But what to buy for the dog lover in your life? We’ve made your search a little simpler by rounding up 53 top-rated gifts every dog lover will appreciate, from dog-themed photo frames and mugs to useful items that will benefit your gift recipient and their favorite pup alike. Our picks are listed below in alphabetical order for easy reference. Ratings information is based on Amazon.com reviews and is current at the time of this writing. Happy shopping!
If your dog isn't on a leash or he escapes the house and gets lost, you have to be able to find him. The Link AKC Smart Dog Collar is the perfect solution. The genuine leather collar has built-in GPS and activity tracking, so you know where your dog is and if he's exercising enough. To use the GPS tracking, you have to pay for a service plan, which costs $9.95 per month, $95.40 for one year, or $166.80 for two years.
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).
Size: Labradors are a medium-large breed. They should be as long from the withers to the base of the tail as they are from the floor to the withers. The AKC standard includes an ideal weight for males of 65–80 lb (29–36 kg) and for females as 55–70 lb (25–32 kg). The guidelines for height vary between the AKC, which gives 22.5 to 24.5 inches (57 to 62 cm) for males and 21.5 to 23.5 inches (55 to 60 cm) for females, The Kennel Club which advises that males should be 56 to 57 centimetres (22 to 22 in) with females between 55 to 56 centimetres (22 to 22 in), and the FCI which quotes a range of 56 to 57 centimetres (22 to 22 in) for males with females ideal at 54 to 56 centimetres (21 to 22 in).
Labrador Retrievers are often categorised in one of two ways: English Labs or American Labs. The differences are principally behavioural, though there are differences in appearance as well. Behaviorally, English Labs tend to be more easily trainable, and are often considered better for non-professional owners to keep as pets or hunting companions. American Labs tend to be more energetic and, having been bred to compete in field trials, are better suited for professional owners with more experience and time to devote to training. In terms of appearance, English Labs tend to more prominently exhibit the 'blocky' heads for which Labrador Retrievers are known, whereas American Labs tend to be leaner and longer-legged.
The Lab’s thick, tapering tail—an “otter tail,” it’s called— serves as a powerful rudder, constantly moving back and forth as the dog swims and aids the dog in turning. As for the breed’s characteristic temperament, it is as much a hallmark of the breed as the otter tail. “The ideal disposition is one of a kindly, outgoing, tractable nature; eager to please and nonagressive towards man or animal,” the breed standard says. “The Labrador has much that appeals to people; his gentle ways, intelligence and adaptability make him an ideal dog.” When defining a Lab’s primary attributes, the most important might be temperament since his utility depends on his disposition. “If a dog does not possess true breed temperament,” wrote a noted dog judge, “he is not a Labrador.”
What could be better than finding out the breeds that make up your dog? A Dog DNA test can help with this and can also help detect potential risks for diseases that are passed down through the puppy’s parents. Once the recipient receives the DNA kit, they’ll simply swab the inside of the dog’s mouth then mail it back in a prepaid envelope. Then, in less than a month, they’ll get a detailed report back including a copy that can be shared with the vet.
As a result of specialised breeding there are significant differences between field and trial-bred and show-bred lines of Labradors. In the United States the former are sometimes mistakenly referred to as "American" and the latter as "English" although both field and show types are bred in both countries. In the United Kingdom they are called "Field" and "Show". Dogs bred for hunting and field-trial work are selected first for working ability, where dogs bred to compete in conformation shows are selected for their conformation to the standards and characteristics sought by judges in the show ring.
For dogs that enjoy dog toys even more than bully sticks, you can gift them the ZippyPaws birthday cake plush dog toy or the KONG Occasions birthday balloon dog toy. New dog toys are always great choice as dog gifts because they are gifts that keep on giving. Not only will your dog love to have something new to play with, but it will be even more special because she gets to use it while spending quality bonding time with you.
The first St. John's dog was said to be brought to England in or around 1820, but the breed's reputation had already spread to England; there is a story that the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury saw a St. John's dog on a fishing boat and immediately made arrangements with traders to have some of these dogs imported to England. These ancestors of the first labradors so impressed the Earl with their skill and ability for retrieving anything within the water and on shore that he devoted his entire kennel to developing and stabilising the breed.
Labrador Retrievers love, love, love to eat, and become obese very quickly if overfed. Limit treats, give your Lab plenty of exercise, and measure out regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time. And be warned that the Lab's large appetite extends to people food and even inedible items. Labradors will forage in garbage, counter surf, and can make a meal out of chewed-up items like children's toys.
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]
There’s nothing worse than being in the dark while your pets run amok at home. This pet nanny cam, with its 340 degree rotating camera, gives a dog owner the power to monitor their every move, so they never have to wonder what their pets have been up to. And the inclusion of a two-way speaker/microphone lets them hear Chucko’s smart-ass answer when they tell him to get off the couch.
The physical and temperamental breed traits, so familiar today to millions of devotees around the world, recall the Lab’s original purpose. A short, dense, weather-resistant coat was preferred because during a Canadian winter longhaired retrievers would be encrusted with ice when coming out of the water. In its ancestral homeland, a Lab would be assigned to a fishing boat to retrieve the fish that came off the trawl. Accordingly, in addition to having natural instincts as a retriever, the dog required a coat suited to the icy waters of the North Atlantic.
Labrador Retrievers come in three colors—black, yellow, and chocolate. Differences in behavior and personalities between the colors have been noted by many Lab owners, though these differences are no more than hearsay. While anecdotal evidence suggests the genes may be responsible for differences in temperament as well as coloring, this phenomenon has not been studied extensively.
Making a donation on behalf of your friend in her dog’s honor is an excellent alternative to standard gift-giving. Consider local shelters or the ASPCA (read our interview with ASPCA’s CEO to learn about some of the great work they’re doing to help shelter animals all over the country). Most animal rescue organizations have online donation forms that allow you to pick the amount. As an added bonus, the ASPCA even lets you pick out a card design to be emailed or mailed to the recipient!
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."
"This is my puppy Bauer at 3 months old. He is a purebred yellow Labrador Retriever from Heather Hollow Farm Labradors in Hardwick, VT. He likes to sleep a lot and play tug-of-war. He also likes to dig up the yard which mommy and daddy aren't too happy about :-). He loves walks and playing with other dogs. He's a very smart pup and learns very fast. He's practically potty trained—we use the ring the bell on the door system—and he sleeps through the night. He LOVES his crate and will go in by himself when he needs some alone time. He also likes to cuddle on your lap, which could pose a problem when he's 80 lbs. one day :-)"
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.
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.