Once known as the "St John's Dogs," the Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the United States. The Lab is native to Newfoundland, where it worked side by side with fishermen catching fish that came loose from the lines and trained to jump into the icy waters to help pull in the nets. Specimens were brought to England in the 1800s by English ships coming from Labrador. The breed was crossed with setters, spaniels and other types of retrievers to improve its instincts as a hunter. The Labrador is highly trainable and is not only popular as a family companion but also excels in: hunting, tracking, retrieving, watchdog, police work, narcotics detection, guide for the blind, service dog for the disabled, search and rescue, sledding, carting, agility, field trial competitor and competitive obedience.
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.
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.

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Labrador Retrievers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Labs will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.Hip Dysplasia: Hip dyplasia is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.Elbow Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs. It's thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog's elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem or medication to control the pain.Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD): This orthopedic condition, caused by improper growth of cartilage in the joints, usually occurs in the elbows, but it has been seen in the shoulders as well. It causes a painful stiffening of the joint, to the point that the dog is unable to bend his elbow. It can be detected in dogs as early as four to nine months of age. Overfeeding of "growth formula" puppy foods or high-protein foods may contribute to its development.Cataracts: As in humans, canine cataracts are characterized by cloudy spots on the eye lens that can grow over time. They may develop at any age, and often don't impair vision, although some cases cause severe vision loss. Breeding dogs should be examined by a board-certified veterinary ophthamologist to be certified as free of hereditary eye disease before they're bred. Cataracts can usually be surgically removed with good results.Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, dogs become night-blind. As the disease progresses, they lose their daytime vision, as well. Many dogs adapt to limited or complete vision loss very well, as long as their surroundings remain the same.Epilepsy: Labs can suffer from epilepsy, which causes mild or severe seizures. Seizures may be exhibited by unusual behavior, such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. It's important to remember that seizures can be caused by many other things than idiopathic epilepsy, such as metabolic disorders, infectious diseases that affect the brain, tumors, exposure to poisons, severe head injuries, and more. Therefore, if your Lab has seizures, it's important to take him to the vet right away for a checkup.Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD): TVD is a congenital heart defect that has been increasing in prevalence in the Labrador breed. Puppies are born with TVD, which is a malformation of the tricuspid valve on the right side of the heart. It can be mild or severe; some dogs live with no symptoms, others die. TVD is detected by ultrasound. Research is ongoing to learn how widespread it is in the breed, as well as treatment.Myopathy: Myopathy affects the muscles and nervous system. The first signs are seen early, as young as six weeks and often by seven months of age. A puppy with myopathy is tired, stiff when he walks and trots. He may collapse after exercise. In time, the muscles atrophy and the dog can barely stand or walk. There is no treatment, but rest and keeping the dog warm seems to reduce symptoms. Dogs with myopathy should not be bred because it is considered a heritable disease.Gastric Dilataion-Volvulus: Commonly called bloat, this is a life-threatening condition that affects large, deep-chested dogs like Labs, especially if they're fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, or drink large amounts of water or exercise vigorously after eating. Bloat occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists. The dog is unable to belch or vomit to rid himself of the excess air in his stomach, and blood flow to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen, is drooling excessively, and retching without throwing up. He also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak with a rapid heart rate. If you notice these symptoms, get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.Acute Moist Dermatitis: Acute moist dermatitis is a skin condition in which the skin red and inflamed. It is caused by a bacterial infection. The more common name of this health concern is hot spots. Treatment includes clipping the hair, bathing in medicated shampoo, and antibiotics.Cold Tail: Cold tail is a benign, though painful condition common to Labs and other retrievers. Also caused limber tail, it caused the dog's tail to go limp. The dog may bite at the tail. It isn't cause for alarm, and usually goes away on its own in a few days. It is thought to be a problem with the muscles between the vertebrae in the tail.Ear Infections: The Lab's love of water, combined with his drop ear make him prone to ear infections. Weekly checking and cleaning if necessary helps prevent infection. If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Labs, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
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Wherever you acquire your Labrador Retriever, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter.In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Does the dog mama in your life constantly do everything she can to make her furbaby healthier, happier and live a lot longer? Get her "Dog Obsessed: The Honest Kitchen's Complete Guide to a Happier, Healthier Life for the Pup You Love," by Lucy Postins. This handy guide features more than50 easy recipes for dog treats and meals, and it also includes health tips, advice and dashes of humor. This book also includes a section about holiday health and safety for dogs – perfect for the season.
The foundational breed of what is now the Labrador Retriever[20] was known as the St. John's water dog, St. John's dog, or Lesser Newfoundland. When the dogs were later brought to England, they were named after the geographic area known as "the Labrador" (they were known as Labrador Retrievers because they "retrieved" in the Labrador Sea) or simply Labrador to distinguish them from the larger Newfoundland breed, even though the breed was from the more southern Avalon Peninsula.
But let's face it, there are so many gifts to choose from that a lot of them simply aren't that great. Maybe they're too ugly, too poorly made, or just downright cheesy. Some bones are just bad for a dog's teeth and digestive track, while others might not be environmentally sustainable enough. Some toys might break apart after just one night, and don't get us started on things you can make your dog wear. Have you seen some of the sweaters out there that can make dogs look like Muppets? These are difficult choices because the dog simply can't tell you what it wants. You have to decide, and hopefully these options will help. 
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.
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.

