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.
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’.
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.
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:
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.
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.