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Labrador Retriever: Spotlight On A Very Good Boy

January 1, 2024

Labrador Retriever Day is coming up on January 8th. These sweet, lovable pups deserve to be celebrated. The Lab is among the world’s most popular dogs, and it’s not hard to see why. The Lab may be the perfect pup with its exuberant personality, playful antics, intelligence, and loyalty! A local vet puts these Very Good Boys in the spotlight in this article from Arapahoe Animal Hospital, your Boulder, CO vet, serving Louisville and surrounding areas.

Basics of the Labrador Retriever Breed

Medium-large dogs, labs are usually between 21.5 and 24.5 inches tall, weighing between 55 and 80 pounds. They can wear one of three pretty colors: yellow, black, or chocolate. Fido usually lives about 10 to 12 years.

Do Labrador Retrievers Have Any Health Issues?

Labradors are generally healthy dogs. However, there are a few specific issues they are susceptible to, including hip dysplasia. Fido may also be prone to heart disorders, hereditary myopathy (muscle weakness), eye problems, such as progressive retinal atrophy, and ligament ruptures.

Bloat, which tends to affect bigger dogs with deep chests, is another common issue. Talk to your vet about your pup’s feeding practices. You should also watch for symptoms. These include:

  • Hard and/or distended belly
  • Retching without vomiting (dry heaving)
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Pain/discomfort signs

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Generally, a good diet, proper exercise, and proper veterinary care should keep your pooch happy and healthy. However, you may want to consider some specific health tests, such as Evaluations of the eyes, hips, and elbows. Consult your veterinarian for specific advice.

What Kind Of Temperament Do Labrador Retrievers Have?

Fido truly excels in this particular area. Labradors are incredibly charming, and are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. They make great family pets and can get along well with other animals.

These pups are all about making new friends, scoring treats and belly rubs, and just generally being loved by everyone. That said, people should be advised that these guys have very high energy levels, and require lots of physical activity and playtime.

Fido’s love for chewing is legendary, so it’s essential to provide your canine buddy with plenty of toys. (You may melt at how adorable your pooch looks when he carries his toys around.)

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that Labrador Retrievers tend to maintain a youthful ‘puppy’ demeanor long after reaching adulthood. Training is essential!

Fido can be a bit clumsy and overly enthusiastic at times. However, he always has the best intentions and truly wants to please his human companions.

What Is The Labrador Retriever Good At?

Labs are skilled and versatile, and they excel in many areas. Swimming is one of their main talents. Fido’s slightly webbed toes come in very handy when he wants to jump off a dock after his favorite ball. The Lab is also an excellent flyball player, agility dog, freestyle dog, and Frisbee player.

As a result of their good nature, intelligence, and trainability, Labrador Retrievers are also often found working in search-and-rescue, drug and bomb detection, and service and assistance work. They make wonderful therapy dogs as well.

The Labrador Retriever: Breed History

Fido captured our hearts in the UK. He is technically a British retriever gun dog, with a complicated family tree. The Lab’s ancestors date back to the 1500s in Newfoundland and were named after the Labrador region. Breeders mixed local water dogs and larger Newfoundland dogs, creating what was known as the St. John’s Water Dog or Lesser Newfoundland. The new pooch was an exceptional swimmer with thick, water-repellent coats and webbed paws … a perfect dog for retrieving nets and fish from the frigid North Atlantic waters. They also assisted humans by towing dories and pulling ropes between boats.

In the 1830s, the 10th Earl of Home and his nephews, the 5th Duke of Buccleuch and Lord John Scott, introduced dogs from Newfoundland to Europe. These dogs were likely brought across the pond on trade ships between Canada and Poole in Dorset. They were then crossbred with British hunting dogs. In the late 1800s, the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury noticed Fido’s superb waterfowl retrieving abilities, and went on to breed his own puppies with descendants of the imported dogs, resulting in one of the most adored and endearing dog breeds today – the modern Labrador.

By the early 1900s, the Labrador Retriever was winning the hearts of American farmers and hunters.  In 1903, Fido became a member of the English Kennel Club. He was introduced to the American Kennel Club in 1917. By then, the breed was becoming very popular as a pet.

What Are The Lab’s Grooming Needs?

The Labrador Retriever has two coats: the top coat, which is coarse and thick, and the undercoat, which is soft. They have thick, water-resistant fur. They don’t shed heavily but need to be brushed regularly and bathed occasionally. Nail trimming and dental care are also important.

Labrador coat colors are a bit confusing. For instance, you may hear dogs referred to as white or red Labs. Those dogs are technically yellow labs … just in different shades of yellow. Then there’s the silver labrador retriever, which is both adorable and controversial. They’re definitely very cute, but are not officially accepted by the AKC. In fact, many breeders insist they aren’t purebreds. (We’ll leave that debate to others.)

Word to the wise: Some Labrador Retrievers enjoy playing in mud puddles, which will require a few extra baths or hose-downs.

What Makes Labs So Popular?

The Lab really has every quality you could wish for in a dog. They are cute, loyal, affectionate, fun, and smart. In fact, Fido was America’s number one pup for 30 years. Last year, however, a French Bulldog snatched the top spot from him. We wouldn’t be surprised if he reclaims his title next year.

What Kind Of Personality Does The Labrador Retriever Have?

Labradors are usually wonderful dogs, and their lovable personalities play a huge role in their popularity. Fido loves life, and never loses his enthusiasm for things like swimming, playing Fetch, and accompanying his humans wherever they go. (He’s also very fond of car rides, belly rubs, bacon, toys, and ear scritches.)

Choosing a Labrador Retriever: What Are The Pros And Cons?

There really are no good or bad dog breeds: the important thing is for people to choose the right pup for them. As mentioned above, these dogs are lovable, sweet, and lots of fun. They are also high-energy dogs, and can be prone to shenanigans, like rolling around in puddles or taking off after squirrels. Do lots of research, and look before you leap.

 Labrador Retriever Celebrities

Several Labs have gained public recognition. Clifford The Big Red Dog is a Labrador. Then there’s also Brian Griffen from Family Guy; Luath, from The Incredible Journey; Little Boo, the therapy dog assigned to Big Boo on Orange Is the New Black; and Spike, who played the character Old Yeller.

Do you have questions about caring for a Labrador Retriever? Please feel free to contact us at Arapahoe Animal Hospital, your Boulder, CO vet, serving Louisville and surrounding areas, anytime. We’re here to help!