One of the most popular breeds in the USA, the Labrador Retriever is loyal, loving, affectionate and patient, making a great family dog. Highly intelligent, good-natured, very willing and eager to please, it is among the top choices for service dog work. Labs love to play, especially in water, never wanting to pass up the opportunity for a good swim. These lively dogs have an excellent, reliable temperament and are friendly, superb with children and equable with other dogs. They crave human leadership and need to feel as though they are part of the family. Labs are easily trained. Some may be reserved with strangers unless very well socialized, preferably while they are still puppies. Adult Labs are very strong; train them while they are puppies to heel on the leash, and not to bolt out doorways and gateways before the humans. These dogs are watchdogs, not guard dogs, although some have been known to guard. They can become destructive if the humans are not 100% pack leader and/or if they do not receive enough mental and physical exercise, and left too much to their own devices. Show lines are generally heavier and easier going than field lines. Field lines tend to be very energetic and will easily become high strung without enough exercise. Labs bred from English lines (English Labs) are more calm and laid back than Labradors bred from American lines. English Labs mature quicker than the American type.
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.
The cost of a Labrador Retriever puppy varies depending on his place of origin, whether he is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and show or working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Considering the love I have for Riggins, it shouldn’t surprise you that I have a tiny obsession of art featuring his cute furry face. You aren’t able to turn your head in my apartment without seeing an artist rendition of my adorable mutt staring back at you. Some would call it an addiction. I call it a careful collection of artistic items featuring my baby boy.
Breeders should sell puppies with a written contract guaranteeing they'll take back the dog at any time during his life if you become unable to keep him, and with written documentation that both the puppy's parents (and if possible, his other close relatives) have had their hips, eyes and elbows examined and certified by the appropriate health organizations. Seek out a breeder whose dogs are active in field trials, hunt tests, agility, obedience and other sports that require athleticism and good health, and not just ribbons from the show ring.
"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 :-)"
Ruffwear Car Hammock: If you ever take your dog in the car and don’t know about hammock-style seat covers you will be kicking yourself when you check these out - I’ve used them for years. This is the best way to go for both the dog and the car, period. These hook to the headrests behind and in front of the back seat, giving the dog more room by turning the otherwise wasted leg space into an extension of the seat surface. They catch all the dirt, come in and out of the car in seconds, and can be washed in the machine, while leaving the seat underneath totally clean. While the concept is great, I went through a few bargain versions that eventually broke (usually the headrest strap) before I found Ruffwear’s Dirtbag seat cover, which has several advantages. First off, it’s tough, durable and totally waterproof - even for the muddiest dog. Secondly, it has ingenious extra flaps that slide into the space in the seat where the seatbelts are, something I have seen on no other model, which better anchors the installation and makes it lay flat, creating more usable surface area. It has convenient zippered slots where seatbelts come through, and also works very well on bench style seats without a front headrest, like in a minivan or large SUV. Finally, extra side flaps keep the ends of the seat by the door clean, and the non-slip surface is easier on your dogs. Highly recommended!
Outdoor Labrador Retrievers love to spend time outdoors. Their thick, water-repellent coat keeps them warm and dry through many weather conditions and they enjoy any opportunity to run off some energy. Swimming is a favorite activity of many Labs. However, time outdoors is best spent with people rather than alone: Labs thrive on interaction, but they are also known to roam due to their hunting instincts. A fenced yard may be necessary to prevent wandering.
Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
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The sturdy, well-balanced Labrador Retriever can, depending on the sex, stand from 21.5 to 24.5 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 55 to 80 pounds. The dense, hard coat comes in yellow, black, and a luscious chocolate. The head is wide, the eyes glimmer with kindliness, and the thick, tapering “otter tail” seems to be forever signaling the breed’s innate eagerness.
Labradors like to eat, and without proper exercise can become obese. Laziness is a contribution to this. Obesity is a serious condition and can be considered the number one nutritional problem with dogs. A study shows that at least 25% of dogs in the United States are overweight. Therefore, Labradors must be properly exercised and stimulated. A healthy Labrador can do swimming wind sprints for two hours, and should keep a very slight hourglass waist and be fit and light, rather than fat or heavy-set. Obesity can exacerbate conditions such as hip dysplasia and joint problems, and can lead to secondary diseases, including diabetes. Osteoarthritis is very common in older, especially overweight, Labradors. A 14-year study covering 48 dogs by food manufacturer Purina showed that Labradors fed to maintain a lean body shape outlived those fed freely by around two years, emphasising the importance of not over-feeding. Labradors should be walked twice a day for at least half an hour.
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 Labrador Retriever was bred to be both a friendly companion and a useful working dog breed. Historically, he earned his keep as a fisherman’s helper: hauling nets, fetching ropes, and retrieving fish from the chilly North Atlantic. Today’s Labrador Retriever is as good-natured and hard working as his ancestors, and he’s America’s most popular breed. These days the Lab works as a retriever for hunters, assistance dog to the handicapped, show competitor, and search and rescue dog, among other canine jobs.
Labs are easily trained, being naturally patient and obedient, but they are probably not the best guard dogs. Despite an alert instinct and an excellent sense of smell, they tend to be more friendly than aggressive with people they don’t know. Also, Labs are not particularly noisy, barking only at unknown sounds, yet they’ll often bark protectively when someone approaches your home.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
It’s OK that your dog sleeps in bed with you every night, and it’s OK that you don’t sleep as well without the little guy snuggling at your feet. This pup-sized sleeping bag zips into just about whatever human-sized model you own and lets you bring the closeness into the wilderness. You each get your own space, with plenty of cuddle room in there too.
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!
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.