Experts have a couple of different theories about how the breed came to be called the Labrador. One is that the name is borrowed from the Spanish word for laborer — labrador — which is certainly a fitting description, or that the breed is related to the dogs that accompanied Portuguese fishermen who trawled the Grand Banks off the coast of Labrador and its neighbor Newfoundland. Those dogs, known as cani di castro laboreiro, performed such tasks as retrieving items from the water, including fish-laden nets, and swimming messages from boat to boat. Sounds like a Lab, all right.
The intensity of black pigment on yellow Labradors is controlled by a separate gene independent of the fur colouring.[39] 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.[39]

The Lab is America's number one dog, which means there are plenty of people breeding Labs who are more interested in filling the demand for Lab puppies than in breeding healthy dogs with good temperaments. To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
Our final gift idea on this list acknowledges a dog mama's h2est urge – to make her furbaby happy. A BarkBox subscription is sure to do just that. Starting at less than $25 a month, BarkBox brings a themed box of dog toys and all-natural treats to a dog mama's door once a month. This way, a dog mom can make her pup happy and engaged with new toys every month, and it's convenient for her.
Best Made in USA Dog Toys: Because of all the work I have done reporting on the food industry, I’m frankly scared to give my dog chew toys made in China - which means almost all chew toys on the market. That’s why I love West Paw, a Bozeman, Montana-based company that makes all of its great products to exacting standards right here in the USA. My dog has always loved their plush toys (she still sleeps with one) but now she has grown into a powerful chewer and avid retriever, and because it’s almost impossible to find domestically made tennis balls, we use the durable Jive Dog Ball, made from a latex-free, BPA-and-phthalate-free, solid rubbery material that she hasn’t been able to even dent. It bounces, floats, and comes in three sizes. It’s part of the bigger Zogoflex line, all made of the same safe, clean and ultra-durable material, in a wide array of chew toy shape and sizes. These are great for outdoor play.
The Labrador’s hindquarters are broad, muscular and well-developed from the hip to the hock with well-turned stifles and strong short hocks. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs are straight and parallel. Viewed from the side, the angulation of the rear legs is in balance with the front. The hind legs are strongly boned, muscled with moderate angulation at the stifle, and powerful, clearly defined thighs. The stifle is strong and there is no slippage of the patellae while in motion or when standing. The hock joints are strong, well let down and do not slip or hyper-extend while in motion or when standing. Angulation of both stifle and hock joint is such as to achieve the optimal balance of drive and traction. When standing the rear toes are only slightly behind the point of the rump.
Experts have a couple of different theories about how the breed came to be called the Labrador. One is that the name is borrowed from the Spanish word for laborer — labrador — which is certainly a fitting description, or that the breed is related to the dogs that accompanied Portuguese fishermen who trawled the Grand Banks off the coast of Labrador and its neighbor Newfoundland. Those dogs, known as cani di castro laboreiro, performed such tasks as retrieving items from the water, including fish-laden nets, and swimming messages from boat to boat. Sounds like a Lab, all right.
The Friend took home the National Book Award for good reason. Nunez’s novel renders questions of loss, love, and art in sparse, elegant prose. But let’s face it: The best part of the book, as with any great work of literature, is the dog. In The Friend, it’s the curious bond between a lonely writer and a Great Dane named Apollo, who lumbers into her life after grief strikes them both. Give this to the loved one who reads with their own best friend curled in their lap or at their feet.
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).
If doggy nail polish is too flashy, Rona also has some recommendations for more straightforward dog-grooming gifts to keep your pet clean. “For a luxury shampoo and conditioner, I recommend the Mineral Red or argan shampoo and conditioner by Iv San Bernard.” According to the manufacturer’s website, Mineral Red is better for dogs with allergies or dry skin, while the Black Passion, which has argan oil and seaweed, is suitable for any type of coat.
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Labrador in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Labradors available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Dozer the Labrador Retriever at 3 years old—"Dozer is my best friend, he goes everywhere with me. Some of his favorite places to go are anywhere he can swim, dog park, hiking, the beach, doggy day care, swimming, DockDogs, swimming, and in case I didn't mention it, swimming. As I just mentioned Dozer and I love competing in DockDogs. His farthest jump is 17ft and we are working on Speed Retrieve. We are also going to start Agility and Flyball classes soon; both of us are super excited about that. Dozer also loves learning new tricks some of his favorites are sit handsomely (that's where he sits up) circle, How was your day (he will bark saying it's been real rough), Play dead, hold it (he will hold just about anything in his mouth), and crawl (just to name a few). I love my doggy soul mate."
Not every Labrador visit to the vet is for a genetic problem. Broken toes and torn toenails, cuts and scrapes, and foxtails embedded in the skin are just another day at the office for these big, active dogs. And like human athletes, Labrador Retrievers are prone to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. The cause of these types of injuries is not yet clear. Researchers are looking into whether anatomy or genetics are predisposing factors.
The AKC describes the Labrador's temperament as a kind, pleasant, outgoing and tractable nature.[5] Labradors' sense of smell allows them to home in on almost any scent and follow the path of its origin. They generally stay on the scent until they find it. Navies, military forces and police forces use them as detection dogs to track down smugglers, thieves, terrorists and black marketers. They are known to have a very soft feel to the mouth, as a result of being bred to retrieve game such as waterfowl. They are prone to chewing objects (though they can be trained to abandon this behaviour).
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as a Labrador Retriever! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
Several early descriptions of the St. John's water dog exist. In 1822, explorer W.E. Cormack crossed the island of Newfoundland by foot. In his journal he wrote "The dogs are admirably trained as retrievers in fowling, and are otherwise useful.....The smooth or short haired dog is preferred because in frosty weather the long haired kind become encumbered with ice on coming out of the water."[17]
Ah, the classic dog sweater. It’s undoubtedly one of the go-to Christmas gifts for pups, and with good reason: They’re adorable. We especially love this one from Lanyar, which has a holiday-ready pattern featuring reindeer and snowflakes against a bright red that all but shouts “Christmas!” Available in sizes from extra small to extra large, it’s easy to find the right fit for your dog (just follow the measurements on the listing). Made of 100% acrylic fiber, it has a wool-like feel that’s sure to keep your pooch warm all winter long.
Personalize a colorful collar for your dog, or get her ready for adventure with a durable jacket. And when you’ve seen to all things practical, dress her up with playful accessories like bow ties and bandanas. Then browse our sturdy dog bowls, long-lasting toys, all-natural treats, and more to find the perfect fit, whether you’re treating a friend or pampering your own four-legged companion.

