Reigning the popularity charts since the beginning of the 1990s, Labrador Retrievers are one of the friendliest and loyal dog breeds. In fact, they are so popular that you don’t have to be an ardent fan of dogs to recognize this breed.
Now you may ask, why are they so popular? What is it about Labradors that people are mad about it?
Well, the answer will be its even temperament and versatility. If you own a Labrador, you would know what we are talking about. These incredibly affectionate dogs are really very intelligent and energetic. Those who don’t know about the long list of qualities that Labrador Retrievers possess, read ahead to get all your answers.
Origin of Labrador Retriever
Initially reared for retrieving fishes and ducks from the North Atlantic’s icy waters, Labradors were first noticed by England’s sporting nobles. Before the English nobles discovered them in the 1800s, these even-tempered dogs used to be the best friends of fishermen of Newfoundland, Canada. At that time, they were known as the St. John’s water dogs. With their short-haired, water-resistant coat and ‘otter-like’ tail, they could dive and swim in the icy waters effortlessly to drag fishing nets, bring the ropes and retrieve fallen fishes.
All these qualities were noticed by the English nobles who were in dire need of some good retrievers for hunting games. Therefore, they took some of these dogs to England and interbred them with other retriever breeds for standardization and refinement.
With a muscular, medium-sized body, Labradors tend to have a well-balanced and athletic conformation. With a broad head, pendant ears, and large, kind eyes, Labradors look uber-cute and friendly. However, the features that can be considered as the hallmark of this breed include:
- Thick tail with a tapering end, also called the ‘otter-like tail.’
- Short but dense, water-repellent coat.
- Sharply outlined head with a big back-skull and intermediate stop.
Based on their sex, their height can vary between 21.5 to 24.5 inches. On the other hand, their weight can range from 55 to 80 pounds. Their thick short coat comes in three distinct colors- chocolate, yellow, and black. However, they survive only for 10 to 12 years.
A friendly and even-temperament is the trademark of this breed. If given proper training, Labradors can turn out to be excellent housemates. With their loving and affectionate nature, they can socialize with almost anyone. If you wish to have a good-natured family dog, these traits may seem to you a plus point. However, if you want a watchdog, Labradors are definitely not the dog for you.
Generally, Labradors tend to be extremely intelligent, as well as energetic. So, you have to dedicate a vital amount of time to engage their mind and body. However, you won’t have much problem training them because of their “eager to please” nature.
Before adopting your Labrador puppy, make sure that the breeder provides you with all your dog’s health screening documents. Even though Labradors tend to be relatively healthy dogs, you must verify if your puppy has any of the conditions mentioned below.
- Joint issues like elbow and hip dysplasia.
- Hereditary Myopathy, also known as muscle weakness.
- Heart Problems
- Eye Problems like Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC) – You can check this through a DNA test.
Apart from the problems mentioned above, your Labrador can develop conditions like ear infections, obesity, and bloat. However, all these complications can be counteracted with an early diagnosis. So, educate yourself enough to recognize the symptoms at the first stage itself.
Like all dog breeds with a double coat, Labradors tend to shed a lot. Although you cannot mitigate this issue, you can surely lessen it to some extent. Providing a regular brushing and occasional baths to your dog will save you from the hassles of cleaning your entire house.
Besides that, you need to brush your dog’s teeth and clip its nails regularly to get a clean and healthy dog.
Labradors are a big foodie. They have got a gene-mutation that causes them to always feel hungry. Consequently, they tend to be one of the most vulnerable breeds to develop conditions like obesity. Hence, you must take proper care of their nutritional intake.
Ensure that the dog-food you provide your puppy is of higher quality. Monitor your dog’s calorie intake, depending on its age. You can also offer home-cooked food to your pooch. However, consult a vet to know which human foods will suit your dog.
Besides good food, your dog needs ample fresh, clean water to keep itself hydrated.
Labrador Retriever Training
As you bring your Labrador puppy home, ascertain that you start its training from day one itself. Otherwise, you will find it extremely challenging to correct the bad habits of an over-excited dog of 80 pounds.
Begin with house training. After that, slowly shift to teaching your dog its name and basic obedience commands like come, sit, go, stay, and leave it.
Besides obedience training, you need to work on your pooch’s socialization skills as well. Take your pup outside and gradually expose it to different surroundings, smells, humans, and situations. Remember that eight to twenty weeks is the ideal period to train your dog. Make the most out of this period by continually monitoring and supervising your pup’s activities.
As mentioned earlier, Labradors tend to very energetic and intelligent dogs. Consequently, you need to continually engage their mind and body to cast off their excess energy. A simple half an hour walk won’t help your dog to shed its extra vitality. And an under-exercised Labrador can indulge in hyperactive and undesirable activities like barking, biting, chewing, and digging.
If you wish to have a well-behaved and healthy dog, then engage your Lab in the following activities:
- Hunt Tests
- Field Trials
- Obedience, agility, and tracking competitions
- Dock diving.
Apart from being a great family dog, Labradors tend to guide people with disabilities as well. Besides that, they are excellent therapy dogs for people with autism. Their incredible retrieving skills make them ideal dogs for search and rescue operations. And because of all these versatile roles played by them, they have been ruling the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.
If you wish to own a Labrador Retriever, make sure that you have a considerable amount of time to look after it. Otherwise, your experience with this lovely dog breed won’t be that lovely.