KONG is one of the best-known brands out there for chew toys. They’re especially known for their classic, bulbous design, which is often filled with peanut butter or other treats. This one is a little bit different. Shaped like a tire, it’s perfect for games of fetch and tug-of-war. Available in two sizes (small and medium/large), it’s great for any breed—and sure to become a favorite toy.
In this guide, we've included the best dog gifts of 2018 for all sizes and personalities, from classic chew toys to unexpected treats your pooch will adore. Many of these gifts range vastly in prices to accommodate any budget as well. So, let's start celebrating the holiday season with this guide, and get ready to watch your furbaby's eyes light up with excitement!
Named the “Labrador” in 1887 by the Earl of Malmesbury—an English hunter and breeder—the Lab actually originated in 18th-century Newfoundland, Canada. At the time two breeds emerged from the St. John’s Water Dog: the Greater Newfoundland and the Lesser Newfoundland. The Greater Newfoundland dogs worked in teams hauling fish, but the Lesser Newfoundland had a rugged friendliness that fishermen valued. Fishermen marveled that these smaller Newfoundlands kept their can-do attitude even after long days retrieving nets from the sea, playing happily with children back when returning to shore. Soon, these dogs came to Poole, England—the Newfoundland fishing-trade hub—where hunters and sportsmen honed them into skilled hunters and retrievers. In 1903 the English Kennel Club recognized the Labrador Retriever as an official breed. The American Kennel Club certified the breed in 1917.
The Labrador Retriever has a strong hunting instinct and loves to roam. They are active, but calm and obedient if trained properly. Swimming and retrieving are the favorite activities of this breed, and they make good hunters on the field, and wonderful swimming companions. Regular exercise is a must to keep them fit. Labradors are keen on learning, easy to get along with, affable types that get along well with other animals, children, and just about anyone they meet. The Labrador Retriever temperament makes them a top choice for families and excellent therapy dogs, but not an especially good choice for guard dog duty.
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."
In the United States, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Labrador's breed club have set the breed standard to accommodate the field-bred Labrador somewhat. For instance, the AKC withers-height standards allow conformation dogs to be slightly taller than the equivalent British standard. However, dual champions, or dogs that excel in both the field and the show ring, are becoming more unusual.
The lovable Lab needs to be around his family, and is definitely not a backyard dog. If he's left alone for too long, he'll probably tarnish his saintly reputation: A lonely, bored Lab is apt to dig, chew, or find other destructive outlets for his energy. Labs show some variation in their activity levels, but all of them need activity, both physical and mental. Daily 30-minute walks, a romp at the dog park, or a game of fetch, are a few ways to help your Lab burn off energy. However, a puppy should not be taken for too long walks and should play for a few minutes at a time. Labrador Retrievers are considered "workaholics," and will exhaust themselves. It is up to you to end play and training sessions. Labs have such good reputations that some owners think they don't need training. That's a big mistake. Without training, a rambunctious Lab puppy will soon grow to be a very large, rowdy dog. Luckily, Labs take to training well — in fact, they often excel in obedience competitions. Start with puppy kindergarten, which not only teaches your pup good canine manners, but helps him learn how to be comfortable around other dogs and people. Look for a class that uses positive training methods that reward the dog for getting it right, rather than punishing him for getting it wrong. You'll need to take special care if you're raising a Lab puppy. Don't let your Lab puppy run and play on very hard surfaces such as pavement until he's at least two years old and his joints are fully formed. Normal play on grass is fine, as is puppy agility, with its one-inch jumps. Like all retrievers, the Lab is mouthy, and he's happiest when he has something, anything, to carry in his mouth. He's also a chewer, so be sure to keep sturdy toys available all the time — unless you want your couch chewed up. And when you leave the house, it's wise to keep your Lab in a crate or kennel so he's can't get himself into trouble chewing things he shouldn't.
If you’re not totally sure exactly what type of toy or treat to give, Shirley Braha, who’s mom to Instagram-famous Marnie the Dog, recommends giving the gift of replenishing treats. “The first thing that comes to mind is a BarkBox subscription, because I feel like dogs are always running out of treats, and high-quality treats are weirdly expensive.”
