(aka: Lab, Labrador)
The Labrador Retriever is a handsome, sturdy, and robust dog that is large in size. He has dark, wallowing eyes, and an eager and intelligent expression. The coat of the Labrador Retriever is short, close fitting, and sleek, and the coloring can be black, yellow, or chocolate. The weight of the Labrador Retriever is around 55-70 pounds for females, and around 65-80 pounds for males. In terms of height the Labrador Retriever reaches around 21-24 inches for females, and around 22-25 inches for males.
Labrador Retriever Temperment
The most popular of all the AKC breeds, the Labrador Retriever is a good natured, loving, and loyal dog that makes a wonderful family pet. These dogs are intelligent, responsive, and obedient, which makes them one of the easiest breeds to obedience train. The Labrador Retriever is well suited to both inexperienced and experienced dog owners. He is very quick to learn, and is friendly and sociable, with a mild manner and a very amiable attitude. The temperament and personality of the Labrador Retriever reflects his number one position on the AKC popularity list. He is full of energy, loves to join in with a wide range of activities, and has plenty of love and affection to shower upon his family.
The Labrador Retriever is not a dog that is suited to those with little time for their pets, as these dogs thrive on companionship and affection from their loved ones. Some do have a tendency to chew, and in particular can indulge in destructive chewing if neglected. Although these dogs have plenty of spirit and some can be quite independent, they are usually easy to train, as they are clever and eager to please. This breed gets along with just about everyone, from children and strangers to pets and other animals. These active dogs do require regular exercise, and will fare well with a secure, safe area in which to play and enjoy some exercise.
The Labrador Retriever is a low maintenance dog when it comes to grooming, and his coat needs to be brushed on a weekly basis to keep it sleek and in good condition. He is a medium shedder, and can shed more heavily on a seasonal basis, so he is not the ideal choice for those with allergies. You will also need to step up the grooming at times of the year when he is shedding more heavily.
The Labrador Retriever, contrary to its name, most probably arose from the St. John's Dogs used for fishing in Newfoundland. The St. John's Dog would go out with the fishermen in their boats and retrieve distant lines or nets of fish, hauling them back to the boat. These early purposes for the dog are the most likely reason for the waterproof coat, rudder-like tail, high endurance, and love of swimming seen in the Labradors of today.
In the late nineteenth century, however, some of the St. John's Dogs were brought to land and trained as gun dogs for aristocratic hunting and retrieving. The more refined dogs became known as "Labrador Dogs" in order to distinguish them from the larger Newfoundland Retriever, developed for some of the same purposes.
The popularity of the newly-christened Labrador Retriever as a gun dog and sporting aid led to the breed spreading worldwide, and today the Labrador Retriever is a highly-recognized and distinctive breed in thousands, if not millions of homes around the globe.
The Labrador Retriever is an extremely excitable dog, known for its propensity for swimming, pulling on leashes, and jumping on friends and family members to show its excitement. This kind of behavior is normal for many dogs, but for the Labrador Retriever--which usually weighs at least sixty pounds, and often much more--it can be a serious problem. Rudeness is one worry, of course--no family member wants to be jumped on by a wet eighty-pound dog if they can help it--but over-excited and under-trained Labs can also knock down and injure children or smaller adults, and it's simply a hassle to deal with as a Lab owner.
So training for your Lab should start as early as possible. At about six months, Labs are fully-grown (physically, at least--mentally, Labs require about three years to fully develop), and training at this point becomes much more difficult simply due to the dog's large size. So introducing simple commands ("sit" and "heel" in particular) should be done before that six-month threshold in order to make later training much more manageable, and to discourage jumping and other rude behavior to some extent.
Consistency and positive rewards for good behavior (as opposed to negative punishments for bad behavior) are mainstays of any effective dog training, and both will work well with a Lab--with some reservations. Although an individual trainer can be perfectly consistent with a Lab where rewarding good behavior and discouraging bad behavior are concerned, the Lab will form its behavior patterns based on its entire human "family"--meaning that if one human tolerates jumping while another human forbids it, the Lab will usually continue to jump due to the "mixed messages". It's important to make everyone in your family aware of what rules the Lab is to follow and to make sure that everyone enforces those rules. Although Labs are very intelligent and can learn rules of behavior quickly, they can be just as quick to "unlearn" rules that don't make sense to them. So be as consistent with the rules as possible.
Positive rewards for good behavior should also be verbal rewards or rewards of affection--soothing voices, pettings, and other similar rewards--as opposed to food rewards. Labs have a tendency toward overeating, and offering food rewards for good behavior can contribute heavily to this problem if not moderated closely. If you do need to offer your Lab a special dog treat or other food-based reward for a particularly impressive feat of obedience, then make sure to adjust the Lab's diet accordingly in order to maintain good health in the long term--far more important, one could argue, than good behavior.
There are a number of health issues and disorders linked to this breed, and some of these include: eye problems, HD and elbow dysplasia, CMO, thyroid problems, vWD, diabetes, PRA, OCD, allergies, seizures, and heart problems. The life expectancy of the Labrador Retriever is around 10-12 years. The parents of the Labrador Retriever puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.