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Is a Labrador Retriever Right for You?


labrador-breed-dogs-animal-largeLabrador Retrievers have consistently been the most popular dog breed in the world for the past 30 years.  In the United States alone, the Labrador Retriever has been the most-registered dog for 25 consecutive years.  Is this popular breed right for you?

Perhaps the biggest reason that Labrador Retrievers are so popular is their temperament.  Labs are patient, fun-loving, energetic, good with children, and obedient.  Labrador Retrievers are also friendly and outgoing, making them great pets for families.

Size, Coloring, and Upkeep
Labrador Retrievers are large dogs, with males weighing 65 -80 lbs, and females reaching 55 – 70 lbs.  Potential lab owners should know that scientists have recently found a genetic link for obesity in this breed, proving that labs are prone to overeating and weight gain.  When obese, these dogs can easily weigh over 100 lbs.

Labs can be registered in one of three colors:  yellow, black, or chocolate.  The Labrador Retriever coat is short, dense, and lies close to the body with moderate shedding.

Other Pets?
Due to their friendly demeanor, Labrador Retrievers make great companions for other dogs and pets.  Although labs are hunting dogs, their prey drive is low and they are able to coexist peacefully with smaller animals, such as cats.  However, proper socialization is a necessity.

Labrador Retrievers maintain their puppy energy well into adulthood, so obedience training is necessary.  Labs are highly food motivated which makes them quick learners when high value rewards are present.  Owners should begin training their labs as early as possible to avoid stubborn behavior.

This breed requires a high quality diet, preferably one that is formulated for the special needs of a large breed that is prone to overeating and obesity.  In addition, labs often suffer from dry skin and allergies, so a food that is high in good-quality protein and fat is recommended.  Portion sizes should be closely monitored, and a Labrador Retriever should never be allowed to free-feed.

Labrador Retrievers are energetic dogs that require frequent, vigorous exercise throughout the duration of their lives.  When not properly exercised, labs can develop destructive tendencies, such as chewing and digging.  When bored, labs may display separation-anxiety type behaviors and excessive barking.  Running, hiking, and swimming are all great ways to tire out a Labrador Retriever.

Due to their large size and rambunctious nature, Labrador Retrievers require a house with a yard or an owner who is committed to regularly exercising his or her pet.  Labs are not well-suited to apartment living and tend to be happier and more content in rural or suburban areas.

The most common health problems for Labrador Retrievers are obesity, hip dysplasia, ear infections, and allergies.  Preventative care is necessary for this breed, with owners routinely monitoring the dog’s weight, providing ear care, and feeding as high-quality of a diet as possible.  The average lifespan of a lab is 12 – 13 years, which is common for a large breed.


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Anna Weber

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