Labrador Retriever – Everything You Need To Know

Labrador Retrievers are purebred dogs initially bred as fisherman’s friends to retrieve fish, fetch ropes, and haul nets in the cold North Atlantic region. Nowadays, Labradors work as sport dogs, retrievers for hunters, show dogs, therapy dogs, and search and rescue dogs. Although some Labradors may have a laid-back personality, they all crave physical exertion. They thrive on the attention of their owners and would like to be around their family members. Never leave them alone for long hours. As a result, they may acquire undesirable behaviors like digging or chewing on furniture. Beat your loneliness and boredom with these faithful companions!

Labrador Retriever Overview

Sweet, kind, and warm in disposition, Labradors are the most sought-after canines in the world. They are people-oriented and very friendly. They are the number one dogs that are registered with the AKC. Since they are sporting canines, they would appear robust and athletic. These dogs bear short coats that shed heavily, which requires your attention and care. They can be guide dogs but not watchdogs. 

Labradors are so intelligent that they can excel at agility and obedience. However, they need a lot of work to keep them active and exert their energy. They can be destructive if left unattended without physical and mental exertion.

Labrador Retriever Pros and Cons

Loyal and people-orientedSheds heavily
Highly energeticStrong Mouthiness

Labrador Retriever Basic Information 

  • Name: Labrador Retriever
  • Origin: Newfoundland, United Kingdom
  • Group: Sporting, Retrieving Gundog
  • Size: Medium
  • Height: Male: 22.5 – 24.5 inches Female: 21.5 – 23.5 inches
  • Weight: Male: 65 – 80 pounds Female: 55 – 70 pounds
  • Coat: Short, double
  • Color: Yellow, chocolate, black
  • Energy: Medium to high
  • Activities: Agility, conformation, field trials, hunting tests, obedience, rally 
  • Barking Level: Low to medium
  • Shedding Level: Low
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Litter Size: 6 puppies
  • Other Names: Lab Retriever, Lab
  • Breed’s Original Pastimes: Retrieving, waterfowl, and land games
  • Life Span: 10 -13 years

History of Labrador Retriever

Several canines used for various purposes in Canada were shipped to England. These water dogs were similar to Newfoundland dogs and were bred for their excellent retrieving instincts, especially in water. Although they are well-behaved indoors, they are more outdoorsy. Labradors have excelled as service dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, family companions, and scent hounds. 

Labrador Retriever Highlights

  • Labrador Retrievers are great family companions.
  • They are kid-friendly.
  • Labradors are pet friendly and can coexist with them.
  • A bored Labrador can be a destructive dog.
  • Labradors are excellent at retrieving.
  • Although they can adapt to apartment living, large homes with fenced yards are ideal.
  • Labradors are food lovers and can become obese quickly. However, regular exercise and training, a balanced diet, and a healthy lifestyle can prevent obesity and other disorders in your pet.

Labrador Retriever Personality

Labrador Retrievers are robust, medium-sized canines. Their athletic build aids in hunting and land and waterfowl games. Their ears are triangular and floppy. They bear black noses, and their lips are squared. Labrador Retriever’s coats are short, thick, and weather resistant. Their powerful jaws help in retrieving. Their eyes give a calm and kind expression. 

Labrador Retrievers are 22.5 – 24.5 inches (male) 21.5 – 23.5 inches (female) tall. Males weigh 65 – 80 pounds, while females weigh 55 – 70 pounds. Their tails are otter-like and not tapering at the end. Their short coats are double-layered and come in black, yellow, and chocolate.  

Friendliness Overview

Affection level High
Family-friendly High
Kid-friendly High
Pet-friendly High
Stranger -friendly High

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment living Low
Good to new owners Medium
Sensitivity level High 
Tolerates being alone Low to medium
Cold-tolerance Medium
Heat-tolerance Medium

Labrador Retriever Physical Features

Head: Labrador’s head is medium-sized, wedge-shaped, and bears a broad skull free from fleshy cheeks. They have expressive eyes that exhibit kindness, triangular ears, broad noses, short and thick muzzles, and squared lips.

Neck: Their neck is muscular, properly lengthed, and without throatiness.

Topline: A leveled topline from withers to croup with an agile back.

Body: Well-sprung ribs that narrow down to the broad chest.

Tail: The tail is thick, “otter-like,” and not tapering, generally carried low and, when in action, carried high, reaching the hock.

Forequarters: The forelegs are strong and muscular, with well-balanced hindlegs. 

Hindquarters: The hindlegs are muscular and broad, with well-arched toes and well-grown pads. They are powerfully boned with well-defined thighs. Their hocks are strong.

Coat: Short, thick, straight overcoat and a soft weather-resistant undercoat. These coats aid in retrieving activities and resist cold and wetness. 

Color: Yellow, black, and chocolate. Rarely polar white, fox red, and silver Labs are found.

Gait: Their gait is free, with effortless movements and substantial reach.

