The Labrador Retriever was bred to be both a friendly companion and a useful working dog breed. Historically, they earned their keep as fishermen’s helpers: hauling nets, fetching ropes, and retrieving fish from the chilly North Atlantic.
Today’s Lab is as good-natured and hardworking as their ancestors, and they’re also America’s most popular breed. Modern Labs work as retrievers for hunters, assistance dogs, show competitors, and search and rescue dogs, among other canine jobs.
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See below for all Labrador Retriever facts and dog breed traits!
Adapts Well To Apartment Living1
Good For Novice Owners3
Tolerates Being Alone2
Tolerates Cold Weather3
Tolerates Hot Weather3
All Around Friendliness
Affectionate With Family5
Friendly Toward Strangers5
Health And Grooming Needs
Amount Of Shedding5
Easy To Groom5
Potential For Weight Gain5
Easy To Train5
Potential For Mouthiness5
Tendency To Bark Or Howl4
Potential For Playfulness5
Height:21 to 24 inches at the shoulder
Weight:55 to 80 pounds
Life Span:10 to 12 years
- The warm and intelligent Labrador Retriever is America’s number one breed registered with the American Kennel Club. Even non-dog people can recognize a Lab, and artists and photographers have captured their image countless times–usually as the loyal companion, waiting patiently by their owner’s side.Built for sport, the Lab is muscular and athletic. They have a short, easy-care coat, friendly demeanor, keen intelligence, and plenty of energy. Devotion to this breed runs deep; Labs are loving, people-oriented dogs who live to serve their families, and owners and fans sometimes liken their Labs to angels.The breed originated on the island of Newfoundland, off the northeastern Atlantic coast of Canada. Originally called the St. John’s dog, after the capital city of Newfoundland, they were bred to help the local fishermen–hauling nets, fetching ropes, and retrieving fish that had escaped the nets–as well as to be a family dog.Today, most Labs skip the hard labor and spend their days being pampered and loved by their people. However, some Labs still serve as indispensable working dogs.The Lab’s sweet nature makes them an excellent therapy dog, visiting homes for the elderly and hospitals, and their intelligence makes them an ideal assistance dog for those with disabilities. They also excel as a search and rescue dog or as a retriever for hunters, thanks to their athletic build, strong nose, and courageous nature. And Labs have also become the breed to beat at dog sports such as agility and obedience competitions, especially obedience.There’s one dog job that Labs are hopeless at: watchdog. In fact, owners say their sweet, helpful Lab is likely to greet an intruder and happily show them where the goods are stashed.Labrador Retrievers have proven their usefulness and versatility throughout the breed’s history, easily shifting from fisherman’s companion, to field retriever, to show dog, to modern working dog. One role has remained constant: wonderful companion and friend.
- Labrador Retrievers love, love, love to eat, and become obese very quickly if overfed. Limit treats, give your Lab plenty of exercise, and measure out regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time. And be warned that the Lab’s large appetite extends to people food and even inedible items. Labradors will forage in garbage, counter surf, and can make a meal out of chewed-up items like children’s toys.
- Labrador Retrievers were bred for physically demanding jobs, and they have the high energy that goes along with being a working breed. They need at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. Without it, they can vent their pent-up energy in destructive ways, such as barking and chewing.
- Labs have such a good reputation that many people think they don’t need to bother with training. But Labs are large, energetic animals, and like all dogs, they need to be taught good canine manners. Sign up for puppy and obedience classes as soon as you bring your Lab home.
- Many people think of Labs as a hyperactive breed. Lab puppies are definitely lively, but most will slow down a bit as they grow up. However, they usually remain fairly active throughout their lives.
- Labrador Retrievers are not known to be escape artists, but with the right motivation–such as a whiff of something yummy–a Lab will take off. Make sure your Lab has current identification tags and a microchip.