Meet the Labrador Retriever: A Canadian Classic!

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chocolate lab, yellow lab, and black lab dog panting

The most popular American Kennel Club dog breed in the United States—the Labrador Retriever has become iconic for their laidback temperament and loving personality.

Also, a sporting dog, Labs are notoriously known for their intelligence, trainability, and gentle nature. Learn more about why labs are an easy favorite for dog lovers.

A Canadian Classic: Who is the Labrador Retriever?

The Labrador Retriever is an AKC registered dog breed first recognized in 1917. Originating from the cold lands of Newfoundland, Canada, Labs were first bred as gun dogs that retrieved ducks and other waterfowl.

They also helped fisherman pull ropes and nets in the cold water. Labs are great swimmers, their otter tails act as a rudder, helping the dogs easily navigate the water.

These dogs are typically very sweet, non-aggressive, and playful dogs that make great family or working dogs.

English Labrador Retriever vs The American Labrador Retriever

During the early 1880s, Earl of Malmesbury noticed the Labrador’s retrieving skill, and so he brought them to England to breed them as duck hunting dogs.

It was not until 1903 when the Labrador Retriever was recognized by the English Kennel Club.  Today, English Labrador Retrievers are bred as show dogs to meet breed standards while American Labs are usually used for hunting and as fieldwork.

5 Facts You Need to Know About the Labrador Retriever

  1. Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular dog breed for the past 26 years according to the AKC.
  2. Labrador Retrievers originated in Newfoundland, Canada not Labrador, Canada, despite the name.
  3. Labs are water dogs, they have webbed feet and a waterproof coat.  They especially love to retrieve toys from the water.
  4. These dogs are a favorite for service dogs and emotional support dogs.  Labs are often used guide dogs and search and rescue dogs.  They can provide comfort to those with emotional trauma that suffer from psychological triggers like panic attacks or PTSD.
  5. Labs are known for having a “soft mouth” and can be trained to carry delicate items like eggs or even balloons without damaging them.

Appearance and Personality of the Labrador Retriever

Labs are the most popular dog breed in America because of their cheerful personality. These dogs are incredibly gentle and tend to be people-oriented.

Only a few things are cuter than a Labrador Retriever puppy!

Friendly, Kind, and More! Temperament of the Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers are smart, athletic dogs that are known for having a calm, gentle, and loving disposition.

Labradors are easy to please, which makes them easy to train through positive reinforcement and praise. This makes them great working and family dogs.

These puppers are great with children, other dogs, and gentle enough to play with smaller animals like rabbits and cats.

From a Silver Labrador Retriever to a Red Labrador Retriever: These Doggos Come in a Few Colors

The AKC only recognizes three color varieties: yellow labradors, chocolate labradors, and black labradors. Silver labs and red color varieties are considered shades of the three main colors.

Some shades are rarer than others, like the silver. Chocolate labs can have a light brown or a deep brown coat.

Labs can have light brown, yellow, or hazel eyes.  Lab puppies may have blue or green eyes that darken as they age.

Two Puptastic Pooches: Golden Retriever vs Labrador

Golden retriever and Labradors are very similar dog breeds in terms of temperament, intelligence, and athleticism.

They are both retrievers, Goldens are ranked the third most popular dog breed from the AKC. Golden Retrievers have a longer coat that is water repellant while labs have a shorter coat that is water resistant.

Labs may need more intense exercise than Goldens, as they have slightly higher energy levels. If you’re looking for a retriever, either breed is an excellent option.

Labrador Retriever Mix We All Need To Meet!

Because of their sweet disposition, Labs are popular mixed-breed dogs.  There are many different lab mixes to choose from. Two of the most popular are Lab/Golden mixes and Lab/Poodle mixes.

Mixed-breed dogs often have fewer health problems than purebred dogs.  Mixed-breeds can have the best personality traits from each breed.

Labrador Golden Retriever Mix

A Lab mixed with a Golden Retriever is affectionately called a Goldador.  These dogs have friendly temperaments and make great family dogs too.

