The life expectancy for Labrador Retrievers is generally 10-12 years. They have relatively few health problems, but are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, ear infections and eye disorders. Labs that are fed too much and exercised too little may develop obesity problems. It’s very important that they get daily exercise along with moderate rations of food.
Although the Newfoundland dogs suffered a loss of popularity for a time owing to a taxation on dogs in Canada, they had been frequent companions to Britain bound travelers during the 18th and 19th centuries and had, over that time, become a firmly entrenched member of the estate classes. It was the lesser of the Newfoundland breed that rose most in popularity, and in 1903, this trimmer and more energetic Newfoundland had made its way into the English Kennel Club, gaining a name all its own along the way: the Labrador Retriever. There, the breed was refined, particularly for retrieving game for hunters, becoming well regarded for its care in not damaging the game, for its devotion to human, and for its good manners.
In his book Excursions in and About Newfoundland During the Years 1839 and 1840, the geologist Joseph Beete Jukes describes the St. John's water dog. "A thin, short-haired, black dog came off-shore to us to-day. The animal was of a breed very different from what we understand by the term Newfoundland dog in England. He had a thin, tapering snout, a long thin tail, and rather thin, but powerful legs, with a lank body, – the hair short and smooth." wrote Jukes. "These are the most abundant dogs in the country...They are no means handsome, but are generally more intelligent and useful than the others...I observed he once or twice put his foot in the water and paddled it about. This foot was white, and Harvey said he did it to "toil" or entice the fish. The whole proceeding struck me as remarkable, more especially as they said he had never been taught anything of the kind."
Filson Dog Gear: “Might as well have the best” has long been a slogan of Filson, a legendary outdoor gear and clothing company that took off during the 1897 gold rush, supplying the highest quality items to the hardest working outdoorsmen. Your dog might as well have the best too, and mine wears the Filson Dog Chest Protector ($75) to keep burrs, ticks and mud off her chest and belly and avoid pointy sticks when running crazy through the woods. There are tons of coats and vests for dog, yet almost none of them protect the underside, and while a dog like mine doesn’t need warmth, I like the protection, and this is water and tear resistant but lined with soft cozy cotton, it’s blaze orange for visibility, has very adjustable straps and buckles, is made in the USA and comes in three sizes. For more traditional topside protection, Filson makes the Shelter Cloth Dog Coat ($95), using its proprietary Shelter Cloth, a heavyweight, oil finished waterproof canvas, lined with virgin wool which remains warm even when wet. The coat is reversible, so you can go solid dark green or red and black check. It is easy to put on and off, secure, adjustable and features a double layer sueded moleskin neck for comfort. Like Filson’s human jackets, it’s a real deal outdoor garment for tough environments. You can get cheaper pet coats but as Clinton Filson said in 1914, “The goods we quote must not be confounded with the cheap and vastly inferior grade with which the market is over-run. Such goods are not only useless for the purpose for which they are intended, but the person wearing them would be better off without them.” Or the dog wearing them.
The Secret Agent Leash by Paww is made with soft webbing that's surprisingly durable and has reflective fabric woven into the length of the leash to improve nighttime visibility. The best part is the quick-tether clip that allows you to securely attach your four-legged friend to fence posts and parking signs without ever having to unleash him. [$20; paww.com]
Start training early; be patient and be consistent and one day you will wake up to find that you live with a great dog. Even so, there are a couple of Lab behaviors that you should expect to live with throughout his life. They are part and parcel of being a Lab, and nothing you do will change them. Labs are active, Labs love to get wet, and Labs love to eat.
Number one in Americans’ preferences, Labrador Retrievers are the perfect companions for both single people and families. They’re playful, affectionate, and easy to train, so there’s no reason not to love such a dog. But having a Lab is a full-time job with no weekends off, and with vacations where you’ll be missing your dog more than you can imagine.
If the dog parent is the self-help type, Sonia Nathan, owner of Sonia’s Pet Grooming, recommends The Other End of the Leash by Patricia M. McConnell. “Better than any other writer, McConnell helps us appreciate that our relationships with our dogs are enriched by an understanding of ourselves — knowing how we differ from dogs and how we are comparable. It’s more than a ‘how-to’ book. It’s a ‘why-to’ book: why we behave in certain ways around dogs, and why understanding that will help us engage in a more gratifying manner.”
I used this product when I trained my chiweenie more than four years ago as a puppy and recently purchased them again to train the new addition to our household, a french bullweenie! These treats are a good size for a large breed puppy as they are about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch big. For smaller breed dogs that average about 2-5 pounds during early puppyhood when you are potty training and teaching basic commands/tricks, they are much too large. I cut the treats with scissors yielding four smaller treats and those are perfect for smaller mouths! Not only are they more palatable at that size but you can get a longer training session in without your pup getting full and ruining their dinner. I wonder if the number of negative reviews about diarrhea and tummy upset in their pup from these treats is because they were feeding too many ... full review
Orvis Travel Crate: A fold-flat soft sided (not metal cage) travel crate is a huge boon to pet owners who travel, and I’ve used them for more than a decade at hotels, friends’ houses and in all sorts of on the road scenarios. The problem is that most are flimsy and I went through a few broken zippers and other durability issues before the nation’s oldest mail order retailer, Vermont-based hunting, fishing and outdoor specialist Orvis, introduced this new better version, the Orvis Field Collection Folding Travel Crate. Instead of thin plastic fabric like most, it uses heavy-duty, tight polyester Oxford weave around a strong, tubular metal frame, folds flat, and sets up in seconds, featuring top, side, and front zipped entry doors with ventilated windows. It was designed to keep your dog comfortable and safe in the back of an SUV on the way to and from the field, but works equally well in luxury hotels or wherever your adventures take you and your best friend. It comes in Orvis’ classic rugged dark khaki colors and features leatherette trimmed and rounded corners that protect your floors and auto interior, plus a carry handle for easy transport. It also has removable and machine washable plush, padded Sherpa fleece mat with a water-resistant backing and extra comfort (109-$149).
Another option for a GPS tracker is the Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker. This small, lightweight tracker attaches to your pup’s 1-inch collar or harness and is able to determine their location, as well as their active minutes throughout the day by using cellular, GPS, and wi-fi technology. If your dog leaves the designated safe place (say, your yard or your house), you’ll get notified right away via email, text, or through the app. The tracker is waterproof and has a battery life up to seven days. The app is available for iOS and Android. Subscription plans are sold separately.
There are two types of people in this world: dog lovers who are so in love with their four-legged friends that they, on some deep emotional level, understand Barbra Streisand’s impulse to clone her dog, and everyone else. If you fall in that latter category — or are even, god forbid, a cat person — it can be tricky to find a gift for the dog lover in your life that they’ll actually find useful. Though even the most serious dog parents could probably use some help in finding unique and fun dog gifts that go beyond the regular old treats, toys, and travel accessories.