Labrador Retriever Temperament

Loyal and affectionate, Labrador Retrievers are eager to please. These dogs would love kids and get along well with them. They will coexist with other pets with their gentle demeanor. Thus, Labradors are a fusion of these qualities rolled into one:

  • Even-tempered
  • Calm
  • Affectionate
  • Loyal
  • Outdoorsy
  • People pleasers
  • Gentle

Labrador Retriever Training

Owing to the Labrador Retriever’s intelligence, they are easily trainable. Since they have strong mouthiness, training them on a leash is strongly recommended to keep their hunting in check. These canines can be excellent human and pet companions when trained and socialized early. Their training methods should include  the following:

Here are a few dog interactive toys and products that you can use while training:

ASOCEA Dog Extendable Teaser Wand
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Dog Training Collar with Remote
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Ultra Tug & Toss Dog Toy
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Dog Puzzle Toys
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Milk-Bone Soft & Chewy Dog Treats
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Trainability Overview 

Easy to train High 
Intelligence High
Mouthiness tendencies High 
Barking and howling tendencies Medium to high
Prey drive Low to medium
Wanderlust tendenciesMedium

Labrador Retriever Exercise Needs

Labrador Retrievers are highly energetic canines that need a secured high fence due to their excellent hunting instincts. They are highly energetic athlete dogs; hence, you can fulfill a Labrador Retriever’s exercise needs with daily walks and activities such as playing fetch, swimming, and frisbee. In addition, he can be your jogging and hiking companion. 

An idle Labrador Retriever can end up exhibiting undesirable or destructive behavior. Therefore, engaging him physically and mentally is essential to keep him happy. Remember, the Labrador Retriever would need a house with a large area and a strongly fenced backyard to play. If you live in an apartment, ensure you take him outdoors to exert his energy.

Exercising Labrador Retriever is essential mainly for three reasons:

  • To keep the pet mentally and physically stimulated.
  • Avoid any other destructive behavior.
  • To keep the pet away from obesity.

Here are a few puzzles and dog toys to keep Labrador Retrievers engaged:

Nina Ottosson
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TOMAHAUK Snuffle Mat for Dogs
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TRIXIE Dog Activity
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LOOBANI Dog Food Puzzle
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Exercise Needs Overview

Energy level High
Exercise needs High
Intensity High
Playfulness High

Labrador Retriever Grooming

Labrador Retrievers’ short, flat, dense, double coats shed heavily. Since their coat is short and thick, chances of matting are relatively low. Their grooming regime will include brushing their coats every day. Trim their nails, check and clean their eyes and ears, and maintain their dental hygiene as a part of regular grooming. Bathing him every two months with a mild bath shampoo for dogs is mandatory. He is outdoorsy, and the owners can expect him to be dirty and muddy. Remember that excessive bathing can remove the natural oils from your canine’s skin. Some grooming product suggestions for your pet:

Grooming Kit
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Dog Shampoo
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WAHL Dry Skin & Itch Relief Pet Shampoo for Dogs
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Earth Rated Dog Wipes, Plant-Based and Compostable Wipes for Dogs
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Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste
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Arm & Hammer for Pets Tartar Control Kit for Dogs
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Dudi Dog Nail Clippers and Trimmers
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Grooming Overview  

Easy to groom High
Drooling tendency Medium
Amount of shedding High

Labrador Retriever Health

Labrador Retrievers are relatively healthy breeds. However, like any other breeds, they are prone to health conditions stemming from their lineage. Thus, to keep them healthy, it is vital to take your dog to the veterinarian for regular health checkups and ensure that he is updated with vaccinations. The lifespan of a Labrador Retriever is 11 – 13 years. Some inherited health problems are listed below:

Health Overview

Overall health Medium
Weight gain tendencies High
Size Medium to high

Hip dysplasia: A disorder that affects canines in their growing phase. It leads the hip joint to relax, resulting in discomfort and dysfunction. In addition, the cartilage and bones in the dog’s hip start to wear away as he develops. This leads to arthritis, muscular atrophy, and decreased mobility over time.

Elbow dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia occurs due to the malalignment of the elbow joint, which leads to chronic rubbing. This causes abnormal pressure at the joint, resulting in severe osteoarthritis. 


  • Mild to moderate pain  
  • Lameness in the forelimbs  

Although the symptoms begin to show as early as four months, some dogs will not show these signs until later in life. Further, this may involve both elbows, but one of them may be heavily affected.

Cataracts: This condition is caused due to the thickening of the eye lens, leading to cloudy vision in dogs. Although it occurs primarily because of their age, you can treat this condition with medications or surgery.

Osteochondrosis Dessicans: Osteochondrosis Dessicans is an inflammatory condition due to the cartilage’s abnormal development, leading to its separation from the underlying bone. Although it most prominently affects the shoulder, it may be prevalent at the elbow, hip, or knee.  

Symptoms of OCD  

  • Limping in the affected leg   
  • Extremely painful when the affected leg is manipulated  
  • Swollen or warm joint  
  • Treatment follows a strict rest schedule, medications, supplements, and surgery if necessary. 

Cold Tail Syndrome, also known as the broken or limber tail syndrome or acute caudal myopathy, occurs due to overwork, injuries, or playing for several hours in water. The symptoms of cold tail syndrome are swollen tail muscles, having a painful tail, or cramps. Tail muscles can become swollen and painful within 24 hours due to exposure to cold water. Applying a warm compress can lessen the swelling and the pain.