Goldadors are gentle, athletic, affectionate, and trainable dogs that love to please.  These dogs typically have a dense undercoat with a shorter topcoat that requires grooming.

Labradoodle

Labradoodles are the perfect dogs for those who want the good nature of a Lab paired with the intelligence and hypoallergenic coat of the Poodle.

These dogs are often used as service dogs because they are allergy friendly. First generation Labradoodles can shed some.

Labrador Retriever Puppies: Trainability

Labrador puppies are easer to please and highly food motivated, which makes training easier.  Labs need exercise, especially when they are young.

They can get bored if left alone without enough toys. Bored puppies can lead to chewing and other destructive behaviors.

Labrador Retriever Maintenance

Labradors have a double coat, and the wiry coat that you feel when petting is the top coat.

They also have a dense, softer coat underneath, called the undercoat.  A double coat helps keep them warm in the cold as well as protects their skin from the sun.

They shed daily but have two big sheds in the spring and fall to prepare for summer and winter.  There can be a lot of hair, but daily brushing can help make it manageable.

Are These Doggos Healthy? Health Status of the Lab!

golden labrador mix upside down in grass

Labs are an athletic breed that is typically healthy. Purebred Labrador Retrievers can be prone to certain health problems that may also be present in lab mixes.

Labs can have joint health problems like elbow dysplastic and hip dysplasia.

DNA tests can check for hereditary disorders like centronuclear myopathy.

Labs need exercise and a nutritious diet as they are prone to obesity, which can cause other health problems like diabetes.

Labs and Obesity!

Labs should get an hour of activity each day.  Exercise alone will not maintain a healthy weight if your dog is being overfed with people food, treats, or too much kibble.  People food is very fattening and can have other harmful additives like salt, which is not healthy for dogs.

Always measure the dog food to make sure you are not overfeeding and use low calorie treats like pieces of green bean or carrot.

Labrador Retriever Life Span

The average Labrador lifespan is between 10 to 14 years, which is normal for a dog of their size.

Labrador Retriever Puppy Price

The price of a Labrador puppy depends on whether or not its an AKC registered purebred from a breeder or a rare color variety. Registered purebred Lab puppies cost between $800 to $1200 dollars.

You can find purebred unregistered labs for significantly less from a local breeder or even a local shelter.

Labrador Retriever for Sale

You can find registered AKC Labrador Retriever breeders through the American Kennel Club site.  You can also find local breeders online, on Facebook or in local classified ads.

Labrador Retriever Breeders

Reputable Lab breeders will often be registered through the AKC and allow you to meet the parents and the other puppies from the litter. Finding a reputable breeder is important for your puppy’s health and temperament.

Many purebred dogs (and even some highly desirable “designer” dogs) are bred at puppy mills in inhumane conditions leading to sick puppies and abused parents.

Labrador Retriever Rescues

You can easily find both puppies and adults at shelters and through Labrador Retriever Rescue groups.  You can find also find Labs for adoptions through your local Labrador Retriever Club.

Some great Lab rescues are the Sweethearts Animal Rescue and the Lab Rescue of the LRCP which focuses on rescues in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

5 Tips for People Who Love Labs!

black lab puppy playing in water

  1. If you’re looking for a Lab, try your local shelter and rescue group first.  There are many Labs looking for their forever home, even purebreds, and puppies.
  2. Labs are smart and energetic, so they need both mental and physical exercise.  They love to play games and need plenty of toys to stay happy and prevent any boredom-related chewing.
  3. Labradors have short coats but need to be groomed often. Daily brushing can help prevent some shedding, especially in the summertime.
  4. Labradors can gain weight quickly and become obese, which is hard on their health, especially joints.  Always measure your Lab’s food to make sure you are not overfeeding them and be careful with giving too many high-calorie treats.
  5. Labs love water and do not differentiate between a clean pool and a dirty puddle.

Common Questions on Labrador Retrievers:

How much do Labs shed?

How do I maintain a Healthy Weight for My Lab?

Do Labrador-Poodle Mixes Shed?

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