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Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever, or Lab, is probably the most easily recognizable of any dog breed, consistently topping popular dog lists along with its close cousin, the Golden Retriever. Their friendly outgoing nature comes with a healthy dose of high spirits, a lovable face, and a constantly wagging tail.

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Animalia Team
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    Country of Origin

    Canada

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    Breed Group

    Sporting Group

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    Height

    Male 22.5-24.5 In

    Female 21.5-23.5 In

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    Weight

    Male 65-80 Ib

    Female 55-70 Ib

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    Life Span

    11-14 years

In a Nutshell

Originally bred to be working companions to fishermen, the Labrador Retriever is the perfect dog for families and novice owners as long as you meet their exercise, play, and mental stimulation needs. They’ll outlast you in games of fetch, out-swim you in the water, and definitely outrun you on your daily jog. Modern Labs still play a role in the world of work as hunting, therapy, assistance, drug detection, and bomb detection dogs. They are well-known as guide dogs and also make excellent search and rescue dogs. Is there a downside? Yes, despite their intelligence and undisputed abilities, don’t expect your Lab to act as a guard dog. They’ll happily greet an intruder with a lick and show them where the valuables are kept!

Life With a Labrador Retriever

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Energy level

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Trainability Level

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Amount of Shedding

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Tendency of Barking

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Exercise Needs

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    Home Alone

    So-So

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    Living Arrangements

    Definitely a yard

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    Kid Friendly

    Yes

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    Pet Friendly

    Yes

Looks & Personality

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With their expressive alert eyes, drop ears, broad heads, and “otter” tails, there is no mistaking a Lab. Their sturdy body is medium-sized and athletic, while the color of their thick water-repellent coat ranges from black to almost white, through chocolate and golden-yellow. As with many breeds who owe their history to the fishing industry, the Labrador has webbed feet.

 

A Labrador Retriever’s temperament is as characteristic as their physical appearance. They’re kind, outgoing, eager to please, and almost never aggressive. It is their eagerness to please and intelligence that makes them such a delight to train whether this is for family life or for a role in the world of canine employment. Underestimate their need for activity and stimulation, however, and you’ll end up with an over-boisterous dog that can be hard to handle. A bored Lab digs, chews, and barks to excess!

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A tip from a vet

Labs are notorious eaters. They'll counter-surf and grab your dinner, forage in the garbage bins, raid your goodie stash, and even eat kid toys! It's no surprise they are at a higher risk for foreign body obstruction.
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A tip from a trainer

Teaching your Lab self-control is a really important skill to have. You can use impulse control games and real-life situations that will help them learn some basic doggie manners such as how to politely greet people and other dogs with all four paws on the ground, how to wait for their food bowl or their lead to be clipped on, how to pass through the door politely without dashing through, and so on.
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Did You Know

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    Some claim that yellow Labs are the laziest of the breed, while black Labs are the best hunters, but none of these claims are supported by science.

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    Regardless of the parents’ color, a single litter can include black, yellow, and chocolate puppies.

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    Labrador retrievers are known for their ability to sprint. They can hit 12 miles per hour in just three seconds.

In The News

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A whole book could be written about the occasions when Labrador Retrievers have made the news or appeared in movies and TV shows. There are, however, two films that sum up the spirit of the breed. Old Yeller (1957 USA) is the heart breaking story of a young Texas lad and his Labrador. The role of Old Yeller was played by a rescue dog called Spike. He went on to have a successful career in film and TV which included a role in the classic series, Lassie.

More recently, our hearts were stolen by Marley the Lab in Marley & Me. Making the movie was tricky as its timespan covers 14 years. 22 identical Labrador Retrievers were needed!

Famous Labrador Retriever Owners

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III, Ernest Hemingway, Bill Clinton, Ben Fogle, Anne Hathaway, Minnie Driver, Sandra Bullock, Hulk Hogan, Jennifer Garner, Drew Barrymore, Arnold Schwarzenegger

The History Behind the Breed

Originally called St. John’s Dogs after the capital city of Newfoundland, this breed has a long history as a fishing dog working in the icy waters around the Canadian seaboard. In the early 19th century, English noblemen visiting Canada spotted the breed’s potential and took them home to train as hunting dogs. Their soft mouths were ideal for retrieving shot ducks and pheasants.

 

For some reason, however, by 1880 the breed had become almost extinct and it was the aristocratic Malmesbury family that is credited with saving it. There are very few photos of aristocratic families from the last 150 years that don’t feature a Lab or two! The British Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1903 with the American Kennel Club following in 1917. By 1991, the Lab was topping AKC registrations and has remained at the top of the popularity list ever since.

If a Labrador Retriever Could Talk…

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"It's not fair! Why have you started hiding all the treats ...?"

A Quick Anatomy Lesson

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Unfortunately, Labs’ good deeds and kind natures don’t make them exempt from illnesses and health conditions and there are a number of health problems in Labradors that you should be aware of if you’re looking to add this breed to your home.

Common Health Problems

What about your Labrador Retriever?