Santa Barbara, California
Ona, West Virginia
New York, United States
Breed group: Sporting Group dogs
Other name(s): Lab; Labrador
Country / place of origin: Canada
History: The ancestors of the modern Labrador Retriever came from the Canadian province of Newfoundland. Noticed and admired for their work assisting local hunters and fisherman, examples of the smaller style, called the Lesser Newfoundland dog, among other names, were brought back to England and found favor with English sportsmen. In the kennels of these sportsmen, the dogs were bred and refined into what we now know as the Labrador Retriever. The name Labrador was used to differentiate these dogs from the already established breed of Newfoundland dogs. The efforts of those early breeds resulted in a breed of dog which today is one of the most popular breeds in many countries around the world. The Labrador Retriever is no longer in limited use as a hunting retriever but now is found as an assistance dog for the disabled, a scent detection dog for law enforcement agencies and a family pet for many. All this is due to their intelligence, trainability and good nature. The English Kennel Club recognized the Labrador Retriever as a distinct breed in 1903 and the American Kennel Club registered the first Labrador Retriever in 1917. Since 1992 the Labrador Retriever has been the most popular breed registered with the AKC.
Details: Labs are medium-sized, strongly built dogs possessing a sound, athletic, well-balanced conformation. The head should be broad with a moderate stop and a slightly pronounced brow. The eyes should be kind and expressive and be either brown or hazel in color. The upper and lower eyelids of the yellow Labrador Retriever should be outlined in black. The ears should hang close to the head and be set slightly above the line of the eye.
The muzzle should be on the same (parallel) plane as the skull and should be of a length approximately equal that of the skull. The lips should not be squared off or heavy but curve gracefully back giving the Labrador the appearance of having a slight “smile”.The Labrador’s tail is a distinguishing feature of this breed. It should be quite thick at the base; it should also be flat underneath at the base and then rounding as it gradually tapers toward the tip. It should be of medium length and thickly clothed all around, free of feathering, with the short, dense coat thus giving the tail the peculiar rounded appearance that is described as the “otter” tail.
Average height and weight (mature size and weight): 22-25 inches, 55-80 pounds
Color / coat variations: The only acceptable Lab colors are black, chocolate and yellow. Black is to be only black, chocolate can be lighter or darker, and yellow can vary from light cream to fox red.The coat is a distinctive feature of the breed. It should be short, straight, and very dense, giving a fairly hard feeling to the hand without being wiry. There should be a soft, weather-resistant undercoat which gives protection from water, cold, heat and all sorts of ground cover. Being developed primarily as a water retriever, the Labrador Retriever coat should also have sufficient oil in the coat so it leaves a slightly oily feeling on the hand after petting.
Lifespan: 10-13 years
Litter size: 2-11 puppies
Grooming and shedding: Labrador Retrievers are relatively low maintenance dogs. A weekly brushing with a firm bristled brush, followed by a wipe down with a rough towel is sufficient to keep the coat clean and promote healthy coat and skin. Brushing, including the use of a tool such as an undercoat rake, several times a week will be necessary during shedding periods. Labrador Retrievers having proper coats are heavy shedders during the twice yearly shedding seasons and healthy dogs do shed some hair throughout the year. Unless the dog get into something foul smelling or staining, Labradors should not be bathed. Unnecessary bathing strips the natural oils from the skin and coat and can cause problems. Labradors should never be shaved down in hot weather. The coat protects the from heat and sun and insect bites. Toe nails should be kept short by regular clipping.
Food habits: Labradors love to eat therefore their diet should be carefully supervised. Puppies should be fed 3 meals per day until the age of six (6) months or earlier if the pup begins to have a lack of interest in the mid day meal. The amount of food given at each meal should be approximately ½ cup when the pup is 8 weeks of age and the amount should be slowly increased as the growing pups body indicates. When the pup is no longer interested in the third meal, or at the age of six months, add the total amount fed over the three meals and divide that amount into two daily meals. It is recommended by breeders and veterinarians that older pups and adult dogs be fed two meals approximately 10 or 12 hours apart, daily throughout the dog’s life. Treats may be used as training rewards but remember, treats contain calories, so they should be used sparingly and in small amounts.
