

Unfortunately, as is true of many pedigrees, there are certain health conditions which are passed on from generation to generation due to the inbreeding that has occurred.

Medical conditions that we need to be aware of include:

  • Hip Dysplasia & Elbow Dysplasia
    Sadly, many older Labs will suffer with joint dysplasia and chronic arthritis. As they are not a small breed, this can dramatically impact on their quality of life. Where possible, we should aim to buy puppies who come from parents with good hip scores. Joint disease is usually managed with a combination of pain relief, anti-inflammatories, joint supportive diets, like Pooch & Mutts’ Joint Care Dry Food and joint supplements such as Pooch & Mutts’ Joint Daily Care Supplement

  • Obesity
    Though not technically a medical condition, obesity can predispose dogs to a range of diseases including diabetes and cancer. Obese dogs are less able to cope in the heat and struggle more with joint pain. Recent studies have proven that Labradors are genetically prone to becoming obese. However, with the right diet and exercise, any Lab can be lean and fit.

  • Ear infections
    Due to their pendulous ears, Labradors are prone to ear infections. This is due to the poor ventilation and the fact that the ear canals tend to become moist and humid. This is the ideal environment for yeast and bacteria to proliferate. We can help to prevent infections by drying ears thoroughly after swims and baths and cleaning ear canals regularly.

  • Atopic Dermatitis
    A frustrating condition for dog and owner alike, those with atopy are prone to ongoing itchiness and skin infections. Triggers can include pollen, dust mites and certain foods. While atopic dermatitis cannot be cured, it can be well managed with the right diet, skin and coat supplements, medication and allergen avoidance.

  • Epilepsy
    Those with epilepsy will suffer from seizures throughout their life. For most, they will experience their first fit between the age of 1 and 5. As epilepsy is a diagnosis of exclusion, your Vet will need to run several tests to ensure the convulsions are not being caused by something else.

  • Hypothyroidism
    An under-active thyroid will cause a myriad of signs including weight gain, sluggishness and chronic skin infections. Hypothyroidism is detected with a blood test and managed with daily medicine.


As Labradors are eager to please and very food responsive, they tend to make excellent training partners. Indeed, those who were most food driven tended to be the ones chosen as guide dogs as they were so willing to comply and get their food reward!


Though Labs have short coats, they aren’t entirely low maintenance as they shed a lot. They should be brushed daily while shedding and you can expect to see a lot of stray fur in your home and car.

Their droopy ears need to be cleaned once or twice a month to keep wax to a minimum and prevent infection.


Owners must not underestimate how much exercise their Lab needs to stay in shape. While this is a laid back breed, they still need to be kept active. Aim for one and a half hours of exercise each day which should be made up of a combination of hikes, swims and agility-style activities.

Feeding considerations

Labradors are known to overeat. One of the main goals of a Labrador owner should be to keep their dog in good shape and to ensure they are a healthy body condition score. Avoid feeding them too many carbohydrates and fats and ensure they are getting plenty of high-quality protein.

Most adult Labs will need two meals a day as well as some training treats and chews. Ideally, determine their daily calorie requirement and be sure to include their treats and chews when calculating what they’ve had each day.

Feeding guide for breed size 

The feeding guidelines for your Labrador will be dependent on their age and weight. The average weight for Adult Labs is between 29 - 36kg for males, and 25 - 32kg for females. You can use the handy feeding calculator at the bottom of all Pooch & Mutt product pages to find the ideal amount to feed your Labrador daily.


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