Get to know the Labrador
All you need to know about the breed
Labrador Retrievers are definitely not the dog equivalent of a couch potato. Swimming, playing – did someone say, “Fetch!”? – and long walks with their favourite humans…the Labrador is up for anything and everything. Including training. Training sessions are usually a satisfying endeavour thanks to the breed’s inherent intelligence. Balanced and playful, once trained, most Labradors are really great with children. Often trained as therapy dogs, the Labrador’s character traits mean they make for superb service animals. And they have pretty good manners too.
It’s important to remember that this breed has one fairly big motivator: their appetite. This can make it challenging to maintain a Labrador at a healthy weight, perhaps more so than with other breeds. However, with a balanced, right-for-Labradors diet, plenty of exercise and a good vet, you’ll have yourself a healthy, contented dog.
Quite robust and muscular, they have powerful jaws and a large nose. Their eyes, usually brown or hazelnut-coloured, are full of softness, intelligence and devotion. When a Labrador Retriever looks at its owner, the connection is clear for all to see.
Labradors’ coats are short and thick, without waves or feathering, with a weather-resistant undercoat. You can find the breed in yellow (ranging from light cream to fox-red), brown or all-black. Their tails, often aerobically in movement, are quite thick at birth. Completely covered with dense hair, it gives the Labrador’s tail the appearance of roundness, or what is commonly called an ‘otter tail’. Good advice: when a Labrador is content to see you, don’t stand in the path of its tail!
Known for their friendly, kind temperaments, the Labrador Retriever breed is supremely adaptable to almost any living situation. As a family dog, they will somehow gather the patience to wait for the children to get home from school and excitedly head into the garden to play with them. While a Labrador will bark when it hears strange or loud noises, they don’t make great guard dogs – when well-socialised, they are quite devoid of aggressiveness, bearing no ill will towards man or their fellow pets.
2 facts about Labrador Retrievers
Things to look out for
From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever can be prone to obesity
They are fond of contraband when they can get it! -- but our science shows that regular exercise and a balanced diet are Labrador essentials to offset their propensity for obesity. This will also minimise joint problems such as hip or elbow dysplasia, which can lead to malformation of the hips and arthritis as well as related conditions in the elbow. Sometimes painful, dysplasia can reduce the Labradors’ mobility, requiring surgery to fix. The good news? Early detection is key to managing this condition and regular check-ups can help you and your vet stay on top of it.
You know them as ear infections but the medical term is otitis
And Labrador Retrievers can be prone to them. While sometimes linked to lifestyle - activities like swimming, something Labs love to do, even if only waddling through deep puddles - one of the reasons Labradors are more likely to get recurring ear infections is because their pinna, the large exterior part of the ear, blocks the free circulation of air – so moisture can get trapped in the ear canal. The pain, itchy, smelly ears, and possible hearing loss that can accompany otitis can be averted much of the time with exams twice a year. But don’t stress, your vet knows this and can catch anything unusual early on and treat it.
They can also be prone to ligament tears
Cruciate ligaments are the muscles that hold the knee joints together. If they tear, it can be very painful for a dog as it allows their knee joints to slide back and forth. This is the most common orthopaedic injury in active dogs that have a straight up and down hind leg structure like the Labrador Retriever. Luckily, it is fairly straightforward to spot issues before they appear with twice yearly orthopaedic exams.
Your vet may also discuss your Labrador’s weight management as a preventive measure. These simple tools can help you stay on top of potential problems.
Caring for your Labrador Retriever
Grooming, training and exercise tips