Climate and environment: Labradors adapt well to most climates. They are best suited for temperate climates though they can do well in extreme heat and cold provided they can find relief from the extremes in the home. Labradors adapt well to apartment living as they do not require large amounts of space, though because they are a sporting breed, they do require more exercise than other popular pet breeds to be kept in healthy condition. Because the breed has been developed to work closely with people, Labradors prefer to live indoors with their family rather than be kept out in a yard at all times. In suburban or rural areas, there should be a safe, fenced area for the Labrador Retriever. Being a breed developed as a hunting retriever, they will follow interesting scents or chase local wildlife. A good fence means safety for the Labrador; it keeps the Labrador at home and keeps unwanted animals out.
Behavioral aspects: Being developed and bred to be retrievers, Labradors are naturally “mouthy”. They will attempt to carry in their mouths anything from clothing to the human hand, arm, ankle or foot, usually with a gentle mouth but they do have to be trained to leave those objects not meant to be retrieved. Because of this mouthiness biting accidents do occur. For that reason the interaction between children and dogs must be supervised. Labradors are intelligent and generally easy-going with strangers, which makes them unsuitable as guard dogs. This intelligence, good temper and activity level are reasons why Labradors have been found to be ideal as detection, therapy, search and rescue and guide dogs. Labradors should never be either shy or aggressive. Labradors have been developed to want to be with humans and other animals. Because of their basic nature, Labradors get on well with other domestic animals. Because of their intelligence they are easily trainable and should be trained because that same intelligence will create chaos if the dog is allowed to grow up untrained. The Labrador Retriever very much reflects the time and attention given it by its owners.Labs are an intelligent breed, and are never shy or aggressive. They like human company and would not like to be left alone for more than few hours. They are affectionate and devoted toward their owner with a strong will to please. Labs are very playful and are quick to join family members in any type of activity.
With children: They are great with older, mature children. As with all dogs, all interactions between children and pets require constant supervision.
With other dogs and animals: Labradors are not so territorial and generally get along well with most people. They are not aggressive towards other dogs. They get along well with pets that have been raised with them since puppy hood.
Training and learning rate: Most Labrador Retrievers love to work and to learn, if only to be in the company of their owner. Labradors often believe they know best so training must be consistent in vocabulary, correction and most important, in praise. If you have never trained a dog, it is suggested that you obtain a referral obedience training classes conducted by an experienced instructor. Your veterinarian, local shelters or the breeder from whom you purchase your Labrador can make recommendations.
Agility: Labradors are versatile dogs possessing intelligence and a desire to please and work with their owner. Labradors excel in Hunting Retriever tests, obedience, tracking competitions of just play retrieving in the yard.
Affinity to water: Most Labradors love swimming and playing in water and with proper training they make excellent and fun water retrievers. There is the occasional Labrador that shows a dislike for water. If gentle encouragement and training do not change the dog’s outlook, do not try to force the issue. Land retrieves and games can be just as much fun for those dogs.
How noisy are they: Remember that the breed was developed for hunting purposes and a noisy hunting dog would be counterproductive. Adult Labradors will bark at the approach of strange cars or people onto their property. In general, the Labrador is not a barker and should not be thought of as a potential watchdog.
Exercise: A daily brisk walk, in addition to the usual walks for elimination purposes is required to keep the dog physically fit and mentally stimulated. Investigate and consider the now popular dog parks as a source of exercise and socializing for your dog. But this is recommended only for the adult dog that has had some training and is generally obedient.
Health issues: Labrador Retrievers are subject to Hip and Elbow Dysplasia and the breed is subject to inherited conditions of the eye, such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Retinal Dysplasia, some forms of inherited cataracts and other conditions which can cause problems with vision, including blindness. When buying a puppy ask if both parents have been certified by OFA to be free of hip and elbow dysplasia and registered with CERF as having been examined by a board certified ophthalmologist and found to be free of hereditary eye problems.Labradors are also subject, though not in great numbers, to anterior cruciate ligament tears and ruptures, tricuspid valve dysplasia (a debilitating heart condition), hypothyroidism, allergies (food and environmental), and epilepsy. Reputable breeder test potential breeding stock and avoid using any dogs which exhibit any of the forgoing health issues.
|Barks a lot||2.7|
|With adult family members||4.9|
|With children below eight||4.7|
|With children above eight||4.9|
|With strange dogs||4.1|
|Watch dog ability||3.7|
|Guard dog ability||2.9|
|Low cost to own||3.2|
|Easy to groom||3.2|
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