Easily one of the most recognizable dog breeds of all, the Labrador Retriever holds a special spot in the hearts of dog lovers across the globe. These loveable, friendly dogs come in three pretty shades, yellow, brown, and black, and each is cuter than the next. Their size is classified as medium to large-breed dogs.
The Lab is a popular breed and loved by many for their gregarious and high-energy nature, they serve a number of dual purposes, too. Aside from being excellent companion animals, many Labs love to be working dogs with jobs to do. They are known to be great hunters, swimmers, assistance dogs, and service dogs.
While each Labrador is truly unique, there are several must-have items you’ll want to have on hand should you be welcoming one of these incredible dogs into your life.
Labrador Retriever Dog Breed Overview
Historically, Labrador Retrievers cemented themselves as fisherman’s helpers originating for the island of Newfoundland off the North Easters Atlantic coast of Canada.
These dogs were skilled at fetching rope, hauling nets, and even diving into chilly lakes/seas to catch fish.
Very soon the world started to notice the Labrador's beautiful nature and usefulness. It is documented that a famous English sportsman imported some Labradors to England to act as retrievers in hunting.
The second Earl of Malmesbury was one of the dogs largest advocates and began to spread the word about the Labrador breed.
This sporting dog is as loyal as they come, and for them, time spent with their humans is when they’re happiest. But if you give one of these dogs a job to do, they’ll take it seriously—with a smile on their face the entire time!
Due to their fun nature and high energy levels, Labrador Retrievers needs lots of toys, specifically strong ones that are durable and can withstand heavy chewing and hours of play. Labrador Retriever Puppies need a lot of love, care, and affection.
Rope toys and ball thrower toys are great options for this breed. You’ll want to avoid toys with stuffing so as not to risk your Lab ingesting the stuffing because these hardy dogs are known to shred plush toys. If you want to spoil your dog with an animal-like toy, try one without the stuffing or the squeaker to play it safe.
As puppies, these dogs are easy to train and do not possess a stubborn nature like you sometimes find in many of the other popular dog breeds. Lab puppies
have endless energy and a keen sense of playfulness.
So, if you’re not helping them to expend it properly with a lot of, they just might wreak havoc on your home.
Labs are highly intelligent with high trainability, therefore, mental stimulation is key to keeping them happy.
These dogs enjoy anything that involves a ball, and thankfully there are lots of ball-type toys to choose from to appease your Lab! This is especially useful when you’re away from home and need something to keep their mind busy in your absence.
Hunting Dogs and Search and Rescue Dogs
Labs are extremely versatile in their nature and ability. Most notably is how they have been used in search and rescue operations, as gun dogs, guide dogs, assistance, and service dogs.
The Temperament of the Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever makes for an excellent family dog, but this is a dog breed that requires routine exercise—both mentally and physically.
Additionally, due to their activity level, this is not a dog breed that is suited for apartment living.
These dogs do best where they have room to run, and regular walks are something they greatly appreciate.
And for those walks, you’re going to need a good leash and harness. Labs are known for their desire to walk you versus walking them, so invest in a leash that can allow you to easily have control of your dog and keep them close to you. Retractable leashes are a no-go for this breed and best avoided.
For Labs, a standard, heavy-duty 6’ leash is best. Although these are strong dogs with solid necks, invest in a harness to allow you to better control your pup while also keeping in mind their sensitive neck.
The Labrador Retriever has a strong work ethic and thrives when given tasks to do or tricks to perform. This is not a dog that wants to loaf around all day or is happy just being by your side.
They need to keep their minds sharp and stimulated and do their best with an owner that appreciates them for their desire to please and perform. Want to teach your Lab to learn quickly?
Try clicker training them from the puppy stage! Labs LOVE to eat, so finding a quality treat to reward them with for a job well done will work wonders.
Due to their heightened sensitivity level and love of pleasing their people, these are dogs that take things seriously and will feel guilty should they slip up. And with those forever puppy eyes, you could never stay upset with one for long!
A Labrador Retriever is the type of dog that bodes well with people—and the average Lab has never met a stranger. If you have company over regularly, they should be prepared to leave your home with magical fibers of Lab hair on their clothing.
Best Friends and Family pets
Apart from being obedient and intelligent worker dogs, Labradors are known to be the best dogs for families and children. As a breed standard, they love company, playtime, people, and children.
