Labrador Retrievers: What a Unique Breed!
They will be your best friend, companion, and a source of unconditional love. Chances are that you chose them because you like Labs and have meet many fine examples of their breed. They are outgoing, eager to please, and friendly with both people and other animals. Training is definitely necessary because this breed has a lot of energy and exuberance, but because of their hard working personality most owners find it easier than with other breeds.
You may even have certain expectations of characteristic traits that may fit your lifestyle:
- Bouncy, cheerful, loyal, and enthusiastic
- Good with kids and other pets
- Above average intelligence and trainability when positive reinforcement training methods are used
- Loves to play games, especially fetch
- People-oriented and eager to please
- Even temper and gentle disposition
However, no dog is perfect! You may have also noticed these characteristics:
- Can be rambunctious and rowdy, especially as a younger dog
- Needs a lot of exercise
- Is a bit “mouthy”—likes to carry and chew things
- Exhibits signs of separation anxiety if left alone too much
- Easily bored if not given something to do, which leads to barking and chewing
- Sensitive, matures slowly
Labs originated in Newfoundland in the 1800’s and were bred from St John’s water dogs. They were valued by fisherman for their trainability, trustworthiness, and work ethic. Fulfilling their retriever name, they would dive into icy cold waters to help pull in fishing nets and occasionally catch stray fish that had escaped. Today the Labrador comes in two varieties: the American (tall and lanky) or English (short and stocky). Whether American or English ancestry, there are three color versions – black, blonde, and brown. When given plenty of vigorous exercise and attention, these sweethearts are gentle and well-behaved in the home. All you need is a ball to throw and your Lab will love you for life! The Labrador Retriever is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 11-13 years.
Taking Care of Your Labrador Retriever at Home
Much of what you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy is common sense, just like it is for people. Watch their diet, make sure they gets plenty of exercise, regularly brush there teeth and coat, and call us or a pet emergency hospital when something seems unusual (see “Lab Health” in our next blog). Be sure to adhere to the schedule of examinations and vaccinations that we recommend. This is when we’ll give them the necessary “check-ups” and test for diseases and conditions that are common in Labradors. Another very important step in caring for your pet is signing up for pet health insurance. There will certainly be medical tests and procedures they will need throughout their life and pet health insurance will help you cover those costs
Routine Care, Diet, and Exercise
Build their routine care into your schedule to help your Lab live longer, stay healthier, and be happier during their lifetime. We cannot overemphasize the importance of a proper diet and exercise routine.
- Supervise your pet as you would a toddler. Keep doors closed, pick up after yourself, and block off rooms as necessary. This will keep them out of trouble and away from objects they shouldn’t put in their mouth.
- Brush their coat as needed, at least weekly. Especially during change of seasons!
- Labrador Retrievers generally have good teeth, but keep up with their oral health
- Clean their ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—we’ll show you how!
- They are a smart dog with lots of energy, so keep their mind and body active, or they’ll get bored. That’s when the naughty stuff starts.
- Always walk your Lab on a leash, they have a tendency to run off after interesting smells and people.
- They have a passion for water and swimming is a perfect form of exercise for this water retriever.
- Keep your dog’s diet consistent and don’t give them people food.
- Feed a high-quality diet appropriate for their age and lifestyle.
- Exercise your dog regularly, but don’t overdo it at first.