Known for being friendly, easy-going, and intelligent, the lovable Labrador Retriever is as great a companion as you can ask for. The Lab’s short yet dense, weather-resistant coat comes in classic black, chocolate, or yellow. The breed may also have white markings, for example, on the chest. The American Kennel Association states that the yellow color can range from fox-red to light cream, with potential variations in shading around the dog's ears, back, and underparts. Chocolates can vary in shade from light to dark chocolate.
The AKC categorizes this breed as a sturdy, medium-sized sporting dog with a stable build and temperament. For this reason, they make excellent hunting companions. Labs help hunt and retrieve waterfowl or upland game, and their easy-going nature makes Labs great working and family dogs.
Depending on the sex, the breed can stand between 21 - 25 inches at the shoulder. Retrievers have soft, friendly, dark eyes. They have a thick, slick, tapered tail that is always wagging thanks to their positive nature. Many compare it to an otters’ tail. The Retriever has an average life spanning between 10-12 years.
The AKC states that the Labrador Retriever originated on the Canadian Island of Newfoundland. The Labrador Territory, the land the breed was named after, is located just northwest Newfoundland. Around the 1500s, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and English fishermen migrated to Canada's Atlantic Coast and brought working dogs with them. All of these breeds cohabitated and eventually produced a new breed known as the St. John’s Dog, after the capital of Newfoundland.
While the St. John Dog is no longer around, a giant breed, the Newfoundland, and a smaller breed, the modern-day Labrador Retriever still exists today. The shorthaired Labrador Retriever breed was preferred due to its sleek water-resistant coat, which doesn’t accumulate ice, as opposed to his distant cousins’ longer coats.
Labrador Retrievers took to the water as fish and people noticed. Fishermen used the dogs in fisheries. The Labs hauled the lines and dove off the net for cod that had slipped off the hook. They became known for their diving skills when fishermen had the dogs perform for crowds, diving deep into the ocean and retrieving items from the depths.
Labrador Retrievers had to be highly sturdy to work in the freezing temperatures and near arctic winds of Newfoundland. They worked on the frozen ice-covered snow and slippery rocks over freezing water. The athletic Labs pulled heavy loads of firewood, barrels of fish, and other essentials on sleds. People indeed depended on Labs to work and go places that horses could not.
Where Labrador Retrievers truly shines is in the water. While fishermen fished, the Retriever’s job was to hold the rope steady, pulling the boat to shore, even during rip tides or stormy weather! Sailors began selling the St. John’s Dog for profit, exporting them to England, evolving into the modern-day British Retriever.
The Earl of Malmesbury was an avid duck hunter and admired Labrador Retrievers for their duck hunting skills. Soon after that, the family had a breeding program established. Unfamiliar with Canadian territories, the family mistakenly named it the “Labrador Dog,” the island not far off.
The normally Black Labrador Retrievers were now producing chocolate and yellow variations through breedings. Black labs were still the most sought after as hunting dogs, but chocolate and yellow Labs were eventually accepted into all of the world’s kennel clubs. Today, The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog in America! People still depend on Labs to this day, with Labrador Retrievers serving as search-and-rescue, bomb detection, and Army service assistance dogs!
Labrador Retrievers are easy-going, highly intelligent, and easy to train. Labs are famously known for being outgoing and making some of the best family dogs. The breed is excellent with young children, and they see a friend in everyone, including being open and non-threatened by strangers.
The Labs’ eagerness to please and intelligence make them perfect candidates for working dogs in multiple fields, and to this day are still often bred for working or hunting purposes. The Labs’ even-keel temperament is a blessing to whomever they are around.
As Labrador Retrievers were originally bred to be working dogs in different environments, they get along well in environments with many people. They are not bothered to be in loud or crowded environments. Learning commands before they are fully grown and at full strength is highly recommended. Of course, early socialization and exposure to different environments will help them get along better.
Puppy gates will help set boundaries inside. Lab puppies will need a safe space to run, tumble, and do puppy things. They require access to fresh water, a dog bed/rest area, and plenty of fun toys. Puppies benefit from having some bone or chew toys, not just for entertainment, but because teething can be particularly painful for puppies; having something for them to chew on helps alleviate the pain.
As Labrador Retrievers are highly energetic and love to swim and play games of fetch, a fenced-in backyard with a pool and a nearby lake is heaven for a Lab! A quick trip to the local dog park or dog beach with puppy friends is just as fun, if not more. Labs are a social breed and greatly enjoy socializing with other people and dogs. They make great companions on a hike through the forest or a swim at the beach. Labs are true adventure buddies. Just bring something for your Lab to retrieve, and they will be happy as a clam!
The Labrador Retriever has a short yet dense, water-repellent coat. The double coat has more fur, and they are known to shed. This goes back to their hunting days when they had to shed to adapt their coat to the changing seasons. The Labrador Retriever’s slick coat repels a lot of dirt and water, keeping them fairly clean. Regular vacuuming, lint-rolling, and brushing may be required, especially if allergy sufferers are in the home. They should receive regular nail trimmings and teeth cleanings.
These athletic, jubilant dogs require a lot of exercises - at least an hour a day if possible. Labrador Retrievers were bred originally for working purposes and had the energy to prove it. Labrador Retriever puppies could engage in destructive and unwanted behavior if their exercise needs are not met.
Retrievers are clever dogs known primarily for their adaptability, so they enjoy mental stimulation. Taking the time to teach your Lab a few basic survival tricks, such as
Learning new parlor tricks is a positive way to connect with your pet and keep them (and you!) entertained. Puppy training and agility class exercises engage both the mind and body.
Labrador Retrievers enjoy a wide variety of activities and can go along with you almost anywhere you go. A hike, a run, a game of fetch. They love swimming, and as Retrievers have been born and bred to retrieve items for over five hundred years, they may surprise you with their ability to dive and retrieve items for you—one of a Lab’s favorite activities.
In addition, they are excellent participants in rally canine sports courses like agility, obedience, tracking, and dock diving.
The AKC says that Labrador Retrievers should do well on any type of high-quality dog food, either commercial dog food or home-prepared, with your veterinarian’s approval. Select a food that is appropriate for the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some Labs are prone to weight gain with age, especially if given too many treats. If your Lab is obese, speak to your veterinarian about weight and diet options. Learn about which human foods are safe or unsafe for canine consumption. And don’t forget to make sure your dog gets plenty of freshwater every day! Multiple water sources are encouraged.
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