Epilepsy: Idiopathic epilepsy is a common hereditary disorder. It frequently causes seizures, ranging from mild to severe. In addition, unusual behaviors may indicate a stroke, such as frantically fleeing as threatened, stumbling, or hiding. Seizures frighten, but dogs with idiopathic epilepsy have a relatively good long-term outlook. Other than unexplained epilepsy, seizures can be induced by metabolic disorders, respiratory illnesses of the brain, malignancies, toxin poisoning, and severe traumatic injury. 

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: A life-threatening condition that affects deep-chested dogs, especially if they have an overfed meal, eat rapidly, drink excessive amounts of water, or exercise vigorously after eating. Gastric Dilatation Volvulus leads to bloating in the stomach. Your dog cannot vomit to get rid of excess air in his stomach, and blood flow to the heart is prevented. Blood pressure lowers, and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog may die. Suspect bloat if your dog is drooling excessively and is not throwing up. He might be restless with rapid heartbeats. If you notice the above symptoms, take your furry friend to the vet as soon as possible.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: A degenerative eye disorder that causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eyes. It can be detected earlier. A very later stage is blindness. Dogs with this condition can survive for several years since they have other senses to compensate.

Cardiac Disease: Heart problems may be present in Labrador, including mitral and tricuspid valve murmurs. They may develop a murmur as early as four to six years due to a leaky mitral valve. 

Ear Infections: Labrador’s love of water, connected with their floppy ears, makes them prone to ear infections. Weekly cleaning and checking of your dog can avoid this situation. 

Acute Moist Dermatitis: Pyoderma is an inflammatory skin disorder that develops in skin folds such as facial folds, lip folds, armpits, and groins. Pyoderma is commonly linked with acute moist dermatitis. To avoid this type of condition, it is better to thoroughly dry your Labrador with meticulous care after a bath or wash. 

Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Degeneration of the heart muscle is referred to as cardiomyopathy. The muscle, especially the thick muscular membrane of the left ventricle, becomes thin. These thin membranes expand because of the blood pressure inside the heart, which leads to a much bigger heart. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the medical term for this ailment (DCM). 

Obesity: Labradors are prone to obesity, exacerbating hip and elbow dysplasia. This disorder negatively hits a dog’s health and durability. Obese canines exhibit an increased risk of heart disease, digestive disorders, diabetes, joint problems, and hypertension. 

Patellar Luxation: When the dog patella (kneecap), which typically lies in the cleft of the femur (thighbone), slips out of position, it is known as luxating patella. Your dog may feel periodic hind limb “skipping,” lameness, or locking up the leg at an abnormal angle if the patella luxates. 

Recommended Tests for the Labrador Retriever

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Cardiac Evaluation
  • Eye Test
  • Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) DNA Test

Labrador Retriever Diet and Nutrition

Labrador Retrievers are high-energy dogs and would require 2.5 to 3 cups of high-quality dog food that is divided into two meals. Several commercial kibbles are high in proteins, but consider supplementing the kibbles with rich quality lean meat and canned dog food. Depending on his size, age, weight, and activities, consult your veterinarian and feed him the amount of food he will need. You can divide his meal time into two or three per his veterinarian’s suggestions. Here are a few nutritious suggestions for your Labrador Retriever:

Blue Buffalo
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IAMS Minichunks
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Purina ONE
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Hill’s Science Diet Wet Dog Food
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Labrador Retriever Living Condition

The Labrador Retriever will require the following living conditions to lead a happy and healthy life:

  • A fenced yard and ample space to run around.
  • A regular exercise regime.
  • A typical grooming regime.
  • If you live in an apartment, you must ensure that you provide time for his physical exertion.
  • Labs exhibit chewing and digging traits. So, invest in chewing toys to keep them occupied.
Pacific Pups Products
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Benebone Wishbone Durable Dog Chew Toy
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Did You Know?

  • Labrador Retrievers can excel at scent work, dock diving, tracking, etc.
  • Labradors can be show dogs, canine athletes, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, service dogs, and therapy and sniffer dogs.
  • King Buck was the model Labrador that appeared on the American postage stamp.
  • President Bill Clinton owned a Labrador named “Buddy” in the White House.
  • Labs were used as war dogs. 
  • Labrador Retrievers played the role of scout dogs in the Vietnam war to track the dead and wounded soldiers.
  • Labrador Retriever featured in the famous movie Marley & Me (2008). Different Labs play Marley to reflect the various life stages of the dog during the film.
  • In 1959, King Buck was the black Lab featured on the U.S. postage stamp.

Labrador Retriever Club Recognition

Adding a Labrador Retriever to Your Family 

Adding a Labrador Retriever to your family will need proper research about their parent breed, cost, breeders, health, and certificates. Then, get your Labrador Retriever from a reputable breeder who will provide you with vaccination and gene testing certificates. Also, ensure the health of the puppy’s parent breeds.

Cost of a Labrador Retriever

The price of a Lab puppy ranges from $700 to $1500.

Labrador Retriever Puppy
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National Labrador Retriever Club, Inc

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