Labrador Retriever with Leash in Grass

Getting to Know Your Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are some of the most loyal and friendly dogs out there. And they can make an excellent family pet. But before you make a commitment, you should know what to expect. Read through this quick guide on the Labrador retriever breed to get yourself prepared for the newest member of your family:

Physical Characteristics

Labs are medium to large breed, weighing in at anywhere from 55 to 80 pounds. They’ll grow to a max height 1’9” to 2’ tall. They build is very sporty and fit but they are prone to obesity.

Labrador Retriever Body Look

Their fur is short but they have a very thick coat. Most often, labs come in black, chocolate, or yellow. But we are seeing more and more white and red labs out as well. Some will try to tell you these last two are rare colors and charge more but they are not actually that rare or hard to come by.

Personality and Temperament

The Labrador Retriever was bred to be both a companion and a helper. In fact, they were originally meant to help fishermen retriever nets, ropes, and fish in the North Atlantic. So they are natural hard workers and friends.

There natural willingness to help their owners is what makes them one of the most popular breeds to use as service animals for the disabled and elderly. They are also often use as search and rescue dogs.

Labrador Retriever with a Cat

All this is to say that when you bring home a lab, you are bringing home a family member that will naturally be loyal and helpful. They are also easier to train than other breeds because they are so eager to help and please.

However, this breeding also means they are extremely high energy (since they were meant to work very hard) so you will have to be prepared to give it plenty of exercise every day.

Common Health Issues

Labs are a pretty robust breed but there are some health issues you’ll want to be on the lookout for:

  • Obesity: if left to its own devices, a lab will eat everything in sight. And if they aren’t getting as much exercise as they need to, they will definitely start to put on some weight, which can lead to many other health problems. So make sure you control food intake and keep him well exercised.
  • Exercise Induced Collapse: just as they will eat and eat, they will also work and work until the point of exhaustion. It’s up to you to regulate play and exercise time to make sure they aren’t over-exerting themselves.
  • Cruciate Ligament Rupture: this is common in obese labs who like to run a lot. And as you have read from the first to health concerns, they are at high risk for that combination. So it’s very important to regulate both food and exercise.

Cute Labrador Retriever Puppy Eyes

Basic Care Instructions

Here are the basics of how to take good care of your new Labrador Retriever:

  1. 5 to 3 cups of dry food per day. Divide this into at least 2 meals (but 3 would be even better). Pay attention to their weight and adjust their food accordingly since they are prone to obesity. And never just leave food out for them to help themselves as they will just devour it all.
  2. They should get 45 to 60 minutes minimum of exercise and this should be high energy exercise (such as a jog or vigorous playing). If you skip this, they will become destructive from all that pent up energy.
  3. Labs need to be around their family. If you work all day and the house is empty for that entire time, you should consider getting another dog so that your lab has a friend.
  4. Invest in sturdy chew toys. Labs are natural chewers so make sure he has plenty of toys to let out his chewing energy (otherwise you might find him using your shoes or couch as a chew toy.
  5. There’s no real grooming required. Bathing three or four times a year is fine (unless they roll around in something gross, then bathe immediately).
  6. However, they do shed a lot so if you want to minimize that problem, you should brush him daily. Daily brushing is also a good way to check your pup closely for signs of illness and infection.

While they are easier to train than other breeds, that doesn’t mean they are naturally obedient. They will chew and become destructive due to their high energy if they are not properly trained. So you do still need to go through the process.

Labrador Retriever Fetching a Hoop

You should use a blend of positive and negative reinforcement for labs because there are going to be behaviors you want to encourage and behaviors you want to stop. So use positive reinforcement to encourage good behaviors and negative reinforcement to stop bad behaviors.

Final Word

Labs make a great family pet and as long as you’re prepared for their energy levels and appetite, you will get along very well together. However, be careful when shopping.

Labs are the number one dog in America and, as a result, there are lots of puppy mills and other unsavory places trying to pump out as many puppies as possible without taking proper care of them. So opt for a rescue instead or make sure to thoroughly vet your breeder before you buy.

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