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The Cleverpet is the worlds first game console for dogs – and utilizes a series of lights and sensors to dispense treats based upon your dogs interactions. It works by guiding your dog through a series of increasingly difficult challenges in order to earn rewards. The device even pairs with a mobile app so that you can see when your dog is playing while you aren’t there – or even limit the amount of treats it will dispense!
In the field world, people will tell you “If you want a machine that mows over every blade of grass to find the bird, get a lab. If you want a dog to stop and think about the best route to find the bird, get a golden.” That’s really the difference–if you want a high energy dog that never stops and can take a lot of distress, labs are your dog. If you want a high energy dog that is strategic, and won’t make the same mistake twice, then you’re a golden person.
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.
Needless to say, this line is bred for intelligence, gentleness of temperament, tolerance, and a balance of energy with composure. They are as happy with a romp through the park as they are with a quiet evening at the hearth. No matter what differences in lines, all Labrador Retrievers are expected to maintain the characteristics that originally made them working dogs: stamina, energy, strength, and the ability to retrieve dependably, along with balanced structure and vitality.
The breed tends to shed hair twice annually or regularly throughout the year in temperate climates.[15] Some Labradors shed considerably; however, individual Labradors vary.[29] Labrador hair is usually short and straight, and the tail is quite broad and strong. The webbed toes of the Labrador Retriever make them excellent swimmers. The webbing between their toes can also serve as a "snowshoe" in colder climates and keep snow from balling up between their toes—a condition that can be painful to other breeds with hair between the toes. Their interwoven coat is also relatively waterproof, providing more assistance for swimming.
Whatever they were called, the dogs were known for their keen sense of smell, ability to find downed birds, and speed. British visitors to Newfoundland appreciated the dogs’ abilities and brought them back to England. There, they caught the eye of the Earl of Malmesbury, who acquired some of the water-loving dogs to hunt the swamplands surrounding his estate. The Earl’s son began breeding the dogs and it was he who gave them the name Labrador. The Kennel Club in England made the breed official in 1903.
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A colouration known as "Dudley" is also possible. Dudleys are variously defined as yellow Labradors which have unpigmented (pink) noses (LRC), yellow with liver/chocolate pigmentation (AKC), or "flesh coloured" in addition to having the same colour around the rims of the eye, rather than having black or dark brown pigmentation.[15][39] A yellow Labrador with brown or chocolate pigmentation, for example, a brown or chocolate nose, is not necessarily a Dudley, though according to the AKC's current standard it would be if it has chocolate rims around the eyes (or more accurately of the genotype eebb). Breed standards for Labradors considers a true Dudley to be a disqualifying feature in a conformation show Lab, such as one with a thoroughly pink nose or one lacking in any pigment along with flesh coloured rims around the eyes. True Dudleys are extremely rare.[39][40] Breeding in order to correct pigmentation often lacks dependability. Because colour is determined by many genes, some of which are recessive, crossbreeding a pigmentation non-standard yellow Labrador to a black Labrador may not correct the matter or prevent future generations carrying the same recessive genes. For similar reasons, crossbreeding chocolate to yellow Labradors is also often avoided.
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.

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.”
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