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Spotlight On The Labrador Retriever

January 15, 2024

January is a time to celebrate several of our canine companions. Quite a few pups have special days this month, including the Standard Poodle, Australian Shepherd, and Labrador Retriever. We’ll be focusing on the last one in this blog. These affectionate, playful dogs have rightfully earned their place among the world’s most beloved breeds. Known for their intelligence, loyalty, and lively nature, Labs rank among the most popular dogs globally. Their exuberance, intelligence, and loyalty make them standout pets. An article by a local Askov, MN vet sheds light on these Very Good Boys.

What Tasks Or Jobs Do Labrador Retrievers Do Well?

Though originally hunting dogs, the Labrador Retriever has branched out, and now excels in many careers. These guys can also be found working as service dogs, guide dogs, scenting dogs for the military, customs and arson task force dogs, search and rescue.  They also excel at many doggy sports, and are a popular therapy dog. Of course, Fido also makes a ‘pawesome’ family pet!

What Is The Labrador Retriever’s Personality?

Labradors are usually wonderful dogs with lovable personalities. Fido is enthusiastic about swimming, Fetch, and accompanying his humans wherever they go. He also loves car rides, belly rubs, bacon, toys, and ear scratches. Actually, these pups usually just love life in general. 

Why Are Labs Such Popular Dogs?

The Lab really has everything you could wish for in a dog. They are cute, loyal, affectionate, fun, and smart. Fido was actually America’s favorite pooch for 30 years! Just last year, the French Bulldog took the top spot away. (We wouldn’t be surprised if  Fido reclaims his title next year.) In fact, Maine and Ohio both nominated Fido as their state dog, though neither made it official.

What Color Is The Labrador Retriever?

Fido can wear one of three outfits: yellow, black, or chocolate. There is a bit of controversy here. For instance, you may hear some of these cute pups referred to as red or white Labs. Those pups are technically yellow Labs that are just wearing different shades of yellow.

There is also the silver Labrador Retriever, which is both adorable and controversial. The AKC doesn’t officially recognize them as acceptable by the breed standard. Plus, many breeders insist they aren’t purebreds. (Sorry, Fido: you’re still a good boy!)

What Are The Lab’s Grooming Needs?

Fido has two coats: a top coat—which is coarse, thick, and water resistant—and the undercoat, which is soft. Labs don’t shed heavily, but they do need to be brushed regularly and bathed occasionally. Nail trimming and dental care are also important.

A word to the wise: Some Labrador Retrievers enjoy playing in mud puddles, which will require a few extra baths or hose-downs. If you have a fenced yard that gets, well, a bit puddly, you may want to have a hose ready to spray your pup down.

Lab: Breed Basics

Labrador Retrievers usually weigh between about 55 and 80 pounds, though it’s not uncommon for them to be larger than that. They have thick coats, which can be yellow, black, or chocolate. They also have long tails, which are almost always happily wagging. Fido will live about 10 to 12 years with good care. He’ll spend most of that time running, playing, and collecting belly rubs.

It’s worth pointing out that Yellow Labrador Retrievers are often confused with Golden Retrievers. The main difference? The Lab has shorter fur.

The Labrador Retriever: Breed History

Fido is technically a British retriever gun dog with a somewhat complicated family tree. The Lab’s story starts in the 1500’s over in Newfoundland. In fact, he was named after the area’s Labrador region. Breeders mixed local water dogs and larger Newfoundland dogs, creating what was known as the St. John’s Water Dog or Lesser Newfoundland. With thick, water-repellent coats and webbed paws, the new pooch soon proved to be an exceptional swimmer, perfect for retrieving nets and fish from the frigid North Atlantic waters. These water dogs also assisted humans by towing dories and pulling ropes between boats.

A few hundred years later, in the 1830’s, the 10th Earl of Home and his nephews, the 5th Duke of Buccleuch and Lord John Scott, took note of the dogs, and brought some over to Europe. (Fido likely sailed across the pond on trade ships between Canada and Poole in Dorset.) The dogs were then crossbred with British hunting dogs. 

Then, in the late 1800’s, the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury noticed Fido’s superb waterfowl retrieving abilities. He went on to breed his own puppies with descendants of the imported dogs. The result? One of the most adored and endearing dog breeds today – the modern Labrador.

By the early 1900’s, the labrador Retriever was winning the hearts of American farmers and hunters. In 1903, Fido became a member of the English Kennel Club. He was introduced to the American Kennel Club in 1917. By then, the breed was becoming a very popular pet.

Do Labrador Retrievers Have Any Health Issues?

Labradors are generally healthy dogs. However, they can be susceptible to a few specific issues, including hip dysplasia, heart disorders, hereditary myopathy (muscle weakness), eye problems, such as progressive retinal atrophy, and ligament ruptures. Certain tests and screenings are recommended. Ask your Askov, MN vet for more information. 

Bloat, which tends to affect bigger dogs with deep chests, is another common issue. Talk to your vet about your pup’s feeding practices. You should also watch for symptoms. These include:

  • Hard and/or distended belly
  • Retching without vomiting (dry heaving)
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Pain/discomfort signs

 If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your Askov, MN veterinarian immediately. Bloat can be life-threatening, so this isn’t something to wait on! Ask your animal clinic for more insight on the Lab’s care needs.

What Kind Of Personality Do Labs Have? 

This is one area where the Lab really shines. These adorable pups are not only super cute, they are typically very friendly, lovable, and affectionate. This dog literally wants to be everyone’s best friend.

That said, there are things for potential owners to consider. Fido can be clumsy and over-enthusiastic. However, he really strives to please his humans. The Lab is very, very energetic, and needs a lot of activity and playtime. He also loves to chew, well, everything. You’ll need to be diligent with petproofing, and provide your furry pal with plenty of toys. (Many Labs like carrying their toys around, which is always super cute.)

It’s also worth noting that the Labrador Retriever has a long ‘puppyhood’ – your canine buddy may act like a rambunctious teen long after he’s officially fully grown. 

Do plenty of research before adopting a Lab. It’s important to choose the dog that is right for you! 

What Labrador Retrievers Are Famous?

Quite a few Labs have bounded into the spotlight with wagging tails and happy grins. There’s Clifford The Big Red Dog, Brian Griffen from Family Guy, Luath, from The Incredible Journey,  Little Boo, a therapy dog assigned to Big Boo in Orange Is the New Black, and Spike, who played “Old Yeller” in the classic movie.

As with all dogs, training and socialization are very important. Do you have questions about caring for a Labrador Retriever? Contact us, your local Askov, MN pet hospital, today!