The Labrador Retriever, the most popular guide and therapy dog, originates in the United Kingdom and Canada. Originally used to fetch game for hunters, this breed rapidly grew in popularity. Typically the breed weighs between 55 and 80 pounds with males weighing a little more than the bitches and live anywhere from 10 to 14 years on average. This dog is very intelligent, kind, loving, gentle, and well tempered, so it’s no wonder it is the most popular dog breed.
Labradors come in 3 coat colors; yellow, chocolate, and black. The breed has a double coat which insulates especially in water. As a dog breed that loves to play in water and mud, this is a good thing. Using shampoo too often will dry out the skin and fur which will cause the doggo discomfort and strips their coat of oils that keep them warm and their coat healthy. It is recommended to brush their coat once or twice a week year round and extra in the spring when all that extra undercoat that kept them warm all winter is no longer needed. While it may seem like they are hot over the summer with their thick coats, don’t shave them under any circumstance. The coats help regulate body temperature in hot and cold weather and without it, they are prone to sunburn.
The most common health issue with labs is joint dysplasia. Predominantly in the hips, but also frequenting the elbows, this breed is prone to joint issues. If you notice your bitch limping, you should schedule an appointment with your primary veterinarian to examine and potentially xray your Labrador. Another common issue is blindness and it often starts to form around 3 or 5 years of age. Signs of this may include a change in behavior and cloudiness/milkiness of the pupil. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is genetic, so it’s important to spend more money getting your dog from a reputable breeder than to have to deal with health issues down the road. This breed is a passionate and aggressive eater which can lead to obesity and bloating. I would recommend getting a dog bowl designed to slow down dogs eating speed or adding large rocks the dog has to eat around, to slow them down. As is the case with people, creating a good diet and exercise regime for your lab reduces health risks and promotes longevity.
Ready to please, this breed is easy to train and great with kids. They make for an ideal companion to a family or a single owner. Additionally they are great with other pets, so if you already have a dog or cat and want another pet, you should consider a lab. Being a larger breed with substantial energy, this breed is an ideal exercise companion both on land and in the water. This breed has an overall low risk of health issues, so the cost of ownership is consistent.
With all these positives to the breed, it’s no wonder they are the most popular dog breed. What do you think about adding one to your family?