Dog people are a different breed. Sure, you like animals, and so does everyone else – even if some people only like the way they taste. But there is a class of people who identify with their pets so deeply that it takes over their personality. Beware: if you plan to buy a gift, whether birthday, holiday, or other, for someone who belongs to this rare phylum: giving something to a dog lover that has nothing to do with their dog will likely register as an insult. Your relationship may well sour, and you’ll probably never know why.
The steady temperament of Labradors and their ability to learn make them an ideal breed for search and rescue, detection, and therapy work. They are a very intelligent breed. They are ranked No. 7 in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs. The AKC describes the breed as an ideal family and sporting dog. Their primary working role in the field continues to be that of a hunting retriever.
Recommended daily amount: 2.5 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl. Keep your Lab in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise. You'll need to take special care if you're raising a Lab puppy. These dogs grow very rapidly between the age of four and seven months, making them susceptible to bone disorders. Feed your puppy a high-quality, low-calorie diet that keeps them from growing too fast. For more on feeding your Lab, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
The intensity of black pigment on yellow Labradors is controlled by a separate gene independent of the fur colouring. Yellow Labradors usually have black noses, which may gradually turn pink with age (called "snow nose" or "winter nose"). This is due to a reduction in the enzyme tyrosinase which indirectly controls the production of melanin, a dark colouring. Tyrosinase is temperature dependent—hence light colouration can be seasonal, due to cold weather—and is less produced with increasing age two years old onwards. As a result, the nose colour of most yellow Labradors becomes a somewhat pink shade as they grow older.
In the United States, the breed gained wider recognition following a 1928 American Kennel Gazette article, "Meet the Labrador Retriever". Before this time, the AKC had only registered 23 Labradors in the country, in part because US and UK hunting styles had different requirements. Labradors acquired popularity as hunting dogs during the 1920s and especially after World War II, as they gained recognition as combining some of the best traits of the two favourite United States breeds as both game finders and water dogs.
Forequarters should be muscular, well coordinated and balanced with the hindquarters. Shoulders-The shoulders are well laid-back, long and sloping, forming an angle with the upper arm of approximately 90 degrees that permits the dog to move his forelegs in an easy manner with strong forward reach. Ideally, the length of the shoulder blade should equal the length of the upper arm. Straight shoulder blades, short upper arms or heavily muscled or loaded shoulders, all restricting free movement, are incorrect. Front Legs-When viewed from the front, the legs should be straight with good strong bone. Too much bone is as undesirable as too little bone, and short legged, heavy boned individuals are not typical of the breed. Viewed from the side, the elbows should be directly under the withers, and the front legs should be perpendicular to the ground and well under the body. The elbows should be close to the ribs without looseness. Tied-in elbows or being “out at the elbows” interfere with free movement and are serious faults. Pasterns should be strong and short and should slope slightly from the perpendicular line of the leg.
Just because a baby is a fur baby, that doesn’t make them any less important. Dog moms are a special breed (pun intended) who love their canine family as much as their human family — if not more. If you have a devoted, loving dog mom in your life (or even if that’s you), get her a gift to make her (and Fido’s) life a little easier. Scroll on for presents that celebrate your pal’s undying love for her favorite fluffy friend.
Kate Perry, dog trainer and author of Training for Both Ends of the Dog Leash, likes to give “practical items that help stimulate the dogs mind and help owners have a better relationship with their dogs.” One of her favorite interactive treat toys for pups is the Busy Buddy Twist and Treat, which keeps dogs working for their food. “Great as a gift for new dog owners, and great for training a dog to work for their food.”
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
The Labrador is a moderate dog, not extreme in any way. It is square or slightly longer than tall, of fairly large bone and substance. The breed’s broad head and strong jaws enabled the dog to carry the largest game birds, such as Canada geese. A heavy body and strong legs enable the dog to swim and run powerfully. The coat, which is short, straight, and dense with a soft undercoat, is weatherproof and helps to protect it from icy waters. The Lab is a working retriever and possesses style without over-refinement, and substance without clumsiness.
The Labrador Retriever is generally categorized by lines that are destined for slightly different purposes. The show Labradors are bred for beauty and carriage -- for perfection in appearance, in other words. The hunting dogs follows the more traditional bloodlines, with usefulness being the key to perfection. The hunting Retriever has the physical characteristics that make it impervious to frigid water, an extraordinary sense of smell, and the agility to bag game with speed, along with companionable devotion to its human counterpart. Champion, or field trial Labradors, are bred for speed, energy, and intelligence, with appearance being the last consideration. Their appearance strays somewhat from the traditional Labrador -- they are quite trimmer, with smaller heads, and it is generally agreed that this line may be a bit too enthusiastic for the average dog owner. They require a much higher degree of exercise, and considerably more space to move around. Not least is the most popular category, the family Labrador.
The high intelligence, initiative and self-direction of Labradors in working roles is exemplified by dogs such as Endal, who is trained to, if need be, put his wheelchair-bound human in the recovery position, cover him with a blanket, and activate an emergency phone. A number of Labradors have also been taught to assist their owner in removing money and credit cards from ATMs with prior training.
Fitness trackers are all the rage these days, but did you know they make them for dogs too? You can even sync them up with human activity trackers to have everyone’s data all in one place. The small tracker clips onto the collar (or comes as part of a collar). Then it syncs with your smartphone’s app to transmit data including the dog’s activity level and sleep patterns. Other tracked health information may include heart rate and more. Not only is it fun to compete and make sure they reach their activity levels, but it can also help dog owners detect potential illnesses when there is a change in behavior. Our top pick is the FitBark which comes in a cute little bone shape in a variety of colors. This is a great idea for the active dog lover in your life.
If you’re looking for a gift for a dogless dog lover, try Jess Rona’s book. In addition to being a top-notch dog groomer, she’s also the director behind the puppy-filled music video for Tegan and Sara’s “100x,” and has a killer Instagram. This book is filled with before-and-after glamour shots of well-groomed dogs. It also comes with a flip-book, so you can watch dogs get their hair blown back by a dryer.
For the human who loves their dog but hates the wet-dog smell, Strategist writer Karen Iorio Adelson recommends this funny-looking candle that she discovered at her vet’s office that made his office smell like an Italian apricot orchard. “It works not by filling the air with a new scent to overpower the stink, but by releasing a blend of natural enzymes — the titular ‘exterminator’ — that break down airborne animal odors at a molecular level.”