The Labrador Retriever has long been regarded as the most suitable pet throughout the world. Specially suited for hunting and often trained to hunt with gun sportsmen, the Lab has rightfully earned the title of a "gun dog." It is a remarkable working companion that is used for various purposes, such as physical assistance and personal protection. However, its loyalty and friendly temperament also make the Lab an outstanding pet.
"This is our newly adopted black Lab named Dozer. He is one and a half years old in this picture and we adopted him from the pound. Like most Labs he loves the water (as you can see in the picture); in fact, he loves it a little too much. We need to work with him on not obsessing over the water so much, but he is so eager to please that it shouldn't be too hard. We take him on two walks a day with him carrying a doggy backpack, one being a three-mile walk with at least a half hour of swimming. I watch the Dog Whisperer all the time so I know that with following his methods and with Dozer being so eager to please that whatever issues he has we will be able to improve them."
Also check out my 2018 Gift Guide for Foodies, Kitchen and Cooks, my 2018 Gift Guide for Skiing, Fitness & Outdoor Activities, plus last year’s 2017 Forbes Gift Guides, with many great picks that are still perfect, on a wide range of gifting topics including: Beer, Wine & Spirits (here); Food (here); Kitchen & Home (here); Whiskey Lovers' Gifts (here); Cycling (here); Skiing (here); and Golf & Fitness (here).
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.
If you want a good dog, buy her from a registered breeder. The National Labrador Retriever Club provides a complete list of breeders, who can guarantee you’ll get a purebred puppy, with healthy parents. Useful information about breeders in your area is available at The Kennel Club, The Canadian Kennel Club, and the National Labrador Retriever Breed Council.
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.
Labradors have a reputation as a very even-tempered breed and an excellent family dog. This includes a good reputation with children of all ages and other animals. Some lines, particularly those that have continued to be bred specifically for their skills at working in the field (rather than for their appearance), are particularly fast and athletic. Their fun-loving boisterousness and lack of fear may require training and firm handling at times to ensure it does not get out of hand—an uncontrolled adult can be quite problematic. Females may be slightly more independent than males. Labradors mature at around three years of age; before this time they can have a significant degree of puppy-like energy, often mislabelled as being hyperactive. Because of their enthusiasm, leash-training early on is suggested to prevent pulling when full-grown. Labradors often enjoy retrieving a ball endlessly (often obsessively) and other forms of activity (such as agility, frisbee, or flyball).
Labs are famously friendly. They are companionable housemates who bond with the whole family, and they socialize well with neighbor dogs and humans alike. But don’t mistake his easygoing personality for low energy: The Lab is an enthusiastic athlete that requires lots of exercise, like swimming and marathon games of fetch, to keep physically and mentally fit.
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.
Give dog lovers a choice of any superpower, and you might be shocked at how many would choose something like this: a hand that shoots streams of water so they can wash their dog whenever they want. It doesn’t matter if it makes any sense to you. The handy design (pun alert) allows the wearer to control water flow by opening or closing their palm, and the plastic nubs offer a pleasant massage for their pet. Just hook it up to a shower head or garden hose and it’s ready to go.
Dog is Good, a Dog lifestyle company, creates and markets gifts and apparel for dog lovers. Located in Los Alamitos, CA, the company sells wholesale and retail, and licenses the brand to numerous manufacturers in the pet, gift and home product industries. Primarily still recognized as an apparel company, Dog is Good is quickly gaining recognition in the gift and pet markets. They have also developed a reputation for generously giving back to animal welfare organizations.
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.
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.
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.
The Labrador Retriever is found in black, chocolate, and yellow, with black being the most popular, and chocolate running a close second. The color of the nose should be the same as the color of the hair, with minimal fading. All other colors are the result of cross breeding and are not accepted as purebred Labrador Retrievers. The eyes should give the impression of intelligence and kindness; colors accepted for the eyes are brown for black and yellow haired Labs, and brown or hazel, for chocolate haired Labs.
Kate Perry, dog trainer and author of Training for Both Ends of the Dog Leash, likes to give “practical items that help stimulate the dogs mind and help owners have a better relationship with their dogs.” One of her favorite interactive treat toys for pups is the Busy Buddy Twist and Treat, which keeps dogs working for their food. “Great as a gift for new dog owners, and great for training a dog to work for their food.”