A Favorite BreedThe family-friendly Labrador retriever has won over the hearts of families across the country. This loveable breed continues to be the most popular breed in the U.S., according to American Kennel Club registration statistics. It has held that title since the early ’90s. Millions of households count a Lab among their family members, and it’s easy to see why. Labs display a well-mannered temperament and are eager to please their owners.
The Labrador retriever originated in Newfoundland during the early 1800s, where it aided fisherman with their catch, pulling nets off the tug boats.
After being crossed with setters, spaniels and other retrievers, the Lab sharpened its skills as a true retriever. Eventually, the Labrador made it's way to the United Kingdom, where they became more domesticated as family companions. But what makes Labs even more popular is their kind, outgoing nature.
“My Lab is the sweetest dog I’ve ever known. He greets all my friends whenever they come to my house, and he always wants to be in the same room with everyone, like he’s part of the group,” said Geoff Rudolph of Newport Beach, Calif., owner of Champ, a 1½-year-old yellow Lab.
This people-friendly quality also makes Labs great dogs for children. The Lab thrives in an active household, where he can have lots of interaction. Kids will also love the Lab’s easy nature and trainability (Labs love to “shake hands”). In turn, Labs tend to be very patient with kids.
Labs are very excitable dogs. They are full of energy and often want to play. But their size and stature make it necessary to harness some of that energy. Labs can reach almost adult weight by 6 or 7 months of age, which can make them a handful if untrained.
“Champ was a little hard to deal with when he was a younger. His greeting was to jump up on people, but he was so big he could throw you off balance,” Rudolph said.
Because Labs are eager to learn, they are very open to gentle but firm discipline. At an early age, they should be leash trained and taught to sit on command. They are also quick learners when it comes to fetch and other games.
This dog training is also important for a Lab’s health. Labs love to eat, and can be prone to excessive weight gain. Therefore, they need to be walked daily. Games like fetch and hide-and-seek are also great exercises for Lab pups. Labs that are untrained and not exercised frequently can become hyperactive. They need love, attention and exercise in order for their good temperaments to shine through.
The Labrador retriever’s eagerness to please its owner and desire to be part of the family makes it the ideal family dog.
The first Labrador retriever born back in the early 1800s was black. In fact, all Labrador retrievers had black coats until 1899 when the first yellow Lab, named Ben of Hyde, was born. Most yellow Labs today can trace their lineage back to Ben. Chocolate retrievers followed soon after.
Labrador retrievers have a short, thick top coat and a soft, water resistant undercoat that also protects them from cold temperatures. The average weight of a Labrador retriever is 55 to 85 pounds.
Labrador Retriever Health Concerns
While these medical conditions are generally uncommon they are known to occur in the breed. Your Labrador retriever will not necessarily develop any of the conditions listed below.
Labradors are susceptible to hip dysplasia and other joint problems, ear infections, skin allergies, benign skin growth (fatty tumors) and arthritis. Your dog’s breeder should provide you with proof that such problems are not present in your Lab’s family line. Labs are also at risk of developing eye problems such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy, cataracts and retinal dysplasia. It is also important to take your Lab to the veterinarian at the slightest sign of sight problems.
Facts About Labrador Retrievers
- The term “retriever” refers to a type of dog that was originally bred to retrieve game. Other retrievers include golden retrievers, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, flat coated retrievers, curly coated retrievers and Irish water spaniels.
- Labs love to swim.
- Labs are often used as guide dogs.
- This breed excels at Search and Rescue work. Labs also are a great help to law enforcement as bomb, narcotic and arson dogs.
- The average cost of purchasing a Lab pup is $800 - $1100.