Large Breed Spotlight: All About Labrador Retrievers
Labrador Retrievers always make the top 10 list of most popular breeds in the US, and for good reason. Labs are very smart, easy to train, agreeable, friendly and make excellent family dogs. Labs make the best buddies and are able to create bonds with all family members. They are known for being people-oriented dogs, through and through.
This working breed is large in size and was originally (and still is!) bred as a bird hunting dog. Because of their intelligence and athletic abilities, Labs require adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation. While they are the ultimate family dog, don’t forget they are still a working breed!
Without proper exercise, especially when they are young, your Lab can cause quite a bit of trouble in the house and be prone to destructive behavior.
Thinking about adding a Labrador Retriever to your pack? Or maybe you have one and you’re looking for more info about what exactly you’ve gotten yourself into? Look no further. Let’s learn more about this classic breed.
Physical Traits and Health of Labrador Retrievers
Labradors are moderately sized large breed dogs that generally weigh between 55-80 lbs, though some larger Labs can have a healthy weight of up to 90 lbs. They are slightly longer than they are tall, and are very muscular and athletic. They are known for their large and strong jaw, which is what allows them to carry the large game birds they are bred to retrieve. Labradors are considered sporting dogs and are excellent swimmers.
Labrador Retrievers have a life expectancy of 10-12 years, and like many popular breeds, are prone to some health risks. In particular, Labs are extremely food driven which make them very susceptible to obesity—even when they are getting adequate exercise. Additionally, Labs may develop joint dysplasia, epilepsy, skin conditions, ear infections, or gastrointestinal issues such as bloat.
Labs have a very thick but short and easy to care for coat. It is a double coat that keeps them insulated and waterproof in even the coldest conditions. This breed doesn’t require much in the way of bathing and special haircuts; however, Labradors are serious shedders! To keep shedding under control, daily brushing is required. Having a good vacuum cleaner for dog hair and the right brushing tools is a must!
Personality and Lifestyle of Labrador Retrievers
Labrador Retrievers are highly intelligent dogs which make them easy to train. And because they are so food-driven, learning basic commands and house training your Lab with positive reinforcement is a breeze.
Like I mentioned above, they are working breeds which means they require adequate daily exercise of 40-60 minutes. Most Labs are eager and enthusiastic retrievers which makes exercising them pretty easy. A Chuckit, tennis ball, and decent sized yard is really all you need. But, be sure to switch up your Lab’s daily exercise to keep them socialized and mentally stimulated, too.
Labs absolutely love to swim. Trips to local swimming holes with your Lab, or retrieving in the water, is a great way to keep them cool in the summertime and stimulate them in another way.
Labradors are known for being very good around children which makes them good family dogs. Some breeds aren’t sure about how to react to the unpredictable energy children often carry, but Labs seem to either not care, or actually thrive on it.
Drawbacks to the Labrador Retriever
While most would agree the Labradors are a great all-around dog, it is important to understand their need for exercise. A Lab that is not getting the exercise and mental stimulation it needs will begin to exhibit behaviors like destructive chewing and other forms of negative attention-seeking.
Their extreme food drive can also be a drawback. They will often snatch food at every opportunity they get and are commonly referred to as the ultimate “counter-surfers”.
Lastly, because Labs are a very social breed they may not be a good fit for families that need to leave their dogs home alone for most of the day.
Thinking about a Labrador Retriever for your family?
The friendly, sweet, and compassionate Labrador Retriever is an excellent choice for most families. Their general disposition and intelligence will win over every dog lover’s heart. Just be sure you are ready to provide them with the stimulation they need and deserve.
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