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Labrador Retriever pup at man's heels

Getting to know Labrador Retrievers

Are you looking for a high energy, loving, smart dog? You may want to consider a Labrador retriever.

The breed was first recognized in the UK in 1903 and later in the US in 1917. Today, Labradors are the world’s most well-known and beloved dog breeds. Ranking first among the American Kennel Club’s most popular dog breeds in the US since 2013, the breed has a long history as a working dog (commonly found working in law enforcement), a hunting dog, and a family pet.

Here we’ll take a look at its history and characteristics—and why the Labrador retriever might be the perfect dog for you.

History of the Labrador Retriever

Originally named the St. John’s water dog, the Labrador Retriever takes its name from the region of Newfoundland where it first emerged. As a helper to local fishermen, the Lab earned a reputation for loyalty, trainability, and tolerance for the cold Canadian waters. Labs were frequently used by both fishermen and hunters to retrieve fish or waterfowl, pull ropes, gather nets, and perform other tasks because of their superior swimming ability.

Three Labrador Retrievers running out of the water

Characteristics of the Labrador Retriever

Labs range in weight from about 55 to 90 pounds, and their official color variations include black, chocolate and yellow—with some yellow labs appearing nearly white. Generally sturdy and friendly, the Lab tends to enjoy human company and is easily trained.

Here are additional facts about the Labrador Retriever:

  • Labs are long-lived and can bring joy to your family for up to thirteen years.
  • They LOVE to eat! They will eat the food you feed them and they will eat items they find on the ground or in your yard! Given their voracious appetites, it is important that they receive regular exercise to keep them at a healthy weight.
  • They are happy, patient and loving and make ideal family pets. They have easygoing personalities and are not known for aggression.
  • They love to play in the water. They have subtle webbing between their toes, which not only helps them swim, but also prevents ice pellets from forming between their pads in winter.
  • They do well in all climates and can endure chilly water with ease.
  • They are very muscular and strong and there are times they want to do what they want to do. They require training and direction to help them become great family members.
  • Because they are social, they don’t like to be left alone. If left alone, they could become destructive – digging, chewing or destroying other objects. Crate training keeps them safe and protects your belongings.

Is A Labrador Retriever the Right Dog for You?

Labs tend to do well with kids and with other pets, which has made them a family favorite in the US. And because they are smart and easy to train, they have also become successful helper dogs for the disabled—working as diabetic warning dogs, seizure response dogs, and seeing-eye dogs.

Labs do need a fair amount of living space, so they tend to better in houses with yards than in small apartments. Though not as thick as the Newfoundland’s coat, the Labs water-resistant coat does shed, so be prepared to do some regular grooming. Labs are loyal and affectionate, and love to be outdoors—so if you enjoy hiking, canoeing, hunting, or fishing, you’re in luck with a Lab.

Because the Lab is a sturdy older breed, they tend to experience fewer health problems than many other breeds. They do, however, show a tendency toward joint problems (such as hip dysplasia). Obesity can stress an animal’s joints further, so a healthy diet and regular exercise are recommended to keep your Lab fit and trim. Labs can experience genetic issues like hip dysplasia. These issues may require costly, ongoing treatment, and it makes sense to consider purchasing pet health insurance when you bring your puppy home.

We hope with these facts in mind, you’ll find the perfect Labrador retriever for your and your family!

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