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.
The sleek and easy-care Lab coat has two layers: a short, thick, straight topcoat, and a soft, weather-resistant undercoat. The two-layer coat protects him from the cold and wet, which helps him in his role as a retriever for hunters. The coat comes in three colors: chocolate, black, and yellow. Black was the favorite color among early breeders, but over the years, yellow and chocolate Labs have become popular. Some breeders have recently begun selling "rare" colored Labrador Retrievers, such as polar white or fox red. These shades aren't really rare — they're a variation of the yellow Lab.Grooming doesn't get much easier than with a Lab, but the breed does shed — a lot. Buy a quality vacuum cleaner and brush your dog daily, especially when he's shedding, to get out the loose hair. Labs need a bath about every two months or so to keep them looking clean and smelling good. Of course, if your Lab rolls in a mud puddle or something foul, which he's apt to do, it's fine to bathe him more often.Brush your Lab's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.Trim nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the feet in good condition and prevent your legs from getting scratched when your Lab enthusiastically jumps up to greet you. His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear. Because ear infections are common in Labs, also clean out the ears after bathing, swimming, or any time your dog gets wet. This helps prevent infection. Begin accustoming your Lab to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult. As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
The Whistle GPS Tracker is a simple clip on device that notifies you (via app and text) if your pet ever escapes from the designated area you create. It also lets you track their location using cellular and GPS technology and monitor their activity and health. Plus, it's water proof... just in case they decide to go for a swim. Just clip it on to the collar they already wear.
If yours is the type of dog that can’t sit still, a hearty game of fetch is just what the doctor (er, veterinarian) ordered, and the Chuckit ball is a great upgrade from your ratty tennis balls. This unique fetch toy comes in small and large sizes, with color options of either glow-in-the-dark green or bright orange, but the basics remain the same. Made from canvas, rubber and foam, the Chuckit has a grooved design that is both aerodynamic and allows your dog to easily pick it up and bring it right back to you. It floats in water and rolls as well.
Have a friend who loves to talk while walking their pup? A personalized phone case puts their pup where all eyes can see when they are out and about. Using Shutterfly, just upload a photo (tip: you might find a good one on social media) and then select a design and phone type to get it underway. The phone cases are made with scratch-resistant plastic in case your friend drops it at the dog park. And don’t worry they have cut out holes for the camera so they can continue to snap away (while the dog smiles back at itself on the back of the phone).
Who wants a game of tug of war? You know your pup does! The Mammoth Flossy Chews Cotton Blend 3-Knot Rope Tug is just the toy to get this holiday season. It's made from 100% natural cotton rope fibers that actually clean your dog's teeth with a floss-like action as he chews and plays with the toy. This 3-knot rope tug is made for durability and safety. It's also included in our buying guide to the best dog toys.