In addition to ball games and playing fetch, here are three fun games you can play with your Labrador Retriever:
1: Tug of War
This is not only great fun, but it will also teach your dog how to 'release' or let go of something from its mouth. Lab pups will also get some good chewing practice for their sharp teeth.
When starting a tug of war, try to get your Lab to wait for your signal before grabbing the toy or the rope. This way, your dog will start to learn how to listen and be obedient to your commands.
2: Teach your dog to pack up
A Labrador Retriever is more than capable of packing their own toys away! Start by showing the dog an example of how to pack away by tacking a few toys and putting them away yourself.
Use a common phrase, something like 'pack up time', or, 'put it away', to associate this task with the phrase. Be sure to reward and praise your dog when successful.
3: Waterdogs love water
Since its origins, the Labrador is known to love a bit of water play and water spraying. Consider setting up a sprinkler for your dog to run through in hot summer weather. Not only will they love this, but children will love it too!
General Health and Health Problems
The Labrador Retriever is a generally healthy dog breed overall with an average lifespan of 10-12 years.
At maturity, these dogs can range from 55-80 lbs; 21-24” in height. Labs have a love of eating, so be sure to exercise your Lab on a regular basis to keep their weight in a healthy range and avoid bad health conditions.
You’ll also want to feed your dog a high-quality, protein-rich food free of toxic fillers (i.e. corn/grain). Additionally, puzzle feeders for dogs are great to encourage these dogs with a love of eating to scarf down their meals.
This healthy breed of dogs are built for speed and swimming—down to their dense double coat that literally repels water.
Due to their double coat, regular brushing and bathing is necessary to remove excess hair.
This is not a hypoallergenic dog breed by any means, and you are going to want to invest in a Roomba or a lint roller if you want to keep your garments Lab hair-free.
Grooming these dogs is simple thanks to their easy-going nature, so you can handle this at home and not have to stress on spending money regularly at the groomer.
Here are a few common health issues which Labrador Retrievers can experience:
- elbow dysplasia
- exercise-induced collapse
- ear infections
- progressive retinal atrophy
- myopathy (muscle weakness)
For grooming your Lab at home, you’ll want to use a quality dog shampoo to eliminate excess dirt that deodorizes, too.
When brushing out your Lab, invest in a de-shedding tool to quickly and effectively rid your pup of excess hair.
For in-between bathings, invest in a waterless shampoo to keep your Lab’s coat looking fresh while eliminating wet dog scent which is common with the breed due to their love of water and getting in it any chance they get.
As is common in larger dog breeds, the Labrador Retriever is at risk of developing Hip Dysplasia as they enter their golden years.
These dogs have square, sturdy bodies, and general wear and tear from routine activity can lead to arthritis/joint issues.
Their strong bodies were built to perform, and generally speaking, many Labs go on to live long and healthy lives with minimal health issues—when given proper care, exercise, and a healthy diet.
A quality joint supplement is a key to enhancing their quality of life, and these can be given as a daily dosage as early as the puppy stage.
Remember, preventative care is key to a long and healthy life for your Labrador Retriever. Browse through our pet product range for comfortable and quality extras.
Labrador Dog Colors
The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized Labs as three main color groups which are black, yellow, and chocolate. The yellow Lab is popular, however, many dog owners love the chocolate Lab, but many purebred Labradors are fox red or golden in color.
The Lab's undercoat is soft and provides protection from cold weather, wind, and cold water.
What Bed is Best For Your Labrador Retriever?
When it comes to bed shopping for your Labrador Retriever, the first thing to keep in mind is the size of the dog breed group.
Due to the impressive size of the breed, a large bed is going to be a necessity to accommodate their frame.
If you want to help your Lab who has joint issues, we recommend our memory foam X or XL Calming Dog Bed to gently hug their body while giving them the support they need.
Most larger dogs like a Lab aren’t quick to curl up when they’re sleeping, so giving your Lab a bed they can sprawl out on is best.
We also recommend our perfectly cushioned blanket style bed so that your Lab can catch Zzz’s while stretched out just like they prefer.
All of our beds and blankets feature a nonstick bottom so they stay in place where you position them, and most feature an easily removable cover for easy cleaning.