The introduction of a 'dilute' gene at some unknown point in history has resulted in silver-toned chocolate Labs and dilute-colored black and yellow Labs. These colors are not officially recognized by the AKC, and controversy surrounds these unique colorings. Some believe Weimaraner genetics may exist in the bloodlines of a silver, grey, or otherwise dilute Lab, though this idea has not been substantiated.
We all live on the go these days. That includes dogs. So if a dog lover doesn’t want Sparky drinking out of that filthy, gasoline-swirled puddle, they better have a good alternative on hand. And while dog owners have been known to be quite up-close and personal with their pets, most people draw the line at sticking their own water bottle in Sparky’s mouth. This is one of those simple, obvious gifts that will come to seem so indispensable that they won’t believe they ever got on without it.
Food Labrador Retrievers are prone to overeating and are food motivated. The breed responds well to treats during training sessions. The recommended diet for most Labs is about two cups of high-quality dry food daily, based on the dog's average weight and activity level. This amount should be split between two meals, or can be offered in a food-dispensing puzzle toy.
Chewy is like Amazon, but for pets (and also better). Like Amazon, you can get pretty much anything your pet might need delivered in just one or two days. Unlike Amazon, the experiences are tailored for your pet, so you can even get prescription medications and set up recurring refill deliveries. Membership is free, and orders ship at a flat rate—for a shopping experience that's tailored for pet owners, we think it's a pretty doggone good deal.

The breed's good nature has propelled it to the number one ranking in popularity in America, a position it intends to keep. Despite their fame as indoor pets, they are even more at home outdoors. It should always be remembered that Labradors are water retrievers at heart and from early on, puppies show a strong desire to carry things around with them and a strong attraction to water, even puddles!


The Labrador Retriever is an exuberant, very energetic breed that needs lots of exercise every day. A Lab who doesn’t get enough exercise is likely to engage in hyperactive and/or destructive behavior to release pent-up energy. The breed’s favorite activities are retrieving and swimming. Labs also love to burn up energy on hunting trips or at field trials, as well as by participating in canine sports such as agility, obedience, tracking, and dock diving. Many Labs also work hard in important roles such as search-and-rescue, drug and bomb detection, and as service and assistance dogs.
Pet hair? Don’t care!? But guests just might. Well, you know what doesn’t suck is a vacuum that is specialized to suck up pet hair and debris. This is just the thing your pet loving friend needs in their life (but probably would never buy for themselves). We reviewed several vacuums for pet hair, but the Bissell PowerEdge 81L2A is a great pick for the price. It has a swivel head, easy to empty dirt cup, 20-foot cord and comes with a 1-year warranty. While not the most glamorous gift, your friends will thank you for helping them later. And, next time you visit, you might be thankful too!
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]
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?
OK, so maybe you’ll never get fully in your dog’s head, but you can at least see the world through her eyes. Drop your GoPro in the Fetch mount, strap the harness around their midsection, and you’ll get to see what it’s like to be on the other end of the tug-of-war or in full romp on the beach. It’s the next best thing to knowing what in the world they’re smelling on the sidewalk.
This holiday season, don't forget about your four-legged friend—nor the two-legged friends who are passionate about their pets. Shop our Christmas gifts for dog lovers, including pet houses, bowls, and beds that are actually stylish. Along with gifts for dog owners, we also included gifts for dogs (hello chew toys and tasty treats!) that will get a few tail wags. Plus, check out these purr-fect gifts for cat lovers and cats.
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